Why Your Business Should Go Paperless

As a business owner, you make executive decisions every day that are all carefully planned to help streamline operations and cut costs. Whether you are getting the best price on supplies from a vendor or analyzing your current staffing system, you know that every little bit counts for maximizing profits. Yet, overlooking the costs associated with using outdated paper-based communications and record keeping methods is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. During your next planning session, make sure to consider these benefits of having your business go paperless.

Provide Mobile Employees With Instant Access to Information

Today, most companies have employees actively working outside of the office, whether they are performing sales calls in the field or working from home. With paper documents, it’s virtually impossible to get information instantly, and having to wait on a file or finish a task hours later bogs down productivity. Digital collaboration tools make it easy for your mobile employees to update contracts, collect customer signatures and even manage billing services from any location.

Improve Data Security

Your customers will always be concerned about their privacy and how their information is handled. Too often, paper files are thrown out with the trash or left vulnerable to unauthorized people filing through the pages. With cloud-based document storage, you can choose programs that maintain high levels of security that only let the information be displayed to those with the credentials to gain access. Sensitive files can also be encrypted during their transfer to prevent data breaches.

Demonstrate Environmental Responsibility

Customers notice everything about your company, and paper waste is one issue that causes people to lose respect. There is no reason to fill your customers’ mailboxes with fliers and letters that only get thrown away and waste valuable energy. Using digital communication methods such as a social media tweet or an email are more likely to be noticed, and your brand will earn points for taking sustainability seriously.

Minimize Expenses

When you take a strong look at the bottom line, postage, filing systems and paper products all add up. Yet, you also need to consider the hidden costs that paper-based systems create. For instance, online billing saves you money over the long run that helps to increase profits by eliminating the costs of mailing out paper bills.

Improve Customer Communication

Customers today expect fast responses to their questions, and this can only be achieved by working with them directly in real time environments. While phone calls work, you can also reach out to your customers through email or online chats to establish a digital record of every interaction. This allows your employees to quickly see what has been done regarding each customer contact, and you can demonstrate commitment to customer satisfaction through prompt responses.

Eliminate the Clutter

Paper is a huge cause of clutter in office environments, and even organized filing systems take up large amounts of space that can be used for better purposes. Transferring paper documents to digital files allows you to free up room for your employees to work on tasks that increase the efficiency of your business.

New technology is constantly providing ways to increase the efficiency of your business by eliminating the burden of paper-based documents. From increasing security to enhancing communication with your customers, going paperless establishes your business as being committed to making positive changes that benefit everyone.

5 New Years Resolutions for Small Businesses

The New Year is an exciting time when change is in the air, and now is the time to take an honest look at how your company has performed over the past 12 months to determine what it needs to grow. While personal resolutions may get cast aside once the hype of the holiday season is over, the ones you set for your small business can be turned into actionable goals. As you reflect upon the past year, you can use these resolutions as inspiration to drive your company’s future growth.

Grow Your Team and Delegate

If you’ve been aiming for better work-life balance, then this resolution could serve double duty as a personal and business goal. Small business owners are known for wearing many hats, and it’s possible that your company has grown to the point that you desperately need help. Ask yourself what tasks might best be handled by someone else. The need to hire a receptionist or promote a current member of your team to management are all signs that your company is following an upward path.

Give Back to the Community

Charitable work and contributions don’t just make your company look good. They elevate the entire community so that everyone can enjoy your company’s products and services. Identify places in your community that your company could help. For instance, your home remodeling business could help build low-income housing. Alternatively, you could offer to speak to a high school group about the path to entrepreneurship. These types of experiences help to show your company in a positive light, and you’ll love how it feels to be fully involved in your community.

Update Your Online Presence

When was the last time that you really took a good look at your company website? Or, you may still be on the fence about setting up a social media profile. Try to remember that online interactions provide a great way to stir up interest about your company. Try making it a goal to post a social media update once a week, and be sure to highlight the work you are doing in the community. Then, have web analytics performed to determine how you could improve your company’s website search rankings.

Invest in New Technology

Putting money back into your business is essential for growth. While it often seems as though new technology springs forth before you have a chance to finish the old system’s installation, this is one area where most companies can benefit. Take a good look at how your employees perform their duties to identify places that could use some updating. For instance, you could use project management software to streamline communication between your employees and customers, or your office crew could need faster computers to increase their productivity.

Identify a New Target Market

When things are going well, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and keep doing what works. However, it is possible that there is an entire market of people who have not yet heard about your company’s products and services. Whether you need to look into international trading or just need to consider marketing your company’s products to a different local demographic, opening up a new target audience keeps things exciting and drives growth.

As with any New Year’s resolution, the best way to make them stick is to take immediate action. Now that you’ve got yours in mind, be proactive and start working on a plan that makes each one part of your company’s focus this year.

6 Important Questions to Ask When Purchasing An Existing Business

Although many people dream of opening a start up, purchasing an existing business holds many benefits. Whether you are looking to expand your current business by acquiring competitors or just want to dip your toes into entrepreneurship, buying a company that already has trained staff on the payroll and a customer following allows you to bypass some of the early headaches associated with a start up. However, you must still do your due diligence to make sure that your purchase helps you meet your goals as a business owner. As you begin to analyze a business opportunity, use these six questions to decide if a purchase is in your best interests.

