DDA gets Ferndale re-Ignited

DDA gets Ferndale re-Ignited

(Crystal A. Proxmire, 2/12/2011)

Ferndale is full of small business success stories, and the Downtown Development Authority is hoping to create more with the re-emergence of their Ignite program.  Ignite is a series of educational programs and networking opportunities for new entrepreneurs or those who are thinking of starting their own business.

Chris Ramos, owner of the eco-friendly transportation company Night Move, has taken the lead on the planning committee and collaborated with GoComedy! to provide a regular meeting place on the first Thursday of each month from 5:30pm- 7:30pm.

On Feb 10, 2011 Jim Muir of SCORE taught over 20 participants about the important elements of a Business Plan.

Wendy Lehman and Erin Robles were among those who took part.  The ladies met ten years ago while working at a child care center in Royal Oak.  They’ve both seen many sides of the child care profession, and together they’ve come up with the idea of being “Baby Planners.”

“I know a lot of moms that don’t have any clue about what they’re doing,” she said.  “We want to be able to give women support and advice. We want to have classes and one-on-one counseling, post-partum support like a help line, a website with resources and information on how to breast feed.”

“It was really helpful,” Robles said.  “It’s got us excited about putting our ideas into a plan, and we really want to get started.”

“Without this kind of guidance we’d just keep sitting around making lists of what ideas we have.  This gives as a way to go to the next step,” Lehman added.

Others in the crowd were interested in a variety of business types, including a clothing design business, a margarita mix producer, a software designer and a social networker.  Kurt MacDonald hopes to open a themed restaurant, though he’s keeping the theme a secret so no one will take his idea.  His father owned a Sears Dealer Store for over 15 years in Gaylord.  “I’ve learned a lot form him and I think he’d be a good resource for me,” MacDonald said.

Muir went through the basic elements of a Business Plan, giving a great deal of emphasis on the Financial section.  “It’s important to make sure that your great idea translates into a profit,” he said.  “Think – do all these things really fit together, or am I just imagining it?  Can I put what I am thinking in a way that other people can understand it?”

A business plan also includes an Executive Summary, a History, Mission Statement and a Vision Statement. SCORE offers templates for Business Plans and other resources on their website at http://www.score.org/explore_score.html.

“This is a small snippet of what a business plan is,” said DDA Executive Director Cristina Sheppard-Decius. “You need to take advantage of the resources available to you, like SCORE and the DDA.  The DDA can connect you with more information.  We don’t like to see any business fail.  With small businesses the odds are stacked against you.”

She said that working with organizations such as the DDA can also help small business owners navigate the process of establishing themselves in a retail, restaurant or office location.  “You might be surprised about things like pulling permits and other stuff you might not know.”
“The passion aspect is important.  A lot of people go into this with knowledge and passion but don’t necessarily know how to run your business,” Sheppard-Decius said.  “It’s good to surround yourself with skilled people.”

For more information on the DDA and the Ignite program, check out their website www.downtownferndale.com.  The next Ignite meeting is March 10, and focuses on Financing Your Business.  April 14 will be Greening Your Business.

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