Taking Charge Of Your Career

Disaster Planning

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This article was prepared for the

January 9, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights

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Start-Ups Need a Marketing Strategy

Build a better technology, and they will come. That

is how many scientists heading up their first biotech think, says

Sandra Holtzman, a Manhattan-based marketing consultant with

a number of start-up clients. To this mindset, Holtzman says "no,

no, no."

The new product can be 10 times better than that offered by an

established

competitor, but it will not matter. "They’ll crush you,"

Holtzman

says. Or they will if you haven’t prepared a well thought-out

marketing

plan. New biotech companies, often headed by a super-bright Ph.D.,

rarely want to hear how important marketing is to their future.

Holtzman,

unafraid to deliver the news, speaks on "Lies Start-Up Companies

Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing and Communications," on

Wednesday,

January 16, at 11 a.m. at the Trenton Business and Technology

Incubator

on 36 South Broad Street. Call 609-396-8801.

Holtzman is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, the elite

New York City public school, and Lehman College, where she studied

English and film. She holds a master’s in film from New York

University.

After writing news for the New York Times and working on both feature

films and industrial films, she went into advertising, working at

first on consumer goods accounts.

Then, while doing work for pharmaceutical companies at a Philadelphia

ad agency in the early-’80s, "a biotech walked through the

door."

Holtzman was hooked. She discovered a knack for "turning high

science into bottom line messages." Her agency does work for

Fortune

500 companies, but has a specialty in working for biotechs and other

technology start-up companies. Typically, they don’t have a lot of

money to spend on marketing, but do have an urgent need to craft a

coherent marketing strategy, not only for potential customers, but

also for competitors, venture capitalists, the business press, and

Wall Street.

Every day, though, Holtzman hears start-up CEOs, sure that their

patents

are enough, argue against the need for marketing. Here are some of

the "lies" she says the start-ups tell themselves.

I have a business plan. I don’t need a marketing plan.

Wrong, says Holtzman. A business plan contains an executive summary,

a balanced scorecard, a competitive analysis, and management bios.

It rarely contains information on target clients, sales approach,

market definition, vision, and objectives. And it needs to. First

and foremost in marketing is a detailed strategy, and it rarely is

found in the business plan.

Anyone who has ever written a letter can write copy.

"Anybody

can write, that’s true," says Holtzman. But writing compelling

ad copy is different from penning a breezy E-mail to a friend. For

one thing, the writing needs a clear "call to action." It

also needs to get to the right place. Ad professionals know how to

place stories with the media, when to place them, and how to tout

their importance. "You can’t overpromise," she says.

"There’s

no point in promoting a product until it’s ready."

I have to show a profit before I can market. Holtzman

knows of one CEO who put off the launch of his website until his

product

was on the market. It was too late. "He ran out of money,"

she says.

Marketing costs a lot of money. It can, but it doesn’t

have to. Holtzman says there are agencies that will work with a

limited

budget, and will help start-ups set priorities and understand the

importance of basic steps, including getting a logo, and sending out

a unified message.

My cousin’s nephew just graduated. He can do my website.

Yes, probably the nephew can put up a website, but it may not further

a start-up’s goals. The website is more than pictures and links. It

has to quickly convey a start-up’s essence, its unique selling

proposition.

And it has to be easy to find on search engines. This, says Holtzman,

is a job for professionals.

Fewer than half of all technology start-ups are taken public

by their founders, Holtzman says. The founders, accomplished

scientists,

need to become savvy about business in general, and marketing in

particular

if they want to be around for their company’s growth and IPO. They

need to invest time and money in marketing strategy and positioning.

They need a unified message, an image, and a unique selling

proposition.

Technology is not enough, says Holtzman. There is no point in building

a company without crafting a strategy to make investors and customers

want to come.

Top Of Page
Taking Charge Of Your Career

When Don Andersson began his consulting business in

the late 1980s, white collar employees were getting a first taste

of mass lay-offs. The advice then — so bitter to many — was

that employer loyalty was a thing of the past, that workers had to

forget the idea of coasting into retirement at the firm where they

took their management training.

