Devote Yourself to creating something that gives you purpose . . .

"So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning."

Tuesdays with Morrie, author Mitch Albom

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Women's Expo

Date: Thursday, October 1, 2009

Time: Noon - 7 p.m.

Location: Double Tree Hotel
650 E. 24th Street,
Holland, MI

Cost: Free Admission

Here is a good chance to stimulate the local economy and support women. Over 40 booths

  • Health and Fitness
  • Photography
  • Beauty
  • Fashion and Accessories
  • Travel
  • Investing and Finance and More

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Upcoming Network Event

On Thursday, October 15, 2009, 3 Degrees-Connected™ Woman's network will hold their second event covering the topics of Branding and IT for the Small Business.

Two local business entrepreneurs, Sarah Kallio, Stocked LLC and Mark Buikema, Trispective, LLC will briefly discuss these topics followed by a question and answer session. Lengthy questions should be held for personal discussion following the meeting. A half hour has been reserved for networking at the end of the evening.

Cost: Free

Date: Thursday, October 15, 2009
Time: 7 - 8:30 p.m.
Location: Spring Lake Public Library, Program Room 1

If you are interesting in sharing a product or service at this event, a small presentation table will be setup for this purpose; please contact us at 866 587-2963 or email: (pre-approval is required).

This is a networking event; not a selling event, no sales are allowed on the premise.

Meeting capacity: 65 (first come-first serve)

Celebrating Outstanding Professional Women

The fifth annual Athena Awards are being held on Tuesday, October 6, 2009.

You're invited to the fifth annual Lakeshore ATHENA Award Luncheon honoring individuals who have made a difference in the lives of women in our lakeshore communities!

Keynote Speaker Hon. Sara Smolenski, Chief Judge of the 63rd District and former Grand Rapids ATHENA Award Recipient

ATHENA Award Nominees:
  • Sherry Albertie Becker ~ Waddell and Reed
  • Heather D. Brolick ~ Community Shores Bank
  • Janie P. Brooks ~ Muskegon Community College
  • Leslie Brown ~ Metal Flow Corporation
  • Nancy R. DeBoer ~ Holland City Council
  • Barbara l. DeBruyn ~ SAF-Holland, Inc., Retired
  • Lisa Delass ~ Independent Bank
  • Renee Denslow ~ Bluebird Cancer Retreats
  • Becca Dernberger ~ Manpower, Inc.
  • Sharon Dryfhout ~ Central Wesleyan Church
  • Kathy Evans ~ West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission
  • Mary Fisher ~ Shoreline Vision
  • Susan Higgins ~ Macatawa Area Coordinating Council
  • Jeanette Hoyer ~ Pathways, MI
  • Kathy Jacobson ~ Baker College of Muskegon
  • Patricia Koeze ~ West Ottawa Public Schools
  • Gail Kraft ~ Love INC of Muskegon
  • Donaylle Rogers ~ Donaylle Nicole Hair Studio
  • Virginia S. Ryan, PH D. ~ U.S. Dept. of Human Services, Retired
  • Blanche Smith ~ Family Services Center
  • Cindy Timmerman ~ Coopersville Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Patti VanDort ~ Holland Hospital
  • Chris Frederick Willis ~ Media 1
  • Susan Harrison Wolffis ~ The Muskegon Chronicle, Retired
Event SponsorEvent Partners

Tuesday, October 6, 2009
11:30 - 1:30pm
Trillium Banquet and Conference Center
17246 Van Wagoner Road,
Spring Lake
Cost: $35/person
- a portion of the proceeds will benefit the ATHENA Scholarship Program
Phone 231-722-3751
Fax 231-728-7251
Information provided by the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Organizations Designed to Help Small Business Entrepreneurs

Here is a list of relevant organizations established to help the small business entrepreneurs setup their business strategy and/or link you to services that promote business growth and development. The internet links will take you either to an "about us" or a "history" page so that you may learn more about the mission of each organization. Whenever possible I've included a contact name, email address, and contact phone number to help you get "connected" which is our mission.

