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.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Area downtowns celebrate Small Business Saturday

The Saturday following Black Friday, often referred to as “Small Business Saturday,” is an opportunity to discover the numerous independent retailers in downtown areas.

Birmingham shoppers treated to free parking
Birmingham shoppers can take advantage of extra incentives and free metered parking on Small Business Saturday. Shoppers are encouraged to shop local on Saturday, November 30 during Small Business Saturday. Created by American Express in 2010, the day is celebrated every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses across the country. The Patch, in conjunction with American Express, will offer free parking at the meters in downtown Birmingham. There will be complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides, carolers throughout the downtown area and warming station with complimentary cookies and hot chocolate near Santa House in Shain Park. For more information about Small Business Saturday, visit
Downtown Clarkston

Nate Burelson supports Small Business Saturday with signing
Nate Burleson of the Detroit Lions will be showing his support for Small Business Saturday by doing a signing from 5 to 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 30 at Bonnie & Clyde boutique in Clarkston. Bonnie & Clyde is a recent addition inside the small family-run business known as The Birdfeeder & Clarkston Flower Shoppe, that has been around for 20 years.
The shops are at 7150 N Main St., next to Mesquite Creek in Clarkston.
With everything from floral and home décor to men’s and women’s apparel, the owners Steve Stroud and Sherry Sharischulz have created a unique shopping destination. Striving to carry the most fashion forward trends,they said they were thrilled when Robert Montalvo asked them to carry Nate Burleson’s new line, Lion Blood.
Lionblood was launched in 2013 by Nate Burleson and Robert Montalvo to represent natural-born leaders who exude confidence and royalty.
“Having Nate Burleson come out to the boutique is a community event that helps restore hope for small businesses as we all strive for a new and brighter Detroit,” said Stroud. Call 248-625-9007 or visit

Rochester kicks off the season with bright lights
The Big Bright Light Show will debut at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2 during the annual Lagniappe celebration. Downtown Rochester will light up with more than one million LED colorful lights on store fronts. Lagniappe, (pronounced lonyop) is an old-fashioned French Creole expression popularized by Mark Twain. It means a special gift which merchants give to customers. As part of Lagniappe, the DDA is partnering with Rochester Area Neighborhood House for “Kicks for a Cause” to collect new shoes and socks for area children in need. The donation center is at E. Fourth and Main from 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 2. There will be events throughout the season, including horse-drawn carriage rides, 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6 to Dec. 27. For more information, visit

Milford hosts “Dinner’s On Us”
The Village of Milford is hosting Dinner’s On Us. From 5:30 to 9 p.m. each Thursday through Dec. 26, a few of Santa’s elves will drop into the downtown restaurants and pick up the tabs of unsuspecting patrons, nearly 90 tabs throughout the season.
“Dinner’s On Us started as a variation of an old Irish tradition encouraging people to buy a friend a drink or meal for no particular reason,” said Eric Horsley, an owner of The Clothing Cove and mastermind behind Dinner’s On Us.
Throughout the holiday season, shoppers are encouraged to bring a donation of dog or cat food to Your Nesting Place to receive 20 percent off an entire purchase of fully-priced items. All donations will benefit Adopt-a-Pet Fenton, a local nonprofit animal adoption center.
On Thursday, Dec. 5 Santa Claus comes to town during Christmas Open House. The annual event offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy strolling entertainment, special promotions at each shop and restaurant, horse-drawn carriage rides, holiday caroling and a visit with Santa in the Center Street Mall. The evening begins at 5:45 p.m., when Santa arrives on Main Street on a Milford Fire Department fire engine. Continuing through 9 p.m., Christmas Open House, shoppers will find an array of holiday décor, locally-made gifts, women’s items, jewelry and children’s toys.

Royal Oak features a series of events
Royal Oak association The Royal Oak Association of Retailers (ROAR) has created a series of holiday events. “It’s a Wonderful Season in Royal Oak” features extended hours, sales, special offers and giveaways. The events are presented by ROAR in partnership with the Royal Oak Downtown Development Association and Royal Oak Restaurant Association.
‘It’s a Wonderful Season in Royal Oak’ events include Wonder Window, located at Write Impressions, 407 S Washington Ave. It will feature dozens of prizes provided by Royal Oak retailers, restaurants and salon. Throughout the holiday season, shoppers who spend $50 or more at participating retailers will automatically be entered into a drawing to win contents from the window. In addition, Kids Eat Free, Sundays through Dec. 29 at more than 15 area restaurants. For a list of participating restaurants, visit
The Royal Oak Farmers Market is hosting a special evening filled with live music, great food and shopping.Trolleys, Treasures & Tunes Farmers Market Holiday Sampler is Wednesday Dec. 11. A gathering of Metro Detroit’s most popular food trucks will be setting up outside the Royal Oak Farmers Market and Downtown Royal Oak retailers will set up shop inside the market for an exclusive shopping extravaganza. For a complete list of events and more information, visit

