Resume Victories: Jim Deak

Jim Deak’s job vanished with the collapse of the telecommunications

industry he had no idea of what he wanted to do. Soon thereafter an

article in the New York Times about coaching caught his interest. He

thought that the career might suit his personality and his

interests, so he hired his own coach to clarify how to reach his

goal and, after 18 months, had a diploma in hand from Coach U

(, a distance learning school with headquarters in

Andover, Kansas.

Moving into something new was not an unfamiliar route for Deak,

because his career had already taken a couple of swerves. As a newly

minted graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor of

science in mechanical engineering, he began a 10-year stint in

mechanical design engineering at Bell Labs. Eventually, he says, "I

realized it was not my calling," and he decided to try something

more in line with his interests: "I’m more of a people person. That

was an introspective type of job – it took too much thinking." He

ended up in telecommunications and network design, working with

internal employees.

Then in 1990 he took an early retirement offer and got a job

managing area codes at Bellcore, which is now Telcordia. After seven

years the FCC threw him a curve ball, mandating that the work had to

be done by a neutral third party. When Lockheed-Martin won the bid,

the company hired Deak, and he took the job on condition that his

office would be virtual (his wife was a second-grade teacher in

Parsippany, and had no interest in moving).

Although most of Deak’s coaching business involves helping small

business owners to "create a vision," he also does career coaching

and is offering a workshop on "Preparing a Resume that Highlights

Your Best and Most Marketable Skills" on Saturday, October 7, at

8:30 a.m. at St. Paul’s Church on Nassau Street in Princeton. Call


Resumes are something that should always be at one’s fingertips: a

recruiter may call, a job may end, a new internal position may come

up. "As things change in your career, new responsibilities, new

accomplishments, you want to make sure your resume is ready," says

Deak. And that resume should always be the most recent reflection of

your experience and qualifications.

The engine that feeds the resume-building process is a list of

achievements, but it’s not so easy to pull together. "Specifying

accomplishments is where people need the most help," says Deak.

"Most folks feel when they are working in a big company that they

didn’t do anything, that they were part of a blob. But in fact,

they’ve accomplished a lot."

A good way to unearth achievements that have slipped from memory is

to develop a PAR, which stands for problem-action-result. To

explain, Deak offers an accomplishment he is proud of from his

corporate career.

The problem: the department was faxing documents to 3,000 people

about three times a week. Using a fax was inefficient: it meant lots

of wasted paper and lost time. Furthermore, the documents were not

getting out on deadline and not getting to the right people, and the

lists were not being updated accurately as people changed jobs.

Deak’s action: He hired a software developer to come up with a

web-based solution. When it was implemented, people could get their

documents electronically, anywhere in the world, and could easily

update their E-mail addresses. It took just six months to get the

new system up and running.

The results: "There was overwhelming customer satisfaction," says

Deak, "and we probably saved $200,000 a year."

The translation to Deak’s resume: "Designed a unique web-based

document distribution system that replaced an antiquated fax system

and in the process saved $200,000 a year, to the overwhelming

delight of our customers."

"As an employee you are presented with a problem or a circumstance

and asked to do something," says Deak. "You took some action and did

it to the best of your ability, whether you designed something or

got a team together. The result is dollars saved or earned, a

percentage of something reduced or increased, a testimonial, or

something not quantifiable, like customers are really happy, you are

consistently rated number one in your division, or you got rewards."

"Create as long a list as you can of all your accomplishments, big

and small," advises Deak. "You can prioritize later."

Putting together this list not only provides critical ingredients

for your resume, but later, once you’ve clinched an interview, it

will help you convince the hiring manager that you are the right

person for the job.

"Going through your PARs cements in your mind what you have

accomplished," he says. For example, when the interviewer tells you

that one of the job requirements is excellent writing skills, you

can dig back into your PARs to find where you did writing and what

you accomplished. "It is creating a map of what you’ve done," says

Deak. And then he adds one more advantage of the PARs: "They help

people to believe in themselves a lot more."

