Corrections or additions?
These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring and Bart Jackson were prepared for the May 5, 2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Don’t hire; partner instead. This advice comes from Terry Adams, a sales and training consultant who is building her business through liaisons, not hired labor.
Adams speaks to a meeting of the National Association of Women Business Owners on "Developing Strategic Partnerships" on Thursday, May 6, at 6 p.m. at Brookdale Community College. Cost: $25. Call 732-295-3846.
Adams, a Princeton resident, formed her company, the Adams Consulting Group (firstname.lastname@example.org), just two years ago. It was her fourth major career move, and, so far, she is finding it a perfect fit. A Philadelphia native and Temple graduate, Adams first worked as an accountant. An outgoing, garrulous woman, she found the profession a poor fit with her personality.
Leaping directly from ledger sheets to ladles, Adams, despite absolutely no experience whatsoever, decided that what she really wanted was a career in the restaurant business. Looking for a break, she chatted up the owner of an upscale Philadelphia restaurant, asking for a chance to learn her way around a dining room. In exchange for a promise that she wouldn’t expect to start out in management, she was hired.
With some restaurant time under her apron, Adams was recruited to manage a bistro on Philadelphia’s Main Line. The non-stop action — and interaction – was an excellent fit with her personality. She considered buying a restaurant of her own, but realized that managing the frenetic action would be a problem in one of the next career moves she was plotting: motherhood.
"It’s a vibrant world," Adams says. "You really feel alive, but what made me not want to start my own restaurant was the realization that if I wanted a family, I had better start living a normal lifestyle."
The "normal lifestyle" included marriage, to Dave Tuck, an environmental consultant, and raising two children, now seven and nine. It also meant a move toward a more 9-to-5 career.
Already enrolled in graduate school while she was managing the Main Line bistro, she decided to focus on group development, an important ingredient in the success of any restaurant – or, indeed, of any business. After completing her degree, she worked at Scanticon (now Doral Forrestal), where she established a training department. Her next move was to Merrill Lynch.
Her family well-established and her new career doing well, she accompanied her husband on job assignment in South Carolina. Then it was back to New Jersey, where he went out on his own, and she returned to Merrill Lynch. After a short stint with that company’s Plainsboro office, she founded her own company, but kept Merrill Lynch as a client.
During the past two years, she has added a number of clients, including America Funds, Computer Associates, Horizon Blue Cross, Solomon Smith Barney, and the Oppenheimer Funds. Her business goal for this year is to increase non-Merrill business to 50 percent of her company’s income. It’s not that she doesn’t enjoy working with her former employer, it’s about "not putting all your eggs in one basket," she says. A key to winning new clients is forming partnerships, and Adams takes the process very seriously:
Give partner development a permanent calendar slot. Adams estimates that she devotes nearly 20 percent of her time – the equivalent of one full day every week – to finding, assessing, and developing relationships with potential business partners.
As for fertile hunting grounds, she says that she has found most of her partners at Chamber of Commerce and trade group meetings. A member of the Princeton Regional Chamber, the Mercer Chamber, NJAWBO, the New Jersey Organizational Development Network, and the National Speakers Association, she finds all to be excellent sources of partnership possibilities.
Be patient. It has taken Adams nearly 18 months to begin forming partnership relationships with people she has met through the National Speakers Association. It’s a matter of trust, she says. It can take a while for new associates to feel comfortable enough to hold out partnership offers – or to accept those that you propose.
Look at all the possibilities. Some of Adams’ assignments involve helping sales professionals to reach the next level. In the course of working with financial advisors she sometimes suggests partnership as a way to reel in high net worth clients. In an era of increasing specialization, she points out, an individual sitting on $10 million in assets wants a range of solid advice. Three advisors – one specializing in trusts and estates, one in investment strategies, and one in planning – will have a much better chance of winning a client than would any one of them acting alone.
The three financial advisors would work together, at least in presenting their plan. Often, however, partners work more like a relay team, handing off the baton to one another. For example, says Adams, she might be working with a human resources director on launching an important cultural change within a department of his company. As part of the initiative, she might suggest that distributing T-shirts with a new tag line could pump up employee enthusiasm. Should her client be interested, she could give him the name of a promotions company with which she has partnered. She would step aside and the client and promotions company would deal directly with one another.