Why Is the Business Up For Sell?

Business owners sell their companies for a variety of reasons, and knowing why the owner is selling gives you insight into the current state of operations as well as the future potential for profits. For instance, a business owner may just be ready to retire, which means that the company is likely doing well. However, a business owner that is selling so that they can start a different company in the same field may generate competition in the community that impacts your business.

How Is the Current Financial Standing?

Naturally, you want to know the gross revenue and net profits of the business for the past several years. However, you also need to look for documentation of these numbers. Be prepared to request documents such as the tax returns for the business that cover the last three years as well as income statements, balance sheets, and reports that break down profits according to specific areas such as the services that are offered.

Will the Products or Services Hold High Demand in the Future?

A business should always be viewed as a long-term investment, and you want to make sure that it is not being sold simply due to a lack of consumer interest. Spend some time thinking about the current nature of the business and whether or not it provides goods or services that will be in demand over the next five to ten years. If not, then think about how you might be able to change the company to make it more relevant.

Do Any Major Assets and Liabilities Accompany the Purchase?

Established businesses often come with assets that may include real estate, equipment, or established contracts with buyers. However, they also tend to come with liabilities that must be honored. Make sure that you understand exactly what comes with the company so that you are not faced with any surprises after the transfer of ownership.

How Does the Company Culture Look?

While you will naturally put your own spin on the company culture, it’s best to anticipate potential issues that could arise with the staff. Take a tour of the company and speak to a few of the key members of the staff to make sure that you fit in well with the current culture. Then, you can also talk to the business owner to find out if they anticipate the staff to stay or leave. While company transitions often involve a few members of the team leaving, it’s best to know that you are starting out with a dedicated staff.

What Strategies Are Needed to Grow the Business?

When a business is already up and running, you have the unique opportunity to immediately begin working toward stimulating growth. Take a look at the current business plan to identify areas that need work. For example, you may need to rev up the marketing efforts by updating the company’s online profile. Alternatively, you may have great ideas for new products to offer current customers.

The decision to buy an existing business gives you an opportunity to build upon features of the company that already work. While these questions should not be the only ones that you ask, they will all give you more insight into whether a business is the right venture to fit your goals.

3 Expert Ways to Get Customer Reviews for Your Business

customer reviews

Customer reviews have become one of the most effective marketing tools in recent years, and you should expect that prospective clients and customers are going to check to see what other people have to say about their experiences. Nowadays, 92% of consumers read online reviews, whereas only 88% did in 2014.  In addition to driving more people to your website or store, customer reviews can also help to push your business to the top of the list on major search engines. While you may know how important reviews are to your business, you may still struggle with getting people to actually leave their opinions about your business. These expert strategies are designed to get customers to start leaving reviews that vouch for your brand’s superior products and services.

Show Up Where Your Customers Go Online

Start your review increasing mission by gathering some information about how your customers currently interact online. Web analytics provide insight into which social media platforms and search engines are bringing people to your website, and this information helps you plan where to start your campaign to increase reviews. Once you know where your target audience goes, set up profiles on the major platforms. For example, you may prefer to entice people to leave reviews on LinkedIn if your main focus is B2B sales. Alternatively, you may want to set yourself up on Yelp or Google Local if you need reviews for your restaurant. Just as location is everything for brick-and-mortar businesses, you need to remember that your customers will be more likely to leave reviews if they are already on a specific platform.

Incorporate Review Requests Into Company Processes

One of the best ways to get positive reviews is to ask customers for them when they are having an excellent experience. Train your sales team and customer service representatives to remember to mention the opportunity to leave a review shortly after a person has received a service. While you should never pay customers for their feedback, you can use incentives to reward your employees for seeking reviews. For instance, you could start a company contest to see who gets the most positive reviews within a week. You could also read a few rave reviews during your next company meeting to highlight how great it feels to read positive feedback from your customers. You’ll be surprised at how many reviews you receive when you just ask your customers. Most people don’t mind helping out your staff after a job well done when they know where to go to leave a review.

Turn Reviews Into Conversations

Too often reviews are thrown into the online atmosphere and nothing ever gets done. You’ve also likely heard tons of advice about how to spin negative reviews into a chance to highlight your company’s focus on improving customer service. However, very little attention gets paid to the power of extending a review into a conversation. For instance, asking a customer who simply added five starts to a review what they liked about their experience encourages them to leave further feedback. You can also encourage reviewing customers to come back and try a new product since they are more likely to leave another review that increases the amount that shows up during searches for your company profile.

The best customer reviews are those that are spontaneously posted after someone is motivated by a positive experience. Yet, most customers still need a little nudge to get them to leave feedback online. Now that you’ve got a few ideas for encouraging customer engagement, get ready to read and respond to the newest reviews to encourage the cycle of business growth to continue.

