Operations

Save on the things you are probably already buying! SBAM focuses the buying power of thousands of members to gain discounted prices on a variety of operational services including office supplies, shipping discounts and tuition discounts.


Shipping Solutions


Office Supplies

Office Supplies by Office DepotYour office needs supplies. Why not buy them through  SBAM and save money!

Enroll today and you'll save on products from Office Depot. Whether you shop in-store or online, we'll save you money on the things you already buy.


Tuition Discounts

Davenport StudentSBAM Premium and VIP members, their employees and dependents, save 20% at Davenport University.

Learn more and request your proof of membership letter today.

Related News

Finding Balance: Family, Work, Personal Interests, New Ideas for 2011

By Paul Hense, CPA. From the Small Business Association of Michigan’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.

I love to spend time with my wife, kids, grandkids, brothers, my farm in Cheboygan, my Boston Whaler, the apple orchard and berry patch, our vineyard, vegetable garden, University of Detroit basketball, making wine, fishing, reading history, traveling, eclectic music , writing articles, my SBAM activities, politics, and hiking, etc. I also have to work, exercise, and pay bills. All of those things are important to me. Obviously they are not all going to be satisfied. They therefore must be prioritized. And at the start of the New Year, trying to prioritize all of these things together with the natural sense that you have to start the year off with a bang can be a challenge!

I think it was Bruce Springsteen who wrote a line in a song that went, “cause tramps like us baby we were born to run.” Bruce may be expressing a universal truth. Some of us were born to race and some to plow-and you can’t interchange them. Maybe entrepreneurs were born to attempt to live three lives at once. Being married to, the child of, sibling to, employee of or any other relationship with self employed people is probably difficult. But it’s never boring.

So what is the solution to balancing business, family and yourself in our hectic world – and satisfying the goal to start the year off with a refreshed and reenergized team, new ideas and a finely-tuned strategic plan? Be creative, use your gifts and personal strengths to positively affect the areas important to you, delegate and realize that you cannot do it all alone!

I realize that’s easier said than done. Here are a few things I’ve done to help achieve balance in my life:

1. Your business provides your family with its sustenance. In the current economic situation, having a source of income is a blessing, and in order to maintain the business, you must attend to it. Make sure your family understands that. Have a family meeting to discuss your need to be attentive to the business. Don’t assume they understand. You are important in their lives and they would like more of your time. Not having as much of your time as they would like might be easier for them if they understood everything you have on your plate and adjust expectations to avoid disappointment.

2. Include family time in your priorities. I have been in business for 38 years. At the end of the day, week, year – your family will be by your side long after a demanding customer is forgotten. My kids eventually understood my dilemma when they faced adult responsibilities. I think it’s important to let your family know you love them and that providing for them is the driving force in your business.

3. As you start the New Year, ask the people you consider family and friends what they would like from you. You make business commitments everyday and you honor them. Honor your commitment to friends and family. Take it as seriously as you take your delivery dates and meeting commitments. Your rewards may be greater.

4. Then there is you. What feeds your soul? Take a day off and think about that. In order for me to be happy, I have to grow things. Some people need to hunt. What blows your hair back? Do it. You work hard. You deserve it. If you love work, you are lucky. But that is still only one aspect of your life.

Life is difficult. Being a responsible adult is complicated. Delegate what you can. Take care of your physical and emotional health. Give as much of yourself as you can to the people who love you. After you have done all that, take a deep breath and go back to work.

Paul Hense is a Grand Rapids-based CPA and long-time SBAM member and supporter.

The University of Michigan is Open for Business

By Daryl Weinert (from the Small Business Association of Michigan’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine)

Recently, economists from the University of Michigan gave us all a rare piece of good news – Michigan will see positive job growth in 2011 for the first time in over a decade. At the same time, they asserted that challenges remain. One critical challenge is how to connect the state’s universities to the needs of the business community. At the University of Michigan, we’ve created The Business Engagement Center (BEC) – a new mechanism to help companies find solutions to real-world business challenges. 

Essentially, the BEC serves as a “matchmaker,” helping companies navigate the complex structure of the university to find resources for their business. One resource is student projects. When Adaptive Materials – an Ann Arbor-based fuel cell manufacturer – needed help with defining a new commercial market strategy for its fuel cell systems, the BEC matched the company to the Ross School of Business’s Multidisciplinary Action Program. This seven-week program pairs first year MBA students with companies seeking solutions to a variety of business challenges. The team was able to conduct research on the market, compile a list of customer contacts, and assemble a pitch for use in future sales campaigns. Additionally, the team delivered the tools to help company executives evaluate and prioritize new inquiries for other uses for their products.

Another critical resource is talent. Recently, the BEC helped North American Bancard – a Troy-based credit card payment solutions provider- sponsor a ‘Hackathon’ – a 48-hour mobile device application creation contest. Through their sponsorship, the company was able to increase their visibility specifically to a targeted group of students and establish a pipeline program for students to participate in internships and independent study courses. The university has also experimented with several small company programs building on its research strength. EcoMotors, an Allen Park-based developer of clean, efficient and lightweight propulsion systems, participated in the university’s Small Company Innovation Program. This cost-sharing research collaboration allows companies to leverage U-M research expertise by partnering to tackle relevant technical challenges (the university provides matching funds of up to $30,000). The BEC also helps to connect companies with university collaborators in pursuing federal or state research grants such as Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding.