In another twist on partnership, one that more closely resembles sub-contracting, Adams uses a graphics designer to create materials for her clients. "She gives them to me, and I give them to the client," says Adams. The client is never aware of the name of the graphics company.
Wade in slowly. No matter what form a partnership takes, Adams says that it is important to test the waters before taking on large projects with a partner. Start with something small, assess the quality of the potential partner’s work – and of his character. Your own reputation will be on the line when you work with him or give him a referral.
Hammer out an agreement. If you decide that an individual or a company would most likely be a good fit with your business, stop and write up the terms of your agreement before proceeding further. Decide who will be responsible for what, and what each party will be paid.
In the case of the three advisors pitching one client, the agreement could be complicated, and should probably be in writing, with an exit strategy in place before any business is conducted. Partners often want out, says Adams, and the mechanism for splitting up – a partnership pre-nup, if you will – needs to be in place from the start.
Where the partnership involves referrals, terms also should be agreed upon early on. In the case of an HR consultant recommending a promotions company, it might be agreed that the consultant would be paid 10 percent of any business that came from her referral. When that consultant is hiring a speaker to address employees, the consultant might charge the client $2,000, and pay the speaker $1,500.
There are all sorts of arrangements, and the terms need to be spelled out. "Any kind of conflict will be about money," says Adams, so all parties must be clear on who is getting what amount or percentage. The agreements need not be in the form of formal contracts, though. "Most of my partnerships are not signed contracts," says Adams. "We write it out, agree, and shake hands. So far, I’ve been happy."
Don’t be greedy. If a partner hands Adams a referral, she is happy to do the work at less than her usual fee. "I just have to prepare, show up, and deliver," she says. Cutting out the marketing piece saves a huge amount of time. She suggests that professionals to whom work is referred keep this in mind. It may appear that the person who hands out a referral is doing nothing for his 10 percent or $500, but landing a client is often the most difficult part of a business transaction.
Count up the wins. Sometimes a client doesn’t need Adams’ services. "Maybe he had a good quarter, and sales are going well," she says. There is no immediate need for a sales trainer. Maybe in the course of giving Adams this news, he will mention that he wants to reward all the good work going on in his department. At that point, she might ask if he would be interested in booking an outstanding event planner with whom she partners.
In offering this proposal she is enhancing her reputation as a well-connected professional with relationships with top-notch people. She also keeps up contact with the client, who may well think of her name when he does need a sales trainer, and she is earning a commission from the event planner.
The client has found a solution to his problem without doing any research; the event planner has earned new business without doing any marketing; Adams has deepened her ties with the event planner – and with the client – and has earned a little money.
It’s win, win, win, times three – or more. Everyone comes out ahead when forming partnerships rises to the forefront of an entrepreneur’s business strategy.
Last fall one of Princeton’s most prominent venture capitalists, Mort Collins, came out of semi-retirement to start a $150 million venture capital fund focusing on technologies discovered in federal laboratories. Named Battelle Ventures LP and based at the Carnegie Center, the fund’s aim is to develop research coming from laboratories managed by the Battelle Memorial Institute, which is based in Columbus, Ohio.
An experienced pilot who owns three planes, Collins will speak at the Princeton Chamber on Thursday, May 6, at 11:30 a.m. at the Doral on the topic "The Sky’s the Limit: the Aerobatics of Venture Capital and Technology." Cost: $33. Call 609-924-1776.
Collins – who has been joined by three partners, Jim Millar, Ron Hahn, and Kef Kasdin – will look first for seed, start-up, and first-stage inventions in the areas of homeland security, life sciences, information technology, materials, and energy. The fund might invest up to $12 million in a single company over its lifetime. Four out of five of the funded companies will be based on the laboratories’ technology, but 20 percent could be from anywhere, including New Jersey (www.battelleventures.com).
