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The Art and Science of Business Management

Ask Score

By Christian Glupker, SCORE Counselor


The Small Business Administration lists poor management as one of the major causes of business failures. Successful entrepreneurs overcome this by recognizing three functions of business management:  Planning, organizing, and leadership.

The planning function answers three key questions: Where are we now? Where do we want to be? How do we get there? It’s like planning a family vacation. You know where you are starting and you know you want go on vacation. You just need to decide how to get to your destination. There are four different methods to successful planning: strategic, objective, operational and contingency.

Strategic planning involves deciding where you want to go on vacation. How much do you want spend? Do you want to go to the beach or skiing in the mountains? Apply the same logic to your business. Strategic planning will establish the long-term goals for your organization, as well as the policies, mission and overall direction. A solid strategic plan is one of the key drivers to a successful business.

Objective planning, also known as tactical planning, takes your vacation destination (strategic plan) and determines how you will pay for the trip and maps out how to get there. Objective planning will answer the following questions: How does the family budget change? Do we want to drive or fly? For an organization, it’s setting the short-term actions and goals needed to achieve the strategic plan. A strategic plan may cover a period greater than three years while an objective plan will cover up to three years. You will not arrive at your destination without clear directions on how to get there.

Operational planning is actually traveling to your destination. This could include plugging the information into a GPS unit or driving to an airport. For an organization, the operational plan assigns specific goals to a department and/or employees. These goals are based on the desired outcome of the objective plan. Giving your employees ownership of these goals will provide a sense of empowerment, which will significantly increase your chances of success.

Contingency planning is the possibility of unforeseen changes in your plan. For your vacation, this could include lost luggage or a flat tire. For an organization, the business environment is very dynamic, therefore remain flexible to adapt to changing customer needs and new opportunities. Remaining too rigid to your plans may result in missing key opportunities.

The second function of business management is organizing. This function establishes the organizations structure in terms of ownership and management. A well-defined organizational plan will help employees understand the leadership hierarchy, thus giving them direction when it comes to meeting the organizations goals.

The organizing function also deals with human resources. The recruitment, staffing and maintaining of skilled employees is one of the most challenging tasks for all entrepreneurs and managers.  When employees have a sense of empowerment, job satisfaction and loyalty, this will ultimately lead to an increase in productivity and success.

The final function of business management is leadership. A leader is somebody who creates a vision for the organization and then rally’s the employees around that vision. How a leader rally’s the employees depends on their individual leadership style. To be a successful leader, you should seek the input of your employees when it comes to setting goals. This will make them feel a part of the organization, thus giving them a sense of ownership in the success of the company.

Given the dynamics of the business environment, a good leader will recognize the need for change, form a new vision, and then rally the employees around that new vision. Resisting change will result in missed opportunities, as well as decreasing the chances of achieving the existing strategic plan. An organization with strong leadership recognizes that and quickly adapts to seize those opportunities.

Get free and confidential counseling with SCORE, 111 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. Call (616) 771-0305. Visit www.scoregr.org or email score@grandrapids.org.


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Family Fare Store up for sale

BUS-Family-fare-webRumors have been swirling through the community for months that Family Fare, located at 4175 17 Mile did not renew their lease on the store, which is up in November.

The Post called SpartanNash for confirmation and received this response from Meredith Gremel, Director of Corporate Affairs. “SpartanNash is continually looking at ways to coordinate our distribution and retail business segments to become more efficient to better meet all of our customer needs. We do not respond to store closing rumors.”

However, a simple Google search pulled up the store on several different commercial real estate sites showing retail property for sale.

The property shows it is listed at $1,850,000. A partial description for the property reads: Cedar Springs Family Fare store, Remodeled inside and out, very well maintained, existing lease runs through November 2014 with great income remaining. Building also offered for sale. Different suite sizes available for lease – see other lease listings. Great location with easy access to 131.“

Family Fare was formerly Great Day, before it joined the Spartan chain of stores, and has been a fixture in Cedar Springs for many years. We will let readers know when we receive more info from SpartanNash.

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New location for Take Two Game Shop

BUS-TakeTwo-webBUS-TakeTwo-inside-webIf you visit Take Two Game Shop at their new location at 43 N. Main Street (corner of Main and Elms Streets), you will find it a lot easier to browse their selection of video games, video game systems, and dvds.

“We have a lot more room here,” said owner Shawn Kiphart. “We’ve needed this for a long time.”

Kiphart moved from 18 S. Main (new home of The Red Flannel Festival) about a month ago when the owners sold the building. “It turned out to be a good thing for me,” he said.

