The Oakland County area has an abundance of opportunities for existing businesses and new ventures.
When the going gets rough, the entrepreneurial spirit gets creative and resourceful.
The Oakland Press has gathered upcoming events, news and links to help business owners and professionals succeed.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oakland County offers Business Basics workshops

Oakland County Business Center offers the following workshops in July: Pre-Business Research, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. July 7. (There is no charge); CEED Microloan Orientation, 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 13. (There is no charge); Fundamentals of Starting A Business 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, July 14. (The cost is $30); Legal & Financial Basics  9 a.m. to noon Tuesday, July 19. (There is no charge); July 21: Writing a business plan workshop, 9 a.m. to noon, Thursday, July 21. (The cost is $40) and Fundamentals of Marketing Your Business, 9 a.m. to noon, July 28, (The cost is $40).
The workshops are held at Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, Building 41 West, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford Township. Pre-registration is required for all workshops. Call 248-858-0783 or visit oakgov.com/peds/calendar.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Skip the drama, and help your team get to work!

GUEST BLOGGER
by Joe Wichowski, president and founder of Wixom-based Traction Consulting Group, EBIZ Technology

We’ve all had it before.  Something happens at the office, “The Event” – a customer has a complaint, a project gets off track, or employees aren’t getting along because “so-and-so said such-and-such.”

As an entrepreneur, I believe that my teams’ healthy reaction to these events is critical to the success of our company. These events need to be self-healing, self-resolving. I cannot ignore them, yet I cannot be the person to drive the change necessary when they come up.
Recently, John Drury, from The Inside Out Edge  (insideoutedge.com), provided me with a tool that I found extremely useful in helping my team understand the Event process, and how best to skip the drama and get to the Work that will truly resolve the Event.

Essentially, around everything we do, there is an inevitable "Event". This could be a project that is not being delivered up to standards, a customer complaint, co-worker’s not working together, and so on.

The Event almost always leads to the "Reaction" – complaining, explaining, criticizing, blaming – none of which is healthy or helpful.  The Drift of this Reaction takes us away from something that can truly help resolve the Event – documenting “why”, improving on the process, and moving forward.
Although it is difficult to totally eliminate the Reaction phase, I believe it is possible for teams to “squash” it, and instead quickly get to the "Learning" phase - the place where we are open to the information the Event is telling us.  It allows us to get as much data as possible, and process it, in order to move on to the most important part - the "High Impact Work".  The Work is the place where we actually make the improvement, on behalf of ourselves, our customers, and our co-workers.

I think it has great implications in our everyday work environments.  I have coached my team to use this tool anytime they identify an event occurring – to be aware of it, and learn from it quickly.  It is posted in everyone’s work-cube; it is reviewed at every project closure meeting.  I feel it gives my team a good process to focus on what is truly important when an Event occurs within my company, and allows us to rapidly get to The Work, for the benefit of our customers and our work environment.
Joe Wichowski is President and Founder of Traction Consulting Group (formerly EBIZ Technology) – www.tractioncg.com.  Traction CG provides Mentoring, Training, Development, and Support services for clients looking to “Get More” from their Sales, Service, and Customer Relationship Management processes.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Employer seminar to avoid litigation

AGIS, a full-service insurance agency in Birmingham will host a no-cost informative seminar, “Ten Things Employers Can Do to Avoid Litigation, and the Latest Health Care Reform Updates” 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 28 at the Troy Marriott Hotel, 200 W. Big Beaver Road, Troy. Breakfast is at 8:30, with the seminar following from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. This program has been approved through the Human Resource Certification Institute for two hours of continuing education recertification credit, visit the HRCI homepage at www.hrci.org. For more information, about the class, call 248-530-1600 or visit www.goAGIS.com.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Timely AR collections critical to operational success

 Here's a good "learn from my experience" guest blog from the president of Farmington Hills-based ZenaComp.


By Mark Lichtman,
President of ZenaComp of Farmington Hills
President of EO Detroit

You meet with a prospective client, present your proposal and the client says “let’s get started!” You’re excited, want to meet their tight deadline and immediately get to work on the new project.  You will invoice them at the end of the month and expect them to pay in 30 days.  Isn’t this how all business is done?
I learned at ZenaComp, my technology services company, that the above scenario may work most of the time but I got stuck with slow-paying and non-paying clients more than I would have liked.  I came to understand that when I gave my clients “net 30” terms, the credit I was extending to them in the form of the salary I pay my employees, the equipment and software I purchased on their behalf was actually like an unsecured loan from the bank. Some of my clients were credit worthy and some of them were not.
Requiring pre-payment of third-party hardware and software is one key strategy that we now use with both new and existing clients.  We instituted this policy after we had sold a client a new computer server, installed and configured it and then the client did not pay as agreed.  We had paid our vendor and our employees thousands of dollars and had trouble collecting payment from our client.  Luckily a face-to-face meeting with the client resulted in full payment of the account.  However, we had learned a valuable lesson and then made the policy that all hardware and software had to be pre-paid.  We were concerned that our clients would balk at this new policy.  With over 200 clients, we have had just a handful of client complaints to-date.
Collecting a project deposit is another of our key credit/payment strategies.  We collect from 25% to 50% of the project price in advance which serves many important functions.  Most importantly, it ensures that the project is “real.” There have been a few instances in the past where we started work on a project and our client contact did not actually have the authority to authorize our work.  Waiting to receive the deposit before starting work also puts pressure on the client to make a definitive decision to proceed and to make sure your company is set up in their accounting system for payment.  
Although “net 30” terms or even longer payment terms are customary in today’s business environment, each client has to be reviewed (credit references, payment history with your company, Dun & Bradstreet searches, etc) in terms of their risk of slow or non-payment if you provide them credit.  There really are no set rules for providing credit and you can require clients to pre-pay all or part of the services or products you provide.  After all, we should be compensated fully and on a timely basis.

