Friday, October 12

Mobile Sales Tips

Most entrepreneurs and small business owners go into business because they are really good at something. They have built the better mousetrap. In fact, they are sure that they have built the best mousetrap in the world, and people will come flocking to their door to buy it. And that, says Linda Stillman, is where most entrepreneurs fail. They may be great at building mousetraps, but they just don’t understand how to sell them.

Stillman is one of the co-founders of Sales4Sure, a Morristown-based company that takes a different approach to teaching business owners how to close more sales. She speaks at the Hunterdon chapter of NJAWBO (New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners) on Friday, October 12, at 8 a.m. at the Spinning Wheel Diner in Lebanon. Cost: $20. For reservations call Fran Brunelle at 908-788-3600.

Stillman founded her company four years ago to take advantage of the abysmal success rate for new business.

She has spent her career in sales, including 10 years selling dental and medical software, a field she describes as “highly competitive.” It was a tough market, but, she says, “it taught me a lot about how to sell.” Her partners, Barry Williams and Robert Emerson, also bring a couple of decades of sales experience to the business.

The trio first looked at several approaches. They quickly decided that the one-on-one coaching approach is time-consuming and too costly for many sales people. There are hundreds of books already on bookstore shelves on coaching techniques, but that too, has its drawbacks, says Stillman.

“I can read a great book by an entrepreneur like Donald Trump,” she says, citing a dubious example. “But,” she continues, “I have to wade through 200 pages to find the one tip I can use.” Stillman wanted to condense the best techniques into a tool that a sales professional could keep on the desk, in the car, or even in a wallet, rather like bringing a personal coach with them to each sale.

She and her partners developed a “perpetual coach,” a series of laminated cards with specific scripts, techniques, and tips for a variety of situations. The cards, says Stillman, help the sales person to focus on specific tools, such as the unique value proposition of their product of service, their company’s capability, and their proof source — the specifics that prove their experience and expertise to the prospect.

The series of 14 Quick Coach cards covers topics such as prospecting tools, negotiation steps, conversation style, and control questions. The Sales Roadmap card, for example, discusses what to do if your prospect asks you to present before you know what their needs are. The Competitive View card looks at how to assess your chances of completing a sale as early as possible in the sales cycle.

Stillman has taken a lot of her inspiration from the world of sports. “A player doesn’t go out on the field with his coach, or without warming up,” she says. So she created a business card-sized “Winner’s Warm-Up” card that the sales person can keep in a wallet or briefcase, and can take a quick look at before each sales call. The warm-up takes only 18 seconds to read and will help the sales person to keep focused on the purpose of the visit, she says.

Tips from the Winner’s Warm-Up are:

Attitude: Focus on the prospect. Remember that sales are about the person you are selling to — not about you. Focus on the prospect and learn about his needs.

Demeanor. Show attention and curiosity. It’s not only polite, but it will show the prospect that you are interested in helping his business.

Follow the money trail. You can give the perfect presentation, but if you haven’t spoken with the person who holds the purse strings and makes the decisions, it will not be effective.

Sequence: Present much later. Don’t give your presentation until you learn about your prospect and his needs, otherwise, you may not present the most effective selling points.

Message: Highest value and lowest risk. Emphasize the value of your product along with the low risk the prospect takes in using it.

Proposition: Prove value with numbers. Numbers talk, and they are the easiest way to prove your value. Make sure you have accurate numbers.

Mandate: Ask for a commitment. This, says Stillman, is often the hardest thing for new sales people to learn. You can make a fabulous sales pitch, but if you don’t ask for the sale, you can’t complete the deal.

Asking questions is the best way to increase the number of sales you close, says Stillman. Ask questions before you make your sales pitch. General questions about the company and the person you are talking to are always a good way to start. What does he or she want to achieve for the company? Are there any current problems or issues that stand in the way of realizing those goals?

“People often don’t realize just how much useful information they can get from asking questions,” she says. But make sure those questions are phrased so that you obtain more than just a yes or no answer.

One of the most important answers all sales people need is how much money can the prospect spend? However, “Is there a budget for this project?” is a question that may yield a yes or no answer, but not the dollar amount. Better to phrase it as: “What is the budget for the project?”

