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volume seven issue one

DON’T FORGET TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH

7

COMMON BUSINESS PLAN

Mistakes

WHAT DRIVES

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE?

THE TOP BUSINESS TRENDS FOR 2018 www.risbj.com | volume seven issue one

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Matt’s Local Pharmacy m other pharmacies includes, points: offering free daily ON BUSINESS bside delivery, a private oom and blister packaging.

contents

MISTAKES

ESS IS UNIQUE, MANY SUCCESSFUL of experience in the pharmaceutical Ns FOUNDATION: A BUSINESS PLAN.

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

he quest of Matt Olivier to own an • Competition: A big redpharmacy. flag in many business Olivier plans is a dt, family-owned and belief that you have minimal competition — or even none. p “You’re always competing for dollars,” said RISBDC counhave opened Matt’s Local Pharmacy, e selor Manuel Batlle. Even if your product is unique, your target customers still have choices about what to do with their Main Rd., in Middletown; that provides money. You must address how you will persuade your target market to give their dollars to you. alternative ways of providing health• Market research: It doesn’t matter what you want to build or sell. Someone has to and services. be willing to buy it for a price that makes it worth selling. No business plan is complete without investing time and energy in up-to-date market research to truly understand market trends, customer interest, competitor performance, and other aspects of product or service viability.

nAand raised T PLAN,

in Wakefield, said he Small Business Newss 7 ge chain LIKELY TO pharmacy for 18 years. A Customer base for brick a andbusiness mortar ted the idea •of becoming businesses: Your mother may be willing VALUABLE across the state to buy a soda hat was two years ago, in which StepstoTodrive Improving Customer Experience 9 5about from you, but probably no one else will. ENERGY For many products services, your of ad not entertained theandthought customers are going to be local. Particuin Rhode Island, previous customers may be employNG FRUIT. Changes atlarly Olivier’s searching within walking distance, or a In The New Year 10 Marketing 5-10 minute drive. Dig deepa intoreality. the censionAND to chase his dream THS sus information on demographics in your area and be realistic about how many target customers are within buying distance.

ADING

Common Businessowner Plan Mistakes 12an7independent eing never left 3. Poor Executive Summary seed was planted,” Olivier, who A lender will readsaid your business plan’s executive summary and “give it the sniff the 14 University of Rhode Island School of test,Business then the gut test,” said RISBDC 2018 Top Trends business counselor Josh Daly. The lender 06. “The being able toon provide a may decideidea whether orof not to continue reading based what l their intuition tells them. So the executive summary is worth g service onSomeone my without owna deep truly began focusing on. business backgroundto grow. should be able to understandGrowth it, and it should make the case Professional Monthly Activities 16 or provide in-depth consultations, that your business is viable in short, clear points. Daly rec- assist u ommends 1-3 sentences each on your business background, urstanding customer base,their the market, the competition, your qualifiinsurance and better e cations, and your team. A concise summary should fit into about two pages and convince your audience to keep reade patients andOrtheir Re-startdoctors.” 18 Start-up

ELF THIN.

working at a ‘big chain’ pharmacy, I 20 Using Mobile Devices gs changed,” said Olivier. “I wasn’t and resources that are necessary to Started In Real Estate 21 Getting wanted to provide.”

ho grew up in Scituate, RI, graduated Business Spotlight 23 Small State University in New Hampshire s Degree in Business Management. Personnel Practices heir24 doors became a reality, the Oliviers and to research what other people did ve fi26 elds.Don’t Their objective Forget To Take Outwas The Trash ch products and items consumers y were manufactured and shipped. 29 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition

discovered during their travels spoke heir mission, according to Olivier. It mitment toward shopping locally and

NO SMALL BUSINESS OWNER HAS EVERY SKILL AND PERSONALITY TRAIT NEEDED TO TAKE A BUSINESS ALL THE WAY FROM THE SEED OF AN IDEA, TO THE WORLD, ALL BY HIM OR HERSELF.

