Solid financials are the backbone of any small business, but getting a business’ books in order is no small task. Since March 9, accounting students from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, working under faculty supervision, have been filling a need by offering free office hours for small businesses on Friday afternoons. Detroit entrepreneurs can sign up for free one hour appointments at the UM-Detroit Center, and get advice and assistance on topics ranging from chart of account and inventory setup to analysis of various revenue streams.
Dan Savakus, Ross School of Business Master of Accounting Student, said, “Meeting with the entrepreneurs revitalizing Detroit has been very empowering to us students, and has illustrated the value of an accounting skill-set. On a more personal note, seeing small business owners leave consultations feeling more confident about their endeavor is what it’s all about for me.”
“Help with accounting is a gateway for bringing new entrepreneurs into the Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project,” says Jerry Davis, Associate Dean of Business + Impact at the Ross School of Business, who initiated the six week pilot project. “Every business and every non-profit can benefit from accounting help. And financial statements provide an X-ray to locate other issues that could use help. Our students are well-positioned to help meet that need.”
The Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project is an interdisciplinary clinic launched in 2016 that pairs Detroit small businesses with students from the University of Michigan’s Law School, Ross School of Business, Stamps School of Art & Design, Ford School of Public Policy, and College of Engineering for integrated, interdisciplinary assistance in tackling a wide range of business issues.Anne Schultz, BBA ’19 and vice president of membership engagement for the Ross School of Business’ accounting club said, “The passion and drive that these businesses possess have made our meetings so much fun while also being phenomenal learning experiences. It’s the perfect mix of applying accounting concepts learned in the business school and also gaining communication skills from a client-facing perspective.”
Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project program director Christie Baer elaborated, “An income statement tells a story about a business. Sometimes that story is not in a good place. When entrepreneurs are willing to trust our students with the financial details of their business with our students, they give us a chance to help change it. It is an incredible honor for us to then become part of their supporting cast.”
Free accounting office hours for small businesses will continue on Fridays until April 13. Businesses can sign up for an appointment here.