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volume six issue eleven

C O V E R

S T O R Y

BUILDING A BOWLING ICON LANG’S BOWLARAMA | CRANSTON RI

IS PERSONAL

CREDIT

STOPPING YOUR DREAMS?

S M A L L

B U S I N E S S

W E B S I T E

six issue S www.risbj.com E C U | Rvolume I T Y eleven T I 1P S


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Gil Lantini Founder Ralph Coppolino Co-Founder Mike Casale Senior Designer Web/Graphic Design Team Amanda Bogardus Kristin Darcy Talia Fappiano Ben Laudicano Contributing Writers Michael Brito Ted Donnelly Bradley Fowler Larry Girouard Bryan B Mason William F. Miller Kristin MacRae David Podell Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro Aaron Spacone Amelia Votta Kristen M. Whittle

Front Cover Photograhy Bottm Left Photo Taken By Blueflash Photography, Matt Celeste Bottom Right Photo Taken By Michelle Lee Photography, Michelle St Vincent

www.facebook.com/risbj twitter.com/risbj 401 831 7779 info@risbj.com www.risbj.com 1343 Hartford Avenue, Suite 24 Johnston, RI 02919

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal


contents

volume six issue eleven

INSIDE THIS ISSUE 7 Business Trends Report 9 Tips To Help You Fund Your Business

Security Awareness

11 Employer Life Insurance 12 A Primer For Early Stage Companies 14 Credit Stopping Your Business Dreams 16 Lang’s Bowlarama: Cover Story

Written By Bradley Fowler, MA One of the most invaluable components today’s small businesses and organizations should consider utilizing is a Web site URL security assessment tool. After all, learning how to utilize these effective security assessment tools can save you a great deal of money. In fact, understanding how to rely on Web site security assessment tools-can prevent your small business or organization’s website from being targeted by hackers and/or infected with malware. I also want to stress the value of maintaining effective updates on the antivirus software, you may be utilizing. After all, not updating the antivirus software application on your small business devices can pose a serious threat. In fact, this enables attackers to possibly integrate Botnets that you may not be aware of- because Botnets can be installed during a simple download, and stored on your device hard drive for months- until activated by the controller.

OWASP- Open Web Application Security Project is a free open source application distribution platform- developed to provide small business owners useful security tools that better protect their networks from potential threats and

“SAFE”  “KISS”

By William F. Miller, Esq.

It is a rare company that can fund its growth using only internal cash flow. Start-ups and early vulnerabilities. To learn more about this useful tool, log on tocompanies can be particularly challenged stage because they often do not have access to either bank the following link: https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Main_Page financing or venture capital since both sources typically To download the free open source application, log on to https:// require several years of positive operating results before a company becomes a viable candidate for either. The www.owasp.org/index.php/OWASP_Zed_Attack_Proxy_Project following are two types of financing options early stage companies seeking outside investors may want to consider.

One thing, I should suggest; whenever, you are surfing on-line to download any free software, please be sure to evaluate all CONVERTIBLE NOTES Web sites, you’re downloading software applications from. Most If a company decides to seek outside investments from Web sites offering free secure open source security softwarefriends, family or other investors, the very first question company will be asked is what percent of the company have the HTTPS address headers; unlike commonthe HTTP will I get for my investment. The answer to that question address headers. HTTPS URL headers are commonly utilized requires that the company and the investor agree on the by financial, government, education, and medical institutionscurrent value ofto the company and that can be a difficult and time-consuming exercise. secure sensitive data. The reason convertible notes are so often used as the financing vehicle for start-ups and early stage companies Meanwhile, another free open source website security is that they postpone the need to agree on the value of assessment tool is-Virus Total. This tool will enable, you to type the company. In a typical convertible note financing, the in the URL of your website, and evaluate if worms,investor viruses, receives a convertible note, which provides for an annual malware, or additional threats may be infecting your site.interest rate and a maturity date of 18 months to three years. Principal and sometimes interest are typically To learn more about this tool, please log on to https://www. paid in a single installment at maturity.

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Thus, I’ve complied a small list of website security assessment tools that are free open-source applications, and can be easily downloaded and installed on a laptop or desktop device. Each one of these tools has been evaluated for potential risk, and have proven to be useful in helping save small business owners money. However, it is recommended that, you take time to better educate yourself on how each of these listed tools works, and how each can benefit your business or organization.

18 2017 In Review

virustotal.com/#/home/upload.

SAFEs (which stands for Simple Agreement for Future Equity) and KISSes (an acronym for Keep It Simple Security) are relatively new alternative investment vehicles which have been developed over the last few years by Y-Combinator and 500 Startups, respectively. Both of these are West Coast accelerators.

A great deal has been written about SAFEs and KISSes and sample legal documents are available online. Both have been billed as alternatives to more traditional convertible notes. While it is probably worthwhile being familiar with the terms, the reality is that neither SAFEs nor KISSes have been widely used outside Silicon Valley, perhaps because they are less favorable to investors. Unlike convertible notes, among other things they typically have no maturity date and do not provide for payments of interest.

SOME PRACTICAL ADVICE SAFEs and KISSes have very few disadvantages for early stage companies and have fewer terms to be negotiated than convertible notes. However, despite being around since 2013, they still have not gained wide acceptance, at least on the East Coast. Convertible notes are well known and widely accepted. Unless your prospective investors suggest a SAFE or KISS structure, most companies would be well advised to use the convertible note structure when seeking seed capital investments from friends and family. If you have questions, contact PLDO Partner William F. Miller at 401-824-5100 or email wmiller@pldolaw.com.