The PARs come in handy mostly for the second of the three sections

of your resume, which include:

An executive summary. This should be short, no more than five or six

lines. It is a condensation of who you are and what you have to

offer a potential employer.

Chronological picture of assignments, general responsibilities, and

accomplishments. Although Deak says a functional resume may be

useful for someone like a homemaker who has a big block of time

where he or she did nothing professionally, he still recommends a

chronological format. "A chronological resume is the most accepted,

understood, and expected."

Carefully selected PARs constitute the meat of the chronological

resume. Pick the key accomplishments relevant to a particular job

and transfer them into resume language – use an action verb and

specify what you did and the result.

Education and special awards and skills.

A resume’s content is paramount, but it’s presentation is vital too.

It must be a well-designed showcase document. Use high-quality

paper, and leave a lot of white space to make the resume easy to

read. Make sure that there are no misspelled words or grammatical

errors, and more generally "nothing to draw the attention of the

reader in a negative way."

Deak suggests developing a generic resume that can be tweaked when a

specific job comes along. If a job requires great public speaking,

for example, and you’re an IT professional, you might want to throw

in a PAR about the great seminars you’ve given.

Deak, who describes himself as a "child of western Pennsylvania blue

collar stock," has been successful beyond the dreams of most of the

people with whom he grew up. His dad was a steelworker – first

helper on the open hearth furnace – who went to school through ninth

grade and then started working in the mill. His mother, he says,

nearly finished high school and was the "strength of the family in

terms of vision."

Unusual in a town where fewer than 10 percent of the kids went

beyond high school, Deak’s mother was determined that each of her

three kids would go to college, and they did. Deak’s brother is a

successful businessman, and his sister, who he describes as a

"wonderful giver," is a nurse-practitioner at the Mayo Clinic.

Deak studied computer science at the University of Pittsburgh (Class

of 1960), which, he says, was the "cheapest school we could find."

He also holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from New

York University. Although he has moved away from engineering, he

continues to appreciate the training: "An engineering education is

unique in that it helps you to think logically to solve problems. I

have found it useful my whole life."

As to where his mother, daughter of a Slovakian saloon owner,

developed her belief in education, he’s not sure, but it was a

central value for her. "It was something she absolutely found

imperative," he says, "even in the midst of not having much in money

and resources. She is a dedicated and focused woman."

Drawing on his mother’s wisdom, and the aspirations she had for her

children, he says: "Most people don’t reach enough for that big

brass ring on the merry-go-round. Most of the time we limit

ourselves. I ask my clients and myself to think bigger."

– Michele Alperin

Financial Planning for Women: Pam Elmi

It’s Pam Elmi’s job to take the pulse of the community, identify

areas where residents could use some help, and then put together

programs to meet common needs. Director of program development at

the Princeton YWCA, Elmi is all ears as she goes about her daily

routine in the community and at work. One thing she has been hearing

lately is the distress of 40-something, well-educated women,

suddenly alone, who have to quickly figure out how to stay afloat


"I don’t think any woman goes into marriage thinking of divorce, but

65 percent come out that way," Elmi says. What’s more, she is

finding, "in privileged families women don’t work." Sometimes they

don’t pay attention to finances, either, she says, adding "I would

think we would be beyond that."

Elmi is presenting the "Second Annual YWCA Financial Conference" on

Saturday, October 7, at 9 a.m. at the Johnson Education Center at

the D&R Greenway Trust. Cost: $30. Call 609-479-2100, ext. 307 for

more information.

The conference is for all women, Elmi stresses, not just for those

entering middle age. Topics include Social Security and retirement,

the financial implications of divorce, and getting out of debt. But

while everyone is welcome, if past experience is a barometer, the

audience will skew toward the tail end of the Baby Boomer

generation. "I held the first conference last year," she says, "and

they came in droves."

Elmi has also inaugurated a series of career workshops for women who

are re-entering the workforce or who are switching from the

non-profit sector to the for-profit sector, or vice versa. The women

who have attended these workshops also tend to be in their 40s.

They, too, have financial issues, whether or not they have recently


Those financial issues, Elmi finds, are almost always tangled up

with child raising.