5 Ways Technology Can Help Small Businesses Grow

technology

Growing a small business takes hard work, dedication, and willingness to think outside the box. Yet, there comes a point when you need to search outside of yourself for solutions to common issues that slow the growth of your business. Fortunately, new technology is constantly being developed to fit the needs of business owners, and you can use these strategies to begin to take full advantage of the options that best fit your company’s needs.

Increase Mobility Among Your Employees

In-office tasks are easier to manage now that technology provides solutions for common problems. For instance, your sales team can use mobile printers to quickly print out critical documents such as contracts for their customers to sign. Being able to put your sales force out into the field more allows them to continue to bring your company’s products and services to a larger market.

Analyze the Effectiveness of Your Company Website

With more customers spending time online, your company website must be viewed as an extension of your storefront. For an internet-based company, your website is the only thing that a customer may see before making a purchase. Website analytics allow you to see the effectiveness of your online presence so that you can make changes to bring in more customers. For instance, you may need to alter the keywords that you use in the content, or you may need to make it easier to navigate through each page.

Spread the Word on Social Media

Sure, Facebook and Twitter have long been viewed as a way for people to connect with their friends and family. However, small businesses can use savvy marketing skills to incorporate their brand into these conversations. Set up a company profile on a social media platform that tends to attract your customer demographics. Then, send out occasional updates about newsworthy events in your company. Giving customers insight into a new product or how you perform certain services keeps your brand on their mind. You can also consider every shared update to be free advertising that helps to drive your company’s growth.

Refine Your Marketing Strategies

Your small business must be taking advantage of online marketing opportunities or you are leaving money on the table. However, there are so many different types of online marketing options available that you can quickly lose sight of what actually works. With marketing software, you can use strategies such as geo-targeted advertisements to get your message out to the exact customers that you want to attract. Then, you can use the software to find out which methods are successful so that you can continue to build upon what is proven to work.

Use Project Management Software

Projects that involve multiple people such as a sales team, independent contractors, and supervisors, are vulnerable to issues that arise from miscommunication that can kill your profits. With project management software, your business benefits from giving everyone access to things such as shared schedules and note taking systems that serve as a central hub. When your team finishes projects faster and with more accuracy, you can expect to watch your customer base grow.

As you work to incorporate new forms of technology into your business model, remember that growth sometimes involves a few bumps along the way. Be sure to work with your team to analyze what works so that you can adjust your plan accordingly. With a little flexibility and willingness to try new things, you will see your business begin to flourish in no time.

How to Adopt Big Business Strategies for Your Small Business

business

Right now, your business may be small, but that doesn’t mean that it has to stay that way. At some point, almost every big business started off with someone’s dream of dominating the market. Yet, many small businesses never quite make it off the ground simply because they fail to adjust to changing demands or get intimidated by the competition. As a small business owner, you must think big from the earliest days of starting your company, and these big business strategies are perfect for helping you reach your goals.

Practice Market Segmentation

With so many startups saturating the market, it’s likely that your business already faces stiff competition. Establishing dominance in a niche market is one of the most effective ways to stand out from the pack and draw in consumer interest that leads to rapid growth. Consider your current market and begin to break it down into smaller niches that could lead you to a more specific target audience. For instance, you could market your health food products to senior citizens or bodybuilders depending upon your brand and the level of interest you can develop within the niche.

Provide Exemplary Customer Experiences

One of the biggest advantages that you have as a small business is the opportunity to form close relationships with your customers, and successful big businesses never lose sight of this important practice. Reach out to your customers for feedback, and be willing to make aggressive changes if they are needed to fulfill your goal of delivering revolutionary products and services to the market.

Establish Checklists for Routine Procedures

Consistency is the key to providing high quality goods and services that establish reliability in the marketplace. While it is easy to be consistent when your business is made up of a single office and small staff, it becomes harder as your company expands. Start now by establishing checklists that walk your employees through each step of routine procedures so that they are always done the same way. You’ll achieve immediate benefits for increasing productivity, and it’ll make tasks such as on-boarding new employees and auditing new locations easier in the future.

Know Who You Are Dealing With

As your business grows, you will come across great companies and people who truly want to form beneficial relationships. Yet, there are also companies that have unethical business practices and no qualms about causing your company to fail. Before you sign a contract with a new vendor or agree to form a partnership with a major company, hire someone to research their corporate profile. From discovering past bankruptcies to current accusations of fraud, this one simple maneuver can save your business from a big mistake.

Make Smart Acquisitions

In the early stages of running a small business, acquisitions may seem to be something that only works for large corporations. However, a well-planned acquisition could be the leverage that your small business needs to rise to the next level. When executed properly, an acquisition provides small businesses with the opportunity to establish dominance within the market and expand into different territories. If your company is not quite ready to make acquisitions, then you can look into the benefits of forming partnerships with other companies that an be just as beneficial.

Growing a business requires the ability to think beyond the borders of your current strategies, and there will always be some element of risk involved with each decision that you make. When in doubt, always consult with your team of advisers so that you can move forward with your business decisions with confidence.

