K-9 to Five

•November 17, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Liz Blonde the owner of K-9 to Five (great name by the way) which is a dog day care center located in midtown Detroit spoke to our class last week. Liz kept the discussion informal yet formative. She even shared a horror story about the importance of hiring the right people, especially when you are a start up company with limited capital. The first employee she ever hired she had to fire because one night the employee had a party at the business and burned an anarchy symbol into the floor. Imagine that morning walking into your business that you worked so hard for damaged for lack of professionalism of your employee!

It is awesome when we have high profile speakers come in and tell us their story but we gain more hands on knowledge from the entrepreneurs who started from ground zero because that is where we are… waiting for blast off. What I found to be very impressive was that Liz funded some of the start up costs with her own money. She set an amount that she needed to have in her bank account and didn’t quit her job until she obtained that amount. That shows passion, dedication and self discipline, the kind of drive that we need to succeed.

Liz is also the co- founder of Open City Detroit, a networking group for small business owners in Detroit. A lot of great energy can be created when you get people of like minds together for the same cause. Detroit is on a come up and the small business owners will be the ones who generate synergy not just downtown but across the whole city of Detroit.

To see what’s ahead, you must open your eyes look…

•October 19, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Lisa Tunagis from Innovative Learning Group was very personable and easy to talk to. From the beginning she wanted us to be involved with her speech. It was a good balance of question and answer, Lisa let us drive sometimes by allowing us to ask what we wanted to know, when we wanted to know it. Innovative Learning Group helps fix companies issues by developing custom training modules to educate them to help them fix a problem within the company. The key word in the last sentence is custom. There are cookie cutter training programs on the market but Innovative Learning Group actually goes to the company, listen and learns what the concerns are to determine if it is worth fixing or not.

I really liked the fact that if their training could not fix the problem they would not sell or develop a program for the company. That shows integrity and demonstrates that money is not everything, if you do the right things profit will follow. Lisa said that her company treats their clients like friends because they actually get to know the clients on a personal level, she does not want the troubled company for the moment, she wants them as clients for life.

There were three things that she prided her company on and they are be responsive, friendly and reliable. If a clients calls, call them back promptly. Be friendly, create a strong professional relationship with the clients so that you are the first company on their list when they need your services. If you have a deadline that you said you were going to meet, meet it! If you have an appointment set, keep it! It is the small things that go the extra mile and set you apart from the competition.

“Six Degrees” of seperation and I’m Kevin Bacon…

•October 11, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Sorry for the random song lyric but it fits for what I will be talking about to day. A couple of weeks ago one of the owners of Six Degrees magazine Michael Melfie came and spoke to us and delivered what I thought to be a strong message. He spoke of many things concerning the magazine such as the size, design and the companies direction which was very interesting but I zoned in more deeply when it came time to hear about his challenges and opportunities. I love to hear about other companies and what they are about but I really feed on what road blocks they overcame and what they did well in the process.

“Help others to be successful” shows selflessness and a passion for other people. Yes you are in business for yourself but helping others gives another level of satisfaction that can be contagious. Finding the right team members, execution and managing people are three reoccurring challenges that we hear from our speakers. There really isn’t a way to avoid making some mistakes but it is very helpful to make less of them when you know what to look for. Going with your gut when running your business is also another tip that stands out, we are reading “The Art of the Start” by Guy Kawasaki and he as well mentions the importance of following your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right concerning your company you are probably right because no one knows your business like you do.

Michael left us with 3 awesome tips to use not just with business but in our everyday lives. Handle your business with integrity, humility and responsiveness. Do what you say in a timely manner and be humble about it, sounds pretty simple huh? The simple things are the hardest to do sometimes. So all in all, Michael came in and shook up the place with his on point advise, his high energy and excitement for business, that we all could walk away with something positive to add to the huge collage of information that we have already attained from other speakers.

Dave Bing: giving what the people want!

•October 1, 2007 • Leave a Comment

It was a great experience to see Dave Bing in person, not just for his basketball skills but for what he has done for the city of Detroit. We have had many great passionate speakers such as Magic Johnson, Dominic Pangborn and Todd Stern of Small Plates but Mr. Bing had a different effect because his company is headquartered in Detroit and he is doing very big things to increase the image of the city. Projects such as revitalizing 6 neighborhoods which is a huge project that will make a vast improvement of the city and the construction of Waterwark condiminiums Downtown. 

