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, October 30, 2013

$5,000 to $50,000 microloans available to Oakland County small businesses

The Center for Empowerment and Economic Development (CEED), a nonprofit organization whose mission includes providing tools and removing barriers that hinder the success of small businesses, has earmarked $500,000 in microloans for Oakland County small businesses over the next year and a half.
While small businesses often encounter reluctance from traditional lenders, CEED has championed their cause.
"Our goal is to help owners take their small businesses to the next level," explained CEED's executive director Michelle Richards. "Many people don't know about our Oakland County Microloan Program, but we've provided $633,000 in funding since 2010 to small businesses."
CEED's microloan funding has enabled Oakland County small business owners to retain 75 jobs and created 100 new ones. The program not only provides funding; it also supports owners with a team that identifies other resources needed in order for them to be successful. Help in areas such as proposal writing, sales and marketing, relocation, identifying mentors and more is available.
"Banks have very risk-averse lending parameters," Richards continued. "Since 83 percent of Michigan businesses are comprised of five or fewer employees, it's critical that these microloans are available to them.  CEED loans anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 to small businesses that have been turned down by banks because we take more of a partnership approach, and we take more risk.  Our mission is to help small businesses, and we take our mission seriously."
Help is available to those who qualify for CEED's microloan program, and men as well as women are welcome to apply. Merle Norman in Farmington Hills, Maverick Building Systems in Commerce Township and DataGration in Southfield are just three examples of businesses that have obtained microloans and other business support services from CEED.
Belinda Turner Dubois, loan officer for CEED, explained, "Each of the owners of these businesses had unique circumstances and needs. Our team at CEED was able to see their vision and help them gain funding and other resources needed so that they could be successful.  We hope that other small business owners in Oakland County will come work with us to grow their businesses."
CEED offers a monthly orientation to its Oakland County Microloan Program that discusses the requirements and process necessary to apply and obtain a microloan. The next orientation is 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13. The December orientation is Wednesday, Dec. 11. For details, call 734-677-1400. For registration, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com/expand/ or call 248-858-0783.

Halloween costumes for pets nets $330 million

It's hard to believe this country is limping away from a recession. The National Retail Federation predicts Americans are spending $330 million on costumes for their pets.
theoaklandpress.com/lifestyle/20131025/consumers-spend-330-million-on-halloween-pet-costumes

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Aereo TV service launching in metro Detroit

There's a new way to watch free over-the-air TV channels on television sets. Aereo Inc., a new TV service provider, debuts in metro Detroit, Oct. 28. Consumers need an internet TV streaming box (Roku) and internet service to use Aereo, which costs $8 per month.
It doesn't replace cable service, since it doesn't offer many channels and consumers still need internet service, but maybe it's a start.
 Major broadcast networks say the upstart service is stealing copyrighted content and has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case. If Aereo gets past that, will cable companies be their next opponent?

For more information, visit www.theoaklandpress.com/general-news/20131025/upstart-cable-tv-alternative-aereo-launching-in-metro-detroit 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Oakland County business events slated Oct. 24

There is a host of business events, workshops and grand openings in the Oakland County area. If you have an event to list, email it to kathy.blake@oakpress.com.