3 Degrees-Connected™
Rhonda W. Geneva
P.O. Box 495
Spring Lake, MI 49456
866 587-2963

Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs
Kim Schwamberger

PO Box 68512
Grand Rapids, MI 49516

Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest
Diane Durance
3520 Green Court, Suite 450
Ann Arbor, MI 48105-1579
734 527-9151

Grand Rapids Organization of Women
Patricia Duthler
25 Sheldon SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
616 458-3404

Grand Rapids Inventor’s Network
Bonnie Knopf
2100 Nelson Avenue, SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507
Innovation Works of West Michigan
The Right Place
161 Ottawa Avenue, NW,
Suite 400
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-2701
616 771-0325

Lakeshore 504
Grand Haven Lakeshore 504

One South Harbor Drive
Grand Haven, MI 49417-1385
Phone: (616) 846-3153
Fax: (616) 842-0379
David Miller, Business Development Manager

Lakeshore Advantage
Lakeshore Advantage
201 West Washington
Suite 410
Zeeland, MI 49464
Phone: 616.772.5226
Fax: 616.772.5602

Lakeshore Professional Network

Michigan Business – One Stop
Michigan Business One Stop

Phone: 877-766-1779
Lansing, Michigan

Muskegon Inventor’s Network
Irmgard Cooper
2743 Henry Street, #130

Muskegon, MI 49441-3509

Michigan Small Business and Technology Center
GVSU DeVos Center
Grand Valley State University

Seidman College of Business
401 W. Fulton Street 414C
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 331-7370

Mommy Millionaire

Small Business Administration
US Small Business Administration

409 3rd Street, SW
Washington, DC 20416
1-800-U-ASK-SBA (1-800-827-5722)

SCORE – Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids SCORE
111 Pearl Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 771-0305
Fax: (616) 771-0318

SCORE - Muskegon
Muskegon SCORE
380 W. Western
Muskegon, MI 49440
Phone: (231) 722-3751
Fax: (231) 728-7251

Technology, Entertainment, Design
Ted Conference LLC
55 Vandam Street, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10013
212.346.9333 Tel.
212.227.6397 Fax.

United Inventors Association
United Inventors Association
999 Lehigh Station Road
Henrietta, NY 14467-9311
Toll-free (800) 701-8595

Van Andel Global Technology Center
Grand Valley State University

1 Campus Dr.
Allendale, MI 49401-9403
(616) 331-5000

Women’s Division – Chamber of Commerce
Chamber of Commerce
P.O Box 1665
Muskegon, MI 49443

Monday, September 21, 2009

Promoting Women's Business

Kim Lavine (a.k.a. Mommy Millionaire) is out promoting Women-owned businesses. I'm currently taking her lead by incorporating my business into her new online venue called "Buy Mom".

Why am I hanging on to the coat-tails of another very successful woman as she promotes her newest book "Mommy Manifesto"? Well it is because she is on a crusade to promote and encourage women to take advantage of these economic times, set aside fear and go with all your might toward your goals.

I have attached one her latest interviews with Tory Johnson of ABC's Good Morning American both talking about business in general and offering support to women who are trying to get their business message out. Her message is "networking" is the answer to getting the word out about you! Sounds like the mission of 3 Degrees-Connected?

Click here to see one of her interviews.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Starting a Business in the state of Michigan

According to the website, there are ten guidelines to starting a business, some of which are legal requirements. I have provided an outline below of steps you will want to take when starting a small business. The website above will go into greater detail for each of these steps to guide you into what is required within the state of Michigan.
  1. Research and plan your businesslearn about writing a business plan
  2. Get business training and expert advice - taking advantage of free training and counseling services in your community.
  3. Select a location for your business - get advice about complying with zoning laws.
  4. Financing your business – learn about government backed loans, venture capital, angel investors, or grants that may help you get started.
  5. Select your business name - file an assumed name certificate with your county clerk’s office.
  6. Determine the legal structure for your business - register this with the state of Michigan
  7. Get an employer identification number (EIN) which is also known as a federal tax identification number. You can apply for this number online.
  8. Register for state taxes - learn about registering for one or more tax-specific identification numbers, licenses or permits including income tax withholding, sales and use tax (seller’s permit), and unemployment insurance tax.
  9. Obtain business licenses and permits - to operate legally, most businesses require a business license or permit issued by the state and your local government.
  10. Research legal requirements for adding employee – research steps to understand any legal requirements you must take before hiring employees

    Go to the link at the beginning of this post to obtain more information related to each step outlined above.

EIN - What Is It?

As a vendor on ETSY and a member of a local sellers group, one member was confused about whether she needed an EIN and why. She already had a sales tax license to collect sales tax on purchases made within the state of Michigan and felt like an EIN was assigned only to businesses that had employees. After reading her question and some of the resulting answers, I felt like it was a good topic for discussion in our women's network.