Another common problem sales people have is spending a couple of hours making a brilliant presentation only to learn that three other people are involved in making the final decision. Before getting started, Stillman suggests asking who else will be involved in the decision-making process. That way you won’t waste time duplicating your efforts.

The bottom line in sales, says Stillman, is to find out as much as you can about your prospect. Ask questions, she says, and listen to the answers. “Talk less and listen more.” — Karen Hodges Miller

Monday, October 15

What Works in Career Development

Sometimes employers get mired in the stereotypes that abound in the workplace. When they think about career advancement, for example, they accept common perceptions that a promotion means either a raise, a new title, or a boss’s job. These kinds of corporate shifts are celebrated in company newspapers, says Scott Mason, a regional vice president at Blessing/White, an Orchard Road-based training and consulting firm specializing in leadership and employee development.

Mason thinks that these employers have it all wrong, and he poses a question that is central to his understanding of career development: “Does that mean up is the only way for a career to advance?” From the perspective of the employees polled in a Blessing/White survey, the resounding answer was “no.”

Twenty-nine percent of those polled want interesting work that challenges, stimulates the intellect, or helps broaden knowledge or skills. Eighteen percent are looking for meaningful work that satisfies their values or contributes to the larger community, and another 18 percent would like work that balances well with their lifestyles. Financial reward logs in at fourth, with only 14 percent of respondents choosing it.

Mason will speak at the Human Resources Management Association meeting on “Career Development Programs That Meet Employee Needs” on Monday, October 15, at 5:30 p.m. at the Princeton Hyatt. Cost: $50. Register at www.hrma-nj.org or call 609-924-6343.

Given the discrepancy between the employer and employee perceptions, advises Mason, “organizations and managers need to be careful that they understand what that `career word’ means to each of their employees.” It is, of course, in a company’s interest to be aware of employees’ desires in order to fulfill its need for more and readily available talent. At the same time, an employer must address career development in the context of organizational priorities, with the goal of driving the company’s performance. “They need to link opportunities for the individual to the bottom line,” says Mason.

Mason proposes three cornerstones for promoting successful career development:

Accountability. Individuals must own their careers and be accountable for their development. “Everyone should have a mindset of a career,” says Mason. “They need to be clear what they are looking for and committed to taking action.” This means seeking help when they need it.

Tools. The organization must provide tools and structure for individuals to develop a career within the context of the organization. Many of the initiatives that organizations have implemented to advance careers do not meet the employees’ needs, according to the results of Blessing/White’s survey.

Over 50 percent of employees surveyed rated the following career development efforts as somewhat or not at all helpful: online career tools, 53 percent; other online information, 55 percent; published career paths, 57 percent; career centers, 60 percent; online networking communities, 60 percent; and printed resources, 64 percent.

Mason concludes from the data that “a lot of what is taking time, effort, and money to develop may not get the return they wish.”

In contrast, the survey also revealed what employees think is helpful: career coaches, 30 percent of those surveyed; training workshops, 29 percent; career coaching training for managers, 28 percent; and temporary assignments, 28 percent. In interviews people rated mentors and temporary assignments or special projects as most helpful and also named working on a project outside their own division. “A lot of lateral assignments help people grow, find interesting work, and contribute to the organization,” notes Mason, adding that, unfortunately, organizations often do not publicize these as career development.

Balance. Managers stand at the crossroads between the individual team members and the goals that meet the organization’s priorities. Managers must keep both the individual’s and the organization’s needs in perspective. “Managers,” says Mason, “should be focused on driving organizational performance in a way that supports individuals to achieve what means success for them.”

Mason grew up in northern Jersey, where his father was a safety engineer for a quarry and his mother worked in a doctor’s office. He earned a bachelor of science in marketing from Rutgers in 1990, and he has a master of arts in adult education and training from Montclair State University. Before coming to Blessing/White, he worked in corporate training and development at Prudential Insurance and Atlantic Mutual.

“I’ve always had a passion to help others and to create win-wins,” says Mason. At Blessing/White he helps organizations to achieve their priorities and employees to fulfill their own definitions of success — what satisfies, motivates, and engages them. “My motivation is to find that apex,” he says, “the point where individuals are contributing the most they can to the organization and getting the most out of their jobs.”

