Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Summer Thompson, owner of E&M Design Solutions, located in Whitehall, MI, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

E&M Design Solutions is an engineering support services firm offering construction and project management, 2D and 3D drawings, quality, safety, and industrial services, audit preparation, internal audits, and training. Our customers range from food, pharma, chemical, auto, and metals manufacturers. Our customers choose us time and again because we give everything we have to each project for each client. Our staff integrates seamlessly into your team but requires no management by your staff. We are small but mighty!

Tell us about yourself

My purchase of the business was part of a succession plan which was accelerated, and I was so excited to start the process. I love what I do, and I love owning this business! I was built for long hours and demanding workloads. I always saw myself as a corporate CEO, but life had different plans, and I ended up working for a small business. The joy we feel with each win far surpasses the feeling I got when I did work in corporate.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

At this point, I think my biggest accomplishment is purchasing the business and having a successful first seven months. We've also grown by one employee and gained two new clients this year, so we have had some pretty big wins.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

For me, the hardest part about owning a business is managing working in the business on projects and working on the business. Because I worked for the company for almost ten years before purchasing it and co-managed it for five of those years, the transition to fully operating the company and not taking on as much project work has been a challenge.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Be prepared for really long hours at first. Get extensive with your research so that you know your customers, competitors, and suppliers. Don't do it all yourself! You have free services available through the Economic Development Council and the Small Business Development Council, and they will help with research, training, and counseling services.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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