First EIN is an acronym for Employer Identification Number and is issued by the IRS for the purpose of identifying an organization for tax reporting purposes similar to how a SSN (social security number) is used to identify and individual. If you have filed documents to organize your business whether you are a sole proprietor, corporation, partnership, non-profit organization, trust, estate, LLC, or S-corporation, you should apply for an EIN. Many people who run small E-commerce businesses on sites such as ETSY do not look into legalizing their business through registering with the state. In many cases they use their social security number to report any income they receive. I would caution against this approach. If you are running a business, you really should research what your state requires and follow their requirements to the T.

Obtaining a sales tax license is different than applying for an EIN number; however, once you've applied for an EIN, your sales tax license number will be the same. An EIN is a nine-digit number in the format of 00-0000000 versus the format for a SSN which is 000-000-0000. Based on how the number is assigned the IRS can tell the difference between these two nine-digit numbers. The first two digits in an EIN indicate where the business is located, so if you are in the state of Michigan, your EIN will begin with 26. In larger states where more EIN's are issued, not all numbers will begin with the same two digits. At one time numbers in Philadelphia also started with the same two digits as Michigan businesses.

EIN's will never expire, they are assigned for life, and so once an EIN is assigned to an entity, that number will never be re-used even if the entity no longer exists.

The IRS assigns all EIN's once they have accepted your application. For more information on obtaining an EIN visit the IRS website through this link.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

For the Inventor - And It's Free!

Here is an opportunity for all inventors to have your product evaluated for free by the Eureka! Ranch. This organization created by Doug Hall who received grant money from the Federal government to make it easier for inventors to reach the market with their idea. Currently only about 2% of the patented ideas ever make it to the market.

This service is being offered to those with subscriptions to Inventor's Digest, so unless you missed it or do not have a subscription, I've included a link below. If you are remotely interested, I would suggest a quick response as this service is free to the first 250 respondents, and you must sign up before September 30, 2009.

About a year ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Doug Hall, and have used his evaluation system through an Idea Translation workshop. The evaluation process is very worthwhile.

Click here for details:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Calling All Entrepreneurs

I recently read a Business Week article (June 18) written by a young man in San Diego who was posing a question about evaluating the options of starting his own business or continuing his job search. He had just graduated from college with an MBA and wanted to stay in his local community. The job market was bleak. (Sound familiar?) He received several thoughtful responses to his questions. If you are interested in reading his article or hearing with other entrepreneurs told him, click this link. The best response in my opinion was "don't start your own business just because you cannot find a job".

At a recent gathering of small business entrepreneurs, one woman shared "In order to start and run your own business you must possess the three "P's" - Passion, Persistence, and Perseverance."

  • Unless you have a passion for what you are doing, you will probably find that starting your own business takes more hours in a day than you are willing to part with.
  • You need lots of persistence to work through all the obstacles that you will encounter on this journey. You may be aware of some of the obstacles you will face through diligent research, however, for every obstacle you are aware of there will be many that hit you without warning.
  • The most important "p" is perseverance, without a lot of "stick-to-it-ness" in your personality, when the going gets tough, many people bailout.
It is not my intention to scare anyone out of the incredible experience of starting your own business, but to encourage you to learn as much as you can from others who have been there and done this before you. 3 Degrees-Connected is a women's network providing the opportunity to create connections to other like-minded woman who are on the same journey. Secondly, this is to announce a new program will be starting in West Michigan in effort to support the business entrepreneur in our area. It will be called "Calling all Entrepreneurs".
The first meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, November 19, 2009, so clear your calendars and wait for the details to follow.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Recognize an Inspiring Small Business

Reported in the Holland Sentinel, an article by Ben Veversluis reports that a small business in Holland, The Peanut Store has been nominated for a National Contest and will be considered for a $100,000 prize if we get the vote out.

Read the article below:

Click Here

Register on Shine A Light (

Click on nominees and find Holland Peanut Store (View Nominee Profile)

Last time I checked the Peanut Store was in second
place only 20 votes behind the leader!!!!

Click the blue box that says "Endorse Story" now. This will cast your vote for a local establishment.

You must vote before: September 13th. (Judges will pick three finalist); then new voting will begin between September 24 - October 16th.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Please Respond!!!

I have lined up two topics for the upcoming network event and will share those with you shortly.

I have placed a poll on the upper left-hand column of this blog and am seeking input from you before nailing down the date. You can select as many options as you like, I will be using this information to set up the next network event.

The next event will be held either the 2nd or 3rd week in October, and the location will be determined based on the response I receive from this poll.