16

However, the note is automatically converted to the class of shares issued to new equity investors in an equity

Understanding the value of maintaining a safe andfinancing securethat closes on or before the maturity date, at the same price website for your potential clients is key to helping protect, bothand terms (or sometimes at a discounted price) as those offered to the new equity investors. If the your network and client computers from being victimized by company does not close on an equity financing before attackers who roam the Web- seeking vulnerable small thebusiness maturity date of the note, the note becomes due, websites that can be attacked, and subjected to a form ofjust like a normal loan. The concept is that the company uses the proceeds of the convertible note Ransom Ware. Being a victim of Ransom ware can cost financing your to get the company up and running. Once it is generating cash flow, the valuation is less small business or organization tremendously. Thus, to learn subjective and an equity financing (typically called more about Botnets, malware, and security assessment an tools, “A round”) is far more likely to be successful. rely on primary sources such as reputable security software developers (i.e., Symantec or Cisco). In fact, you can type in the keywords-Botnet and malware, into the search box, and click enter. Doing so will enable you to become more knowledgeable on combating potential threats to your small business or organization. To learn more small business security secrets, log on to my Blog: http://bfcybersecurityjournal. blogspot.com

William F. Miller, Esq. Partner Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara LLC

22

20 Too Busy To Get Organized This Year 21 Payroll Tips and Advice 23 Small Business Website Security Awareness

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A PRIMER FOR EARLY STAGE COMPANIES Small Business WebSite S O I – C N  “SAFE”  “KISS”

10 Rhode Island Red Food Tours

ON THE COVER volume six issue eleven

Featured

24 Personnel Practices: Year in Review

Country Inspired: Bittersweet & Ivy

26 Co-Working: A Win For Small Business

C O V E R

S T O R Y

BUILDING A BOWLING ICON LANG’S BOWLARAMA | CRANSTON RI

IS PERSONAL

CREDIT

STOPPING YOUR DREAMS?

29 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition

S M A L L

B U S I N E S S

W E B S I T E

S E C U R I T Y

T I P S

Year-End Tax Strategies

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LEDs installed inside and LEDs installed inside and out, 70% of costs covered, out, 70% of costs covered, curb appeal increases too. curb appeal increases too. See how far your budget can go toward new energy saving equipment. ngrid.com/smallbusiness See how far your budget can go toward new energy saving equipment. ngrid.com/smallbusiness That’s business on the grid. That’s business on the grid.

*Restrictions apply. See website for details. Projects must be completed by December 31, 2017. These programs are funded by the energy efficiency charge on all customers’ gas and electric bills, in accordance with Rhode Island law. *Restrictions apply. See website for details. Projects must be completed by December 31, 2017. These programs are funded by the energy efficiency charge on all RISBJ |electric rhode bills, islandinsmall business journal 6 National customers’ gas andGrid. accordance with Rhode Island law. ©2017


Business Trends Report: EANE | SMALL BUSINESS

BUSNIESS BUSINESSTRENDS TRENDS REPORT: REPORT:

Continued Business Optimism Tempered by Talent and Pay Challenges The Employers Association of the NorthEast (EANE) recently shared data from a national survey conducted by the Employer Associations of America, with specific findings for businesses in the Northeast region.

National Outlook According to the national survey results, businesses continue to have an optimistic outlook for 2018 and are preparing for a positive year ahead. In fact, 62% expect their 2017 sales/revenue to be slightly or significantly better compared to 2016. Continuedoptimism prevails as 73% of executives project slight to significant increases in sales/revenue for 2018. However, that optimism is tempered by several serious challenges to business growth, particularly from the shortage of both skilled labor and the ability to pay competitive wages and benefits.

Local Outlook

Voluntary turnover is the primary reason cited by 84% of the Northeast executives for their hiring, with 78% of executives reporting hiring will fill new jobs. And, more employers are seeking to hire in 2018 than in 2017. In the Northeast region, 51% of the executives surveyed plan to increase staff in 2018, up from 41% of Northeast executives surveyed the previous year.

businesses continue to have an optimistic outlook for 2018 and are preparing for a positive year ahead.

The skilled labor shortage is becoming a greater concern. This year, 42.3% of regional respondents identified the skilled labor shortage as a “serious” challenge in the short-term (up from 37.80% last year) while 51.98% of respondents identified it as a “serious” challenge in the long-term (up from 47% last year).

Finally, infrastructure remains a central focus. With a positive economic outlook and employers seeking to hold onto their own talent any way they can, regional employers in our area are committed to expanding their investment in employees, processes, and systems for 2018.

Susan Breen is the EANE membership engagement specialist for the Rhode Island region. With over 800 members concentrated in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, EANE provides resources for organizations to maximize employee engagement and retention while minimizing risk. The survey results were gleaned from 1,528 participating organizations, covering 2,741 employer locations throughout the United States. Susan can be reached at sbreen@eane.org www.risbj.com | volume six issue eleven

7


Over-Challenged?

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Receive a free, no obligation, independent assessment of your company’s situation DO YOU HAVE ANY OF THESE CHALLENGES OR OPPORTUNITIES? NEED TO GET MORE CUSTOMERS

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Tips To Help You Fund Your Business | SMALL BUSINESS

T

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S

T O

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P

Y O

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Fund Your Business by Bryan B Mason

As a business consultant, I am often asked how to fund a business. The answer often depends on what the money is going to be used for and the stage the business is in.

New Business Funding

When starting a new business, you are going to need money to put your plan into action. Part of any business plan will be a set of projected financial statements and a determination of how much cash you need. The first thing I want to tell you is that you will likely need far more cash than you thought. You need funds for equipment purchases, inventory, hiring people, rent, marketing, advertising and promotion, product development, etc. It’s a long list. If you are leaving a full time job to start your new business, you will need money to live on too. Remember, the biggest reason new businesses fail is that they run out of cash before they can become profitable and self sufficient. There are many sources of funds that you may be able to use. You may have savings that you planned to use to start your business. Then there are friends and family. Very common is a loan from a bank backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Some people get a personal loan or take equity out of their home. Keep in mind that all the money you need to keep your loan payments current will have to be included in your financing plan. Lenders need their money on time and they don’t care that you are off on your new adventure. If you have a new business, your loan will be granted mainly on your personal credit rating and the strength of your business plan. You also need to understand that if your business fails, you are still on the hook for all of your loans, including your SBA loan. The cost of credit in terms of the interest rates is very important. The lower the rate and the longer the term (the number of months you are paying the loan over)

the lower the monthly payment. Beware, the longer the term, the more total interest you will be paying.