For more information, contact Mark Lichtman at mlichtman@zenacomp.com.
 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Where is the ROI on Social Media?

Social media campaigns have quickly become a staple in comprehensive marketing strategies.
 
Across North America, many companies are dedicating growing portions of their marketing budgets to social media because they think they are supposed to, they have to or they need to. But it’s not as simple as getting and maintaining an online presence, says Scott Wilson, CEO of RankHigher.ca and Canada’s leading expert on web sales and online marketing using Search Engine Optimization.
 
“Companies are investing all this money in social media, and the one question they are left asking is, ‘Where is the return on my investment?’” Wilson says. “The truth is there usually isn’t one. They are launching these campaigns and getting dismal returns because they aren’t taking a step back and looking at how they are actually using these social media tools.”
 
Perhaps the most popular social media tool is Facebook, but it’s not as simple as just creating a page and hoping people will find it. Even creating a Facebook site that meets the terms of service for the website can be a complex process, but it is worth the time and effort for the benefits it can bring.
 
A Facebook page for your business, including purchasing Facebook ads, needs to be tied to a personal account. Since many business owners will be delegating the maintenance of a Facebook site to a multitude of employees, or even an agency, it is wise to keep this separate from their own personal Facebook account.
 
It’s a good idea to create a new account to then add your business Facebook Page to your new personal account, ensuring it meets Facebook’s terms of service and won’t be arbitrarily removed.
The next step is creating and maintaining a strong brand presence on Facebook. It’s crucial to have all business information fields completed, including the basic information, about your business and likes and interests.
 
Similarly, updating photo albums and upcoming events will help reinforce your business as being engaged with Facebook, which your customers will appreciate. One of your milestones’ should be to generate up to 50 “likes” to your Page. This can be accomplished by reaching out to your network of suppliers, business partners, friends and colleagues. 
 
“Posting engaging discussions and updating your status with relevant announcements provides a more intimate setting for connecting with clients,” Wilson says. “Uploading a video to Facebook is as easy as YouTube and will make your Page more dynamic thereby creating a more enjoyable customer experience.”
 
Start with the basics but if you want to take it to the next level, look at the Facebook Page for Ben & Jerry’s where they utilized a web developer to integrate a customized brand complete with:
 
  • 2.5 million “likes” (and growing)
  • Whirled Map — a world map displaying links to Ben & Jerry’s Global Facebook Pages
  • Ben & Jerry’s Locator, where users locate their nearest B&J parlor
  • Send Ben & Jerry — a tab allowing fans to rank their favorite flavors and send virtual ice-cream tubs to friends
  • Countdown to Free Cone Day — a real-time counter leading up to Free Cone Day
 
When it comes to blogging, the biggest mistake companies make is starting a blog without understanding the resources need to properly populate it, monitor it and make it a living, breathing part of the company.
 
Software such as Wordpress, which can be set up by a skilled web professional in a matter of hours, makes it easy to launch a blog. Not so easy is making sure it remains relevant, updated and interesting.
“Companies fail to understand and allocate the necessary resources to make a blog a successful blog,” Wilson says. “Since happy customers are less likely to blog about you and open blogs offer an opportunity for your unhappy customers to vent, if managed incorrectly blogs can be more hurtful than helpful.”
 
It is important the blog be added to every week, if not more. This will engage consumers and foster constructive dialogue to make the business stronger. To this end, it is important to refrain from responding negatively to criticism. Criticism can be used to not only improve the business, but responding to is properly can also turn an unhappy customer into a loyal supporter of your brand.
“Understand that more often than not, those motivated into action are unhappy,” Wilson says. “It is important that companies seek to understand and fix the problem as transparently as possible.”
 
Burlington, Ont.-based RankHigher.ca is one of Canada’s leading Search Engine Optimization firms. The company, formed in 2004 as eMotion Picture Studios, identifies Internet opportunities, builds search-engine optimized websites, runs Google AdWords campaigns, optimizes Google Places, writes and shoots marketing & training videos and provides a wide range of other new era Internet services for clients such as Speedy Automotive, Roto-Rooter, Cadbury, Natrel, Godiva Chocolates and Gatorade.
 
For more information, email Ashley Hogan at ahogan@enterprisecanada.com.

Friday, June 17, 2011

5 Ways To Tell If Your Company’s CEO Earns His/Her Pay

Submitted by Ginny Grimsley Ginny@newsandexperts.com

Dr. Linda Henman isn’t as concerned about CEOs getting paid large salaries as much as she is about them being worth it.
CEOs earned an average annual paycheck of $11 million in 2010, with pay soaring by an average of 23 percent last year, according to research released by the AFL-CIO in April. As the economy’s sluggish recovery has analysts worried, Henman, a consultant for Fortune 500 CEOs, believes that company top dogs who actually earn their money are easy to spot.
“Those at the top have three major responsibilities: Develop the business, grow talent, and make decisions that drive innovation,” said Henman, also author of Landing in the Executive Chair: How to Excel in the Hot Seat (www.careerpress.com). “There is much shuffling at the top. Too often Boards don’t make wise decisions about CEOs and CFOs, and these executives, in turn, don’t make wise hiring decisions throughout the enterprise. But if leaders do a better job, companies can do a better job, which means individuals can do a better job. These leaders create companies where customers want to do business and people can do their best work. That all leads to financial health on the micro level, which translates to better financial health for the country. That’s why I think it’s important for people to understand if their CEO evidences the ability to soar above the competition, because in the end, only the strong will survive.”

