Category Archives: Resources

Find Your Second Stage Peers at the Small Giants Summit

Inc. Small Giants Community LogoWhen I was running an company that was in the middle of growing from 10 to 20 people, there were plenty of times it seemed like there ought to be someone I could talk to that could provide some helpful been there / done that kind of direction.

Except that we had “outgrown” much of the incubator / economic development / small business administration kind of support that was geared to startups, and well, we never found the perfect fit with consultants. (That irony is not lost on me, now that I’m in the business of doing consulting!) This is not to say that we didn’t get some great advice for which I am still grateful, it just didn’t always seem to “fit” the culture/company we wanted to create.

Enter the book “Small Giants: Companies that Chose to be Great, not Big” by Bo Burlingham. Reading it was a breath of fresh air. It was incredibly encouraging to read the stories of several companies choosing to beat to a different drum, and still managing to be very successful. It also helped to be familiar with one of the companies, our hometown Zingerman’s. It made the book more meaningful than a bunch of abstract case studies, having experienced the culture and success of one of the companies first hand.

All this made deciding to go to the first Small Giants gathering a proverbial no-brainer. And I’ve been to almost every gathering since, from Washington DC to Germany and San Francisco. Now that they’re practically going to be in my backyard (Chicago), ironically I don’t have the same need to be there. But maybe you do, and that’s why I’m writing today.

As a second stage business owner / operations person, my job was to figure out how to get from here to there. I’m not a big fan of re-inventing the wheel, but some days it felt like we were. When the traditional b-school stuff doesn’t seem to fit, what else can you do?

Go hang out with other Small Giants.

You’ll meet the guy, Bo, who wrote the book and figured out that there are common threads between Small Giants. You’ll meet the guy, Paul, whose passion brought people with a Small Giants mindset from all over the globe together. You’ll meet other people in very similar situations, struggling with similar issues, and you’ll have chances to brainstorm and help each other. Chance are, you’ll make some great new friends along the way.

Of course, there are plenty of less expensive opportunities that don’t require travel to make new friends and swap stories, so here’s why I kept going back. Every year, I left the Small Giants Summit inspired with new things to try. Things that were new to me, but already working in other, quite similar, companies. Along with an open invitation to pick up the phone if I ran into further questions along the way. No more reinventing the wheel. And that, well, that was priceless. If the book Small Giants resonates with you, I promise you you’ll get your ROI on this conference.

Sign up before July 7th for early bird pricing – and save $150 with the code “SGPeer”. See the full schedule and register here: Small Giants Summit.

And say “Hi” to Bo and Paul for me when you’re there!

Build a Powerful Story with this Business Storytelling Workshop (and Discount)

Screenshot 2014-03-19 11.13.33One lucky friend of Beyond Startup will attend a day-long Entre-SLAM business storytelling workshop at half price – for only $62.50!

Who needs to attend this workshop?

Any entrepreneur working on growing their business and finding it challenging to get media attention, customer orders, employee buy-in, etc. As workshop leader Christa Chambers-Price puts it, “Too often, entrepreneurs get lost in ‘companyspeak’: PowerPoint slides, dry mission statements, and product ‘rah-rah’. If you are struggling with this, you are not alone. If you are seeking ways for your business to have a more effective, memorable impact on your market, come prepared to go on this new journey with Entre-SLAM.”

This one-day workshop will challenge you to:

  • Explore how to use the twists, turns and bumps of your business journey to build authentic connections;
  • Declare and embrace what it is you’re really trying to accomplish with your business;
  • Learn how to harness the principles of a well-told story to get folks rising to their feet with applause instead of ignoring you;
  • Play with your new business narrative and adapt it for other media, pitches and team building.

Too often, entrepreneurs get lost in ‘companyspeak’: PowerPoint slides, dry mission statements, and product ‘rah-rah’. If you are struggling with this, you are not alone.

After this workshop you will have:

  • Learned why perfecting your business narrative is an important tool of leadership
  • Clarified and strengthened your understanding of your core brand and what it is you’re really selling
  • Explored and prototyped case studies of effective business storytelling from highly successful entrepreneurs
  • Examined how to effectively adapt and apply your business narrative to a variety of purposes

I’m hard pressed to think of a better investment in growing your business. An all day workshop like this for $62.50 is an absolute steal. Be the first to email me (catherine @ to receive your discount; others register here: Entre-SLAM Registration.

Dates and Locations:

  • Bamboo Detroit: Saturday, March 22, 2014 – 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • New Foundry | Ann Arbor: Saturday, March 29, 2014 – 9:00 – 5:00pm
  • Incu-BAKE | Lansing: Saturday, April 12, 2014 – 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • D:hive Detroit: Monday, April 21, 2014 – 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Grand Circus | Detroit: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 – 9:00am – 5:00pm

Happy storytelling!

WPO Fastest 50 Growing Women Owned Companies Competition


If you’re a fast growing woman-owned company, apply now for The Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) award for the fastest 50 growing women-owned companies.

