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Seeing 2020: Business Cheerleader’s Advice For Success in New Year

Seeing 2020: Business Cheerleader’s Advice For Success in New Year

Seeing 2020: Business Cheerleader’s Advice for Success in New Year

15
JANUARY 2020

BY PAMELA A. ZINKOSKY

LBN Community Series

Farmington

Every business needs a cheerleader, and Tisha Hammond has been one for small businesses for the last five years. Her Farmington Hills-based Ascent Small Business Promotion LLC, popularly known as From Launch to Ascent, offers consulting services, online training, inspirational talks, business retreats and more.

While Hammond calls her blog Pep Talk, she’s by no means just a pompom-brandishing cheerleader. She was a badge-and-gun-carrying police officer for 10 years. She spent 21 years working for the government, the last part of that service conducting equal employment opportunity investigations.

TISHA HAMMOND

TISHA HAMMOND

FOUNDER, FROM LAUNCH TO ASCENT

There’s something both tough and soft about her, though, most likely because of the road that led to where she is today.

In 2014, both her brother and sister, neither of them yet 40, died. In addition, she and her husband mourned the passing that year of 24 other people they knew. It was a tragic year that ended with a “moment of clarity,” she said.

On Nov. 29, 2014 — yes, she recalls the exact date — she had a dream that featured the Ascent logo in its blue and gold colors and the “Small Business Cheerleader” tagline. “It was one of those dreams I didn’t forget,” she said.

Not much later, she took a test at work to find her “dream job,” which came up as either in public affairs — her husband’s field — or as a small-business promoter. “I said, ‘What’s a small business promoter?’ ” she said with a laugh.

Once she learned, she realized that, through all her employee interviews over the years, she encountered so many people who would rather be doing something else for a living. They weren’t living their passions. Ascent Small Business Promotion was born as a home-based business devoted to helping people make money doing what they love.
A place of her own

Hammond ran Ascent out of her home from January 2015 through March 2017 while still working for the government. In 2018, she retired, going full-time with Ascent in March of that year. That’s when she opened her office, an appointment-only consulting space that includes a meeting room for clients and an area for in-person training sessions.

Positive sayings adorn the walls of her office, which features a flat-screen television, plus a small treadmill and a stair-stepper, so she can get in some exercise while conducting calls or catching the news.

Adjacent to her office sits her husband’s photography and videography company. Hammond sometimes borrows his equipment to record videos or snap photos for her business’ social media pages. Before her interview with Local Business News, she posted a video saying she was praying for clarity in conveying her message — an idea that’s relevant for all business owners.

Hammond, who’s a small-business owner herself and an expert in equal opportunity and human resources issues, counsels and trains clients around the world. “My clients are health-care providers, ‘solopreneurs,’ nonprofits, corporations, agencies, small boutiques,” she said. They run the gamut of industries, but all of them can benefit from a few pieces of advice, she said.

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To start 2020, Hammond offered 10 pointers for small businesses:

 

