RFID in Princeton

Nobel Laureate Addresses Chamber

Contacts for Contracts

Business Women Ponder Power

Get a Flying Start in Your New Business

Corrections or additions?

These articles were prepared for the October 27, 2004 issue of

U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Survival Guide: Keeping Tabs on Fast Trackers

An Iraqi scout emerges from behind a white dune and surrenders to a

Desert Storm soldier in January, l991. Speaking with his captors, he

cannot believe that these strangers to the area have so cleverly

followed and encircled his crafty veteran troops. Then one U.S. Army

sergeant holds out his GPS and demonstrates. The Iraqi scout stands

awed. Today that technology is 20 years old – and a new generation is

all grown up and ready to launch.

Bill Robinson, part of the pioneering team for the first global

positioning system, has blended electronic wizardry with business

acumen and is currently bringing ever sharper tracking devices to

wider markets. Robinson’s numerically small, but enormously

innovative, Sovereign Tracking Systems, a company based in Brick

Township, has made several major leaps that, he says, puts the

enterprise at least temporarily beyond competitors’ radar. Paul Vala,

a production supervisor representing Robinson’s company, outlines

what’s new and newer in "RFID/RTLS:Next Generation Opportunities," a

New Jersey Technology Council seminar taking place on Wednesday,

October 27, at 4 p.m., at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft.

Cost: $40. Call 856-787-9700 or visit www.NJTC.org.

Robinson’s career began as a technical consultant for the federal

government and the military. During these 27 years, he has moved GPS

past Desert Storm and onto later refinements. Realizing that the

initial GPS had limited signals under bridges and other structures,

Robinson began toying with a "reverse GPS," in which the reader sent,

rather than received, the signal from orbiting satellites.

In l996 he founded Sovereign Technologies Corporation, which provided

the U.S. Army with its advance monitoring display system (AMDS) and

NASA with guidance systems for the Hubble telescope. Then, answering

the commercial call for more localized tracking, Robinson formed his

second firm, Sovereign Tracking Systems, also based in Brick Township.

Among the applications possible with this new technology are the

following:

Beyond the barcode. In South Brunswick High School, it is five minutes

before closing. The last librarian has been charged with inventorying

the entire history collection. Casually, she waves her magic wand and

strolls through the history stacks. Five of the non-circulating

volumes are missing. She notes this on the computer, walks out, and

waits the final two minutes before locking up. Princeton Public

Library soon will have this same capability.

The magic involves a slim, very inexpensive Radio Frequency Identifier

(RFID) pasted in the back of each book and CD in the collection. It is

the same technology used in E-Z Pass. The strip is actually a passive

transmitter that remains asleep until wakened by the an active

transmitter in a reader (such as the library wand or toll booth

beacon). The read range of the RFID, while short, typically up to 300

feet, is infinitely adjustable. Additionally, the tags can be set to

respond to any number of transmitters for a number of applications.

The same book tag that aids the librarian in inventory can be set to

create an alarm if the book suddenly begins to walk out the door.

Ceiling satellites. Sometimes it can be just as vital to find what’s

in the basement as to home in on a route out of the Gobi Desert. In

the 1.3 million square foot Veterans Hospital Complex in Memphis,

Tennessee, a surgeon needs a life support system – now. A nurse steps

to the computer, and clicks on the "RTLS seek" menu. Within seconds an

orderly is on his way to fetch the unit. She can instantly locate over

4,000 items anywhere in the plant.

The technology behind this Real Time Locating System (RTLS) is similar

to that of the global positioning units, except that the satellites

are brought down from orbit and placed in the ceiling. Transceivers

are set throughout the building overhead in a 50-foot grid and can

triangulate an item’s location to within 15 feet. The algorithms are

figured both vertically and horizontally, so each floor comes under

scrutiny. The exact location is indicated on a computer schematic, and

can be applied to any size item, since that locator tag is only about

two inches square. It also works on people.

New applications. If you don’t see it, you don’t own it. Misplaced

goods can gobble up staggering percentages of profit. Naturally,

everyone would love to attach these little RTLS tags to every valuable

item in their plant. Yet despite this craving, production supervisor

Vala hastens to note that RTLS really only functions well in large

indoor areas containing a great number of things that don’t leave the

premises. Thus, even the largest of warehouses don’t find the system

practicable.

