Biotech Conference: Looking Forward

Be Ready for Change

Productivity: It’s All About Integration

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring were prepared for the

September 24, 2003 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Trenton’s Week: Getting the Baker Out of the Bakery

<169>Most people start a business because they are tired

of working for someone else," says Michael Pucciarelli,

a partner in the Lawrence-based accounting firm, Bartolomei

Pucciarelli.

The behavior that follows this decision is predictable, he finds,

and does not bode well for the long-term health of the new venture.

A key casualty often is the value of the business.

Pucciarelli talks about "Building Business Value" at a free

Trenton Small Business Week event on Monday, September 29, at the

Trenton Marriott at Lafayette Yard. The week — celebrating its

10th anniversary — includes a raft of other events, including

seminars and panels previewed below and others listed in U.S. 1’s

Business Meetings section, beginning on page 11. For information on

Small Business Week call 609-989-5232 or visit www.smallbizweek.com.

After giving up on a longtime dream of becoming an FBI agent,

Pucciarelli

fell into the business of helping small companies build value, and

says, "I loved it right away." A Lakewood native and graduate

of Montclair State (Class of 1981), he majored in accounting and

obtained

his CPA because a friend of his father’s told him that everyone else

was taking the J.D. route to the FBI. With white collar crime a big

issue at the time, the family friend assured him that a CPA would

have a better chance of making it into the elite agency.

The year he graduated, however, President Reagan froze federal hiring.

There would be no shot at the FBI, and Pucciarelli says, "I had

to do something." Forced to give accounting a try, he signed on

with a Lakewood firm, met with his first small business clients, and

realized that accounting was not just numbers. He saw that it could

also be about helping people who had invested their whole lives in

their companies.

Hooked on advising small businesses, he joined two other CPAs in

forming

Bartolomei Pucciarelli, now a 12-person firm with offices at 2155

Brunswick Pike. In 22 years of practice he has seen "mediocre

businesses, businesses that fail, and successful businesses."

The difference, he says, lies in how the entrepreneur sees his

enterprise.

If it is merely a job replacement, there will not be much success,

and certainly not much value to sell at the end of the day. Yet this

job replacement trap is alluring.

Business owners, he says, tend to be "entrepreneurs for five

minutes,

managers for five minutes, and then they fall back into the technician

mode." He defines a "technician" as a person who spends

his time working at his craft, whether it be baking or consulting

on human resources issues. In starting a business, new entrepreneurs

have to break out of this comfort zone.

People have to be entrepreneurial in deciding to strike out on their

own, and they have to be managerial in finding a location, signing

leases, ordering letterhead, and nailing a shingle on the door.

After seeing the vision of a business and working at bringing it into

being, however, these new entrepreneurs tend to go right back to doing

whatever it was they did in their jobs, or whatever job-replacement

craft they have chosen.

Big mistake, says Pucciarelli. Work in the business, rather than on

it, and you will never have much of a business. That can be okay,

he hastens to add, if you realize that what you want is just X number

of dollars a week to support yourself. "Then, that’s your

vision,"

he says.

Most struggling business owners he sees have a different, albeit

poorly

articulated, goal. They want their companies to grow, but are stuck.

A big part of his job is showing them how to stop working in the

business,

and start working on the business by:

Building an organizational chart. "Even if you’re

a one-person business, you need an organizational chart," he

insists.

"Your name may be in every box, but you need to have it."

That way, when it comes time to hire, and you put another name in

a box or two, you will know exactly what tasks your employee is taking

over.

Creating a business in a box. Writing a "how we do

it" book goes hand-in-hand with the organizational chart.

Descriptions

of how to do each task are in the book. That way, says Pucciarelli,

"things get done the same way every time."

You may never franchise your business, but act as if that is your

goal. "When people buy a franchise," he says, "they’re

buying a business in a box." That is the appeal. That is where

the value lies. A stand-alone business that runs like clockwork on

a written plan has a similar value.

Actively managing employees. When the baker has enough

business to hire a bookkeeper, he generally sighs with relief, and

happily gets back to doing what he enjoys, thrilled to be free of

the accounting chores. Turning full attention on the bread is not

the way to go, however.

Just because an employee is now handling a task that you once had

to do, does not mean that the task is not still your responsibility.

You need to give the new hire a job description and then make sure

that he is doing the job.

Constantly monitoring feedback. Pucciarelli often convenes

a gathering of eight or ten of a client’s customers, and asks them

to talk about what the client is doing right, and about where he is

falling down.