  1. Build community. “Envelope yourself in a community — a team of people who will fuel you, share resources, help you change course when necessary, introduce clients,” said Hammond, who has done this throughout her career. She keeps a networking table with business cards from her clients and associates, and she never discounts the value of belonging to an organization of like-minded people. A fellow member of the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce, for example, helped connect her to a women’s organization in Bosnia. She formed a partnership with that organization to teach classes for her online training academy.
  2. Know your financials. “The IRS will consider your business a hobby if you’re not profitable,” Hammond said. It’s important to work toward making a profit and know what it takes to get there.
  3. Get a mentor. If a natural mentor hasn’t emerged for you, or if you’re shy about asking someone, check out www.score.org, Hammond suggests.
  4. Build capacity, and prepare for scaling. Hammond tells stories about people who had a product, did a media interview and then received more orders than they could fill. It’s a good problem to have, but it can be avoided, she said. Think in terms of scalability. Devise ways to contract for extra help as needed, or build an inventory you can draw upon.
  5. Invest your own money. “You have to put some skin in the game,” said Hammond, noting that five years ago she would have advised clients not to use their own money for startup costs. With experience, she’s learned that if you have invested dollars, you’re going to work that much harder on your business.
  6. Do your legwork. “I have to find people where they are,” Hammond says. That means email, Facebook, Instagram and even Pinterest. For her part, Hammond is calling people from whom she’s collected business cards and asking for their email addresses so she can send them the weekly newsletter, Inspiration for Your Inbox, she plans to start. That’s something she wouldn’t have done five years ago, but recognizes the need for today.
  1. Use your time wisely. Five years ago, Hammond said, she would have told business owners to go to every networking event they could find. Now, she says, business owners need to be selective and go to those that make sense. She advises putting the phone away, too; mindless Facebook and LinkedIn scrolling wastes time you could be spending on other things.
  2. Understand the importance of self-care. “Self-care is crucial and no less important for entrepreneurs,” Hammond says. She suggests regular exercise — remember, she has exercise equipment right in her office — as well as limiting late-night work and finding inspiration wherever possible. When you need a boost, seek out an inspiring story, call a friend or talk to your mentor, she suggests.
9, Find the right price point, and pay attention to expenses. This goes along with finances, but Hammond advises knowing what you’re worth and being prepared for expenses like office supplies, rent and utilities if you’re in a physical office. Also, be prepared for people to offer you a lower price point, and have a strategy to either say no or find a path to getting the amount you want.

  1. ” ‘No’ is a complete sentence, and there’s always a path to yes,” says Hammond. Hammond advises a succinct “no” when something doesn’t feel right or goes against your values. She also tells people that there’s always a path to getting what you want. If the answer to whether someone will do business with you is no for now, you can find a way to get to yes if you’re creative and smart. If someone won’t pay what you’re worth now, work toward showing your value and finding a path to that amount.

In other words, don’t give up.  

Ascent Small Business Promotion LLC is available by appointment only.

Ascent Small Business Promotion LLC
37460 Hills Tech Drive
Farmington Hills, MI 48331
248.987.2865

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Tis The Season To Shop Local Retailers List

Tis The Season To Shop Local Retailers List

’Tis the Season to
Shop Local
Retailers List

19

DECEMBER 2018

Throughout the year we have featured a number of wonderful local retailers you may want to consider for last minute Christmas gifts.  Here are links to those business’ LBN articles:

SEE OUR PREVIOUS ARTICLES ON SMALL BUSINESS

Seeing 2020: Business Cheerleader’s Advice For Success in New Year

Every business needs a cheerleader, and Tisha Hammond has been one for small businesses for the last five years. Her Farmington Hills-based Ascent Small Business Promotion LLC, popularly known as From Launch to Ascent, offers consulting services, online training, inspirational talks, business retreats and more.
While Hammond calls her blog Pep Talk, she’s by no means just a pompom-brandishing cheerleader. She was a badge-and-gun-carrying police officer for 10 years. She spent 21 years working for the government, the last part of that service conducting equal employment opportunity investigations.

‘Tis the Season to Shop Local

‘Tis the Season to Shop Local

’Tis the Season to
Shop Local

31

OCTOBER 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: Local Business News Executive Editor Glenn Gilbert discussed LBN’s ’Tis the Season to Shop Local campaign with LBN Publisher Guy Williams. Here is an account of their conversation.

GLENN GILBERT
LBN EXECUTIVE EDITOR

LBN PUBLISHER GUY WILLIAMS WITH VICTORIA KNIGHT, GENERAL MANGER FROM THE ST. CROIX SHOP

\

GLENN: You have suggested that people shop local for Christmas — meaning patronize locally owned, Main Street retailers as opposed to big box or online retailers. Why do you feel this way? GUY: Small local businesses have struggled to compete with corporate chains for decades. Hardest hit have been independent retailers. Now the Internet has created even more competition for them. Local stores with one or two locations can’t compete on price with Amazon or Walmart. However, mom-and-pop businesses survive and thrive because the owners are so passionate about what they do and consumers embrace that. Studies show that, 96 percent of consumers think local businesses beat national chains on personalizing service. In fact, a study last year stated that “local businesses should compete on service/quality, not price; 72 percent of consumers are willing to pay a local business more for better quality work.”

