WISE Co-Founder and Advocate Connie Sweet started with an abundance of creativity, then honed her business skills in a diverse array of businesses from ad agencies, to non-profits, and publishing to governmental agencies. She took this magic combination and founded Connection Graphics, LLC developing marketing solutions for businesses across Michigan. Presently, Connie works closely with authors, publishers, business owners, associations and marketing managers to develop dynamic brands and create their professional media presence. Connie’s entrepreneurial spirit shines through as a WISE Advocate. Members benefit from her business insight and commitment to continuing education. Connie now offers training seminars in social media with MiSBTDC and is an adjunct professor at Lansing Community College. Connie Sweet dedicates herself to helping individuals and organizations achieve success and stay connected to the people and places that matter. Meet Connie at the November WISE event; we can’t wait to see you there!
Four time Art Prize participant, Abigail Bradley is a painter and mixed media artist who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and works out of a downtown studio in the heart of an artist community. She holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from Kendall College of Art and Design. Over the past decade, her work has shown in several regional juried exhibits and locations including Art Prize. Abigail enjoys fashion, design, cuisine, and fabulous cups of coffee making her a great connection to talk business while having fun. As a WISE Advocate Abbey combines the savvy of an established business owner with creative flair. She helps members looking for a unique perspective on their situation and plans. You don’t even have to wait for the next WISE event to learn more about her, visit her work at ART Prize at the Woverive Company Store now. Here is an excerpt from her perspective on her work, ” I am inspired by the contrasting textures of the new upon the old, order amidst chaos, and bright upon neutrals. Integrating contrasting media in artwork also reflects one of my values of appreciating diversity in an ever-changing environment.” Meet Abigail Bradley at the November WISE event and learn from how she leveraged opportunity and leadership to grow her business.
As a WISE Advocate Mary understands opportunities, wealth and leadership. As a professional realtor, she knows the key to successful business relationships. Here is her business philosophy in her own words.
Finding people the right home is my passion, with me there’s no such thing as a small effort. I maintain updated information on my personal website as well as daily updates via Twitter and Facebook. I pride myself on my commitment to my clients through every step of their move, advocating for your wants and needs, and striving to make your experience hassle-free. Getting to know my clients is my top priority; I want to be confident assisting you and giving you the best of me. Over my years in the business, strengthening my negotiation skills has been a continuous goal. For me this means more than attending workshops and reading guides. I have cultivated great relationships with my colleagues and members in the community, and believe that the best negotiations thrive on respect and cooperation. Moving can be stressful, no doubt about it. Choosing a realtor you trust can ease that burden. With me, there is no such thing as a stupid question or unwarranted concern, I want every client I serve to feel comfortable bringing any matter to the table. I pledge to be honest and transparent, and strive to be compassionate and understanding of where my clients are during every step of their move.
Mary offers her support and guidance to entrepreneurs learning to sell their service and interact with challenging clients. Here is her current update on the local real estate market. She has indicated that it is now a more neutral market. In some highly sought after areas we are seeing a reduction in selling inventory and multiple bids on existing homes. Homes are selling and fast! It’s normal to receive one to two emails per day from agents looking in a particular area for their clients. In other words not enough listings to offer the buyers in the current market.
Mary Kent is a WISE Advocate and specialzes in Residential Realestate in Kent and Ottawa Counties. She’s a full time agent with 8 plus years of experience. Mary offers a free market anaylsis and home preparation suggestions to ready your home for sale. Meet Mary at the next WISE event November 7, 2012 at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.
Shawn is a seasoned accounting professional who helps keep WISE’s books in order. Always willing to help WISE Women, she gets straight to business with the following advice:
A non-refundable but carried forward credit is still available for employers in states experiencing high unemployment rates. Using Michigan as an example, employers are able to obtain credit in 2010, 2011 and 2012 on their Michigan Unemployment Tax (SUTA) for having an increased Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA) rate in 2009, 2010 and 2011. This credit requires reporting to the State of Michigan on Form UIA 1110 the increased FUTA tax paid as reported on line 11 on the previous year’s Form 940. The State will then calculate your credit and report it as a deduction on your next Employer’s Quarterly Tax Report. The credit is the lesser of either:
a) half of the increased FUTA payment or
b) the product of your Nonchargeable Benefits Component percentage, shown on your rate determination sheet, times the total Unemployment taxable wages.