Henman’s top qualities of a good CEO include:

  • Strategy – Strong strategic thinking defines the effective CEO. These leaders understand how to match a strong strategy with the tactics and talent to see it through. CEOS who constantly react to events, instead of planning for the future, remain followers and not leaders.
  • Decisions – When CEOs consistently make good decisions, little else matters; when they make bad decisions, nothing else matters. Even though decisiveness distinguishes leaders from everyone else, effective decision-making stands at the center of executive leadership. A decisive CEO who can’t hit the target is the same as an indecisive CEO who doesn’t even know where to find it. The results are the same.
  • Hiring – Successful CEOs know how to tie talent to their strategies so they ensures the company  hires the best and the brightest and compensates them fairly. Moreover, they give these people a chance to thrive.
  • Excellence – Leaders who attract and retain top talent stress excellence. They focus on good execution of plans and strategies, and they don’t skew the mission by placing value on tertiary issues that have little to do with execution of strategic goals.
  • Results Orientation – Too many executives talk about how to motivate the troops. Those who excel in the hot seat do better. They hire people who are self-motivated, define clear objectives, hold people accountable, and then they get out of the way.  Couple these practices with challenging, rewarding work, and the organization ends up with both better results and motivated employees.
“It all comes down to leadership, as opposed to management,” Henman added. “Managers come in all different flavors: good, bad, neutral, ineffective, overbearing, innocuous, and more. But true leaders, by definition, move people to perform at levels that allow them to beat the competition. Moreover, leadership doesn’t necessarily come with a title or a status. Responsibility and accountability come with that title, but leading requires the ability to take people to places they wouldn’t have gone if you hadn’t been in the picture. Leaders who possess this ability offer golden opportunities for their organizations and the people who work in them; those who don’t simply hope for a good golden parachute.”

About Dr. Linda Henman
 
Dr. Linda Henman holds a Ph.D. in organizational systems, two Master of Arts degrees in both interpersonal communication and organization development, and a Bachelor of Science degree in communication. For more than 30 years, Dr. Linda Henman has helped executives in military organizations, small businesses, and Fortune 500 Companies define their direction and select the best people to put their strategies in motion. She has helped clients in the retail, financial services, food, medical, hospitality, manufacturing, and technology industries. Some of her major clients include Tyson Foods, Emerson Electric, Kraft Foods, Boeing Aircraft, Estee Lauder, and Merrill Lynch. She was one of eight experts chosen to work directly with John Tyson on his succession plan after his company’s acquisition of International Beef Products, one of the most successful mergers of the 21st Century.

You are more than welcome to run this article as is, let me know if you need any images to go along with it. To interview Dr. Linda Henman or request a review copy of Landing in the Executive Chair contact Ginny Grimsley at Ginny@newsandexperts.com.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Transform Your Poor Performers into High Achievers

