Susan Scott has been in business for 13 years. She owns three taverns and one liquor store, and is currently negotiating to purchase a fourth business. She also has a new business consulting with bar owners to help them reduce inventory loss. Anne Mette Pedersen has been in business one year. A native of Denmark, Pedersen now offers translation services as well as cross cultural training for people who are traveling overseas.
Both business owners wanted to learn more about the “business of being in business,” so they recently completed a series of courses at the Women’s Business Center in Hamilton, and at the end of the series both competed for, and won, seed grants from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.
“Are You an Entrepreneur,” the first in a series of seminars sponsored by the Women’s Business Center, takes place Monday, July 10, at 9 a.m. the Women’s Business Center, 127 Route 206, Suite 28, in Hamilton. There is no cost, but reservations are required. Call 609-581-2220. The seminar is held every second Monday throughout the year at the center.
“The Women’s Business Center focuses on entrepreneurial training for women,” says its director, Penni Nafus. Women who have been in business for several years, as well as those who are just starting out in business, can benefit from the many courses offered. The program is designed for people in any type of business, from retail to services to manufacturing.
Scott owns three taverns, Buddy’s Shamrock Tavern in Ewing, Buddy’s Shamrock Pub in Hamilton, and Mundy’s Tavern in Trenton. She also owns LaCasa Liquors in Trenton. But it was here newest business idea, Bevinsure, that sent her to the Women’s Business Center.
Bevinsure is a method Scott has invented for weighing liquor bottles to protect the tavern owner from losses. “My method can realize a bar owner as much as $1,000 in recovered sales,” she says. Word of her system has spread in the central New Jersey area and she has started consulting with other liquor store owners to help them reduce their losses.
Taking the courses at the WBC has been “a really valuable tool for me,” says Scott. “Not only the information from the classes, but even more important was the mentoring and meeting other successful businesswomen. It was a very dynamic, positive experience.”
Pedersen’s company, MOSAIK Cross-Cultural Training & ThinkLanguage Translations, is located at 83 Cherry Brook Drive in Princeton. She offers translation services in a wide variety of languages and coaches people traveling abroad, either for business or pleasure, in the cultural nuances of the countries they plan to visit.
“This is such a good part of the country to have this kind of business because it is so international here,” she says. “If I am not familiar with the country that someone wants to learn about I can easily find someone from that country who is an expert.”
Her services are particularly important for people who are doing business in another country, she says, because they often need to understand the “small nuances” of behavior and language. For example, “there is a big difference between the corporate culture in Denmark and the corporate culture here. Denmark has a more egalitarian system. It is less competitive and the people are quieter than Americans. Europeans on the whole are much more reserved than Americans.”
Pedersen was born in Denmark and came to this country in 1988 to study at Yale University. She met her husband, Paulo Pesenti, here and although he was a native of Italy, they ended up choosing the United States as their permanent home. She worked at ETS in Lawrenceville as a test developer for a number of years before deciding to open her own business about a year ago.
Pedersen found out about the courses at the WBC through an article in the newspaper. “I checked out their website and signed up for classes. After the first class I decided to go ahead and take the entire program and apply for a grant,” she says. She was the third-place winner in last year’s competition.
To be eligible to compete for grant money participants must complete a series of five courses at the WBC, says Nafus. The courses total about 30 hours of classroom time and all are free. They are held on a rotating schedule throughout the year. The courses include:
Are You an Entrepreneur? This three-hour course focuses on a variety of skills for the new business owner, including an assessment of skills, business knowledge, education, and experience, and an evaluation of basic decision-making abilities and financial requirements. It also addresses goal setting and helps prospective entrepreneurs answer the question: “Is this the right time for me to start a business?”
The course is a good place for the new or prospective business owner to get answers to many basic start-up questions as well as an opportunity to meet successful business owners and hear about their experiences, says Nafus.
Start Right! is the second course in the series and includes discussions on planning and goal setting, legal issues, government regulations, and insurance, as well as the elements of a business plan. “The course is ideal for both new businesses and businesses in the first five years of development,” says Nafus. “It is designed to meet the needs of a wide range of individuals who want to build their business and prepare a business plan.”
Profit Savvy is the third of the required courses. It focuses on learning the basic financial language and rules of business, strategic financial decision-making skills, and how to plan and control for profits.
Participants can also choose two of three other courses, Marketing Magic, Introduction to Quick Books, or Money Smart. Marketing Magic focuses on developing a marketing plan and positioning the business to “sell what the customers wants to buy,” says Nafus. It also teaches the participants how to build a comprehensive prospect list, create marketing materials, and design and deliver successful seminars.
Money Smart focuses on a variety of financial issues, while the Quick Books course teaches the basics of this accounting software program. “At the WBC I learned about what do and what not do in business from other very experienced businesswomen,” says Pedersen, “It was the kind of knowledge that you don’t usually get in books.”