Collins graduated from the University of Delaware in 1958, earned an engineering PhD at Princeton, started his first venture capital fund with DSV Partners in 1968, and pioneered investments in several fields, doing more than 170 deals in all to help found such firms as the Liposome Company (now Elan), PD-LD (in Pennington), Tandem Computers (now Compaq), and Epitaxx (now JDS Uniphase).
He has chaired the National Venture Capital Association, served on the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology in the early days of that commission, chaired President Reagan’s task force on innovation and entrepreneurship, and served as technology policy advisor to President George H.W. Bush.
A not-for-profit organization, Battelle Memorial Institute employs 16,000 scientists and engineers at about 1,000 companies and 800 government agencies, including such national laboratories as those at Brookhaven and Oak Ridge. The various operations conduct some $2.7 billion in research and development in about 4,500 projects annually, and they produce from 50 to 100 patents.
Invisible, and full of tricks, digital is transforming our work, our play, and our relationships with family and friends. Anyone sitting on the sidelines is likely to receive a good, hard shove – and it could come from anyone. The boss might casually order up a DVD of his trade show talk, or grandma might insist that the latest shots of the baby be zapped over to her cell phone ASAP.
"To defend yourself, you need to make sense of digital," says technologist Doug Dixon. He is the author of Manifest Technology (www.manifest-tech.com), a website chock full of articles on everything from digital photography to wireless services to streaming media. These days his site is humming with questions on how to get started, what tools to choose, and how to use them.
Dixon, who has also contributed numerous articles on technology to U.S. 1 newspaper, provides context and instruction when he leads a full-day seminar, "Digital Media Bootcamp: Technology and Applications" on Saturday, May 8, at 9 a.m. at an event sponsored by the Princeton ACM/IEEE at the Sarnoff Corporation auditorium. Cost: $100. Advance registration is required. For more information, call 609-924-8704 or visit www.acm.org/chapters/princetonacm.
The bootcamp covers "both the gory details of technologies and formats, and the bigger picture of the developing market and applications." There are hands-on demonstrations of photo editing, video editing, streaming media, and DVD authoring. In each area, Dixon explores the base concepts and market, the underlying formats and technology, and the end-to-end workflow of creating presentations with the new media.
Up to his elbows in digital technology, Dixon is just back from the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, where he was leading seminars and going to press conferences. In addition to training techies at trade shows, he gives seminars on DVD authoring at the Sony Training Institute in San Jose, California. "I had FBI guys in my last seminar," he says. The agents, like everyone else, are finding that their superiors want reports with sound and motion – and they want them fast.
The author of several books and scores of articles on consumer and professional technology, Dixon is finishing up a new book on Adobe Encore DVD. His intended audience spans a range from enthusiasts through professionals. Doing cool things with digital really is for everyone, he insists.
Backing up a little, Dixon graciously offers an explanation of digital for the non-technically-inclined layman. "Analog is sending wave forms, but there is no structure to the wave forms," he says. "You vibrate a microphone on one end and a speaker vibrates on the other end. You speak on one end, and hear at the other." This is how an analog phone or an analog radio works. The technology is reliable, but it is limited. "Analog can’t be analyzed or processed in any way," says Dixon. "But if you send it digitally, you can process it along the way."
With digital, a message can be more than sound. It can be text, as it is with Instant Messaging, and it can be pictures. "The receiving handset looks at the signal," explains Dixon, "and says ‘Oh! There is voice. Oh! There is a picture.’"
Digital is infinitely more versatile than analog, and Dixon points out that it has other advantages, too. "There is the issue of signal quality," he says. "Analog will decay as you broadcast over long distances, and you will have static. With digital, you can extract the exact signal. If you can see it, you can get it."
A digital signal can not be anything but pure. One result is that copies of digital recordings – whether sight or sound, or a combination – are always exact copies. This, he points out, is not the case with analog. A copy of a VHS tape, for example, will not be as good as the original, and a copy of an old VHS tape will not be nearly as good as the original. Boomers, he urges, had better make haste to copy videos of their children’s first steps and graduation ceremonies to DVD. The VHS tapes on which they are stored are degrading fast.