"At first, they just sit there. They think they don’t have

anything

to say," he recounts. But once the ball starts rolling, "they

can’t shut their mouths," he says with a laugh.

The results often surprise the business owner, and this is one

surprise

that he badly needs. "Your customers’ perception is reality,"

he observes.

Working on making the business better. Busy entrepreneurs

hate to stop what they’re doing, but Pucciarelli advises that they

make time to attend seminars, workshops, and classes on how to build

up their businesses. In one recent seminar that he gave, he talked

about the importance of asking clients for referrals and for

testimonials.

Success in business, he says, is not about doing one thing well —

even perfectly — "it’s about doing 1,000 small things."

Asking for testimonials can be seen as one more distraction, or it

can be seen as an important way to win new business.

Being on the look-out for new opportunities. "If

you’re

a baker," says Pucciarelli, "maybe you can team up with a

wedding planner. Maybe you can sell wedding cakes wholesale."

Taking the imperative one step further, he suggests that a time could

come when starting a wedding planning component to the business would

sense.

Getting ready to get out. The exit strategy must begin

on day one. "Where do you want the business to be in 5 years,

10 years, 20 years?" ask Pucciarelli. "Do you want to sell

it, to pass it along to your kids?"

He has seen that the most successful entrepreneurs are those who start

out by thinking of how to get out. It flies against traditional

wisdom,

but the baker cannot be too attached to baking. The bakery that runs

like clockwork while its owner is out fishing is a bakery anyone can

buy, and that a great many people will want to buy — at a good

price.

Top Of Page
Biotech Conference: Looking Forward

Few industries have had as many ups and downs as

biotechnology.

What’s the state of the industry now? And what does the future hold?

What segments of biotechnology are hot now? All of these questions

are given lots of attention when the Biotechnology Council of New

Jersey and the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Association hold a joint

conference on Monday and Tuesday, September 29 and 30, at the Hyatt

Regency on the Hudson and the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.

The cost is $825, but less for attendance at only the workshops or

the symposium. Complete details and registration forms are at

www.biotechsymposium.com.

Information also is available at 609-581-8244.

The conference begins with a 7:30 a.m. registration on September 29.

That morning there is a choice of three concurrent workshops, on

nanotechnology,

biotechnology for the non-scientist, and fundamental business and

legal strategies for life science ventures.

The official opening, at 2:30 p.m., provides an industry overview

by a panel that will consider trends from the past, the present dire

straits that now keep CEOs and CFOs up at night, and what the experts

see in the future.

The keynote, at a 7 p.m. dinner, will be delivered by Irwin

Lerner,

chairman of Medarex.

Concurrent sessions on September 30, beginning at 9 a.m., include

a look at synergies to cure disease, advice on riding the wave of

biotech and pharma mergers and acquisitions, and a primer on meeting

new compensation and staffing challenges. Next, at 10:30 a.m., are

sessions on vying for biodefense research dollars, forging research

partnerships with universities, and ensuring the growth of

biotechnology

in the New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania corridor.

The day’s keynote, at a noon lunch, is delivered by Michel

deRosen,

president and CEO of ViroPharma.

On the afternoon of September 30, there are concurrent sessions on

navigating the FDA approval process, the emergence of specialty

pharmaceutical

companies, and creative ways to structure deals when cash is scarce.

The closing session, highlighting an issue on everyone’s mind, is

on mega financing, on how to raise capital from strategic partners

and the private and public markets in this economic climate.

Top Of Page
Be Ready for Change

There is a time to move on. That’s the message from

Roland Pott, who struggled with a decision to walk away from

day-to-day management of the Urban Word Cafe and Conduit, restaurant

and music venues at the center of a nascent arts revival in Trenton.

"It was hard. It was like leaving my baby," says the

entrepreneur.

Yet leave he did, shuttering both venues, at least for the summer.

Pott, now a real estate broker with Segal Commercial Real Estate,

is moving toward bigger dreams.

Pott urges others to do the same, and is organizing a Trenton Small

Business Week seminar around the theme of starting over:

"Reinvesting

Your Investment," on Tuesday, September 30, at 5:30 p.m. at

Conduit,

located at 439 South Broad Street. The panel discussion, moderated

by Tom O’Neill of Partnership New Jersey, will look at "what

do you do when things don’t go the way you planned" and promises

entrepreneurs that "If you miss a market opportunity, success

is still in the cards."

Success has been pretty much of a constant for Pott, who at barely

30 years old, has been involved in turning a big chunk of unloved

Trenton real estate into not only a coffee house and a 500-seat music

club, but also into a number of retail stores and artists’ studios,

which remain open. Art and business were the twin foundations of his

childhood, and continue to be his passions.

