"Most people think business success is all about the idea. It's not. EVERYONE has ideas. The hard part is doing the homework to know if the idea could work in an industry." -- Billionaire Mark Cuban
Once a week, a small group of people with big ideas get together in Traverse City for a sort of "boot camp" for business startups.
Dave Price sees death as a possible business opportunity, and he intends to open a crematory in the region. Sheila Croissant is – (considering her name, what else?) – planning to open The Speckled Hen, a bakery of homemade pies and breads. Others have their own grand ideas, and are learning how to take them from idea through a business plan to reality.
The "Venture Plan: Six Week Business Plan" class is hosted by the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center, a program of Northwest Michigan Council of Governments.
Participants meet weekly with Certified Small Business Consultant Mary Rogers and guest speakers, all the while developing a full business plan to take their ideas to market – or to help decide not to.
Rogers says most who enroll have "had a business idea gnawing away at them for years, so this class forces them to put their dream through a reality check and make it real or realize it wasn't meant to be.”
Julie Hay of Elk Rapids had been thinking about opening a flower garden for a few years; she enrolled and, after just the first class, took action.
“I registered my company as a LLC, opened a company bank account, ordered seeds, mapped a production schedule, created a Facebook page, started a blog, and written revenue projections and a marketing plan,” says Hay. “It's equally terrifying and exciting to be starting a small business,” she admits, though she’s now officially the proprietor of Red Fox Gardens.
Wendy Roberts has been doing event décor for nonprofit fundraising events as a hobby for years, and has finally decided to make a career out of it. Susan McQuaid, already with a long career in nonprofit management, is exploring a video communications company. Chad Lorenz is exploring development of a new industrial product.
Brian Crouch has been watching the northern Michigan hotel/motel market closely for years and is just about ready to dive in. He’s identified several existing motels that could be bargain purchases.
He’s looking “just about any place north of a line from Manistee to Midland, ideally a small place (12-18 units). I would add up-to-date security, room accommodations, reservation system, and marketing & advertising,” he tells The Ticker.
One of the most valuable parts of the class for Crouch? One of his classmates has already named his business: Double Eagle Resort, an ode to his two Eagle Scout sons.
Another "Venture Plan: Six Week Business Plan" class is slated for March 14-April 25. The $450 class fee is offset by a $360 per student scholarship from Michigan State University, so each participant pays only $90. For more information call 231-922-3780.