Confronting poor performers in your organization can be nerve-wracking, difficult, and confusing. But according to author Dave Anderson, it is possible to approach these conversations with love, respect, and the promise of improvement while boosting your business in the process.
Hoboken, NJ (June 2011)—Confronting poor performers: Of all the responsibilities that come along with leadership, it’s not likely to be among your favorites, and yet, it is among the most important things you’ll do for your organization. Chances are, you approach delivering this sort of unpleasant feedback in one of two ways: You wimp out and avoid it altogether, thus sparing everyone an uncomfortable scene (but perpetuating unproductive behaviors). Or you don’t hold back at all and let people have it—those poor performers will either shape up or ship out (you hope!), and if it’s the latter, then good riddance to a weak employee who couldn’t hack it. 
But according to author Dave Anderson, there is a middle ground when it comes to confronting poor performers.
Confront with class. Chances are, at some point you’ve been called on a mistake in a way that left you smarting. Whether you were publically scolded in a meeting or belittled to make someone else appear more competent, you probably learned your lesson…but you also felt embarrassed, ashamed, and upset. Taking the high road when initiating confrontation includes opting to discuss matters with a poor performer in private rather than hauling his wrongdoings onto the carpet in front of his colleagues.
“Our objective as leaders is to develop people, not punish them,” Anderson explains. “To help a team member fulfill her potential, you might need to give her a vital ingredient she’s currently lacking, whether that’s knowledge, structure, or direction. She’ll be much more apt to take that instruction to heart if she feels valued instead of hurt and resentful. By taking the time to have a sincere, private conversation rather than tossing out criticism in front of the whole team, you’re communicating a very respectful reproof that is likely to take root and spark a sincere change.”
Nix favoritism. In organizations across the globe, there’s “that guy”: the one who can do no wrong in the boss’s eyes, and who blithely flouts the rules that bind everyone else. Often, this person also happens to be a top performer. Well, he knocks it out of the park 99 percent of the time, the logic goes, so he deserves to be cut some extra slack. Not so fast, wannabe-benevolent boss! By allowing a top performer to violate values, exhibit selfishness, or break the rules without rebuke, you’re undermining your organization’s culture and your own credibility.
Make sure the correction fits the “crime.” One of the marks of being a good leader is realizing that not all failures are created equally—and then responding accordingly. The fact is, while performance shortfalls are significant and must be called out, issues that stem from a toxic attitude, a lack of respect for values, or an overly inflated ego must be corrected much more forcibly. You see, knowledge insufficiencies can be easily filled, but character issues must be addressed and monitored like the deadly diseases they are.
Beware of committing a false kindness. Some well-intentioned leaders believe that with enough positive reinforcement they’ll be able to forgo confrontational talk altogether. What these aspiring Mr. Nice Guys fail to realize is that by not confronting followers who stray, they’re actually showing a lack of caring.
“Skipping tough feedback and unpleasant consequences is showing a false kindness, because this tactic just results in even more poor performances,” asserts Anderson. “Instead, the thing to do is to ‘shovel the piles while they’re small’—confront bad behaviors with fairness and firmness as soon as they start.
Choose your battles wisely. Just as it’s important to distinguish between “innocent” and “serious” missteps, it’s important to know when to rebuke and when to simply respond. For example, if a reliable team member who’s never late rushes in tardy one day, it would probably be ill-advised for a leader to shout out sarcastically, “Good afternoon!” A better and more productive response would be to ask—genuinely—if everything is all right. (On the other hand, tardiness from a repeat offender would merit a different response.)
Follow up with follow-through. Giving confrontational feedback and then failing to offer further instructions or encouragement is like going to the doctor for a diagnosis and then refusing to take your medication. In both cases, you can’t realistically expect positive, lasting change to take effect because you dropped the ball after taking the initial action.
“Offering appropriate guidance to a team member is just as important as the initial conversation,” confirms Anderson. “It gives you an opportunity to reaffirm, further direct, and eventually bring closure to your prior instruction. Think about it this way: Where would we be if God didn’t continue to lead us back to the correct path again…and again…and again?”
Don’t dig up the past. Especially when you’re upset with someone, it’s tempting to take every mistake she’s ever made and throw them back in her face to underscore just how justified your anger is. When you’re confronting a team member, though, it’s crucial to count to ten, take a deep breath, or drink a glass of water in lieu of unleashing a verbal torrent, because rehashing past sins only creates bitterness and breaks trust.
“Ultimately, confronting poor performers will never be enjoyable,” concludes Anderson. “In fact, it will almost always be nerve-wracking, uncomfortable, and maybe even downright upsetting,
# # #
Making It Stick: Five Rules for Delivering Effective Feedback
Part of being a leader is telling your team members how their performances are measuring up. Whether you’re handing out praise or facing a you-need-to-improve conversation, here are five tips excerpted from How to Lead by THE BOOK: Proverbs, Parables, and Principles to Tackle Your Toughest Business Challenges (Wiley, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-470-93628-3, $24.95, www.learntolead.com) that will help you make the most of your feedback.
Rule #1: Don’t delay. Give feedback as quickly after an action as possible. Delayed consequences lessen the impact of your message and can render feedback as little more than an afterthought.
Rule #2: Be specific. Be precise rather than general. Jesus did not say, “This guy is impressive,” when speaking of the centurion, who believed that Jesus had the authority and power to heal his sick servant from afar, without seeing him in person. Rather, Jesus specifically pointed out exactly what was impressive: the centurion’s faith. When you are specific, you accomplish two things:
You let other people know that you care enough about them and their performance to pay attention to precisely what they did.
When you reinforce someone’s specific behavior, that person is more likely to repeat that same behavior.
Rule #3: Share praise. Patting someone on the back is not likely to make that person lazy. Sure, there are a handful of sluggards who use positive reinforcement as an excuse to crawl into a hammock and take a nap, but the majority will try even harder to please you in the future and to live up to the expectations they have created through solid past performance.
Rule #4: Know your audience. It’s important to customize your feedback to the individual, because you’ve got to know people in order to move them to action. Temper the style and tone of your feedback depending on who is on the receiving end—without clouding your message, that is. Paul gives his young mentee, Timothy, excellent advice in this regard: “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father; younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity” (1 Tim. 5:1-2).
Rule #5: Be consistent. Failing to confront an unsatisfactory behavior invites more of the same. This is because the absence of a consequence for a derelict act, in effect, reinforces it.
# # #

About the Author:
Dave Anderson is author of How to Lead by THE BOOK: Proverbs, Parables, and Principles to Tackle Your Toughest Business Challenges (Wiley, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-470-93628-3, $24.95, www.learntolead.com), is president of Dave Anderson’s Learn to Lead, and has given over 1,000 leadership presentations in thirteen countries. He is also the author of How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK: A Biblical Blueprint to Bless Your Business; If You Don’t Make Waves, You’ll Drown; Up Your Business!; How to Deal with Difficult Customers; and the TKO business series, all from Wiley. He and his wife, Rhonda, are cofounders of The Matthew 25:35 Foundation, which helps feed, educate, and house under-resourced people throughout the world.
For more information, visit www.learntolead.com.
About the Book:
How to Lead by THE BOOK: Proverbs, Parables, and Principles to Tackle Your Toughest Business Challenges (Wiley, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-470-93628-3, $24.95, www.learntolead.com) is available at bookstores nationwide, major online booksellers, or directly from the publisher by calling 800-225-5945. In Canada, call 800-567-4797 
 Submitted by Dottie DeHart, DeHart & Company Public Relations

 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Psychologist discusses behavior-based employment interviews

One of the best predictors of future job performance is past performance. Learn how to conduct behavior-based interviews that can help you determine how job candidates will perform in the future, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, June 22, at the Jewish Community Center, 15110 W. Ten Mile Road, Oak Park, Michigan.
Moderated by Dr. Alan Resnick, an industrial/organizational psychologist with HR Solutions Group – a division of JVS, the interactive session with help people who make hiring decisions learn strategies for successful interviewing, testing and assessment and how to develop behavior-based interview questions and collect behavioral examples. Participants will also receive a glossary of behavioral questions.
The event is free and begins with refreshments at 8:30 a.m., presentation at 9 a.m. and networking from 10 to 10:30 a.m. To reserve a seat, contact Paul Lefkowitz at plefkowitz@jvsdet.org.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pontiac holds forum featuring L. Brooks