Cyber Intelligence Briefing: Understanding Blockchain and its Impact | NJSBDC @ Ramapo College of New Jersey

Cyber Intelligence Briefing: Understanding Blockchain and its Impact | NJSBDC @ Ramapo College of New Jersey

 

WHEN:

Thu, April 26, 2018

4:00 PM – 7:00 PM EDT

Add to Calendar

 

WHERE:

Ramapo College of New Jersey/ Small Business Development Center

505 Ramapo Valley Road

Friends Hall

Mahwah, NJ 07430

View Map

 

Description

Regardless of the price of Bitcoin, Blockchain technology is here to stay.Which businesses are left standing will likely come down to how well companies are able to adapt. The total market capitalization for the world’s crypto-currencies, led by Bitcoin on Blockchain, is more than $100 Billion. Soon to be disrupted industries will include Financial Services, Healthcare, Aviation, Global Logistics and Shipping, Transportation, Music, Manufacturing, Security, Media, Identity, Automotive, Land Use and Government, and more.

Intelligence Briefing Includes:

  • What exactly is Blockchain technology
  • How this new era in technology has the potential to change the business world
  • Why is this technology powering crypto-currencies like Bitcoin
  • Top industries impacted by Blockchain
  • What you should be considering before Blockchain disrupts your industry

Who Should Attend?

  • Business Owners, Operations & System Administrators
  • Entrepreneurs, Educators and Elected Officials
  • Anyone interested in learning about the future of Blockchain technology

Small Business Week 2018 | April 29 – May 5, 2018

Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.

As part of National Small Business Week, America’s SBDC New Jersey (NJSBDC) will be holding a series of programs all across the state between April 29 – May, 5, 2018.

Take a look and see what’s going on near you!

NJSBDC AT WILLIAM PATERSON UNIVERSITY

Dingman’s Dairy
Joseph Belasco
191 Pennsylvania Avenue
Paterson, NJ 07055
Tel: 973-881-8622
Website: www.dingmansdairy.biz

Ann Marie Belasco and son Anthony are the owners of Dingman’s Dairy in Paterson, NJ. The company currently employs 50 men and women in sales, office, customer service, warehouse, and delivery positions. The Dingman family opened the business in 1955, and sold it to the current owners in 2007. Since the purchase, Dingman’s Dairy has grown from 4 delivery trucks to 17, and sales have increased five-fold.

As its name might imply, Dingman’s Dairy is a distributor of ice cream, ice cream mix, frozen yogurt, frozen desserts, cones, toppings, syrups, inclusions, sprinkles, paper goods and other related products. Customers include ice cream parlors, yogurt shops, restaurants, catering facilities, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and convenience stores. Major and more notable customers include Bodegas, Dairy Queen, Met Life Stadium, Sesame Place, Miami Seaquarium, Great Adventure, Jones Beach (NY), Santa Cruz Boardwalk (CA), local carnivals, the New Jersey State Fair, and many special events in the tri-state area.

In 2016, the Belascos contacted the NJSBDC at William Paterson University for counseling on a variety of important business matters. Since 70 percent of Dingman’s business is generated from April through September, discussions revolved around ideas to generate more business during the October to March time frame. Brainstorming topics included: Company acquisitions; new product categories; expansion of business to the Long Island, NYC metropolitan and Manhattan areas; sales process improvement; social media advertising; online ordering; enhanced distribution strategies; and other ideas on the Belasco’s agenda. “The SBDC,” according to the owners, “has been a sounding board, strategy advisor and business counselor to us over the past year on a variety of matters important to our growth and stability of the business.”

With the Center’s help and advice, Dingman’s expects to grow the business 15 percent in 2018 by adding new product categories, expanding sales areas, new sales personnel, and better marketing strategies. They are also adding a marketing specialist and hiring other personnel. Of great importance is the fact that the Belascos recently purch-ased land adjacent to company headquarters. The company will be building a state-of-the art distribution center to further enhance customer services and bolster product and sales growth opportunities.

NJSBDC AT THE COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY

Stout’s Transportation
Tim Stout
20 Irven Street
Ewing, NJ 08638
Tel: 609-883-8891
Website: www.stoutstransporation.com

Founded in 1982 by Harry Stout III, two generations of family management and an exceptional employee base at Stout’s Transportation are driving the future of motor coach travel in the Northeast. Company President, Tim Stout, along with brothers, Shawn, who heads business development for the medical transportation division, and Harry, Stout’s safety director, manage the 100-plus employee, family-owned business. This ground transportation and tour operation business has been built on talents, skills, and a team of a well-seasoned staff, augmented by a cutting-edge fleet and a customer-focused culture that positions their brand ahead of their competition.

The 60-year Trenton-based Stout’s has locations throughout the state of New Jersey and serves key markets within the tri-state New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania area. Their predominantly Van Hool fleet consists of 76 vehicles: 38- to 56-passenger motor coaches for tour and charter excursions; 29-passenger shuttle transport vehicles; 16- to 20-passenger para-transit specialty vehicles for private contract service, and DOT-approved, school and transit buses.

