Tag Archive: article

  1. The Importance of Financial Literacy for Micro-Businesses

    Leave a Comment

    The need for financial literacy is clear in both our personal lives and in business, but perhaps the highest stakes for personal financial adeptness is in micro-business. Build Institute defines a micro-business as a small company, usually made up of less than five employees. These ultra-small operations often rely on one or two key individuals to make decisions that affect every aspect of the business.

    With that, micro-business entrepreneurs have to know their business and it’s financials inside and out. Unfortunately, too many of them are operating with poor or incomplete numbers, or even worse — operating in the dark.

    It sounds incredible, but it is common for business owners to rely on an external bookkeeper or accounting professional during tax season, while lacking a personal understanding of the business’s financial health. Until a company is large enough to hire a chief financial officer, the owners should assume that role to the fullest.

    Once an entrepreneur understands the finances as well as an accounting professional, the right time to inject working capital into the operation will become clear. Sometimes that cushion is needed when sales are taking off and there just isn’t enough inventory or staff to meet demand. Other times unexpected or unfortunate events (which are part of the process) may decrease sales, require costly legal help, or can otherwise rain on your money-making parade.

    Regardless of the reason for a cushion, a business owner that’s comfortable diving into financial statements, unit economics, and projections will be prepared to make the difficult financial decisions that drive their business forward.

    When the time comes to inject cash, entrepreneurs should consider all of their options. For some micro-business owners, Kiva is a great place to start. Kiva offers crowdfunded micro-loans of up to $10k with 0% interest, no fees, and reasonable repayment terms. The process for applying and borrowing through Kiva is far less complicated than dealing with traditional means of financing and the often prohibitive requirements that leave so many small businesses to fend for themselves.

    Regardless if Kiva is the right fit for your business, the point is that micro-business entrepreneurs must be financially adept. They must know the health of their business in order to know when outside help is needed. When it is time for help, they have to evaluate every opportunity against the reality within their operation. The future of the business depends on it!

  2. Build Speaks at South By Southwest (SXSW)

    Leave a Comment

    In March 2017, Build was invited by Michigan House to speak on the panel about equity and inclusion in communities. Exploring the strategies employed by Michigan’s communities to build an inclusive future that encourages opportunity for all.

    Panelists include: 

    April Boyle of Build Institute
    Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss
    James Chapman of Rock Ventures LLC
    Pamela Lewis of New Economy Initiative

    South By Southwest (SXSW) dedicates itself to helping creative people achieve their goals. Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. The event, an essential destination for global professionals, features sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions, and a variety of networking opportunities. SXSW proves that the most unexpected discoveries happen when diverse topics and people come together.


    Photo Credit: Shutter Sam
    Build alum Beaubien Fine Foods (jams, Molly O’Meara & Noelle Lothamer) featured in the “Back to Our Roots” brunch with special guests including the mayor of Grand Rapids, Rosalynn Bliss and New Economy Initiative, Director, Pam Lewis among others. Build alum Firebrand Candles (Quinn Hamilton) featured during South by Southwest.
  3. Hundreds Learn About Launching a Social Enterprise in Detroit

    2 Comments

    “Doing well while doing good.”

    “Profit with a purpose.”

    These were the type of phrases bantered about on Wednesday, May 5, at Social Entrepreneur Day, part of Detroit Entrepreneur Week, May 2-7, 2016. The day was presented in partnership with Build Institute, which is a strong advocate for social enterprise and small business support.

    For the 120 Social Entrepreneur Day attendees, who filled a spacious room at TechTown Detroit, the day started off with an overview of social entrepreneurship (the pursuit of a social mission using commercial means). Marcus Harris, Build’s facilitator of Build Social, small business taskmaster, and one of social entrepreneurship’s most vocal champions quickly captivated the audience with his wisdom.

    Shaka Senghor sharing his story with the audience.
    Shaka Senghor sharing his story with the audience.

    Shaka Senghor, a New York Times best-selling author, presented next. With the story of his personal turnaround, triggered by an epiphany inside a prison solitary confinement cell, he spoke of his journey into crime and drugs, through his 19-year incarceration, and out into the world to become an author, social entrepreneur, and change maker. The Detroit native’s current work focuses on mentoring youth, eradicating gun violence, and getting more books into prisons.

    Senghor’s entrepreneurial challenges were greater than most: out of prison for second-degree murder with little chance of finding a job, he sold his books from the trunk of an old Honda Civic and drove from school to school talking to kids and telling them his story.

    “I realized I had no work history,” recalls Senghor, having been in prison since he was 19. “But had a dynamic skill set.” Senghor had been selling drugs since he was 14 and ran black market stores in prison. “I took that skill set and said ‘I’m going to start a publishing company.’”

