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The importance of community bankers to small business financing. Today at 10 a.m. on Business Next

Michael Rogers talks small business banking with Don Mann of the Community Bankers of Michigan. Also, entrepreneurial success stories from Don Sherman, Green Fundraiser Store; Angela Fisher, Ace Barter Exchange and Justin Jacobs, Comeplaydetroit.com. Listen today at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the Michigan Business Network. Listen to archived programs anytime at your convenience on your PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page

Get Business Next audio seminars delivered three times a week automatically to your iPhone or other mobile device. Subscribe in iTunes using this URL

Registration open for May 3 “Michigan Celebrates Small Business”

Tickets for the May 3 Michigan Celebrates Small Business event are $95 per person (down from $135 last year) or a table of ten for $900. The evening includes a cocktail reception, a keynote speaker and the awards dinner at the Lansing Center in Lansing. To register online go to MichiganCelebrates.biz.

(Photo at left: SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler congratulates Innovation Award winner Kyle Schwulst of ElectroJet at the 2010 Michigan Celebrates Small Business)

Michigan Celebrates Small Business is a cooperative effort of the Small Business Association of Michigan, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center, the Edward Lowe Foundation, the U.S. Small Business Administration – Michigan and the Greater Lansing Business Monthly.

"Michigan Celebrates is an opportunity to tell the new story of Michigan -- a story of bright futures and exciting companies that are building Michigan's economy," says Penny Lewandowski, Director of Entrepreneurship and Development at the Edward Lowe Foundation. "This is the place to celebrate and acknowledge their success and to learn who and what is driving the state's momentum."  

Underwriters for this year’s Michigan Celebrates Small Business event are PNC, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Certified Development Corporation, Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, Varnum Law, Michigan Credit Union League, Comcast Business Class, Huntington Bank, DBI Office Interiors, Comcast Spotlight and Dynamic Edge Inc.

The new Michigan Celebrates underwriters brought onboard this year are Varnum LLP, Michigan Credit Union League, Huntington Bank and DBI Office Interiors

"Last year we attended the awards event for the first time and were so impressed by the accomplishments of the honorees that we decided to become a sponsor," says Scott Hill, Partner with Varnum law firm.  "We assist entrepreneurs and small businesses with their legal needs and understand the many challenges of growing a business.  Recognizing success honors the recipients and inspires us all."

PNC has been a supporter of Michigan Celebrates for the previous seven years.  “We’re honored to have been the primary sponsor of this prestigious event since its inception eight years ago,” says David Morrison, Southeast Michigan Business Banking Market Manager with PNC. “Michigan Celebrates Small Business is very important to PNC because it recognizes those companies and individuals that have taken the risks necessary to grow our economy. At PNC, we have a group of seasoned bankers that help those risk takers succeed.”

“Thanks to the generosity of this year’s underwriters, the MCSB organizers have been able to accomplish a longstanding goal to decrease the event’s ticket price,” says Jennifer Deamud, Associate State Director of the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center. “In a time of ever-growing prices, we are proud to change that trend. For the first time in seven years the ticket price will drop substantially to $95.”

The expectation with the decreased ticket price is more community members, such as Chambers, EDCs and small business owners will be able to attend to support the businesses in their community that are being awarded.

For more information about Michigan Celebrates Small Business contact Jennifer Deamud, Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center at (616) 331-7480 or deamudj@gvsu.edu.

Can't get a bank loan? Learn more about non-bank financing alternatives -- today at 10 a.m. on Business Next.

Non-bank financing alternatives for small businesses. Michael Rogers talks with Julius Talley of James Capital LLC in Kalamazoo.  Listen today at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the Michigan Business Network. Listen to archived programs anytime at your convenience on your PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page

Get Business Next audio seminars delivered three times a week automatically to your iPhone or other mobile device. Subscribe in iTunes using this URL.

What has been your experience with non-bank financing? Leave a comment below.

Steven Strauss: Shark Tank

Question:
Lately I have been watching the TV show Shark Tank and really like it. What always amazes me is that the people whose products I don’t like often get money and those that I do like get nothing. Why is that?

Answer:
Like you, I enjoy Shark Tank as well, and for any entrepreneurs or inventors out there who are looking for investors, making Shark Tank part of your weekly viewing is highly recommended. (Actually, even if you simply own a small business and have no need for investment capital, the show is worth your while – its educational, fun, and entertaining to boot.)

For the uninitiated, people who have businesses and products in need of angel investments go into the “Shark Tank,” give their best elevator pitch, and try and get the five millionaire and billionaire investors (the “sharks”) to put their own money (and intellectual capital) into the venture. The sharks are people like my pal Barbara Corcoran (NY real estate legend) and Mark Cuban (NBA Mavericks owner.) As with any angel or VC deal, the entrepreneur has to be willing to give up a percentage of their business to the shark. How much? Well, that’s part of the fun.

