Trenton Winners

Harassment Policies

Cashing Out, How?

Going Public: Should You?

Housing Information

Housing Helpers

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Peter J. Mladineo and Barbara Fox were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on October 7, 1998. All rights reserved.

Business Plans

If you were turned down when you applied for a business loan, perhaps your business plan was not up to snuff. Lisa Hines, of Business Plan Concept gave some tips to entrepreneurs on Tuesday, October 6, at the Masonic Temple, as part of the Trenton Small Business Week, which continues with a financing fair until 8 p.m. on Wednesday, October 7, at the Masonic Temple, and a reception at the New Jersey State Museum on Thursday, October 8, at 5:30 p.m. For information call 609-396-7246.

A business plan isn't just for showing your banker, says Hines, who can be reached at 609-530-0719. It has two other valid purposes: to help you organize and plan and to help you monitor performance. So it is worth your time to get it right.

Your business plan must show the nature of your business, your short term and long term goals, and that your target market has a real need. It should take into account your competition and your competitive advantage and how you will market to your customers. You will need to show the key benefits of your products and services and the capabilities of your management team. Not only will you need to delineate your day to day operations, but you must also forecast your financial performance. And then, though this is an unpleasant topic, you must discuss the risks of your undertaking.

Hines suggests 10 tips for actually writing this document.

1. Know your reader and speak directly to the issues that he or she will be most interested in.

2. Start with an outline to organize your thoughts.

3. Create an executive summary that thoroughly, but very concisely, conveys all the important features of your business.

4. Avoid fluff and superlatives. Use professional language.

5. Show you are knowledgeable about your market and know how to reach it.

6. Show that you have conducted market research to back up your claims.

7. Don't dismiss your competition. Every business has some form of competition.

8. Use pictures, charts, tables, and bullets for clarity in the presentation.

9. Include a table of contents to help the reader follow along and get to those sections that interest him or her the most.

10. Have the document reviewed -- for grammar, spelling, clarity, and organization -- by a friend or colleague who is a good writer or a professional writer. The quickest way to create a negative impression is to present a business plan full of errors.

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Trenton Winners

Winners of the Small Business of the Year award have been selected. They will be honored at the Trenton Small Business Week ceremony on Thursday, October 8, at 5:30 p.m. at the New Jersey State Museum. Call 609-396-7246 for more information.

The winners are Marge Miccio and Robert Wagner, owners of the Artifacts Gallery, a showcase for items that promote the history of Trenton, and Greg Williams of G.W. Enterprises Inc., a data processing and telenotification consulting firm.

Williams could stand as a model for the benefits of being active in the community. The president of the Mercer County Business Association and the West Windsor Republican Club, he was chosen by Congress as the 1997 Businessman of the Year, and was voted one of the 100 Most Influential People in New Jersey. He is active in roughly a dozen other extracurricular organizations, including the NAACP, the Economic Development Council of New Jersey, the Trenton Business Assistance Corporation, and the Philadelphia African American Chamber of Commerce.

Certificates of recognition go to Cultural Concepts of Trenton, D-Tec Inc., F. Mesanko & Son, First Properties Corp., Sugai Corp., Sound of Trenton, Trenton Conservatory of Music, and Your Choice Hair Salon.

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Harassment Policies

The key to handling sexual harassment for small businesses, says Angela Deitch, is to treat yourself like a large corporation. "When you establish your own self as a business, it doesn't make any difference where you are, you have to have an awareness that this a potential," she says. "You don't have the luxury of policies and procedures. Act as if you did. You can't be blind to it. And if it occurs you have to know what to do and you have to think about handling it."

Deitch helped set-up a sexual harassment program for the State of New Jersey and served as a consultant with the Human Resource Development Institute prior to opening her home-based management consulting business in West Trenton. She speaks to the Princeton Chamber's Small Business Council Breakfast on Wednesday, October 21, at 7:45 a.m. at the Holiday Inn on "Recent Supreme Court Decisions Could Affect You! a Sexual Harassment Update." Cost: $21. Call 609-520-1776.

Deitch will tell how liability for sexual harassment will be determined if your company cannot show that preventative measures were taken. She will relate alarming case histories about firms in which employees did not have training in sexual harassment issues, didn't know what sexual harassment consisted of, and didn't know the company's procedure for handling complaints.

