Just one year ago Trenton Small Business Week was on shaky ground. Organizers, facing a melting city economy, worried that TSBW might not survive for another year.
But with the economic picture steady (if weak) and increasing interest by the Chris Christie administration to bolster small businesses in Trenton, the 18th incarnation of TSBW is set to begin with the kick off networking breakfast on Monday, October 17, at 8 a.m. at the Trenton Marriott.
Echoing the theme of renewed interest in Trenton, the breakfast’s keynote speech will be delivered by Richard Lisk, the general manager and part owner of the Trenton Titans hockey team, which returns to Trenton this month. Lisk will give an update on economic developments in Trenton, and the Small Business of the Year Awards will be presented by Trenton mayor Tony Mack.
Several business-related events will take place daily through Friday, October 21, when TSBW closes out with the annual Trenton Renaissance Ball at 6 p.m. at the Trenton Marriott. All business events are free to attend, except for the Mercer Chamber’s “Power Luncheon” with Senator Bill Baroni on Tuesday, October 18, at 11:30 a.m. at the Trenton Marriott, and the Renaissance Ball.
Baroni, deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, will talk about strengthening local economies, job creation, and transportation. Cost: $60. Visit www.mercerchamber.org or call 609-689-9960, ext. 14.
Tickets to attend the Renaissance Ball cost $185. Visit www.mercerchamber.org or call 609-689-9960, ext. 14.
The free business events kick off with “Analyzing Your Customers for Maximum Profitability,” a presentation by Michael Pucciarelli of accounting firm Bartolomei & Pucciarelli, based at 2564 Brunswick Pike, on Monday, October 17, at 10 a.m.
Pucciarelli will discuss the “80/20” rule, which states that businesses should concentrate on the 20 percent of their clients who generate 80 percent of their business’ income. “Know your ‘A-class’ customers who are easy to deal with and generate the largest proportion of profits, and your ‘D-class’ customers who are least pleasant to deal with and provide the lowest returns,” he says. “This will allow you to manage your customer demographics for better profitability and success.”
Also on Monday is “How to Buy Property from the City,” a small developers’ forum led by Henrietta Owusu of the Trenton Department of Housing and Economic Development. The workshop begins at 12:30 p.m. at the Invention Factory Science Museum, 675 South Clinton Avenue.
Owusu will discuss how to purchase city-owned properties, which is not as clear-cut as it sounds. Trenton has more than 1,000 residential and commercial properties for sale as-is. These properties, which the city acquires through foreclosures, usually are in bad shape and in need of qualified renovators.
Many of the city’s available properties are in redevelopment areas, which cover wide swaths of Trenton. Property must undergo a rigorous process before the City Council will designate it for a redevelopment area. The property must meet certain conditions. For example, it must be in a blighted area, be abandoned, have a number of outstanding housing code violations, or be the subject of numerous police reports.
A developer will be required to present architectural plans before the city will agree to sell a property and provide a work permit.
The city does not maintain a public online listing of the properties, but interested developers can pick up a list of city-owned properties from the Department of Housing and Economic Development. The city also advertises the auction list and the conveyance of all properties is advertised as well.
“These properties offer a developer the chance to make a profit while the city gains the return of properties to the tax roles – and revived neighborhoods in Trenton,” Owusu says.
For entrepreneurs looking for an edge in the growing digital marketplace, Ed Andriessen of BTR Business Training Resource in Hamilton will present “Building Your Business with Social Media” on Wednesday, October 19, at 3 p.m. at the McDade Building, 640 South Broad Street.
Andriessen is an avid proponent of using sites like YouTube to build your business. YouTube, Andriessen says, generates more than 2 billion hits a day — sometimes more than Google — but is the most overlooked social media platform for businesses.
Andriessen encourages small business owners to create their own video channels on YouTube for videos they have created and ones that relate to their fields.
On Thursday, October 20, Luis de la Hoz, Spanish program coordinator at the Intersect Fund in New Brunswick, will co-present “Resources for Spanish Speaking Business Owners: How to Start and Finance Your Business” at 10:30 a.m. at Thomas Edison State College, 101 West State Street.
As the Hispanic population grows in the United States, business owners are poised to tap a lucrative, yet largely overlooked market, de la Hoz says. “I know from doing income taxes that a lot of Hispanic people are doing well,” he says. “They have good jobs, they are making money, purchasing houses, using financial advisors, and purchasing life insurance. But Spanish-speaking business owners are often behind the curve when it comes to technology (such as digital cash registers or credit card machines) and in their understanding of how expand their businesses.
And the language barrier is not just Spanish vs. English. “We came from 22 different countries and it’s hard because each has its own nuances,” he says of Hispanics. “My wife used to be uneasy when Domincian people would come to our business and speak with me because she thought they were screaming. But because my father is from the north coast of Colombia, I’m familiar with that tone.”
For a full TSBW agenda, see sidebar. For more information about Trenton Small Business Week, visit www.smallbizweek.com, or call 609-989-3508.