However, the Single Access Monitor (SAM), another version of the RTLS,

provides a more localized use. Placing the locator tag on the

treasured unit, and the reader on the access portal where it might be

harmed or lost, acts as an electronic watchdog for all sorts of

valuables. Museums are guarding prized exhibits with motion-detecting

readers secreted by access points. Hospitals complain that mobile

telemetry packs costing $500 each are forever being inadvertently

tossed into the laundry with hospital gowns. Solution? Tag the packs

and guard the laundry chutes with a reader.

Privacy problems? Thus far, RTLS has not been applied to employees or

patients, but beware this Orwellian development. Two South Africa

holding prisons have already purchased RTLS to be used on prisoners

facing upcoming trials. Apparently, the prisoners, fearing long jail

sentences, frequently try to hide and escape the courtroom. With this

administration’s push to force a national driver’s license with

installed chips, anyone carrying a license – and that’s just about

everyone over the age of 16 – could easily be tracked.

Globally, our societies grow ever larger and more complex, with more

stuff scattered around. Keeping things organized with Robinson’s magic

wands can truly be a godsend. And for the technically inclined, RTLS

provides a world of exciting possibilities. The question is: Just how

much and whom do we want constantly under surveillance?

– Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
RFID in Princeton

Several Princeton area companies have a vested interest in the

proliferation of radio frequency identification technology, none more

so than the Uniform Code Council, a non-profit that sets the standards

for identifying goods for commerce for more than 250,000 members

globally. UCC works with the ubiquitous barcode technology, and as

RFID technology was developed, it created Electronic Product Code

Global US (EPCGlobal US), a joint venture with a European organization

based in Brussels. About 25 of the 200 workers on Lenox Drive are

engaged in setting the standards for Electronic Product Code

technology and taking it to the global market place.

Forty people work for UCCNet, a not-for-profit that provides data

synchronization services. Think of it as a web-based catalog that

synchronizes the information provided by the manufacturer to the

wholesaler and the retailer, says Jack Grosso, senior director of

public relations.

"There are many many applications of RFID," says Grasso. "Our

application is in the global supply chain, much like bar codes are

used now. RFID would be used in a more efficient and high tech way

than bar codes. It would create far more visibility of goods and more

information, and it would prevent out of stocks, lost shipments, and

counterfeit products. It would allow for safer food supply and safer

pharmaceuticals."

"We create the standards for manufacturers and retailers – the way the

tags will be used, the way they will be read, and the kind of

information they will carry," says Grasso. But don’t say goodbye to

the barcodes, which will still be the right choice for a package of

cold cuts or a pack of gum.

Uniform Code Council Inc., 1009 Lenox Drive, Suite 202, Lawrenceville

08648. Miguel Lopera, CEO. 609-620-0200; fax, 609-620-1200.

Www.uc-council.org

Other RFID Firms

Air Products & Chemicals, 11 Corn Road, Dayton 08810-1527. Michael

Gibbon, plant manager. 732-329-4086; fax, 732-274-5000.

One division of this company was founded by Paul H. Kydd, who

developed an environmentally friendly method to make long-lasting inks

and pastes for radio frequency identification switches, among other

uses (U.S. 1, March 6, 2002).

Optima Global Solutions Inc., 3705 Quakerbridge Road, Suite 202,

Hamilton 08619. Mahesh Yadav, CEO. 609-586-8811; fax, 609-586-8825.

Home page: www.optimags.com

Optima was founded as an IT staffing firm with onsite, offsite, and

offshore software development and maintenance services. Now, says

Mahesh Yadav, it is in the process of creating a RFID practice to help

retail customers implement and integrate RFID solutions (U.S. 1, June

4, 2003).

PharmaSeq Inc., 1 Deer Park Drive, Princeton Corporate Plaza, Suite

104, Monmouth Junction 08852. Wlodek Mandecki, president.

732-355-0100; fax, 732-355-0102. Home page: www.pharmaseq.com

Using RFID technology, PharmaSeq offers instrumentation for

diagnostics and assays for drug discovery, also laser light-powered

microchips for non-biotech applications (U.S. 1, August 27, 2003).

