Bio: Amanda Lewan is the co-founder of Bamboo Detroit a co-working space for entrepreneurs in Downtown Detroit. She is the editor of Michipreneur.com, Michigan’s only statewide publication on entrepreneurship and innovation.
I came to Detroit searching for something new. I was studying at Wayne State University working towards my master’s degree and working full-time at a local start up. The start up job didn’t work out and so I was on my own.
I began to explore all of the great things happening in Detroit. Eventually, I started my own freelance writing and marketing business. A year later I helped co-found Bamboo Detroit a place for those on the same journey of starting a business. Now we help serve over 80 businesses building up a collaborative community right here in Downtown Detroit.
Getting started was easy but growing a business takes a lot of work. If you’re looking to become a young professional entrepreneur in the city of Detroit, here’s a few tips that helped me grow along the way.
Start Networking: Don’t be shy. Go to a few local networking events. Try to attend a new event every week if you can. Find a meetup around an interest of yours, or a network like the Detroit Young Professionals. There’s a lot of great meetups and networks hosting events all around the city. Almost all of my work has come from networking and speaking at networking events. I met my partners and co-founders of Bamboo Detroit by attending a networking event.
Meet with others in your industry. Want to freelance? Have a business idea? Some of the best ways to grow are to learn from those wiser and more experienced. You can follow and tweet at those in your field or send a friendly email. Be kind and straightforward, and if you meet up for coffee don’t take up too much time. It’s a favor and a gift to get advice from a successful entrepreneur in your industry.
Find the resources you need. We have a ton of resources for entrepreneurs in the Detroit area. Check out the Detroit Biz Grid, a directory of over 56 service providers and organizations that are designed to help someone like you get off the ground and grow. Not ready to make the leap? There are job fairs every once in a while like Live Work Detroit thrown by the Detroit Experience Factory. While you’re out networking, ask around. Detroiters are kind and usually willing to connect you to those who can help.
When you’re ready, join a co-working space. When you’re an entrepreneur you can start off working from home or coffee shops, but there’s a ton of great co-working spaces like ours that better serve entrepreneurs. Co-working is like having a community of support and affordable resources. Bamboo Detroit offers 24/7 access to a creative workplace including conference rooms, wi-fi, coffee and tea. It’s changed my life, and I’m so lucky to have been able to help the co-working space get started.
Be patient. I’ve always found that it is important to be patient with the things you love most. You’re likely passionate about working in the city or starting your business, so give it some time. The right job or first client will come along if you keep networking, pitching yourself, and telling your story. Don’t be afraid to test out new opportunities.