Digital technology has made our cell phones into combination music players, organizers, and cameras. It has changed the face of consumer electronics. And has done so more quickly than any of the technologies that came before it. "The stats are just amazing," says Dixon. One of the most common examples of digital technology, the DVD, has been adopted at a rate that far surpasses the early penetration of radio, television, color television, or VHS. By the end of 2003, over half of U.S. households had at least one DVD player, and more than one-third had multiple players.
But digital has moved way beyond the living room. One-third of all U.S. households now owns a digital camera and sales of MP3 players exploded 121 percent in the past year. The new medium allows convergence that only recently was the stuff of science fiction. Maxwell Smart’s shoe concealed a phone in the old television comedy, "Get Smart," but he never even dreamed of a phone that could store hundreds of songs, take and send photos instantly, play chess, and dial up colleagues by voice command.
Add some computer software to a consumer electronics device and the possibilities expand further. In the past few years, digital formats such as DV tape and DVD discs have gone far beyond CD audio to bridge the consumer and electronics worlds, allowing users to record and view, edit and share digital media across the set-top and desktop, and then to the Internet. It isn’t tremendously difficult to get started on the road to turning words, images, and sound into integrated presentations showcasing a new product – or a family wedding. It doesn’t have to be expensive either.
"It is feasible for normal human beings to use tools to do really interesting things, to create good looking and professional presentations," says Dixon. "You can start out with tools in the $50 – or even free – range," he says. Trial versions of editing software can often be downloaded at no cost. As software differs in everything from features to ease of use, this is a sensible starting point. After working with low-cost tools, and getting comfortable with them, many people want to move up. The next step up puts editing tools in the $500 range.
With this amount, which is only a tiny fraction of investment required just a few years ago, professional-looking productions are within the reach of every department head – and new dad – in the land.
What subject of dinner table conversation carries the strongest taboo? It’s not money, religion, or politics, and it certainly isn’t sex. No, the one subject that will get you instantly banned from the dinner party circuit involves the food itself, and more specifically how it made its way from farm to plate.
"When you ask people if they know how the chicken got to their plates, the reaction is ‘I don’t want to hear about it!" says Sandra Reynolds, chair of the New Jersey Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee. She moderates a free, half-day panel on "What Everyone Needs to Know about Companion Animals" on Saturday, May 8, at 9 a.m. at the New Jersey Law Center, at One Constitution Square in New Brunswick. Call 732-937-7518.
The Bar Association wants it made clear that attorneys heading its committees speak only for themselves, and not for the group, and Reynolds, exhibiting the caution common within her profession, insists that is the case. Furthermore, although she is passionate about animal rights, she issues a caveat that the area of legal practice involving animals is so vast that she is not conversant with every part of it.
This is a surprise. Animal law? How much could it involve? An enormous amount, it turns out. Everything from custody battles to landlord disputes to civil suits involving emotional distress – and those issues, for the most part, just involve domestic animals. Farm, zoo, game, and aquatic animals have issues of their own, as do the wild/suburban crossovers, like deer, geese, and bears.
"There isn’t a single animal that is not regulated in some way," says Reynolds, and her committee is interested in it all.
A native of suburban Philadelphia whose family always included a dog, Reynolds studied sociology and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania before earning a law degree from the University of San Francisco. She worked as a legal aid attorney in Louisville when her husband, David Reynolds, now a New York City corporate finance attorney, was teaching law there. Wanting to be closer to family, the couple moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked for the Department of Health and Human Services. Moving even closer to home, they settled in Montclair.
For a time, Reynolds worked for a public service group in New York City. She then left the world of paid work to raise her two daughters, and to do community work. Sympathetic to the plight of animals – and of the humans who love them – she began attending meetings of the Animal Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association. Before long, she was successful in forming such a committee for the Bar Association in New Jersey, one of only a dozen or so states to have one.
A vegetarian for 20 years, Reynolds has recently become a vegan. She has two pets. Her collie, Dream Come True, was a reject from a puppy mill. His vision problems meant that his breeder could not sell him. Had she not adopted him, it is likely that his future – if he had lived long enough to have a future – would not have been bright. Her cat, Tap, was born at her daughter’s dance studio after its pregnant mother was abandoned there.