Psion TekLogix (PON), 7 Centre Drive, Suite 6, Jamesburg 08831. John

Streppone, regional vice president. 609-409-0666. Home page:

www.psionteklogix.com

Psion Teklogix employs a system of radio frequency identification to

provide mobile workers with anytime, anywhere access to enterprise IT

systems in demanding, rugged environments. For instance it tracks

shipments of individual cows at slaughter houses, and inventories

goods in refrigerated warehouses for the U.S. Defense Commissary

Agency that provides groceries and household goods to military

personnel. It monitors shipments at the Port of Newark and other

facilities with more than 1 million square feet of warehouse space,

including L’Oreal, Cosmair, and Volkswagen at Exit 8A, McCormick spice

company in Baltimore, and several college campuses.

Sarnoff Corporation, 201 Washington Road, CN 5300, Princeton

08543-5300. Satyam Cherukuri, president & CEO. 609-734-2000; fax,

609-734-2040. Home page: www.sarnoff.com

RFID technology is in the portfolio of innovations in electronic,

biomedical, and information technology.

Top Of Page
Nobel Laureate Addresses Chamber

When the BBC asked Sir Paul Nurse what he planned to do with his Nobel

Peace Prize money, he promptly replied that a Kawasaki motorbike – a

bigger one to replace the Kawasaki he had been enjoying – was at the

top of his shopping list. The BBC promptly proclaimed Nurse, who looks

not unlike Robin Williams, a regular guy.

Nurse, a glider pilot and amateur astronomer, shared the 2001 Nobel

for research on the molecular machinery that drives cell division with

two fellow scientists, Tim Hunt and Leland Hartwell. A researcher

whose work has contributed to an understanding of how cancer develops,

Nurse was recently appointed president of Rockefeller University in

New York City.

Nurse speaks at the annual Princeton Chamber Einstein Lecture on

Thursday, October 28, at 5 p.m. at Dodds Hall, Princeton University.

There is no charge, but reservations are required. Call 609-924-1776.

In the autobiography he wrote for the Nobel committee, Nurse says: "My

parents were born in Norfolk and spent their early years working in

the big houses of that rural English county, my mother as a cook and

my father as a handyman and chauffeur. After the 1930s recession they

moved to Wembley, North-West London, where my father worked as a

mechanic in the local H.J. Heinz food processing factory, and my

mother brought up their four children and was a part-time cleaner."

The family was "neither wealthy nor academic, but we lived comfortably

and they were always extremely supportive of my academic efforts and

aspirations, both at school and university."

In the charming narrative he continues to describe his childhood,

saying that "my primary school was a considerable distance from where

we lived and so I had long walks, often alone, to and from school.

This walk took me through a park and some rough land where I could not

fail to notice the animals, insects, and plants there and how they

changed during the seasons. During the winter my attention was

attracted to the changes in the stars and planets in the sky. I think

it was this curiosity about the natural world which awoke my early

interest in science.

"Two incidents from this time that I remember, were, wondering why

leaves were larger on plants growing in the shade compared with the

same plants growing in sunlight, and watching Sputnik 2, the second

ever artificial satellite and the first with a living cargo (a dog

called Laika), as it sped across the skies of London. My life-long

interest in astronomy started then and I still regularly use a

telescope for astronomical observations, although very much as an

amateur.

"It was during my time at secondary school that I abandoned religion.

My mother was a Baptist, and as a young teenager I was also a

committed believer. But I had real difficulties reconciling a literal

belief in Genesis with evolution, and my attempts to accommodate the

biblical account of creation by viewing it as a poetic metaphor

suitable for an unsophisticated nomadic people was completely rejected

by my church. I gradually slipped away from religion over several

years and became an atheist or to be more philosophically correct, a

skeptical agnostic."

Nearly barred from going on to study at a university by an inability

to pass French, Nurse was befriended by professor who noticed his

scientific abilities, who intervened and had him enroll in Birmingham

University, where he first "fully recognized the excitement of

intellectual endeavor and realized that this was what I wanted to do

with my life."

At Birmigham he had "an eccentric zoology tutor Jack Cohen who was

hugely stimulating and entertaining, and although frequently wrong was

always wrong in an interesting way. He taught me the value of the

alternative view and also was the first to introduce me to the cell

cycle with a project on the respiration rate of dividing fish eggs, a

project which ended in complete disaster. This time at Birmingham

turned me into a general biologist, and ever since then I have always

tried to take a biological approach to any research project that I

have undertaken.

