Take a chance with entrepreneurs

Floyd Smith III

NMU will provide essential and intriguing aspects of today’s business world at its Celebration of Entrepreneurship Conference Thursday, April 2. The conference, which includes 16 different workshops, welcomes NMU students, community members, business professionals and even high school entrepreneurs to attend and expand their business knowledge.

The conference is bringing in current as well as aspiring entrepreneurs to present a variety of successful business tactics. The long list of speakers for the event includes business owners, NMU professors and even current NMU students.

“It allows them to network with other students, community members and entrepreneurs who may have some of the same interests that they have,” Michael Crum, assistant professor of management said. “One of the major benefits of the conference is that it allows students to hear the stories of various successful entrepreneurs and to become more aware of the challenges and benefits of running their own business.”

The workshop’s assortment of speakers will include Dan Torres, owner of Border Grill, speaking about getting businesses to thrive long term, as well as NMU professors like Peter Pless, who will be speaking about strategic design thinking. The conference gives aspiring entrepreneurs an opportunity to see what they may want to pursue by giving them successful examples. It also gives business students a chance to display some of their ideas and accomplishments.

“The conference encourages students to follow their ambitions of owning their own business and also shows the university’s support for small business and small business ventures,” said Richard Ross Jr. a masters of business graduate student. Ross also ran his own paddle board rental company “SUP Brah Sports” and will be a part of the TEAM business presentation

TEAM Business, a group of business students at NMU, will explain their new program as well as have a presentation on digital and social media marketing basics. Jody Lindberg, the assistant dean of the College of Business, was able to explain the purpose of the team.

“An organization or business may come to us and say ‘I need help in marketing,’ and so we put a team of students together to help them build that aspect,” Lindberg said. “Sometimes it’s just a certain area like accounting or marketing and sometimes it’s the whole business.”

The event will also have a workshop with the student-run Invent @ NMU program. Robert Eslinger, the director of the continuing education and workforce development staff, will open the session.

“Student staff will discuss how they are applying their academic learning to realworld experiences, working with entrepreneurs and how that is helping them, especially as they look to get hired after graduation,” Eslinger said.

The conference will have a variety of sessions for both students and community members. It even offers a retired professional athlete-turned-entrepreneur as its keynote speaker. Tim Shaw, a former NFL linebacker, most recently for the Tennessee Titans in 2012, will speak at lunch.

“It’s a good variety of workshops, depending on what you’re interested in, or what a business professional may feel their needs are,” Lindberg said.

The Venture Business Competition is also being held in the University Center simultaneously. The competition began in the fall when students were asked to submit business ideas, and if they were a finalist, they were then asked to submit an entire business plan. Those students are competing for cash prizes, awards and consulting services with current businesses looking to work with the finalists on building their business.

The conference will also feature a handful of successful NMU alumni speaking about their businesses. Beth Millner who will speak on the behalf of Beth Millner Jewelry along with her CPA Mary Luttinen on home-based businesses. Millner studied art and design at NMU and has been growing her business in Marquette for over eight years. The conference, which offers many aspects of business to be learned, will be significantly helpful for the many students and community members that will attend, Lindberg said.

“It really gives the students an opportunity to see the real world of what businesses need to run from the ground up,” Lindberg said.

Attendees of the event will be able to learn from the successes and failures of previous entrepreneurs and will be able to apply that knowledge to their potential businesses.

“The major benefit of the conference is hearing other entrepreneurs’ success stories and more importantly, their failures,” said Ross. “In most cases, entrepreneurs fail more than they succeed.”

The Celebration of Entrepreneurship Conference will begin at 9 a.m. and registration is open to all students and community members.