"Everything stems back to motherhood," she says. "Women who stay at

home with their children feel rusty going back to work. Women in the

for-profit sector are working a bazillion hours, and want to switch

to the non-profit sector so that they will have more time for their

children. Women in the non-profit sector say `I need more money for

my children.’"

The presence of children also makes a divorce, and all of the

financial issues that accompany the break-up, more difficult. She

says that she is fortunate that she did not have children when her

own marriage ended. Even so, she took away a new view of personal

finance when she re-entered her single life, and she says that she

drew upon it in putting together this financial seminar.

Draw up a pre-nup. "Women in their 20s don’t think about this," she

says, "but you want to protect the assets you bring into a marriage,

and the assets you build up during the marriage." Young women may

not yet have substantial pension funds, inheritances, or six-figure

year-end bonuses, but by the time that they hit their 40s, they

could well have these assets. A pre-nuptial agreement can help to

safeguard them.

Share expenses 50-50. "Married women can operate as independently as

single women," says Elmi. She thinks it is a good idea for women to

pay half of all household bills. That way, should they ever find

themselves on their own, they will be in the habit of meeting

financial obligations and will be able to transition more easily

into supporting themselves.

Keep your eyes open. One advantage of splitting bills is that doing

so means that women know what those bills are, something she finds

is often not the case with the divorced women she meets. Busy with

children or work, they have no idea of the size of the family’s

outgo – or income. They may not know much about bank or brokerage

accounts, pension plans, insurance policies, or assets such as

timeshares or coin collections, either.

This information is vital in the case of a divorce or a death, but

also if a spouse is injured or becomes ill. Keeping track of these

inherently dull details may seem like too much for a busy woman to

add to her schedule, but is well the effort.

"It’s like running a business," says Elmi. "You never want one

person holding all of the cards."

Don’t lose touch with work. Elmi, a graduate of the College of New

Jersey (Class of 1991), who has worked for 15 years in the

non-profit sector, seven of them at the YWCA, says that she had a

relatively easy transition after her divorce. "I had a good job,"

she says. That made it easier to "jump right into" a new,

independent life.

Not everyone will chose to work after marriage, and especially after

having children, but it is still a good idea to remain in touch with

the 9-to-5 world. Part-time work, further education, consulting or

freelancing, substantial volunteer roles, all of these things can

pave the way for re-entry should that become desirable or necessary.

If nothing else, these experiences build up networks and increase


Elmi’s key piece of advice to women is to "hope for the best, but

plan for the worst."

I-Tunes Tips: David Ciotti

As a new technology grows to household name status everyone is

expected to be an expert in all things related or risk ridicule from

friends, co-workers, and worst of all, neighborhood children.

Apple’s iTunes ( ) is one such technology.

Having racked up 1.5 billion music downloads and sold 60 million

iPods on which to play them, iTunes is the dominant force in legal

media downloads.

iTunes was an instant hit, but Apple did not rest on its success.

The computer maker, running with its smash hit, keeps adding new

features, and has just released version 7.0. It’s free and it

includes new capabilities for listening to music, watching TV shows,

and, for the first time, downloading movies.

To help iTunes devotees get up to speed, and to teach newcomers how

to get the most out of the must-have technology, and possibly get

one up on the neighbors’ kids (don’t count on that one), the

Princeton Macintosh Users Group presents an iTunes update on

Tuesday, October 10, at 7:30 p.m. in Jadwin Hall on the Princeton

University campus. Admission is free and more information can be

found at

The seminar, led by David Ciotti, will give attendees a better

understanding of how the iTunes software works and how media files

can be transferred to an unlimited number computers or non-Apple

media players.

Born in Philadelphia, Ciotti grew up in Pendell and joined the Navy

right out of high school, where he got his first taste of

electronics, back in the days of vacuum tubes, and well before the

debut of personal computers. Ciotti has been president of Ciotti

Industries, a Hamilton-based computer consultancy firm, since its

inception in 1986, and has been an Apple and a Macintosh computer

consultant for a number of companies, including the Princeton Plasma

Physics Laboratory.

