Before you look any further, it is important to consider what development stage your business is currently in.
STAGE ONE First-time/start-up business
Are you starting a business for the first time? The early stages of development can determine your profitability in the years to come. It is important that you work closely with the start-up mentor organization to increase your chances of success.
STAGE TWO New business – year 1 – 5
Depending on the type of business you won, your “new business’ stage may last anywhere from one to five years. Now your operations are underway and new resources may be needed, along with a network of professional to support your activities. If the organizations in this guide don’t have what you’re looking for, they will help you find additional resources.
STAGE THREE Mature business – over 5 years
Event the most experienced entrepreneurs must periodically take a fresh look at their business and make significant changes to meet the needs of the ever-changing market. There are local organizations listed in this guide that are ready and willing to help at this stage.
Still not sure who to contact? Any of the organizations listed below will spend time helping you identify the resources you need. Your venture's success is important to our community’s future.
Servicing business is the top priority for the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. We can set the foundation for you to grow your business with the following services:
Also feel free to stop by our office, we have visitor's center filled with information, county maps and visitors guides, relocations packages, community information and more.
E-MERGE ENTREPRENEUR NETWORK
The Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center's consulting services are available to anyone, preferably in stage 2 of business. A certified consultant is available by appointment to assist entrepreneurs already in business with new business ideas, products, expansion issues or general concerns. To set up a free appointment with a MI SBTDC Consultant call Doug Huesdash at the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center at 616-331-6914.
MUSKEGON AREA FIRST
Muskegon Area First is your first stop for economic development services on the Muskegon Lakeshore. They are a countywide economic development corporation focused on leveraging public and private investment to accelerate business growth and the creation of high-quality employment opportunities in Muskegon County. Founded in 1999 by area business and governmental leaders, Muskegon Area First is the lead agency for economic development projects in the area. If you are looking to expand or buy a new facility in Muskegon County please contact them for information on location opportunities and any possible services or incentives offer by the state, city or township. For more information visit www.muskegonareafirst.org
The Muskegon Area First PTAC, which serves as a Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), is funded in part by a cooperative agreement from the Department of Defense (DOD) through a program administered by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). The PTAC is also partially funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and local funding partners. The PTAC supports our national security by ensuring a broad base of capable suppliers for the defense industry and other agencies, thereby increasing competition, which supports better products and services at lower costs. The mission of the PTAC is to enhance national defense and economic development of the State of Michigan by assisting Michigan businesses in obtaining and performing on federal, state and local government contracts.
WE’RE HERE TO HELP YOU: Contact us at 231-724-3171
DOWNTOWN MUSKEGON NOW
Downtown Muskegon is a great place to start a business. Downtown Muskegon has a variety of spaces available that are well-suited for new business startups, especially for those that would benefit from a traditional business district "feel", at a reasonable price. Downtown Muskegon Now can help you navigate the many considerations that come together when starting a business. For more information visit www.downtownmuskegon.org or contact Andrew Haan at 231-724-3180.
EMPLOYERS ASSOCIATION OF WEST MICHIGAN
The Employers Association of West Michigan assists employers with up-to-date, comprehensive, information to effectively manage their human talent and stay abreast of pertinent business issues. To help members keep pace with the changing complexities and implement best practices, the Employers Association provides publications and samples,
survey data, training and development, professional group forums and the on-going assistance of our professional staff. For more information visit www.eawm.net or contact 231-724-4005.
THE GREATER MUSKEGON JAYCEES
The Jaycees are a young person's (21 to 40) leadership training organization. Their programs stress the development of the individual member's leadership and managerial skills through the running of projects that benefit our community and the Jaycees movement as a whole. As a member, you will also be a member of the State Jaycee organization. The state officers and program chairpeople are among our greatest resources for course instructors and general information and materials.
Lakeshore 504 can assist you with your fixed asset, machinery and equipment needs. Please contact David Miller, Vice President Economic Development, in the Grand Haven office at 616-846-3153 or Julie Parker, Program Director, in the Holland office at 616-392-9633, with any questions you may have regarding the Lakeshore 504 Loan Program, your fixed asset financing partner. For more information, please click here.
Who Moved My Cheese?