His mother, Dr. Judith Pott, is a psychologist, but he describes her

first as an artist. "She’s been singing with the New Amsterdam

Singers for, well, 20 or 25 years," he says, "for as long

as I can remember." His brother, Sam Pott, is a jazz and ballet

dancer, who performs in San Francisco. His grandfather was an

architect

and a painter. "My family is very artistic," he says, "I

was always encouraged to be involved in the arts."

At the same time, he was catching on to the benefits of marketplace

enterprise. "I was always the kid with the lemonade stand,"

he says. Growing up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, he also

experimented

with sharing business ideas and burdens with others. "I had a

newspaper with a partner," he says. "It was called Colorful

News in Black and White." He liked making money right from the

start: "It was a way to buy baseball cards."

Leaving his businesses behind, Pott attended college at Oregon’s Reed

College (Class of 1995). The move put him in Portland during the

heyday

of the coffee house revolution. "Portland was an inspirational

place to live," he says. "There were all kinds of coffee

houses

springing up. It rains all the time there," he says. "People

run around in slickers, jumping into espresso shops, talking with

friends until late at night." He enjoyed the joe, the talk, and

the poetry jams that were a coffee house feature.

"If I didn’t have family here, I’d still be there," he says.

But, with his family anchored in the New York area, Pott did come

back east, where he signed up with a teacher placement agency in

Princeton

and started looking for an apartment. "I was used to cities, so

I looked for the nearest city," he says. That would be Trenton.

Since Trenton is not a hot topic in Manhattan, and certainly not in

Oregon, Pott says he was lucky that he had never "heard the

negative

perceptions."

He went in fresh, and found an apartment in the historic Mill Hill

section, where a renovation movement was well under way. Walking

around,

he bumped into David Henderson, who, along with John Hatch, had formed

the Atlantis Group to buy and restore houses in the neighborhood under

the name. Henderson and Hatch, architects with a keen interest in

urban revitalization, quickly became his friends.

That is where architecture, entrepreneuralism, urban enthusiasm,

pioneer

spirit, and an interest in historic preservation and in the arts

combined

to create the Urban Word and Conduit.

The trio, using savings and money from family and friends, and just

a little bit of cash from the public till, formed Trenton Makes. The

corporation purchased a string of Victorian structures, and opened

the Urban Word in 1999, and Conduit in 2001. New Jersey Monthly

described

the Urban Word as "a cutting-edge literary performance space that

serves up great food." Reviews of the coffee house were not always

so positive. There were complaints about high prices, slow service,

and uneven food. Regardless, Trenton residents rejoiced in the rebirth

the Urban Word seemed to signal.

A year or so after the Urban Word opened, Pott was quoted as saying,

"We wanted a cafe in our neighborhood, so we said `Let’s build

one.’" It is a sentiment well known to residents of Trenton’s

many excellent residential enclaves. Enjoying houses full of

interesting

architectural details and the camaraderie of close-knit neighborhoods,

they long for what Trenton does not yet offer much of: places to

gather,

eat, drink, and shop.

The Urban Word was warmly received, and Conduit, which opened just

after the terrorist attacks of September 11, followed. The partners

saw a place for a large, alternative music space in the

heavily-populated

corridor between New York and Philadelphia. The Urban Word, sitting

right across the street from the Sovereign Bank Arena, would be

largely

for the locals, and Conduit would draw visitors from a wide area.

In large part, the plan worked. Philadelphia’s Citypaper.net called

Conduit, "an enclave of the arts; an Esalen in Trenton."

Significantly, the arts/entertainment/dining complex was funded

privately. The partners, and their backers, were taking a big chance.

And were they just too early? Pott doesn’t think so. He sees Trenton

going only up. He points out that residential real estate prices are

way up. His partners, he says, have sold houses in Mill Hill for up

to $300,000, a figure that was unimaginable just a few years ago.

"Over the next few years," he says, "more private

developers

will decide to come to Trenton, especially with commercial projects,

not just residential." But still Pott and his peers "were

pioneers. Someone has to do it."

Closing the Urban Word and Conduit did not have a lot to do with how

well they were doing financially. The main reason they were closed,

says Pott, is that running the complex was consuming, exhausting,

and ultimately, not what he wanted to do. In little more than six

years, he had gone from teaching at the Newgrange School to running

several businesses.

