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Thomas & Michael Brennan
6525 Ventnor Avenue
Ventnor, NJ 08406
As food critics have already pointed out, when you combine a father with thirty-plus years of experience in the hospitality industry with an award winning chef for a son, the result is Cardinal Bistro in Ventnor, “a promising new BYOB from a young talent that Shore goers are going to love.”
Thomas Brennan started his career as a busboy in Smithville. After earning his bachelor’s in Business Administration from what was then Stockton State College, he began a successful career that included managing restaurants, working in casino accounting departments, and working as the Director of Food and Beverage services. These positions allowed Tom to hone his skills in designing, planning and opening new restaurants, an endeavor he and son, Mike, decided to undertake together in 2015.
While at college in Philadelphia, Michael Brennan walked into Le Bec Fin and applied for a job, never imagining his need for employment would lead to a bourgeoning career as a chef. Determination and dedication enabled Mike to go from bussing tables to hosting at another legendary restaurant in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square, where Mike gained his food prep skills and knowledge. In 2012, Mike entered The Culinary Institute of America, where he trained alongside the best chef instructors in the country. Upon graduation, Michael helped open one, before moving on to another, of this booming food town’s busiest restaurants.
Meanwhile, Tom, after a short stint in retirement, decided to open one more restaurant. A phone call later, Mike was back in Philadelphia to help create the concept. Carla, Tom’s wife, found a little corner spot with great windows in Ventnor, NJ. With a location, chef and concept, they needed a name for the restaurant and found one honoring Tom’s late mother, who was a great lover of cardinal birds.
After meeting with Carol Waties, regional director of the NJSBDC at Stockton University, Tom and Mike emerged with a business plan that they submitted to M&T Bank. Working with Carol and M&T lender, Shannon Murphy, they obtained a loan and opened in the middle of the season to rave reviews and large crowds.
Not content to rest on good reviews, or his winning entry on Food Network’s “Cooks vs. Cons” show, Michael founded For Atlantic City By Atlantic City (4ACxAC), a group of hospitality professionals who want to see Atlantic City thrive. Part of Tom’s and Mike’s plans to grow the Cardinal Bistro brand include expanding its footprint, and enhancing the dining experience by incorporating food and spirits.
Eric Kainer & Rasul Damji
865 Ridge Road
Princeton, NJ 08852
For the past year, NJSBDC Procurement Consultant, Andy Bennett, has been working with KDW Partners located in Princeton, New Jersey. The firm, owned by technology-savvy finance and marketing professional, Eric Kainer, and growth and transformation executive Rasul Damji, features Ambedded Technology advanced storage systems and Modulan cabinets and containment systems for large data centers and smaller computer rooms.
Upon Andy’s recommendations, KDW added the technology leading, American-made LED lights from Pennsylvania-based Independence LED Lighting. Independence LED Lighting offers the highest quality, longest-lasting, highest efficiency lights in the world. As a result of adding Independence LED Lighting to their product line, KDW has seen exploding demand, both within its data center target market, and beyond. Demand for LED lighting has emerged from the Federal government, local government, commercial businesses, and even retail environments.
In April, SBDC Procurement Specialist Andy Bennett also introduced the firm to a New Jersey-based steel-manufacturing partner that is currently producing prototypes for KDW. In the same month he introduced another NJSBDC client, The Maximum Group LLC, which is working with KDW in business promotion and marketing.
To date, Andy has assisted the firm with over $1 million in negotiation support with Tier-1 construction companies in both Pennsylvania and Colorado. These negotiations were for KDW’s modular data center cabinets and containment. Andy also worked with the firm on a proposal for LED lighting systems for municipalities in Northern New Jersey with applications spanning libraries, schools, municipal buildings, and public housing.
In August 2017, Andy assisted KDW with negotiating and landing a $900,000 commercial contract with a Colorado-based construction company for LED lighting and CPU metal cabinets. And in November, one of the northern New Jersey municipalities (noted above) awarded KDW a contract for LED lighting that resulted from RFP research and review that Andy provided to the company’s business owner, Eric Kainer.
NJSBDC’s Procurement Specialty Program, through Andy Bennett, also introduced the firm to two contacts at Rutgers University’s purchasing department, and continues to work with KDW in business development, marketing, and contract negotiations support.
NJSBDC’s support of KDW and their perseverance has resulted in great outcomes!
The Malachia Brantley Entrepreneurial Spirit Award
Nathaniel Sims, Small Business Management Consultant & Advisor
America’s SBDC New Jersey recognizes Nathaniel Sims for his solid, strong track record in supporting small business ownership and entrepreneurship in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) network lost one of its greatest contributors in assisting small business owners and entrepreneurs with the passing of Senior Business Advisor and Management Consultant Nathaniel (“Nat”) Sims this past May 2017.
