Small Businesses: Essential


Traditionally, small talk is a term reserved for the maintenance of polite conversation often used to fill time before addressing much meatier issues. Gossip? Yes, that too. We’re going to dispense with that here. Given today’s economic environment, the importance of small business growth is critical.  Did you know that there are nearly 27 million people employed by small businesses with nearly 21 million having 1 employee and 6 million with 500 employees?  That almost 90 percent of small businesses have 20 employees? That 59 percent are owned by men, 29 percent by women and 12 percent equal? That small businesses created almost 79 percent of the nation’s net new jobs from 2004 to 2005?

While we are experiencing challenging times, did you know successful businesses have been launched in times like these?  For example, Hyatt, Burger King, FedEx and Sports Illustrated are just a few to start in a recession.  You might be asking why is this a good time to consider starting a business.  Let’s examine this closely.

1.    If they’ve got cash, it will go further

2.    There’s great talent to be had

3.    Competition may be scrambling

4.    There’s an opportunity to reinvest in business

5.    Provides you with an opportunity to plan and work on the business, nor just in it.

That’s why we are introducing “Small Talk,” a column aimed at raising the volume on conversations surrounding small business development, including frank discussions on its barriers and building blocks. We invite you to step inside and get an unprecedented look at some of Detroit’s businesses. Discover what successful Detroit-based entrepreneurs are doing that others should emulate. And find out what others did, what things are better left alone.

Mark S. Lee, a Detroit native, is currently president of The LEE Group (TLG), an integrated marketing consulting firm based in Metro Detroit (   TLG focuses on strategic marketing plan development, branding, advertising/promotions and the implementation of marketing and communication strategies that support overall business objectives.  Also, Lee is the instructor for Detroit’s e200 program, which is part of a nationwide SBA effort designed to help urban/inner city entrepreneurs strengthen and grow their existing businesses.  Additionally, he is an adjunct professor of marketing at Walsh College in Troy.

Prior to starting TLG, Lee held senior-level positions at various blue-chip organizations, including companies such as Pillsbury and PepsiCo.  He has been recognized locally and nationally for his involvement in the development and implementation of various marketing strategies.  He has been invited to speak on various issues related to marketing, from multicultural marketing to attracting young adults to rebranding products and organizations.

Mark S. Lee brings a unique and fresh perspective to small business development.  He will explore topics ranging from offering tips on how to grow in a challenged market, understanding how to develop and communicate your brand, identify and target new customers and, last, will talk to and feature you, the small business owner.

Plug in and see what’s happening inside Detroit’s businesses with “Small Talk,” featured periodically in the Michigan Chronicle.

You can reach Mark S. Lee  at or visit

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