Franchisee Profile

Lights, Cameras, EnTech!

Disaster Preparation Seminar

Why College Degree Is Not Enough

Conference Time: Sustainable Energy

SBIR: Getting Equity Money

Rutgers Mini-MBA

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring were prepared

for the September 22, 2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All

rights reserved.

Survival Guide

Top Of Page
Franchisee Profile

Franchises have one of the highest success rates for new

business start-ups. But how do you go about finding the

right franchise for you? Jack Armstrong, president of the

Franchise Network of New Jersey, with offices at Pin Oak

Drive in Lawrenceville, is ready to help the prospective

business owner find that perfect match. Don’t just think

about franchises as fast food restaurants such as

McDonalds or Burger King, Armstrong says. There are

between 3,000 and 4,000 different franchises in the United

States, ranging from service industries to retail to

restaurants.

Armstrong speaks at a seminar on franchises, "Franchise

Opportunities for New Entrepreneurs," at 6:45 p.m., on

Wednesday, September 22. The seminar is sponsored by SCORE

and takes place at the Merrill Lynch Building at 7 Roszel

Road. Call 609-924-1776.

The typical new franchisee is "a 45 to 55-year-old

corporate executive who has been downsized for the third

time and wants to take more control of his or her future,"

says Armstrong. "They have found that as they have gained

more experience in the corporate world they have become

more expensive to their corporation and are considered

more expendable." A franchise, he says, can give the owner

"not only a more secure income, but 10 to 15 years down

the road they can sell the business. They can have an exit

strategy."

A franchisee must be motivated to be successful. "This is

not just a job," says Armstrong. "You need to be the kind

of person who can go to the Chamber of Commerce meeting,

get the leads, and follow through. You can’t just wait for

people to come to you."

The Franchise Network currently works with about 75 to 100

different companies in New Jersey, and does not accept

every company that applies to the network. "We turn down

seven out of eight franchisers who come to us on a

national basis," says Armstrong. He works with companies

in a wide variety of service specialties, including

business coaching, sales training and recruitment,

handyman services, pet care, and dry cleaning. He also has

a number of retail and fast food companies.

"We have new companies, but we also work with older, more

well-known franchises like Carvel and Seven Eleven," says

Armstrong. And while some people are more comfortable with

an older, more established company, Armstrong says that

this is not always the right choice for every

businessperson. "The best way to success is to match the

person’s skills and resources with the right company," he

says.

What does a first time franchisee need to know? There are

a number of business skills that make a potential business

owner more successful, says Armstrong. His advice is to be

career-oriented. "This is not just a job," he stresses. He

also says that potential franchisees need to be good

managers, be cost and service-oriented, and be good

salespeople. In addition, he says, the new business owner

"needs to have an inner motivation to make it though that

first year. They need to have working capital and to

realize they may not take anything home at first."

A business owner can get into a franchise for as little as

$35,000 to $75,000 for "a small, home-based service

business," Armstrong says. A retail franchise takes more

money. "Rock bottom $150,000," he says. Start-up expenses

can include building and construction permits, "and other

expenses that really add up." In addition, if your new

business needs employees, you have to budget for their

wages.

When a client comes into the Franchise Network, he is

first asked to fill out a profile to give Armstrong an

idea of the type of business for which he is best suited.

He develops a "business model" of the right type of

business for that person, including how many hours are

required, what the work environment is like, and how much

capital is required.

Different types of business require different skills. "A

lot can depend on how many hours the businessperson wants

to commit to," says Armstrong. "The retail or food

industry can require a seven day a week commitment, while

service industries are usually five days a week. The

environment you are comfortable with is also important. A

mall store requires a different kind of commitment than a

stand-alone store."

Once he has an idea of the type of business the client is

interested in, he works to find specific companies that

will fit the bill. His company will also help the new

business owner find other services he or she might need,

such as an accountant, lawyer, or banker.

Armstrong has owned the New Jersey rights to Franchise

Network for about 10 years and also owns a second

franchise, Sunbelt Business Brokers, out of Charleston,

South Carolina, which helps owners sell their businesses.

Armstrong began his career as publisher of Americana

Magazine. He was also involved in the start-up of New

Jersey Monthly magazine and MHQ, a quarterly journal of

military history. He first became interested in franchises

while doing his MBA at Pace.