Ciotti and his wife, Susan, live in Hamilton and both work for the

College of New Jersey, he as a lab technician in the School of

Engineering, and she as a program assistant in the honors program.

Rounding out their "tech family," their son works for Disc Makers in

Pennsauken, where he produces small run CD and DVDs.

iTunes 7.0 has just been released with much fanfare and loads of new

features. This would only seem to complicate things, and possibly

make users’ media harder to work with, but Ciotti promises that the

new software is easy to understand and work with.

While Ciotti does not condone the practice of uploading music files

and sharing them with the world, he sees no reason why he shouldn’t

"have complete access to information I pay for." He believes that

anyone should be able to make copies of their own files for their

personal use. He says that everything he discusses is "absolutely


Waltzing around digital rights management (DRM). DRM is the big

phrase in media downloads now, but what does it mean? DRM is the

technology that music vendors use to protect files from being

illegally distributed. The vendors’ attempts to protect their

profits, and those of their artists, are understandable, but tend to

trample on customers’ rights, says Ciotti.

At the forefront of consumers’ discontent with DRM is Apple’s

iTunes. iTunes will only allow an "authorized" computer to play

files downloaded from its online store. The company also limits the

number of authorized computers to five.

While five computers may sound like a lot, the number shrinks fast

when the average family factors in all of their home and office

computers. iTunes also requires Internet access to confirm that a

computer is authorized to play a file before it allows access. This

means that offices with strict firewalls can be left without iTunes

music to soothe those of their employees who meet deadlines most

efficiently while plugged into their music.

The rules sound tough, but according to Ciotti, "Apple did not go to

the great lengths that the record companies think they did." In

fact, the tools needed to remove the DRM from iTunes songs is

included in the new iTunes software. Actually it was included in the

older versions also, although many users may not have been aware

that this was the case. Removing the protections is as simple as

burning the downloaded songs to a CD and then ripping them back into

iTunes. They are then ready to be loaded onto any non-Apple MP3


Nobody files it better. Filing Music is one of iTunes’ strong

points, says Ciotti. iTunes’ powerful sorting and search engines

allow users to search for music not only by title and artist, but

also by genre, duet duo, album name, year of release, and more. Once

found, songs can easily be moved to an iPod or other digital player

as individual files or playlists – a personal mix-tape of sorts.

Audiophiles will appreciate iTunes subtle new touches. Ciotti points

out that while older versions of iTunes had to pause between songs,

the new iTunes 7.0 analyzes your library and identifies songs that

should be played back-to-back without pause, the Beatles’ "Abbey

Road," for example.

So you want to be in the movies? Movies are brand new to the iTunes

family of downloads. The new software allows the download of full

length movies for about $10. The movie library includes only Disney

titles now, but is expected to expand soon. By the sixth day after

its launch, iTunes’ movie section had pulled in $1 million in sales.

More major studios are expected to make their titles available by

the end of the year.

Movies join iTunes’ library upon the heels of the success of its

sale of television programs, a success that others have not been

able to replicate.

As of the last week in September, early iTunes competitors had given

up on trying to charge for television shows and were giving away

downloads. Comcast and CBS had been partnering to sell popular

shows, including CSI, for 99 cents, but scrapped the experiment,

saying that few consumers were willing to pay to see even their

favorite shows. They are now offering the television show downloads

at no charge, with an advertiser-supported model.

But iTunes’s titles have found an audience. In less than a year

there have been 45 million downloads, at $1.99 apiece, from its

library of 220 shows from 40 television studios.

The television shows are available the morning after they run, and

the new movie titles will appear on iTunes at the same time that

they are released on DVD. The television shows and movies can be

accessed from the same iTunes interface as the songs, and, like

music files, can be played back on up to five computers and video

iPods. Home movies can also be imported into the system for playback

on an iPod.

Let the games begin. Games are also making their big debut on

iTunes. For around $5 iPod owners can download a video game to play

while listening to their favorite songs. iTunes is only offering

nine games now, but the number is set to grow quickly.