GLENN: Do you feel LBN’s campaign will benefit local communities and their residents  more than would shopping wherever one pleases? GUY: It’s more than a feeling, there are statistics to back it up. When we interviewed Constance Logan, the district director of the Michigan Small Business Administration, back in May, she shared some interesting facts, such as: “when you shop local, each dollar you spend at independent businesses returns three times more money to the local economy than one dollar spent at a chain.” As we launch the ’Tis the Season to Shop Local campaign, those numbers really add up when you consider that if each household simply redirected just $100 of planned holiday spending from chain stores to locally owned merchants, the local economic impact would reach approximately $10 million.

“It’s as simple as this: including neighborhood businesses in your everyday shopping helps the community. A larger percentage of those dollars stay local when you spend locally.”

GLENN: Do you have statistics to back up local retailers impact on the community? If it is true that patronizing local retailers benefits the local community, why would this not also be true of shopping at the so-called big-box stores located in one’s community? GUY: It’s as simple as this: including neighborhood businesses in your everyday shopping helps the community. A larger percentage of those dollars stay local when you spend locally. To quote Ms. Logan again, “We have 870,301 small businesses in Michigan.  Those small businesses employ 1.8 million and created 66,240 net new jobs.” More information can be found at https://www.amiba.net/resources/localhero/.

GLENN: Is it really realistic to suggest that all shopping needs can be met by local, mom-and-pop businesses?

GUY: No, that isn’t the point. We don’t need to completely abandon corporate shopping or chain restaurants to improve things for local businesses. It’s more an issue of balance. I think more people would patronize more of their local businesses if they were more aware of them. The biggest disadvantage mom-and-pop business owners have is their lack of marketing funds along with a lack of marketing know-how. The majority of the business owners that I know are razor focused on creating the product or service that they offer. Most are not becoming millionaires, the truth is that, 86.3 percent of small business owners said they take a yearly salary of less than $100k. 30.07 percent of small business owners don’t take a salary. (Source: Fundera 2017.)

As our lives become more global, our focus is becoming more local. Many studies suggest that consumers who have said that they would like to buy local, also said that it’s difficult sometimes finding a local business that can meet their needs. Of the many hats that small business owners wear, marketing is most often the most difficult one to master. Marketing is only expensive when it doesn’t work, and when you don’t know what you’re doing it doesn’t work most times, regardless of your budget.

GLENN: Do you feel that locally owned retailers can turn the clock back and regain their previous ascendancy? GUY: America is very different than it was 50 or 75 years ago and so is retailing. The only time in history when civilization went backwards was during the Dark Ages. We are constantly moving forward, so hoping that retail will suddenly move back to what it was is not very realistic. This forward movement results in change, which often causes fear of the unknown. Retailing has always changed; it’s typically entrepreneurs that embrace technology and use it to separate themselves from their competitors. Retailing icons like Macy, Kresge, Walton and now Bezos have changed the face of retail in their times. each of these retailers have faced experts warning of dire consequences that never seems to materialize.

I read an article the other day about Amazon’s new stores, Amazon Go (https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2018/10/03/tech/amazon-go/index.html). These stores have no checkout line, cashiers or waiting. The technology allows you to shop and then walk out with your items that are automatically scanned and you’re billed to your phone after leaving the store. Today I can understand how some people could see this as the nail in the coffin of small retailers. However, once the technology is available and affordable to mom-and-pop businesses, it could be just the thing they need to compete.

GLENN: What is the future of retailing? GUY: When I look into my crystal ball, I see a very vibrant retail industry that includes many small local businesses. I believe that mom-and-pop store owners are embracing technology like never before and that will continue and accelerate with the next generation of shop owners. Today, 51 percent of owners of small businesses are 50 to 88 years old, 33 percent are 35 to 49 and only 16 percent are 35 years old and under. As the next generations of local business owners emerge, their understanding and comfort with technology will help them better succeed.