Clients at the Franchise Network do not pay a fee. If the

client chooses to purchase a franchise the Network’s fees

are paid by the franchise company. If an individual

business is purchased, the Network gets its commission

from the seller. Armstrong says that franchisees that go

through his company have a 90 percent success rate one

year out.

No matter how a franchisee chooses his business, he can

look forward to support that most stand-alone businesses

don’t enjoy. "Corporate headquarters give the franchisees

a lot of support," says Armstrong. "They want their

franchisees to succeed because they are getting royalties

from them." In addition, the new owner also has a network

of other franchisees to draw from. "In most businesses you

just can’t call your competitor down the street and ask,

‘What did you do when you had this problem,’" says

Armstrong. "But with a franchise you can easily call the

owner in the next township over and get advice. It is a

very strong support system."

There are drawbacks to franchises, of course. The owner of

a franchise outlet has to pay fees, and is subject to a

host of rules. Some franchisees are happier with their

corporate structures than are others. Still, after 10

years, the success rate for an individual business is only

25 percent. For franchises, that rate is 80 percent.

– Karen Miller

Top Of Page
Lights, Cameras, EnTech!

The special effects in George Lucas’s 1977 film, Star

Wars, revolutionized movie making, but when he re-released

the original trilogy for the big screen back in 1997, the

technology had advanced so far that he went back and

"touched up" the movies, correcting images that had

bothered him for years. Since then, the world of

entertainment technology has changed so much that even the

updated effects of the anniversary edition of Star Wars

pale in comparison to the effects in last year’s Oscar

winner, "The Lord of The Rings, The Return of the King,"

which captured both Best Picture and Best Visual Effects.

Technology has changed so rapidly that if you’re involved

in any facet of the entertainment industry, and you’re not

keeping up with the new trends, you’ll soon find yourself

sitting on the shelf gathering dust with your Pong game

and trusty Betamax.

Keeping up with the trends in entertainment technology is

what Mercer County College’s Entertainment Technology

Conference (EnTech) is all about. "Five years ago nobody

owned digital cameras, and now so many people do that film

companies aren’t doing so well," says Michael Glass,

director of statewide training at Mercer County College,

who is coordinating the event. "The world of computers is

rapidly changing what we do in so many areas," he says,

"and (with the EnTech event) we want to make sure people

have the skills they need to keep up. The growth of

entertainment technology is big."

Last year’s event saw over 250 participants, and Glass

expects about the same number for the second annual EnTech

event. The conference takes place on the campus of Mercer

County Community College on Thursday and Friday, September

23 and 24. Cost: $295 for both days; $175 for one day.

Call 609-586-4800.

Born in Trenton, Glass attended SUNY Buffalo and receiving

his master’s degree at SUNY Brockport. He returned to New

Jersey to attend Rutgers, where he earned a doctorate in

higher education. He began working at MCCC 25 years ago as

the director of admissions. "I’m always looking for new

opportunities and challenges," he says, and after a stint

as director of student services at Mercer, he took on his

current job.

"New Jersey is in fourth or fifth place in the nation when

it comes to movie and TV production," says Glass.

According to one of the events co-sponsors, the New Jersey

Motion Picture and Television Commission, in 2002 over 800

productions were filmed throughout the state, generating

more than $70 million.

"The industry is growing here, and the Economic

Development Authority got involved in the conference when

they saw how much was happening in the state," says Glass.

The movie industry in the state already provides hundreds

of jobs in categories ranging from on-set catering to the

leasing of vintage automobiles to location scouting – not

to mention acting, directing, and filming. A much hoped

for addition to the scene is the arrival of visual effects

giant Manex Entertainment (the folks who created the

Oscar-winning visual effects in the groundbreaking Matrix

movies).

Backed by substantial government grants, Manex has plans

to turn former manufacturing facilities in the Roebling

complex into cutting edge film making facilities.

The company has been in the news this month as it fights

off creditors, but former Mercer County Executive Bob

Prunetti, who is helping to broker the plan, has been

quoted as saying that it is still a go. Prunetti’s Phoenix

Ventures is Manex’s New Jersey representative. The

well-known former county executive is speaking at the

EnTech conference.

