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Get Connected. The Future of Your Business Depends on it!

September 15, 2021

By Bill Kimble, originally featured in our FOCUS magazine

Recently released surveys collected from thousands of small business owners across our state—from SE Detroit to the Iron Mountain region at the western end of the Upper Peninsula—generated some common themes that will shape our state over the next couple years and beyond.

Surveys were generated as part of several initiatives including the Future Business Index, the 2021 Detroit Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Report, SBAM’s member surveys, as well as data from Economic Development Groups like LEAP, The Right Place and other organizations.

A shortlist of thoughts on the minds of Small Business
Owners include:

  • Businesses are on the rebound with optimism about the future, with a majority showing full recovery by the end of 2022.
  • Sales are projected to increase in late 2021 and 2022, but profits will suffer because of wage inflation, increases in operating expenses and continued impact of the pandemic.
  • Acquiring talent remains the top challenge, but remote work may provide some solutions.
  • Supply chain improvements will be critical to meet the increasing demand for products/services.

Federal and State governments are pouring stimulus funding into the economy at unprecedented levels in an effort to accelerate the recovery, which will create opportunities for many Michigan businesses. Additional bills targeted on infrastructure funding are poised to add more jobs and rebuild the essential assets that we all rely on in our professional and personal lives. And increased environmental and other regulations seem to be evident from the current administrations given their commitment to improve the planet.

How can small business owners possibly stay on top of all the key issues while they focus on their rebound and growth? From my 30+ years in the Architecture and Engineering Consulting business at C2AE, the best advice I can give to a small business owner is this: GET CONNECTED because the future success of your business depends on it!

Getting connected can be achieved by leaning on organizations like SBAM to sift through the mountain of details and communicate what is most critical. And it connects you to gatherings where you can share experiences with other business owners that have likely overcome similar challenges or leveraged comparable opportunities. Conferences and trade events can also provide information about your specific industry for benchmarking and forecasting trends. Information from these resources is far more likely to impact your company than national news or Internet feeds. SBAM has been hosting Owner-to-Owner (O2O) gatherings for the past couple of years and is planning to host three events in each of the ten regions—Capital/Lansing, Macomb, Marquette, Great Lakes Bay, Kent, Washtenaw, Oakland, Wayne, Kalamazoo and Northern Michigan—in 2021-2022. The value is truly in the connection to other owners as evidenced by this testimonial from one of the past attendees.

“As a solo owner/operator of a unique manufacturing business—one that sometimes defies standard classification—it’s easy to feel like I’m out here all alone on this adventure. SBAM’s Owner-to-Owner events provide a chance for me to network with other business owners without fending off offers of marketing, professional coaching, video production or sales of any kind.

I look forward to being part of a group and being inspired by other interesting people and their businesses. More importantly, and a bit selfishly, I get a little boost of encouragement that what I’m doing is worth doing and is as cool as I think it is.”

– Carol Huls, DittoForm Michigan LLC

(DittoForm is a custom dress form that creates a life-size model of a real person created from their own 3D image. Having a DittoForm makes clothing and costume design for a specific individual so much easier, saving time and money, and is a lot more fun.)

Reflecting on my opportunity to work with so many wonderful and talented small business owners as the 2021-2022 Chair of the SBAM Board of Directors, I wish to share a few goals for the coming year.

First, I will support SBAM to help more owners better position their companies to prosper, while increasing the diversity of business owner membership to better align with that of our state.

Second, I am committed to continue the progress achieved in the last five years to increase revenue diversification for the organization. And lastly, I will help leverage the role that SBAM plays as the convener between business owners and key groups that will positively influence our business climate.

One easy way to better position and set your company apart from thousands of others, as my company has done, is to become certified as a small business, which is recognized by the State of Michigan and several of the largest companies in our state that desire to increase their commitment to contract with Michigan small businesses.

SBAM is one of only three agencies granted the authority to certify, and has developed a streamlined and cost-effective process. Becoming “Certified Small” through SBAM also highlights your business on its website in the “Certified Small” directory where companies can search by name or NAICS Codes to connect and contract with small businesses. This trend to work with small businesses has increased substantially over the past few years, reaching billions in contract value and is anticipated to rise even further. I look forward to CONNECTING with you over the next 12 months and learning more about how SBAM has positively affected your business.

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