volume seven issue one

ing. If your plan is focused on securing financing, prospective lenders should immediately know how much money you are looking to borrow and how the money will be used.

important to identify and address gaps in your experience

and education, and explain how you’ll overcome them. It’s operated pharmacy on Aquidneck Island, then we should also crucial to briefly introduce your top team members, sell their contributions to your company, and portray how togethprovide our customers with locally er, your team is well-rounded and ready to tackle the chal4. Too Long lenges ahead. produced products.” For a majority of small businesses, a succinct and well-organized business plan should be 5-10 pages long. An engaging business plan includes visuals, where appropriate, to avoid wordiness when a graph, chart, or map will tell the story more effectively. Additional supporting financial projections or research data can go in an appendix. Plans that are significantly longer don’t necessarily give more or better information, and they risk losing their audience before they’re actually read.

7. Sloppy Mistakes Typos, grammatical errors, and poor formatting are com-

pletely avoidable enemies, takingdifferent the shine off your first imHe said what makes Matt’s Local Pharmacy pression. Your business plan needs to look professional because it’samong going to speakother for you. Usepoints: spell-check. Re-read from other pharmacies includes, your plan. Get lots of sleep and re-read it again. Then, even if you’re a great writer and a stickler for detail, have someone offering free daily delivery, curbside delivery, a private else check it over for things you’ve missed. Never underesti5. Not Backing Up What You Say mate the value of a pair of fresh eyes. consulting room blister Along with being realistic in discussingand your projections and packaging. Olivier is also a your market research, you also need to make sure you’re usCertifi ed Diabetes Outpatient Educator, which means ing data and references — not just anecdotes — to support Though you should be ready to put time and effort into your what you’re claiming. business plan, you don’t have to do it alone. The RISBDC he is authorized to provide counsel for patients dealing offers workshops and no-cost, one-on-one business coun6. Not Focusing On the Team, and Your Role As seling to help you refine your plan and take the next steps the Head the disease. They accept most major insurance with toward business success. No small business owner has every skill and personality trait carriers (with the same and can offer advice needed to take a business all the way from the seedco-pay) of an idea, to the world, all by him or herself. It’s appropriate and on understanding the various plans customers have.

7

“Another advantage to working with local merchants is About RISBDC their personal stake in what they make”, said Olivier. 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 agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, we help businesses to succeed from start-up to maturity.

“These vendors are not just out to make money; they are trying to make products that they believe in,” he said. “Most of these people are getting their ingredients locally and it has been a great experience in meeting them and learning about what they do.”

9

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Matt and Erika Olivier strive to highlight local vendors’ products

18

ON THE COVER Matt’s Local

Pharmacy plans to Featured hold their Grand 7 The Top Business Mistakes Opening later this Trends for 2018 spring. The store is Common open daily from 8:30 Business Plan CUSTOMER AM to 7:30 PM, Mistakes Saturday from 10:00 AM to 2:30 PM and closed on Sunday. volume seven issue one

DON’T FORGET TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH

WHAT DRIVES EXPERIENCE?

THE TOP BUSINESS TRENDS FOR 2018

COMMON BUSINESS PLAN

23 www.risbj.com | volume seven issue one

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SMALL BUSINESS

NEWS

A Record Breaking Month for Auto Imports

Over 25,000 Autos Arrived by Ship, 11% Increase Over Previous Record

Quonset, RI – Quonset’s Port of Davisville enjoyed a record breaking month for auto imports in November. A total of 21 vessels unloaded over 25,000 vehicles at the Port last month, beating the previous record from December 2015 by over 11%. The Port of Davisville is Rhode Island’s only public port and a major engine of economic activity for the state. “The record breaking numbers in November at the Port of Davisville are another example of why the facility is a key part of the economic progress we’re making in Rhode Island,” said Gov. Gina M. Raimondo. “These numbers also reinforce the role of the Quonset Business Park, its 200 companies and 11,000 jobs, as a vital economic engine for our state.” Vehicles arriving at the Port of Davisville are processed, finished and distributed across the United States by North Atlantic Distribution, Inc. (NORAD), a long-time Quonset tenant. NORAD has invested more than $40 million dollars at the Park since their arrival in 1986 and employs almost 400 full and part-time workers at Quonset. “NORAD has called the Port of Davisville home for more than 30 years,” said Michael Miranda, President and CEO of NORAD. “Governor Raimondo, as well as our state and federal leaders have done an incredible job in positioning this Port for more growth. We recognize and share their commitment to this unique asset and are committed to investing here at Quonset for many years to come.” Governor Raimondo’s $90 million Port Improvement Program