"Manex is traditionally known for visual effects," says

Prunetti, "but they want to get into the production

services business – everything that’s necessary to shoot

on location. Many times when a company needs equipment,

they go to a variety of shops and when they want to deal

with one provider for everything, they ship from L.A.

Manex wants a location on the East Coast – one-stop

shopping that will lower the costs for film production."

While some industry insiders doubt the magnitude of these

numbers, the plan – according to Prunetti – is to unfold

in three phases, bringing upwards of 500 employees to

Trenton. Phase one will bring the production services

offices to Trenton. Phase two will bring visual effects

services to the complex, and phase three will create

editing and sound stages to Trenton.

"I think we’re looking at the beginning of a whole new

industry in Trenton," Prunetti says. "The state already

has programs that give loan guarantees to producers who

will make their films in New Jersey – up to a million and

a half dollars for independent films. If Manex is

successful, the industry will grow in a significant way

here. And you have to continue to develop the talent pool,

that’s the significance of what Mercer County College is

doing."

Glass agrees. "Technology took a hit in the dot-com bust,"

he says, "but what’s been increasing is the need for

people who are facile in the technology arts. The

conference is designed to educate, inform, and train

people, giving them the skills they need to stay

employed."

The event features six areas designed to meet the needs of

industry professionals, as well as people considering a

future in the field, including Independent Film & Video,

Digital Media Production, Entertainment Business &

Marketing, Professional Tools and two tracks devoted to

Adobe and Apple Digital Media programs.

The conference is open to everyone, but most attendees are

expected to be in film and entertainment technology,

advertising, and graphic design. "People can come and go,"

says Glass. "Many workshops are entry level and some are

advanced. All computer related courses will actually take

place in computer labs – animation courses will happen in

our animation labs."

"Many people haven’t awakened to the fact that there are

going to be a lot of jobs opening in this area," Green

says. EnTech can perhaps be thought of as a trailer,

providing a sneak peek at the possibilities. The lingering

question for the central New Jersey film production

industry is when the feature event will begin, and who

will play the starring roles.

– Deb Cooperman

Top Of Page
Disaster Preparation Seminar

How do businesses survive a disaster? Statistics show that

43 percent of all businesses that experience a fire or

major theft go out of business within two years. And 93

percent of the businesses that experience a significant

data loss go out of business within five years.

In the wake of the third anniversary of the September 11

attacks and the late summer hurricanes bombarding the east

coast, the Plainsboro Police Department is making sure

that township businesses are prepared for any potential

disasters. It will be holding a free one-day seminar,

"Business Survivability: Are You Really Prepared" on

Friday, September 24, at the Harrison Conference Center &

Hotel on Scudders Mill Road (formerly known as the Merrill

Lynch Conference Center. Registration is at 8:30 a.m. The

event will be limited to 100 attendees. Call 609-799-0909

for registration information.

Held in cooperation with Merrill Lynch, American

Reinsurance, Bristol-Myers Squibb, FMC, Firmenich, and the

Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, the free seminar will offer

risk assessment techniques, business survivability

planning, information on OSHA regulations, insurance

considerations, and the role of local government.

"This is an excellent opportunity for our local businesses

to hear the lessons learned from corporations that

survived the attacks of September 11 and other natural

disasters," says Clifford Mauer, Plainsboro’s director of

public safety.

After the seminar, corporate representatives and

Plainsboro Police officers will be available to discuss

ways attendees can develop their plans to handle such

disasters as fire, water damage, storm damage, large

theft, or loss of communications. Each attendee will

receive a disk with the seminar PowerPoint presentation,

risk assessment worksheets, Matrix handouts, emergency

preparedness guide, and an application for joining the

Plainsboro Business Partnership.

"This is the first event in this initiative," says Neil

Lewis, Plainsboro deputy mayor and township committee

member to public safety. "Our expectation is that we will

create a stronger partnership between the public and

private sector that will enhance the local emergency

planning process."

Top Of Page
Why College Degree Is Not Enough

Jo Leonard has a message for the parents of college

students: You are paying a lot of money for their

education. But if your children are to have the careers

they want, they will need a different set of skills.

Anxious about a tight job market, today’s professional

parents often try to be aggressive career coaches, working

their regular jobs by day, and, in the evenings, tapping

their networks to try to get good jobs for their progeny.