Other "worst case scenarios" involve supervisors who sexually harass an employee without the business owner's knowledge or authority.

An interesting clause in the rules governing sexual harassment is what happens when sexual harassment occurs off company premises. In cases of third party harassment, the outsider's organization is responsible for the outsider's actions off-site. If an outsider harasses the receptionist, the outsider's organization is held responsible, she explains.

"You have to take some measures to say what is your personal policy on this matter and how can I prevent it," says Deitch.

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Cashing Out, How?

The due diligence process can do you in, when you are trying to sell your company, says Carnegie Center-based attorney Christine Bator. She will moderate a panel "Taking it to the Next Level: Sell? Merge? Acquire?" one of 80 workshops scheduled for the Governor's Conference on Women on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 20 and 21, at the new Atlantic City Convention Center. Cost: $100 including two luncheons plus $35 for a tasting party. Call 609-989-7888.

A graduate of Seton Hall (Class of 1971) and Seton Hall Law School, with a master's degree from New York University, Bator has been practicing law since 1975, seven years for the state department of health as director of the office of legal affairs, then as a partner in two law firms. She chaired the banking law section of the state bar association. At her Carnegie Center office she is currently of counsel to Courter, Kobert, Lauer & Cohen and she focuses on corporate, commercial, healthcare, and banking law.

Investigate. "Whether you are a buyer or a seller, you need to investigate who you are doing business with," says Bator. The seller must submit to liability searches by the buyer, but the seller should also do some sleuthing on the buying company.

Obvious searches might be in Dun & Bradstreet databases, company records, and meeting minutes. Both attorneys and staff people should review the documents.

Maybe you are selling and getting cash and some stock in the acquiring company. If so, ask these questions:

What is the acquiring company's structure? Does it have a parent company that could siphon off the profits of the company you would own stock in?

How has the acquiring company performed financially over the past few years?

If regulated, were there were any licensing violations? Is it set up according to regulations?

Are managers going to be around after the deal closes? Are these managers crucial to the success of the company? What kinds of employment agreements does the company have?

Take precautions against undisclosed liabilities that surface after the closing. Ask the other firm to sign a merger & acquisition agreement that contains a series of representations and warranties. Set up reserves to handle post-closing liabilities, so the money would flow back to you because of the liability.

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Going Public: Should You?

Deciding whether to "go public" is one of the most important decisions a successful private company can make, says David J. Sorin, managing partner of the Princeton office of Buchanan Ingersoll on College Road. He is co-chair of the 50-attorney firm's technology and entrepreneurial services group and has handled nearly 40 public offerings in the past five years. Sorin will be a panelist for "Going Public: a CFO's Perspective," held on Thursday, October 8, at 10 a.m. at the Gateway Hilton.

Also on the panel are investment banker Linnea K. Conrad of Lehman Brothers; analyst Hugh Shytle of SG Cowen; accountant Skip Braun of Arthur Andersen LLP; and Paul Lipari, CFO of DSET. They will discuss selecting professional advisors, how the public determines your valuation, developing a registration statement, the initial public offering (IPO) schedule, the road show, and the final pricing of shares. The panel precedes a public company showcase sponsored by the New Jersey Technology Council. Call 609-452-1010 for $60 reservations for the morning, $85 for the full day including the showcase from 1 to 7 p.m. ($110 walk-in price).

Company presentations start at 2 p.m., and each firm will have 20 minutes plus a five-minute question session. Sessions will be concurrent and will conclude with a 6 p.m. cocktail reception. Any professional finance person (investment banker, venture capitalist, fund manager, analyst, broker, for instance) may attend the showcase for free.

Among the companies exhibiting are Base Ten Systems, the software developer in Trenton; Bio-Imaging Technologies Inc., a biomedical information service company on Bear Tavern Road; EchoCath Inc., a medical device company at 4326 Route 1 North; Integra LifeSciences Corp., a medical device company on Morgan Drive; and Response USA Inc., also known as Responsibility Systems and United Video Security. It is located on Princess Drive.

Sorin offers pros and cons of deciding to do an IPO:

1. Going public generates additional capital for growth without the risks of debt or the restrictions that may be demanded by private investors.