Oct. 24
BIRMINGHAM — The Community House is hosting its second annual business symposium, “Maximizing Your Success Potential,” is 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24 at The Community House, 380 South Bates St., Birmingham. Keith Pretty, President and CEO of Northwood University will serve as the event’s keynote speaker. As a nonprofit, The Community House goal is to raise $33,000 from the Symposium to help fund programs for at risk youth in Oakland and Wayne counties. Every attendee will go to three moderated seminars with four expert panelists giving key tips and tools of how to “maximizing their success potential” in the following topic areas. Tickets are $60. Register at www.tchsymposium.org/, or call 248-644-5832.
Oct. 24
NOVI — Critical Signal Technologies will host a grand opening gala with ribbon cutting and tours of the new facility at 3:15 p.m., Thursday Oct. 24 at their new headquarters at 27475 Meadowbrook Road in Novi. The new headquarters will accommodate the company’s growth over the past six years. Critical Signal provides emergency response products, care transitions and readmission management programs for patients.
Oct. 24
TROY — Dale Carnegie Training Center is offering an orientation course for the Dale Carnegie training program, 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday Oct. 24 at Embassy Suites, 850 Tower Drive, Troy. The course outlines the five objectives of the Dale Carnegie program: increased self confidence, people skills, communication skills, leadership skills and reducing stress and worry. For more information, call 248-380-7000 or visit michigan.dalecarnegie.com.
Oct. 24
ROYAL OAK — Brand experts from Trent Design will discuss the distinction between brand development and branding at the Association for Women in Communications (AWC), Detroit Chapter meeting on Thursday, Oct. 24, at Socrates Tea Shop in Detroit. Marilyn Trent, Principal, and Vivian Carmody, Brand Strategist will illustrate the successful outcomes and effectiveness of work that is built on a strategic identity vs. work that is built only as visual identity. The evening will begin at 5:30 p.m. with networking over light supper and refreshments, followed by program at 7 p.m. The cost is $20 for members, $30 for nonmembers and $15 for students. Socrates Tea Shop is located at 71 Garfield, Suite 50, Detroit. Registered participants will receive directions to private parking. For more information, or to register, visit www.womcomdetroit.org/ or call 866-385-1784.
Oct. 24
WALLED LAKE — Continuity Programs is hosting its 40th anniversary celebration and open house, 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24 at its new headquarters at 8451 Boulder Court, Walled Lake. The event features a tour of the new facility and new technology being developed. Hors d'oeuvres and cocktails will be served.
Kirk King, president of Continuity Programs, said he is hosting a marketing mailer giveaway on the company’s facebook page. Visit www.facebook.com/continuityprograms aservices@continuityprograms.com or call 800-521-0026 or visit www.continuityprograms.com for more information.
Oct. 24 — Tawny Thieu-Walker- owner of multiple Pink Pump, P2, P2 Exchange women's fashion boutiques, and PBS “Start-Up” series are hosting an all women entrepreneurial event and mixer and premiere 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24 at Pink Pump, 309 S. Main, Royal Oak.
The event is a women's entrepreneurial enrichment event, a RSVP preview screening of Thieu-Walker's Start-Up segment will be shown, followed by a Q & A with Thieu-Walker and Jenny Feterovich, the producer.
Start-Up, is a new PBS television docuseries highlighting the struggles and victories of entrepreneurs in eight cities across the United States, debuted this fall. It airs at 7:30 p.m. Mondays on WTVS in Detroit. Sponsored by American Express, General Motors and Walsh College, Start-Up provides an up close and personal look into today’s small business success stories. View trailer at vimeo.com/74573666. To RSVP, email startup@pinkpump.com. Drinks and appetizers will be served.

For future Oakland County business events, go to Business Calendar which is listed in the right column of this blog.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ten ways business owners fail their customers and one way to set it right


Phoenix, AZ — Any entrepreneur willing to endure the proverbial “blood, sweat, and tears” it takes to start a business knows how important clients are. They write the checks that pay the bills. So keeping them satisfied is rarely just lip service. In fact, most business owners believe they are putting their clients first. But according to Joseph Callaway, what they don’t realize is they’ve developed an array of bad habits that accomplish just the opposite. “Most owners would be shocked to hear they’re putting clients last,” admits Callaway, who, along with his wife, JoAnn, is the author of the New York Times best seller Clients First: The Two Word Miracle (Wiley, October 2012, ISBN: 978-1-1184127-7-0, $21.95, www.clientsfirstbook.com). “But in reality they’re putting so many other things first—their own bank accounts, comfort, convenience, even their own pride—that the customer really does come last…or close to it, anyway.