Artist constructs 12-foot nutcracker sculpture from food
In an effort to help the Capuchin Soup Kitchen feed thousands of families in Detroit, a local Detroit artist is working with Birmingham-based McCann and ALDI grocery store to create a larger-than-life, 12-foot nutcracker sculpture using non-perishable food items from ALDI. There will be a program at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5 at the McCann lobby, 360 West Maple Road, Birmingham. The nutcracker sculpture will remain on display for the general public through Friday, Dec. 20, at which time the non-perishable food items will be donated to Capuchin Soup Kitchen.
As part of this program, the Academy Russian Classic Ballet will perform a rendition of The Nutcracker, demonstrating the power of art and encouraging people to donate food to those in need this holiday season. For more information visit

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

UHY LLP Michigan hosts free accounting and regulatory update

TROYUHY LLP, a full service certified public accounting firm, is hosting its annual Accounting & Regulatory Update at the MSU Management Education Center, 811 W. Square Lake Road, Troy on Wednesday, Dec. 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. This complimentary full day program is geared towards CFO’s, audit committee members and chairs, and others who want to learn more about the latest accounting, regulatory, legal and SEC updates. The program will open with a SEC accounting and legal update, followed by experts discussing the latest on the health care reform, conflict minerals, complex equity and debt transactions, critical controls to defer fraud in business, fiduciary responsibilities for qualified benefit plans, and an estate tax and transfer update. The event will conclude with an economic update from keynote L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County Executive. CPE credit will be offered.
Breakfast, lunch and a cocktail afterglow will be provided. Pre-registration for this complimentary program is required. Contact Jessica Bollenberg by email or phone 248-204-9356. Visit

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Small Business Saturday is a week away

The fourth annual Small Business Saturday is Nov. 30. Shoppers are encouraged to shop small and local that day, to show support for local businesses, the foundation of commerce for this country.
While Walmart may be open on Thanksgiving, shoppers can find most items they need at small businesses on non holidays. Last year, consumers spent $5.5 billion on Small Business Saturday.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Automation Alley hosts manufacturing career consortium

Automation Alley’s Manufacturing Committee and Education and Workforce Committee are hosting a presentation by the Advanced Manufacturing Career Consortium of Kalamazoo. Representatives of the Advanced Manufacturing Career Consortium will discuss innovative and integrated strategies to attract, screen and train qualified candidates for current and future career opportunities, Wednesday, Dec. 4 at Automation Alley Headquarters, 2675 Bellingham, Troy.

Manufacturing companies say the skills gap exists because manufacturing careers aren't viewed as good employment opportunities. They also say high school students aren't completing their education with proficiencies in math and science.

Who should attend: Educators (K-12 and postsecondary); workforce development staff; economic developers and manufacturing company representatives. 

Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. The presentation starts at 1 p.m. and is followed by a Q&A session and open dialogue. There is no charge to attend this roundtable session, but reservations are requested.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Oakland County Executive Patterson seeks Elite 40

Nominations are now open for Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s Elite 40 Under 40 Class of 2014. Patterson seeks young men and women who are excelling in their fields and giving back to their communities in a way that improves quality of life. The winner of this year’s Elite 40 Under 40 will introduce Patterson at his 20th State of the County address on Feb. 12, 2014 at the Centerpoint Marriott in Pontiac.
“We are looking for outstanding individuals who are charging into the knowledge-based economy and making a difference in their communities,” Patterson said.
To submit a nomination, go to Nominees must live or work in Oakland County and be younger than 40 as of Dec. 31, 2013. Nominations are open until Dec. 6. A selection committee will then choose the Elite 40 Under 40 Class of 2014, including the three finalists. The winner will be chosen from among the three finalists by a public online vote. The winner of the Elite 40 Under 40 Class of 2014 will be revealed at the State of the County address.
The winner of the Elite 40 Under 40 will also receive a feature article, or video, about the winner’s business or volunteer agency in Oakland County Prosper; tickets to attend three Oakland County signature events: Economic Outlook Luncheon, Quality People/Quality County Awards, Business Roundtable Annual Meeting; and promotion on, among other prizes.
Previous winners of Patterson’s Elite 40 Under 40 are: Erica Coulston, Class of 2013, Owner of Walk the Line to SCI Recovery and Hajj Flemings, Class of 2012, CEO/Founder of Brand Camp University.
For more information about rules and prizes, visit

