Single-member limited liability companies are very common in Michigan. Most small business owners operate under this type of business entity. Some are even able to navigate the confusing system that the State of Michigan has set up on their own and been able to file their articles of organization and become a registered limited liability company or LLC with the State. So your personal assets are protected now, right?
Ummmm… Maybe. Look here is the deal: A creditor’s attorney is going look for any hole in your business entities shield and try and expose it, and because of that if all you have done is filed a document with the State and paid a filing fee, he is not just say, “Oh well, I guess there is no way this business owner is personally liable” and move on. So what do you need to do to close up those holes? Here are a few DO’s, DON’T’s, and RECOMMENDATIONS.
Crowdfunding isn’t a revolutionary concept. The idea that a lot of people can pool their resources to make something happen has been around for years. After economic disasters in the early 1900’s many securities laws became very restrictive in the idea that would protect the general public. This has forced people that want to pool resources to get creative with how they do that. Nearly a century later, the world has changed and we are finally seeing those previously restrictive laws are loosening a bit.
On December 30, 2013 Governor Rick Snyder signed the Michigan Invest Locally Exemption (MILE) into law. While this went relatively under the radar for most people, this law puts Michigan on the forefront of the crowdfunding revolution. This new tool for your business to use, while unfamiliar, should definitely be something you look into.
Let’s talk about business growth for second. Growing your business has become one of those cliché phases in the world of business. Everyone says they want their business to be bigger, faster and stronger but when you cut right to the bone, very few people are taking the necessary steps to actually grow their business.
Inc. puts out its annual Inc. 5000 list of the 5000 fastest growing private companies in the United States. In the most recent version of this list a business named ALL4 ranked 5000th on that list with 34% growth over 3 years. Over 3 years they increased their revenue from $3.5 million to $4.7 million and they added 9 jobs.
Fear is a powerful force. There are people that won't get on elevators, won't fly, or won't get in front of a group and speak. Fear changes our decisions and causes some to go out of their way in order to avoid those situations. Many small business owners are afraid to grow their business. And the funniest part about it is that don't even know they have this fear.
In starting your small business you took a risk. You left the stability of larger established business in which you were an employee in order to start your own thing and do it the right way. You were able to grow your small business to a point that have been able to gain some stability and your business is actually turning a profit. So clearly you don't fear growth, right? Wrong.
The dirty secret about non-profits is slowly seeping into the West Michigan community: non-profits need to be run like businesses. The changing economy and less discretionary income for individuals to donate has left many non-profit organizations struggling to make ends meet. But non-profits don’t make anything, don’t sell anything, and don’t really have owners that make money. They provide education, religion and services to those that need help. So what is the deal with them having to be run like a traditional business?
Let’s get one thing out on the table: these are non-profit corporations. Despite the distinction, at their heart these entities are corporations. They just have a different look to them. Businesses provide services in exchange for income. Non-profits are no different. They derive income in order to benefit individuals or other non-profits. Just because there is someone other than an owner benefiting from the income derived by the non-profit does not mean that a non-profit is that much different than a traditional business.
Some West Michigan small business owners are content with business as usual. They have an established local business, a few employees and they are content with what they are. But there are a few out there that have bigger dreams. There are some that want to create a small business story that Hollywood turns into a movie. These businesses are looking to go big. So how do you shock the world?
Outside of getting a few breaks along the way there are a few steps you can take to help make your splash. Serve a niche, go after the big competition, be different, be the first to market, and acting bigger than you are, are all great recommendations to follow.
Craft brewing is a growing trend that appears to have no ceiling on it. Many home brewers take painstaking steps to create some tasty concoctions. Out of this popular hobby there has been a large influx in people that are taking their hobby to the next level and turning it into a business.
Grand Rapids was named Beer City USA last year and that is in addition to the great number of other West Michigan cities that have seen craft breweries pop up. Pigeon Hill Brewing Co. joined the fray when it announced that it will be moving into the Noble Building in Muskegon, Michigan earlier this week. Pigeon Hill Brewing Co. plans on beginning its construction within the next month and is hoping to be open for business before the end of the year.
Let’s talk about something that most small business owners will not admit to. In fact it’s a dirty little secret that seems almost a counterintuitive trait for small business owners or startup founders. It’s the fact that lots of business owners are procrastinators. How can it be that people who are racing around getting things done, often working well over 40 hours a week, are procrastinating? It’s because while they are busy working they are putting off important things.
There have been number occasions where I have run into a current client or a potential client and they have said, “I have been meaning to get a hold of you because I need…” The problem is they have put off contacting me for weeks or even months and the only reason they brought this need to my attention is because I happened to see them at a restaurant or at a networking event.
It is the morning after the Super Bowl. Part of America is recovering from a food coma from all that great party food and few out there had one too many adult soda pops. The game was exciting though and came down to a goal line stand in the final minutes. The game got me thinking about what is your Michigan business’ Super Bowl?
Every NFL team sets last night’s game as there goal. Everything they do throughout the year is to reach that one game. In your small business what have you set as your Super Bowl? It could be a big project, landing a big client, or hitting a revenue goal. Maybe you want to start your own business, develop your idea into a product or get an investment for your startup. There are any number of “Super Bowls” to set for your business but identifying that goal is important.
Finding your place in West Michigan can be a tough task for a new small business. All of the work that goes into getting set up, trying to differentiate yourself from the competition, figuring out cash flow, and so much more can be overwhelming. With all of that coming at you, how are you supposed to get support of the local community?
Local First is a Grand Rapids based non-profit that promotes local West Michigan businesses. Recently it was announced that Local First has partnered with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Local First will receive $450,000 from the State of Michigan over the next 2 years to expand its operations. The MEDC will follow the program and measure its success in order to determine if it’s worth further expansion of Local First.