    He wrote, slowly gained notoriety, and started a mentoring program for at-risk youth. He presented one of the top TED Talks of 2014, and was awarded fellowships with M.I.T. Media Lab and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

    As Senghor spoke of achieving one of his long-time pursuits, to meet Opra, he advised the crowd, “As you’re working on your business, be intentional about what you want to manifest.” He cautioned against becoming “socially invested and financially broke.”

    Marcus Harris, Build Social facilitator shares the COSTARTERS business model canvas with the crowd.
    Marcus Harris, Build Social facilitator shares the COSTARTERS business model canvas with the crowd.

    Following Senghor’s motivating words, was a social entrepreneurship ideation session that lead participants through a visual map, a CO.STARTERS CanvasTM (an entrepreneur training curriculum Build brought to Detroit) that helps entrepreneurs better understand, define, organize, and test their business ideas.

    Led by Harris, the session further defined items on the placemat-sized canvas, such as identifying customers, defining a solution, and outlining benefits and start-up costs. As participants scribbled their ideas onto their own maps, Harris cautioned: “This ain’t your business plan. It’s more of a pre-plan. You can use this model as a foundation.”

    Social Entrepreneur Day participants had a chance to learn from the doers as part of the last session of the morning, “Meet the Social Entrepreneurs,” a panel discussion with successful social entrepreneurs, social impact investors, and representatives from organizations that offer training and support. The panel was populated by:

    Delphia Simmons, Build Basics facilitator, speaking on the “Meet the Social Entrepreneurs" panel.
    Delphia Simmons, Build Basics facilitator, speaking on the “Meet the Social Entrepreneurs” panel.

    The group answered questions about their early inspirations, handling competition, balancing money issues with social purpose, and dealing with doubt.

    When asked about challenges specific to Detroit’s social enterprise movement, many panelists voiced concern over the absence of resources in Detroit – good schools, lack of money, subpar city services – but also recognized that Detroiters have the drive and grit to keep going.

    Fr. Phillip Cooke, who moved to Detroit after doing social enterprise work in Santa Clara, Calif., recently conducted his first program at UDM CSE on writing business plans with a triple bottom line (social, environmental and financial). “The energy in the room was fantastic,” says Cooke. “It was energy that I had not seen in my life. All that Detroit is missing is resources.”

    For Detroit entrepreneurs knowledge is just one piece of getting a business going. Capital is still a huge challenge, which is why programs such as Kiva are vital. Therefore, it made sense to culminate Social Entrepreneurship Day with an activity focused on pitching ideas and giving away money for startups.

  4. Build in Huffington Post

    Leave a Comment

    “There is no lack of people within Detroit’s neighborhoods who want to collaborate. April Boyle, Executive Director of Build Institute, a network of grass-roots programs that train people to bring their business ideas to life, says more attention and investment needs go to into community entrepreneurship. To date, Build has graduated 600 aspiring and experienced community entrepreneurs. Build fosters growth for what they call Main Street entrepreneurs– brick and mortars or mom and pop lifestyle passion businesses–that are looking to open businesses in their community.

    “We need both the investment paid to tech and high-growth companies but we also need to foster and nurture the community and Main Street entrepreneurs to keep the wealth, to keep our culture, and to preserve Detroit as a unique place,” says Boyle. “The respect for the small business community or the work that we’re doing at that cross section of community entrepreneurship and economic development doesn’t get the respect it deserves because people measure success in dollars, and they don’t understand that this problem took 50 years. It may take hopefully not as long because we don’t have that long to wait, but it’s going to take a long while in order to have that pipeline of workers, and talented, bright innovative workers have to start somewhere.”

     

    Read more here.

  5. Forward Cities Featured Post from Build’s Executive Director April Boyle

    Leave a Comment
    forward_cities_2015_detroit_day_one_-7533
    Photo courtesy of Forward Cities

    When I first heard of Forward Cities and their goals of advancing minority ownership and commercial corridor redevelopment I was over the moon with excitement, as these are the key tenants of our work at Build Institute

    I was able to attend the very first convening in New Orleans in December 2014 and was taken with the parallels in the stories of the natural disaster, which many argue was manmade due to faulty levies, and the unquestionably manmade disaster in Detroit after 50 years of disinvestment, structural and institutional racism, the housing and financial crisis during which one in every three homes faced foreclosure, and unemployment at an all-time high. Detroit is in crisis and the largest municipal bankruptcy in the country has helped shed some light on the depth and breadth of the challenges here.”

     

    Read more from our Executive Director April Boyle at Forward Cities here.

  6. Build in Fortune Magazine

    Leave a Comment

    In June, Build had the honor of being featured in Fortune Magazine’s article “The fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in America” featuring our very own Build grad Danielle Smith of Detroit Maid.

    “The number of businesses owned by African American women grew 322% since 1997, making black females the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S.”

    Read more here.