1. Build clusters of excellence. Single companies have a tough time in isolation!
2. Provide meaningful ownership incentives to all employees. Share the big picture with every employee, often. Establish, communicate frequently and live a concise, coherent set of Corporate Values—“walk the talk.”
3. Embrace change as a constant. Know how to evolve your company and its strategy in response to outside competitive forces. Stagnation around outdated concepts and “staying the course” can be your enemies.
4. Build your companies on “three-legged stools:” First is innovative technology with strong intellectual property. Second, you need a strategy that gives you competitive advantage despite your small size and high cost of capital. Third, new companies need excellent people.
5. Don’t even start if your “stool” has only two legs!
[Editor’s note: To help launch Xconomy Detroit, we’ve queried our network of Xconomists and other innovation leaders around the country for their list of the most important things that entrepreneurs and innovators in Michigan can do to reinvigorate their regional economy.]