Students considered

Emily Dalnodar

Calling today’s employment seekers the “plastic silverware of the corporate job market,” business writer Ron Lieber suggests starting your own business.
Lieber spoke to more than 300 people Tuesday at the Radisson Hotel Metrodome, offering his views and advice to young entrepreneurs in the Twin Cities.
In the world of routine corporate downsizing, Lieber said the risk to aspiring young adults starting their own company is no greater than dedicating themselves to large, established companies like General Motors or IBM.
Today’s graduates grew up in a world of instability, Lieber said. “We’re latch-key kids in a world with major technological change,” he said. The stagnant, sometimes-false security of large firms no longer suits the majority. People of this generation are equipped to deal with fast-paced change and high-tech systems — a perfect combination for young entrepreneurs, he said.
“If we compare today with 10 to 20 years ago, we’ll see more undergrads spending most of their careers with their own companies or with smaller, growing companies,” said Richard Cardozo, director of the Carlson Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.
The key to founding a successful business is questioning what the current marketplace lacks, Cardozo said.
“People with the best businesses are always asking why,” Lieber said. “Why are the buses always late? Why is good furniture so expensive?” They notice that needs are not being met. Once needs are discovered, an entrepreneur can step in to supply the demand.
John Benzick is an example. He found the retail food industry lacking in flavor and convenience. The Carlson School of Management graduate student was a finalist in the school’s Business Plan Competition last year.
Benzick expects his new hybrid of grocery store/restaurant, Fresh Works, to be fully operational by next summer. His advice for new business hopefuls is to look inward, not outward.
“You have to start with yourself,” Beznick said. “You are the business; it is an extension of yourself. From there, go to the people with knowledge, for me it was people who had similar concepts to mine.”
Several avenues exist that offer help to new entrepreneurs. Organizations such as the Small Business Development Center and Minnesota Project Innovation offer advice and sometimes seminars on the subject.
Ultimately, entrepreneurship isn’t rocket science, Cardozo said. “If you have a good idea and appear to be competent, the money will follow.”