Michigan small business fights inflation but not its social mission

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Of the state’s disabled population, about 6% have a cognitive disability. Brown said she wishes she could hire more.

EveryBody currently works an average of 15,000 hours per year. More orders will mean more work for staff, who are paid by EveryBody and their work coaches, who are funded by Medicaid. The possibility of increasing the payroll drives every decision Brown makes, she said.

“I can’t fail,” she said. “No business owner wants to fail, but if I do, where will they go?”

CHALLENGES

EveryBody is a small player in a market saturated with body products, Brown said. But it’s finding a niche through its all-natural ingredients and regional marketing at about 35 stores — including Ann Arbor-based grocery chain Busch’s Fresh Food Market, and more recently through on-site sales at events, such as the recent Novi Home & Garden Fair.

After a slow March, April sales are over budget, in part due to limited spring flavors like candied pear and citrus agave.

A key company principle is to keep as much cash as possible, Brown said. The risks are weighed according to whether she will be able to make the following month’s payroll. Sometimes that means not buying ahead, even if she anticipates price increases.

The pandemic has also forced other businesses to take that stance, said Brian Calley, CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan. Those who navigate it well survive.

“When conditions change, it really requires (business) changes in how they manage cash flow, hold reserves or maintain inventory,” he said. “EveryBody Inc. is here. … It’s an extremely well-run organization that’s very, very sustainable.

However, the supply problems that began a few months after opening have not diminished.

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