"A key issue in developmental biology at that time was the problem of

how cells underwent differentiation, with most workers concentrating

on explanations in terms of changes in enzyme and gene regulation. To

me the cell cycle seemed to be a good and simple model for such

problems, because the cell underwent molecular changes as it proceeded

through its cell cycle. So when my thoughts turned towards a PhD I

looked for a laboratory where I could study molecular changes during

the cell cycle.

"Like many students, I found the drudgery of real experiments and the

slowness of progress a complete shock, and at my low points I

contemplated other alternative careers including study of the

philosophy or sociology of science."

But Nurse stayed with biology, despite his realization that "at the

forefront of research there are so many difficulties that depression

and low motivation are a constant danger."

Concentrating on cells, the basic building blocks of life, he

"reasoned that study of the cell cycle responsible for the

reproduction of cells was important and might even be illuminating

about the nature of life. In particular the control of these processes

would be crucial, just like control of flux through a pathway was

important for amino acid metabolism. But how could such processes be

investigated given so little was known about them? The answer came to

me in 1972 when I read two papers from Lee Hartwell, who showed how

genetics could be used to study the budding yeast cell cycle. I

thought this was a beautiful approach to the problem, one I wanted to

use as well."

Throughout the 1980s, Nurse researched cells and cell division. In

awarding the Nobel to him, and to Hunt and Hartwell, the Nobel

committee wrote that "for all living eukaryotic organisms (those,

including humans, whose chromosomes are located in a nucleus and

separated from the rest of the cell) it is essential that the

different phases of the cell cycle are precisely coordinated. Errors

in this coordination may lead to chromosomal alterations. Chromosomes

or parts of chromosomes may be lost, rearranged or distributed

unequally between two daughter cells. This type of chromosome

alteration is often seen in cancer cells.

"It is of central importance in the fields of biology and medicine to

understand how the cell cycle is controlled. This year’s Nobel

Laureates have made seminal discoveries at the molecular level of how

the cell is driven from one phase to the next in the cell cycle."

Upon the announcement of the award, Nurse said: "The award of this

prize is a water-shed in my life, forcing me to look back over my past

and to consider what I should do for the next 15-20 years. I have an

idealistic view of science as a liberalising and progressive force for

humanity. Better understanding of the natural world not only enhances

all of us as human beings, but can also be harnessed for the better

good, leading to improved health and quality of life. It is also a

truly international activity which breaks down barriers between the

peoples of world, an objective that always has been necessary and

never more so than now.

"Scientific understanding is often beautiful, a profoundly aesthetic

experience which gives pleasure not unlike the reading of a great

poem. It has been a privilege to pursue knowledge for its own sake and

to see how it might help mankind in more practical ways. I hope that

the future will allow me to continue that pursuit for as long as I am

able."

Top Of Page
Contacts for Contracts

What would you give to get two minutes of uninterrupted presentation

time with the purchasing or contracting agent for just one fortune 500

corporation? How about two? How about 55 separate purchasing agents

from large firms throughout the Garden State? Makes you quiver just to

think of it, doesn’t it?

For the small business owner, the New Jersey Office of Information

Technology has arranged just such a dream come true, entitled

"Contacts for Contracts" on Thursday, October 28, at 1 p.m. at the

Westin Princeton. Cost is $95 for large businesses, $50 for small

firms. Call the state office at 609-633-9115 or the Stoltman Group at

609-588-8703. Registration is limited to the first 110 small and 55

large companies.

Business to business. The main event of this half-day session is

Whirlwind-One-on-One Sessions. Large companies will be lined up side

by-side in small booths. The bell rings and the small business owners

approach and make a two minute formal presentation to the

representative from the larger company. The bell rings and the small

contractor moves on to his next prospect.

The feeling may be a little like the Broadway theater’s famed cattle

call auditions with hundreds of hopefuls strutting their stuff for a

single, coveted role. But the difference here lies in variety.

Contracts are available for everything from construction to software,

consulting to sales fulfillment. The large companies have broad-based

needs and they are scouting around to fill all of them here.

Bounty from the state. Nor is the Garden State government hiding its

opportunities under a bushel. In a series of roundtable discussions,

various departments will discuss what help they provide and what goods

and services they want to purchase. Lorraine Allen from New Jersey’s

Small Business Development Centers explains her office’s role, while

Bob Bilarczyk of the Commerce and Economic Growth Commission leads the

uninitiated through the mazy paths of the state certification process.