Funding for Expansion

If you need money to expand your business, many of the same sources described above may be available to you. In addition, you can borrow against your accounts receivable (the money customers owe you) or even have a percentage of customer payments made on charge cards go to loan payments. However, these last two methods are likely to be much more expensive. They are also going to take your cash before you see it so you will have much less flexibility in making all of the other payments you need to meet including payroll.

Funding to Meet Current Expenses

If you are short of cash or losing money, many of the funding sources above may not be available. You may be tempted to take cash advances against your credit cards or get the equivalent of payday loans. I have seen loans come with an effective interest rate of 70% percent or more when you consider fees. If you are in this situation, it is highly unlikely that borrowing this money is going to help you. On the contrary, it will probably push you over the edge to bankruptcy. Take a hard look at your business and get some help if you don’t know what to do. Mr. Mason founded the Apollo Consulting Group in 2008 to help small and mid-sized companies in solving their challenges. Mr. Mason brings over thirty years of corporate, consulting and entrepreneurial experience in a variety of industries. He possess skills in general business management, analysis, strategy development, marketing, finance/budgeting, operations, pricing optimization, workflow optimization, process reengineering, project management, and information technology. Mr. Mason has two degrees in Economics and was a Volunteer Mentor for the Rhode Island Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RI-CIE). He writes a weekly blog on his company website at www.apollogr.com/blog.

Bryan B Mason

Principal The Apollo Consulting Group LLC

www.risbj.com | volume six issue eleven

9


Rhode Island Red

Food Tours

Our tours are progressive walking food tours that currently explore the food scenes of two neighborhoods, Downcity Providence and Newport Waterfront/ Washington Square neighborhood. As you walk through these streets, you will see historic architecture and hear tales about the cities’ history. In between, you will visit at least 6 eateries while tasting and learning about the food, restaurants and chefs. Tours last approximately 3.5 hours and are under 2 miles of easy walking. From locals to recent transplants to visitors alike, everyone wants to learn the best places to eat and our hope is they will find new favorites they will want to go back to.

The food tours are currently available seasonally April through November from 12-3:30. See our online calendar for dates and more details. We can host small groups up to 16 for corporate and team building events, friends and family weekend getaways or bachelor/bachelorette parties. Food tour experiences also make great gifts so we also offer gift certificates which can be purchased on our website.

RhodeIslandRedFoodTours.com 10

RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

Rhode Island Red Food Tours is a small woman-owned business soon to finish our 3rd year. Culinary School had made it’s mark and the trend toward healthier and sustainable practices were taking hold. So after researching food and culinary tours, I decided to go on a couple and I soon realized there is just no better way to learn and experience a place than walking a neighborhood and exploring it through its food.

The idea came to me based on my own experience while traveling out of town. I often found myself wandering down streets looking at menus in windows and I sometimes found the restaurants too busy, too fussy, or too expensive so by the I would end up with nothing and just “hangry”!

Recognizing the high risk involved in the restaurant business, our goal is to support and promote the creative local food producers by exposing them to guests that may not have heard of them otherwise with the hope guests will put them on their bucket list of restaurants to go back to. The tours are carefully curated to provide a diversity of tastings and eateries we even offer vegan/vegetarian and gluten free options when possible.

Also, as a busy real estate agent for 17 years not only do I find myself with little time to cook, therefore eating out more frequently but it was obvious there was a food explosion not just in Providence and Newport but also in smaller towns in the East Bay. It was obvious that JWU

Our tour guides are trained food and culture ambassadors that help people get to know what and where to eat as well as where to stay and what to do for fun in Rhode Island. As we continue to grow, we expect to add more food tours and experiences around the state to share.


Does your Employer Offer Adequate Life Insurance | SMALL BUSINESS

Does your employer offer adequate

LIFE INSURANCE? by Ted Donnelly If your workplace offers life insurance at a low cost (or no cost) to you, you may assume it provides sufficient coverage for your family—and not bother to give the subject a second thought. But you owe it to yourself, and your family, to make a more careful assessment. You may find that the coverage offered by your employer, welcome as it is, won’t actually cover your family’s future needs. Here’s how to figure out whether your employer offers adequate coverage for you: Find out how much coverage is offered.

Your workplace’s group life insurance may be included in your benefits package—and you may be automatically enrolled—which makes it very convenient. However, it’s worthwhile to do a careful review of the coverage. The amount your employer offers may start at $25,000 and range up to your annual salary. But a 2015 study by the Life Insurance and Market Research Association (LIMRA) reveals that 65 percent of employees with employer-sponsored group life insurance feel they need more insurance than what their employer provides. Assess your family’s long-term needs.

Once you get married—or if you have dependents—you will probably want to increase your coverage. So that $25,000 policy may not seem like much once you sit down to do the math and figure out your needs five, 10, or 20 years down the line. You’ll probably want to make sure there’s enough coverage to pay off a mortgage, send your kids to college, or help your spouse comfortably retire. (It is often recommended that insurance coverage be five to 10 times your annual salary.) Even if you’re single, the group policy through your workplace may not be enough after you consider the potential total of your final expenses. Furthermore, if you have a co-signer for a mortgage, car loan, or student loans, remember that the burden will probably rest with your co-signer should something happen to you. What happens if you change jobs?

Long gone are the days when people expected to stay at the same job for 30 years. A recent survey by LinkedIn found that younger workers change jobs, on average, four times in their first 10 years out of college.

If you job hop, you’ll lose your workplace insurance when you leave the company. And while you may be able to convert the group life insurance policy from your old employer into an individual policy, the cost of that coverage could go up significantly. Look into options to supplement your coverage.