got underway this year at Quonset, with design work for the project that will reinforce and modernize Pier 2, the workhorse of Quonset’s Port of Davisville. The voter-approved $50 million investment in Pier 2 will bring the facility up to modern standards and expand it by adding a third berth (the pier was built in 1956 with a 50-year design life). Additional financing for the Port Improvement Program will come from a $25 million revenue bond and a $15 million investment from the State Capital Plan Fund. The revenue bond portion of the initiative will be financed by the Quonset Development Corporation (“QDC”) and Port users at no cost to taxpayers. “By investing in Quonset’s Port of Davisville we’re positioning Rhode Island for success in a 21st century economy,” said Steven J. King, P.E., Managing Director of the QDC. “As one of the premiere auto ports on the continent, Davisville is an economic engine for Rhode Island. My team looks forward to working with the Governor and our partners to continue our commitment to creating jobs and building economic prosperity in Rhode Island.”

About Quonset Development Corporation: The Quonset

Development Corporation (QDC) is a real estate development and property management company. Formed in 2005 it is responsible for the development and management of the 3,212 acre Quonset Business Park®. Quonset Business Park is the home to more than 200 companies, 11,000 full and part-time jobs, and the Port of Davisville, which is a Top Ten auto-importer in North America. www.risbj.com | volume seven issue one

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5 Steps To Improving The Customer Experience With Good Service | SMALL BUSINESS

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by Bryan B Mason

I write extensively about the importance of improving the customer experience. This is important because it is one of the most effective ways you can differentiate your company. It is also important because it is substantially in your control. A key element of a good customer experience is having good service. You control it and your competitors cannot keep you from providing it. As I have said before, different customers want different things when it comes to customer service. Some want speed and efficiency; others want a more personal interaction. Differences can be related to age, background, gender, etc. Besides all the usual characteristics you want from your employees, polite, helpful, etc. you need them to be flexible, adaptable and very aware of cultural, age and other differences. Here are the 5 steps to achieve it.

1. Hire the Right Person

To some extent, throw out what you thought you wanted in terms of skills and experience and look for someone that is the right kind of person for the job, and might only be missing teachable job skills (that unfortunately may mean that you will need someone to teach them). Look for someone with key characteristics: genuine warmth, empathy, a good listener, conscientious, anticipatory and optimistic.

2. Instill a Culture that Values Diversity

Your business culture needs to include a diversity of thought in order to properly serve a diverse set of customers. This may mean that there are multiple ways to do something, not just one. Your staff needs to be able to approach different customers in different ways. (There goes your intro script!) Your employees must focus on meeting customers’ needs and desires. For example, one customer may want to see all the choices but another may want a recommendation of only the top three choices.

R V

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3. Training

One way to get the values and approaches you want in your staff is to describe hypothetical situations and work through the right approaches to fit the situation. While this is hard and needs to be ongoing, consider the alternative-having staff that cannot meet the needs of a diverse customer set.

4. Sweat the Details

Get your staff to watch the faces and mannerisms of your customers and react appropriately. Get them to anticipate the needs of your customers and offer help when they look puzzled. Don’t always wait for a customer to approach. By teaching your staff to pay attention to body language and expressions – comfortable or not, stressed, confused, overwhelmed, etc. you are teaching your employees to focus on the whole customer.