2. A company's ability to raise additional capital is often enhanced after going public.

3. The founders of a company which has gone public will achieve a much higher degree of liquidity for their investment.

4. Acquisitions by the company may be made with publicly traded stock.

5. A public company can often attract and retain better employees.

6. A public company, as well as its founding shareholders, may gain a significant amount of positive publicity, benefiting the business operations of the company.

Not surprisingly, there are some "cons" more optimistically known as "challenges."

1. The initial, pre-offering expenses for a publicly held company are not insubstantial.

2. Significant reorganization of corporate matters may be required before an IPO: modification of capital structure or bylaws, review of pending litigation, modification of employment agreements, modification of insider relationships, modification or provision of written contracts, substantial changes to accounting practices, changes to corporate procedures on record-keeping, etc.

3. Post-offering duties to comply with federal securities laws can become substantial for new companies.

4. A company must disclose details, potentially valuable to its competitors, about its operations and financial situation, not only upon going public but also on a continuous basis.

5. Founders and insiders may be threatened with loss of control.

6. Publicly held companies sometimes focus on short-term results due to shareholder expectations and pressures of the market.

7. Publicly held companies often lose a degree of flexibility due to their responsibilities to and the scrutiny from public shareholders.

8. Controlling or major shareholders and directors and officers are restricted in their ability to sell (and to some extent, buy) shares in a public company.

"It is usually never too soon to begin the `going public' planning process," says Sorin, even when, like today, the IPO markets are in the doldrums. "You need to be prepared to pursue your IPO when the market opportunity is ripe."

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Housing Information

Developers, builders, housing management professionals, realtors, heads of not-for-profit agencies, financiers, and government officials -- people in all these job categories are heading for Newark this week for a housing conference.

The seventh annual Governor's Conference on Housing and Community Development will be Wednesday and Thursday, October 7 and 8, at the Robert Treat Hotel and the Newark Historical Society in Newark. Entitled "Beyond the Millennium," it costs $195 for both days. Call David Kern at 609-278-7424.

The conference and trade show will attract more than 500 people and feature more than 70 speakers and panelists and nearly four dozen vendors. Among the topics to be covered: appraising affordable housing, development of an assisted living project, making a homeowner association a success, simplifying the building inspection process, special needs housing, trees and urban landscapes, and innovative community partnering that works.

Sessions in the "Urban Tool Kit" area include an indepth discussion about the Urban Site Acquisition Program instigated by the Whitman administration, and the Statewide Faith-Based Initiative in New Jersey as compared to other states. In a session on public and assisted housing, participants will learn how to uncover tenant fraud, employee fraud, and mismanagement and waste of taxpayer dollars.

Representatives from DCA, New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, the Federal Home Loan Bank, the Community Loan Fund and Delaware Valley Reinvestment will be available to answer questions. A field trip on "Chemicals in the Workplace" will educate building superintendents on what to do in the event of a chemical spill. The City of Newark is sponsoring a "Renaissance" bus trip, showing off its new properties.

At Wednesday's luncheon, Jane M. Kenny, commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, announced $135 million in new housing opportunities to be distributed through the two programs of the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. The "Dream Come True" statewide mortgage program for home buyers, which offers mortgages for as little as three percent down with five percent interest rate. The Urban Home Ownership Recovery Program is for developers and not-for-profit housing sponsors, and applications are being accepted from now until January 28.

On Thursday a mayor from North Carolina will talk about community revitalization and seven governor's housing awards will be presented, including one to Roebling Village Inn for affordable senior housing and one to East Brunswick Community Housing Corporation.

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Housing Helpers

Neighborhood Housing Services of Trenton received a $50,000 grant, part of $75 million dealt out last week by Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, as a Community Development Financial Institutions Funds award. The Trenton organization (609-392-5494) was one of 190 institutions in the country, and one of only two in New Jersey, to receive an award.

The CDFI Fund is supposed to promote economic growth and access to capital by investing in community development financial institutions (CDFIs). Each CDFI must provide at least a one-to-one match with funds from non-federal sources. But the local organization can make its own decision about how to meet community needs.

In another program, Steve Boegemann and Gary Plescia, programmer/analysts at CyLogix on Washington Road, coordinated more than 35 of their firm's volunteers to help Bootstraps, a nonprofit organization that supports lower and moderate income wage-earning families (U.S. 1, December 15, 1997). To volunteer to help future projects call Bootstraps: Self-Help Homes and Communities at 609-586-6400.

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