— Michele Alperin

The Advantage of Firefox Over IE

It’s a wise child who can improve on his elders’ tools. Since Mozilla Inc.’s Firefox web browser leapt onto the marketplace with over 100 million downloads in its 2004 debut year, its creativity and popularity have continued to soar. After barely four years, Firefox now takes second only to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser, running ahead of Opera, Apple, Inc.’s Safari, and Netscape (numbers three, four, and five.)

From the mighty towers of Microsoft have been heard many, rather too-loud protestations that Firefox remains not competitive. Bill Gates himself claims that the browser downloads more software and options than the user needs. An interesting comment, considering the source.

One of the main engines that keeps driving Firefox hot on the competition’s heels is its impressive list of extensions. Such add-ons as Chatzilla, allowing real time conversation, and the web browser’s Companion for eBay have shown innovative sensitivity to current user needs. To help all levels of browsers learn and employ Firefox’s latest, the Princeton PC Users’ Group offers the free talk “Firefox Browser Extensions” on Monday, October 15, at 7:30 p.m. at the Mercer County Public Library in Lawrenceville. Visit www.ppug-nj.org. Speaker John LeMasney, the manager of instructional technology for Rider University, discloses his 25 favorite Foxfire extensions and how they have extended his cyber reach.

“The very first time I sat down at a computer,” LeMasney recalls, “I remember being just overwhelmed by its almost mysterious sense of potential.” This was not his first brush with that feeling. A native of Bensalem, Pennsylvania, LeMasney attended Philadelphia’s University of the Arts with an eye toward becoming a sculptor. There he would peer into pieces of wood and blocks of stone, seeking the hidden possibilities for creation that lay within. “It sounds odd, but it was actually a rather natural transfer to computers,” he says.

After college LeMasney joined the staff at Rider University where he is manager of instruction for both the Teaching and Learning Center and the Center for Innovative Instruction. He is also completing his master’s degree in organizational leadership.

The real reason for Firefox’s amazing success, LeMasney feels, lies in its open source code, which is constantly user-tweaked. The Firefox browser has the entire realm of educated users forever making improvements, rather than a small cluster of geeks grinding out annual updates.

While Internet Explorer, Safari, and Netscape continue to battle and buy their way as the default spot on computer docks, Firefox continues to slice off an ever greater market share by innovation alone. LeMasney notes that Firefox’s open source code does not mean that extensions are whimsically morphed in the hand of each idle user. To install the various improvements, users must be intimate with Java script and have a strong code design understanding.

But though such roots-up improvements may be hard to modify, they are easy for all Firefox users to enjoy. In fact, Microsoft and other closed-source-code companies have condescended to emulate tab browsing, built in search structures, RSS feed linking, and many other Firefox innovations. Additionally, Firefox upgrades are fed onto users’ screens as frequent pop-up choices, which the individual may download or not — another feature now emulated by competitors.

All of us are reaching for more, on more websites. And it usually isn’t far into the day when our virtual desk tops become as cluttered as our real ones. To help clean this mess up a bit, LeMasney points to a few of his Firefox favorites.

Google Browser Sync extension solves the problem of what data is on what computer. Once downloaded, Sync runs constantly, scouring and recording all your bookmarks, web history, cookies, and saved passwords. It then synchronizes these tabs across all your computers.

Thus, those five really great sites unearthed on your laptop end up automatically saved to your work and home desktop PCs.

Zotero, similarly, serves as an ideal researcher’s tool. When the user clicks to a reference or a multi-volume site, e.g. Amazon.com, it copies all the desired information to a clipboard. Everything from the author’s biography to relevant photos may be listed and cross-indexed to any desired style. Users can also swiftly navigate back to the desired bibliographic references. An equally handy extension for all kinds of viewing, Split Browser allows the user to section off his screen and see several segments at once. Set the table of contents on the lower right, the body of the work on the left and click back and forth. Then set a calendar or an entirely different website up in the upper right. One can multitask until the Vizine runs out.

Chatzilla. As web users progress into the next generation, browser companies strive for new ways to link them into a connected community. One of LeMasney’s favorite such social sites is Firefox’s ChatZilla. “If I have a project, I can go online and get literally 1,000 experts to help me work through the problems,” LeMasney says. Truly the concept of instantly text messaging people all around the world is heady stuff. And while Chatzilla is scarcely the only internet relay chat (IRC) program, it does offer the advantage of fast connecting with multiple servers and CSS styling, allowing more colors, fonts, etc. to be relayed.