"It’s a question of what you want to spend your life doing,"

he says. "I had worked on that project for six years. We had grown

very fast, from three employees to 50 in three years. It was very

exhausting." Besides, he continues, "I’m an entrepreneurial

person. I like to get things started. The more it became an issue

of the day-to-day grind, the more it wanted to be something I wanted

to delegate."

Other factors were manageability, and of course, profitability. Urban

Word and Conduit would do better as separate entities, Pott says.

He expects that the two will open very soon, under new ownership,

as two different businesses. Meanwhile, he and his partners still

own the real estate.

But Pott is free of day-to-day management chores. "It was hard

at first," he says of the transition, "but the farther away

I get, the better I feel. I’m exposed to lots of other

possibilities."

Declining to provide details of any deals he is working on —

"I

have no announcements yet" — Pott says he is looking around,

and looking to play "on a bigger playing field," but still

in or around the Trenton area, where he lives in a former auto service

garage that Hatch and Henderson renovated.

While his mother, brother, and grandfather turned him toward the arts,

his father, Dr. Nick Pott, a psychiatrist, taught him not to be afraid

of risks. "In another life, he would have been an explorer,"

Pott says of his father, who enjoys mountaineering and other

physically

risky pastimes.

His advice to other entrepreneurs: "It’s not necessary to stay

with the original idea. Allow it to transform. You have to be willing

to give up a little in order to be able to move on. Stay in motion,

and continue to pursue your dreams."

Top Of Page
Productivity: It’s All About Integration

For every $10,000 an employer pays a worker, more than

$1,000 is spent to have him rummage around for memos, files, reports,

and the like. The statistic comes from Grazina Crisman,

organization

expert and consultant. "You can say," she adds, "that

10 to 12 percent of the money employers pay is being wasted in

searching

for things." In addition to the monetary toll of disorganization,

there is the mental toll. Is anything more frustrating than digging

through mountains of paper for background information on the client

who is due to arrive in two minutes?

Crisman soothes harried paper pushers with down-to-earth advice when

she speaks on "Elements of a Productive Business Day" at a

free Trenton Small Business Week event at 9:30 a.m., on Wednesday,

October 1, at the New Jersey State Library at 185 West State Street

in Trenton.

After growing up in Queens and on Long Island, Crisman attended

Hofstra

(Class of 1974), where she studied math and business. She then earned

an MBA from St. Johns University. "What can I say," she

shrugs,

"I’ve always had a logical brain." She is sure that there

is a connection between logic and organization, and she exhibited

the latter at an early age. She never had to be told to pick up her

room, she recalls. It was always neat, and perfectly organized.

She spent the early years of her career as a computer programmer,

but disliked "sitting behind a desk," no matter how well

organized.

So she jumped to the vendor side of technology, working for a number

of companies, including Wang Laboratories, Oracle, and Logic Works.

"I was always around a sales environment," she says,

"always

client oriented."

Crisman spent some 25 years in a corporate environment, where she

often heard "Give it to Grazina, she’ll never lose it." Why

did she leave big business to start her own business? "I came

from high tech," she answers. "We all know what happened to

high tech. In 10 years I was with three companies. Each one got bought

out. I was always on the end that got bought out. They gave me jobs,

but not the great ones."

Moving into an entrepreneurial life, making a living by helping

businesses

and businesspeople to get organized, Crisman says she never missed

a beat. "The skills are transferable," she quickly found.

She and her consulting firm, the Productivity Shoppe (609-987-9601),

share an office address, 212 Carnegie Center, with her husband, Doug,

who is the principal in Old Horses, a consulting firm that works with

small businesses.

"I’m doing it for the lifestyle," she says of the freedom

of owning a business. "If I went back, let’s put aside the

difficulty

of getting a job, I would have had two to three weeks of

vacation."

Now she often works through the weekend, but doesn’t mind. It’s

different,

she says, when it’s your own business. "There are trade-offs,"

she continues. "High tech is well paid, but I’m nothing but

grateful

to be out. I didn’t want to deal with that rat race."

Now she is helping denizens of the paperless offices

that never quite went paperless to organize their days and their desk.

She starts most jobs by observing her clients at work. She asks: What

is your biggest frustration? Some people have just one, or a handful,

others, she says, "are disorganized on every level." Getting

organized isn’t all that hard, though, she insists, not even for the

most harried. Here’s how:

Control your time. No manner of physical organization

makes up for sloppy time management. Even if an office is impeccably

organized, its inhabitant may be horribly unproductive.

"You have to be in control of your time," Crisman insists.

"It’s the most important thing. If you don’t do it, you’re

thrashing

around, constantly trying to restart."