The university has also launched a small company career fair to expose students to job opportunities at smaller, high growth companies within the state of Michigan. Known as the MPowered Career Fair, nearly 100 organizations attended in 2010. Companies that attend the career fair can also apply for the Small Company Internship Program, which offers university cost sharing to hire students for a 12 week summer internship.

The University of Michigan has never before been so ready for collaboration. With programs designed to unlock the entrepreneurial aspirations of our students, with our Technology Transfer office spinning out companies and commercializing ideas at an increasing pace, and with new interfaces like the Business Engagement Center, U-M is open for business as never before. The BEC is designed to help companies find talent, explore research partnerships, educate professional staff, identify technologies, engage with students, and consult with faculty. Make a date with the Business Engagement Center: www.bec.umich.edu.

Daryl Weinert is Executive Director of the University of Michigan’s Business Engagement Center.

State of UnEmployment! Better Think About Recruiting – Even if You Aren’t Hiring Now!

By Julie Mann, MSIR, SPHR, CCP

While the news focus is on the state of unemployment in Michigan, the state of employment has become a topic of the past. But yet, we know that history repeats itself and that the positive signs of things to come are becoming visible; the tide in Michigan is turning. As this tide turns, while we need to keep a watchful eye on the unemployment rate, critical to business success will be our focus on the state of employment.

Human Capital remains the number one asset in organizations and is a key to success and growth. We need to retain our talent, know how to attract new talent and know how to stay ahead of the talent curve. So, how? Do we simply just try to network more? If our business isn’t hiring right now, do we care? If not hiring, the state of employment doesn’t matter to my business, right? Wrong.

I recently asked a client, “Are you hiring?” They said, “No.” I then asked, “Are you recruiting?” After the client gave me one of those ‘didn’t you hear me’ looks, he responded, “I just said no. What’s your point?” Ah-hah…that’s the conversation!! Building your virtual bench and always recruiting becomes paramount to success. Let’s examine…

According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau, there are:
  • 120,208,320 people employed or seeking work
  • 77,555,280 are employed but open or seeking a new job
  • 39,952,72 are employed and not open to a new job

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average lifetime number of employers for a worker has risen from:
  • 4 in the 1960’s to
  • 10.8 in 2006 and
  • 14 is the Gen X prediction

What does this mean to your business? It means that two thirds or 53 percent of employed adults are open to a new job or actively looking for a new job!

In today’s state of employment, we need to “Dig our well before we’re thirsty.” Even if not hiring, we need to constantly be recruiting for the best talent in the marketplace. And with 53 percent of people open to a new job, if they are an “A Player,” then other companies know who they are too and may just be talking to or recruiting them before you.

Therefore, keeping an eye open for talent isn’t something that we should just passively continue to “try” to do; we must actively pursue building our virtual bench. Let’s face it, if you’re waiting until you have a hiring need to try to identify talent, the task becomes that much more challenging. We need to always recruit and keep an eye open for people who you’d like to work with and be talking to them regularly about your business. Even if you can’t/won’t hire them immediately, A Players know A Players and when you are ready to hire, A Players can also recommend A Players and you now have people you think highly of who know about your business. Is this networking? Sure it is, but it is networking with a distinct purpose and not just something we ‘try’ to fit into our “To Do List.”

As the state of employment becomes more robust, networking for talent, virtual bench building, isn’t something successful businesses will just ‘try’ to do. When the outcome is important, we leave “TRY” out of the equation. We don’t “try” to love our kids, right? So, the next time you’re about to say that you’ll “try to do” something, reconsider. If the outcome of the activity is important, like hiring the right people, don’t just try. Like Nike says, “Just do it.” Your business will distinctly benefit from it.

Julie Mann is the CEO & President of both The Rock Star Factory and JMann Consulting Group. The Rock Star Factory is a professional placement firm specializing in matching companies with rock star quality employees, while JMann Consulting Group provides on-call HR Manager services for small & medium sized businesses. Julie can be contacted at 51

How Social Media and GOV 2.0 are Revolutionizing Public/Private Sector Collaboration

By John Westra is Director, NuWave Government Solutions. From SBAM’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.

Ask any small business owner about their “relationship” with government and you are likely to get an earful. Listen to small business owners carefully and you will hear one key complaint repeated over and over: “government doesn’t pay attention to us or listen to our needs.”

In fact, if it were not for the well organized advocacy efforts of SBAM, the voices of Michigan’s small businesses would be a whisper in comparison to the deep pocketed lobbying efforts and slick PR and marketing campaigns of national and international corporations. The good news; the explosive growth of Social Media, coupled with a push for government to use the Internet to be more open, responsive and accountable (GOV 2.0) is leveling the playing field and revolutionizing Public/Private Sector collaboration!