To be eligible, companies must be:

  • privately-owned
  • women-owned/led
  • must have generated $500,000 in annual revenue by year end 2007
  • must have reached revenues of $2 million by year-end 2012

To complete the online application you will need the following data in-hand:

  • Company information including address, website, description of business, year business started
  • Company owner information, including name, age, gender
  • Company revenues in 2008, 2010, 2012
  • Employee information, including total employment, benefits offered
  • Sources of start-up capital
  • Company’s use of social media

Please note that the information you provide may be published. The awards ceremony will be held at the WPO Annual Conference on May 2 in Dallas, Texas.

Online application for the WPO Fastest 50.

Want an Intern But Need an Expert? Get Both!


While the idea of having an extra pair of hands around the office is often attractive, conscientious business owners sometimes hesitate to engage interns in areas they are not experts in personally. One option to bridge this gap is to bring in an “expert intern” – someone with great expertise in a particular area, often looking for an opportunity to shift into a new industry.

Michigan has a ground-breaking program that matches these expert interns with local employers, called Shifting Gears. The program aims to create a true win-win for each intern and host company in a number of ways, one of which is providing a detailed 24 page guidebook to employers called the Employer Internship Toolkit. This information-packed internship guide contains a wealth of information that would otherwise be time-consuming for entrepreneurs to gather, including:

  • 5 Steps to Creating a Successful Internship
  • Legal background information on rates of pay
  • Legal guidance on student visas
  • Form letters for different stages in the application process
  • Sample feedback surveys to use at the end of the internship

Interns will spend 80 hours with their host company, giving both parties ample opportunity to make a significant impact.

For more information contact:

  • Curriculum developer and facilitator, John Newman ([email protected]) of Sensei Change Associates, 734-372-4054.
  • Amy Cell ([email protected]) of the MEDC which manages all other aspects of the program, including internships, mentoring, applications, etc.

Good luck with your intern program!

Top Listing of Michigan Entrepreneurial Events via GLEQ


One of the best places to keep tabs on great events for entrepreneurs in Michigan is GLEQ’s newsletter. Here’s a sampling from this month’s update as you won’t find all of these events posted in one place on the web – this newsletter is truly a great resource! To subscribe, send an email to Miche Suboski at . Although the events are focused on startups, you’ll find many applicable to second stage as well.

Post with Purpose. Social Media Strategies for Startups will present social media consultant Emily Hay of Hay There Social Media to discuss how small business owners can effectively use social media to increase engagement and ultimately drive business growth. You’ll learn how to define your content goals, create a social media strategy and communicate your message loud and clear.

Thursday, October 18, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
TechTown, 440 Burroughs, Detroit.

The Collaboration Revolution. Join Dr. David E. Cole, Chairman of the AutoHarvest Foundation and Chairman Emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research, for this free webinar as he addresses this important challenge – Accelerating Innovation through an IP and Skills-rich Environment.

Thursday, October 18, 2-3 p.m.

Entrepreneurship Forum. The Entrepreneurship Forum, a new, monthly breakfast speaker series at Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business, will attempt to bring the stories of area people who have had entrepreneurial success to the greater Kalamazoo community starting this month. Jen Randall, president of Maestro, which helps companies and organizations build communication, sales and training programs using online, mobile and blended-learning technologies, will be the inaugural speaker.

Friday, October 19, 7:30-9:30 a.m.
Western Michigan University, Schneider Hall, Kalamazoo.

Social Networking for Small Businesses. Learn the basics and etiquette of social networking for your small business. Content will include how to leverage social networks to help grow your business while reducing your marketing costs. Benefits, disadvantages and tricks of the major social networks (Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-In) will be discussed.

Tuesday, October 23, 6-9 p.m.
Business Development Center, 18600 Haggerty, Livonia.

Jackson Inventors Network. The group’s monthly meeting features Dr. Ron Sadler who will help participants to better approach Market Research projects and get the results they need.

Tuesday, October 23, 6-8:30 p.m.
Jackson Community College, Justin Whiting Building Room 158, 2111 Emmons Road, Jackson.
[email protected]

Advancing Innovation: Tools and Resources for Your Business. The purpose of this event is to educate West Michigan entrepreneurs to the variety of programs available to help accelerate their company. Attendees will also have an opportunity to ask questions and network with the panel, including GLEQ’s executive Director, Diane Durance, after the event.

Wednesday, October 24, 3:30-5 p.m.
MSU Bioeconomy Institute, 242 Howard Ave., Holland.

SBIR/STTR 101 Plus: Introduction and Agency Overview. Come and learn more about this non-dilutive $2.4 billion federal R&D funding program set aside exclusively for small businesses with under 500 employees. This full-day workshop covers the SBIR/STTR program basics, including specific program information for key agencies such as National Science Foundation, Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health. The introduction section includes information on program purpose, eligibility and sources of funding.

Wednesday, October 24, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Michigan Tech Advanced Development Complex, 1402 E. Sharon Ave, Houghton.