SEE OUR PREVIOUS ARTICLE ON SMALL BUSINESS

Seeing 2020: Business Cheerleader’s Advice For Success in New Year

Every business needs a cheerleader, and Tisha Hammond has been one for small businesses for the last five years. Her Farmington Hills-based Ascent Small Business Promotion LLC, popularly known as From Launch to Ascent, offers consulting services, online training, inspirational talks, business retreats and more.
While Hammond calls her blog Pep Talk, she’s by no means just a pompom-brandishing cheerleader. She was a badge-and-gun-carrying police officer for 10 years. She spent 21 years working for the government, the last part of that service conducting equal employment opportunity investigations.

SBA has Advice for Consumers, Entrepreneurs

SBA has Advice for Consumers, Entrepreneurs

Local Business News Executive Editor Glenn Gilbert asked Constance Logan to address issues affecting small businesses. Logan is the district director of the Small Business Administration in Michigan. Here are excerpts from her responses. 

 

Glenn Gilbert, Local Business News Executive Editor

  GILBERT (LBN): In his announcement of Small Business Week (April 29 to May 5) President Trump said the country’s 30 million small businesses employ nearly 58 million Americans — 48 percent of the labor force, and that each year, small businesses create two-out-of-three net new, private-sector jobs in the United States.  Is this a trend that is sustainable and where will this leave us 10 years from now?

 

LOGAN (SBA): The U.S. Small Business Administration surely hopes the current trend in the economy is sustainable.  SBA’s Office of Advocacy statistics show that small businesses are the driving force in our economy.  Multiple economic indicators consistently signaled a strengthening U.S. economy in 2017.   In the third quarter, the  economy grew at an annual rate of 3.4 percent,  and the unemployment rate is down.  This trend seems to be continuing into 2018.   The United States is home to 30.2 million small businesses which employ 58.9 million people, or 47.5 percent of the nation’s private-sector workforce.  The three industries with the most small business employment are: 1) health care and social assistance; 2) accommodation and food services; and (3) retail trade.  Therefore, if the current trends continue, we hope that these small businesses grow into large businesses and more small businesses develop as a result.

 

  GILBERT (LBN): When we talk about the necessity of supporting small businesses, does this mean the public should support so-called Main Street retailers instead of shopping online?

 

Constance Logan, District Director of the Small Business Administration

LOGAN (SBA): When it comes to supporting small businesses, we don’t encourage one avenue of how the public shops over the other.  In fact, many of the small retailers we help also have an online presence.

 

  GILBERT (LBN): The president has been very negative, for example, toward Amazon. He claims Amazon has an unfair advantage over traditional retailers? Is he correct?

 

LOGAN (SBA): As the only independent voice of small business, SBA certainly advocates for supporting small businesses. Our number one focus is on guiding small businesses on the right path to success with resources and advice.  Your question is an important one to independent retailers; unfortunately, we don’t comment on these issues at the district level.

 

  GILBERT (LBN): How do prices of merchandise of bricks-and-mortar retailers compare to online shopping?

Or perhaps I am misunderstanding this and the question should rather be … to what extent should Main Street retailers take advantage of online functions?  Can you give examples?

 

LOGAN (SBA): I think the best answer to that question is for Main Street retailers to work with our certified business consultants to do an analysis of their competitive strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan that best incorporates e-commerce with brick and mortar sales.  Our consultants do a great job in helping small businesses create a marketing strategy by incorporating market research into the plan.  They can conduct a search engine optimization or SEO on the business’ website and identify what’s working and what needs improvement.  These services are all free through the SBA funded Small Business Development Centers located across the state.  The SBA consulting services  help small businesses compete at a local, national, or global scale and this is how we are able to help small businesses meet the needs of their customers, regardless if is it at the Main Street retail shop or online level.

 

  GILBERT (LBN): Can you give some concrete examples of why and how the public should and can support community businesses?