The state judiciary annually lets host of contracts, and two of its

agents, Steve Gaissert and Patricia Azure-Parker, are on hand to talk

about what the department needs. And the Department of the Treasury’s

Jack Naiman gives specific details on the general state procurement

process, including bidding, requests for proposals, and the types of

awards. Additionally, Robert Seelandt, northeast sales manager for

Citrix Systems, lays out diversity procurement initiatives for larger

firms, while Randall Pinkett, president of BCT Partners, does the same

for smaller businesses.

Chasing the leads. So does all this mingling foment any real business?

Ask Ron Guida, president of U1.net. Formed in l995 and located in

Marlton, Guida’s company plays that never ending chess game of making

computer systems one step more secure than the hackers trying to get

into them. "You never sit still with this kind of security," laughs

Guida. "They come up with some new invasive method and you’ve got to

be there with something ahead of them."

A native Philadelphian, Guida attended his hometown’s Drexel

University, graduating in l981 with a degree in business and

accounting. Working several years for Abbott Labs as a salesman, he

then shifted into purchasing for Covalent Systems. "It wasn’t until

l989 that I got my first web application job," he recalls, " working

for Bluestone Software just outside Philadelphia. I loved it."

After six years of immersion in cyberspace, Guida developed a plan for

a traditional integral system to keep data and files secure. With two

people he set up a small shop in Marlton and let quality sell itself.

"Our solution for partnering was to develop and tailor one of our

products or services and wrap it into the partner’s larger system for

a stronger effect," explains Guida. In short, U1.net was a catalyst,

uniting single cells into a greater whole. Is seems to have worked.

Today, Guida’s 60-person company, with offices in Marlton,

Philadelphia and Atlanta, helps Dow Jones, Reuters, and several other

major clients keep secure.

Last year, Guida practiced his pitch in front of the mirror and

attended New Jersey’s first annual Contacts for Contracts. "You have

to figure that there will be only about 10 companies that are truly in

line with what you’re offering," says Guida. "And you have to be

prepared that probably nothing is going to happen with most of them."

On the other hand, just one interested client is well worth the

effort.

Guida finished his day hopeful, but carrying no illusions. Then a few

months later he got a call from Pinkerton Computer Consulting. A 21st

century version of its famed parent detective company,

Philadelphia-based Pinkerton ferrets out and tracks down

cybercriminals in a way that would have done its founder proud.

The company was interested in U1.net’s systems and wanted to explore

partnering opportunities. In the end, no direct mutual link was forged

between them, but Pinkerton put Guida’s team onto Verizon, which liked

what it saw. Today, U1.net handles security for a major chunk of the

phone company’s external infrastructure.

– Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Business Women Ponder Power

‘Women are starting new businesses at a faster rate than men, but it

is often more challenging for them. "They are often not starting from

a level playing field," says Michael Walker, director of

communications for Prosperity New Jersey. The not-for-profit,

state-funded organization was designed to establish partnerships

between business, education, and government with the goal of helping

to create more jobs for New Jersey.

With that goal in mind, Prosperity New Jersey will co-sponsor a

one-day seminar, "Empowerment and Inspiration 2004: the Rise of the

Woman Entrepreneur." The seminar takes place on Thursday, November 4,

at 7:30 a.m. at the Lafayette Yard Marriott in Trenton. The conference

is free, however registration is necessary. Call 609-984-4924.

It is important that registration for the conference is free, says

Walker, because Prosperity New Jersey wants any woman who is

interested in starting a business, or who is struggling with a new

business, to be able to attend. Already, he says, almost 300 women

from throughout the state have registered for the event. He hopes to

have about 400 attend. Prosperity New Jersey was created in 1995

during the Whitman administration as a partnership between business

and government. Under the McGreevey administration, says Walker, the

scope of the organization has increased to include education,

"exploring partnerships" between the two areas. Prosperity New

Jersey’s Project on Entrepreneurship is designed to help the state’s

small business owners by bringing together the resources of business,

education, and government to help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into

successful businesses.

Walker credits one business owner as the inspiration for the

conference. Penny Pinsker, who has been in business for a little over

two years, first spoke with him about her needs as a new business

owner.

"I went to a conference on small business and I found that most of the

women there were old hands. They had each been in their business for

several years. And while I know that what they were saying was

valuable, a lot of it didn’t address my needs at the time," Pinsker

explains. Out of her conversations with Walker – about both the

conference and her needs as a new business owner – "Empowerment for

Women" was born.