Working for Yourself: The Ins & Outs of Becoming a Consultant, a Contractor or other Service Provider. Are you an experienced professional with valuable-defined skill sets, looking for a new career avenue? Think about taking your expertise and becoming an independent consultant, a contractor, or a service provider. Explore the steps to form your business (LLC or other), market yourself and your services, create an action-oriented business plan, and define your client engagement.

Wednesday, October 24, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Business Development Center, 18600 Haggerty, Livonia.

Entre-SLAM. Entre-SLAM is a storytelling competition for entrepreneurs. Entre-SLAM offers a different theme each month and entrepreneurs voluntarily tell a related, true story for about 5 minutes. They are judged by a jury of their peers (ie., you) and at the end of the night, 3 folks will walk away with prizes. In between acts, the storytellers and/or audience members may be mercilessly (but lovingly) harassed by Al McWilliams from Quack Media (the emcee).

Thursday, October 25, 7-9 p.m.
LIVE A2, 1ST and Huron, Ann Arbor.

SBIR/STTR 101: Introduction and Overview. This half-day workshop covers the SBIR/STTR program basics, including: program purpose; eligibility; and sources of funding. It is designed to provide enough information for attendees to determine if they would like to seriously pursue proposal development.

Thursday, October 24, 9 a.m.-noon
TechTown, 440 Burroughs Street, Detroit.

Crash Course: SBIR/STTR Proposal Prep – NSF Focus. NSF Phase I deadlines are nearing — Dec. 3 for SBIRs and Dec. 20 for STTRs. BBCetc hopes you are well on your way to preparing your proposal, but just in case…This National Science Foundation-focused crash course will arm you with helpful information to meet NSF requirements, avoid common pitfalls and problems, write a proposal that will meet reviewer expectations and more. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to put your best foot forward!

Tuesday, October 30, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
BBCetc, 803 N. Main, Ann Arbor.

Diary of An Entrepreneur. Vince Thomas, founder and CEO of Troy-based Billhighway, a provider of cloud-based financial management solutions tailor-made for nonprofit, donor and member-based organizations, will talk candidly about the ups and downs of his entrepreneurial journey, paying special attention to the most-important lessons learned. Vince’s discussion will be followed by Q&A and networking.

Thursday, November 1, 6-8 p.m.
Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, 3695 Woodward Ave., Detroit

eFest! 2012. According to e-merge Program Manager Suzanne Velarde, a number of organizations are working together to plan and host this year’s eFest! events. “We hope that eFest! will build awareness of the many resources available to people who are thinking about being business owners, people in the process of starting a business, or people who already own and run a small business in our region,” she said. “Some of these events have been offered in the past, and some are being offered for the first time. Promoting them all under the eFest! name allows us to showcase a sampling of what is regularly available, and demonstrates how a number of organizations are collaborating to offer programs and assistance to West Michigan entrepreneurs.” For more information go to

Look for events over the next few weeks:

  • October 24, Fundamentals of Marketing Your Business
  • October 26, State Resources for Small Business
  • October 27,” Entrée-preneurship” for Food Entrepreneurs
  • November 4, “Entrepremusic” for Musicians
  • November 7, BOOST! Muskegon
  • November 12, Meet the Lender
  • November 13, BOOST! West Shore
  • November 14, Fundamentals of Financial Management

Free University Courses Online, Including Predictably Irrational

Coursera is an amazing education resource that makes classes from top Universities available to the public. You’ll find a wide variety of courses, including many relevant to entrepreneurship.

Highlighted here is “A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior” with Dan Ariely. I highly recommend Dan’s book, Predictably Irrational, which explores behavioral economics. While that may sound dry, it’s what makes the world of internet marketing (and darn near everything else) tick.

For example, Internet marketing is all about getting the right people to click and move forward to the next step in a buy cycle. Or put another way, motivating people to buy = behavioral economics. As you’ll see in this brief video clip, Dan is the sort of guy who has a sense of humor and breaks his research down into practical terms you can use to grow your business.

Many more classes like this are available on Coursera.


P.S. If you like Predictably Irrational, check out this reading list on Behavioral Economics.


Your Questions Answered – on Quora


Quora is a great resource for getting answers to your business questions. The community is helpful and generally well-moderated so you can expect thoughtful, well-reasoned answers. The best way to see how it works is to join, start following a couple of “boards” (aka topics) and start chiming in the conversation. 

As an example, here’s a question I answered on benchmarks this morning:

How much of your startup’s revenue should be spent on the office space? Is 10% too much?

Short answer: Yes, 10% is generally too much. Longer answer: The less you can pay in the startup stage, the better. Hence the common “I started in the garage” (or basement, or coffee shop) theme. Today there are so many incubator-type spaces in many cities it’s much easier than it used to be to find a small, inexpensive place to set up shop.

Once you’re past the startup stage, a rule of thumb would be 2% in manufacturing and 8% in a professional office space, at least in my neck of the woods. A local CPA would be able to give you a more specific benchmark for your industry and geography.

Now, off to find the answers you seek on Quora!