Leonard questions whether these methods are productive.

"Isn’t the ancient wisdom to teach them to fish rather

than keep reeling in the catch for them?" she asks. "For

example, networking for your college graduate might seem

to be the right thing to do, but I’d recommend teaching

your college graduate how to network for themselves and

then open up your Rolodex or Palm."

"Networking is an art form and, if learned early, a tool

that will serve the students well for the rest of their

lives," says Leonard. It’s not about asking people for

help, it’s about building a mutually beneficial

relationship. "Teach your child how to find out more about

each contact and encourage them to discover how they can

be of value to that person as well."

At PoWeR seminars (which stands for Parents Wanting

Results) Leonard shows what the new graduate will face

during the dreaded job hunt. The one-hour meetings cover

skills assessment, personal branding, resume building,

networking, and interviewing. Seminars are scheduled for

Wednesday, September 29, and Tuesday, October 12, both at

7 p.m. at HQ, 116 Village Boulevard, Forrestal Village.

Cost $45 ($60 for two) including materials and

refreshments. Call 215-297-5545 (www.joleonard.com).

Among the other services offered by Jo Leonard LLC are

all-day seminars for college students, with follow-up in

group chat rooms, and individual coaching programs that

can include networking and informational interviews with

professionals in the student’s chosen field. The full-day

seminars are under $250 and the coaching programs range

from $600 to $1,300. Corporate seminars in a ‘Lunch n’

Learn’ format are available for employees who have kids in

college.

The daughter of a British hotelier and a graduate of

Montclair State, Leonard sees her service filling an

education gap. Not only is there no college major in

career search, she points out, but there is rarely a

course. Having spent four years and up to $120,000 in

obtaining a degree, many graduates have little idea of how

to find a job, especially in this economy, let alone how

to build a career.

"When a college education comes in at $100,000 or more,

there’s a certain return on investment expected," says

Leonard. "The fact is, however, that the cost of this

investment is going up just as the value of the return

becomes ever more uncertain." But campus career service

departments often suffer from large counselor to student

ratios. "This makes it nearly impossible for students,

parents, and employers alike to count on college graduates

entering the job market with the prerequisite personal

marketing skills."

So what are the young people supposed to do to ensure they

achieve their goals and maximize this investment?

Have professional experience on the resume in the form of

an internship or co-op. This means that, as of sophomore

year, a college student needs to know what to look for and

how to find and land those precious internships.

Practice and perfect skills during the junior and senior

years. Having used those internship search strategies in

the second year, put as much focus on these skills as

academic skills; treat it as a separate major.

A college graduate needs to stand out in today’s

competitive marketplace, says Leonard. If social and

communication skills are lacking, hiring managers are

going to think twice, regardless of the GPA. They’re

looking for motivated, honest graduates with leadership,

teamwork, interpersonal and problem-solving skills.

Enlist parental guidance and support. Parents can be

extremely vital when it comes to navigating their

offspring through the career search process. They need to

know what an informational interview is and what

behavioral questions mean during the interview process.

Parents need to encourage their kids to get off the

Internet and to use the summers to get out and meet their

friends in different jobs and industries so that their

college-age child can well articulate his or her interests

and skills. For parents to be a good "coaches," they need

to be up to date with the marketplace, the strategies

being used by hiring managers and most of all, they need

to be aware of how long it takes to land a career.

Be realistic about the time frame. If students start

planning for employment in their second year of college,

by the time graduation comes they should have job offers

on the table or a set plan of action to move forward into

a career within the first few months. If they wait until

graduation, however, or even take the summer off and begin

job hunting in the fall, they’re looking at a 2005 start

date, if they’re lucky.

Leonard’s bottom-line advice to students and graduates:

"Even if the choice is made to take some time off after

graduation and travel or have a great adventure, I would

suggest putting aside some time each week to start the

networking process. Have a 30-second pitch ready, know how

to ask for an informational interview, get some research

under your belt. At that point the time off is serving two

purposes and you will transition into a career much easier

than starting from scratch after your adventure."