 

LOGAN (SBA): The public should support community businesses by patronizing  establishments in their neighborhood because it’s good for the local economy.  Viable small businesses are job creators and the cornerstone of healthy communities.   We have 870,301 small businesses in Michigan.  Those small businesses employ 1.8 million and created 66,240 net new jobs.  Various studies such as the one by the American Independent Business Alliance show that when you shop local,  each dollar you spend at independent businesses  returns three times more money to the local economy than one dollar spent at a chain.  This study also suggests that shopping local creates jobs and opportunities, increases wealth of residents, creates a healthier environment, lowers taxes and enhances local democracy. This information can be found at https://www.amiba.net/resources/localhero/. Take for example Great Lakes Health in Jackson.  William and Cheri Deary started this company in 1994 with a bank loan guaranteed by the SBA.  Great Lakes Caring grew to a company with more than 2,600 employees in nine states, with 25 offices, serving over 9,000 people a day.  The Dearys sold the company in 2016.  I’m very proud that the SBA was there to help them in the beginning stages.  And there are so many stories just like this.  This is why the public needs to support community businesses.

 

  GILBERT (LBN): Do you have anything to say about the results of the recently completed Small  Business Week?

I have reviewed the resources available on SBA’s website, including the very helpful and comprehensive Michigan Small Business Resource Guide (https://www.sba.gov/offices/district/mi/detroit) But I can imagine this remains a maze to the average person.  Can you simplify the steps a person dreaming of starting a small business should follow — how to find property, how to learn about financing, etc.?

 

LOGAN (SBA): Well first, National Small Business Week was a phenomenal success, especially here in Michigan.  The SBA Michigan district  presented the 2018 Michigan Small Business awards at the 14th Annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business event in Lansing on May 3rd. The SBA has been honoring the contributions of small businesses and entrepreneurs since 1963!

In addition to that event, the SBA Michigan district office kicked off National Small Business Week by participating in  the 26th Annual Association for Enterprise Opportunities (AEO) 2018 National Microbusiness Conference in Detroit that same week.  More than 600 executives, decision-makers, microfinance practitioners, advocates, policymakers, small business advisors, educators, funders, investors, fintech influentials and entrepreneurs from across the nation gathered here to share, network and collaborate on ways to move Main Street forward through inclusion, innovation and investment.  I also took part in the 1st Annual State of Small Business in Michigan Live Chat on Facebook with the Small Business Association of Michigan.  Rob Fowler, SBAM  President & CEO and I had a lively and spirited discussion highlighting small businesses in Michigan as well as sharing what opportunities are coming from SBA and SBAM that small business owners and entrepreneurs can look forward to.

Our resource guide and website can be overwhelming which is why we are in the middle of a rebranding and messaging campaign that we hope will generate a more customer centric approach.  With the rebrand, our goal is to make it easier to access information on how to start, grow, expand and recover.  The 10 steps to start a business are:

  • Conduct market research
  • Write your business plan
  • Fund your business
  • Pick your business location
  • Choose a business structure
  • Choose your business name
  • Register your business
  • Get federal and state tax IDs
  • Apply for licenses and permits
  • Open a business bank account

Our website and resource guide go more in-depth on the 10 steps while providing additional resources such as free counseling services and training for individuals interested in starting their own business.

   GILBERT (LBN): I assume virtually all small businesses require loans.  What percentage of small businesses have benefitted from SBA loans? What other business financing do banks typically offer?  Can the average person learn about SBA financing by going to his or her local bank?  Are banks required to work with the SBA in terms of financing? 

 

LOGAN (SBA): Most startup companies do require capital but many obtain it from friends and family or often by using credit cards.  Loans to new businesses are typically hard to get because they have inherent risk, but by using the SBA guaranty programs, lenders can mitigate that risk.  So we guarantee many loans to launch new businesses and create jobs.  In fiscal year 2017, the Michigan district office supported 2,700 loans totaling $1.087 billion, a 15.39 percent increase in loan dollar volume over the same time period last year. This reflects the highest level of SBA lending ever in Michigan and is a testament to its work with Michigan lenders to continue supporting small businesses.  Our extensive outreach and collaboration with community organizations and lenders in the state has contributed to loan increases to minority entrepreneurs.

Included in the $1 billion is more than $101 million in SBA-approved loans to woman-owned small businesses, $26.9 million in loans allocated to veterans, and nearly $116 million to minority-owned small businesses (a 14.88 percent increase over last year).

SBA lending in 2018 continues to be strong.  With 1,311 7(a) loans through March, the Michigan district is currently the second highest volume SBA district in the country.  Overall SBA lending is up 7.3 percent year to date.