AllPeers. For those wanting to swap more than a message, Firefox’s AllPeers transports huge files back and forth, ranging up to entire videos. Innumerable levels of access permission can be established by the user.

LeMasney is less fond of this extension than some, feeling it is a bit cumbersome to use.

StumbleUpon, however, he sees as easier and more intriguing. In operation, StumbleUpon members surf around and hit on a given site. If they like it, they click on a little thumbs up icon at the page bottom. This loose peer review of sites is automatically passed on to all other members. Thus, when a StumbleUpon user clicks onto a new site, he receives an evaluation of it by his fellows, and similar, highly ranked sites are suggested.

Like cameras, telephones, and so many of our electronics, today’s web browsers hold more features than anyone could ever employ. We are swamped in access possibilities. Yet despite this boggling flow of offerings, we still want more. We revel in every maker’s new extended feature, and out of each bushel of new upgrades, each individual finds a few kernels that make his computer use more easy or more fun. And after all, isn’t that what machines are supposed to do?

— Bart Jackson

Trenton Celebrates Small Businesses

A look at Trenton Small Business Week’s webpage, www.smallbizweek.com, suggests that somebody, in the early history of this organization, was prescient about the Internet. Many regional business groups would love to have that moniker now. To snag that name was surely a coup.

Lorraine Allen, head of the Small Business Development Center, reveals that the “somebody” was Herb Spiegel, who used to be head of the SBDC when it was at Mercer County Community College. “He was a forward-thinking person about technology,” she says.

This is the 14th year for Trenton Small Business Week (TSBW), and the pattern still works — lots of workshops, a Mercer Chamber lunch, and a recent addition, a business expo. Allen has been associated with it since the beginning, when she was working at MCCC. The SBDC moved to the College of New Jersey, and she moved with it. The City of Trenton now leads the efforts to put the week together, with plenty of help from the Mercer Chamber, other organizations, sponsors, and committee members.

The 14th annual Trenton Small Business Week, with the theme “Connecting Businesses in the Capital Region,” opens on Monday, October 15, at 8 a.m. with a networking breakfast and a keynote by Susanne Svizeny, regional banking president, plus the Small Business of the Year Awards. Workshops and receptions will be held at various locations, including Commerce Bank, Wachovia Bank, the NJEDA, Thomas Edison State College, and Sovereign Bank Arena, For information on this or any of the other events of the week, go to the webpage or call 609-771-2947.

Monday’s workshops include one on financial goals by Michael Pucciarelli of Bartolomei Pucciarelli, one on the financial and technical assistance that the SBA can provide, by Donald J. Swartz of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and two more (see below).

On Tuesday, Amanda Puppo of MarketReach teaches how to make “cold calls” and Vivian Pepe of the New Jersey Entrepreneurial Training Institute focuses on making a business plan. Also on Tuesday, Liz Illgen of Practical Management Solutions tells “Seven Deadly Sins Small Business Owners Commit,” and Richard Kay reveals secrets of buying health insurance. Lisa M. Steinerd of Capital Benefit Solutions tells about preventing identity theft, and Carla Fallone deconstructs Quickbooks. Ben Koenig of S.C.O.R.E. (Service Corp of Retired Executives) tells how to start a small business. Commerce Bank hosts a wine and cheese reception at the end of the day.

On Wednesday, before and after the expo at Sovereign Bank Arena, there are workshops on the procurement process from Maeve E. Cannon of Hill Wallack and others, networking tips from Diane Bach of the Learning Key, and updates on technology for small business. Marcella Longo and Karen Marut tell how to do business with county and city governments, while Michael Rosen demystifies “green cleaning.”

Thursday’s workshops include those on credit scores, marketing websites, advertising, and patents. Metropolitan Trenton African American Chamber of Commerce wraps it all up with an IBM-sponsored networking event. It starts with a presentation from the sponsor and then swings into entertainment mode with music by Sandstorm (609-393-5933). The sponsor of the MTAACC reception, IBM, makes a presentation before the At the end of the week, on Friday, Mercer Chamber holds it Renaissance Ball.