Thank you for providing information that will help to schedule this event. Please respond no later than Friday, September 11th. I will send an announcement out shortly thereafter.

Here's Something for the Inventor

Here's something for the inventor, brought to my attention by an inventor, Deb Tacoma, inventor of the Freedom Wand.

Yakaboutit" was created by an inventor to showcase products made by inventors. The online site provides opportunities for inventors to gain exposure to their products by pitting their products against another product for rating, review, and sales. The inventor of "Yakaboutit" sells your products through a daily competition. By purchasing the product online you are voting for the product. So you are competing for "Purchase attention". This site is used to help an inventor become noticed. Created by an inventor for inventors, the only way to be featured on this site is to submit your product for review. This site only carries products created by inventors and independent entrepreneurs. The phrase "are you an inventor or an entrepreneur" separates the 2% who do something with their patented ideas from the 98% who never move beyond the paperwork.

You provide pictures, describe your product, tell your story, write about yourself, and add any random thoughts you feel are relevant. Your selling price determines products that you might compete against. At midnight (Eastern Standard Time) a new competition begins and the results from the prior day are revealed.

Whether you are an inventor or just someone who wants to learn about the newest products entering the market place, this site is for you. By the end of the year, you've gained exposure to 730 new products, one of which will be reward the grand prize of The Most Yakable". You can sign up to be notified about what the next day's competition will be by joining their
email club.

On Saturday, September 5th, Deb will be featured on this site with her revolutionary product the Freedom Wand, a product she invented after breaking her back. If you know someone who could benefit from her product, please cast your votes by purchasing her products on her featured day. Her products will continue to be sold on this site after the competition is over.

Good Luck Deb! To learn even more about Deb, her invention, and her business, visit her website at

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Are we teaching our children or are they teaching us?

Today women-owned businesses are on the rise and the fastest growing demographic in the United States. One reason that I started my business was to be an example to my children. I wanted my passion for my business to teach my daughters to follow their dreams in this land of opportunity. Unlike many of you, my daughters came to the U.S. via international adoption so they were not born in a country known for providing opportunities for them. Let's hope that changes in the years ahead.

Being in business means we need to be fearless when it comes to stepping outside of our comfort zones to market our products or services. I'm drawn to organization and logic with a little creative talent running through my circuits, but not a dose of marketing savvy in my jeans. Getting the word out about my products has been more difficult than I had imagined only because I find myself getting in my own way.

Turning to my daughter, we've given her exposure to many new and different things since arriving on American soil in 2005. After twelve months living in less than ideal circumstances, she braved the adventure of traveling half way around the world and coming into a world that smell different, sounded different, and looked different. Even with a 12 hour time difference day is night and night is day. She has survived, she has thrived, and she of course is the apple of my eye.


Last fall, we signed her up for ice skating lessons and she was unbelievably talented, so much so that she was elevated 3 classes in no time and skating with girls who were 3 to 4 years older and twice her height. Whatever the coach requested, she did. They were amazed and told us we really should look into private lessons for her. We talked with her about it and she told me, Mom I've got a secret. Then she shared with me that skating backwards really scared her. You wouldn't have known it to look at her, each week when it was time to skate backwards, she just did it without hesitation.

This week we started gymnastics, her coach chalked up her small hands, and said "climb this rope to the ceiling and ring the bell. When you do, you'll get a prize." She was fearless, I watched as she jumped up grabbed the rope and with all her might, she scaled the rope to the top and rung the bell. I, standing on the ground, looked up and thought "my 5 year old should not be 14 foot off the ground without a harness or safety net." She shimmed down, and started jumping up and down "I did it, I did it", she cried! Her prize, a lollipop, she was happy. I was ecstatic. I need to learn not to hold her back by my example . . .

Here we go into a new world, I will not be afraid!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Beginnings

September always reminds me of a fresh start and a new beginning. This season does more to refresh my spirit than January 1st.

Setting New Years Resolutions doesn't have to wait until January. Think about it. If you set New Year's Resolutions along with your children at the beginning of a new school year, by the time you reach January 1st you will be well on your way to accomplishing those goals.

The most effective goals are those that are written down. Better yet, share the goals you've set with some one else. Accountability always increases the odds of accomplishment. Make sure the goals you set are measurable; and begin to measure your progress by making a chart or graph. Post your goals on your refrigerator so your family can see them. That way they can help you celebrate your accomplishments.

Are there any goals you would like to share? Please add your comments to this post. You never know when someone might read your goals and offer to help you accomplish them.

Happy first of September . . .