Forum for Our Future is an event that brings together citizens and business and community leaders in Pontiac. It is 2 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, at Baker College Student Center, 1500 University Dr., Auburn Hills. Featured speakers include L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County Executive; Joy Calloway, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland; Phillip Henry, Branch Manager of Fifth Third Bank; Kwame Stephens, Principal of Pontiac High School and Jeff Love, President of Baker College. Contact the Pontiac Regional Chamber at 248-335-9600 or www.pontiacchamber.com. There is no charge to attend this forum.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pontiac holds old time pub crawl downtown

The Pontiac Regional Chamber, Pontiac Downtown Business Association, Greater Pontiac Sesquicentennial Commission and The Rise of the Phoenix program have partnered to host two exciting days of open houses and family fun!  The weekend welcomes and introduces the 52 new businesses that have opened in downtown while celebrating the City’s 150th year.

On Friday, June 17, the fun will include an Old-Time Pub Crawl and Cruise N’ the Loop.

5 to 10 p.m.
Old Time Pub Crawl
          Come hungry and thirsty and try signature drinks and dishes at the many        restaurants on Saginaw, Mill and Perry Streets including:
           
            Mill Street Grille 12 S Mill Street
                    Acoustic Madness, guitar and drum duo, performing rock and reggae
            Crofoot 1 South Saginaw
                   50s theme in the café
            JD’s Keyboard Lounge 1 North Saginaw
                   Free Admission-No Cover Charge
            Blue Note Café 7 North Saginaw
            Lucas Coney Island 29 North Saginaw
            Bo’s Smoke House 51 North Saginaw
                   DJ and happy hour until eight
            Liberty Bar 85 North Saginaw
                   Video Game Night
            Time Square Bar in the Lafayette Grand 1 Lafayette
            Clutch Cargo Nightclub
            Tonic Nightclub
            Reunion 40 W. Pike
                   Summer Friday concert series.  June 17th Al McKenzie, doors open at 8                               
5 p.m. to Dusk
Cruise’N the Loop
          New name, same great event every Friday night June 3 – September 30
            Vintage car cruise and showcase

248-336-9600

Friday, June 10, 2011

Getting your business spotlight in The Oakland Press

We seek businesses to feature as business spotlights on The Oakland Press business page.

Spotlights are profiles of businesses. These can include more details and quotes. Try to include:
    * What is the news? (New location? New business? New owners?)
    * How long has the business been in business?
    * What is important to readers? (Are expanded services available?)
    * What kind of business is it?
    * How many employees?
Spotlights generally include a photo of the business with an identified person in the photo (owner, manager, etc.)

Photos
Include electronic photos and shots of individuals. Photos focus attention on your news. Include photo caption information that identifies all people in the photo from left to right, says where the photo was taken, what event took place, etc.


How to submit news
Send news releases via email to business.news@oakpress.com. Attach electronic photos to the email.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

See if stress is taking its toll

Automation Alley and St. Joseph Mercy Oakland present an event focusing on alleviating workplace stress and the impact it can have on overall health and well-being. The free event is noon to 4 p.m. Thursday, June 9 at Automation Alley Headquarters, 2675 Bellingham, Troy. It features a light lunch at noon followed by a panel discussion, 12:45 to 2 p.m. Speakers include Ramesh Madhavan M.D, D.M. - Cardiac Implications of Executive Stress; Donald E. Deering, Ph.D. - Executive Stress and Depression and Tom Rifai, M.D. - Nutritional and Metabolic Implications of Executive Stress. Free blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, BMI and stress and depression, (self-assessment) screenings will be available until 4 p.m. Register at www.automationalley.com or call 800-372-6094.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

League of Women Voters host Gary Peters, Debbie Stabenow

League of Women Voters Oakland Area Annual Meeting with Guest Speakers is 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 11, at Shenandoah Country Club, 5600 Walnut Lake Road, West Bloomfield Township. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow and U. S. Representative Gary Peters will be the guest speakers. The cost is $30, including lunch. The cost to hear the speakers only is $10. Pre-registration is required, call 248-594-6602 or visit www.LWVOA.org.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Trade shows feature MIchigan agriculture

The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development is hosting Michigan Pavilions at the 2011 Michigan Restaurant Association and Michigan Grocers Association shows. The deadline for reserving booth space is July 14.
The Michigan Pavilion is a selected area within the trade show where Michigan’s agriculture-based companies are identified for attendees while promoting their Michigan made products. Both events will be attended by industry insiders such as buyers and distributors.
Through federal grant dollars, both trade associations and MDARD are offering booth space at significantly discounted prices with additional discounts to specialty crop companies.
The Michigan Restaurant Association show is Sept. 12 at Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire. Visit www.michigangrocers.org/e_fallconf.htm.
The Michigan Restaurant Association show is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 18 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. Visit mravideos.com/2011tradeshow/index.html or contact Joanne Jansz at JanszJ@michigan.gov or 517-373-2469.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Top 9 challenges of growing a business

Submitted by Dottie DeHart, DeHart & Company Public Relations

Stanford, CA (June 2011)—For many, achieving the American Dream means taking control of their destiny, quitting their 9 to 5, and opening the doors to their very own business. These brave entrepreneurial souls have shaped American enterprise, and today, they’re playing the very important role of helping to drive the nation’s economic recovery. And if you’re one of these brave souls—pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into running your own business— Professor Ed Hess stresses that there’s no time for rest. Once you’ve got your start-up off the ground, he says, the daunting task of growing your business to the next level must begin.