Since 2015, Stout has worked with the NJSBDC at TCNJ consultants, receiving assistance and training in a wide range of areas and services, including:  Financial recordkeeping design and reports; financial report analysis using QuickBooks; digital media/website design and marketing; catalog design and marketing; company branding; and extensive industry/ geographic/demographic/psychographic market research. The NJSBDC at TCNJ is proud to have served as a “go to” feedback resource for Stout’s Transportation on operational issues from marketing to financial operational issues.

As the business evolves, Stout’s leadership continues to focus on best business practices and technology improvements that will enhance operational efficiencies. Their latest implementation of the Zonar fleet management mobile platform is critical in helping the company remotely monitor fleet and driver performance, and enhance fleet maintenance. Additionally, the system supports automated processes, effectively reducing paperwork and record storage, which are also key priorities within Stout’s “green culture.” Their state-of-the-art 8,000-square-foot office building features energy-efficient utilities and an environmentally friendly heating system utilizing waste oil as fuel.

With a strong and growing infrastructure, healthy market share, and sales and marketing efforts focused on new and emerging markets, the company is actively seeking growth, and the timing is perfect for acquisition. Stout’s Transportation has positioned itself as a leader in the transportation industry, well prepared for the next 60 years of growth and expansion.

NJSBDC AT STOCKTON UNIVERSITY

Cardinal Bistro
Thomas & Michael Brennan
6525 Ventnor Avenue
Ventnor, NJ 08406
Tel: 609-541-4633
Website: www.cardinalbistro.com

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.

NJSBDC AT RUTGERS UNIVERSITY – NEWARK

Minuteman Press of Newark
Holly Kaplansky
20 Clinton Street
Newark, NJ 07102
Tel: 973-624-6907
Website: www.mmpnewark.com

Holly Kaplansky is the owner and chief executive officer of Minuteman Press, a 100 percent woman-owned printing and marketing company based in Newark. Holly started Minuteman Press in April 2005 after leaving the corporate world, where she had extensive experience in advertising and marketing. She realized that the skills she had acquired in managing and running corporate businesses, such as marketing, finance, operations and management, would be a perfect foundation to start her own business.

Of prime importance to Holly and Minuteman Press is their reputation for exceptional quality, quick turnaround, on-time and on-budget delivery, and most important, personalized customer service, the latter of which has helped Minuteman Press stay competitive in an industry where people can do their own printing on-line, at home or in their office. In addition, the company’s personalized consultation services allow clients to understand all the design and printing options available to them whether they work with Holly and her staff in the store, by phone, or at their business site.  

Since Minuteman Press started as a client, supporter and collaborative partner of the SBDC at Rutgers-Newark, annual revenue has grown to nearly a million dollars, and staff has increased to one part-time and three full-time employees. Holly is an active participant in the training and technical assistance services the Center offers, such as the Women Entrepreneurs’ Networking (WEN) Business Breakfast, the Rutgers Business School/SBDC Student Experiential Learning Programs, After Lunch Webinar Series, the Business Bazaar Pitching for Contract and Capital Event, and many more. “Every time I attend one of these events I learn something new, no matter how small, that has helped me grow my business!” She completely understands that business development is just as important as business management.

In addition to looking for ways to grow her own business, Holly is heavily involved with helping other business grow. She is a very active advisory board member and ambassador of the NJSBDC at Rutgers-Newark, having contributed hundreds of pro-bono hours to the Center in that capacity. She is also Immediate Past President of the North Essex Chamber of Commerce, President Elect of the State Board of NJAWBO (New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners), Advisory Board Member of the EPI Alumni Association of the Rutgers Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development, Founding Board Member of New Jersey LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Former President of the New Jersey Chapter of the Association of Women in Communications, Member of the Newark Regional Business Partnership, and a Leadership Newark Fellow, Class of 2010.

She is a tireless advocate of the small business community in so many ways. We are proud to have Minuteman Press  of Newark as our 2017 Success Award Winner.

NJSBDC AT RUTGERS UNIVERSITY – CAMDEN

DoveLin Enterprises, Inc
Mary Lindsay & Franklin Dove, Jr.
417 Bloomfield Drive
West Berlin, NJ 08091
Tel: 856-767-0600
Website: www.dovelinenterprises.com

DoveLin Enterprises, Inc. is a commercial flooring company established October 7, 2014 by owners Mary Lindsay and Franklin Dove, Jr.  The company provides flooring services to general contractors, hospitals, health service building, colleges/universities, public and private schools, retail stores, office buildings and multi-purpose/multi-family dwellings. Gymnasiums and indoor track are the projects that have particularly received high praise from their customers.  

DoveLin holds women’s owned business certifications through the NJ WBE and the WBENC. The company is also a standing contractor of Floor Layers Local 251 on the East Coast, whose members make up DoveLin’s workforce, which ranges between 15 and 42 employees, depending upon the size of the project and peak work times.

To honor their success, DoveLin is always seeking ways to give back to the community. Along with their employees, the company has donated services to the PAL Organization in Philadelphia and local Christian Schools in New Jersey.