If you find your employer’s group life to be insufficient, you may want to add supplemental coverage. Concerned that you can’t afford it? According to LIMRA, people estimate that life insurance will cost three times as much as it actually does. You’ll need to balance your family’s needs with the cost of insurance. But if you look into your options for a supplemental policy, you may find that life insurance is more affordable than you think. This educational, third-party article is provided as a courtesy by Ted Donnelly, Agent, New York Life Insurance Company. To learn more about the information or topics discussed, please contact Ted Donnelly at efdonnelly@ft.newyorklife.com or 401276-8728. ________________________________ Sources: Lawrence Pines, “When Should You Get Supplemental Life Insurance?” Investopedia, December 16, 2016 http://www.investopedia.com/articles/ company-insights/090116/when-shouldyou-get-supplemental-life-insurance. asp?lgl=myfinance-layout Ashley Eneriz, “Why Your Group Life Insurance Is Not Enough,” Kiplinger, February 10, 2017 http://www.kiplinger.com/article/insurance/ T065-C000-S015-why-your-group-life-insurance-is-not-enough.html Heather Long, The New Normal: 4 Job Changes by the Time You’re 32,” CNN Money, April 12, 2016 http://money.cnn. com/2016/04/12/news/economy/millennials-change-jobs-frequently/index.html LIMRA, “Facts about Life 2016,” September 2016 http://www.limra.com/uploadedFiles/ limra.com/LIMRA_Root/Posts/PR/_Media/ PDFs/Facts-of-Life-2016.pdf

“ You may find that the coverage offered by your employer, welcome as it is, won’t actually cover your family’s future needs.”

www.risbj.com | volume six issue eleven

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SMALL BUSINESS | A Primer For Early Stage Companies Seeking Outside Investors

A

S

The concept is that the company uses the proceeds of the convertible note financing to get the company up and running 12

RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

PRIMER F

O I


A Primer For Early Stage Companies Seeking Outside Investors | SMALL BUSINESS

FOR

EARLY STAGE COMPANIES

 – C N  “SAFE”  “KISS” By William F. Miller, Esq. It is a rare company that can fund its growth using only internal cash flow. Start-ups and early stage companies can be particularly challenged because they often do not have access to either bank financing or venture capital since both sources typically require several years of positive operating results before a company becomes a viable candidate for either. The following are two types of financing options early stage companies seeking outside investors may want to consider.

CONVERTIBLE NOTES If a company decides to seek outside investments from friends, family or other investors, the very first question the company will be asked is what percent of the company will I get for my investment. The answer to that question requires that the company and the investor agree on the current value of the company and that can be a difficult and time-consuming exercise. The reason convertible notes are so often used as the financing vehicle for start-ups and early stage companies is that they postpone the need to agree on the value of the company. In a typical convertible note financing, the investor receives a convertible note, which provides for an annual interest rate and a maturity date of 18 months to three years. Principal and sometimes interest are typically paid in a single installment at maturity. However, the note is automatically converted to the class of shares issued to new equity investors in an equity financing that closes on or before the maturity date, at the same price and terms (or sometimes at a discounted price) as those offered to the new equity investors. If the company does not close on an equity financing before the maturity date of the note, the note becomes due, just like a normal loan. The concept is that the company uses the proceeds of the convertible note financing to get the company up and running. Once it is generating cash flow, the valuation is less subjective and an equity financing (typically called an “A round”) is far more likely to be successful.

“SAFE”  “KISS”

SAFEs (which stands for Simple Agreement for Future Equity) and KISSes (an acronym for Keep It Simple Security) are relatively new alternative investment vehicles which have been developed over the last few years by Y-Combinator and 500 Startups, respectively. Both of these are West Coast accelerators. A great deal has been written about SAFEs and KISSes and sample legal documents are available online. Both have been billed as alternatives to more traditional convertible notes. While it is probably worthwhile being familiar with the terms, the reality is that neither SAFEs nor KISSes have been widely used outside Silicon Valley, perhaps because they are less favorable to investors. Unlike convertible notes, among other things they typically have no maturity date and do not provide for payments of interest.

SOME PRACTICAL ADVICE SAFEs and KISSes have very few disadvantages for early stage companies and have fewer terms to be negotiated than convertible notes. However, despite being around since 2013, they still have not gained wide acceptance, at least on the East Coast. Convertible notes are well known and widely accepted. Unless your prospective investors suggest a SAFE or KISS structure, most companies would be well advised to use the convertible note structure when seeking seed capital investments from friends and family. If you have questions, contact PLDO Partner William F. Miller at 401-824-5100 or email wmiller@pldolaw.com.

William F. Miller, Esq. Partner Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara LLC

www.risbj.com | volume six issue eleven

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Is Personal Credit Stopping Your Business Dreams? CREDIT SCORE

9 Steps Toward Launch Have you been dreaming of starting a small business? Before you start a business plan, it’s time to check closer to home:

630 FAIR

how how are are your your personal personal finances? finances? Wait! Isn’t that a totally separate issue? I’ve got a brilliant idea that’s going to change the world! Well hold your horses, because if your personal credit is lacking, you may not get out of the gate. “Personal financial [issues] can have a huge impact on whether you get going,” said Josh Daly, RISBDC business counselor and southern regional director. “It can have as much or more impact than a good business plan.” A lender will look at your personal credit score as an indicator of how well you manage money, and as an entrepreneur or sole proprietor a bank will assume the same level of care will be taken in your business finances. If your credit score or credit history reveals difficulty in that area, banks are likely to see you as a high of

If your personal finances are a barrier to starting the small business of your dreams, here are nine steps you need to take to lay the foundation for (eventual) success. 14

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1

Obtain a credit history report. You can get a free annual

credit report once per year from each of the three major credit reporting companies. This gives you a good baseline from which to review your personal credit. It will show how many accounts you have open and for how long, your level of credit utilization, and history of payment. Note and dispute anything that seems incorrect.

2

Get your credit score. This

number will come separate from your credit history report, but may be found on your credit card statement, from a non-profit credit counselor, or for a fee from the credit reporting agencies. As a general rule of thumb, if you want to have an easy time securing financing, your credit score should be above 700 (and the higher the better). A lower score means you’ll have more trouble getting approved, and will likely have to pay a higher interest rate for the privilege of borrowing. According to RISBDC business counselor and Providence region director Manuel Batlle, obtaining financing will be “difficult” with a credit score between 600-700, and if you’re below 600, “forget it,” because anyone willing to lend you money would be charging exorbitant interest. Instead of paying high interest rates, build and repair your credit history. There are a number of ways that you can begin improving your credit score. They include establishing credit (if you have none), paying your bills in full on time, and reducing your overall credit debt. For help creating a plan to gain control of your finances and connecting with resources, seek out a reputable nonprofit credit counseling agency.

