Detroit neighborhood entrepreneurs project looking for a few more business students

September 5, 2017

The Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project, an interdisciplinary clinic that pairs Detroit neighborhood-based businesses with students from the Ross School of Business, Law School, and Stamps School of Art & Design is looking for a few more students from the Ross School for its second semester pilot. Students receive 2-3 credits as independent study research hours under the direction of Professor Cathy Shakespeare. The program is funded by JPMorgan Chase Foundation and M Cubed.

ABOUT THE DETROIT NEIGHBORHOOD ENTREPRENEURS PROJECT

The goals of this project are to help Detroit small businesses – particularly minority- and women-owned small businesses, identify and overcome obstacles to allow them to increase revenue, expand, and better access credit; to provide students with real-world experience solving real business problems; and to lay the foundation for a sustained partnership between the University of Michigan and Detroit-based small businesses.

A partial list of the services and work product completed by collaborative student teams and already delivered to clients to assist them with the clients’ stated needs includes:

  • Conducting legal research and submitted trademark applications to the USPTO and opinion letters
  • Resolving entity/incorporation issues
  • Conducting market research and developing financial projections to help a business owner see how much product she would need to sell each day to become profitable
  • Using techniques from design and marketing to help a client develop a marketing plan that includes a profile of her target customer, a refined logo, business card mock-ups, a trade show booth design model, and social media plan
  • Creating easy-to-use, cash flow and break-even spreadsheets to help business owners track event expenses to help them see overhead expenses that were invisible to them before
  • Researching and comparing various point of sale systems, including ease of use, business owner existing knowledge, and ability to integrate the system into Quickbooks, to produce a software recommendation to the client
  • Creating a map of a company’s standard business processes to identify ways in which the entrepreneur could use automation and/or outsourced labor to boost capacity



AFTER ONLY FOUR MONTHS WITH THE STUDENT TEAMS...
one of the client entrepreneurs – who was on the edge of permanently closing her brick and mortar store – has already expanded to being open five days a week, and has hired her first part-time employee.

PROGRAM GOALS

With your help, participating businesses will report:

  • Increases in overall revenue;
  • Increases in profits;
  • Having hired new employees, increased hours of existing employees, or having themselves become employed full-time in their business;
  • Having obtained new capital within 24 months of participation;
  • Having an improved understanding of their company’s financial position, through increased financial competency, market analysis reports, or other tools developed by students to help them monitor business performance;
  • Overall improved efficiencies in their business (through automation, outsourcing, or other process improvements) which allow them to focus on strategic planning and big picture goals;
  • An increased awareness of the legal and business environment in which they operate, and the laws and regulations that affect their business; and
  • An overall increase in their happiness and reduced stress as a result of having a vexing business or legal issue resolved.

To sign up, contact Professor Shakespeare directly, or contact program director Christie Baer (cbaer@umich.edu).