Today, on behalf of America’s SBDC New Jersey, we provide this Excellence Award posthumously in remembrance of his strong dedication to assisting small business owners, veterans, and entrepreneurs in pursuit of their small business dreams.
He contributed greatly to our small business assistance program and provided guidance to countless numbers of entrepreneurs and small business owners in his various capacities over the years as Assistant Director and Director of the NJSBDC at Kean University and subsequently as Senior Consultant, specializing in veterans’ assistance, for NJSBDC Headquarters and the entire network. He helped hundreds of veterans either to start a business or expand their existing business.
Nat was a compassionate and caring person and a man of integrity. His business acumen and skills imparted great knowledge for clients of the NJSBDC program. He helped many small business clients along the road to success. He will be forever missed as one of our most giving Team members.
Through a lifetime of selfless service and dedication to the New Jersey small business community, his positive attitude and passion to help others made a difference and contributed greatly to the successful outcomes of many small businesses in our state.
Mr. Sims was posthumously awarded the Veteran Owned Small Business, Mentor of the Year Award for his tireless efforts and dedication for Veteran small business owners by The American Legion on June 8th, 2017.
He sets an example for all of us to further bolster the mission of entrepreneurship and small business ownership.
NJBIZ offers opportunities for nominations concerning an array of achievement awards ranging from Chief Financial Officer, Legal Counsel, to entrepreneurs and/or business owners of the year. This year NJBIZ rolled out another awards series called the ICON Awards for Business Leaders in their sixties. CEO/State Director of America’s SBDC New Jersey, Brenda B. Hopper, was one of several individuals who received such recognition on August 23, 2017.
NJBIZ classifies the inaugural NJBIZ ICON Honors Awardees as “business leaders who are in a class of their own: the pioneers and change-makers. Those who have made a daily impact on their local communities and unparalleled contributions to the economic excellence of our region.”
“I was pleased to receive this award,” said Brenda B. Hopper. “It’s always nice to be recognized with other business professionals who make their contributions to the business world. Small business is my passion.”
Ms. Hopper believes her biggest contribution to New Jersey’s business community is “The success of our small business clients; whether it’s increased revenues and profits, creating and retaining jobs, winning a new federal, state or municipal procurement contract, getting a new international trade deal, or receiving that much needed financing for expansion. Their success is our success.”
Hopper was also a recent recipient of the Support Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and the African-American Outstanding Achievement Award from Kappa Community Development Corporation (KCDC).
America’s SBDC Will Advocate in Congress to Promote Stable or Increased Funding
The proposed FY 2018 federal budget of the Trump administration proposes $110 million for the national SBDC program administered through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The House Financial Services appropriations subcommittee has proposed $120 million.
Representative Velazquez from New York has offered an amendment to increase that amount to $130 million. Under the congressional continuing resolution for fiscal year 2017, $117 million had been allocated to America’s SBDC, but, the 2017 Omnibus Act increased the funding level to $125 million.
The national organization – America’s SBDC – headquartered in Burke, Virginia will strongly advocate on Capitol Hill for a better budget allocation. The national program has major supporters in Congress who assist with funding support each year.
This is early in the budget process and it is expected that with the highly respected track record of the national SBDC network in creating and saving jobs and generating new businesses as well as growing established small businesses, the congressional budget process will yield better outcomes in terms of budgetary expectations.
“America’s SBDC will be working with our friends and supporters in Congress to ensure SBDC funding remains at current levels or better,” said Tee Rowe, president and chief executive officer of the national network, America’s SBDC. “In light of the natural disasters and strong supporting roles that SBDCs play, that request is only logical and we anticipate strong support.”
Each year in February or March, the national SBDC network holds the Association Winter/Spring Meeting and proceeds to have all state SBDC networks advocate with the congressional delegations from the respective states following its General Meeting.
“We have a good relationship with our congressional delegation in New Jersey,” said Deborah Smarth, chief operating officer and associate state director. “They know about our impact numbers just like our state legislators in Trenton. They understand how important this program is and they work hard to provide resources to ensure small business and entrepreneurial support.”
“We look forward to working with our counterparts in the national network as well as our national office at ensuring good funding results,” added Brenda B. Hopper, chief executive officer and state director.
Survival strategies that small businesses need to manage an economic slump differ from those that large companies can put in place because small businesses have limited resources in terms of human capital, money, and time. Large companies usually focus on macro-level strategic actions such as economic indicator trends and downturns. Small business strategic choices should focus on micro-level indicators that take into account small low-cost incremental strategic actions guaranteed to yield high results, impact and return on investments.