1. You believe your number-one business goal is to make money. Ummm…isn’t that the point of running a company? you might be asking. Well, it’s a point, says Callaway, but it’s not the point. A too-acute focus on improving the bottom line takes your attention off of the people who are going to enable you to raise it: your customers.
“The difference between paying attention to service so that your clients will give you more business and doing so because serving the customer is your first priority may feel slight, but it’s significant,” Callaway promises. “Taking your focus off the bottom line may feel uncomfortable at first. But you’ll soon find that when you focus on how best to serve clients, tough decisions make themselves. If it serves the client, you do it. If it doesn’t, you don’t—even if you make less money.”
2. You let the little things slide. As a business owner, there are a lot of “big” things you’d never neglect. For example, you wouldn’t lock up for the night without making sure that your restaurant’s kitchen was thoroughly cleaned, and you wouldn’t allow your accountancy office’s college intern to prepare a client’s taxes. However, you might not be such a stickler for what you believe are “smaller things.” Rushing through paperwork so you can get home early, failing to spellcheck an email or two, and running late to a meeting probably won’t matter that much six months from now, you think. But that’s not necessarily the case, says Callaway.
“So often in life, it’s the small details that differentiate ‘good’ from ‘great,’” he says. “And make no mistake: If it impacts a customer’s happiness, best interests, comfort level, or anything else even the slightest bit, it’s not a ‘little’ thing.
3. If it’s not “broke,” you don’t fix it. Many business owners subscribe to the theory that if something’s not broken, they don’t need to fix it. If the check-in paperwork your receptionist uses has been in place for years and you’re not getting many complaints, why tinker with it? If your knowledge is sufficient to handle most of your clients’ problems, why spend valuable time learning more? According to Callaway, the answer is simple: If you don’t consistently strive to improve, you’re not putting your clients first.
4. You downplay your mistakes. Nobody likes the mishmash of negative feelings that accompanies making a mistake. That’s why many business owners (and their employees) resolve matters with clients as quickly as possible when a ball is dropped, and then try to never speak of the matter again. After all, there’s no sense wallowing in your slip-up—you need to move forward! Right?
“Wrong,” states Callaway. “When your company makes a mistake, no matter how big or small, it’s your responsibility to stare that mistake in the face and get to the very bottom of what went wrong. That’s not just so you can fix one particular error; it’s so you can figure out why it happened and make sure it doesn’t occur again.
5. You subscribe to the idea that the customer is always right. Callaway isn’t saying that you should disregard a client’s preferences and desires—of course you should try to get to the bottom of what each customer wants, and then do whatever is in your power to deliver that product or service. However, when customers are simply wrong and their best interests are at stake, it’s your responsibility to say so.
“Allowing a customer to be ‘right’ when you know he isn’t may pacify him temporarily, but in the end, it won’t be good for either of you,” Callaway says. “Putting clients first sometimes means politely but honestly disagreeing with or disappointing them. If a financial advisor allows a client to make an overly risky investment he’s determined to make, it doesn’t make the client right; it just makes the advisor irresponsible.
6. You habitually let certain clients go to voicemail. It’s happened to everyone: When you see that name flash on your phone’s caller ID, you slowly pull your hand back from the receiver and let the ringing continue. You just don’t want to deal with the drama, or the whining, or the accusations, or the belligerence just now. Yes, we all have “problem” clients. But to avoid them or just go through the motions for them is a mistake. They will notice and remember your behavior.
Clients First means all clients,” Callaway insists. “In over fourteen years, my wife and I have never gotten rid of a single client—even when we secretly wished we could—and we believe this no-fire strategy has contributed significantly to our ultimate success. Here’s the payoff: When you make the choice to stand by all of your frazzled, frustrated customers, you will eventually reap financial and personal rewards.
7. You find yourself telling white lies. Telling clients white lies, or exaggerating, misdirecting, or omitting, might make life easier temporarily. It’s easy to justify such behavior (She’ll never know, and it’ll save me hours of work, for example). But Callaway says these “little” lies are as bad as the whoppers. There is always a chance that customers will see through you and call you on the carpet.
8. You spend more time trying to get off the phone than really hearing what the customer has to say. Chances are, you roll out the red carpet in order to get prospective clients on board. And you’re probably willing to bear with the whims, questions, and requests of fairly new customers whose business isn’t yet cemented. But what about older, more established clients? Do you take the same amount of time and care with them, or do you assume they’ll stick with you out of habit and convenience?
“If you wouldn’t hang up the phone at the first opportunity with a client you signed last week, don’t do it with one you signed ten years ago,” advises Callaway.
9. You don’t know your client’s daughter’s name or what he likes to do on the weekends. In your eyes you’re being professional when every question in your meeting is about the client’s financial preferences, for example, and not his family, pastimes, and interests. But in his eyes, you’re cold and impersonal. Remember, to truly serve, you have to care. When you keep yourself at arm’s length, you can’t give your clients 100 percent…and you give them an incentive to take their business elsewhere.
10. You feel your main obligation to employees is writing their paycheck. While (of course) you don’t treat employees like dirt, you may feel that you don’t owe them any special favors, either. After all, you’re paying them—isn’t that enough? Well, no, says Callaway. The way your people treat customers reflects the way you treat them. Are you courteous? Kind? Enthusiastic? Do you listen when they talk to you and try to accommodate their needs? Or are you short, perfunctory, and even (sometimes) rude?
“Your job is to serve others, period,” Callaway says. “You can’t do that by making distinctions between the people who work for you and the people to whom you provide a good or service. Realize that you set the tone for your company’s ‘personality,’ and that you’re creating a tribe of people who will beat the drum for your message. Try to see your employees through a client’s eyes and be honest: Would they win first or second place in a customer service competition? If you don’t like the answer, try adjusting your own attitude first.”
“After reading through all of these scenarios, the one way to put your customers first is probably pretty obvious: Put them first!” concludes Callaway. “There can be no excuses and no exceptions.