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Walsh College to celebrate Global Entrepreneur Week

TROY — Successful entrepreneurship will be the focus at Walsh College’s annual Walshpreneur Fair, 5 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18 at Walsh College Troy campus. To commemorate Global Entrepreneur Week, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the Blackstone LaunchPad program, which celebrates entrepreneurship as a career path; and gain insight on starting and maintaining a viable business from talented and experienced entrepreneurs. Products and services from Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurs will also be showcased. The evening will include networking opportunities, refreshments and prizes. Register for the Walshpreneur Fair with Diane Fisher at 248-823-1670 or or

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Author: 9 risks necessary to build a sustainable business

Submitted by Dottie DeHart of DeHart & Company Public Relations,

Often, entrepreneurs try to avoid risk because they want to protect their businesses from harm. Unfortunately, says Tom Panaggio, lose your willingness to risk and you also lose your edge. 
He explains why risk is NOT a “one leap and you’re done” proposition.

“Risk is eternally linked to opportunity,” says Panaggio, author of the new book The Risk Advantage: Embracing the Entrepreneur’s Unexpected Edge. There is nothing wrong with taking the safe way out—millions make that choice—but successful entrepreneurs are a different breed. They are professional risk takers and they need to be willing to strap on that parachute every day.
 “Though we typically associate risk with the initial leap-of-faith decision to start a business, to achieve real success, one must consistently embrace risk every day, and not just on the business’s first day,” he clarifies.
Panaggio knows all about the rewards of risk. Along with several partners, he has built two thriving companies: Direct Mail Express (which now employs over 400 people and is a leading direct marketing company) and Response Mail Express (which was eventually sold to an equity fund, Huron Capital Partners). He wrote The Risk Advantage to help entrepreneurs face the many situations, predicaments, and crises they’ll encounter during their lives and to help formulate their leadership style and business strategy.
 “A willingness to take risks separates leaders from the rank and file,” says Panaggio. “If you lose the spirit of risk, the business begins to decay. From startup through the last sale, the spirit of risk is the unexpected edge for every business
Be the pig. “Are you a chicken or a pig?” Panaggio writes that he frequently heard one of his business partners, Phil Turk, ask this odd question. One day, Panaggio asked him what it meant. Phil explained, “Think about a bacon and egg breakfast. The chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.”
“Lending an egg to a breakfast meal, the chicken participates but sacrifices nothing,” explains Panaggio. “However, the pig literally has skin in the game. He is most definitely fully committed. Following your entrepreneurial dream by giving everything you have is like being the pig: You have to be fully committed.
Finance the dream yourself. Giving up your hard-earned money is the ultimate risk. To pour life savings into an entrepreneurial pursuit is like walking the tightrope without the benefit of a safety net. It takes courage. Even though the commitment is substantial, it’s necessary to motivate you to keep pushing forward. Money buys resources, technology, and manpower—all critical elements in helping a new business succeed.
Sacrifice your most precious possession: time. When you pursue a new enterprise, one resource that cannot be reimbursed, borrowed, or saved in an account for later use is time. Time is the most perishable resource of all. Time is finite; it’s more precious than money and more costly to waste.
Don’t be a non-decider. In business, you need to decide over and over again. The first decision you make is to jump in and pursue an entrepreneurial dream, but decisions don’t end there. And every time you make a decision, there’s a risk: These are the risks of failure, not being accepted, and making wrong choices. Don’t let that stop you, urges Panaggio.
“By making decisions, whether right or wrong, you are progressing and moving from where you were to something different,” he says. “When making no decisions, nothing happens. You’re in stagnation, and your business will suffer. Despite this, there are people who refuse to make decisions. You can’t be an entrepreneur and avoid decision making. You make your move and then embrace the risks that come with that move.”
Change or die. Businesses are like sharks: They have to keep moving, or they will die. The rule is simple: Businesses must progress, and progress requires change. In the business world, fear of change probably is the single biggest obstacle businesses need to overcome to meet the evolving marketplace challenges. What makes embracing change even more difficult is that a business must be willing to simultaneously change internally and externally to keep progressing and remain competitive.
Forget the “If I had…” excuse. Some entrepreneurs are like a little boy standing with his nose pressed to the candy store window, hoping and thinking, If I had a couple of pennies, then I could buy some candy and everything would be great. Sub in new technology, a bigger store, a larger advertising budget, and on and on, for those two pennies and you get excuses made by struggling entrepreneurs everywhere.
