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Director Spotlight:

Dolores Stammer


Dolores Stammer is the Regional Director of the NJSBDC of Northwest Jersey, which serves Sussex, Morris and Warren Counties.  Having been with the NJSBDC since 2006, Dolores has developed a strong relationship with her clients and community.

Take a moment to learn more about Dolores and the NJSBDC of Northwest Jersey.


#1.          In your own words, how would you describe your role to the business owners in your region?


First and foremost, we’re providers of information for a vast array of business questions, issues and topics. We answer questions and/or refer business owners to quality third-party resources. Secondly, we act as consultants, working together with clients to facilitate goal achievement. Thirdly, we “have their back” – in other words we are the independent voice of a trusted advisor that reviews upcoming strategies, plans and projects that are about to be undertaken to assure that the go vs. no-go decision is beneficial to the economic viability of the business. And, yes we’re trainers too.


#2.     You didn’t start out educating others. At what point in your career, did you decide you wanted to take the responsibility of guiding fellow entrepreneurs? Can you describe how that came about?

My entire career has been spent in business. Throughout my career, I’ve always felt that the experiences (and knowledge) that I’ve been fortunate enough to acquire are resources that I can share with others. I feel these are my God-given gifts and my responsibility is to share these gifts.

As with most major turns of my life, joining the NJSBDC was serendipitous. I was in the right place at the right time. I started working with the Student-Powered-Projects program at Centenary College, at the Skylands SBDC. (Skylands SBDC is the previous name of the center while at Warren Community College.) Centenary College’s Management team decided that it made sense to integrate with the SBDC when Centenary acquired Warren Community College – so there it was. Instantaneously, I became part of the NJSBDC.  I took the position of Regional Director when the prior Regional Director retired.


#3.     In your opinion, what’s unique about the small business owners in your region?


Our region is unique in that the demographics of the 3 counties are very different. Morris County is one of the wealthiest counties in the country and has some of the largest companies in the country. It also has its share of small retailers, tradesmen and professional ‘consultants’. Warren County is largely agrarian while Sussex County has many more blue collar and tradesmen residents. There are very few “larger” small businesses in these counties. In fact, these counties are thought of as bedroom communities due to the fact that people live here, but work elsewhere. In many cases the inhabitants have made a lifestyle choice.

The challenge is the diversity and dispersion of the potential client base.

#4.     What type of relationships have you developed with your clients through the years?


When we work intensely with clients, we almost become like partners within their business. We have no ownership but we view their successes and growth like partners or proud parents. Perhaps we have no right to feel this way, but we cheer at achievement and lament over any setbacks. We hope that there aren’t too many setbacks and that most are avoided due to our expert advice, but setbacks happen and we’re here for them when they do. This is personal for us; we put our hearts in it. We take pride in being their trusted advisor.


#5.     Say someone comes to you and says they have a business idea; what is the first piece of advice do you give them? Where do you advise they start? 


We ask if they realize what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Every NEW client to the Center is asked to complete an RAF/BEF (Readiness Assessment or Business Experience Form). This helps us assess their baseline knowledge and experience. We also have a set of webinars that they can subscribe to which explains the basics.

If they have just an idea and very little business experience, we ask them to complete the EQ Assessment (Entrepreneurial Quotient) which scores (from an experiential perspective) how well-suited they are for being “their own boss”. This sets their expectation at a realistic level so that we can move forward.

Every Start-up receives the Start-up Checklist which outlines all the tasks necessary to begin. We also may advise them to read a few articles from our on-line resource library. That’s our starting point.


#6.     What are some of the most recent challenges small businesses in NJ are facing? Has your center had to alter its strategy when handling these challenges? 


Let’s face it, NJ is not exactly small business friendly and some businesses are affected more by this situation than others. So whether it’s funding, minimum wage, employee benefits or local/ state taxes, we need to have a sufficient understanding of these issues and the informational resources to address them. A specific issue is the OSS of HUB Zones, which has required some businesses to move or prohibited moving to some under-served (depressed) areas.  That being said, the NJSBDC of Northwest hasn’t had the need to alter its strategy, but we need the skills and knowledge to advise clients properly.

#7.     What are some of the center’s accomplishments that you’d like to highlight? Or, what are some of the center’s most memorable accomplishments that you’re most proud of? 


Well, we’re known for being really innovative in the way we conduct business. We’ve made significant productivity improvements for on-line scheduling and appointments and have partnered with and began working with volunteers and organizations to provide great information and resources to our clients.  We also incorporated specialty consulting in the areas of pricing analysis and strategy formulation, competitive financial bench-marking, digital marketing, business valuation, loan impediment consulting, business modeling for virtualization or franchising and a comprehensive ‘B-GAP’ program.


#8.      What do you believe drives a person to become a business owner and eventually succeeding? 

Usually, it starts with a dream. Then it morphs into the challenge of success despite the odds. The dream has to be coupled with business acumen/ skills and an unshakeable “CAN-DO” attitude.

Then there’s the practical matter of having the necessary funding to succeed. Most companies fail because they’re under-capitalized OR lack the talent, knowledge and resources to succeed.

#9.     How do you measure success for the business owners who come to your center for help?


Well, there’s the US Small Business Administration and our NJSBDC Network-wide criteria for success, which includes totals of new businesses, jobs created, capital received, long-term and high-growth clients.

However, the best qualitative measurement is when our clients tell us “Thank you for helping me realize my dream” or “I earn more now in one day then I did in two weeks prior to coming to you. I owe it all to you.”

Every client that overcomes an obstacle and stays in business, growing, and/or maintaining profitability is a success in my book. Even those we’ve helped exit their business is a success if we’ve helped them achieve their objective. We’re here to serve them, not us. It’s about the client, not the numbers.