There are five strategy categories or perspectives from which a business can choose to develop their strategic actions: Management oriented strategies; Resources oriented strategies; Knowledge oriented strategies; Business Operational/Internal Systems oriented strategies; or External Environmental oriented strategies. Small businesses need to be aware of their strategic choice orientation in order to be clear about the intentions and significance of your strategic action objective, impact and outcomes or results. Focus on implementing integrated, low touch solutions. Below are some of the micro strategies to take into consideration:
1 Revenue/Cash Inflow Strategies i.e. focus on cash flow statement as an indicator for what’s currently happening to the company’s cash inflow. This allows the business to primarily focus on strategies that are cash inflow oriented because this is what’s likely to keep them in business during the course of the economic slump.
2 Revenue Diversification Strategies i.e. focused on revenue generation strategies, not revenue reallocation strategies. Revenue retrenchment works to a point, but it’s not the only way for small businesses to save their companies in an economic slump. Cutting cost is a “maintenance” strategy – a measure for recycling the same money already in the business so that you can direct it to priority areas or appropriate budgets so that you can stay in business.
3 Market/Service/Product Mix Objectives: Reassess the business objectives (maybe goals) – that would help the business adjust to the prevailing economic conditions. An example would be focusing on Market/services or product MIX strategies. There are many alternatives a business can pursue in this strategy such as:
a) Old services/products to new market;
b) New services/products to old market;
c) New services/products to new market base.
4 Strategic Alignment: Because of their small size, small businesses/companies are quick to shift and have the ability to respond to external changes like an economic slump. This is an advantage. Therefore it is very important to align the business structures, processes, performance measures and/or incentives with internal changes as well as external economic forces.
5 Structures: Internal & External Business structures: Focus on the internal and external operating structures and how they impede or enhance efficiency and effectiveness; how can the business structure be modified to align with ongoing changes without necessarily “compromising” the core business model.
6 Processes: Focus on costly processes in place that increase your cost of doing business; modify and streamline to reduce expenses. For example, what aspects of the doing business processes can be outsourced rather than be maintained in-house? Eliminate “bureaucratic” or “red tape” business processes i.e., technology mediocrity to non-value adding operational routines.
7 Performance Measurement: Measuring performance is huge in eliminating redundant processes. Focus on time management, employee rate of productivity and efficiency, and the impact of business processes and procedures. Performance analytic information should always inform decision making.
8 Human Capital Incentives: Negotiate with your employees for incentives like flex-time if you cannot afford financial compensation; focus on greater role clarification; review employee resumes to identify former training, skills and experiences you can leverage and cross training of employees. Negotiate with suppliers and clients. Communication is key in human capital management.
Dr. Tendai Ndoro is the Director of the NJSBDC at Rutgers University-Newark campus.
COLUMN: LET EMPLOYEES BAND TOGETHER TO ESTABLISH NEW BUSINESSES, CREATING AND SAVING JOBS; INVEST MORE IN TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
The big topic these days in national news with a new presidential administration is bringing back jobs to America. Despite the administration’s diverse proposals, it’s even more simplistic!
Employees, who are being displaced due to their employer’s decisions to relocate, can do more than just wait for governmental solutions. They can take their knowledge and know-how in the industry in which they have worked for years, join together, and establish their own business in the field. They can do so with the help of the national America’s Small Business Development Centers program (America’s SBDC).
Each state has a network of SBDCs totally focused on helping established small businesses reach their next level of growth as well as assisting those individuals who want to start a business. Having workers band together to establish their own cooperative business will ensure that the jobs that would have been lost due to their employer’s closing its doors, will be saved due to their own efforts with the help of professional consultants and business advisors at SBDC. America’s SBDC New Jersey has a few great success stories based on such a model. This is the way for job creation, new businesses, and business retention in New Jersey. Why not promote that model?
According to information cited on the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s website, the way a firm organizes can very well affect innovation and creativity among its workers. According to the 2015 Kauffman blog, “Employee-owned firms are theorized to have more productive workers and less turnover than firms with traditional ownership structures.” The foundation of an employee-owned firm focuses on allowing employees to drive and navigate the firm’s mission and vision; employees hold the stocks of the enterprise and elect some of the company’s board members. The employees’ compensation is appropriately shared and works as an incentive for greater productivity and innovation at the firm. Small business and entrepreneurship is front and center! And, employee-owned small businesses are a means to save and catalyze new jobs and strengthen the middle class.
According to the most recent 2017 Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council’s “Small Business Policy Index,” New Jersey ranked 49th among the states in small business-friendly public policies. It’s time to change that ranking through innovative thinking and greater state investment in NJSBDC, part of a national network of SBDCs throughout the country. There’s no reason why New Jersey’s SBDC investment should lag the average state investment nationally. Why not invest properly in such a program with such a strong track record? The Legislature understands and has taken action. The executive branch should be just as supportive.
COLUMN: The Economy: What Next?
The biggest question since the 2008 Great Recession is “Where’s the recovery?”
