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SmartFinds Internet Marketing

330 East Maple Road
Birmingham, MI 48009

Melih Oztalay

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
Earlier in my career (25 years ago) I had the opportunity of going through the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" program from Steven Covey. While I cannot say that I follow the process in its details I keep many of the concepts in mind like "seek to understand before being understood."

Additionally programs like taking personality tests help gain a better understanding of one's self. Educational events like seminar, conferences also help to facilitate the understanding of the Internet industry that has been ever changing since I started 16 years ago.

Lastly, the Michigan 50 Award for SmartFind Internet Marketing as a Companies to Watch gave us access to the Edward Lowe Foundation and CEO peers. For the past year attending these business weekend events and quarterly peer meetings help to gain perspective on business.

Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
While I do not have permission to post the customers company name in this article, I can tell you a quick story. The client was referred to us through another customer that was pleased with our work. The story I like to tell about this client is that back in the early 1990's when the Internet was new, we had installed a high speed T1 line into their office. Once the connection was setup within their office network, we showed their CEO the web by first showing them Yahoo. The comment was at this point from their CEO was, "Now what?" This comment helped to illustrate the difficulty, back in those days, of getting people acquainted with the Internet and the lack of imagination about the Internet's potential.

Where did you find your first employee?
I have never been one enthusiastic to put an ad in the paper to find an employee. Instead I have relied on people I know; people I know that can recommend someone that may be looking for a job; or, as a last resort individuals that take the initiative to send a resume without a job posting. In our case the first employee was someone that I knew.

Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
Yes, we have promoted an intern to employee status. We had sponsored this person through their thesis in school and ultimately this person was well trained for our business. So, far this situation has only come up once.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
Our business was started with our own capital and we did not have a need to seek out external funding to support or grow the business over its 23 year history.

What's one thing an entrepreneur should always have on their person to help them grow their business?
Mobile devices that provide multi-tasking ability are certainly a necessity. The basic cell phones are no longer able to keep up with the needs of an entrepreneur, particularly as you are on the road in meetings. Mobile devices (everything from smart phones like Google's Android to tablet computers like the iPad) are now mini-computers. Over the past five years I have moved from a desktop computer, to a laptop computer, to a mobile device. I no longer use a desktop computer and I'm in transition between a laptop computer and a mobile device for my day-to-day business tool.

You have been an entrepreneur for a few decades now. Many local leaders are working to fast track the development of southeast Michigan's entrepreneurial ecosystem. They've started or implemented a number of initiatives to make more seed capital available to start-ups by sweetening angel investment incentives, pumping up venture capital, and starting microloan funds. What's your take on these programs?
If you had asked me this question prior to the global financial meltdown, I would have had a different response to you than I have today. Considering today's economic strain, it opens up the opportunity for private investments to engage in new opportunities. This will be not only for new start-ups, but also for existing businesses that need capital that they cannot secure from financial institutions. Essentially, I see these programs being the primary support mechanism for businesses and entrepreneurs in our current economic situation.

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