#10.  Are you seeing any current trends in NJ’s small business world? 


Small businesses are relying more on technological resources to help them compete effectively.

Become a client of the NJSBDC at Northwest Jersey

Read More about Dolores Stammer via LinkedIn.

Connect with Dolores Stammer and her team at the NJSBDC of Northwest NJ

Guest Contributor:

Sarah Introna









Small Business Development Centers Network Lauds Action by Legislature and Governor


July 5, 2016 (Newark, NJ) – The FY 2016-2017 Appropriations Act was introduced and passed by the Legislature with an increase for the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) network, also known as America’s SBDC New Jersey. The increase remained intact after the Governor’s review and approval of this year’s state budget. The Governor had proposed a budget in February which reduced the allocation to this program.


“We are extremely grateful that the Legislature once again gave its full support for the program’s efforts to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs across New Jersey and that the Governor concurred,” said NJSBDC network Chief Executive Officer and State Director, Brenda B. Hopper.


“Communicating with some of the network’s key advocates at the Legislature was extra important this year,” said NJSBDC Chief Operating Officer and Associate State Director, Deborah Smarth. “It was very gratifying to see that members of the Legislature acted on our network’s request and provided a restored increase to $500,000, the same funding level as enacted during last year’s budget process.” Smarth is the chief advocate for the program at the State House in Trenton.


The Small Business Development Centers Senior Leadership Team said that the increase will ensure that New Jersey’s full federal share of funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is received by the NJSBDC for the delivery of one-on-one management consulting, training and other forms of technical assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs around the state. The program is part of a national network of SBDCs, America’s SBDC.


The state network counseled and trained more than 10,000 small business owners and entrepreneurs in 2015, helping them to retain and create more than 16,000 jobs. Clients received close to 17,000 total counseling hours and 554 SBDC clients started new businesses.



About America’s SBDC New Jersey (NJSBDC)


The New Jersey Small Business Development Centers network, one of the first pilot projects in the nation, has provided comprehensive services and programs for small business in New Jersey for 37 years; SBDC experts help businesses expand their operations, manage their growth, or start new ventures. Expert staff and practicing business consultants help small business owners and entrepreneurs to develop business plans, find financing, accounting and financial analysis, identify new markets, initiate marketing strategies, find procurement and international trade opportunities, learn green sustainability practices, commercialize technology and develop an E-commerce presence. This non-profit network, a federal-state-educational partnership, leverages funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the N.J. Business Action Center (BAC), the educational institutions that host the 12 centers as well as other private sponsorships and additional private/public grants. The NJSBDC Headquarters, located at the Rutgers Business School in Newark, NJ, oversees the network which is an accredited member of the national network of America’s SBDC. Up to 1,000 centers and satellite offices serve small businesses across the country, generating jobs, new businesses and economic development. Visit www.njsbdc.com

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NJSBDC Small Business Voice | Winter/ Spring 2016

Find out tips, insight and other information useful for New Jersey’s small business community in the Small Business Voice.


The Winter/ Spring 2016 Issue Includes:

  •  2015 Small Business Success Awards/ Winners
  • Tabatchnick Fine Foods Wins Contract
  • What You Should Know About Social Media for Business
  • Contract Opportunities for Small Businesses Get Boost: SBA Increase for Surety Bond Guarantee
  • FranNet Partners with SBDCs
  • How to Get Capital for Your Business
  • 2015 NJSBDC Network-wide Economic Impact
  • America’s SBDC National Association Meeting
  • Gov. Christie’s New Jersey State Budget Legislature Submission
  • Small Business Owners Should Be the Legislature’s and Administrations Top Priority
  • NJSBDC Network Participates in Small Business Saturday Events Across the State
  • The Future Depends on Correcting the Inequities of Our Economic System
  • News & Updates



A recent, past survey of SBDCs nationally indicated that the average state investment in SBDCs stands at $1.1 million. New Jersey falls significantly below that average. States like Georgia and North Carolina with a similar size population as New Jersey invest $3.0 million and more than $2.0 million respectively.

MAP - NJ State (colorful) from BrochureThe New Jersey Small Business Development Centers network continues to advocate for restoration of its State Government match funding since the program brings back to New Jersey $3 million dollars in federal funding to provide comprehensive assistance for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

That state match is critical along with other non-federal funds it raises to obtain full federal funding for small business assistance services in all 21 counties.

Small business clients from around the state readily acknowledge that the guidance and knowledge they receive through this program has helped them stay in business, develop and grow. They are pushing for the State Legislature to allocate more resources. During 2014, 534 NJSBDC clients started a new business and the NJSBDC network helped its clients create and save 15,089 jobs. The network counseled and trained more than 12,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Clients maintain that this program is simply returning services they are already pre-paying for through the large amount of federal and state taxes they pay. “If the larger companies receive all sorts of tax incentives, grants and other subsidies, why isn’t the State of New Jersey providing the proper investment level for small business assistance through the NJSBDC program?” said Deborah Smarth, NJSBDC chief operating officer-associate state director. “After all, small businesses create the bulk of the jobs.”

During the last administration, the network received $1 million in state allocation, but, due to executive action, it was reduced to $500,000 even after the Legislature’s efforts to restore the full one million. Then mid-fiscal year, the Corzine administration froze the program to $250,000 which is where it is today.   The Christie administration in its first year had tried to eliminate that modest funding level, but, the Legislature restored the funding and the $250,000 allocation has been stable for the past few years and the Governor’s proposed budget for 2015-2016 allocates the same level.


RELATED: NJSBDC Press Release – Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs Receive Boost (7/1/2015)


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