Monday, August 27, 2007

FIVE THINGS: About an entrepreneur

Jonathan B. Smith, President Wave Dispersion Technologies, Inc., holding WhisprWave® BY MARGARITA BAUZA


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


  1. I got a few questions from readers today, so figured I would post the responses here to share with others.

    What entrepreneurial networking group do you belong to?

    I belong to the Entrepreneur's Organization (EO) (

    What kind of programs do you have for entrepreneurs?

    EO has two levels of membership.

    Our Accelerator Program, which is sponsored nationally by Mercedes Benz Financial, is for entrepreneurs under 47 with businesses grossing between $250,000 to $1,000,000 (

    Our traditional EO program is for entrepreneurs under 47 with businesses grossing in excess of $1,000,000 per annum. Member must own atleast 25% of the company and be involved in the day to day operations (

    What organizations or resources are available for entrepreneurs just starting up?

    What business coaches would you recommend?

    What government resources would you recommend?

    In your article, you had mentioned the great benefits of networking and I would like to ask if you could recommend any networking groups in the Metropolitan Detroit area that you know of that are execptional.

    If you have any insight in the areas of private funding, especially angel investing, I would appreciate any information that you could provide.

  2. Another Small Business Resource:

    Business Owner's Toolkit
    With an emphasis on problem-solving dating back to 1995, Business Owner’s Toolkit™ ( offers more than 5,000 pages of free cost-cutting tips, step-by-step checklists, real-life case studies, startup advice, and business templates to small business owners and entrepreneurs. The site also offers a monthly newsletter, up-to-date news topics, and Ask Alice!, a column that closely follows industry trends and provides trusted advice to inquiring site visitors.