"When I started," says Andersson, principal in Cranford-based

Andersson Group (www.anderssongroup.com), "we said there would

be three to five jobs in a career. Now it’s 10 to 12 jobs."

Workers

now know it is not a good idea not to get too comfortable with one

employer. But, says Andersson, they know only with their heads.

Emotionally,

many still believe they will be the exception. "They’re still

living under the impression that there is job security," says

Andersson, "but there really isn’t."

Andersson consults to companies looking for executives that will be

a good fit with their organization and he consults to executives in

transition. A 1957 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, Andersson

has a good 10 to 12 jobs under his own belt. He has worked for an

insurance company, and for several non-profits, was on former Governor

Tom Kean’s staff, and served as the manager of Union County. On

Wednesday,

January 16, at 11:30 a.m. he speaks on "Wanted: Career Survival

Skills" at the Meeting Professionals International at the Radisson

Hotel in Fairfield. Cost: $40. Call 732-536-5135.

The first job for all workers with career advancement on their minds,

Andersson says, is to realize no company is going to take care of

them: "You’ve got to take care of yourself." Here are some

of his suggestions for doing that.

You are your career. "You’ve got to make yourself

professionally secure," says Andersson. Loyalty to a company will

not do it. Spending a lot of energy on digging in and hoping to fall

below the radar when lay-offs occur is not a ticket to the top.

Realizing

that you are a company of one is "much more difficult" than

going along for a ride with one corporation, says Andersson, but also

is "much more invigorating." In making that shift, he says,

"you accept that if it is to be, it is up to me."

Focus on results. You have to understand what you have

to offer in terms of results. What skills do you have that will boost

the bottom line for your customers? The customers can be external

clients or they can be internal. The important thing is to think about

what they need, and to present yourself as the person who can deliver

it. "You are a resource," says Andersson. "You will only

be as successful as the people you serve are successful."

Prepare for the next opportunity. You need to keep your

eyes open, continually scanning the horizon for the next opportunity.

The mindset, says Andersson, is "I can be a resource for this

type of customer in that kind of arena."

Invest in yourself. "How many companies are you aware

of that succeed without R&D?" Andersson asks. What works for

companies

also works for individuals. Identifying skills necessary for

advancement

and acquiring them is essential. Read management books, attend

conferences,

and take part in workshops. "Don’t think of yourself as a person

who holds a job," he says. "You’re in the resource

business."

Continually develop yourself as a resource. "How many people have

invested as much as $5,000 in themselves?" Andersson asks.

He often pre-screens candidates for executive positions, and always

asks: "What were your learning objectives over the past year?"

The answer often is silence, but, he says, "you have to invest

in continual development, or you won’t get to the top."

Hire a good coach — or two. Andersson, a Yankees fan,

says top baseball players have a plethora of coaches. "They have

a coach for base stealing, running, conditioning, position specific

fielding, hitting, sacrificing. They use coaches for everything to

stay on top of the game." So should you, he insists. The tendency

in business, he finds, is to say "`I’m too busy. I’ll learn as

I go.’" It’s not enough, in his opinion.

Money invested in coaching, Andersson says, is money well spent. It

was for him. He found a coach when he was starting his business, and

it made all the difference. The coach told him that just being busy

was not enough to secure the success of his business. He urged him

to develop unique expertise that would separate him from the

competition.

"I got just wonderful insights," says Andersson. "I would

never be where I am today without him."

About to move his business to his hometown — Olean, New

York — Andersson urges the same kind of autonomy on others.

"If

you don’t take charge of your career," he says, "it’s folly

to think anyone else will."

Top Of Page
Disaster Planning

How do you spell disaster? Fire, flood, or terrorism

may be the first thought of many, but companies are discovering that

some of the more prosaic forms of disaster — such as power outages

or the old oak tree in the yard that suddenly topples over and takes

the phone lines with it — also can wreak havoc on their

businesses.

"Contingency planning is a hard sell," says Marvin

Parker,

general manager of DocuSafe Records Management in Robbinsville.

