Startups and new businesses often need some financial assistance. Great ideas and the individuals that drive those ideas don’t always have the financial ability to create these businesses that could be the next big thing that can potentially create hundreds of jobs. In order to create a new avenue for these new businesses to raise capital, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act was created to allow for crowdfunding. With this new development one of the big concerns is potential fraud.
The JOBS Act was signed into law a year ago and the SEC is months late on releasing the rules to allow crowdfunding sources to go live. Trying to ensure that fraud is limited as much as possible seems to be one of the hang-ups. Many experts believe that investing through this forum will self-regulate itself.
We have all heard the old adage about the square peg in a round hole. Your Grand Rapids small business is not a big business. You don’t face the same issues and problems that those businesses face. Why would you try to institute the same solutions that big businesses use to make your business more productive and successful? Small businesses can often find solutions that big businesses struggle to institute.
Sintel, Inc. is a metal fabrication manufacturer in Spring Lake Township, Michigan and was in danger of losing 70 percent of its business. Sintel worked to improve the quality of the work it was doing by integrating people, processes and equipment to produce a superior product. Sintel has gone from the threat of shutting down to an award winning supplier. Sintel is actually now being used as a training center for huge equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc.
There has been a shift in West Michigan business over the past decade. Through advancements in technology and as a result of the economic downturn, many specialized small businesses have sprung up. Some (even those that own these businesses) view these small businesses as unable to compete with big established businesses. West Michigan is seeing a new trend that is changing that perception.
Small businesses often focus on very specific areas of a market. Our law firm is a classic example of this. We focus on business law and the areas of practice that our business clients need. Big firms can offer a full menu of services. They can offer an estate planning attorney, criminal law attorney, patent attorney, etc. Our firm, instead of spreading our resources thin, has chosen to be excellent in one area. Many other small businesses take this same approach.
In order to meet the demand of their customers or clients and also to leverage resources that they don’t have, many Grand Rapids small businesses are collaborating with other businesses. A collaboration is the agreement of two or more businesses to pool their resources (or a portion of their resources) together in a joint effort. Basically, small businesses come together to create an entity that can compete with much larger entities.
There is a trendy term that seems to find its way into one of the more popular questions our firm gets: What are the most common loopholes you see in contracts people are using? Loopholes are gaps or ambiguous terms in a contract that allow one of the parties to escape its duties, get out of the contract or not act in accordance with what was intended when the contract was signed. So where are West Michigan small businesses creating loopholes?
One of the biggest loopholes that I have seen is not having a contract at all. There are still many businesses that are conducting business on a handshake or without a formal agreement. Whether those not using contracts feel that contracts are intrusive or too costly to formalize, they are still leaving their business vulnerable. It becomes extremely difficult to enforce a contract when there is nothing in writing.
The chances are you are very much like most West Michigan small business owners. Cash flow and business development are always on the forefront of your mind. Sometimes money can be tighter than others but through the ebb and flow of the good times and the bad those concerns always remain prevalent to some extent. That is why it is so important to avoid disputes and find alternatives to costly litigation.
Whitehall, Michigan is a small community in Muskegon County near the lakeshore. There is an ongoing dispute over a Wal-Mart store that developers want to put in near US 31. Many local business owners and community members do not want to see the super store spring up in their community. The dispute is still in its infancy period but there is one thing that those fighting the store are discovering: this fight is going to be very costly.
Many West Michigan small businesses are considered boutique or not full-service. There are many businesses that have less than 5 employees that focus on a very specific area of the market. Think of a marketing firm. While a larger business could offer every service under the sun, small marketing businesses often focus on branding, social media or other specific areas of marketing. It is because of this reason and others that it is becoming more and more common to hire an independent contractor to assist your business in providing the necessary services that your customers require.
Hiring an independent contractor is an efficient way to get your customers what they want or need but not having to hiring additional employees and over extend your small business. You have to be careful when working with independent contractors because you want to ensure that you do not blend the independent contractor into your business as a partner or an employee.
John Lennon sang in his 1980 release “Beautiful Boy” that “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.” While this line was not original to Lennon and he was certainly not singing about business, this line can be very applicable to your West Michigan small business or startup. Entrepreneurs often have the life of their business planned out before they even begin to develop a product but just as often their business does not end up where they thought it would be.
Holland-based Fogg Filler designs and manufactures filling systems as well as related equipment for specific applications. When they looked for an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system they decided they would be better served developing their own custom ERP system. It soon became apparent that other manufactures had similar experiences with ERP systems and Fogg Filler saw a potential market for their system.