Corrections or additions?
These articles by Tony Faber, Jeff Mastroberti, and Catherine
Moscarello were prepared for the September 27, 2000 edition of U.S. 1
All rights reserved.
Building a Strategy For E-Commerce
The Internet offers explosive opportunities to small
businesses, but only if they are willing to commit the necessary time,
money and resources to the undertaking. "I can’t tell you how
many small businesses I speak to who plan to have their web site
by a cousin, neighbor or someone else on the cheap," says
expert Bernadette Tiernan. "Businesses often rush just to
get a site up. But a business owner must be fully in charge of
E-business strategies into its overall plan of success."
Tiernan will speak on "Managing E-commerce — can you
market and distribute your product, service or new idea on the
on Monday, October 2, at 10:30 a.m. on the James Kerney Campus of
Mercer County College, at North and Academy streets in Trenton.
is free, part of Trenton Small Business Week, and is sponsored by
the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC). For more
information go to www.smallbizweek.com or contact Nat Bender at
Tiernan’s seminar will feature a self-assessment questionnaire, which
will focus on how much time, money, and other resources a business
is willing to commit. She notes that businesses often overlook such
steps as hiring a professional writer (if necessary) or generating
professional quality photographs or illustrations. Furthermore, the
process can’t just be delegated, or done once, and then ignored.
tell people that they should devote as much time an energy to it as
if they were starting a new division of their company."
Tiernan is a graduate of Merrimack College and has a masters degree
in industrial psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She
worked as a human factors engineer for AT&T until 1986, when she
her own business, Tiernan Associates. Today her company does
for small businesses and E-commerce companies. Tiernan has written
a book on the subject, E-tailing, sold through Dearborn Publishing,
and is also the lead E-commerce consultant for the NJSBDC and its
"Managing E-commerce" program, which offers no-cost consulting
to small businesses.
While a successful web site requires a company’s full resources,
notes that there are simple, inexpensive ways of testing the waters.
For instance, an easy way of discovering the demand for a product
at a given price is to offer it for auction on eBay, which has a
Exchange section just for business-to-business sales.
Another way to sell products without going to the trouble of designing
and promoting one’s own site is to associate with an online mall or
larger company such as Yahoo Shopping. In such a case, the business
pays a monthly fee and gets to sell its products using a
Yahoo template. In some cases, eBay or an online mall is the only
web presence a company really needs.
For companies that already have web sites and are looking to improve
their results, she warns against these most common pitfalls:
by a massive amount of information. What may work in a booklet or
brochure may be too much text for a website.
site doesn’t download right away. Don’t include too many bells and
whistles, such as photos, complicated graphics and streaming video.
The site should download almost instantly on a 56K modem.
with all the search engines, and the web site should be prominently
featured in all company advertising and promotion efforts. Everything
that contains the name of the company — brochures, business cards,
etc. — should carry the web site address as well.
for customers to contact the company with questions, and responses
to E-mails must be prompt. A good FAQ (frequently asked questions)
section is not enough; a company can never anticipate all the things
a customer may ask.
over time, and the company’s hottest and best-selling items should
be prominently featured. In fact, a company need not sell every single
item over its web site that it sells in its brick and mortar stores.
It may be more efficient just to sell the company’s hottest products.
site and think that it’s done. In addition to tracking sales and
the proper product mix over time, the site should constantly be looked
at and re-evaluated for possible improvements.
specific characteristics of a web site, the greatest pitfall Tiernan
observes is that of complacency. A business owner must view E-commerce
as an ongoing division of the business, as opposed to a project that
is completed once and then never revised. The design and product
of a site can never allowed to become stale. "You can never stand
still," cautions Tiernan. "You must always be ready to
— Tony Faber
For an organization to be effective, it must understand
and develop its talent, says Jon Nichol, human resources director
at Rhodia Corporation. "We’ve been aggressively trying to
our talent base for the last couple of years," says Nichol.
been doing a lot of analysis and categorizing of people."
Nichols will give a workshop on developing organizational
for the Human Resource Management Association (HRMA) on Monday,
2, at 8:30 a.m. at the Nassau Club in Princeton. Under the general
topic, "The Future of Human Resources: Challenges &
the meeting also include workshops on "Recruiting & Retention"
by Robert Humes Sr. of American Re-insurance; "Leadership,
Development & Coaching," presented by Diane Allen of the
Hibbert Group; and "HR and the Internet" led by Darryl
Hume of Cendant Corporation. The HRMA is a chapter of the national
Society of Human Resources Management. Cost: $15. Call Thyra Houck
A native of Iowa, Nichols went to Iowa State and spent 13 years with
Monsanto, the mega chemical company that was acquired by Rhodia (then
known as Rhone Poulenc) in 1986. He has been director of human
since 1995 (E-mail: Jon.Nichols@US.Rhodia.com). Based in Paris,
Rhodia Corporation is a $6 billion chemical manufacturing company
with its United States headquarters on Prospect Plains Road in
(609-860-4808). It has more than 3,300 employees and 32 manufacturing
sites throughout the United States, including one on Jersey Avenue
in New Brunswick.
