Providing resources for communities and entrepreneurs to create and retain jobs in Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan & Emmet Counties.

Northern Michigan is Open for Business!

Since 1984, the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance has transformed visions into reality for thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners-people just like you!

The reason for our success is simple. No one knows Northern Michigan like the NLEA. With access to the most comprehensive resources available through our core partners including Michigan State University Extension.

“As a relatively new business in Bear Creek Township, we have benefited directly from the support and work of NLEA and are in the middle of a $300,000+ capital expansion project to bring more investment and jobs to our District and County.” – Anne & Brian Bates, Bear Creek Organic Farm, 2019

Common pitfalls experienced by many new and existing businesses are:

Having Sufficient Cash on Hand: According to the U.S. Small Business Association, one-third of small businesses fail in the first two years, and more than one-half within the first five. The reason is simple; too little cash on hand. Plan to have three times what is needed to protect you from downturns.

Understanding Debt: Debt can be good if used to fund expansion and improve the bottom line. But in your early stages business debt is often personal debt, as pre-approved lines of credit secured by personal assets may be necessary guarantee a loan if, and when you need it. Therefore, it is important to know how deeply in debt you can afford to go.

Securing Health and Disability Coverage: If you currently work for an entity that offers health coverage, you may be eligible to keep and pay your premium for up to 18 months while you shop for a different plan. Disability Insurance on the other hand, is generally non-transferable. As difficult as it may be, it is wise to plan for the unlikely possibility that illness or injury might prevent you from working.

Thinking Big: To succeed, you’ll need to compete with larger companies that have experience and resources. Downplay your size and focus instead on what you can offer as a smaller firm like greater expertise, attention to detail, customer service, and speed of product or service delivery.

Utilizing Technology: Using the latest technology can offer you and your employees the edge in responding to customer needs, as well as keeping current with your market and competition.

Making Sales Your Number One Priority: Your attention should be focused on sales and revenues. You won’t grow if you don’t sell your service or product, so plan to dedicate yourself or one employee to sales.

Staying Focused: A written Business Plan that includes specific steps to achieve desired results will help you stay on course, and become your most important sales and marketing tool to potential lenders, investors, and/or business partners. Plan to plan! Check out the Entrepreneurial Toolkit for what to include!


“The NLEA has been a great resource for Link Industries. We know that no matter what our challenge, one phone call is all it takes. The NLEA staff does all the legwork to get the right people and agencies together to address our needs.”  – Jeff Veryser, General Manager Link Industries, 2018


Simply click here to find out how you can schedule a confidential appointment with a trained & certified business consultant; call the NLEA at 231-582-6482 or your local Chamber of Commerce for more information.

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