Blog: Jane Sydlowski

Jane Sydlowski is the President of AMI Strategies --recognized by Deloitte in 2003 as a "Fast 500 public and private technology company." Jane lectures students in Wayne State University's entrepreneurial program and serves on the Michigan Council of Women in Technology and Greenpath, Inc.

Jane writes about Michigan's need for a "Entrepreneurial Experience Engine."

Post No. 3


Can Michigan transform it's workers to be Entrepreneurial?

Knowing the incredible amount of accountability required to become an entrepreneur, there is only a small percentage of American citizens willing to take on such responsibility for themselves and others. Entitlements are no longer a reality. In fact, because of SBT (small business taxes) we have the opposite situation (which is another blog in and of itself). So, with such a large population in Michigan used to corporate benevolence, one has to ask: "Do Michiganders have the emotional, financial, creative and skill strength to handle Entrepreneurship?" This is literally night vs. day (forgive the cliché).

Could Granholm jump-start this effort? Or, better yet, could we? Clearly start-up capital, growth capital, etc. all matter, and the state can offer incentives and matching programs in this arena. We have certainly seen the state step up to Alternative Energy and Life Science support. The interesting challenge with any funding effort is: how do you evaluate good ideas from a budding entrepreneur and transform them into an accurate prediction of whether they'll become a profitable business? It's highly improbable that the state would have these skills.

Clearly, entrepreneurs need to mentor entrepreneurs; somehow, someway. There is no better awakening opportunity for a budding or existing entrepreneur than to present to a bunch of Angel Investors. Can you picture a laid off automotive worker succeeding at this? Indeed, it's a stretch.

So, how do we transform our Michigan workforce? As I write this blog, I can only answer: I do not know. It will come to me, though, (and I'll be certain to let Metromode see the first draft).

I am encouraged to see the many new programs being initiated (how ever inadvertently) to start the Entrepreneurial Experience Engine. Publications like WWJ's Daily Dash has an entrepreneurship section and Matt Roush has always supported entrepreneurs in his IT Great Lakes Report.

Even our Michigan Universities are jumping on the bandwagon. On October 1st and 2nd, Wayne State will host their 3rd annual "E2 Detroit", which is specific to the Entrepreneurial Experience. If you have never attended this event and are interested in this topic or would like to become an entrepreneur, it is an excellent program and open to the public. Judy Johncox and Terry Cross were brilliant and ahead of their time when they founded it three years ago. U of M has many programs too; from the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies --which is a hands-on program for a new generation of entrepreneurs, allowing students to experience real-time, real-world entrepreneurship-- to a directed focus on empowering entrepreneurial students at the College of Engineering.

Why do we care about this? Michigan's future!