Alyce Hackett is a "seasoned" business owner, but she, too, is

planning to attend the conference. Hackett, of Lifestyle Resources, an

insurance and investment company based in Morristown, has been in

business for about 12 years. "The goal of Prosperity New Jersey," she

says, "is to really help business owners understand what is available

out there for them. There are a lot of pitfalls in starting and

running a business," she adds. A conference such as the Empowerment

seminar will help women "learn about the basics, like keeping books,

setting goals, and looking for resources for financing and for

learning more about business."

The conference features a number of speakers and panelists on a

variety of topics. Almost all of the panelists are businesswomen

themselves, says Walker. And all "have wonderful stories to share."

Featured speakers include Erik R. Pages of EntreWorks Consulting, who

speaks on "The Rise of the Woman Entrepreneur" and Marlene J.

Pagley-Waldock of First Impression Communications, who speaks on

"Personal Relationship Marketing: Building Relationships of Trust."

Several panel discussions also are planned. Kent Manahan of NJN News

moderates a panel of businesswomen who share their personal stories

and address business-related challenges such as financing, public

policy, and balancing work and family. Panelists include Laura

Brinkerhoff of Brinkerhoff Environmental Services; Gloria D. Bryant of

the Writing Company; Caren Franzini of New Jersey Economic Development

Authority; Lorraine Kay of Kay Construction; Althea Morris of the

Credit Alternative Group; Sandy Newman of Life Enhancement Coaches;

and Marjorie Perry of MZM Construction.

The afternoon sessions at the seminar consist of smaller "breakout"

groups on topics such as "Enough Money for Business Success," "Legal

Structure and Protecting Your Ideas," and "Is My Business Idea

Feasible?" a discussion on how to measure the feasibility of a new

business idea and the basics of a business plan. A session is also

planned on accounting and bookkeeping, as well as on the opportunities

and obstacles of a running a home-based business. The final session,

"Business Planning: Why, What, and How," provides information on the

various resources available for business owners in New Jersey, as well

as long-term business planning.

The wide variety of topics is aimed at "building the knowledge needed

by women to get started in business," says Walker. "There is a great

need for information and for women to be able to network with other

women who can say, `I’ve been there and done that.’ This conference

will bring it all the elements together under one roof to help women

build the knowledge to get started in business."

Pinsker is a communications consultant specializing in television and

radio broadcasting. She became an entrepreneur "out of necessity," she

says, when she was laid off a few years ago from an executive position

at UPN Channel 9. Since that time she has been rehired by UPN as a

consultant and also does work for Fox 5 and other radio and television

stations. As a consultant, she advises clients on a variety of issues,

and handles special projects and assignments. "I take an idea from

concept to finished product for my clients," she says. One of the key

elements of her business is to complete those projects "without

threatening the current staff." She remembers what it was like when

she was a station employee. "When a consultant came in," she says, "we

all wondered, `Does this mean our job is on the line.’"

Pinsker has a clear idea of what is needed for business success. "The

challenges are the same no matter what the business is," she says.

They include having a plan to make money, getting the financing to

start the plan, coming up with a client/customer base, and delivering

a product on repeat basis so that clients return.

While her plan may sound simple, Pinsker knows it is a lot easier to

explain it than it is to actually put it in practice. One of her

greatest challenges, she says, has been to come up with a pricing

structure. She has talked to a number of people, she says, but has yet

to find anyone with a clear-cut formula for pricing services. "Pricing

can be tricky for someone who is selling a product, but is even more

difficult for a business person who is selling a service," Pinsker

says.

Pinsker, however, feels certain her new business will be successful.

"The single most important thing for a business is to find clients to

buy your product or services," she says. A simple concept with a

complex answer that is different for every business owner.

– Karen Hodges Miller

Top Of Page
Get a Flying Start in Your New Business

Do you have a great idea for a new business? Would you like to own

your own company, but just don’t know how to get started? The

Entrepreneur’s Certificate program is designed to give you the skills

you need to become an entrepreneur. The program is sponsored by the

Small Business Development Center and offered locally at both the

College of New Jersey and Middlesex County College.

