Program helps entrepreneurs learn to grow
Patrick Thompson started his interior design firm about two years ago. It was moving forward, but Thompson needed help taking Detroit-based Patrick Thompson Design to the next level of growth.
That's when he heard about the Detroit Creative Corridor's Creative Ventures program.
"I was at the point where my business was becoming more and more legitimate, though I was still growing," he said. "I'm great at being a designer, but being a business owner was new to me, so (it) seemed like a great fit."
Thompson is part of the first group to graduate from the Creative Ventures program. Its second session starts July 9.
The program offers creative entrepreneurs mentoring and assistance in developing business strategies and tactics in areas such as sales and investment, marketing and operational and growth strategies. Eighteen businesses participated in the first year of the program.
"When we started doing this, we learned that there was a big gap. ... There were very few programs that helped early-stage, high-potential, creative-sector entrepreneurs get connected to resources and programs to help them grow revenue while simultaneously building capacity," said Matt Clayson, director of the Creative Corridor.
For entrepreneurs to create jobs, he said, companies should obtain profitable new business, track results and have access to lessons and strategies to improve those processes.
Some of the things he learned seemed like Business 101, Thompson said. "But when you're caught in the whirlwind, doing invoices, doing business, you get buried."
Thompson said he was able to develop relationships with creative businesses such as Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Skidmore Studio, and he landed the job of designing office space when those firms moved to downtown Detroit.
In 2010, Thompson's revenue totaled $21,000. In 2011, he had $102,000, and he expects to end 2012 with $150,000 in revenue. Thompson has one full-time employee, one part-timer and a contract employee.
Chandra Moore, whose Detroit-based coG-studio designs outdoor spaces, said she learned valuable lessons about an efficient business.
"Creative entrepreneurs are all very creative, but we don't understand the business side," she said.
Moore's current project is designing a space for the Detroit Edison Public Academy. She has made no full-time hires but uses six contract employees. A year ago, Moore's business was in debt; in the past year, revenue has grown to about $42,000.
All told, the businesses that participated in the program collectively doubled their workforce.
Nancy Kaffer: (313) 446-0412, email@example.com. Twitter: @nancykaffer