3

4

Make a personal budget.

While you’re inching up your credit score, now is a good time to take a look at the overall financial picture that starting a business would create in your life. Would the business you plan to start realistically be capable of replacing your current salary, or keeping you in your current or preferred standard of living? Remember that the business profits need to cover all your current and anticipated personal expenses, so you need to have a good handle on what your monthly living expenses are. You’ll also need to earn enough to cover medical insurance, retirement funds, additional childcare, college savings accounts, and more. This number will be a starting point for determining whether it’s the right time in your life to go for it. Daly points out that it’s not a personal judgment if the timing is just not right to pursue your venture, say, because you need a steady paycheck while you have small children at home. It’s far better to know that before you sink in time and resources that you don’t yet have. Smartsheet has several good, free budget templates to work from.

5

Make a business budget.

“Most people underestimate the costs of starting a business,” Daly said. “By a lot.” Having a realistic and specific business budget will help you insulate your personal finances by making sure that you fund your business accordingly. With proper planning, you (hopefully) won’t have to cancel Junior’s piano lessons or skip that family vacation because your startup costs ran higher than expected.

6

Fill your piggy bank. While all business plans and models may vary, a good rule of thumb is to have three to six months worth of

funds saved before starting your business — make sure both your business and personal expenses are covered during that time, while you’re waiting to achieve the profit you need for regular monthly cash flow. Some businesses may take longer to turn a profit.

7

Attend RISBDC’s The Right Foot workshop.

Personal finances and business budgeting are just two of the many topics covered in our startup training class.

8

Address any deficits in a personal letter. When you’ve

established your budgets and ensured that it’s a great time to launch, you’re likely to find yourself seeking financing. Even if you did major work cleaning up your credit, remember it can take 7-10 years for a bankruptcy or other negative events to clear from your credit report. Whether your history has cracks due to identity fraud or due to your own actions, it’s important to explain to potential lenders any extenuating circumstances or outline (and back up!) any steps you’ve taken to reassure the lender that you are no longer making those mistakes.

9

Don’t risk your progress.

Your loan has been approved. You’re waiting to close. You can taste how sweet that first champagne will be. Don’t start spending that money just yet. If your loan doesn’t close for some reason, you’d still be on the hook for expenses you incurred. If you can’t pay them back, then your credit could take a significant hit which would put you back at square one.

No matter how great your business idea, your personal creditand finances matter. Take the time to get (and keep!) them in great shape to ensure the best chances of success for your venture. With your personal finances in order, your business launch will go more smoothly, and the likelihood that your venture will prosper will be greater. Our next Right Foot Workshop is coming up soon – join us and take action! Bio: The Rhode Island Small Business Development Center at URI is part of a national network of nearly 1,000 business assistance centers that provide counseling and training to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. Partially funded through a cooperative ag reement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, we help businesses to succeed from start-up to maturity. www.risbj.com | volume six issue eleven

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SMALL BUSINESS | Lang’s Bowlarama

Building a Bowling Icon

Lang’s The story of

Bowlarama Cranston, RI

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal


Lang’s Bowlarama | SMALL BUSINESS

Run by 3rd generation descendants of the original owner, this family owned business, described as “a bowlers’ bowling alley” has over 1250 league bowlers every week by Amelia Votta

Lang’s Bowlarama has stood the test of time; run by 3rd generation descendants of the original owner, this family owned business, described as “a bowlers’ bowling alley” has over 1250 league bowlers every week. Even more impressive, its doors opened over 55 years ago, and while a lot has changed during that time, Lang’s has walked the line between keeping up with the times, and maintaining the classic charm that has kept some of their long time clients bowling there for 40-50 years. Back in 2012, the entire building got a much needed face lift. Rich and Dave Lang, grandchildren of original owner, Ed Lang, decided the lanes needed a little tender love and care and took to restoring the spot to its original 1960s glory. The fonts, colors, and styling they chose can all be found to match the original vision and design of Lang’s, and the new additions are just as authentically styled. Rewired and rebuilt, keeping with period specific pieces, such as lighting fixtures and Herman-Miller sofas, Lang’s prides itself on using purely original, refurbished decorum. Lang’s makes grateful mention of the role the City of Cranston has played in keeping the ball rolling when it comes to approving their improvements, permits for the bar, and restoration permits alike. The mayor has been there several times. People in the town, in general, have responded well to the restoration, seeming to appreciate the fact that the center has been restored to what they remember from when they were kids. The newest attraction at Lang’s would be the addition of the Nelson Center. The name continues to pay homage to original owner Edward Nelson Lang, and continues the nostalgic experience the center provides. The space can hold up to 125 people, and has countless new amenities including a 16ft projection screen, a stage with lighting, access to a wireless mic, a full private bar, and more! As with all functions held at Lang’s, events held in this space have access to the facility’s catering menu, and organizers have the option to include bowling— however the space has

been utilized for its unique features alone, for non-bowling events including weddings! The space is well suited for rehearsal dinners, birthday parties, engagement parties, wedding and baby showers, corporate events, social events and anything else you can imagine. The concourse, or main bowling center, has room to entertain, as well. With tables outside of the lanes, guests can eat and drink in close proximity to the action on the floor— a benefit for those who may have no interest in bowling themselves, but are guests all the same. For larger events held on the concourse, food can be set up catering style under the neon lights, just as it would be in the Nelson Center. The new main bar falls center stage, making it easily accessible to all bowlers on all lanes, as well as to the wait staff who are serving bowlers across the center. The introduction of the new main bar has been one of the favorite additions to the center, as previously all drinks came from the bar within the Nelson Center. The concourse works well for outings with friends and team building events! Integrated Media Group, the company behind the Rhode Island Small Business Journal, decided to host their holiday party on the concourse this year. The evening started with catering setup on the concourse as the team mingled around and got acquainted with the space. Once everyone was full, the team left their belongings and yankee swap gifts on the table, and turned their sneakers in for bowling shoes! Two hours of friendly competition, with snacking and drinking mixed in between, earned lots of laughs, as the company divided into 4 lanes of teams and fought for the highest score! The proximity of the lanes allowed players to converse and banter with the opposing teams between turns, keeping the inclusive, communal feel of the outing strong. Come the end of the night, it was unanimously decided this was the team’s favorite holiday party to date! Eager to plan your own event at Lang’s? Contact Dayna (401.944.0500, email: dayna@langsbowlarama.com) to get the ball rollin’ and plan an event that is perfect for your occasion!