Nichol’s interactive presentation will share how Rhodia upgrades its
organization and elicit feedback on how others have achieved similar
goals. "It’s quite challenging in this type of environment to
be attracting good quality people," he says. "One way to do
that is to ensure that you hire the best to work alongside some of
"If we can share some of the things that we’ve done to raise our
performance standards, that may be helpful to another organization
that’s trying to see how they can make a cultural transformation in
their business." In addition to helping his colleagues, he is
looking forward to hearing their ideas. "We think conceptually
we have a good process and some good tools but there are probably
other `best practice’ ideas out there that we could learn from."
What to do with a misplaced employee? "First, categorize people
as being profitable, well placed, or not well placed."
Well placed individuals are good contributors and provide value to
the organization. "This is clearly where the majority of the
Those not well placed either don’t have the skills to do the job or
they have the skills but are in a job that does not allow these skills
to emerge. "In that case, we will look to redirect those
into jobs where they could be stronger contributors. `Not well placed’
does not necessarily mean that an individual is not a satisfactory
performer," he says.
To make a change, the employee must take the initiative:
to see if there is another job available that might suit them better.
to their managers as well as the HR manager, go out and network with
other managers and departments that you might be interested in. Do
the same kind of networking internally that you would do outside of
the company to get a job," says Nichol.
employees but he can’t see everyone. "The company is going to
shepherd just a very small percentage of the population through their
career because we’re really focusing on key jobs and highly critical
manage your own career. The company can provide some tools, processes,
and job opportunities, but you have to be the one to take the
— Jeff Mastroberti
Small businesses in New Jersey have powerful influence,
if you look at the latest statistics — from 1998. They show that
of the 221,500 businesses in New Jersey, approximately 98 percent
were small businesses employing fewer than 500 people. Small business
accounted for a net total of 12,900 new employees between 1995 and
1996, nearly 53 percent of private non-farm employment growth in the
Entrepreneurial economic power has indeed been recognized, and all
levels of government are trying to help the small business person.
For the Seventh Annual Trenton Small Business Week, Monday to Friday,
October 2 to 6, various trade groups and government organizations
have scheduled nearly two dozen events at various locations. They
offer business to business networking, hands-on learning seminars,
and one-on-one consulting.
For instance, business owners can sign up for one-hour consulting
sessions at the Trenton Business & Technology Center at 36 South Broad
Street. Sessions continue all week, but reservations must be made
by Friday, September 29. Go to www.smallbizweek.com or call
In the practice of law, "the answers are easy,"
says Robert Kenny, attorney and CPA. "It’s the questions
that are hard." Finding out what questions to ask could save the
small business owner a world of headaches and quite possibly some
Kenny will present some insight on asking the right questions as part
of the Trenton Small Business Week on Tuesday, October 3, at 5:30
p.m. at the Trenton Business & Technology Center, 36 South Register
at www.smallbizweek.com or call 609-396-7246.
Kenny is considering renaming a class he gave recently for Mercer
County Community College’s Small Business Development Center.
called `How to Form Your Own Corporation’ but right off the bat that
jumps to a conclusion. It doesn’t ask the right question. Maybe the
best thing to do is not to form a corporation at all. Instead, someone
might be better off considering an LLC, limited liability
Based upon his professional experience in tax audit defense, business
formation and estate and tax planning, Kenny wants to help business
owners spot the issues that may become problems. A 1968 graduate of
Manhattan College, Kenny received his J.D. from Northeastern
School of Law in 1973. He is an adjunct associate professor at Rider
University, teaches for MCCC’s Small Business Development Center and
also taught at Seton Hall University School of Law. He is a member
of the bar in four states, the federal tax court, and federal district
courts for New Jersey and the northern district of Illinois. His
is at the Carnegie Center (E-mail: email@example.com).
Coming up with the right questions to ask involves these caveats:
a business without competent legal advice is asking for trouble.
a professional who is cognizant of your particular business issues,
almost like searching for a specialist in the medical field."
your own insurance policy on the chance that you might leave something
out," Kenny says. "Just knowing what options are available
can often help the business owner become proactive in problem
business. Fortunately, the more modern trend is to "carve
exceptions for small business in tax laws, labor relations law, and
various statutes. However, "there are still many bureaucratic
burdens for small business that apply to a Mom-and-Pop candy store
as well as to the Fortune 500 company."
expert but you can know how to tap into alternative entities."
— Catherine Moscarello
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