Small Biz Week: Real Estate Insider

Anne LaBate of Segal Commercial Realty in Trenton has not moved too far afield from her 1977 bachelor’s degree in city planning from Livingston College at Rutgers University. She spent several years with a community action agency in Somerset, but after its funding dried up, she started looking at opportunities in the private sector. “In the mid-’80s real estate was taking off,” she recalls. Rates plummeted, there was a building boom, and it was a wide open field. “I joined the wave.” So, after receiving a master’s degree in real estate development and investment from New York University, she went to work as a real-estate appraiser.

With the country in the throes of the savings and loan bailout in 1991, LaBate easily found work in northern Jersey valuing properties for banks that needed to know what particular mortgages were worth and whether property owners would be able to pay.

Once the industry had normalized, about 10 years ago, LaBate switched over to sales and leasing and found a way to break in. “Not a lot of attention was being paid to Trenton in commercial real estate,” she says, “and I did a lot of work on West State Street, both sales and leasing, and then more throughout Trenton and Mercer County.”

In her 16 years in the industry, LaBate has been through serious downswings and upswings, or, as she characterizes it, “the whole rollercoaster ride.” She will share some of what she has learned in a talk on “Pieces of the Real Estate Puzzle: Buying, Leasing, Renovating, and Code Issues,” on Monday, October 15, at 3 p.m. at the Wachovia Bank, 32 East Front Street. Joining her on the podium will be Richard Carroll of Carroll Architects. The event is part of the Trenton Small Business Week. For more information, call 609-771-2947.

“Real estate can be a puzzle for small businesses,” says LaBate. At one extreme, owners may fall into the trap of falling in love with a particular building. “They can only envision their business relative to that building,” she explains. “We think it is not quite right, or it is overpriced, and we help them get clear that business goals have to be first.”

At the other extreme are small businesses that delay and delay, underestimating what it takes to find space or complete a lease, not considering how many landlords may feel about a small tenant that cannot get leases done in time.

LaBate has a number of suggestions for these small-business owners.

Don’t fall in love with a property. “A once-in-a-lifetime real estate deal happens every day,” she says, and owners who focus on a single property will be at a negotiating disadvantage. It’s not like buying a house,” she emphasizes, where a person’s whole self-image is tied up in the purchase. To find the right place for a business, however, “you need to be coldly analytical, and look at where you see the business going, whether it is growing, and what the customers’ reaction will be.” Of course, for many businesses, their clients will never see the inside of their offices, so that the customers’ perception does not matter.

Think carefully about the decision to buy, lease, or renovate a building. If, for example, a purchase will tie up a lot of cash in a downpayment that might otherwise have paid for effective marketing, then maybe a security deposit and leasing makes more sense. If you expect the business to double in size over a short period, says LaBate, “maybe you should wait till the growth stabilizes and you can predict better what you will need.”

Or, if you going to open a restaurant and need to invest a lot in renovating a space, you need either a long lease to protect your investment, or to purchase the property. For a retail business, where location really matters and people must know how to find you, LaBate explains, “you need a lease long enough so that you don’t build a whole traffic in clientele and have to move in a shorter term than you think.”

Consider the impacts of zoning laws and building codes. Think through issues that might trigger a zoning question, like whether parking is adequate for your type of business or whether your business will emit an odor. “Codes vary from township to township,” says LaBate. “You need to do the homework and find out what the rules are where you’re going to be.”

To weigh the effects of building codes, she adds, it is important to have a builder or architect in the mix. It may, for example, be impossible to install necessary exhaust fans or a loading dock in a particular space. Also, mixing two uses in a building may require separate staircases or entrances. “It may be prohibitively expensive to make these changes,” says LaBate.

Sometimes people mistakenly think that business and zoning codes are the same. As a result, a daycare operator might breathe a sigh of relief that there are no zoning issues, only to find that satisfying the health and safety regulations in the building code is a much tougher hurdle to overcome.

Recognize the value of using a broker in the process. A broker can serve as a go-between to test a negotiating strategy with a building owner, says LaBate. When potential tenants speak directly to an owner, the owner will be using what they say to gauge whether the tenants are viable and their businesses strong. “You can use a broker to filter this out,” suggests LaBate. “You can candidly get questions answered, and the owner doesn’t need to know your every concern.”