In March 2016, DoveLin sought the advice of the NJSBDC at Rutgers Camden. The owners had hit a roadblock in pursuit of financing. While the business was growing, it was difficult for a business with less than two years in operation to secure the funds necessary to bid on major projects. The Rutgers Camden SBDC stepped in, and according to Mary, “assisted to secure funding which allowed us to bid on high profile projects for several contractors, commercial businesses and retail centers such as Wal-Mart. SBDC consultants developed cash flow projections to support loan requests, loan package development and advised on operational processes and human resources.”

The business has gained a stellar industry reputation in a very short time. They have grown rapidly since 2015 with sales increasing by 60 percent in 2017. The Rutgers-Camden Center continues to service DoveLin as they expand and enjoy the success that excellent customer service and quality workmanship bring.

NJSBDC AT RARITAN VALLEY COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Great American Sealcoating
Tim Smeltz
81 Chimney Rock Road
Bridgewater, NJ 08807
Tel: 908-271-9797
Website: www.greatsealcoating.com

 

After 29 years of commuting into New York City and working long hours as a chef, Tim Smeltz was ready for a change. Inspiration came when he couldn’t find a local company to sealcoat his driveway. After investigating, Smeltz purchased an American Asphalt Sealcoating franchise in 2006.

Although new to self-employment, he knew he needed a business plan and contacted the NJSBDC at RVCC. Counselors Vicki Lynne Morgan and Karen Katcher helped him develop a business plan, and counselor Bob Bilarczyk helped with his certification as a NJ Small Business Enterprise (SBE).

Because sealcoating is a seasonal business, Smeltz quickly encountered a critical challenge: Retaining valued employees during the off-season. His solution? He bought a residential decorating business franchise, Christmas Décor, in 2007, to provide employment year-round. Since then he has successfully expanded his Christmas Décor’s Somerset County territory to include Hunterdon and Morris counties in New Jersey and Bucks County in Pennsylvania.

In 2009, another opportunity presented itself when a prospective sealcoating client who owned a daycare center specified that any sealcoating on his property must not contain coal tar, a suspected carcinogenic. Knowing this was a growing concern, Tim decided to break from his franchise and venture off on his own to find a better, safer product. It was a big decision, so he met with Regional Director Bill Harnden several times to discuss his options. During this period, he discovered a company using an innovative sealcoating mixture; bought exclusive rights to the product; and further developed it to meet his needs. With a new formula, solid infrastructure and seasoned employees, he was ready to create his new business–and the Great American Sealcoating Company was born. In 2017, Smeltz returned to the SBDC at RVCC to learn about financing options for expansion into New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania. As a result, he and Bill Harnden are meeting with several SBA lenders to develop a loan package.

With his innovative, problem-solving approach, and willingness to venture into new areas, coupled with the counseling services of the SBDC, Tim Smeltz has grown from a single, local operation with sales of $200,000 to a dual-business, multi-state enterprise with eleven employees and sales of over $1 million. Concerning the support he has received over the years from the SBDC at RVCC, Smeltz says, “It is exceptionally nice to have a resource that can help me grow and act as a sounding board when making important business decisions.”  With firm plans in place for improving, growing and innovating, Smeltz is paving the way for continued business success — and the SBDC at RVCC looks forward to assisting him in reaching his goals.

NJSBDC AT RAMAPO COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY

Hafco Foundry and Machine, Inc.
Basil Fornaci & Billy Fornaci
301 Greenwood Avenue
Midland Park, NJ 07432
Tel: 201-447-0433
Website: www.hafcovac.com

Hafco Foundry and Machine, Inc. is a distributor of metal castings and machined parts to the rail industry, and manufacturer of industrial pneumatic vacuums and dust equipment for the coal mining industry. Founded in 1969, the company is managed today by co-presidents and brothers, Basil and Billy Fornaci, who are the third generation owners. Over its many years in business, Hafco experienced steady and consistent growth, achieving over $6 million in annual sales.

In September 2015, Basil’s and Billy’s father and Chief Executive Officer, Michael Fornaci, unexpectedly passed away. With no written succession agreement in place, Michael Fornaci’s widow became the default owner, and placed her trust in a law firm which cared only for her personal gain, and not the business or its employees. Having cast the brothers’ uncle and Chief Financial Officer, William Fornaci as an adversarial party, instead of the next rightful president, the company’s future was anything but certain. Suddenly, in March 2016, William passed away before any ownership rights were transferred.

Basil and Billy took control of day-to-day operations, while also reviewing a draft of an agreement, proposed by these same lawyers, written to cover the ownership and define the future operations of the company. It was at this point that Billy reached out to the NJSBDC.

Vince Vicari, regional director of the NJSBDC at Ramapo, assigned the Hafco case to Jim Palumbo, whose experience and knowledge has been a perfect fit for the company’s immediate needs. At the very first meeting, Jim pointed out some significant flaws with the agreement, which was then re-written based on his recommendations. Basil and Billy were quick to realize that you simply cannot only take business advice from lawyers and accountants. The SBDC also later connected Hafco with a law firm that would serve more as a neutral party, drafting the formal agreements and handling the transfer of ownership.