On the presidential campaign trail, economic issues have the highest scored interest followed by national security/foreign policy. So, let’s take a look at the #1 issue: the economy and jobs.
According to the latest economic indicator statistics, New Jersey’s unemployment rate peaked upwards to 5.3 percent in August for the sixth consecutive month. In February, it was at a post-recession low of 4.3 percent. New Jersey’s unemployment rate now exceeds the U.S. unemployment rate at its August level.
The Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen, in her remarks at the Jackson Hole monetary policy conference, seemed to suggest that interest rates will be raised by the end of 2016. “The historically low Federal funds rate, the central bank’s still-large balance sheet, and the U.S. economy’s failure to fully recover from the last crisis all potentially dent the firepower of conventional monetary policy tools should a recession hit the U.S. economy in the coming years.”1 Some economists say we are headed for another recession. The fact is that after eight years of creating money out of thin air via quantitative easing and very low interest rates with the intent of spurring the economy, the national economy has shown little growth. According to an August 26th press release issued by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of approximately one percent (as of the second quarter).
Income growth for the vast majority is a concern. People, particularly the middle class and poor, are hurting. According to a Pew Research Center’s May 2016 analysis, there is a shrinking middle class not only in various regions, but, in metropolitan areas throughout the country. “The share of the American adult population that lives in middle-income households has fallen since 2000.” According to PEW’s analysis, the fallout is a result of the 2001 recession and the 2007-2009 Great Recession with slow recoveries after each of these economic downturns. On the other side, some argue that more people are becoming richer to be considered middle class any longer.3
As reported recently, “The 2008 financial crisis apparently knocked U.S. entrepreneurship to the ground, and it’s having a hard time returning to its feet.”4 It was noted in a recent paper of the Federal Reserve Board that when there is a decline of business entries (i.e. new businesses) that this affects the GDP and productivity. Over the past decade, the formation of individual business establishments has remained low, yet, it is noted that new companies or businesses “hire faster and produce higher levels of productivity than firms that have been around for a while.” Thus, some economists maintain that the decline in new business start-ups since the recession is creating labor market problems.
An economist with the Bank of America Merrill Lynch alludes to “tighter credit conditions as loans become harder to secure.” And, there are other factors that add to the dilemma of job growth and productivity. A recent report by Harvard Business School references “political dysfunction” as holding back the nation’s economic performance.
Once again, though, it’s apparent that small business pumps the economy. So, state governors and legislatures need to do more for small businesses and entrepreneurs. The New Jersey Legislature has persevered in securing appropriate state investment for small business technical assistance through the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers network (America’s SBDC New Jersey). The Legislature’s efforts are appreciated and duly noted on behalf of small businesses and entrepreneurs statewide.
Entering a new year, we reflect on our network’s accomplishments in 2016. We are heartened that the NJSBDC network has achieved and surpassed its goals. This past year (2016) our SBDC network counseled and trained more than 12,000 small business owners, entrepreneurs and individuals. And, our impact improved across the board with all of our goal targets moving upward:
- 19,514 total counseling hours delivered to 4,228 small business clients;
- 567 SBDC clients started new businesses;
- 57 percent of our total clients were established businesses;
- $88.3 million in total financing facilitated for our small business clients;
- Clients generated sales at $1.329 billion value;
- Clients conservatively returned $70 million in sales tax revenues to the state, in addition to other state income tax and business tax revenues;
- 16,115 created and saved jobs by assisting our clients;
- 1,981 total training hours delivered at 545 training seminars with 8,279 trainees.
The added value of our program for small business health in our state contributes greatly to New Jersey’s economic development.
It was a great year! And, we’re looking forward to another banner year in 2017.
We’ve reached more than the half-year mark and already signs of success are in the air. Our Small Business Development Centers network, which is now focused on allocating greater resources for one-on-one management consulting and stable levels of training, has succeeded in accomplishing the following for the period covering January 1 through June 30, 2016:
- We’ve provided one-on-one counseling for 2,593 clients with a total of 9,794 counseling hours;
- 22% of the network’s clients received 5-plus hours of counseling;
- 59% of NJSBDC network’s business client portfolio consists of established small businesses;
- NJSBDC clients started 248 new businesses;
- We’ve facilitated $52,134,594 in financing for our small business clients;
- We’ve hosted 297 training events/seminars with 3,781 trainees attending;
- Approximately 10% of our small business clients had $1 million or more in sales revenues and/or 10-plus employees;
- We’ve assisted our clients to create and save 11,473 jobs.
We’re expecting to finish this year on a high note with great economic impact even though the economy seems to be weak. It’s all about “BIG IMPACT.” That’s why the state’s investment level in our program is so important to leverage with federal and private sources of funding. Our network’s business experts are there for any small business owner or entrepreneur who wants to bring their operations or business to a higher level. Visit us for a full consultation and assessment and we can help you advance your path to success.