Michigan Entrepeneurship Efforts Increasing, Partially Due to the Help Available to Budding Entrepreneurs

It has long been estimated that small businesses employ half of the private workforce, and generate about 70 percent of the country’s new jobs each year.   For many years in Michigan, entrepreneurship efforts became somewhat static as the entrepreneurs of the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s experienced significant growth and success due to the success of the automotive industry in the State.  Those companies became the large firms that have become quite well-known throughout Michigan, and provided many of the high-paying jobs that Michiganders enjoyed for many years.

However, in the last 10 years, as Michigan’s automotive industry has suffered, and manufacturing in the State experienced history-making downsizing, the people and politicians in Michigan began looking for alternatives to create sustainable jobs, and the focus once again turned to entrepreneurship.

Michigan’s Entrepreneurship efforts have increased steadily in recent years due in no small part to Federally-funded programs aimed at generating entrepreneurial efforts in the State.  Substantial progress has been made, and continues to be made due to the efforts of organizations such as the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Ann Arbor Spark, Automation Alley, TechTown and many, many more.

This focus on entrepreneurship has led to an abundance of educational programs and conferences designed to provide information, resources, access to investors and much more for start-up and second-stage entrepreneurs.  Some events taking place in the next few weeks include:

If you haven’t considered entrepreneurship, now might be the time to start.  If you have considered it, but decided against it, now might be the time to take a second look.  And if you went for it, but can use a helping hand, make certain to register for at least one of these events.

Don’t Complain About Lack of Business From Social Media, if You Don’t Respond to Requests for Bids

You can probably tell by the title of this article that I have an issue, and I’m guessing from many other articles I’ve read and conversations I’ve had recently, that I’m not the only one!

Everyday it seems, I see a posting on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIN from someone complaining that they’re not getting any business from social media.  And of course, their assumption is that the social media platform is to blame and that it couldn’t possibly be as productive as “everyone” says it is, because after all, they’re not getting any business from it.

Well, I would like to tell them WHY they’re not getting any business from it – based on my recent experience of requesting proposals from my network for work to be done for a client of mine.  I’m not going to identify the companies – or even what industry they work in – because I’d bet a good amount of money that this situation occurs frequently, in every industry, and I think alot of people can learn from it.

Recently, I needed a vendor to provide some professional services for a client of mine.  This is a client I have been working with for a number of years and they are very important to my business.  Additionally, I have been strongly urging them to become much more active in social media because it can provide them so many benefits for their company.

So, long story short, I went to my LinkedIN network to request proposals from my contacts who work in this specialty area.  I sent them individual requests that contained specific information on the company, the services I was looking for, my timeline for the proposal to be received and for the work to begin, etc.  I sent my request to 6 people in my network who I had frequently seen making posts on this topic which typically contained a short ‘request for work’ statement within them, and who appeared to have the qualifications and background I felt would be needed.

My first surprise was that I received NO RESPONSES for 3 days!

My second surprise was that the first response I received was from someone telling me that they didn’t think the job was appropriate for them and giving me the reason; instead of asking for clarification on some items to see if additional information would show that the job was suitable for their firm.  However, I’m persistant, so I responded with the un-asked for clarification and they did respond fairly quickly back that yes, they probably would be suitable for the job after all.  They would send me a pricing sheet that evening or the next day.  Great!  Except a week later, it has still not been received.

The second company response I received, a day later than the first one, indicated that yes they were interested in bidding on my project and would like to talk with me about it.  Excellent!  I sent back a note asking for dates/times they would be available, as well as their email address so I could send them an Outlook meeting invite for one of their selected times.  Almost a week later – NO RESPONSE!

And, my last surprise?  No more responses!  So out of 6 companies I contacted trying to give them work – apparently NONE of them need the business.

So now I find myself in a difficult situation.  I have a client who has money (which isn’t so common any more!); money they are willing to spend, for a service I’ve told them they need.  I told them I would go to my social media professional contacts to find them someone to provide these services.  Now I have to report back on my results.  Frankly, given my strong endorsement of how well social media can work, I’m pretty embarrased about what I have to report.  But I’ll get over it, and I’ll use another means to find them someone to provide the service.

However, I want to make this statement to those small business owners who are griping that they’re not getting any business from social media, “If someone offers you an opportunity to bid on work, YOU NEED TO RESPOND!”  Even if you don’t feel it’s work that is suitable for your firm, send a polite note back acknowledging the request and possibly refer them to someone more suitable.  You may not get their business now – but they’ll remember you – and you’ll get another opportunity to get work from them, or they’ll refer you to another potential client – because you conducted yourself professionally.

And here’s another point – if you are not actively engaging with your social media network, how can you expect to get work from it?  I’m still stunned that even though I sent personalized, direct, detailed messages there were 4 companies who never bothered to respond and the first company didn’t respond for 3 days!

My last point is, if you want social media to help you generate business, learn how to use it effectively.  Here is a link to a previous article I wrote on that topic, “The Social Media Mistake Most Small Business Owners Make“.

Okay, my rant is now done.  I hope it at least provides some benefit to those trying to do business with others in their networks; as well as to businesses who are saying they’re not GETTING business from their networks.

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