To be eligible for the credit, the following conditions must apply:
1. Your “actual reserve balance as of June 30 as shown on your annual tax rate determination must be positive.
2. You were in your 5th or subsequent year of coverage with the UIA (you were a fully experienced employer).
3. You paid the FUTA credit reduction to the Internal Revenue Service on or prior to December 31 of the year the annual Form 940 was filed.
4. You certify on the application form the amount of the additional FUTA tax you paid as a result of the credit reduction.
5. You must have taxable wages with the UIA in the calendar year.
If you have not already claimed the credit in 2010 for 2009 wages, you are not out of luck. There is no deadline to claim these three years of credits. If you use a payroll service, please verify that this credit was requested as most payroll services do not automatically apply for this credit on behalf of their clients. Employers with 5 or more employers with a SUTA tax rate of 2% or more really benefit from these credits. I have clients who have saved $25/year up to $13,000/year on this credit.
Payroll is a dynamic accounting arena. Changes happen throughout the year with quick response time from employers and payroll services.
For more information on these payroll changes and employer credits, please contact Shawn Pearce by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 616-575-3482, or speak with her personally at the next WISE event on November 7, 2012.
You can reach me directly at work at 551-4141 or by cell at 551-6810. Hope this helps gets the ball rolling for the WISE blog. This was a newsletter article I wrote for our firm in Jan 2011 and modified for today. Have a great day! Looking forward to talking with you soon!
Shawn E. Pearce, CPA
WISE Advocate Bobbie Stevens expresses her leadership through her art. She creates interactive and personal works that give deep insights into what ties and dedicates individuals to their profession. Bobbie’s goal is to encourage children to broaden their horizons and consider positions that meet their passions. Among other roles she has featured the legal profession and this year has chosen dance. In developing her work on dance for Art Prize, a Grand Rapids, MI celebration of Art ,Bobbie’s skill in building relationships has earned her a central venue for the event, The Monkey Bar at The B.O.B. In preparation for Art Prize, the public is invited to be part of the visual voice for Bobbie’s work on dance September 14 from 7pm to 9pm at the Crush in The B.O.B. The Dance partners are Steve Zaagman of 61 Syx Teknique Street Dance Academy, Keegan Seoul Loye break dancing and a dancer from the Grand Rapids Ballet. If you are in the area, take this opportunity to meet a WISE advocate and support her work. Supporting each other as women in business creates greater opportunity for WISE women. WISE members enjoy access to a diverse group of innovative professionals that foster an environment of growth and support that is unparalleled and simply inspiring. Besides the opportunity to meet members during community events, join our quarterly meetings in Grand Rapids, interactive content and online groups to grow opportunities, wealth and leadership for your business success.
Welcome to WISE, home of the Smartest Blog for Women in Business. We decided to start with all of the reasons that WISE is a great place to grow Opportunities, Wealth and Leadership. WISE provides women peer mentors that are bright and tremendously diverse in both heritage and discipline. Over the next several posts, you will learn about the Founders and Advocates that comprise the core of WISE and embody our mission to enhance the success of businesswomen through collaboration and fun. Please use our comments section to reach out to any of the Advocates or Founders whether their story resonates with you or you are looking for a new perspective on a business challenge. Each of us has benefited from the connections we have gained through WISE and want to share this abundance. Our next live event, where you can network in-person with WISE women is November 7, so visit our events page to register. The opportunity to join us for web based programs as a member or participant will be available soon. Until then, join this forum to start the conversation. Stay tuned for our first Advocate blog post to meet an artist on a mission.
By The Grand Rapids Press
November 23, 2009, 6:09AM
GRAND RAPIDS – “Mommy Millionaire” author Kim Lavine said women business owners should capitalize on “perhaps the biggest entrepreneurial revolution this country has ever seen.”