5. Be Gracious

When an employee is helping a customer, they need to find the right product to meet their needs and they need to do it in a way that does not make the customer feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. By choosing words that shift the conversation to the benefit for the customer from the emotional state or uncomfortable situation the customer finds himself in, sales effectiveness with be greatly improved. 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 seven issue one

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Marketing

in the

TEN TIPS F

by Carolyn Lavin For business professionals, marketing activities are often somewhere on the to-do list, but they always seem to get pushed to the back burner so fee-generating work can take precedence. With the New Year underway, here are ten tips to start your year. For small firms just getting started with marketing, select one or two items to fully implement; for more sophisticated marketing businesses, use this as a check-list for your year ahead. 1. Analyze where your “best� 2017 new-business originated and drive your marketing tactics accordingly. While you may generalize that a large percentage of new business comes from one area, it’s worthwhile to identify your last five or ten (or twenty) great pieces of new business and exactly where they originated. The result is often surprising. 2. Plan your blog agenda for the year ahead to implement a simple content-marketing approach. Whether you decide to leverage holidays as touch points

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

for your target audiences or assign monthly blog posts to key employees, setting forth an agenda makes you think about your business goals for the year ahead. 3. Use your social media posts strategically to carve out your specific niche. Within your chosen profession, there are often niches or sub-categories where your experience may shine. Use your social media activity to build your reputation in those specific areas. 4. Capture your team with updated photography and share with your clients/customers to fortify connections. In our world of text and email, a picture certainly may be worth a thousand words. Your personal or team photo shows personality and character. 5. Gather your centers-of-influence to enhance relationships and generate client/customer feedback. Whether via an intentional and organized go-to-lunch approach, or an annual firm-wide appreciation event, plan some face-time with your clients and customers in the year ahead.


e

New Year

FOR 2018

6. Give your website a face-lift with contemporary writing and a streamlined approach. Your branding and images might not need a change but if you have been using a formal tone and flavor on your website, it may make you look old-school. Hone your writing strategy with reader-friendly language, active voice and short, complete sentences. 7. Assign yourself follow-up homework after every networking event. Create a follow-up list of two or three significant contacts to reach out for coffee-lunchdrinks and another two or three to reach with mere follow-up emails. Keep these contacts in your database and add them to your social media networks. 8. Dig into your data from web and social media analytics to generate prospects and build business. Go beyond the sigh of relief that you have completed a great social media post or finished your latest website blog to examine the analytics. Seize the marketing opportunities found there.

9. Retain your top talent with team-strengthening opportunities and informal gatherings. Team-building exercises that revolve around marketing show your employees that you not only want them to take business-building seriously, but also that you are going to help them learn how. 10. Write & speak to solidify your reputation with carefully selected target audiences. It’s always valuable to dust off your writing and speaking skills and share your insights with your centers of influence. Be sure to recycle your topic in your social media or your blog to maximize the return-on-investment of your time and energy. Carolyn Lavin is the president of Lavin Marketing Communications. She can be reached at lavinmarketing@ cox.net or 401.451.9660.

www.risbj.com | volume seven issue one

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SMALL BUSINESS | 7 Common Business Plan Mistakes

7 PLAN MISTAKES COMMON BUSINESS

THOUGH EVERY SMALL BUSINESS IS UNIQUE, MANY SUCCESSFUL ONES START WITH A COMMON FOUNDATION: A BUSINESS PLAN. Researching and writing a business plan is an important step in laying out the road map your business will travel, and an indispensable step in securing funding for startup costs or growth. Save time and energy by avoiding these common business plan mistakes. SEVEN TOP BUSINESS PLAN MISTAKES:

As an entrepreneur, surely you’re more excited about doing the thing you want to do that writing a plan about it. But recall the wisdom of Yogi Berra: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.” Without a plan, you’re likely to spend valuable time and energy pursuing fruitless paths and spreading yourself thin. Make completing your plan a priority to focus your energy, stay on the right path, and improve your chances of landing a small business loan.

