Entrepreneurship Center at WCC offers business workshops, weekly networking over coffee

Starting your own business isn’t easy. In fact, it can be quite a challenge.

But with the knowledge acquired from workshops such as the “Starting Your Own Business (SYOB)” workshop, your start-up can be successful.

Recently, a group of 20 aspiring entrepreneurs learned the ins and outs of entrepreneurship at the SYOB workshop, sponsored by Ann Arbor SPARK and the Entrepreneurship Center at Washtenaw Community College. The event was open to everyone.

“Attendees received all-day training on various aspects of starting a business. It was a great collaboration with Ann Arbor SPARK and a great turnout,” said Kristin Gapske, manager at the Entrepreneurship Center.

The workshop was packed with all the essential steps in starting a business. These included financing options, product development, crowdfunding (the act of funding a project or venture through the efforts of others), accounting and insurance, and creating a marketing plan. It also covered other aspects that aspiring entrepreneurs don’t typically think of when starting a business, such as personality traits that impact entrepreneurialism. Also included was lunch and a tour of the Entrepreneurship Center.

The SYOB workshop is a monthly event that’s usually held at Ann Arbor SPARK, an organization dedicated to growing the economy of the Ann Arbor region by establishing the area as a desired place for business expansion and location, according to its website. The organization, however, decided to switch things up and join forces with WCC’s Entrepreneurship Center this time around.

“Partnering with WCC was extremely valuable because of the exposure we were able to bring to WCC in terms of helping students and community members become more aware of the opportunities and support that the county offers for starting a business,” said Joe Licavoli, manager at SPARK East. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with WCC and hosting more events like this in the future.”

For Melody Magee, a small business owner who resides in Warren, the SYOB workshop taught her how valuable it is to utilize the wide array of free resources available when you’re brand new to the exciting yet complex world of entrepreneurship.

Magee is the owner, president and career coach and job development facilitator at Career Focus Consulting Services, LLC. According to its website, the company provides one-on-one coaching and assessments to those who are experiencing difficulties with their career search.

“I’ve learned so much. I had a business plan that I have yet to complete, but the workshop helped me realize how important it is in becoming a better leader and helping your business grow,” Magee said. “I also learned the importance of networking and using available resources to avoid pitfalls and grow your business with little cost. I’d recommend this workshop to anyone who needs that extra push.”

Aside from the SYOB workshop, the Entrepreneurship Center offers market research assistance, business advice and counseling, and various free workshops of its own throughout the year.

On Free Coffee Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., anyone can stop by, grab a cup of coffee, and receive business advice, share business ideas or simply hang out with other aspiring entrepreneurs.

In addition to Free Coffee Wednesdays, the Entrepreneurship Center offers a co-working space, computers for business use, and Wi-Fi for those who want to bring their own devices.

“Entrepreneurship is everywhere now. You don’t necessarily need to be an entrepreneur to benefit from us. Our job at the Entrepreneurship Center is to lead our clients to the right resources,” Gapske said. “We offer students and community members a wide range of services and a meeting place to help build, start and grow their business.”

To learn more about the Entrepreneurship Center at WCC, visit ec.wccnet.edu.