The more speakers that come to share their wisdom, the more we hear many of the same concepts that really stick with me that I need to apply to my business life. Advice such as you must satisfy your customer, posses great people skills, think differently and most importantly to me, NEVER be afraid to fail! Take calculated risks. Mr. Bing also confirmed what we have been reading in a book called “The art of the start” about understanding your talents and weaknesses. Where you weak they are strong and vice versus, this creates a balance that can and will make your business run smoothly.

If Dave Bing who was born in Washington D.C. can come to Detroit, see potential and make big things happen and be passionate towards a city that wasn’t his hometown, I know that it is possible for me. I was born and raised in Detroit, this will always be my home and I want my home to be great so I have to do great things to make it that way. Two words that Dave Bing said that is vital for the future of Detroit and that is to Think Differently.

John Ferchill: Means Business

•September 21, 2007 • Leave a Comment

As soon as John began to speak I knew that has was a no nonsense kind of guy, that he said what he and meant what he said. I find it refreshing to meet people that are straight shooters. But anyway, John started his successful real estate career in subsidized housing then moved on to commercial projects. His company specializes in going to big cities that have image problems, finds opportunities and capitalizes on them. For example, the Book Cadillac building has been vacant for many years and was starting to become an eyesore. The city was contemplating on tearing it down but John stepped in had the building inspected and took on a muliti million dollar project to build condominiums. (Which are just about sold out by the way.) His company also constructed the Hilton in downtown Detroit which is doing very well. It is a beautiful building in a great location in Harmonie Park.

John has a small number of people working for him but creates big business. He said he got to that point because he built his business from gaining loyalty from his clients. He returns every phone call no matter what, building strong and professional relationships is a reoccurring theme that we hear in this program. (I wonder if it has some truth to it??) A piece of advice that he gave us was to ” Be straight forward, tell it like it is and ALWAYS deliver on your word.” I think that is valuable information because at the end of the day no matter what was said or done, hell or high water, if you said you are going to do something do it.

Hardwork does pay off…

•August 11, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Vince Thomas of www.billhighway.comand net was a very energetic, self motivated younger man who was excited to tell us his story from the beginning of his business to present. Some entrepreneurs have the perfect idea with everything in place that makes the idea work, and others who need to put in a lot of time and work to just get the process going. Vince was the latter of the two, for almost 2 years he worked on his website and business for 20 hours a day! If that’s not hard-work I don’t know what is. Also as we have learned success takes sacrifice Vince also stopped shopping for new clothes to save money. He said that he had a few pair of jeans and a few shirts that he wore all the time, many people thought that he was homeless because he had on the same-thing all the time.

 Success also comes with help from others don’t be afraid to ask. Vince asked for help from his family to cover some of the costs to start and maintain his business in the beginning stages. He drove to Ohio and Indiana to colleges to promote his bill payment services to college students who have bills and forget to or neglects to pay them. At that time he was only charging $5 to use his services, he wasn’t making much money but his passion kept him excited and motivated. With him not making much money, he never slowed down which was crazy. That is a perfect example that money isn’t everything, the success of his business was more important.

I would love to have to his drive and ambition to get things done no matter what. I am close but no cigar just yet, I will continue to work on it and “ignore the noise” of everyday life to get my dreams fulfilled. I will leave with a quote that Vince said that rang home with me ” Be unusual in your dreams but reasonable in your goals.”

BaBaBa Bruce Schwartz

•August 8, 2007 • Leave a Comment

What I got from the time CEO of In-House Realty Bruce Schwartz presentation was to treat people right and be genuinely interested in them. I was raised with that principle but since being in Bizdom I have noticed a lot of business men follow that as well. It makes so much sense to treat people right because they are the ones who support your business and keep the doors open. But so many companies and human beings in general do not follow that philosophy. That it be that they don’t care or they do not know is a toss up but they need to ketchup, Mustard!

Bruce also mentioned to know when “enough is enough, do not take on more than you can handle.”  Knowing your limits is very important in life and in the world of business, one wrong move can ruin your whole operation. It is important to take strides and set goals and as the goals are met check them off and move on. Doing that will create a comfortable pace to getting things done in a way that you can handle, while still showing progress.

 Some people you can just look at and see that they truly care about people and their well being. Before Bruce even spoke to the class, I over heard him speaking with our instructor and the tone of his voice and demeanor demonstrated to me that he would be a stand up guy. Having good people sense and business sense go hand in hand. I believe they both need to coexist together to create and sustain long term success.