Turn off that E-mail bell. A big obstacle to time control

is E-mail. It’s ironic, really. What is more efficient than shooting

out an E-mail to order a product, plan a group lunch, or keep in touch

with a client. But allowed free rein, E-mail is nothing short of a

"black hole," declares Crisman.

The problem comes when the habit — the obsession, really —

of reading E-mail as it arrives sets in. Letting a bell signal

incoming

mail is to signal an end to a productive day. "Whatever you’re

doing, you lose focus," says Crisman. Let the E-mail pile up,

is her advice. Schedule a time to read, delete, and answer the

messages,

and let them wait patiently in the meantime. Get on with your work,

and do not worry that an unattended E-mail will be your downfall.

"I have a news flash," says Crisman, "E-mail is not your

job. It allows you to get and disperse information better than ever.

People lose track. They think of it as their responsibility. The think

`E-mail is the job!’ They get sucked into it."

Break the day in blocks. With E-mail tamed, turn to the

rest of the day’s tasks — both personal and business. Slot them

in, making sure to set priorities that will assure that the essential

tasks make it onto the schedule, and that meaningless distractions

get filtered out.

Crisman’s clients nearly always tell her that they are overworked.

"Overworked?" she exclaims. "They’re working until 10

p.m., but working on non-essential stuff."

"You need balance," she says. "You need a map. If you

have a map, things fall into place." Learn to ask "`Is this

interruption critical?’" If it isn’t, politely turn the visitor

or caller away, and get back to work — so that you can get home

in time to exercise, have a nice dinner, and spend time with family

and friends.

Thrive in an organized environment. "If you can’t

find what you want, you’re creating stress," says Crisman. Getting

organized doesn’t mean stripping down to a minimalist environment,

she insists: "That’s not reality."

A simple way to create order is to arrange your desk in concentric

circles. Put the things you use all the time, perhaps the phone and

the keyboard, at the center. Arrange active projects around them,

and move second tier projects to the next circle.

As for the little notes on stickies, get rid of them. "It’s

clutter,

clutter, clutter!" insists Crisman. "You can’t help but be

distracted."

Write your life down. "I used to use a Day Timer,"

says Crisman. "Now I use a PDA; I needed to make the leap because

of what I do, but I don’t care if people use a calendar."

Pull together your work life and your personal life. It

is common for businesspeople separate the two, keeping one calendar

for weddings, dentist and vet appointments, PTA meetings, and dinner

dates, and another for business appointments and deadlines. No good,

says Crisman, brushing aside privacy concerns. Commingling may not

be good when it comes to bank accounts, but in her view, it is the

way to go in scheduling. One life, one schedule.

Write it all down. In one place. Because, says Crisman, "the mind

plays tricks. We need to see it! Our lives are too complicated."

Take the time to learn about your technology. PDAs and

computer programs can do amazing things, but few people take the time

to learn more than the basics. When she was a corporate woman, Crisman

had Outlook, Microsoft’s E-mail and calendaring software loaded into

her computer, but says, "I only used 5 percent of it. I didn’t

have time to use it all."

Now, forcing herself to become well-versed, she says "I can’t

believe I ever did without it."

Being realistic, she says that not everyone has to know every trick

his productivity software can perform. "You don’t have to use

it all," she says. "Use 50 percent. It’s a huge change."

Become fully integrated. The Outlook feature Crisman raves

about is its ability to integrate all kinds of data. She makes such

a strong case for integration — whether through Outlook or any

rival software — that it is hard for even the most

organization-phobic

to keep from getting excited by the possibilities. "When you put

in an appointment," she explains, "you have a place to write

in the history." The history of the client or customer could

include

personal details — the names of his twins — or business

details

such as the last time he placed an order. The contact’s phone, fax,

cell phone, and pager numbers sit together, along with his E-mail,

URL, and the names of his favorite cocktail, ski resort, and

restaurant.

Data put into a good productivity program can be sorted any number

of ways. You can, for example, see all the information on all the

people working on a particular project — or attending an upcoming

event. "Categories," says Crisman. "That’s the power.

Integrating is so important, so powerful. All of a sudden, you have

a few thousand names on your cell phone. You’re walking around with

a database."

Crisman uses her personal database for all kinds of things. "When

I walk into a bookstore," she says, "I already have the titles

in front of me."

Crisman makes the whole organization thing sound almost

glamorous.

But, she warns, it can take a little time to untangle life’s knots.

"You don’t flip the switch overnight," she says. "you

have to ease into the flow."


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