Advice from Jim, an experienced and skilled businessperson, turned out to be invaluable for Hafco. In fact, he truly saved the company from what could have been a disastrous agreement. Over the past year and a half, Jim Palumbo has helped to transform Basil and Billy from family business employees to confident and knowledgeable business owners. Beyond day-to-day operations, they’ve learned to create a business plan, generate yearly and quarterly budgets, and forecast the company’s sales. More importantly, they’ve realized the value of implementing all of these business tools and strategies.

Today, Jim and the SBDC at Ramapo continue to advise Hafco in areas such as human resources, distribution agreements, marketing plans, customer relations, inventory management, etc. Going forward, Basil and Billy will continue to implement these new skills and knowledge, and carry on Hafco’s legacy of success.

NJSBDC OF NORTHWEST JERSEY

Massage Heights of Morristown
David Shawger & Dale Carmody
40 West Park Place, Suite 7
Morristown, NJ 07960
Tel: 973-939-3999

Website: www.massageheights.com/locations/nj/morristown-nj

Dale Carmody and David Shawger contacted Northwest NJSBDC with an idea to start a business by combining their resources (dollars and know-how). The search began by identifying several franchise opportunities that would interest them and fit their business approach. They soon settled upon a day spa, and explored several franchise possibilities in detail before settling on Massage Heights as the optimal fit.

From the beginning, the business venture was unique in that it was entirely self-funded through personal and

“sweat” equity. The owners exude a lot of attention to details as is evidenced in every corner and crevice of their

facility. Their staff radiates a sense of professionalism and warmth rarely found in today’s business franchise model.

Northwest NJSBDC worked with the partners in the evaluation process (including site selection), reviewing documents, franchise agreements, property leases, and “partners’ agreement.” While most day spas are located in strip malls, Dave and Dale decided that an upscale downtown environment was more in harmony with their vision. It would attract the young professionals employed by Morristown firms and is consistent with the prestigious Massage Heights image. “We relied heavily on [Regional Director] Dolores Stammer’s expertise to guide us through the selection, launch and initial operations,” said Dale Carmody.

From the beginning of their relationship with Northwest NJSBDC, Dave and Dale have viewed Dolores Stammer as their strategic partner-advisor. “Whether the issue is related to marketing, human resources, finance or operations, we’ve come to rely on Northwest NJSBDC as a key resource,” said Dave.  During the Grand Opening, the partners introduced Northwest NJSBDC as the single consistent resource that guided them through multiple issues inherent in a major launch of this type.

While opening just this year, Massage Heights, Morristown already employs 15 individuals. The facility is a real showpiece for the Morristown Green properties and has adapted its marketing consistent with its upscale downtown image. The partners continue to view Northwest NJSBDC as their go-to partner in the continued success of their business. “Our sales are growing consistently month-by-month and we value the role that the SBDC has played in our success.” The owners are living testimony to the Massage Heights motto of being “simply better.”

NJSBDC AT NEW JERSEY CITY UNIVERSITY

Maria Mentiras Bar & Grill, LLC
Maria Gutierrez
328 32nd Street
Union City, NJ 07087
Tel: 201-966-9092
Website: www.mariamentirasbarandgrill.com

Maria Gutierrez arrived in New Jersey as a teen from Medelin, Colombia. She and her family were in search of opportunity and the American Dream. Her ambition and desire for success formed at age 17, when she opened her first clothing store. Sixteen-hour workdays and two-hour bus rides became a normal routine. Long days and expensive business lessons were met with even more drive and the discipline to continue moving forward.

In 2011, Ms. Gutierrez wanted to grow her clothing business and sought the assistance of the NJSBDC at New Jersey City University. Business consultant Ryan Silvestre advised Maria on her business structure, organizational skills, time management and financial arrangements. This extra insight into her entrepreneurial efforts led to conversations about expanding and possibly purchasing a new business. With help from the NJSBDC on valuation modeling and due diligence, a decision on building a new business was made. With proper planning, and a creative debt structure, Ms. Gutierrez was able to secure the capital needed to open Maria Mentiras Bar and Grill, LLC.  

Now one of Hudson County’s premier restaurants, Maria Mentiras, as the regulars endearingly call it, provides Latin fusion dishes, along with unique specialty cocktails and live music. A staple of Union City, New Jersey, Mentiras Bar & Grill draws a local crowd as well as patrons from many of the neighboring cities.

Since opening, Ms. Gutierrez has been able to create over 20 restaurant jobs, in addition to internship opportunities. Most recently, Ms. Gutierrez and the NJSBDC at NJCU have worked on a marketing and social media plan utilizing another SBDC client to assist her in its execution. NJSBDC at NJCU also assisted Maria Mentiras, LLC in upgrading from its paper method of bookkeeping to QuickBooks online. The results were greater efficiencies in time and cash flow management, which allowed her to capitalize on new business opportunities. Traditional approaches of bankability made it impossible for her to secure a commercial mortgage; however, with these interim financials, she was able to structure a private mortgage for the acquisition of two buildings for $1.2 million, and the purchase of the buildings housing her restaurant.  

