MILWAUKEE - Entrepreneurship and innovation were
among the buzzwords at a recent symposium geared toward current
and prospective small business owners.
The South Eastern Wisconsin chapter of service
organization SCORE held a small business innovation forum
Thursday in downtown Milwaukee. About 150 area business owners
from disparate industries attended the event.
Nationally, SCORE, which once stood for the
Service Corps of Retired Executives, has been working to shed
its image as a nonprofit filled with professionals past their
“We’re not all retired, old white guys,” Dave
Maaske, director of SCORE South Eastern Wisconsin, said. “We’re
evolving as a group.”
With the marketplace continuing to morph through
technology and previously unheard of ways of doing business,
many of the topics discussed at the recent forum were
Alex Lasry, vice president of strategy and
operations with the Milwaukee Bucks, was the keynote speaker
during the half-day event. He drew parallels between the team’s
philosophy and the principles of successful business ownership.
Fresh off a series of wins for a new arena with
several governing agencies - the state, Milwaukee County and the
city of Milwaukee - Lasry said the franchise’s new owners are
eager to enhance the Bucks’ presence across Wisconsin.
“We need to push further and further (beyond the
immediate Milwaukee area) and get our name out there,” Lasry
said. “We want to reach out to the entire state. The Bucks is
about more than just one player and one coach.”
Branding and knowledge of a target audience were
other topics discussed at length.
“In our case, the Bucks is what the brand is,”
Lasry said. “We’re a small market team, but we want people here
who want to win. We want people who are dedicated basketball
players. That’s what our brand is about.”
Dave Glyzewski, former president and CEO of
Centare, and Tim Syth, CEO of LushProduction, were among the
more than half-dozen locally-based entrepreneurs who discussed
their philosophies of small business ownership at several
Syth, who earned degrees in art and philosophy,
fell into business ownership in an unorthodox way. His
post-education biography includes roles as a consultant focused
on work in the information age.
“Things are fundamentally changing,” Syth said.
“The average length of time a person is staying at a job is 4.6
years, and it’s trending downward.”
While compensation and benefits have frequently
been viewed as tools for attracting high-caliber people, Syth
challenged the conventional wisdom.
“If you have talented people, the challenge is to
keep them challenged,” Syth said. “We’re in a world where ideas
are a dime a dozen. It’s all about execution.”
Glyzewski, who has founded several businesses,
openly shared the highs and lows of his own experiences,
including one period of time when he almost declared bankruptcy.
“Every decision you make can have ramifications,”
Glyzewski said. “As business owners, we’re all bungee jumpers.”
From his vantage point, Glyzewski said one of the
greatest secrets to success is, “Know who you’re selling and
know what you’re selling, and do it well.”