People come on the show at all levels of skill, abilities, experience, and needs. One guy might be pitching an alarm clock that wakes people up with the smell of bacon, needing $10,000 while another might pitch a toy company that allows parents to rent toys for a few months, and later send them back for new ones, a la the Netflix model. That entrepreneur might need $100,000 for a 10% equity stake in the business.

So why do some of the people get the money and the opportunity to have someone like Daymond John (creator of FUBU) be their business partner while others go home empty handed? Why do some entrepreneurs get VC funding while others don’t?

Here are 5 lessons for money seeking entrepreneurs from the Shark Tank:

1. Know your numbers: I can’t tell you how many times variations on the following conversation occurs on the show:

Kevin O’Leary [shark]: “Let me get this right. You are offering 20% of your company in exchange for an investment of $50,000?

Entrepreneur: “You bet, we have a great product!”

O’Leary: “But that means that you are valuing your company at $2.5 million. You only have $120,000 in sales. Your company is not worth close to that my friend.”

Entrepreneur: “Uh, uh . . .”

Investors want to know how you are valuing your business, how much money you are going to make, how much profit you have made, and why you need their money. Potential is great and all, but numbers talk, BS walks.

2. Understand that money has no feelings: Kevin O’Leary is fond of pointing this out. This is about making a profit for the investors, nothing more, nothing less. How, exactly, will you do that? How you feel about your business is fairly irrelevant.

3. Have a real business that can be scaled: The business cannot be you doing labor, unless that labor can be duplicated en mass. If you make homemade cedar toy chests that cost $300 but take 25 hours to build, it is difficult to see how that is a business that can be ramped up to sell mass quantities. A business that makes widgets for $2 that retail for $4 is a business that is scalable.

4. Have real (not false) confidence and be emotionally intelligent: Yes, it’s all about the numbers, but then again, it’s not all about the numbers. You have to be a cheerleader for your business while being able to read the room.

Says Barbara Corcoran, “Make sure you can sell your product, because if you as the head of the company can’t sell it, who will? Also be sure you’re ready to answer the two key questions too many of the entrepreneurs who come on the show can’t: 1) What will you do with my money? and 2) How will I get my investment back?”

5. Be unique in the marketpla

Guide for using LinkedIn to promote your small business

(By Ashley Ferremi, Eiler PR in Ann Arbor. From SBAM’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine)

While there are numerous social media sites available online, unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn’s primary target is the professional work force. According to LinkedIn, they reached 100 million users in March 2011 and that number continues to rise. 

What Do You Need to Do as a Small Business Owner in Order to Effectively Utilize LinkedIn?

  • Create a public profile where you can add connections and describe the skills you have and what your company can offer just as if you were an individual on LinkedIn. Ask for recommendations from people or businesses that you have done business with and from past or current employees. These will be beneficial when prospective customers or employees are on your LinkedIn profile. With recommendations, they can see evidence of work you have done for others in the past or the experience of your employees. This is especially useful if they do not share any connections with our company and would not otherwise trust your company.
  • Create a company page that LinkedIn users can choose to ‘follow’ which provides prospective clients or employees with an overview of your company, including facts about its history and founding, company size, location and the industry it operates in. The more information people can learn about your company the better.
  • Add links to the company website and any social media sites that you use on the company page and public profile. LinkedIn offers integration with Twitter where you can add a button right on your LinkedIn profile for users to follow your Twitter account. This will direct traffic to all sites and increase awareness of your company.
  • Provide updates that are relevant to the industry your company is in, your company itself, and people who would be viewing your pages. Whether you are looking to hire for certain positions, you need a company to help aid you in a certain task, or you want to announce news about your company, you can release updates that will be visible to all of your connections on LinkedIn. This can also be accomplished through blogging and articles that are posted on the LinkedIn public profile.
  • Define your perception through LinkedIn by using your public profile to convey the image that you wish to create. While remaining truthful, your company’s LinkedIn ought to display your desired perception. An example of where this has worked well is for the Eastern Michigan University’s College of Business in the way that they gained awareness of their capabilities of being innovative, applied, and global. It conveys the value of who they are because of what they wanted to be.

Key Ways LinkedIn Can Help a Small Business Grow

LinkedIn can be a great tool for recruiting new employees. With 100 million users on LinkedIn and counting, this is a great database for finding new talent. It provides the opportunity for people to connect with those who do or have worked for the business. If the person shares a connection with a past or current employee, there is a link to get introduced through a connection. LinkedIn helps to highlight the employees that your small business currently employs. The company page shows people any employees that are in their network, as well as alumni from their college. This aids prospective employees in learning more about the company by means of its current employees without being costly to the company. Additionally, these people will use the LinkedIn sites in order to learn more about the company through the updates and articles it posts and recommendations they read on the page which can contribute to recruiting. 

Prospective customer
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