"There’s

a mentality that a disaster is something that happens to somebody

else." But it’s a dangerous gamble. A recent study at the

University

of Texas found that only six percent of companies experiencing

catastrophic

data loss survived.

Parker will be one of the presenters at a seminar entitled

"Preparing

For Anything, Contingency and Business Recovery Plans," sponsored

by the Princeton Chamber on Wednesday, January 16, at 7:30 a.m. at

the Nassau Club. Cost: $21. Call 609-520-1776.

While preparing for possible disaster makes sense to most people,

companies, like many people, tend to learn things the hard way. "I

know of a company in Texas that moved into a facility near a small

creek that hadn’t flooded in over 50 years," says Parker.

"Sure

enough, it rained two days straight, the little creek flooded and

caused a fire in one of the upper floors of their building. The water

that the firefighters sprayed soaked all the desks, files, computers,

and fax machines. The building was closed for three days, and mold

and bacteria formed all over their file cabinets and computers. It

took them weeks to get everything restored."

But, according to Parker, a little pre-planning could have made this

company’s difficulties much less problematic. "They didn’t even

have something as basic as an off-site list of company employees.

Imagine that, they couldn’t even contact their own employees,"

he says. "The president wound up standing in the parking lot on

his cell phone, trying to scrounge up home phone numbers."

Common sense is sometimes in short supply, even in the corporate

world.

Parker says that he has visited companies whose entire computer backup

systems are stored in the trunk of a car or, even worse, on an office

tabletop. "These companies don’t realize that their backup system

is useless, because it’s not off-site," says Parker. "If they

have a disaster, everything is going to get wiped out."

DocuSafe, at 3 Applegate Drive, Robbinsville, provides secure storage

and indexing of paper records, digital media, and other

business-critical

information (www.docusafe.com). It is a division of Bohrens

Moving & Storage, a family-owned business founded in Princeton in

1924. Parker has been with DocuSafe Records Management for six years.

He earned a degree in English in 1975 from the University of

Washington.

While contingency planning is not on the top of many companies’

priority

lists, recent events have prompted some business people to begin

taking

it a bit more seriously. "Y2K got people’s attention," says

Parker. "The prospect of walking into the office on January 1

and having none of their computers work raised the consciousness of

a lot of business people."

Likewise, the terrorist attacks of September 11 have forced some

companies

to begin taking measures to ensure their continued operation in times

of emergency. "I’m still getting calls from companies in New York

that are looking to transfer records to us," says Parker.

Disasters, by their very nature, come in all shapes and sizes. But

a little careful pre-planning can help prevent a minor inconvenience

from becoming a major catastrophe. Parker offers these tips.

Lists are a beautiful thing. It is important to create

off-site lists of the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all

company

employees and customers. "It’s essential to be able to keep

employees

and clients informed of the company’s status if you’re forced out

of your building for awhile," says Parker. "Remember, if you

lose contact with your clients, you lose contact with your

business."

Have an alternate work-site available. Some hotels will

make banks of rooms available for companies in need of temporary

relocation.

"It is a good idea to have a place where employees can report

to in an emergency," says Parker. "Some hotels will guarantee

a certain number of rooms for companies during a disaster. There are

also firms that you can arrange in advance to supply computers. You

can also have your phone lines transferred to your new location."

Prevention is the best medicine. One important way that

companies can prevent far-reaching effects of a disaster is by having

an off-site storage of critical backup data and information, such

as documents, letters, and contracts. "It’s good to have an

alternate

work area available, with phones and computers " says Parker.

"But if you don’t have access to your important data, you’re in

trouble."

As Freud said, denial is a psychological defense mechanism that

gets in the way of true health. The prospect of facing an unknown

disaster is more than a bit daunting to most people. It is this

anxiety

that often prevents individuals and companies from taking appropriate

steps that could minimize the impact of a disaster, big or small.

Of course, seeing the future would be ideal. But in lieu of a crystal

ball, it is important to have a well-conceived plan in place.

"Often,

you see companies having to shut their doors forever after being hit

by disaster," says Parker. "There is an alternative."

— Jack Florek


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