One thing that makes Take Two unique is that they carry a wide variety of video games and systems from the 1970s to the present. They also offer in-store trade. “We are a store that offers nearly twice the amount of in-store trade as our competitors, and we also offer dvds, so we always have something for the entire family,” said Kiphart.

Take Two is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call 616-773-5126 for more info.


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The Barn – on a mission

BUS-The-Barn2-webFor Victoria Merlington, owner of The Barn, a vintage and consignment shop at the corner of Main and Cherry Streets, in Cedar Springs, her business is about more than just vintage décor. It’s about helping others. All profits from her shop go to help the people of Honduras and her trips there to work with them.

Her passion was ignited 30 years ago when her grandfather went to Honduras and built a school and church. She was a child and wanted to go with him, and finally did in 2001. She worked on an orphanage, and returned annually to feed the poor, build homes, provide dental work, give away shoes, and hand out Bibles to the people.

*BUS-The BarnIn 2004, Victoria held a benefit in memory of her grandmother, who had passed away, and raised funds to build a home for nine orphan boys in Honduras. In 2012, she opened The Barn, in Rockford, as a way to raise the funds she needed for Honduras. She later moved to Cedar Springs, and has held fundraisers to benefit another home she created in Honduras, this time for girls and young moms, called Hannah’s Home, a safe house for girls to be educated in skills, as well as about life, self worth, and purity.

The Barn features upcycled, repurposed and reloved
vintage decor, shabby chic, collectibles, chippy, industrial, leather goods, clothing and accessories. Check them out at 6 S. Main Street Tuesday through Friday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. For more info call 616-240-3080.

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Kent County’s Delabbio elected VP of Professional Association

*BUS-DelabbioKent County Administrator/Controller Daryl Delabbio has been elected as a Regional Vice President of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Delabbio will serve alongside 20 other members of the ICMA Executive Board; his term runs for three years, and begins in October 2014. Delabbio has been in local government for 37 years, and has held the Administrator/ Controller role since 1998, after three years as Assistant County Administrator. Prior to working at Kent County he was City Manager in Rockford for 11 years and served in two other Michigan cities.

“Daryl is dedicated to doing what is best for Kent County residents and businesses,” said County Board of Commissioners Chair Dan Koorndyk. “His ability to work in an inclusive, professional manner has helped Kent County stay on course. He truly has a ‘servant’s heart’ and his leadership is admired by many.”

“It’s quite a distinction for Daryl to be selected to this role,” says Kent County Commissioner Roger Morgan, who previously served as Board Chair.  “Kent County is fortunate to have such great leadership for the past two decades.”

“Serving as one of 21 members of the ICMA Executive Board is one of the highest honors that a member of the local government management profession can receive,” noted ICMA Executive Director Bob O’Neill. “It is a significant career achievement and a tremendous expression of confidence in Daryl by his peers.”


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By Bill Leete, SCORE Counselor

The Business Plan

The business plan is a document that should be prepared by each potential new entrepreneur prior to starting a new small business. The business plan, which consists of narratives, financial projections and action items requires research, planning and thinking about a business in a systematic manner. The plan is the blueprint that the entrepreneur should follow to bring his/her   ideas for a new business to fruition and ultimately to a successful enterprise. With a business plan, the entrepreneur can compare the business’ actual performance to the plan. When actual performance starts to deviate from the plan, the red flag should go up and the entrepreneur should take actions to bring the business back to plan and/or to update the plan to reflect the new realities of the business. Failure to do a business plan will almost always result in the failure of the business no matter how great the business idea.

Established businesses should also update and create new business plans to reflect changes in their markets, new business opportunities as well as operational, financial and other problems that impact the viability of their businesses.

In addition to being a planning tool for the entrepreneur, the business plan is also required when approaching financial institutions for funding the business start-up as well as ongoing funding needs. The business plan and executive summary should be the basis for presentations and applications when requesting funding from banks and investors.

The typical business plan consists of several sections and should be concise, clearly written and easy to understand. These sections include the following plus an Executive Summary of the plan that should be prepared last:

General Company Description

Products and Services

Marketing Plan

Operational Plan

Management and Organization

Personal Financial Statement

Start-up Expenses and Capitalization

Financial Plan (Profit & Loss, Cash Flow & Balance Sheet Projections)

The marketing plan is the first section that should be developed. No matter how good the product or service, the new business cannot succeed without a marketing and sales plan. There are many elements to a marketing plan all of which will require considerable research. These elements include the size of the market, market trends, competitors and their market share, distribution channels, pricing, barriers to entering the market, projected market share and most importantly, the market niche for the new business. After the market research is completed, a sales forecast in units and dollars must be developed for the next 2 to 4 years. This sales forecast is the basic input to the other   sections and especially to the financial projections required for the business plan.