Movies, and music, and games, oh my! There is a lot to do on the new

iTunes, and Ciotti is eager to talk about how using all 7.0 has to

offer can turn both neophytes and long-time iTunes fans into the

coolest kids in the office.

– Patrick Spring

Blogging 101: Janie Hermann

Here is what small business owners in search of a good, cheap

marketing tool need to know about blogs. They’re effective, they’re

free, and they’re a snap to set up and maintain.

These fast facts come from Janie Hermann, director of technology

training at the Princeton Public Library and an enthusiastic

blogger. In addition, she is a regular contributor to the Library

Garden blog (

Hermann leads a free two-session blog workshop on Tuesdays, October

10 and 17, at 10 a.m. at the Princeton Public Library. Call

609-924-9529 to register.

This workshop isn’t just for small business owners. Anyone who wants

to know what blogging is all about is invited to attend. By the end

of the first session all participants will be bloggers, with their

own customized blog sites and blog addresses, and their first blog


To step back just a bit, it’s a good bet that anyone not just

emerging from a coma has heard the word "blog," but some may be

fuzzy on the details. And with good reason, as these definitions

indicate. The Miriam Webster dictionary is quite straightforward,

stating that a blog is "a Web site that contains an online personal

journal with reflection, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by

the writer."

Webster refers those who still don’t quite get it to,

which states that "Web log or Weblog is an online journal where an

individual, group, or corporation presents a record of activities,

thoughts, or beliefs. Some blogs operate mainly as news filters,

collecting various online sources and adding short comments and

Internet links. Other blogs concentrate on presenting original

material. In addition, many blogs provide a forum to allow visitors

to leave comments…"

Hermann provides some rationale for setting up a blog and guidance

on exactly how to become a blogger:

Why should you become a blogger? "A blog is a way to create a web

presence," she says. "It’s great for small businesses that can’t

afford a website. You don’t have to know HTML (the language of

website architecture). You don’t have to know web design. You can be

hosted free. It’s a wonderful way to communicate."

One of the people who took Hermann’s first blogging seminar owns a

small music school. She did have a basic website, on which she had

posted staff bios, but she wanted an easy way to get out current

information on classes, events, and staff changes. Blogs are perfect

for this sort of frequently updated information.

How can you get started? Go straight to This site,

which Google purchased fairly recently, is completely free and very

easy to use. There are competing blogging services, including

WordPress, and they have their advantages, including advanced

tagging features (more on that later) and URLs – or web addresses –

that don’t end in But, says Hermann, for ease of use

Blogger just can’t be beat.

Blogger provides a choice of templates that allow users to

personalize the look and layout of their blogs. Choosing a template

is the first step on the road to blogging, and it can be

accomplished with just a few mouse clicks.

How does content get onto a blog? "If you can use a mouse and a word

processor, you can post to a blog," says Hermann. Blogger presents a

Word-like page and users just type away. It has formatting and

spellchecking features, and can be edited in just the same way that

any word processing document can be. Complete a post, press

"publish," and a blog is created. Unhappy with a post? It can be

edited after it is published or it can be deleted entirely.

What about pictures? Hermann’s seminar covers picture uploads. It is

easy to add artwork to a blog, she says. Bloggers can incorporate

photos they have stored on their computers, can develop their own

designs, or can go out onto the Internet in search of illustrations.

Hermann recommends Everystockphoto ( as an

outstanding photo source. The site scours other photo sites,

including iStockphoto ( and Flickr

( for photos that have a creative commons license.

This, she explains, is a write-it-yourself copyright that amateur

photographers often use. Photos with this type of license are

generally free to anyone using them for non-commercial websites.

Sometimes the photographers ask that bloggers E-mail for permission

to use them, but often they just release the photos with no

notification requirements.

