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DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT: Bill Harnden

 

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Director Spotlight:

Bill Harnden

 

Bill Harnden is the Regional Director of the NJSBDC at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC), which serves Hunterdon and Somerset Counties. Bill and his team are extremely popular in their region as they continuously push the envelope to provide innovative training programs to meet their clients’ needs, while also providing a high level of comprehensive business guidance.

Take a moment to learn more about Bill and the NJSBDC at Raritan Valley Community College team.

 


 

 

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

 

It is simple. My role as a regional director is to be an educator, mentor and relationship developer.

 

 

2.  Describe the average small business owner in your region. Why do they reach out to you for help?

 

I really don’t have an average customer.  That is why I have a large, professionally diverse counseling staff.  According to our data base records, we counsel clients on subject areas ranging from accounting to website development.  The business sizes ranges from 1 to 113 employees.  And the business experiences range is between 1 to 105 years.   The common denominator among all of our clients is that they come to my center to improve their company’s performance and infrastructure.

 

 

3.  Can you describe some of the unique services the NJSBDC at RVCC provides entrepreneurs in your area?

 

Along with traditional business development counseling services, we specialize in Quick books training and support, human resource, e-commerce and food industry training and counseling.

 

 

4.  After 14 years of working at GM, you left the security of a major company to become an entrepreneur and run your own franchise. How did that experience help you provide guidance to your NJSBDC clients?

 

Practical experience is priceless.  Blue sky thinking goes out the door when you put your shingle out.  I, like all small business owners, made a 1,000 mistakes starting and running my business.  The key to running a successful business is to never make the same mistake twice.  My goal is to teach my clients how to avoid/reduce mistakes by planning, knowing their numbers, maximize their tangible and intangible assets and develop an effective operations plan.

 

 

5.  What have you learned about the small business owners in NJ since entering the role as regional director in 2012?

 

They are passionate about their business concept, energetic and have a strong desire to be educated on the skills they lack, especially when it comes to numbers.  For some reason, most would rather repair a busted water pipe than put together projections.

 

 

6.  What are some key factors an entrepreneur should know before starting their own business?

 

Do your homework and plan.  Don’t get caught being under-capitalized. And learn how to sell.  Anyone who is thinking of starting a business must put together a business plan to improve their chances of succeeding.  Also, invest in sales training.  Most people say they know how to sell but in reality that don’t have the tools to ‘seal the deal’.

 

 

7.  How do you measure success in your role?

 

Repeat customers.  As I said before, I have a large professionally diverse counseling staff.  Each one has a specific business profession (e.g. Accounting, business planning,  legal, HR, e-Commerce, etc.).  It is my philosophy that a business owner needs to meet with several of these counselors to get a clear picture of what needs to be done with their business or verify they are operating their business correctly.

 

 

8.  You were honored with the National SBDC State Star Award from the New Jersey Small Business Development Center in 2016. What was that experience like for you?

 

It was a humbling experience.  I am extremely fortunate to have a great staff that understands me and the needs of our clients and counselors that enhance the quality of our counseling and training.  I may have been the award recipient, but the accolades were shared by everyone involved in my center.

 

 

 

9.  Is there anything you would like to say to the small business owners in your area that may not have gotten the chance to visit the NJSBDC at RVCC?

 

Whenever I meet someone thinking of owning a business or are currently in business and thinking of expanding, I always make it a habit of telling them that the NJSBDC at RVCC is the best deal in town and we are here to help. I ask them: “Where can you go to get expert business advice, at no-cost, and walk away knowing you have friends who really care about your success?”

 

 

 

 

 

Become a client of the NJSBDC at Raritan Valley Community College.

Read More about Bill Harnden via LinkedIn.

Connect with Bill Harnden and his team at the NJSBDC at Raritan Valley Community College.

 

 


 

Guest Contributor:

Sarah Introna

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PRESS RELEASE: America’s SBDC New Jersey Joins Other State SBDC Networks to Mark #SBDC DAY Nationally

America’s SBDC New Jersey Joins Other State SBDC Networks to Mark #SBDC DAY Nationally

Contact:

New-Jersey-color-with-band973.353.1927

press@njsbdc.com

 

 

SBDCs Provide BIG Impact on the Economy, Small Business Health and Economic Development

March 16, 2017 (Newark, NJ) – America’s SBDC New Jersey will join with the other 49 states’ SBDCs across the nation to celebrate SBDC Day on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.  Nearly 1,000 offices nationally will join in promoting – via social media and live and other events – the core mission and successful outcomes of America’s SBDC program. Telling the stories of its clients is the best way to celebrate #SBDCDay.