It is easy, she explains, for an owner to misjudge a tenant. For example, if a tenant specifically does not want to commit to a long-term lease, the owner may assume you are being timid about how much you can commit. A broker, however, can help the owner understand that a shorter-term lease with solid renewal options would make better business sense for a renter who wants to be there for the long term but also needs some flexibility to cover the worst case scenario.

The ideal tenants have several characteristics, from the landlord’s perspective: They will be long-term tenants with solid credit; assume responsibility for the property; not call with petty and unnecessary requests; and send their checks on time. But often landlords will want to maintain their flexibility. For example, if they have both a larger and a smaller tenant, they may want the flexibility to give the main tenant additional space and may look with favor on a tenant who is asking for a short lease. Sometimes landlords themselves occupy part of a property and may want to protect their own ability to expand. Or they may be planning to sell the property and may be looking for potential buyers as short-term renters.

“There is no set formula,” says LaBate. “People are unique, and that’s why a broker who knows the lay of the land can help steer folks through in a mutually beneficial way.”

— Michele Alperin

Small Biz Week: Work/Life Balance

When Tom Duffy was in the restaurant business years ago, working 50 to 60 hours a week and without much of a home life, he says he was “a workaholic like my father was.” At some point he realized he had to decide whether this path was the right one for him, weighing whether to stick with “a fantastic job an hour and half away, where I was rewarded financially and professionally, or to have a job with less prestige that would be closer to home, where I could see my kids’ basketball games and take care of those things that make your household a better place to enjoy.”

About 13 years ago he started to look for something new and, he says, “by accident found financial planning.” It sounded perfect to him: good financial rewards, flexibility, and “getting paid for helping people get where they want to go.” So he became a certified financial planner and got control of his life, finding that indeed being close to home was much more rewarding for him.

Duffy’s own experience enabled him to create a niche in helping business owners to balance life and work. His recurring mantra with his clients: In the process of building your business, it is important to build a business to support your lifestyle. “So many times,” he says, “your personal life has to support your business, and it’s not always a good thing.”

Many businesses, he explains, have wealth management issues that require a full-court press, leaving little or no time or energy for family. “They will be a bit resentful,” says Duffy. “They are looking for a mother, father, or spouse and instead have a dog-tired person who can’t relate and sits like a lump.”

Duffy works with these stressed-out business owners “to figure a way to make their businesses work for them more effectively and to provide them with a little more home life.”

He speaks about work-life balance during Trenton Small Business Week on Monday, October 15, at 5:30 p.m. in the Mercer County Administration Building.

Duffy suggests several ways that appropriate financial planning can leave a business owner with more of a personal life and probably a better run business:

Figure out your priorities. Before making any changes in a business, says Duffy, the owner must answer the question: “Are you willing to make the changes necessary to live a financially peaceful life?” Many people are not interested in any change because they find it easier to maintain the status quo and keep on working. But if they are motivated to make changes, he asks them what is important in their lives: Is it relationships with family and friends? If yes, what kinds of relationships do they want to develop? If people are religious, do they want to devote more time to spiritual concerns?

Assess the business with a critical eye. The important questions are: “What is it about this business that requires so much time and energy? Who is performing which business functions? Is there sufficient profitability?

The answers, he says, may cause people to ask why they went into the business in the first place and whether it will remain profitable for the long haul or whether they have just purchased another job.

A typical scenario, says Duffy, is when people who have been downsized from corporate positions say to themselves: “I never want this to happen again. I want to be in charge of my own destiny.” After a year of exploration, they may identify a franchise food business, make a reasonable financial commitment, and soon the business is operating, with a pretty solid cash flow. After 18 months, though, it becomes a job — employees don’t show up, the costs of supplies increase, employees are stealing, and the owners find themselves on the premises 80 hours a week to protect their investment.

In this scenario, what seemed like a business turns out to be “just a job,” and not such a great one at that. “Lots of times people make an emotional decision when they should be making a logical decision,” says Duffy, and as a result “a lot of people get trapped into buying themselves a job.”

Delegate tasks, if possible. If, after answering the hard questions, an owner decides that the business’s long-range prospects are good, a first step is to look at what work might be delegated. Perhaps it makes sense, for example, to hire a manager to assume some of the day-to-day operational tasks.