In addition to the success of Maria Mentiras Bar & Grill, Ms. Gutierrez continues to grow her clothing store and multiple other businesses. Her newest venture is a gourmet fast food business with franchise potential. Salsa Arepa is scheduled to open later this year at the very exclusive Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, following completion of a $250,000 construction project. This truly long-term client has collectively created over 40-plus jobs and facilitated over $2 million in capital infusion invested in her businesses. The NJSBDC at NJCU will continue to provide support and guidance as the Center assists her in developing strategic plans concerning business sustainability and expansion.

NJSBDC AT BROOKDALE COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Aikido Center of Manasquan
Tim Vazquez
56 Union Avenue
Manasquan, NJ 08736
Tel: 732-309-0822
Website: www.ACNJManasquan.com

 

Tim Vazquez is the owner and chief instructor of the Aikido Center of Manasquan. He is a retired police officer, self-defense instructor, and an NJ State licensed Security Instructor.

Tim became a client of the NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College after attending one of the center’s no-cost, high-impact Bootcamps. There was a lack of traffic to his facility (Dojo), and he needed assistance quickly. Tim did some research and found NJSBDC at Brookdale. On June 2, 2016 he took the Center’s “Social Media Bootcamp” course that took him to the next level in social marketing. He subsequently enrolled in two workshops, “Running a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign” and “Intro to Blogging,” increasing his proficiency with social media and website management.

Tim took the knowledge and skills he developed during the workshops and implemented a proactive strategy. Employing a disciplined, innovative, and consistent approach, Tim is reaping the benefits of applying all the techniques that he learned in the courses. He redesigned all his social networks and website to make them mobile compliant, and started an AdWords account with Google. He even started blogging! Did it work? A delighted Tim states “I can tell that all the steps I took resulted in new traffic to the Dojo.” Not to stop there, Tim started and launched an app that is available on Google and the Apple store –  “Aikido Manasquan”!

Tim has increased traffic and sales by more than 10 percent, which for his highly competitive industry and market is exceptional. The use of online advancements, social media, and updates to his website have enabled him to continue to grow his business even when the dojo is closed.

“Thank you NJSBDC for all your help and expertise! I HIGHLY recommended anyone to attend the courses, receive guidance and counseling offered by NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College and their affiliated location Ocean County College. Is it a lot of work for anyone to re-design his or her social media? Yes, it is, but you will succeed with the help from NJSBDC!”

NJSBDC | TECHNOLOGY COMMERCIALIZATION

Arable Labs, Inc.
Adam Wolf, Ph.D.
40 North Tulane Street
Princeton, NJ 08542
Website: www.arable.com

Arable is a data and analytics company reducing risk in the food and agriculture supply chain. Their flagship product, the Mark, is a low-cost, highly connected solar-powered sensor that continuously and precisely measures more than 40 different, relevant data types regarding plant, light and weather conditions. The data enable farmers and agribusinesses to better assess crop status, forecast growth, predict yields and improve decision-making.

Customers are able to better manage resources in real time and make decisions that enable them to increase revenue through better forecasts of harvest timing, yield, and postharvest outcomes. The Mark hardware was designed in collaboration with the designer of the GoPro camera and Nest learning thermostat.  

Company Founder Adam Wolf was a Princeton University post doctorate candidate when he participated in the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps Teams Program (I-Corps).  The purpose of the program is to identify National Science Foundation/NSF-funded researchers who will receive additional support, in the form of mentoring and funding, to accelerate innovation that can attract subsequent third-party funding. Through their participation in I-Corps, Adam and his team decided to pursue SBIR funding. Arable’s I-Corps mentor referred them to NJSBDC’s Technology Commercialization Consultant, Randy Harmon.

Randy reviewed, critiqued and made suggestions for strengthening Adam’s draft NSF SBIR Phase I proposal, which was submitted in June 2015. Adam received word in December 2015 that the $150,000 project had been approved for funding. He then applied for and received $20,000 through NSF’s Phase IB program, which is intended to provide supplemental funding between the completion of Phase I and Phase II.

Upon successfully completing the Phase I project, Arable submitted a Phase II SBIR proposal at the end of August 2016 NJSBDC Consultant, Randy Harmon, assisted the team in the preparation of the Phase II technology commercialization plan.

Arable was able to successfully leverage their Phase I and IB awards to raise $2.6 million in venture capital which closed in February 2017. Upon successful completion of a pre-award audit and administrative review, Arable received notice of a $750,000 NSF Phase II award in April. According to Dr. Wolf, the assistance provided by NJSBDC through Randy Harmon helped Arable win SBIR Phase I and Phase II grants and the validation provided by the Phase I award helped raise their equity financing.

An opportunity exists to apply for additional NSF funding after Phase II ends. The Arable Insights platform, supported by the Arable Mark, is already generating revenue. Customers include Driscoll’s, Treasury Wine Estates, and Valley Irrigation. The Arable vision is to help enhance a customer’s sound decisions-making, mitigating risk in food production systems.