“Growing a business presents a whole new group of challenges for entrepreneurs,” says Hess, author of the new book "Growing an Entrepreneurial Business: Concepts & Cases."
“The good news is that most businesses experience the same or very similar challenges when it comes to growth. There is no need for any entrepreneur to reinvent the ‘growth wheel.’ You just have to be willing to learn from those who grew before you.”
 With his own research and his new book, Hess aims to make the growth process even easier to navigate for the nation’s brave entrepreneurs. He recently studied 54 high-growth entrepreneurial companies based in 23 different states, all of which were designated as successful growth companies by leading magazines or accounting firms. His research findings are the subject of an MBA course he teaches at the Darden Graduate School of Business and the subject of Growing an Entrepreneurial Business, which he wrote for entrepreneurs and students.
The 54 companies in Hess’s study operated product and service businesses, had been in business on average 9.6 years, and had reached an average revenue level of $60 million with the range being from $5 million to $350 million. Some of them, such as Eyebobs in Minneapolis, Trilogy Health Services in Kentucky, Defender Direct in Indianapolis, SecureWorks in Atlanta, and Mellace Family Brands in California, were well-known companies. The research was supplemented with case studies of other successful entrepreneurial growth companies like Room & Board in Minneapolis, C.R. Barger & Sons in Tennessee, and Enchanting Travels in India.
 “What I found was that these successful companies all faced very similar challenges when it came to growing,” says Hess. “But what sets them apart from those companies that didn’t survive or didn’t reach the same level of success is how they approached that growth.  The companies in my study understood that growth is change and change is risky. Entrepreneurs who understand this and the challenges that come with it are the ones with the best chances for successful growth.”

Getting overwhelmed by growth. Growth is change. Growth requires more processes, controls, and people. Too much growth too quickly can create financial, quality, and reputational risks that if not properly managed can lead to the demise of the business. Keeping tabs on all of these factors can easily overwhelm business owners. “Growth is like Mother Nature,” explains Hess. “She can be good or she can wreak havoc with hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods. To properly manage company growth, successful, experienced entrepreneurs recommend the ‘gas pedal’ approach—when you start to feel overwhelmed, let up on the gas to allow processes, controls, and people to catch up.”

Knowing when to say “no.” Most successful start-ups have a plethora of opportunities. The challenge is choosing the right ones. Good opportunities are those that will enhance your company’s strengths and result in a compelling customer value proposition. “Opportunities that don’t fall into that category should be met with a ‘no, thank you,’” says Hess. “The problem is that too many entrepreneurs never learn to say ‘NO!’ In an effort to get their business off the ground and keep it up and running, they say ‘yes’ to everything. They end up trying to do too much for too many, which dilutes their focus and often the quality of their product or service. Determining and having the discipline to maintain a narrow strategic focus is critical to success, and that will require that you turn down certain opportunities. Successful entrepreneurs often call it ‘sticking to your knitting.’”

Learning to effectively delegate. For a business to grow, the entrepreneur must grow. When growth begins, you’ll quickly find that you can do only so much and that you need help from others to properly serve customers. You must evolve from being a doer to a manager of employees and then eventually to a manager of managers (a leader). “This may sound easy but it isn’t,” says Hess. “Most entrepreneurs don’t like to give up control of any aspect of their business. Facing the fact that they can’t do it all on their own and that they must learn to rely on others to complete certain tasks (and not necessarily exactly how they themselves would do them) can be a very hard reality to swallow.”

Transitioning from owner to leader. When you get to the point where you’re delegating tasks and relying on your employees to drive your business, you must also transition from thinking of yourself as just a business owner and start developing as a leader and coach. Evolving toward becoming a leader and coach is challenging, because both roles require emotional intelligence, people engagement, and the ability to relate to individuals in a way that they find meaningful.
“Coaching requires that time be spent getting to know people, listening, caring, understanding their emotional needs, and helping them grow,” explains Hess. “Coaching takes patience and a degree of personal emotional intimacy that many entrepreneurs are not able to achieve. It requires a continuation of the mind shift from ‘me, the entrepreneur’ and ‘my way’ to ‘it is really all about them.’”

Hiring smart. Hiring mistakes are costly, time consuming, and create quality and financial control risks for small businesses. When confronted with impending growth, entrepreneurs often panic and hire employees too quickly, making snap decisions based on little data.
“In my research, bad hiring practices often continued when entrepreneurs tried to hire managers who needed to have functional or technical experience,” notes Hess. “In many cases, the companies had to make multiple costly hires for the same position before finding someone with the right competencies who also fit the company culture. Many of these entrepreneurs frequently stated that they should have ‘hired more slowly and fired more quickly.’ They made much better hiring decisions when they learned to hire against a competencies and cultural scorecard; conduct multiple interviews; have multiple people interview prospects; hire on a trial basis; establish mentors for new employees; develop a good on-boarding process; and encourage good employees to make hiring referrals.”

Managing cash flow. Many times entrepreneurs get overly engaged in the joy of growth and lose sight of the need to manage cash on a daily basis. Cash flow management during growth periods is critical, because in many cases growth requires investments in people, technology, supplies, etc., ahead of the receipt of cash from customers. Thus, there is often a mismatch between expenditures and receipts.
“This might sound simple, but it can be a major issue if not handled properly,” notes Hess. “Entrepreneurs have to understand that they may not be able to afford all the available growth. The amount of cash available for investment can limit growth, especially in today’s economy when many small businesses can’t get loans or credit lines. And finally, I can’t help but stress the importance of cautiously managing your checkbooks, credit cards, and online accounts. If you do decide to delegate this task, choose the employee you trust the most and set prescribed monetary limits. Check your payments and accounts every day, because frauds do occur.”