"Education is so important," says Reynolds. Every community, even affluent ones like Montclair, are full of animals turned out by people who no longer want them. They are also full, she says, of the offspring of pets that have not been neutered or spayed, but who are allowed to roam around outside. Then there are the rabbits children receive as Easter gifts, and grow tired of within two weeks. In the main, these animals end up in crowded shelters, where most are killed.
The opposite problem – that of people who desperately want to keep their pets – is one of the big topics at the upcoming seminar.
A cat in the condo? "People see pets on the property of a condo, think they can have their dog, and then find out that the dogs they saw were grandfathered," says Reynolds. If the condo does not, in fact, allow pets, the new owner has a choice: get rid of a pet, often a beloved companion, or be evicted. "I meet people who are stunned," she says. Many are in no position to move again right away, are terrified of eviction, and get rid of their pet, despite the fact that it may be a long-time, much loved companion.
It needn’t be so, say Reynolds. There are a number of cases where a tenant or condo owner has the law on his side. Animals needed to provide assistance to blind or handicapped individuals may be able to stay, and the definition of medical need is becoming more broad. "People with an emotional disability can get a letter from a professional," she says. If the animal is deemed necessary for the maintenance of mental health, it may be able to remain at its owners side.
Dispensing dog bones from the hereafter. An issue for many pet owners – disabled or not – is what will happen to their pets when they die (the people, that is, not the animals). New Jersey recently became the 16th state to provide an answer. Ellie Benz, a Newtown attorney and one of the speakers at this event, wrote a trust for domesticated animals bill that has become law. It states that people may leave money in trust for the care of their pets.
The law reads that "the intended use of the principal or income may be enforced by a person designated for that purpose in the trust instrument, a person appointed by the court, or a trustee. The trust shall terminate when no living animal is covered by the trust, or at the end of 21 years, whichever occurs earlier."
An important provision states that "no portion of the trust’s principal or income may be converted to the use of the trustee or to any use other than for the benefit of the animal designated in the trust."
This is important, says Reynolds, to thwart heirs who would rather send the animal to a shelter and spend the kibble money on caviar for themselves. The issue can be especially acute with large animals. Think of horses, she suggests, it costs thousands of dollars a year to feed and shelter them.
If used to the high life, however, Fido may have to be reined in a little. The law states that "the court may reduce the amount of the property transferred if it determines that the amount substantially exceeds the amount required for the intended use."
Internet site Petfinder (www.petfinder.com) brings up some trust details that pet owners might try to sew up in their wills – perhaps after getting advice from the Bar’s Animal Law Committee. Up in the air are issues such as whether kittens or puppies born after a trust is executed are covered under it, whether a circus monkey is considered "domesticated" under the law, and whether a new trust has to be drawn every time a new pet joins the family.
Winning custody of kitty. While providing for a pet from beyond the grave is on some people’s minds, others are struggling to hold onto a cat, dog, horse, or monkey in the here and now.
"People who are separating or divorcing are fighting over pets," says Reynolds. She knows of a case where a wife made a video of her dog accompanying her to work and curling up under her desk. She wanted the judge to see that the animal was more attached to her than it was to her spouse.
While some judges may be swayed by such evidence, many more refuse to even look at it. "Some judges say ‘I don’t want to hear about a cat or dog,’" says Reynolds. Commonly, the warring parties are left to divide custody of Fido on their own. But this may be changing. "Some judges will say that the pet is more attached to one than the other," says Reynolds, and will award custody accordingly.
Being compensated for loss of companionship. "Pets are considered property," says Reynolds. This legal interpretation means that, for example, a dog groomer who lets a 10-year-old poodle-lab mix run onto a highway, where it is struck and killed, is liable only for replacement cost of the animal. "And that," comments Reynolds, "is zero." The sum would be higher for a young, pure bred animal, but, in her opinion, never comes close to compensating the pet’s family for its loss.
There are moves afoot to change laws so that families could be compensated for loss of companionship and for emotional distress. In a society where a pet supply store runs hundreds of Christmas ads on prime time network television programs exhorting families to make sure their dogs and cats find lots of gifts under the tree, this does not seem all that far-fetched. Or, as Reynolds puts it, "when you see a family’s wedding pictures and the dog is right there, you see what he means to the family." An end table, he is not.