www.risbj.com | volume six issue eleven

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PROFESSIONAL GROWTH | 2017 in Review

in 2017 by Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro, PhD

Hopefully 2017 was a healthy, happy and productive one for you. As we begin the New Year spend a few minutes looking back at where you are today vs. a year ago. I hope that you have learned a great deal and have accomplished many of your 2017 goals. Take a few minutes to reflect back upon and write down what you have learned and your accomplishments. Celebrate the accomplishments and think about how you can be even more successful in 2018 and the years ahead when you review your lists and apply all that you have learned to new situations.

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Our 2017 Professional Growth Monthly Activities columns focused on:

• Planning: A technique to help accomplish tasks and work towards important goals which may not be getting the attention they deserve.

• Communications: Fun activities, great for including between more formal presentations at meetings, to help you and your team improve communication skills.

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• Simplicity: Keep simple.

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2017 in Review | PROFESSIONAL GROWTH

Review

Professional Growth Monthly Activities • Standing out from the crowd: Standing out from the crowd can be rewarding. If you missed any of the columns, please check them out in the RISBJ archive or contact me and I will be pleased to send you a link to the articles for your review. If you have not tried these activities in 2017, try them in 2018!!! I’ll conclude the year the same way I conclude most of my in person Education by Entertainment programs. As you probably know, the more you rehearse and review content, the more likely you are to learn. Thus, I bring my on-stage participants back on stage for final activities. I ask each participant to state their name; explain what activity they performed, why it is important and how they can apply what they learned to help themselves or others. I would encourage you to review your year as mentioned above to maximize the benefit of what you learned. I have the audience vote for the Champion. Since you are probably reading my column by yourself, elect yourself the Champion. I then blindfold the Champion and ask them to name everyone on-stage (or for smaller

groups name everyone present), explain what the people did and why the activity is important. Since you elected yourself the champion I’m going to ask you to name everyone important to you at work and/or at home (since everyone is probably not with you now, no blindfold required). Think about why they are important to you and plan the most effective way to thank each of these people them. Complete these activities before you read the next paragraph. In our in-person programs our champions frequently forget to name themselves (and the program leader.) Did you forget to name yourself? Why? Remember, you are important and do take time to be good to yourself. Finally, we, of course award prizes (usually a stuffed animal, ribbon, trophy and some chocolate) to our champion. We didn’t do this when we first started doing our programs with adult audiences but our audiences years ago told us they wanted prizes!!! What prize or gift are you getting for yourself? Remember as we go into 2018 there will be ups and downs, but as my mother and colleague Dr. Raquel Shapiro used to say, remember to be good to yourself. Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro

Independent Consultant in Human Factors, Learning and Human Resources

n k I n d u s t r i a l C o n s u l t a n t D r. M a r g a r i t a P o s a d a C o s s u t o f o r h e l p f u l c o m m e n t s . www.risbj.com | volume six issue eleven

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SMALL BUSINESS | Too Busy To Get Organized This Year?

Too busy to get organized this year? by Kristin MacRae

How many times during 2017 did you say you were too busy to get organized? How much of your valuable time did you spend searching for things in your office? How much unnecessary stress did it cause you? How many clients did you lose because you weren’t following up with them on a timely basis? If your staff is disorganized, do you think they may have been the cause of a client leaving you? When a business is disorganized, there are important qualities that are lacking. If you’re disorganized, here are 5 areas of your office that will need your attention in 2018. Paper management. When you don’t have filing systems in place, you’ll end up with chaos in all areas of the office. You’ll waste valuable time searching for a file when you could have just gone to the file drawer to grab it. Files all over the office will also cause a distraction when working. Think about how efficient you were this past year when you were searching for a file. Handling of money. You make a phone call to your client looking for their payment. They state they mailed you the check weeks ago. It arrived on your desk, but it ended up getting stuck in one of your piles of paper. Were you embarrassed that you had to call your client and tell them you found it? Money in the form of cash, checks and gift cards will be found all over your office if you don’t have a system to process it when it arrives into your office. How much money have you lost this year in the form of cash, checks, or poor record keeping? Office supplies. Keep all excess office supplies organized and stored in one area of the office. Keep daily office supplies organized in drawer organizers. Keep what you need closest

20

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to you so when you need it, you can grab it in seconds without rifling through other items in your drawers. How much money have you wasted on purchasing duplicate supplies because you couldn’t find what you were looking for? Desk clutter. When you have too much work material on your desk, it can be a distraction. Are you working with too many chatzkies on the desk, bookshelves full of books or binders that are no longer being utilized? Do you have a bulletin board full of useless information and papers taped to the wall? If you bring clients to your office, your clients will be more focused on the disorganization surrounding you at your desk than what you have to say. Utilize your desk drawers for the abundance of writing instruments and supplies you have on your desk. How many of those pens are you using in a day? Time management. You want to be more efficient and productive. The first thing you have to do is get organized and your time management skills will improve. Once the clutter is cleared and the office is organized, you will see clearer, be more focused and less distracted. Before you say you’re too busy to get organized, think about how much time and money you’ve wasted this past year. Think about how many clients you may have lost. Take your business to the next level in 2018 just by getting organized. If you continue to operate in a chaotic state, it won’t take long to notice you’re in a downward spiral. Eventually, your business is going to suffer. Make this a priority and watch your business thrive!