 

SBDCDay-2017-Facebook-Cover-PhotoThe day will be marked by sharing the success stories and notable impact the program has on the lives of entrepreneurs and small business’ operations in generating jobs, new businesses and additional economic development in communities across the nation.

 

America’s SBDC New Jersey, also known as the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers, will be offering certain seminars, webinars, and some live events to keep with its history of imparting knowledge and power for small businesses that want to grow their business and individuals who want to start new businesses.

 

“We’re uniting on a national basis to talk about this program’s successes,” said Brenda Hopper, NJSBDC network chief executive officer and state director. “There’s no better story than those of SBDC clients assisted by the network’s 12 centers statewide and our specialty programs in E-Business, International Trade, Procurement, Technology Commercialization, and Sustainability.”

 

“The best actions our 12 centers undertake focus on imparting knowledge so our small business clients learn how to succeed and face the daily challenges in developing and building their business,” added Deborah Smarth, NJSBDC network chief operating officer and associate state director. “SBDC Day is a more visible extension of that mission that we undertake every day of the year. We share knowledge and ensure our clients go down the right path, utilizing our assistance to build success.”

 

Some highlights of events and social media efforts at SBDCs (regional centers) in New Jersey include:

 

-At the NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College (Monmouth & Ocean counties), three business clients of the regional center will join the Center for a live chat on Facebook.

 

-The NJSBDC of Northwest Jersey (Morris, Sussex & Warren counties) will conduct pro bono webinars on issues like e-mail marketing for promoting sales and how to effectively execute project management across all phases to drive success. There are other topics being taught on that day, also (see below).

 

-The NJSBDC at Ramapo College of New Jersey (Bergen County) will host a special session concerning SBDC services for the College’s graduate and undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing entrepreneurship as a career path. The regional SBDC is engaging students as future entrepreneurs and small business owners and providing them with opportunities for internships and experiential learning on SBDC business client cases.

 

-The NJSBDC at Rutgers University-Camden (Burlington, Camden, Gloucester & Salem counties) will release and share taped events concerning how to land government procurement opportunities for increased sales as well as the do’s and don’ts of winning financing via its successful “Meet the Lenders” series. The regional center is also featuring up to three successful small business clients on Facebook and LinkedIn to share their experiences about SBDC learning opportunities.

 

-The NJSBDC at Rutgers University-New Brunswick (Middlesex County) will hold an Open House and sponsor a workshop session concerning an “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, providing tips and advice on succeeding as an entrepreneur.

 

-The NJSBDC at Stockton University (Atlantic, Cape May & Cumberland counties) will have a live chat with one of the Center’s successful clients, posting questions on the SBDC’s Facebook page and soliciting client responses.

 

-The NJSBDC at The College of New Jersey (Mercer County) is filming its “Walking Tour” (live) as Center business advisors/consultants meet with local businesses to discuss their success; in addition, other engagements will be shared in Spanish. The Center Director will also visit with some interesting high-growth/high impact SBDC clients in the service region.

 

-The NJSBDC at William Paterson University (Passaic County) will hold an “Open House” at its regional office. Two consultants will be providing advice for those business owners attending. One of the consultants is bilingual. Two to three SBDC success award clients will also mingle with the group of attendees and the Center is inviting state legislators in the region to join.

 

Webinars are being provided on a pro bono basis that are knowledge-packed sessions for small business owners and will run from 9:00 am through 4:45 pm on #SBDC Day and they include:

 

–Successful strategies for “lean” management in order to be competitive; accessing “free” Library resources for small businesses, including market research tools; success score diagnostics; 2017 marketing strategies, including effective tools, real-time marketing, advanced targeting and local considerations; understanding the loan process to maximize your chances of approval; reviewing whether your business financials are loan-ready and the types of loans available; and learn about developing your website and illustrating how you can get it launched promptly with a special tool.

 

Please go to www.njsbdc.com homepage for listings of events, webinars, and social media platform information sharing and learning opportunities to occur on #SBDCDay, Wednesday, March 22.

 

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DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT: Dolores Stammer

 

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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


Request Consulting from NJSBDC!