I want to take a moment and give a big Grand Rapids shoutout to GROW. As I have mentioned, I am working on starting my own business. I want to journal about the progress on my business as well as the other topics I am interested in, since they all tie in together. If you are interested in starting a small business in Grand Rapids, I cannot recommend GROW enough.
I can’t remember when I first heard of GROW. It was one of the organizations that just popped up in my world from time to time. I knew they helped women in Grand Rapids who wanted to go into business for themselves. (Quick note: they also help men, it just was originally formed as an organization for women, and that is still a big part of what they do. But there have been men in all of the classes I have taken there so far.)
Intro to Grow
So, as I started putting ideas together, I went over to the www.growbusiness.org website and decided to see what they had to offer. They have an Intro to Grow class that they offer quite regularly, so I signed up to check it out. I was incredibly impressed with the resources they have available – the classes they offer, the mentoring, even their “other resources” worksheet they handed out with a list of other organizations helping local small businesses was incredibly useful. I walked away from that meeting with a folder full of helpful literature and a determination to sign up for their classes.
The two sets of classes that I was really interested in were the Small Business GPS classes for business start-ups and small business finances. Sadly, both of them are taking place during times that I will be traveling. However, the Small Business GPS for Marketing was in February and I could attend all three sessions.
If you know me, you might be saying, “Wait….. isn’t marketing what you do?” Yes. I have been in sales, advertising, and marketing for over 24 years now. But I really wanted to get involved with GROW, the cost of the classes was quite reasonable, and frankly, having owned a couple old dogs, I am fully aware that they can learn new tricks!
But seriously, I was blown away by these classes. I’ve been in the B to B (business to business) side of things for so long, I haven’t thought about small business branding since college. Sure, some of the things we went through were refreshers, but a lot of it wasn’t. It’s also very different when you are working for a corporation that already has a brand and strong presence in your industry, then when you think about starting your own business. After each class, I walked away with pages and pages of notes – things I could start working on right away. And the instructor reminded me that these classes are given quarterly, it is really good idea for companies to revisit these ideas at least once a year. I think that’s smart – and I plan on going back and taking them again.
So, I wanted to give them a huge thank you. I also wanted to write about how much I am enjoying their programming because I have spoken to several people this year that are thinking about starting a business. If you are in the area, I really recommend checking out GROW. It’s a great resource for Grand Rapids business owners.