Pinpointing resources for the small business toolbox

September 21, 2009
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Businesses, especially small businesses and entrepreneurs, often are unaware of the resources available to assist them as they launch and grow their businesses. In fact, there are numerous resources available to Michigan small businesses, whether the business is manufacturing, service, retail or construction based, and whether it is innovative or more traditional.

One recently developed and launched resource for Michigan’s small business is the Michigan Business One Stop Shop. If you own or operate a small business in Michigan, this Web site is a great resource to have in your business toolbox. It’s a new online service created to put multiple government agencies at the fingertips of small business entrepreneurs. Whether you are starting a business, keeping one running or making changes, it’s an important resource.

“Through this exciting new technology, all aspects of doing business in Michigan are located on one easy-to-use online tool, allowing business owners more time to spend working on their business,” said Carol Lopucki, state director of the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center.

From step-by-step guidance for starting a business to assistance with current business operations such as renewals, report filings and tax payments, the Business One Stop Shop puts the full spectrum of state services and requirements at the user’s fingertips.  In addition, it makes working with the state of Michigan easier by:

  • Providing information about licenses, registrations, certifications and permits.

  • Eliminating duplication of effort by sharing information across agencies.

  • Acquiring updates on the status of transactions.

  • Signing up for future renewal reminders.

  • Making safe and secure e-payments, saving paper and postage.

  • Saving time by filing statements and transacting business electronically.

In addition to the Business One Stop Shop Web site, there is a customer assistance center that businesses may call to have their questions answered. The Michigan Business One Stop Shop may be accessed at www.michigan.gov/business; the customer assistance center may be reached 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday at (877) 766-1779.

The Resource Navigator (http://michigan.resourcenavigator.com/rn/) is another new tool for small businesses. Located within the Michigan Business One Stop Shop, it provides all the resources within a specified community that assist small business owners and entrepreneurs.

When the Resource Navigator is accessed, users are prompted to enter zip code, business stage, industry and whether they have a business plan. Additional drop-down questions prompt users to identify their need for assistance, ranging from business planning to financial resource assistance to product development. The end result is the business owner will receive a list of resources in their area that offer the assistance they are requesting.

The Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center Region 8 director, Tom Donaldson, managed the data collection to populate the Resource Navigator.

“The database is populated with over 300 partners and resources to assist small business throughout the state,” Donaldson said. “The Resource Navigator bundles Michigan’s resources and partners dedicated to assisting small business owners into one easy-to-use system.”

In addition to the above-mentioned tools, there are other statewide services available to small business owners and entrepreneurs.

The Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center is dedicated to the growth and development of small business owners by offering services that are constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of a dynamic small business economy. MI-SBTDC Region 7 office offers assistance to Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties. “In 2008, Region 7 served 995 businesses through counseling and training, raised nearly $30 million in capital for small businesses and created 183 jobs in our region,” said Dante Villarreal, Region 7 director.

In addition to providing counseling, training and market research assistance to small businesses, SBTDC offers expanded services to technology, manufacturing and second-stage companies.  The SBTDC network may be accessed at www.misbtdc.org

The U.S. Small Business Administration offers programs and services to support small business owners and entrepreneurs nationally and in Michigan. 

“Entrepreneurs lead the American economy in innovation, and they must provide the new jobs that will lead Michigan’s economy into the next decade,” said Richard Temkin, Michigan District Director of the SBA. “This is why the growth and development of small business in the state is so crucial to our state’s future.  The Michigan SBA office is committed to supporting entrepreneurs and helping them overcome the realities of this new economy.”

SBA programs such as financial assistance, business counseling and online training are available to all entrepreneurs.  To learn more, visit www.sba.gov

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. is the state's official economic development corporation. It offers a tool for businesses seeking to grow in Michigan. Whether the need for assistance is for an expansion, retention or relocation of projects, the MEDC brings together supply and demand, matching up resources and services with the needs of Michigan’s business community.  The MEDC may be accessed at www.michiganadvantage.org

Small businesses, whether starting, expanding or in need of other assistance owe it to their business to keep a toolbox of resources.  It’s a proactive approach to review a company’s business plan, look at strategic planning, benchmark company’s financials and to analyze new markets for viability. These proactive approaches ensure the best success for any small business and can be accomplished with the resources mentioned in this article.

Small businesses need to be sure they are working on their business, as well as in their business.  Businesses will benefit long term.

Jennifer Deamud is the marketing manager of the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center located at Grand Valley State University Seidman College of Business.

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