Thinking about where our food comes from. "I meet people who say they love animals, but what they really mean is that they love cats and dogs," says Reynolds. She is referring to those who eat meat, and refuse to think about where it comes from.
Food factories, while they are supposed to be regulated for humane practices, often are not. "They operate behind closed doors," she says. She speaks of pigs whose tails are cut off. "They’re packed in so tightly that they would chew off the tail of the pig in front of them," she says. She recounts stories of chickens who are tossed into vats of boiling oil after their throats are cut, but before they are dead. She talks about animals – destined for our tables – that never see light or stand on the ground.
Is there any hope that laws will protect these creatures? Reynolds thinks that organizations like PETA and Compassion Over Killing are opening eyes. While their tactics are often extreme, they do get attention. There is also a growing movement to certify that animals grown for food are treated humanely, so that consumers who are willing to open their eyes can make a choice.
Three years ago it all came crashing down. Hastily, with eyes glazed by profit potential, we had tossed up thousands of E-commerce towers, pouring more money than sense into fabrications that couldn’t bear the weight of their own success. Online business had not been developed, it had been discovered, like gold in California. Everyone stampeded in. Then, mysteriously to most, the boom played out and crashed. Today, the pioneers have moved on and the farmers have come back to pick up the pieces. E-commerce has returned to the business scene as a major, effective tool. Yet many who ply their trade online are still making ancient mistakes.
Anyone whose company has advanced beyond the quill pen can learn from "The Ten Biggest Mistakes Made in E-commerce," a seminar on Tuesday, May 11, at 10 a.m. at Rutgers University’s CAFT Center. Cost: $45. Call 609-989-5232. Sponsored by the Middlesex/Mercer office of the New Jersey Small Business Development Center (www.NJSMBDC.com), this talk features Nat Bender, the SBDC’s director of E-business services. He provides some basic hints about domain name strategies, climbing up on search engine listings, virus protection, and legal basics.
Bender grew up in Plainfield, and attended Rutgers University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in communication. He spent the next five years writing for several trade journals devoted to industries ranging from health foods to pet care. "It was about the early ’90s," recalls Bender, "that I saw small business use of the computer completely shift from a toy to a tool." Part of the shift had to do with prices. Computing capacity that big businesses were spending millions for in the mid-’80s could be had a decade later for only $200 a month. As a business writer, Bender watched a host of companies take their first steps online, and saw what succeeded and what failed.
As head E-business guru for the New Jersey Small Business Development Center, Bender has kept one eye on the technical chase and the other on the trends of trade. "I think E-commerce is building back steadily," says Bender, "primarily because individuals see it as less of an abstraction and more as part – one part – of a viable business plan." However it is still a new way of doing business, and a lot of myth and misunderstanding remains.
Marketing by blindfold. One of the truly wondrous things about the early days of the Internet was that never before could so much be advertised so cheaply to so many who didn’t give a hoot. Sending out reams of online ads, E-mail solicitations, and website links under the more-the-merrier theory has proved particularly unprofitable and foolish. In fact, a flourish of annoying E-mail ads can even prejudice people against a product or service they might very well want.
Bender suggests first establishing a website, then coordinating a multi-outreach approach using retail, print, and local radio. Once the site begins getting visitors, study the statistics. Research can show who is coming and why. Is this the same customer base as you are seeing in the retail shop? Perhaps you need to re-emphasize certain products for your online trade. Also, check for visitors’ movement patterns through the site. If every potential buyer gets to the shopping cart and then goes elsewhere, perhaps you have some mistakes in design.
The E-commerce playing field is no as level as it once was. Major companies make a splash with the cash, laying out upwards of $1,000 a month to obtain top spots and keyword linkings on search engines. You probably can’t beat these corporations, so Bender suggests you join them. Get your own site established as a dealer link on a major company’s website. Such links are often available at one-quarter the cost of going it alone, and can help you scale the search engine ladder.