Can I blog with my friends and colleagues? Hermann shares Library

Garden, whose goal is to "ensure the health and relevance of

libraries," with five fellow librarians. It is easy to add

contributors to a blog. Professionals with a shared interest can

blog together, as can former roommates and members of a far-flung

family. Having more than one person posting can be important in

keeping a blog going, keeping a group connected, and adding varied


How is blog content organized? Blogger automatically archives all

blog posts by date. In addition, bloggers can aggregate content by

topic, but, for now, this is a little more difficult on Blogger, and

requires tagging.

Tags are subject headings that allow Internet users to easily find

blog posts by topic. A blog on North Carolina farmers who are

selling free range duck eggs, for example, might have the tags

"North Carolina," "farming," "free range," and "duck eggs." This

lets researchers find blog information quickly. Tagging will become

more common, Hermann is sure, but is not used too much on Blogger


Meanwhile, Blogger blogs are searchable by keyword. Go to an

individual blog, on, say New Jersey politics, and type in "Menendez"

or "McGreevey" to retrieve posts on those men. The place to search

all blogs, says Hermann, is Technorati:

How hard is it to get good search engine placement? Blogs also come

up on basic Internet search engines. Type Hermann’s blog into Google

as one word, "librarygarden," for example, and it comes up second,

right behind a garden store of the same name. That is phenomenal

placement, as anyone who has spent thousands to get a mention

anywhere within the first 20 Google listings will attest. She says

that anyone who consistently posts good information on a blog will

not have trouble achieving good search engine placement.

This, of course, is great news for a small company working to boost

its visibility at no cost, and with a tiny time commitment.

Are there any pitfalls? If you’re an employee blogging about your

company or your industry, you had better be careful, says Hermann.

Even bloggers who post controversial material, but try to stay

anonymous, have run into serious trouble, typically in the form of a

go-straight-to-the-unemployment-line note. It is generally easy for

anyone with the right tools to pierce the veil behind which a

blogger might try to hide. Bottom line, says Hermann, "Don’t write

anything in a blog that you don’t want your boss to read."

Blogs can be serious business, can boost a business, or can provide

a little light relief from business. In a recent entry on Library

Garden, Hermann made a slight detour from her blog’s serious

mission. It was a rainy Saturday, she was busy preparing for her

son, Alex’s, third birthday party, and he was a tad restless. She

occupied him with Kneebouncers (, an incredibly

cool toddler website featuring flying, floating, and spinning

animals. She wrote about the experience on her blog, thereby

providing at least one Princeton-area professional, a newspaper

writer, as it happens, with five minutes of fun and a nifty virtual

toy to forward on to her granddaughter.

– Kathleen McGinn Spring

Profits for Non-Profits: Marion Zajac

It may seem a bit odd to hear about a nonprofit starting a business,

but over the last few years these organizations, large and small,

have been considering entrepreneurial efforts that advance their

missions while contributing to the bottom line.

In Paterson, for example, a United Methodist pastor running a thrift

shop decided to take it on the road. Using people from her

neighborhood as staff, she did trunk shows in the back of a big

truck in the wealthy suburbs surrounding Paterson. Because the trunk

shows also served to advertise the shop’s existence, contributions

increased, thereby increasing opportunities to earn revenue, and, in

turn, providing more jobs for more people. "It comes full circle in

terms of what she is trying to do," says Marion Zajac, director of

technical assistance programs at the New Jersey Economic Development


The reasons for the new interest in for-profit ventures by

nonprofits are fairly straightforward, according to Zajac. Grant

funding, whether through foundations or the government, is to some

extent drying up. In addition, nonprofits have been growing

exponentially and, as a result, the competition among nonprofits for

existing funds is greater. Finally, foundations are less interested

in funding organizations for the long haul. "They want to see

nonprofits having some plan to eventually become self-sufficient,"

says Zajac.

So many nonprofits are feeling pressed to develop some sort of

revenue generator. Then, even if they do need funding down the line,

they will not be wholly dependent upon it.