 “Entrepreneurs must be self-reliant,” notes Panaggio. “You must get comfortable looking to yourself as the solution, not other people or objects.
Expect to fail. Starting and building a business is like being a child learning to ride a bike. To master the skill of riding a bike as well as learning to be a successful business leader, you must first embrace the risk of failure and expect to fail. What both child and entrepreneur must realize is that failure is not defeat but a signal that a change is necessary.
“By expecting to fail, we accomplish two very important objectives,” explains Panaggio. “First, we are willing to embrace risking failure by doing something to keep our dream moving forward rather than avoiding risk and doing nothing. You can’t hit a baseball unless you swing the bat. Second, we set the proper expectation mentally that we are planning for the best but preparing for the worst. This is not a defeatist attitude, but it gives the opportunity to prepare for recovery and make another attempt.”
Spend money on marketing. Marketing is key to building a successful business. But it is also something that many entrepreneurs are loath to spend their money on. Instead, they offer these handy excuses: “I tried it once and didn’t get any response, and so I stopped.” Or, “There’s just no money for marketing this quarter. Maybe I’ll try something next quarter.” It’s no doubt that it is hard to know what consumers think and what their day-to-day needs are, but a business void of a long-term and consistent marketing effort is doomed.
“At RME, our motto was very simple: He who markets most wins,” says Panaggio. “In fact, we used marketing risk as a competitive edge against our competitors. Anyone wanting to become a potential competitor had to be willing to match our investment and commitment, and just doing a little marketing wouldn’t have been enough to catch us.”
Competitors were forced to divert resources and money from other areas of their business to keep up with RME’s aggressive marketing strategy, he explains. This limited their ability to expand and innovate. The irony is, competitors weren’t willing to embrace the same risk of marketing that they were trying to convince their prospects to do, and they also weren’t willing to embrace it to stay competitive with RME.
“Accepting marketing risk also means recognizing that some degree of failure is both inherent and necessary to find your right path,” says Panaggio. “We knew that our marketing message was going to be received by some who were not ready to buy. Therefore we committed to a consistent, ongoing strategy to ensure that our message got in front of prospects when they were ready to buy. You can’t accomplish this by sending a single message and hoping prospects individually remember you and then respond months later.”
Get up close and personal with customers. Shortsighted business leaders assume that customers have unreasonable expectations or their demands will increase once you open the door of a relationship. After all, what if you start talking to them and they start wanting better pricing, extended credit, or other special considerations.
“The truth is customers require consistent care and investment,” says Panaggio. “You must risk investing in the necessary resources to draw your customers closer. You start by understanding the customers’ experience, and then continue maintaining a consistent line of communication throughout your relationship.”
Sure, as a small business, money is tight, but the simplest solutions are just as effective as grand gestures. A short thank-you note after a customer places an order, whether it is done via email or by sending a handwritten thank-you card by regular mail, is an easy way to start building personal relationships with your customers.
Panaggio  said, “If you lose a customer due to price or other circumstances beyond your control, then fine. However, losing a customer because they felt unappreciated or underserved is inexcusable; it indicates serious flaws in your internal business processes that lead to additional losses. The easiest way to avoid customer churn is by continuously reaching out and communicating; the sales process never ceases.”
 To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to recognize that taking advantage of opportunities—big and small—means embracing the risks that come with them. And then you have to be willing to embrace those risks day in and day out. Keep that parachute handy,” said Panaggio.

About the book: "The Risk Advantage: Embracing the Entrepreneur’s Unexpected Edge"(River Grove Books, 2013, ISBN: 978-1-938-41644-6, $14.95, “

About the author: Tom Panaggio has enjoyed a 30-year entrepreneurial career as cofounder of two successful direct marketing companies. In 1983 he cofounded Direct Mail Express (DME) in Daytona Beach, Florida, with his siblings Mike and Kathy. DME has always been on the leading edge of marketing technology and is still recognized as an industry leader in personalized digital marketing.
As CEO of spin-off RME in Tampa, Florida, Tom headed a company that created an effective lead-generation program in the financial services industry. RME revolutionized financial services marketing with its Seminar Success program, a marketing system that has created billions in sales for their clients.
Originally from Rochester, New York, he currently resides in Tampa, Florida.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Business events set for this week