Despite a struggling economy, now isn’t the time to cower in fear, said the Grand Haven Township woman who built a nearly $10 million business from her home.
“Forget all this talk about doom and gloom,” Lavine told dozens of area businesswomen at last week’s Women in Successful Enterprises expo at the Peninsular Club, 77 Monroe Center NW. “Everything is changing. Don’t confuse change with fear.”
Lavine is president of Mommy Millionaire Media and Grand Haven-based Green Daisy Inc., a company that began in 2001 with her Wuvit corn-filled therapy pillow and now licenses pajamas, pet accessories, stationery, lip balm and other products.
She is embarking on an international tour to promote her second book, “The Mommy Manifesto: How to Use Our Power to Think Big, Break Limitations and Achieve Success,” released in September and published by John Wiley & Sons Inc.
She said she is on a mission to kickstart a million new businesses in the U.S.
Lavine encourages women with solid business models to take advantage of $20 billion offered annually by affluent “angel investors,” many of whom are based in California’s Silicon Valley.
Write down an estimated start-up cost, multiply it by 10 and begin looking for cash, she advised.
“Those angels have a mandate to invest in women-owned businesses, and I want to see every one of you knocking on their doors and asking them for money,” Lavine said. “This is an historic time for women to connect with this capital.”
“Ninety percent of success is in your head. Tell yourself you are fabulous – and own it.”
According to Lavine, women are moving backward for the first time since the 1970s. While they are launching businesses at twice the rate of men, only 3 percent of the companies have revenues of $1 million or more, she said.
Women also are being downsized “disproportionately” in the recession, she said. Still, resentment isn’t a fruitful enterprise.
“Don’t get angry, get rich,” Lavine said.
Integral to Lavine’s game plan is using free, social media to promote products and services.
Resources such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter mustn’t be ignored, she said.
“You must Tweet today,” Lavine said. “The more you cast your net out, they’re more connections you’re going to make. It’s a numbers game.”
“You have to adapt your strategies.”
Grand Rapids Business Journal – Elizabeth Slowik
Published: March 30, 2009
A new group is organizing to support women whose businesses are ready to take the next step.
WISE — Women In Successful Enterprises — aims to help women business owners who are past the start-up phase and are ready to grow, said Floriza Genautis.
Genautis, owner of Management Business Solutions Inc., a Grand Rapids staffing and recruiting firm with six employees, is working with Connie Sweet of Connection Graphics in Lansing to organize WISE, an outgrowth of their participation in the local group Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs.
WISE plans to sponsor events quarterly for established women-owned businesses in central and West Michigan, Genautis said. The first occurred last week, with a session on sustainability at Cascade Engineering, followed by a brewery tour and networking time at Schmohz Brewery. She said she expected about 50 to attend.
The next event will be a full-day conference on leadership May 21 in conjunction with Ann Arbor-based Michigan Women’s Marketplace, an online forum for women in business, at Davenport University’s Caledonia campus.
“It’s created to be a resource group for women in business who are already established.” said Genautis, who launched her firm less than three years ago.
“When we were looking to find a name, we really said, ‘You know, these are wise women,’” she added. “They are looking to grow their business to the next level. They’re certainly not start-ups. They are not in the entrepreneurial phase. … We want to be the vehicle to provide those opportunities as well as resources to get them to that level.”
The organization is not membership-based, she said.
Genautis said she has often attended events for women business owners on the east side of the state.
“There’s something missing here in our area in West Michigan, because there’s nothing here available. There are a lot of great, great … events, organizations available to help you get started, networking opportunities, but never focused on established companies. Really, that’s where we came in.”
More information is available at www.wiseconnections.org.
“It’s very inclusive. You don’t have to be a business owner to join in,” she added, noting that executives in larger businesses may participate in WISE events.
Among the issues that established businesses face that may be addressed by WISE are public relations and employee retention, Genautis said. “We do face different types of issues as we grow our business,” she said.