2. Being Unrealistic

WITHOUT A PLAN, YOU’RE LIKELY TO SPEND VALUABLE TIME & ENERGY PURSUING FRUITLESS PATHS AND SPREADING

This can happen on a number of fronts if you’re not willing to ask YOURSELF hard questions, do concrete research, and be honest with yourself. Your business plan can’t represent the best case scenario or the way you hope things go: it has to grapple with the reality of the marketplace, financial truths, and the entrepreneurial landscape. Focus on being realistic in a few key areas: • Financial projections: Don’t pad or overinflate your future earnings projections. At best, you’ll look like you don’t know what you’re doing and a bank won’t trust you enough to lend you money. At worst, they’ll lend you the money and you’ll go into default or bankruptcy.

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

1. Not Making One

• Competition: A big red flag in many business plans is a belief that you have minimal competition — or even none. “You’re always competing for dollars,” said RISBDC counselor Manuel Batlle. Even if your product is unique, your target customers still have choices about what to do with their money. You must address how you will persuade your target market to give their dollars to you.

THIN.

• Market research: It doesn’t matter what you want to build or sell. Someone has to be willing to buy it for a price that makes it worth selling. No business plan is complete without investing time and energy in up-to-date market research to truly understand market trends, customer interest, competitor performance, and other aspects of product or service viability. • Customer base for brick and mortar businesses: Your mother may be willing to drive across the state to buy a soda from you, but probably no one else will. For many products and services, your customers are going to be local. Particularly in Rhode Island, customers may be searching within walking distance, or a 5-10 minute drive. Dig deep into the census information on demographics in your area and be realistic about how many target customers are within buying distance. 3. Poor Executive Summary

A lender will read your business plan’s executive summary and “give it the sniff test, then the gut test,” said RISBDC business counselor Josh Daly. The lender may decide whether or not to continue reading based on what their intuition tells them. So the executive summary is worth focusing on. Someone without a deep business background should be able to understand it, and it should make the case that your business is viable in short, clear points. Daly recommends 1-3 sentences each on your business background, customer base, the market, the competition, your qualifications, and your team. A concise summary should fit into about two pages and convince your audience to keep read-


7 Common Business Plan Mistakes | SMALL BUSINESS

NO SMALL BUSINESS OWNER HAS EVERY SKILL AND PERSONALITY TRAIT NEEDED TO TAKE A BUSINESS ALL THE WAY FROM THE SEED OF AN IDEA, TO THE WORLD, ALL BY HIM OR HERSELF.

ing. If your plan is focused on securing financing, prospective lenders should immediately know how much money you are looking to borrow and how the money will be used. 4. Too Long For a majority of small businesses, a succinct and well-organized business plan should be 5-10 pages long. An engaging business plan includes visuals, where appropriate, to avoid wordiness when a graph, chart, or map will tell the story more effectively. Additional supporting financial projections or research data can go in an appendix. Plans that are significantly longer don’t necessarily give more or better information, and they risk losing their audience before they’re actually read. 5. Not Backing Up What You Say Along with being realistic in discussing your projections and your market research, you also need to make sure you’re using data and references — not just anecdotes — to support what you’re claiming. 6. Not Focusing On the Team, and Your Role As the Head No small business owner has every skill and personality trait needed to take a business all the way from the seed of an idea, to the world, all by him or herself. It’s appropriate and

important to identify and address gaps in your experience and education, and explain how you’ll overcome them. It’s also crucial to briefly introduce your top team members, sell their contributions to your company, and portray how together, your team is well-rounded and ready to tackle the challenges ahead. 7. Sloppy Mistakes Typos, grammatical errors, and poor formatting are completely avoidable enemies, taking the shine off your first impression. Your business plan needs to look professional because it’s going to speak for you. Use spell-check. Re-read your plan. Get lots of sleep and re-read it again. Then, even if you’re a great writer and a stickler for detail, have someone else check it over for things you’ve missed. Never underestimate the value of a pair of fresh eyes. Though you should be ready to put time and effort into your business plan, you don’t have to do it alone. The RISBDC offers workshops and no-cost, one-on-one business counseling to help you refine your plan and take the next steps toward business success.