About the Authors:
Joseph Callaway and JoAnn Callaway are coauthors of the New York Times best seller Clients First: The Two Word Miracle and founders of the real estate company Those Callaways.

JoAnn sold more than four thousand homes totaling in excess of a billion dollars. She accomplished this in her first ten years selling real estate and she did it one client at a time. Joseph is the author of countless advertisements, newspaper pages, magazine layouts, fliers, blog posts, manuals, property profiles, and thousands of real estate contracts.
To learn more, visit www.clientsfirstbook.com.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

PR firm hosting PR and marketing conference, Oct. 26-27

Lynne Golodner and her PR team at Your People LLC are hosting a two-day conference to empower entrepreneurs, business owners and non-profit leaders in tackling some of their PR and Marketing activities themselves.
Marketing, Messaging & Media: Storytelling to Build Your Business is Oct. 26-27 at Walsh College’s Troy campus. Sponsors include Walsh College and Buy Michigan Now, with a speaker roster including Your People Chief Creative Officer Lynne Meredith Golodner, Source Movement entrepreneur Donna Orbovich, business coach Nick Hansinger, entrepreneur Lisa Diggs, Karma Yoga business owner Katherine Austin, Rich Donley of MCCI, Brenda Meller of Walsh College and more.
“I’ve always believed that everyone needs PR, but not everyone should have to pay a fortune for it,” says Golodner, who transitioned into public relations after spending 15 years as a print journalist and author. Her most recent book, The Flavors of Faith: Holy Breads, launched in June; she is in the process of morphing her writing and her PR work into a new “faithful public relations” model.
“We service a select group of retainer clients,” says Golodner. “This conference, and several other programs we launched this year, serve another tier of business owners, entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders. Now, there is PR and Marketing guidance for all price points – because some of these tactics can be handled in-house, with careful guidance from those of us who do it every day.”
The conference will guide attendees through the art of storytelling and strategic relationship building as the foundations for business growth. Participants will emerge from the conference with a completed media pitch in hand. Two panels on Sunday, Oct. 27 will feature business owners sharing their PR successes and media professionals teaching listeners how and what to pitch. Registration is open at http://www.yourppl.com/mmm-detroit. 
Your People is based in Southfield. For more information, call 248-281-6079 or email lynne@yourppl.com.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Expo showcases advancements in health and tecnhology, Oct. 11-13

The Awake and Empowered Expo -Thriving in an Era of Higher Consciousness, is Oct. 11-13 at Cobo Center in Detroit. Experts from around the globe will present the latest advancements in holistic health, wellness, science and free energy technology.

"The Awake and Empowered Expo is the first event of its kind," said Ethann Fox, founder of Flower of Life Center and visionary behind the expo. "We now have the scientific understanding to extend our lives to 1,000 years and beyond in perfect health and strengthen and heal the mind, body, and spirit through frequency and the vibration of sound. This event brings research, technology and viable solutions into the hands of the public, allowing them to live healthier and happier."