Spending too much time putting out fires. A high-growth environment is hectic, sometimes chaotic, with multiple mistakes needing to be corrected almost every day. “Entrepreneurs can easily get sucked into playing the role of ‘firefighter,’” says Hess, “spending their days putting out fires. The problem with that is that growth requires the entrepreneur to plan for more growth, to put in place new and better processes, and to be constantly upgrading processes and resetting priorities. It is very difficult to find the time to do all that when your time is eaten up mediating employee conflicts, correcting inventory orders, calming angry customers, and so on. Entrepreneurs in my study found that they had to be disciplined in getting away from their businesses for short periods of time to think and plan. They needed ‘firehouse’ time away from the daily ‘fires’ that pop up when running a business.”

Creating a high-performance “family.” Entrepreneurs often struggle with creating a high-performance “family” or team environment. The challenge, of course, arises when someone in the “family” just isn’t meeting expectations and has to be terminated because they couldn’t grow their skills as the business grew. “Here entrepreneurs face an uphill battle in balancing loyalty and changing performance needs,” notes Hess. “Let someone go who everyone else at the company loves and you’ve created morale and emotional issues. Let a poor performer stay and you’ve created morale and emotional issues. See the challenge? The entrepreneurs I researched learned that you can have a ‘family’-like culture and high performance by having clear job expectations; a fair, transparent, and frequent feedback process; and by giving people a fair chance to improve or to step into a role that they could do well.”

Understanding that upgrading never ends. The people, processes, structure, and controls needed to manage a business with $1 million of revenue generally do not work for a business with $10 million of revenue.
“Entrepreneurs often learn the hard way that growth means continual change,” says Hess. “And as you grow, the solutions that worked at one level will most likely not work at the next. Inflection points for the companies I’ve studied occurred frequently when they expanded to 10, 25, 50, and 100 employees. When these changes take place, entrepreneurs often realize their hope of having a smooth-running machine is an elusive dream. Successful entrepreneurs and their employees are open to learning and adapting in an incremental, iterative, and experimental fashion. The hard truth is that growing businesses generally do not experience much sameness or predictability until they become quite large—for example, larger than $100 million in revenue—but learn to manage these changes properly, and you can keep the ship pointed in the right direction.”
          “Growing a business is an evolutionary process,” says Hess. “Growth is messy. Growth is change. Growth has spurts, detours, downturns, and spikes. Growth requires constant learning and improvement. And if not well planned and managed, it can outstrip the capabilities of companies.
          “These are important points that must be heeded,” concludes Hess. “Growth should be a strategic decision made only after the risks of growing and not growing have been assessed. My advice is that rather than focus on growing for growth’s sake, base your goals around how you can constantly improve your business. When you do this, you will be able to meet the challenges of business growth head on and with great success.”

# # #

About the Author:
Edward D. Hess is author of Growing an Entrepreneurial Business: Concepts & Cases (Stanford University Press, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-8047714-1-2, $75.00, www.EDHLTD.com) and is a professor of business administration and Batten Executive-in-Residence at the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia. He is the author of nine books, over 60 cases, and over 60 articles. His work has appeared in over 200 media outlets around the world including CNBC, Fox Business News, Dow Jones Radio, WSJ Radio, MSNBC Radio, NPR, Forbes, Bloomberg, BusinessWeek, CFO magazine, Financial Executive, Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Big Think, the Washington Post, and Financial Times. His book Smart Growth: Building an Enduring Business by Managing the Risks of Growth (Columbia Business School Publishing, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-2311505-0-7, $27.95, www.EDHLTD.com) was named a 2010 Top 25 Business Book for Business Owners by Inc. magazine.

About the Book:
Growing an Entrepreneurial Business: Concepts & Cases (Stanford University Press, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-8047714-1-2, $75.00, www.EDHLTD.com) is available at Amazon.com.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ultimate Networker is June 10

Entrepreneurs and professionals are invited to attend The Ultimate Mixer and Business Connector, 6 to 9 p.m. Friday June 10 at The Skyline Club in Southfield. Hosted by the South East Michigan Entrepreneurs Association (SEMEA) and The Skyline Club, there will be a short presentation by Keynote Speaker Terry Bean, author of The Universal Guide to Business Networking. He will discuss how to build and leverage professional relationships more effectively. To follow, will be a speed networking icebreaker and a mix and mingle to allow attendees to begin to practice what they learn. Hors d’oeuvres will be served. Participants are required to submit a brief profile online before registering. Registration is $20. For more information or to register visit www.semea.info or call 248-491-3146.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Area golf outings tee off summer

June 6
The 2011 Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce Golf Outing is 9:30 a.m. June 6 at Fieldstone Golf Course, 1984 Taylor Road, Auburn Hills. The shotgun start is at 11 a.m. There is a buffet lunch on the course and a dinner buffet and after hours mixer 4 to 6 p.m. with an awards presentation at 5:30 p.m. The cost is $100 per golfer. To register, call 248-651-6700 or email info@rrc-mi.com.

June 6
The 21st Annual Hank Greenberg Memorial Golf Invitational (The Greenberg), a day-long golf, dinner, auction and social event with legendary athletes and sports celebrities to raise money to fight prostate cancer will be at 10 a.m. June 6 at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills. Attendees will be treated to golf on the South or North courses at world famous Oakland Hills Country Club, open bar, and a special program featuring Frank Robinson, Jimmy Roberts, and Emcee Jeremy Schaap in a dynamic sports panel, as well as awards presentations. The celebration will include a silent auction. Visit www.michiganjewishsports.org or contact David Blatt at dblatt@michiganjewishsports.org or 248-592-9323.

