Small business has room to grow in West Michigan

Growth from small beginnings is no strange life cycle for Grand Rapids entrepreneurs—even Amway was once just a conversation. There are many more small business owners in West Michigan than CEOs of international conglomerates, though.
Growth from small beginnings is no strange life cycle for Grand Rapids entrepreneurs—even Amway was once just a conversation. There are many more small business owners in West Michigan than CEOs of international conglomerates, though.

Perhaps there’s a SECA muffler shop owner with aspirations of becoming a titan of industry, or perhaps there’s a small salon in Garfield Park that’s getting more business than it can handle and needs to expand. Growth comes in many forms and sometimes the need for it is unexpected, but it’s something small business owners in our region will always be seeking.

The catalysts to that growth are even becoming more and more prevalent, when considering organizations like Start Garden, the DAAC’s Sunday Soup, and crowdfunded options like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. It may take more than just thinking happy thoughts to get an idea off the ground, but there are also more than just popularity contests to help get businesses on their feet and running.

As detailed in the first UIX story of February, Veronica Ramirez-Garcia, Executive Director for the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce extolled the benefits of chamber membership—which is not even relegated to Hispanic owned-businesses. And when it comes to more institutional offerings, Shorouq Almalllah embodies the strategic thinking force behind the Grand Valley State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI).

On a deeper level—one that we strive to concentrate on in UIX Grand Rapids—the options for growth when it comes to B-corporations, social entrepreneurs, and leaders in humanitarian innovation, sometimes the options for help and guidance aren’t as easily accessible. Sometimes, it’s best to admit, “We are making it up.  And, learning from our mistakes as we go,” as stated by Jessamyn Lau, the Peery Foundation Program Officer. And, as reported in the Stanford Social innovation Review. sometimes it’s more important to understand your approach to your business plan, “Instead of researching programs based on subject area (for example, education, youth development, or the arts), we can base research on the benefits programs aim to produce (for example, improving college readiness, increasing access to public services and supports, or encouraging artistic expression).”

The point is, Grand Rapids has its share of big players and smart movers; maybe some a little too smart for their own good, but the best ideas are the ones that are held onto, nurtured, and constantly bounced back with input from qualified sources.

Here’s short term experiment to try for a week (maybe even a month or longer): This is the world you live in. Every day, make a choice to better it. Maybe it will take effort on your part, or maybe it’s as simple as paying it forward.

Think about it. All our ideas start small.
 

Kevin Lignell started this month with a piece on Veronica Ramirez-Garcia and her work with the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Later in February, you can expect a piece on Jamiel Robinson head of GRABB (Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses), by Marla Miller; a piece by Katie Jones on Hugo Claudin and Mexicans Sans Frontiers ; and one by Kelly LeCoy on Jonathan Kumar at Food Circles.

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