The schedule includes insightful lectures, workshops and panel discussions on emerging technologies in the fields of energy, space travel, teleportation, and genetics; the benefits of adopting a Raw Vegan diet; the application of sound and vibrational frequencies to support the immune system and overall wellbeing; and techniques for mitigating the many toxins in our modern world, such as GMO foods and electromagnetic fields

Attendees may partake in interactive raw food and juicing demos, participate in the meditative and energy balancing practices of Tai Chi and Ki Qigong, and realign and strengthen the body through yoga and the vibration of planetary gongs.

Participants can purchase a special ticket to mingle with all of the keynote presenters at a VIP Afterglow event planned for Saturday evening at 10 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel across the street from Cobo Center.

The event opens Friday, Oct. 11 with a welcome reception and viewing of the movie, "Thrive - What in the World Will it Take?" at 7 p.m. the expo runs from 8:30 a.m. until midnight, Oct. 12-13. Tickets may be purchased by visiting www.awakeandempoweredexpo.com. General admission tickets are $60 online or $75 at the door.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

3 tips to improve employee engagement

Submitted by Ginny Grimsley, News and Experts Wesley Chapel, FL, www.newsandexperts.com 

While most people go to work in order to make money to pay for food, housing and bills, a job can also be a source of accomplishment and achievement.
 If business leaders and managers work is not fulfilling any higher purpose for them than making money, they’re lacking one of the essential qualities necessary for helping their employees become engaged – and for keeping engaged employees enthusiastic, according to Trevor Wilson, human resources strategist, CEO of TWI Inc., and author of “The Human Equity Advantage,” (www.twiinc.com). 
Business leaders who are striving to create something that will leave the world a better place are not only more engaged themselves, they’re more likely to do the things that help their employees engage, Wilson says. “Our search for happiness is our search for our purpose, and we achieve both by bringing all of our skills and talents – our human equity – to the job,” he says.
He offers three tips for fostering a culture in which employees are actively engaged:
• Use performance evaluations to learn more about your employees’ strengths, interests and goals. Each employee has strengths and talents that often go unrecognized -- and untapped -- in the workplace. Helping them to identify these and use them at work contributes to their feeling that their work has purpose and results in more engaged, productive employees. “People want to bring all their talents to what they’re doing – we’re happiest when we’re doing what we’re good at it,” Wilson says. “In order to know what those skills, talents, even personality traits are, managers must get to know their individual employees.”
• Do not treat all employees equally. All employees are not equal and treating them as if they were leaves engaged, enthusiastic employees feeling shortchanged and disengaged employees feeling entitled, Wilson says. “Acknowledge and reward employees who are going the extra mile and point out the ways they’re contributing that may not be quantifiable or part of their ‘job description.’ The successful salesman who routinely coaches less successful colleagues is displaying a strength that won’t show up on his sales sheet but is, nonetheless, a valuable contribution to the company.”
• Recognize and reward employees’ demonstration of strong values. Values are part of the human equity that all of us bring to work in varying degrees. Honesty, integrity, compassion, work ethic – our best employees usually have these and other strong, positive values.  Business leaders may unconsciously recognize them, for instance, by giving a very honest employee their trust, but they should make a point of acknowledging them publicly as well. “Our values are the foundation of our purpose and an expression of our true selves,” Wilson says. “Employees who are both able to demonstrate their values at work, and rewarded for doing so, having a greater sense of purpose.”

Friday, October 4, 2013

Marketing & Sales Executives to honor executives at gala

The Marketing & Sales Executives of Detroit (MSED)  will honor three executives at its annual Black-Tie Gala, Oct. 16 at the Roostertail in Detroit.
Peter Karmanos Jr., former executive chairman and founder of Compuware Corporation; Alan Batey, senior vice president, Global Chevrolet Brand Chief and U.S. Sales and Marketing; and Andra Rush, president and CEO, The Rush Group, will be honored as will southeastern Michigan’s top sales and marketing professionals.
Tickets for the black-tie event cost $150 for MSED members, $195 for non-members. The price includes an elegant cocktail reception, dinner and afterglow reception. For information, call 248-643-6590 or visit www.msedetroit.org.