Small businesses are the core of a community. They are the heart and soul of a downtown, and help bring life to an area.
When it comes to starting up a business, there are some key pieces of advice two successful entrepreneurs have to offer: never give up, and create a team to support you because it is not an easy venture.
During The Keel's Community Conversation Wednesday, Marysville native Phillip Cooley, and Marine City native Missy Fisher shared some of their experiences.
When Fisher, and her husband Jeremy, decided on the location for The Original Marine City Fish Co., 240 Water St, they were excited to get started, even though there were naysayers telling them no one ever succeeds at that location.
When it was time to start the restaurant, the couple went all in, devoting all of their time and money to their dream. It was hard work, spending 16 or 17 hours a day building their business. Seeing how far they've come since 2008 makes it all worth it in the end.
"It is definitely a labor of love," Fisher says. "We nickeled and dimed our way through construction, it was the scariest three years of my life."
They've expanded twice, growing from just 9 seats to 15 and a large outdoor patio. Soon they'll be expanding their drink selection, and updating the patio to be a four-seasons seating area, so it can be utilized year-round and not just in the summer.
One thing's for certain, the Fishers plan to stay close to their roots, buying local food, keeping it homemade and gourmet.
"We've always stuck with what we started," Fisher says.
All of Cooley's projects are a labor of love, and one of the best known is Slow's Bar BQ in Detroit.
When Cooley decided on the derelict Detroit location, people thought he was insane. Why would anyone want to start a business in an abandoned area of Corktown. While others told him to stay away, he saw the potential.
"I focused on the positives," Cooley says.
He also found partners who wanted to join the adventure, too.
"You can't build a community with one person, you need partners," he says.
And as Slow's began to grow in 2004 and opening in 2005, Cooley and his partners worked to help spruce up the neighborhood, as well. He says community space is important and greening up Detroit helped bring people together.
Slow's may have gotten off to a bit of a slow start because of its location, but those who came remained supportive-- even if it took two hours to get served-- because they wanted to see it succeed.
Cooley makes sure he gives back to the community, supporting others at every opportunity.
After Slow's, Cooley launched a business incubator in Ponyride Detroit, and now he teaches at Lawrence Tech.
Both agree, that you have to find people willing to put their heart and soul into the town when bringing new business. And working together, the success of one can lead to the success of all.