Sometimes, the most important lesson a future business owner can learn is that they should not start their own business. That may sound harsh, but John Biancamano, chairman of Princeton SCORE, says that entrepreneurship is not for everyone. But it is for some people.
If you want to learn what it takes to start your own company, Biancamano, an experienced sales and marketing expert with 25 years in the consulting and training business, will be teaching a series of workshops on five lessons every business owner needs to know. Princeton SCORE’s Start Smart workshop runs in five Wednesday night sessions over two months beginning May 25 from 5:45 to 8:45 p.m. at the offices of Pellettieri, Rabstein & Altman at 100 Nassau Park Boulevard, Suite 111. The entire course costs $135, and a full refund is available after the first session, which covers startup basics. Business concept and market research is covered on June 8, small business marketing on June 22, financial management on July 6 and funding sources on July 20. The sessions include one-on-one talks with a Princeton SCORE counselor. For more information, visit princeton.score.org or call 609-393-0505.
“The course is geared towards entrepreneurs thinking about starting a business, or current business owners thinking about growing their business,” Biancamano said. One of the main purposes of the course is to help entrepreneurs develop coherent, detailed business plans. “Taking someone through the process of planning is valuable step in and of itself,” he said. “They may have an idea for a business, but are not sure how to go about executing it.”
The course also covers the basics, such as what legal form is the most advantageous. To a beginner, choosing whether to be a partnership, an LLC, a corporation, or a sole proprietorship can be a daunting decision.
The Start SMART course has been running for about five years and has educated about 237 business people, including artist Faraz Khan, who opened an art studio after taking the course in 2015. Khan, whose work is based on Arabic calligraphy, said the workshop was crucial to developing a business plan for Khan Art Studio, which is now open at 195 Nassau Street. Khan sells his artwork and offers classes at his business. “I would have had a lot more painful experiences if I had not gone through the workshop,” he said. “It’s better to take your time and find out, rather than going into business and being stressed out about your financial situation and all these things.”
Biancamano said other successful clients included someone in the customer relationship management business who wanted to make her website a better marketing tool, a tattooist, a woman who wanted to sell the artwork of her husband, who is a well-known painter in the Trenton area, and several people who were starting online ventures.
Biancamano said many of these businesspeople didn’t have a full understanding of what they were getting into by starting their own companies. He said many people are starting businesses because they are having trouble finding jobs. Others simply had a good idea that they wanted to pursue. A third group of people are just tired of working for someone else and would rather be out on their own.
Biancamano said many of these would-be businesspeople begin the course without a clear idea of how they are going to accomplish their goals, especially when it comes to marketing. “They don’t realize they have to worry about how they are going to sell this thing and what price they are going to sell it at,” he said. The small business owner must be ready to be everything — head of sales, chief marketing officer, and master of many other skills as well. Not everyone is ready to do that. “Someone may go through the learning process and say, ‘I’m not ready yet,’ and wait until they get more resources,” Biancamano said.
Biancamano grew up in jersey City where his mother was a bank teller and his father was an electrical engineer. He would help his dad with the wiring around the house, and developed an interest in the work that led him to earn a degree in electrical engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. After working in that field for a few years, he found he liked working with people better than designing products, and moved into marketing for technology companies such as Brother, based in Bridgewater. He joined SCORE in 2012 as a counselor and later became president.
Biancamano isn’t just a counselor for small business owners. In 2013, he became one himself when he founded his own marketing consulting company, Inbound Digital LLC based in Ewing. Unlike most, he wasn’t blindsided by the challenges. “I’d been thinking about starting my own business for a long time, and I had corporate experience too,” he said.