Top Of Page
Conference Time: Sustainable Energy

‘The future of energy is evolving and New Jersey is

leading the way!" claims Jeanne M. Fox, president of the

New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, referring to how

this state is sometimes called the "solar capitol of the

nation." Fox will speak at the Mid-Atlantic Sustainability

Conference, set for Wednesday, September 29, to Friday,

October 1, at the Lafayette Yard Marriott and the War

Memorial in Trenton. Conferees will discuss how to use

clean electricity, green building technologies, and smart

growth planning to reduce energy costs while advancing the

goal of a safer and cleaner future. Cost: $75 for one day

of workshops to $350 for three days. Call the Northeast

Sustainable Energy Association at 413-774-6051

(www.nesea.org).

Celebrity speakers include Time Magazine’s "Hero of the

Planet" Steven Strong, Hunter Lovins, president of Natural

Capitalism, Lance Miller, chief of staff at the NJ BPU,

and Michael H. Nicklas, president of Innovative Design.

More than 60 seminars and workshops will cover such topics

as high-performance building construction, smart growth,

brownfield remediation, global climate change mitigation,

and renewable energy. There will be an interactive trade

show and networking opportunities, including an evening

reception on Thursday, September 30.

Says Fox: "The future embraces renewable technologies,

energy conservation and greener and cleaner communities

that impact the way we conduct our business of energy in

this region. I am personally committed to helping to

improve the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy

sources in New Jersey and throughout the Northeast."

Top Of Page
SBIR: Getting Equity Money

The New Jersey Small Business Development Centers sponsor

twice yearly seminars to educate technology entrepreneurs

on how to get government grants. The next two-day

conference, "SBIR: Pathway to Equity Financing," is set

for Thursday and Friday, September 30 and October 1, at

Rutgers Cook College Campus Center, New Brunswick. Cost:

$150 or $90 for Thursday and $60 for Friday. Call

973-353-1923.

On the first day Gail and Jim Greenwood of Greenwood

Consulting Group will cover developing proposals for the

Small Business Innovation Research Program, the federal

government’s largest R&D grants program focusing on the

small business community. Nearly $2 billion is available.

"It is unarguably the best source of risk capital to help

fund the development of promising technologies, says Randy

Harmon, NJSBDC director of technology commercialization.

Once SBIR funds are obtained, it is easier to get equity

financing.

The Greenwoods will explain the basics of the SBIR program

and a similar one, the Small Business Technology Transfer

Program (STTR), go over recent changes in each program,

and detail a simple four-step proposal writing process:

strategizing, drafting the proposal, obtaining a

pre-submittal review, and getting a debriefing. Viocare

Technologies’ Rick Weiss, a veteran obtainer of SBIR

grants, will give his case study at a working lunch, and

four presenters will offer state resources. Michele

Brunton will represent the New Jersey Economic Development

Authority, and there will be representatives from the

Jumpstart New Jersey Angel Network, NJ Business Incubation

Network, and the NJSBDC Technology Commercialization

Center.

The second day, which goes from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., is

devoted to cost proposals and the government accounting

requirements (indirect costs, audits, and record keeping)

for projects like SBIR. "Applicants who are not well

versed in these areas," says Harmon, "risk losing money on

their SBIR grant or contract, being penalized for charging

the government too much, or being unable to justify

certain expenses. Guest speakers include Richard

Mattessich of Morgan Lewis and Patrick Alia and Mike

Devita of Amper Politziner & Mattia.

A more advanced workshop, set for Wednesday and Thursday,

December 8 and 9, is entitled "From the Lab to the

Marketplace, Technology Commercialization and Financing

Strategies." It will also include SBIR/STTR Phase II

Proposal Preparation. These workshops will also be led by

the Greenwoods, who devote their working year to teaching

at similar events in as many as 41 states.

Top Of Page
Rutgers Mini-MBA

Rutgers will offer its Mini-MBA Business Essentials

Certificate in daytime and evening sessions in Piscataway.

The 12-week program is organized in a "hands-on" format,

with case studies and discussions of assigned articles.

The three-hour modules cover such subject areas as

business strategy, finance, marketing, law, ethics, and

organizational change.

Set for Thursday evenings at 6 p.m., starting September

23, or Friday evenings at 1 p.m., starting October 1, the

certificate costs $2,495 including tuition and materials.

Call Claudia Meer at the Center for Management Development

at 732-445-5526 (www.cmd.rutgers.edu).


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