Author: Spencer Johns, MD
Guerrilla Marketing Weapons: 100 Affordable Marketing Methods for Maximizing Profits from your Small Business
Author: Jay Conrad Levinson
The E Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don?t Work and What to Do About It
Author: Michael E. Gerber
The Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies
Author: Rhonda Abrams
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Top Ten Business Tips from the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for staying in business and growing your business during this transition into the "new economy"
#1. Think Positive, be determined! Just because your neighbor is struggling doesn't?t mean you need to. It may be an opportunity to pick up a larger share of the market with your competitive edge. Don?t let the negative media mindset get to you.
#2. Embrace Change! This is critical in the current business climate. If you have been doing something the same way for the past twenty years, it does not mean you should continue. Make strategic changes now! Face fear and make the changes, even if it means dropping your dad?s favorite product line, or firing a long term employee.
#3. Question Everything! Why are you doing things a certain way? Which systems should you keep or throw out? What products and services are most profitable? Are there new markets to reach? Will a slight change to a product attract new customers? Question every piece of paper or item that comes in and out your door.
#4. Commit to Technology! It is never too late to educate yourself on the new technology that is driving today?s marketplace. Is there new technology that will do it better, faster, or cheaper? Do you have a technology plan to advance your business?
#5. Educate your staff! Challenge them every day to find new and better ways of doing things. They have the answers you are looking for if they set their minds to the challenge!
#6. Talk to other business people! Get out of the office/shop and talk to other business owners and managers. Ask them about their business solutions and reinvent them for yourself. This is where the chamber can help. We provide opportunities for you to talk to your peers in and outside your industry. It is especially important to talk to people outside your industry.
#7. Learn about the financial tools out there! Like everything else, there are new ways of managing money. Whether it is on line banking services, software for accounts receivables, cash flow management systems, etc., there may be a way to save you money or at least staff costs.
#8. Marketing, Marketing, Marketing! Customers are getting more and more fickle. You need creative ways to reach them, keep them, and sell them more of your products and services. There are inexpensive ways to do this. Talk with the professionals and with your peers. Think out of the box. Attend chamber marketing seminars.
#9. Work on it, not in it! Too often the business owner or manager is lost in operations, trying to do too much. Stop, take a breath, and look at your business from 10,000 feet above. Some chamber members attend chamber events simply to make sure they get away for at least a couple of hours in a nurturing business environment to stimulate their thoughts.
#10. Focus on the Future! The best is yet to come! You will find new ways to be successful. The business world is an exciting place to be. If you work smart, everything you put into it will be returned to you in more ways than you can imagine.
Every business needs additional sales. New technology and the Internet provide interesting, effective, and affordable ways to promote your message and brand. Through your computer you can:
- Target potential customers
- Communicate with your customers
- Increase your market share
- Establish your business as cutting edge
- Increase profitability by streamlining your marketing efforts
- Manage your business effectively with better financial information
- Produce effective market research
- Better understand your competition
Some ways to market your business more effectively include:
- Using the Internet to conduct market research, locate clients, find suppliers, book travel etc.
- Create a website: either build your own or hire one of the many qualified firms
- Develop an email list of customers and prospects and keep them informed of your products and services through well-designed email newsletters and other creative promotions
- Create an effective and usable database
- Accept credit cards online
- Create a rewards program to encourage repeat business
- Design information materials about your company as pdf files and email them to customers and prospects
Don?t be threatened by technology. Embrace it and learn how to take advantage of all it can provide. But remember, never assume technology replaces human interaction. Though the Internet and other technology can further growth and enhance your image, solid relationships are built on good communications, ethics, trust, and the delivery of quality goods and services.
Step 1. List the date cash inflows from all sources. This is self-explanatory, but note that you should also include any income from loans or equity investments.
Step 2. List all the ways in which cash leaves your business. Separate fixed disbursements, like rent or payroll, from variable disbursements, like inventory or advertising. Then determine when each expense must be paid. Remember, your expenses may be consistent, but your cash disbursements won?t be. For example, suppose your insurance costs $1200 a year ? on an accrual system, that?s $100 a month, but depending on your payment plan, that may be $1200 in March or $300 a quarter.
Step 3. Look for patterns. The most important part of any cash flow is not the preparation, but the information that results from careful analysis. For example, if your business is seasonal, your projection would help you reschedule payments to ease your case flow during slower months.
Step 4. Establish reporting systems and controls. Once you?you've established an initial projection, get a reporting system (preferably computerized) in place. Your cash flow statement is only helpful if your use it.
*Excerpts and information taken from Small Business Basics