FIVE THINGS: About an entrepreneur

FIVE THINGS: About an entrepreneur

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(WILLIAM ARCHIE/Detroit Free Press)

Jonathan B. Smith, president of the Sylvan Lake company Wave
Dispersion Technologies Inc., started making protective barriers for
the Navy after the USS Cole bombing in 2000.

Becoming an entrepreneur takes courage, planning and vision, says
Jonathan B. Smith, president of Wave Dispersion Technologies Inc.

The Sylvan Lake company sells floating modules that act as fences for
waterfronts and dams. They can be used for erosion control and maritime
port security. After the USS Cole bombing in 2000, Smith began making
protective barriers for the Navy.

Smith, 37, left the corporate world in 1995 to start his business,
which was recently ranked 203 in the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest-growing
companies in the United States. 

Smith, who also is board president of the networking group Detroit
Chapter of Entrepreneurs Organization, shares some tidbits about
becoming an entrepreneur.

Don’t be afraid to fail

If the corporate world allows little room for making mistakes, the
opposite is true of having your own business. Making mistakes allows
for quick learning.

Brace yourself

It takes about three times as long and three times as much money to
reach your business goal. Be prepared for disappointment and have
patience.

Think outside of the box

Respect conventional methods of business for things like accounting and
marketing, but don’t be afraid to try alternative methods.

"All of my marketing was done online before anyone knew to do this,"
Smith said. "It’s all via the Web. Conventional tactics are important,
but you can’t be afraid to do things in a different way."

Hire a business coach

Having a third-party person with experience is very helpful.

Join networking groups

"My friends and colleagues who are entrepreneurs all share the same
experiences — with hiring, firing, marketing," he said. "We all have
the same kind of problems and challenges. It’s hard to find these
people to share experiences with unless you belong to a group."

Contact MARGARITA BAUZA at 313-222-6823 or mbauza@freepress.com.

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