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Women entrepreneurs share life lessons with students

On Sept. 23, SVSU hosted “Life Lessons for Successful Women Entrepreneurs.”

Izabela I. Szymanska, a professor of management, said the event would hope- fully inform students how they could successfully start their own business.

“Most students want to get out of college and start working for someone else, and that’s hard to argue with,” Szymanska said. “I wanted to expose them to other options, though, and likely also greater rewards. It is not easy to keep a job, it requires a lot of creativity and energy.”

She stressed the benefits of individuals being their own boss.

“Why not direct then at least some of these efforts into achieving personal and professional success on ones own terms?”

she asked. “(Why not) do things that matter deeply and possibly also benefit one financially to a greater extent than regular employment?”

The event catered to multiple pro- grams, rather than just business students.

“We have a thriving occupational therapy program, a great number of students in the sciences and engineering programs and we know that they have valuable skills that would be helpful to start a business,” Szymanska said.

She said she especially wanted to reach out to women on campus.

“… I very much wanted to invite female entrepreneurs who are active in the fields that our students excel in: from healthcare, through science, to elements of design and engineering,” Szymanska said.

She said she tried to have variety in the panel of speakers.

“All of the speakers represented different industries,” Szymanska said. “Their businesses had the goal of generating profits, but at the same time, they improved the world around them and brought positive change for the broader society.”

Szymanska said she hoped that students learned how to start creating a business, as well as how to make that first step towards moving from the idea to commercialization.

“I hope (students) heard that there is infrastructure and a lot of organizations that help in that way,” she said. “Finally, I hope that they learned that there is external funding available to support them on that journey. What is important about funding is also that a relatively modest sum of a few thousand dollars can go a long way in many cases.”\

Szymanska said she believes all students have what it takes to start a business.

“Some recent graduates assume that they have to wait to establish themselves before they can even consider striving to be an entrepreneur or create a new organization,” she said. “All of our speakers had to wear many different hats, pick up new skills and learn new things on their entrepreneurial journeys. I believe that the skill sets they developed are squarely within the reach of our students.”

Szymanska said she thought the event went extremely well.

“The stories and the wealth of advice exceeded my expectations,” she said. “Our speakers were extremely engaged and really wanted to share their best advice with the students.”


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