June 10
The fifth annual “Megan’s Dreams” charity golf outing is 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, June 10 at the Dearborn Hills Golf Club, 1300 S. Telegraph, Dearborn. The charity fundraiser features golf and silent and live auctions. All proceeds will benefit the Friends for the Dearborn Animal Shelter and “Megan’s Dreams,” a scholarship fund set up to help students pursue veterinary studies at Michigan State University. The cost for golfers is $125, which includes 18 holes of golf, gift package, breakfast, dinner with a 2-hour open bar and beverages on the cart, plus lunch and snacks. Nongolfers can join the post-golf dinner at $50 per person, which includes a 2-hour open bar. Visit www.dearbornanimals.org.
 

June 13
The 24th Annual Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce golf outing is June 13 at Fountains Golf & Banquet, 6060 Maybee Road, Clarkston. Registration begins at 7 a.m. It’s a Ryder Cup format, beginning with 8:30 a.m. shotgun. The cost is $150 per golfer and $600 per four-some. There will be a silent auction during the strolling dinner and awards celebration following the golf classic. Sponsorships are available. Call 248-625-8055 or visit www.clarkston.org.

June 13
The 24th Annual Women’s Golf Classic is Monday, June 13 at Great Oaks Country Club, 777 Great Oaks Blvd., Rochester. This event will have raffle items, golfer gifts, contest awards, and a silent auction. Proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Troy which offers a positive place for young people enabling them to become responsible, self-reliant, caring adults. The Golf Package is $150 and includes an 18 hole scramble with shotgun start at 8:30 a.m., golf cart, continental breakfast at 7:30 a.m., on-course beverages, and lunch at 1:30 p.m. For sponsorship and registration, call the Boys & Girls Club at 248-689-1687 or visit www.bgctroy.org.

June 14
The 9th annual Arab American and Chaldean Council’s Golf Outing & Scholarship dinner, “Swinging for Scholarships,” is June 14 at Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield Township. There will be lunch and the driving range will open at 10 a.m., a shot-gun start will be at 11:15 a.m., and dinner will be at 5 p.m. There are different packages available at different prices. For information, contact Kimberly Hassan at 248-559-1990.

JUNE 15
The deadline for signing up for The Troy Foundation for Educational Excellence’s 9th annual Golf Classic is June 15. The event will be Wednesday, June 22, at Sylvan Glen Golf Course, 5725 Rochester Road, Troy. Proceeds fund educational grants for students in the Troy School District. The day begins with lunch at 11 a.m., a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m.., followed by dinner at 5:30 p.m. The cost is $500 for a foursome or $135 for individual golfers. Visit www.troyfoundation.org/ for more information on how to become a part of the activity.

June 20
The Waterford Foundation for Public Education’s Annual Golf Outing will have a shotgun start at 8 a.m. June 20 at Fountains Golf and Banquet, 6060 Maybee Road, Clarkston. The Foundation Golf Outing honors Chris Strong, a 1970 graduate of Waterford Kettering High School, this year. For golf outing ticket information or sponsorship inquiries, call 248-625-3731. All donations are tax deductible.

June 20
The Troy and Royal Oak Chambers of Commerce’s annual Tee Off FORE Troy Golf Outing is June 20, at Red Run Golf Club, 2036 Rochester Road, Royal Oak. The outing begins with lunch at 11 a.m., followed by 18-hole golf scramble at 12:30 p.m. There will be a networking reception with light hors d’oeuvres and awards afterward. The cost is $850 for foursome and $235 for individual, as space permits. There is a competitive scramble in the morning. To register, call Jaimi Brook at 248-641-0031 or email jaimi@troychamber.com.

June 24
The Pontiac Regional Chamber Challenge Cup is June 24 at Pontiac Municipal Golf Course, 800 Golf Drive, Pontiac. The golf outing begins with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. The outing with dinner is $125 per person. Dinner only is $25. Call 248-335-9600 or visit www.pontiacchamber.com. The golf outing offers golfers a format like that of the popular Ryder Cup. Dinner will begin concluding the Challenge Cup and will be served in the Pontiac Municipal Golf Course Club House. In addition to awarding the cup at the dinner, there will be a raffle, other awards, silent auction and networking.

June 24
The Macomb County Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers’ Ninth Annual Charity Golf Outing (our person best ball scramble) will begin at 10 a.m. June 24 at Selfridge Golf Course, on the grounds of Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Harrison Township. The cost is $150 per golfer or $40 per person for the dinner/auction only. Must register by June 17, call 586-757-5551 or visit www.mcivc.org.

June 27
Michigan Women's Hall of Fame’s golf outing and picnic dinner will be at noon June 27 at the Country Club of Lansing, 2200 Moores River Drive, Lansing. Sign-up as a foursome, a sponsor, or individually and you will matched with a group. If you don’t golf, attend the dinner, reception and raffle. Dinner is $40; raffle tickets are $5 or 3 for $10; the grand prize is a two night stay at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and there are over 40 additional prizes-baskets, gift certificates, tickets, memberships, and more. For reservations, visit http://www.michiganwomen.org/.

Aug. 11
The Auburn Hills Chamber’s 16th Annual Golf Outing is Aug. 11 at Fieldstone Golf Club, 1984 Taylor Road in Auburn Hills. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with a shot gun start at 10 a.m. followed by lunch on the turn and a steak dinner in the late afternoon. The golf outing includes 18 holes, golf carts, a continental breakfast, lunch on the turn, an awards dinner, games, prize opportunities, networking, plus four drink tickets. Hole-in-One prizes include a Rolex Watch donated by dBusiness and $10,000 cash sponsored by the OU-MSU Federal Credit Union. Golf fees are $165 per person, or $600 for a four-some. To register, visit www.auburnhillschamber.com or call 248-853-7862.