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
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
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
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
"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
"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.
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
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:
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.
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
"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
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
"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
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
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
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
‘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
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
"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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
— Karen Hodges Miller
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.