Failing to adequately plan for sales. You cannot fax an anvil to St. Louis. At some point, you’ve got to push the keyboard away and fulfill all those promises E-mailed back and forth. This experience is invariably less traumatic for the forward-thinking dealer who has stepped up his supply chain capability in advance. If you are adding a new, stronger online program to your other marketing plans, you’ve got to believe it is going to work. So get ready before the hits arrive.
Bender advises that company owners ensure that they can keep their promises by becoming sensitive to time issues. Simple things like being aware of time zones and more complex issues like shipped goods sitting on docks because of increased security checks all come into play. "Many are the owners who have guaranteed free shipping only to discover that by delivering goods from abroad, they have lost money on the sale," says Bender.
Negotiating a drop-and-ship delivery agreement with the manufacturer can prove a great time and cost saver. Such a contract allows the local retailer to E-mail the order to the vendor, who puts the retailer’s label on the item and ships it directly.
Getting carried away with tech tricks. Go ahead. Create that massive, artistic, splashy web page. Follow it up with an immensely clever labyrinth of connecting links that show off your technical prowess. Then let only your top experts design and test it. Doubtless Techie Today Magazine will award you great kudos for the cleverest site on the ‘Net – just before your firm goes under.
It should be old news by now, but many still have to learn that technology is a tool, not an end in itself. If a novice can’t easily navigate your site, he won’t buy. Constant site testing using randomly selected panels, along with input from longtime clients will ensure that your website is easy to navigate. Remember this maxim: More than three clicks to a solution is a click too far.
The world of business is very democratic. Any person or any tool that does the job and enhances profits is welcome. E-commerce has come back into favor despite of a rocky start by proving itself a valuable tool. It should continue to boost profits as long as its masters use it wisely.
– Bart Jackson
Employees from Bristol-Myers Squibb in Plainsboro volunteered their time to paint at three of Family Guidance Center’s facilities. Family Guidance Center is a non-profit social service agency with locations in Hamilton, Trenton, Princeton, and Ewing. The agency provides outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment, financial counseling services, family preservation services, and a private school for children with emotional problems.
For more information, call 609-924-1320.
Rider University president Mordechai Rozanski presented Wegmans Food Markets in West Windsor with the first Outstanding Citizen Award on behalf of the Supported Employment Advisory Board of Central Jersey (SEAB) on Friday, April 23.
The SEAB is a collaborative venture between Rider and the West Windsor Plainsboro School District to support greater awareness and employment of local individuals with cognitive disabilities in the community. Rozanski presents the award to Keith Grieve, front-end manager, and Maria Trusky, employee representative.
"Wegmans West Windsor has wholeheartedly embraced employing individuals with cognitive disabilities," Hope Corman, professor of economics at Rider, said in a prepared statement. "Staff members have played a major role in carving out appropriate job opportunities and have had major responsibility for managing the students.
SEAB’s advisory board consists of representatives from large employers in the central New Jersey region as well as from Rider and the West Windsor schools. The group meets semi-annually to support and promote job strategies for individuals with cognitive disabilities. For more information, call 609-896-5559.
Architect Michael Graves was honored with the Martin House Founder’s Award on Saturday, May 1. His Nassau Street-based firm, Michael Graves & Associates, has contributed designs for 40 units of modular, low-income housing for a site on East State Street in Trenton.
The housing is to be comprised of two groups of 20 town houses facing inward toward a common garden. The Graves-designed homes are part of Martin House’s 100 Homes for 100 Families initiative. The non-profit has come up with a scheme through which it leverages contributions through matching government funds and is able to provide families with low-cost mortgages. The families chosen to receive the homes join in the building process.
Martin Tuchman, Princeton resident and chairman of the Parkinson Alliance and Unity Walk, read a proclamation from Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the start of Parkinson’s Unity Walk Day in Central Park on Saturday, April 24. Michelle Charlesworth, former area resident and current ABC-TV news anchor, was master of ceremonies for the event.
Seven thousand people took part in the walk, which raised money for Parkinson’s research.
On Friday, May 14, at 1 p.m. Farmers Against Hunger unveils its second truck at Terhune Orchards. The truck was made possible by the Bonner Foundation, a private foundation located in Princeton. The foundations was also responsible for a major part of the funding for the first trust, which was purchased in 1998.
