Entrepreneur Advice: Go with strengths

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette MTEC SmartZone CEO Marilyn Clark addresses Calumet High School BPA Chapter students.

HANCOCK — “This area is bursting with entrepreneurial spirit and energy,” said MTEC SmartZone CEO Marilyn Clark Wednesday in giving the keynote address at Finlandia University’s Business Professionals of America (BPA) Day.

Clark shared characteristics for creating a successful business, highlighting projects of U.P. entrepreneurs as examples.

“There’re some characteristics that help an entrepreneur be successful. You need to be coachable. You need to work with a team and get a balance of skills there,” Clark said. “Your idea needs to resonate with people who have a need.”

Business mindsets are changing, Clark explained. Two key areas are how a business begins and focusing on your skills.

“The new thinking is that each of us has some very unique skills, and we should focus on what we’re really good at, not trying to build up our weaknesses,” Clark said.

She suggested bringing in people who are skilled in the weak area and enhancing the strengths.

Another tip is to execute all the steps required in creating a product in a specific order, she said.

“Now the thinking is you develop your market before you develop your product. … You have to make sure there is a customer,” Clark said. “Don’t waste your idea if you’re not going to make money. That is basically the proof of whether an idea is needed or not.”

Though Clark made it clear that entrepreneurship wouldn’t be all sunshine and roses, and there would be some failures, there is high interest and reward for those that succeed.

“They (entrepreneurs) feel like there’s less risk in creating their own job and making it work than working for somebody else,” Clark explained.

At the MTEC SmartZone, Clark works to help entrepreneurs get that start.