The most effective way to create a business plan is to download templates. These templates, which are available from several sources, provide the format and outline of the business plan with questions for each section that should be answered for the specific business being planned. Thus, the complete business plan can be created on the entrepreneur’s own computer and can be modified and updated during the planning process and later as needed. The SCORE website at www.score.org has an extensive template gallery with business plans and financial statements available for downloading as well.

The time and effort required to produce a viable business plan are well worth the investment and significantly increase the probability that the new small business will be successful.

Get free and confidential counseling with SCORE, 111 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. Call (616) 771-0305. Visit our website at www.scoregr.org or email us at score@grandrapids.org.


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Avoid summertime tax scams


Ah, summertime! Warm days, rest and recreation and…tax scams. Thieves don’t stop victimizing unsuspecting taxpayers with their scams after April 15. Identity theft, phone and phishing scams happen year-round. Those three top the IRS’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of tax scams this year. Here’s some important information you should know about these common tax scams:

1. Identity Theft.  Identity thieves steal personal and financial information to commit fraud or other crimes. This can include your Social Security number or bank information. An identity thief may file a phony tax return to claim a fraudulent refund.

The IRS has a special identity protection page on IRS.gov. It has many resources you can use to reduce your risk of becoming a victim. The page can also tell you what steps to take if you are a victim of identity theft and need help. This includes how and when you should contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit.

2. Phone Scams.  In these scams, thieves pose as the IRS and call would-be victims with one goal in mind: to steal their money. Callers will tell you that you owe taxes and demand immediate payment. They will tell you that you must pay the bogus tax bill with a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. The callers are often abusive and threaten arrest or deportation. They may know the last four digits of your Social Security number. They also rig caller ID to falsely show that the call is from the IRS.

Keep in mind that if a person owes taxes, the IRS will first contact them by mail, not by phone. The IRS doesn’t ask for payment with a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. If you owe, or think you might owe federal taxes and you get one of these calls, hang up. Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. The IRS will work with you to pay what you owe. If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

3. Phishing Scams.  Criminals use the IRS as bait in a phishing scam. Scammers typically send emails that purport to come from the IRS. They often lure their targets with a false promise of a refund or the threat of an audit. They may also set up a phony website that looks like the real IRS.gov. These phony sites often have the IRS seal and other graphics to make them appear official. Their goal is to get their victim to reveal personal and financial information. They use the information they get to steal identities and commit fraud.

The IRS doesn’t contact people by email about their tax account. Nor does the agency use email, social media, texting or fax to initiate contact or ask for personal or financial information. If you get an email like this, do not click on a link or open any attachments. You should instead forward it to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov. For more on this topic visit IRS.gov and select the ‘Reporting Phishing’ link at the bottom of the page.

Don’t let tax scams take the fun out of your summer. Be alert to phone and phishing email scams that use the IRS as a lure. Visit the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov, for more on what you can do to avoid becoming a victim and how to report tax fraud.

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Graduates, young adults can still get ACA coverage

By Mona Shand, Michigan News Connection


Graduation is just one of several qualifying events which could open the door to the special enrollment period for health insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act.

Graduation is just one of several qualifying events which could open the door to the special enrollment period for health insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act.

Graduation, marriage and the birth of a child are all major milestones, but many may not realize those significant life events can also open the door to the federal health insurance marketplace, even though the open-enrollment period closed on March 31st. Michigan State University graduate student Nik Koehler decided the best 26th birthday present he could give himself was to purchase health insurance on the federal marketplace.

“When you turn 26 you get kicked off of your parents’ plans, and you never know what’s going to happen,” says Koehler. “Why risk putting yourself into a ton of debt?”

Along with turning 26, the Affordable Care Act allows consumers who experience certain qualifying life events to still enroll in new health coverage. Those events include graduating and losing access to student health plans, moving outside their coverage area after graduation, marriage, birth, adoption or certain changes to income.

Koehler says he hopes many of his friends and classmates will realize they are not invincible, and see the value investing in their health insurance now, rather than paying a penalty or taking the chance of waiting until the next open-enrollment period in November.

“It’s something that I’ve started thinking about recently,” says Koehler. “I would just say to stay insured. You’re risking more. You’re risking losing more money.”

A full list of qualifying life events and more information on the special enrollment period is available at the healthcare.gov website.