The Entrepreneur’s Certificate offers many things to the new business

owner, says Lorraine Allen, regional director of the Mercer/Middlesex

SBDC. "It gives a sense of accomplishment and confidence, but also the

certificate can be displayed in the new business to show customers

that you are a responsible business owner." Possibly most important to

start-ups, the certificate can "offer confidence to potential lenders

and investors who are thinking about putting money into the new

business," says Allen. She recommends the program for business

consultants, bankers, accountants, and other businesses serving the

small business owner – as well as for the business owner himself.

The Entrepreneur’s Certificate can help the new business owner get

grounded. "So many businesses fail in the first two years, not because

the owner doesn’t have the skills to do the job in their field, but

because they don’t have the knowledge and skills in management," she

says. "You may have a concept in your head, but the reality is not the

same. I want to help keep business owners from tripping over

themselves."

What can you expect to learn from the Entrepreneur’s series? A number

of vital business skills, says Allen, including legal fundamentals of

a small business start-up, the ins and outs of legal contracts,

marketing strategies, simplified record-keeping and tax information,

how to create a winning business plan, and how to read and understand

financial statements.

"A course like this helps new business owners avoid potential

landmines," says Allen. "It increases the learning curve. Everyone is

going to make mistakes, but our program helps them to get into the

field on a level playing ground."

Good record-keeping in particular, she says, is a skill that anyone

can master, but it may be one of the biggest pitfalls for the new

business owner. While it may seem boring compared with many other

aspects of running a business, it is "a critical tool that provides

vital information about the health and condition of your business,"

she points out. The record-keeping course focuses on simple, easily

accessible and accurate methods to keep records for government

compliance, cash-flow analyses, personnel, suppliers, customer,

inventory control, and other records that will help to ensure that

your business is managed well.

The two courses on legal issues are also designed to help the new

business owner get a grasp on many basic choices that must be made.

"Something as simple as which business structure you choose will have

a big affect on your business," explains Allen. For some businesses

incorporating may be a necessity, for others, it may be a mistake.

Business owners also need to know about a variety of legal issues from

patents, copyright, and trademarks protection, to leases, contracts,

and local zoning regulations and building permits. Since the business

owner cannot be an expert on every law and tax regulation, the course

will also offer guidance in finding "a proper support team," including

an accountant, lawyer, and marketing expert.

Marketing, says Allen, is one area that many new business owners often

skimp on. The greatest business idea in the world will still fail if

no one knows about it. The "Marketing Strategies" course begins with

how to define and target the markets where your services or products

will be most successful and teaches the participants how to develop a

marketing action plan to reach targeted customers. Market research,

developing a strategic marketing plan, coming up with a marketing

budget, selecting the proper tools for advertising and public

relations, and measuring the effectiveness of your marketing are all

be discussed.

Allen is passionate about teaching new business owners about the

business of business, saying she was "reared in running a business." A

small business owner herself for several years, she owned a graphic

design studio in the Philadelphia area. She also worked in upper level

management in the travel and decorating industries and worked as a

marketing consultant for several years before moving to New Jersey in

1989.

Since then she has worked at helping other business owners learn more

about business. She was assistant director at the Small Business

Development Center for eight years. She then moved to the New Jersey

Economic Growth Commission for about two years, where she worked in

the procurement area, helping small businesses and women business

owners obtain contracts with government. She moved back to the SBDC as

the regional director.

To qualify for the Entrepreneur’s Certificate, students must complete

a series of seven courses including "Legal ABCs for Business

Start-Ups," "Basics of Business Ownership:Contracts and Agreements," a

three-session course on "The Business Plan." Other courses include two

session on "The Essentials of Small Business Record-Keeping," and two

one-session classes, "Marketing Strategies for Business Success" and

"Introduction to Small Business Taxes."

The program can be accomplished in 10 weeks, or business owners may

pick and choose just the courses that they need right now. To register

for the classes, call the SBDC at 609-989-5232. Cost for the classes

runs from $40 to $120; total cost for all seven courses is $440.

"There are already over 20 people in each session at the Middlesex

campus," says Allen, "but this is the first year for the program at

TCNJ and the classes there are smaller."

The classes are not taught "strictly by academics, although we also do

have some great academic teachers in the program," says Allen. She

teaches the marketing strategies session in the winter semester. A

majority of the instructors, however, are current or retired business

owners. Says Allen: "When they talk about how to deal with problems

with employees or getting permits you know they’ve done these things

themselves."

— Karen Hodges Miller

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