Kristin MacRae

Organizing and Efficiency Expert, www.organizinginri.com


Payroll…It’s Not Just About Paying Yourself | SMALL BUSINESS

Payroll… It’s Not Just About Paying Yourself by Steven Byler

When a company falls behind in paying payroll taxes, workers’ compensation insurance, or jurisdiction selection, there is often a snowball effect. The resulting paperwork, penalties and fees is enough to bury many small business owners. We find that over 50% of our new payroll business isn’t driven by price, but by the fact that companies have been trying to do payroll internally for months, or even years. The first time they receive a late payroll tax reminder, they don’t think much of it because they get a pass, but the second and third time, the penalties start adding up. Any savings on carrying costs, or avoiding a service provider, is wiped out by penalties and regulatory audits. For small businesses, a payroll service provider may seem expensive, so owners often try to save money by figuring it out internally. They do payroll on their own, or calculate payroll in their accounting software, and then pay themselves and their employees. All too often, these companies cut the paychecks, but forget to pay the taxes, even though they may have been calculated correctly! Even if the payroll taxes were properly calculated and paid, a business owner cannot forget about workers’ compensation insurance, or federal and state regulatory filings. Accounting and bookkeeping professionals know that outsourcing payroll can be one of the greatest returns on investment for small business owners, and is an efficient step in growing and focusing on your business. With new small business clients, we see a range of challenges they face regarding payroll processing. These five tend to be the most common challenges: • •

Tracking Time & Paying Staff - It’s not as easy as just printing the checks. The process needs to start with a time management and capture system. Paying Taxes & Filing Forms - Many internal systems are used to process payroll and calculate the required taxes, but do not process the payment or file the forms

needed, leaving a company vulnerable to non-compliance. Direct Deposit - Employees like to be paid promptly. Companies often have a distributed workforce making it difficult to hand a check to the employee. Direct deposit solves this, but many companies are intimidated by handling employee banking info. Domain Expertise - Entrepreneurs are stellar at what they do and don’t need to be payroll experts.When navigating the logistics of payroll, it’s helpful to have support when something goes wrong. Workers’ Compensation - Too many small businesses think that workers’ compensation insurance is part of payroll. In truth, if you have payroll, you need workers compensation; however it needs to be sourced separately.

We have heard these issues from many small businesses. Clearly, payroll is complicated and can cost a small business if it’s not done correctly. Outsourcing payroll can be a smart move and has many advantages, including:

1. It lets you focus on the business you love, and not worry about payroll. 2. It dramatically reduces your likelihood of incurring penalties and unnecessary fees. 3. It ensures that you’re paying your employees on time...all the time! 4. It gives you a resource to turn to that has payroll expertise. So what do you need to get started? Call your CPA or bookkeeper! We are here to help and it is never too late to get your payroll organized. If you currently do payroll in-house, rest assured that providers are aware of many of the problems faced by small businesses, and will be able to help you navigate through the seemingly complex payroll system. They may also be able to help you with other practices, such as payroll coding, reconciliation, and expense tracking. These aren’t only critical in financial management, but also for preparation of potential future audits. In our experience, we have rarely found a business that has not been able to improve their efficiencies by having an expert by their side.

Steven Byler

COO and Co-Founder GrowthLab LLC.

www.risbj.com | volume six issue eleven

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Small Business Website Security Awareness | SMALL BUSINESS

Small Business WebSite Security Awareness Written By Bradley Fowler, MA One of the most invaluable components today’s small businesses and organizations should consider utilizing is a Web site URL security assessment tool. After all, learning how to utilize these effective security assessment tools can save you a great deal of money. In fact, understanding how to rely on Web site security assessment tools-can prevent your small business or organization’s website from being targeted by hackers and/or infected with malware. I also want to stress the value of maintaining effective updates on the antivirus software, you may be utilizing. After all, not updating the antivirus software application on your small business devices can pose a serious threat. In fact, this enables attackers to possibly integrate Botnets that you may not be aware of- because Botnets can be installed during a simple download, and stored on your device hard drive for months- until activated by the controller. Thus, I’ve complied a small list of website security assessment tools that are free open-source applications, and can be easily downloaded and installed on a laptop or desktop device. Each one of these tools has been evaluated for potential risk, and have proven to be useful in helping save small business owners money. However, it is recommended that, you take time to better educate yourself on how each of these listed tools works, and how each can benefit your business or organization. OWASP- Open Web Application Security Project is a free open source application distribution platform- developed to provide small business owners useful security tools that better protect their networks from potential threats and

vulnerabilities. To learn more about this useful tool, log on to the following link: https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Main_Page To download the free open source application, log on to https:// www.owasp.org/index.php/OWASP_Zed_Attack_Proxy_Project One thing, I should suggest; whenever, you are surfing on-line to download any free software, please be sure to evaluate all Web sites, you’re downloading software applications from. Most Web sites offering free secure open source security softwarehave the HTTPS address headers; unlike common HTTP address headers. HTTPS URL headers are commonly utilized by financial, government, education, and medical institutions- to secure sensitive data. Meanwhile, another free open source website security assessment tool is-Virus Total. This tool will enable, you to type in the URL of your website, and evaluate if worms, viruses, malware, or additional threats may be infecting your site. To learn more about this tool, please log on to https://www. virustotal.com/#/home/upload. Understanding the value of maintaining a safe and secure website for your potential clients is key to helping protect, both your network and client computers from being victimized by attackers who roam the Web- seeking vulnerable small business websites that can be attacked, and subjected to a form of Ransom Ware. Being a victim of Ransom ware can cost your small business or organization tremendously. Thus, to learn more about Botnets, malware, and security assessment tools, rely on primary sources such as reputable security software developers (i.e., Symantec or Cisco). In fact, you can type in the keywords-Botnet and malware, into the search box, and click enter. Doing so will enable you to become more knowledgeable on combating potential threats to your small business or organization. To learn more small business security secrets, log on to my Blog: http://bfcybersecurityjournal. blogspot.com

www.risbj.com | volume six issue eleven

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LEGAL | Personnel Practices: Year In Review

Personnel Practices YEAR

IN

by Kristen M. Whittle, Esq. and Aaron Spacone, Esq.

2017 was an exciting and transformative year for employment law not only in Rhode Island, but across the country. As we approach the end of the year, Rhode Island employers should take note of the shifting trends and review the important developments in the employment arena. Below, we have summarized significant trends and developments, and we have provided our recommendations for how best to adapt in 2018.