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Pinnacle Popcorn

Store manager, Cody Crane

Store manager, Cody Crane

If you are looking a unique and delicious gift, or just a tantalizing treat that’s Michigan made, you might want to check out Pinnacle Popcorn, at 4320 14 Mile Road, in the Cedar Rock business district.

The business was established in January of 2013, but current owner Eric Vorpi, a Rockford resident who also owns the Cheshire Grill in Grand Rapids, took ownership this past January. The previous owner was a friend of Eric’s wife, who he said made amazing caramel corn. But she couldn’t make a go of the business. “When she decided to close it, I knew I had to have it. Her recipes are amazing,” he remarked.

They sell a variety of flavored popcorn including regular buttered, caramel, caramel with cashew, espresso caramel, new buffalo caramel (it’s hot!), turtle, cinnamon caramel, cheddar cheese, chili cheese, candy coated, and more.

They can make any color of mix for weddings, parties, corporate gifts, and any size to accommodate. They can also ship it out.

Vorpi said he likes the fact that the popcorn they sell is a total Michigan product. “I get the popcorn kernels straight from a farm in southern Michigan, and we make the finished product at the store,” he explained. “We use real butter, real brown sugar and you can taste it. The quality shows in every bite. Our flavors ‘pop’. I know we make a quality product.”

Customers will also get great customer service when they come in. The store manager, Cody Crane, worked for the original owner, and runs the store for Eric. “She has it down to a science. She pops, bakes, bags, labels, decorates, makes gift baskets, and fills orders—she does everything,” noted Vorpi.

So what are you waiting for? Check out Pinnacle Popcorn today! Summer hours are Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and closed Saturday and Sunday. Visit their website at www.pinnaclepopcorn.com and check out their facebook page for specials. For more info call (616) 866-1300.

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Four Tips for Growing Your Small Business

BUS-Coffee-Shop-Owner-web(StatePoint) Despite the time commitment and financial investment that come with the territory, more than 25 million people nationwide have opted to start a microbusiness – a company with five or fewer employees.

One in every 10 Americans works in a microbusiness, according to the Sam’s Club/Gallup Microbusiness Tracker, a quarterly survey of more than 850 microbusiness owners that provides insights into their economic and emotional concerns. The Sam’s Club survey indicates that women are opening 46 percent of today’s Main Street businesses – from restaurants to daycare centers – far greater than the number of women owned businesses that are over 20 years old.

“I’ve never worked harder in my life or felt more rewarded,” says Molly Beasley of Fairhope, Alabama, owner of Give a Dog a Bone, a Do-It-Yourself dog washing company. “This business is my passion. There’s a lot of satisfaction in knowing you are providing a valuable, affordable service in your community.”

After more than two years working 20 to 40 hours a week at a DIY dog wash in California, Beasley relocated to Alabama and found herself dreaming about opening her own dog wash. Eventually, she decided the timing was right to take the entrepreneurial leap and she hasn’t looked back. Since launching Give a Dog a Bone in 2012, Beasley caters to customers Monday through Sunday and spends her downtime thinking about ways to grow the bottom line.

Indeed, growth in microbusinesses has been driven largely by high personal sacrifice yet overall job satisfaction, according to the survey:

• Over 60 percent of microbusiness owners have financed their businesses from personal savings and nearly as many (55 percent) say having access to cash reserves is a major issue.

• One in three microbusiness owners (31 percent) depend more on second jobs for their personal income than on the business they launched.

• Yet 69 percent of microbusiness owners feel they have the ideal job.

Amidst these findings, one question bubbles to the surface – how can entrepreneurs maintain their passion while dealing with long hours and increasing budget demands? Beasley provides some tips:

• Embrace Perspective: No matter how much you love your company, there will be days when balancing the books creates anxiety. Remind yourself what fueled you to launch your business.

• Find Balance: Sometimes it might seem impossible to relax, but devoting even 60 minutes weekly to non-business related activities will help you recharge.

• Become Resourceful: Find ways to save money, time and energy. Try multitasking, such as purchasing business supplies while waiting for a prescription to be filled, or patronizing retailers with special early shopping hours for business owners. Consider streamlining home expenses by eliminating cable or cooking at home.

• Make Changes: Stay motivated by experimenting with new methods and tools. Attending trainings or online webinars about your industry can help re-ignite your creativity and even lead to business growth.

For more insights from the Sam’s Club/Microbusiness Tracker, visit www.samsclub.com/newsroom.

In a recovering economy, it’s no surprise microbusinesses are growing. For many, the job satisfaction is worth the time and financial investments.


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