Terhune Orchards is a year-round contributor to Farmers Against Hunger, and a host of Apple Day, an annual event held in September. At this event last fall nearly 300 volunteers picked 7,000 pounds of apples for the program.
Farmers Against Hunger is a program of the New Jersey Agricultural Society. Founded in 1781, it is the oldest agricultural organization in the country. For more information about the event, or about programs run by Farmers Against Hunger, call Judy Grignon at 609-462-9691.
Children’s Futures, a public/private partnership primarily supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has given a $125,000 grant to Womenspace to support education, training, resources, and technical assistance for Children’s Futures staff, and to extend this training over the next two and a half years to employees of social service organizations and health care providers throughout Trenton.
In addition, city residents involved with these organizations will be provided materials to increase awareness of the dynamics, prevalence, and effects of abuse on them and on their children.
Womanspace provides comprehensive emergency and follow-up services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Services include safe, short-term emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children; 24-hour bilingual hotlines, individual and group counseling; and education for law enforcement officials, health care professionals, educators, and community groups.
For more information call Susan Switlik at 609-394-0136. The organization’s 24-hour crisis hotline is 609-394-9000.
The Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce has announced its 12th Annual Entrepreneur of the Year Award, sponsored by Fleet. The deadline for completed questionnaires from nominees is Wednesday, June 30.
To be eligible, nominees must be members of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, must be in business for at least three years, and must be operating a for-profit business entity.
Selection criteria include historical growth of the company, ability of the business owner to overcome obstacles, community contributions, and the staying power of the business. For more information, call 609-924-1776.
The Greater Mercer Chamber of Commerce has entered into a training partnership with Mercer County Community College. Named the "Mercer Business Forum," the series of seminars is to be led by William Mate, MCCC’s dean of college advancement.
The seminars are to held at the college’s new Conference Center, and will stress ongoing training for small business managers in areas such as accounting and finance, staffing, seeking economic assistance, pooling opportunities, and bidding on projects.
Human resource professionals will be offered training programs in staffing, employee relations, and creating a diverse workforce. Risk management issues will be addressed in the areas of insurance, compliance, and privacy.
Classes are expected to begin within the next few months. For more information, call 609-586-4800, ext. 3601.
Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies has announced the winners of the inaugural New Jersey Business Idea Competition for high school students.
The competition was open to all of the state’s high school students and encouraged them to think creatively and to identify and develop their business ideas. Students competed in three geographical regions. Winners in the central region of the state were Greg Hayes of Montgomery High School for Landscaping QuickQuote; Amit Sharma of Highland Park High School for Bacteriophage Technology; Winston Wang of Montgomery High School for Consulting for Online Businesses; and Michael Young of Ewing High School for My Pet Connection.
The 1761 Brearley House, operated by the Lawrence Historical Society, can now be rented for meetings, retreats, corporate events, and social occasions.
The Colonial brick farmhouse sits surrounded by a 15-acre meadow. The home features wide hallways and six fireplaces. It has parking space for over 100 cars on its lawns. Tents may be placed near its Colonial herb garden, and docents in period attire are available to conduct indoor and outdoor tours of the home during an event.
Rental fees for meetings for non-profits start at $50. The fee for businesses starts at $150 for four hours.
For more information, call Alison Roth at 609-895-1728.
Site Selection magazine has ranked two New Jersey regions near the top of its list of America’s best locations for business expansion.
The magazine lists the top metropolitan markets for new and expanded corporate facilities as demonstrated by corporate projects and capital investments in 2003.
The New York-Newark-Edison region was ranked number two, just behind Chicago, in the number of corporate projects undertaken in 2003. The Newark region had 291 projects, while Chicago had 336. The Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington region ranked number 5 in that category, with 143 corporate projects undertaken in 2003.
Under a separate heading – the value of investments in 2003 – the New York-Newark-Edison region ranked number 1 and the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington region ranked number 10. Capital investments in the New York-Newark-Edison region surpassed $5.8 billion in 2003, while Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington saw $1 billion in investments.
Full details are available at Site Selection magazine’s website at www.siteselection.com.
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