Social Networking is a phrase that for many brings to mind an afternoon on the golf course or a cup of coffee at the local diner. But to the more than 142 million Social Media users of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and various blogs, it means spending “an average of six plus hours per month, connecting with and expanding their online community of “friends.”” (Nielsen, June 2010)

Social media can be defined as “The social interaction, creation and distribution of content, including text, photos, audio and video, via highly accessible Internet-based applications.”
The main catalyst for the adoption of social media by government is politics. After the press credited social media for helping President Obama win, the flood gates of social media adoption by politicians opened wide. Although not all of them “get it,” virtually all current and would-be elected officials now have a Facebook page, with many having a presence on all the major social media platforms.

Rick Snyder is a great example of someone who understands the power of social media. Rick, who admittedly bills himself as “One Tough Nerd,” has seen his Facebook following go from a few hundred to over 31,000 followers in a matter of months.

Rick Snyder was quoted as saying “Social media provides new and more effective ways for government to directly communicate with citizens and involve them with the day to day operations of the state, offering opportunities to have their voices and feedback heard…Effectively communicating with citizens is an essential aspect of customer service government.”

So how does this translate into a value proposition for small businesses? The answer to this question can be summed up in three words: Access, Engagement and Influence.
Access to the people we’ve elected to represent us is the holy grail of representative democracy. In years past, campaign communication was one way. Elected officials could simply dismantle their campaign centers and walk away, effectively putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on their office doors. Social media has made that impossible. Politicians who walk away from their social media network(s) would face an instant negative backlash.
An ongoing commitment to maintaining their connections to citizens and stakeholders (small business), translates into a defacto “open door” policy that benefits everyone. This is the type of access that previously cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in lobbying to maintain.

Engagement is the “secret” ingredient for any effective communication and another reason why social media and Government 2.0 (GOV 2.0) applications are growing so rapidly. Before I talk about the importance of engagement, let’s first define what GOV 2.0 is.
“Government 2.0 or “e-government” is the philosophy of transparent, efficient and accountable governance, facilitated by the use of ubiquitous, easy to access and interactive Internet-enabled applications.”

Economic Gardening: What’s in it for you?

By Rob Fowler, President and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan (from the association’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.)

I’d like to expand on a thought expressed in our previous Communiqué by 2010-2011 SBAM Chair Cynthia Kay. In the Nov/Dec issue of Focus, she wrote: “Whether you are a small company that wants to stay small, a potentially high growth firm or somewhere in between, successful economic gardening will positively impact our state and ultimately your business.”

In other words, although the implementation of economic gardening will have its greatest impact on fast growing second-stage companies, it’s important to remember that economic gardening policies will help all small business owners.

There are three reasons for this:
● Economic gardening is the quickest way to a turnaround of Michigan’s economy
● Economic gardening will create a “rising tide” that lifts the fortunes of all small businesses
● Economic gardening charts a pathway toward a genuine culture change in the state

Quickest Way to a Turnaround
The data is pretty clear. When jobs are created, they come from existing companies rather than the relocation of companies into the state. But when you peel back the data, most of those new jobs are created by a few very fast growing “second-stage” firms. If we concentrate on helping those firms, they will grow even faster and lead the way to an economic turnaround.

A “Rising Tide”

Fostering the growth of these second-stage companies creates jobs, which puts money in people’s pockets, which makes them better customers of small businesses and which makes them more productive taxpayers! A growing economy solves a lot of problems. I’ve long maintained that Michigan’s state and local government budget issues are not due to a lack of taxes – it’s due to a lack of taxpayers (i.e. economic activity.) A “rising tide” of economic growth will mean a better bottom line for all kinds of small business owners – regardless of size – and, in combination with spending reforms, help stabilize government finances.

Culture Change
You can’t have a strategy that focuses on growing second-stage companies without also having a strategy for getting people into the first-stage: small business startups. The seeds of our economic garden have to come from someplace. We have to help men and women follow their dreams of starting a small business, and then nurture those who have the capacity and desire to move to fast growing second-stage status. That won’t include every small business owner. But we need a continuum of dynamic business activity – from startups to second-stage to graduation to big business – if we want sustainable economic growth.


That’s where culture change comes in. At our annual meeting last summer, SBAM Chair Cynthia Kay shared her dream of “a future society where a young person gets a job at a big company and everyone asks them: ‘What’s wrong with you? Why haven’t you started your small business yet?’” In other parts of the country, entrepreneurs are celebrated as folk heroes. In Michigan over the past 50 years…not so much. Economic gardening is about changing the conversation, changing the image of small business and changing the expectations of what Michigan citizens consider economic success.

Your involvement and engagement support our ongoing efforts to speak for and champion Michigan’s entrepreneurs – the men and women, in all stages of the business cycle, who are creating economic activity and jobs. Economic gardening benefits you, and all Michigan citizens, in so many different ways. Thank you for your ongoing support as we continue to pursue our campaign to propel a new economic direction for Michigan.
RSS
First171172173174175176177178179180