Paid Sick Leave Law

Rhode Island recently became one of a handful of states to pass legislation requiring certain employers to offer paid sick leave to their employees. Taking effect on July 1, 2018,

REVIEW the new law requires employers with 18 or more employees to allow employees to accrue up to 24 hours of paid leave in 2018, 32 hours of paid leave in 2019, and 40 hours of paid leave in 2020 and beyond. The law also requires employers with fewer than 18 employees to provide the same amount of leave, but on an unpaid basis. Leave may be used for an employee’s own illness, an illness of a family member, or to seek preventive care for him or herself or a family member. Employees will also be able to use this leave if they are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Medical Marijuana in the Workplace

A Rhode Island Superior Court judge ruled in 2017 that the refusal to hire an individual because of her status as a medical marijuana cardholder constituted disability discrimination pursuant to the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act. While Rhode Island allows employers to drug test applicants after offering employment conditioned on a negative test result, the failure to hire an applicant because that applicant tested positive for medical marijuana may now subject that employer to liability for discriminatory practices. Rhode Island employers may still drug test current employees if the employer has reasonable, documented grounds to believe the use of a controlled substance is impairing that employee’s job performance, but that employer may not terminate the employee solely because of a positive test result.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Perhaps no area of employment has gotten

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Personnel Practices: Year In Review | LEGAL

Perhaps no area of employment has gotten more national attention in 2017 than sexual harassment in the workplace. more national attention in 2017 than sexual harassment in the workplace. While harassment and misconduct of a sexual nature is nothing new, employers should be particularly mindful of such issues going forward, and also employers should be sure to implement anti-harassment policies. Rhode Island law requires employers with 50 or more employees to establish such policies, but best practices dictate that all employers should establish a policy prohibiting workplace harassment of any kind, including but not limited to sexual harassment. An anti-sexual harassment policy must include a statement that sexual harassment in the workplace is unlawful and a warning that it is unlawful to retaliate against an employee for filing a complaint of sexual harassment, among other requirements.

Individual Liability for Unlawful Employment Practices

Earlier this year, the Rhode Island Supreme Court unanimously held that the Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act does not provide for individual liability of a supervisory employee. While it was acknowledged that courts within Rhode Island and around the country have addressed this issue differently, the Court ultimately found that the potential for a chilling effect if it were to hold individuals liable under this statute was too great. For example, the Court reasoned that holding individuals liable for such decisions could leave supervisors more concerned with defending a lawsuit than serving the interests of his or her employer. Employers should be aware of the above-discussed trends and developments in employment law, and they should immediately take the necessary steps toward compliance.

Kristen M. Whittle, Esq. Partner, Barton Gilman LLP Aaron Spacone, Esq. Associate Barton Gilman LLP www.risbj.com | volume six issue eleven

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SMALL BUSINESS | Coworking: A Win For Small Business

Coworking:

A WIN FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

By Aileen McDonough

C

oworking is taking off right now, and with good reason. I stopped by Red DWG Library (pronounced Red Dog, after their mascot), a fabulous new coworking space in Pawtucket, RI, to talk to owner David Gomez about why coworking is the right solution for small businesses looking to grow. “It just makes sense,” said David. “Entrepreneurs are coming into their own and they’re ready to conquer the world. They need a space for their dreams and plans, without the commitment of a multi-year lease. Coworking takes care of the space, utilities, maintenance, cleaning--even coffee.” Red DWG Library does all this with style: the decor is elegant, rooms filled with art and classic pieces. Having envisioned a giant room full of beanbag chairs and prefab desks, I was immediately taken by the sheer beauty and quality of the space. Many steps above the typical small business model of working from home and meeting clients at the local coffee shop. And a much better return on investment than renting an office you may only use a few times a month. According to David, any size company may benefit from coworking space: “We can support any size business, from small business owners to large companies, international companies, and companies that utilize remote sales forces and mobile teams.” But surely, small business owners will realize how a good coworking space can support their daily | rhode island small journal 26 RISBJand operations promote theirbusiness growth.

Luxurious space and amenities can certainly make a small business owner feel less like “Chief Cook and Bottle Washer” and more like a successful executive with a world of services to answer every need—workspace, client meetings, events, and more. But coworking is also about community. For example, Red DWG Library is based on a membership model. Members, or “Red DWGs,” feel like they’re part of a group. Many Red DWG members end up networking, sharing ideas, and collaborating as they work. But introverts can also cowork comfortably: “We offer an environment that can support and inspire all types of workers: communal space, conference rooms, quiet rooms, phone booths, semi-private and private offices,” said David. “Extroverts love to have the option of engaging with people as they work. Introverts absorb a lot of information by people watching; they notice the details. We’ve created a culture that has room for all.” What should a small business owner look for in a coworking space? It depends on what you do, who you are, and how you like to work. The character of the space should reflect the needs and culture of the industry you work in. For example, Red DWG’s focus on hospitality and gorgeous space has attracted a lot of creatives, as well as female business owners. “We spoil our members,” said David. You’ll want to look for the space that feels right to you. But no matter what you do, David had some advice for all potential coworking small business owners: “Remember the two lifelines of any good coworking space: great Wi-Fi and great coffee!”


Coworking: A Win For Small Business | SMALL BUSINESS

Luxurious space and amenities can certainly make a small business owner feel less like “Chief Cook and Bottle Washer” and more like a successful executive with a world of services to answer every need—workspace, client meetings, events, and more.

We offer an environment that can support and inspire all types of workers: communal space, conference rooms, quiet rooms, phone booths, semi-private and private offices.

www.risbj.com | volume six issue eleven

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We’re building the next generation of companies in Rhode Island Since 2001, the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition has awarded prizes valued at more than $2.3 million to help entrepreneurs build growing businesses in Rhode Island and today is the largest community-supported business plan competition in the Northeast. Our sponsors include private companies, professional service providers, foundations, colleges and universities, public agencies, investors, banks – and previous participants.www.risbj.com Full details| at www.ri-bizplan.com volume six issue eleven 29


Health insurance premiums keep rising?

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

RISBJ V6 No11  
RISBJ V6 No11  
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