Nov. 5-6
TROY— The 7th annual Michigan Tax Conference is Tuesday-Wednesday, Nov. 5 to Nov. 6 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. It is hosted by the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants,  in partnership with the State of Michigan Department of Treasury, State Bar of Michigan – Taxation Section and Michigan Women’s Tax Association. The Michigan Tax Conference will feature national and local experts in the accounting and legal professions discussing corporate officer liability, property taxes and insights on emergency management. Douglas L. Lindholm, President and Executive Director, Council on State Taxation is a featured speaker. The first day will run from 8:30 a.m. to 5:10 p.m., followed by the networking reception. The second day begins is 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., followed by the “Night Owl” session from 5 to 6 p.m. Registration begins at 8 a.m. For more information, visit The cost for one day is $229 for members and $329 for nonmembers. For both days, it is $410 for members and $610 for nonmembers.

Nov. 6
WATERFORD TWP. — Red Lobster of Waterford is hosting a grand re-opening ribbon cutting ceremony with its newly remodeled “Bar Harbor” at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 479 Telegraph Road, Waterford Township. The Waterford Boy Scouts Troop #51 will perform a flag-raising ceremony. Members of the Waterford Chamber of Commerce will be in attendance.

Nov. 6
WATERFORD TWP.  — Business Research: Feasibility to Expansion is 9 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, Nov. 6 at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township. For registration, visit or call 248-858-0783. The cost is free.

Nov. 6-8
WATERFORD TWP. — The Medical Main Street INNO-VENTION 2013 Conference is Nov. 6 to 8 at the Troy Marriott Hotel. The conference focuses on how information technology is fueling changes in health care and its impact on the next generation of medical devices. Subra Sripada, executive vice president and chief administrative and information officer of Beaumont Health System, will discuss cyber security during the conference. Featured speakers are Stanford University professor Bassam Kadry, MD; St. Joseph Mercy Oakland President Jack Weiner; and Mohan Tanniru, PhD, Oakland University professor of Management Information System. For more information, visit

Nov. 7
WATERFORD TWP.  — Walk-In, Start-Up Thursdays Free Business Counseling is every Thursday. The hours are 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sessions are limited to 15 minutes, available on a first come, first-served basis. The weekly business counseling is held at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township. For registration, visit or call 248-858-0783.

Nov. 8
TROY — The Women’s Business Forum of the Troy Chamber presents its annual “Simply Shopping” event,  8 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at the Somerset Collection.
Donations of  men and women’s professional clothing will be accepted by Jackets for Jobs, Inc. at the south side of Somerset at Brio Tuscan Grille. The cost to attend is $55 per shopper. As a part of the morning program, attendees will receive a breakfast including mimosas and crepes, sponsored by Rehmann. Each shopper will also receive a Simply Shopping signature bag; purchase retrieval to lighten the load; free gift-wrapping compliments of Somerset Collection; discounts/giveaways throughout the day; and a 4-6 p.m. networking event with prizes and  hors d’oeuvres at The Capital Grille, sponsored by Flagstar Bank. To register, call 248-641-8151 or e-mail The event is sponsored by Miller Canfield and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Gracie Moonpie & Company create edible jewels for Crittenton gala

As Gracie Moonpie finalizes plans for a bakery that is set to open in Rochester, owner Heather Tocco will be at the Crittenton Foundation’s 37th Annual Gourmet Gala on Sunday, Nov. 3, with a “Jazz Age” inspired display complete with edible art deco pieces and edible jewelry.“We are so excited for this display,” said Tocco, who is a Master Cake Artist. “The design is a surprise, there will be desserts, art deco jewelry designs and, yes, edible pearls, diamonds, and gold!”The Gourmet Gala benefits the Crittenton Foundation’s many efforts, including the Crittenton Hospital Medical Center’s new South Tower.Recently, Gracie Moonpie & Company created intricate edible art pieces based upon actual art entered in The Community House of Birmingham’s “Our Town” Opening Night Party.“I was asked to recreate art that was entered into the show as part of my cake design,” said Tocco. “What a privilege it was to be a part of this event.” The money raised by this event will aid in supporting TCH’s many Educational, Cultural, and Wellness programs that strive to improve people’s personal and professional lives.For more information, visit Crittenton Foundation gala is at the Royal Park Hotel. For more information, visit