Zajac speaks on "Earned Income Ventures for Nonprofits," on

Wednesdays, October 11 and 18, at 9 a.m. at the Technology Center of

New Jersey at 675 Route 1 South in North Brunswick. The classes are

sponsored by the Entrepreneurial Training Institute (ETI) of the New

Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA). Cost is $145 per

organization. Register online at

Nonprofits need to have several things in place before they even

start thinking about an earned income venture or, as it is also

called, social entrepreneurship:

A strong board. "We like people who are committed to the philosophy

of the organization, but also people who understand the expenses

coming in and out and have business perspective," says Zajac. The

leadership of the CFO and executive director are also critical.

Risk tolerance. Nonprofits need to understand, says Zajac, that a

business venture is not a sure thing. "This thing may not turn a

profit immediately on opening, maybe not in three years, and maybe


Appropriate staff to lead the venture. The board must either

identify staff within the organization who are going to operate the

venture or commit to hiring staff who have the necessary experience

to carry it forward.

Strong background in the basics of social entrepreneurship. The

organization needs to know what it can expect an earned income

venture to yield, and ETI offers a three-hour workshop on "setting

the stage" to provide this understanding, as well as workshops and

mentoring to help with planning and follow through.

A mission-driven business idea. Any business venture must also be

serving the organization’s mission. "It must be mission aligned,"

says Zajac, "otherwise they are stepping outside of the strategic

plan." If a nonprofit is just looking to raise money, it would have

to watch out for IRS issues.

New Jersey’s Habitat for Humanity, for example, is looking into

developing a home maintenance service. The idea is that its client

base, which has gained construction skills by building houses, can

earn money doing the smaller things that contractors won’t do, like

minor painting or repairing a step. Another venture is by 30-year

social entrepreneur Ranch Hope in South Jersey, which does job

training and rehabilitation for teenage boys who have gotten into

trouble. Ranch Hope opened a thrift store where the boys learn the

retail trade.

Good business advice. As nonprofits consider for-profit businesses,

they have to take care not to endanger their 501c3 IRS tax

designations. Zajac says that they need to be able to pay unearned

business income taxes, and she urges nonprofits that are starting a

business venture to consult with lawyers, accountants, and insurance

agents who specialize in this field.

A solid business plan. Once a nonprofit selects a possible business

venture, the first step is to investigate its feasibility. Will it

have customers? How will it market its product or service? Who are

its competitors, both direct and indirect?

A direct competitor is another organization providing the same type

of service, for example, another catering operation. But there is

also indirect competition for every spending dollar. The

organization must assess the mindset of the customer, who is

thinking, "If I have $10 in my pocket and am going to spend it, why

should I buy your catering rather than spend the money buying

something else?"

Savvy marketing. The next step is to understand the financials of

the venture. The planners must develop a marketing strategy,

including how to build a sales team and get themselves out into the

public consciousness. They must also create sales assumptions – so

many widgets over a certain period of time at a certain price.

"Many small businesses think if they have the lowest price,

customers will come," says Zajac, "but that is fallacious. They need

to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, but price is not the

main success factor."

Creating the business plan involves all of the universal steps for

any small business, says Zajac, "getting into the nitty gritty and

striving to set yourself up for success."

Answers to lenders’ questions. With the business plan in place, the

nonprofit needs to prepare the pitch it is going to use for lenders.

First of all, the parent organization may need to be willing to

pledge its building against any financing the business will need.

The planners must also determine the following: costs for

advertising, how they will measure success, who will operate the

business, what the hours of operation will be, what kinds of

equipment and insurance they will need, and what paperwork they will

need to file with New Jersey and the federal government.

Starting a for-profit venture is a big step for a non-profit, but

there is no need to go it alone. ETI provides feedback at every step

along the way. Once the plan is done, ETI offers a panel of

nonprofit experts – lending professionals, accountants, and lawyers

– to assess the plan’s strengths and weaknesses, and suggest ways to

improve it. ETI also offers financing programs, and it has a cadre

of lenders, including the New Jersey Economic Development Authority,

to whom they can refer nonprofits.

Zajac, a native of South Jersey, graduated in the late 1970s from

Rider College with a degree in management statistics. She owned a

small custom decorating business, which she ran from her home while

her children were small. She then moved to corporate, leading

international training programs for Mobil for about seven years.

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