Panel at college offers entrepreneurship advice

Local business leaders claim being an entrepreneur requires attributes that include leadership, perseverance and creativity.

They told Lycoming College students recently that successfully running a business means changing with the times, listening to feedback from employees and also creating value for customers.

Asked to define entrepreneurship, John DiMarco, a college trustee and a retired CEO, said entrepreneurship is a mindset.

“It’s challenging the status quo to make it better,” he said. “You got to care, to be passionate about what you do.”

Keith Kuzio, CEO and president, Larson Design Group, Williamsport said it means “controlling your destiny.”

DiMarco and others noted that entrepreneurship has certainly evolved through the years.

Now, DiMarco said, the business world is recognizing more specialists. And while technology has certainly brought vast change, people who can think are still needed in the workplace.

“Don’t use technology as a crutch. Otherwise, you become a slave rather than a master,” he said.

The key, he added, is adopting to change.

Marshall Welch, a former senior manager in industry and first Sloter chair in Enterpreneurship at Lycoming College, said there exist so many options working toward becoming an entrepreneur.

Successful leadership, Kuzio said, comes from empowering employees.

“I learned you can’t do it all yourself,” he said.

Kuzio also stressed the importance of risk taking. The focus of any leader, he said, should be operating the business and how to grow and transform it.

DiMarco said any business starts with the people and satisfying customers.

Welch noted that resiliency is a key attribute for being an entrepreneur. A leader cannot be overcome by a fear of failure, he explained.

To be a “standout” entrepreneur, DiMarco said, requires being a problem solver rather than a complainer.

He stressed the importance of having in place and keeping good employees.

“Really listen to your customer,” Kuzio said. “Find out what they need.”

Welch stressed the need for patience. After all, rarely does anyone realize overnight success. He noted that Olympic athletes train for years before winning medals. Oprah Winfrey, he said, only found overwhelming success as a talk show host after experiencing failure in other jobs.

“That was her lucky break,” he said.

DiMarco said anyone can be an entrepreneur.

“You have to put yourself out there and take a chance,” he said.

Added Welch: “It’s all about your why.”