Align with similar businesses in your region. Perhaps an owner knows someone from the local business association who provides the same or related services. “Chances are if the businesses are similar, and the other owner is also a sole proprietor,” says Duffy, “you may be having the same issues.” Coming together may provide synergy by allowing the two businesses to combine resources.

Clean up the business and sell it, if that is the right decision. If everything points to the business not fulfilling its owner’s personal or financial objectives, then, says Duffy, “either you have to fix the business so it will or get out.” But, he admits, “it’s not easy because you’re talking about money.”

Duffy, whose father worked for AT&T, grew up in Monmouth County, went to work right after high school, and was in the restaurant business for about five years. He then went back to school, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in management science from Kean University in 1994 and earning his certification as a financial planner the same year. In 2001 he received an MBA from Monmouth University in West Long Branch. Duffy lives in Oceanport with his wife, Kristi, and daughter Julia. He founded Jersey Shore Financial Advisors in 2007.

For any business to work, he believes, “you have to be able to say, ‘This is what gets me up in morning; I love having this business; I love having a staff and customers; and it is financially fulfilling.’” But when the answer is different, he says, people may be “too busy working in the business rather than working on the business. They can’t see what’s going on from the outside to see things that need to be changed.”

—Michele Alperin

Sunday, October 14

If you can’t get to the library for high-tech digital training during the week, Plainsboro Public Library offers it on Sunday, October 14, starting at 10 a.m.

Trainers will be available to show how to access the library’s many data-bases — including Books in Print and the investment standard Valueline — from home.

A “Website Insight” workshop at 12:30 p.m. tells what information is available through the library website. A speed test — how fast you can use the online databases to find the answer to questions — will be held from 2 to 4 p.m.

The library is at 641 Plainsboro Road. Registration for workshops is required; call 609-297-2897.

Wednesday, October 17

Kreitzberg on Web 2.0

Web 2.0 is not a new web, says Charles Kreitzberg, CEO of West Windsor-based Cognetics Corporation, but a convenient term for a collection of capabilities that can change the way we communicate and do business.

They include the ability to collaborate and communicate with people round the world, to create online communities for sharing resources, and to collect multimedia resources such as video and audio “podcast.” Whether called blogs, wikis, and forums, the new capabilities have enormous potential to change the way that people and organizations communicate and do business.

Kreitzberg was an inventor of one of the first pre-Internet browsers and is a usability specialist who designs websites and web tools. He wrote about this subject for U.S. 1 on July 18, and he speaks to the Princeton Chamber on “Web 2.0: Changing the Playing Field for Business, What You Must Know,” on Wednesday, October 17, at 8 a.m. at the Nassau Club. Cost: $30. Call 609-924-1776.

Thursday, October 18

Meet the Consuls

More than two dozen companies are scheduled to meet and greet representatives from foreign consulates on Thursday, October 18. Raritan Valley College’s international hosts this gathering for the fourth year.

“Commercial officers of foreign consulates come from the embassies in New York,” says RVCC’s Ellen Lindemann, “and some invite their colleagues from Washington. “We teach them about life sciences in the state so they can about doing business in New Jersey.”

Sylvester Di Diego, founder of Strategy Dynamics LLC and the conference chairman, calls the program “unique in stimulating economic growth. “Without boarding an airplane,” says Di Diego, “New Jersey leaders have a unique opportunity to meet right here in New Jersey with officials from Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Romania, Slovakia, Taiwan and many other economies that are expected to attend.”

Morning sessions start at 9 a.m. at the college in North Branch, followed by a luncheon at the Stanton Ridge Country Club in Whitehouse Station.

A forum on “Expansion of Life Sciences in New Jersey” features speakers from Bayer, Eisai, Novo Nordisk and the Biotechnology Council of New Jersey. One entitled “Incubation and Commercialization in New Jersey” features Eli Mordechai of Medical Diagnostics Laboratory and the Genesis Project, plus representatives from the Rutgers Food Innovation Center and Rutgers’ WIRED Program.

Though the conference is open to the public, Lindemann cautions that attendees must preregister at www.raritanval.edu/cibe/events.htm or call Lindemann at 908-526-1200, ext. 8348. Cost: $45.

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