About RISBDC 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 agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, we help businesses to succeed from start-up to maturity.

www.risbj.com | volume seven issue one

13


The Top Business Trends

Companies are embrac

not to avoid HUM

but to e

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal


That Will Drive Success in 2018 By: Ian Altman

cing artificial intelligence,

MAN INTERACTION,

enrich it.

www.risbj.com | volume seven issue one

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SMALL BUSINESS | Professional Growth Monthly Activities: Stand Out From The Crowd

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal


Professional Growth Monthly Activities: Stand Out From The Crowd | SMALL BUSINESS

Professional Growth Monthly Activities:

Stand Out From The Crowd by Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro, PhD

Stand out from the crowd by enthusiastically conveying to a customer, client, employee, supervisor or family member how much you appreciate them. It may make their day. Also, it may pay dividends many times the cost of the minimal investment. A personalized, creative and enthusiastic expression is, of course, more memorable than a routine thank you, may have more of an impact on others, and possibly a better payout for you. Nonetheless, a routine “thank you we appreciate your business” will, most likely, be appreciated as well. All of us can learn from Sofia Ciaglo, a 6th grader whom I met at the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts Geek Is Glam event at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in October when I was about to begin my Mind Games program. While most of the scouts arriving for the presentation sat down in an orderly fashion as they arrived Sofia came right up to me and said “Hi, My name is Sofia and I am so excited to be here.” Sofia’s energetic greeting was a fantastic start to my fourth program of the day. My copresenter Maria Gaskell and I decided to present Sofia with our outstanding participant for the session award acknowledging her enthusiasm and networking initiative. You’ll see a photo of Sofia holding her polar bear with a champion ribbon in the photo. Let us all learn from Sofia and take a moment to express our positive feelings and appreciation!!! We can also learn from my co-presenter Maria who appears in the background of the photo. Maria (now a biology major and chemistry minor at Rhode Island College) met when I offered one of my programs at her high school. Maria saw

me at her school (having previously attended one of my programs) and shouted out My hero! I acknowledged her comment by inviting her to join my presentation team. It was an excellent decision. Moving to the business world, early in my career I worked at a small consulting firm which had been taken over in a less than friendly series of events. I’m told that all of the Vice Presidents were sitting around saying “what will happen to us” except one who walked up to the new chair, introduced himself and simply asked what would happen to him. The new chairman liked this VPs style and offered him (but none of the other VPs) a position in his new administration. In addition to personally standing out from the crowd it really helps if your advertising, promotions, marketing, quality, products and services stand out from the crowd in a positive way. Similarly, if you happen to be applying for a new position or marketing a service it helps if your resume or other promotional materials stand out from the crowd by ROARing (being Results Oriented And Relevant). For this month’s activity think about what you can do to stand out from the crowd. It may be by showing more appreciation to your customers and team than others, it may be in some other way, but think about the best way for you to stand out. Then, do it!!! I would like to thank Industrial Consultant Dr. Margarita Posada Cossuto, Maria Gaskell, Tammy Breen and Rachel Cook for helpful comments. I would also like to thank Rachel for permission to include her daughter’s photo to accompany this article.

Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro

Independent Consultant in Human Factors, Learning and Human Resources

It may be by showing more appreciation to your customers and team than others, it may be in some other way, but think about the best way for you to stand out. www.risbj.com | volume seven issue one

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MBE/DBE | Start-up Or Re-start…You Have Help In Rhode Island!

Start-up or Re-start … Where

C a n Th e

M B E / D B E Tu r n

by Michael Brito

It is without reservation that I express how tough it is to maintain momentum once you get your idea off the ground. With help, I’ve started and re-started several ventures in Rhode Island and can show anyone the challenges my team and I have faced, which we are very proud of! In sharing my advice with you, I reference those challenges. I believe we should lean on the shoulders of the wise, since they have stumbled the path of success before us. I also recommend gaining ideas, insight, and guidance from reliable sources such as oneon-one mentoring, industry specific means, industry focused associations and retired business owner groups, all of which offer a vast array of advice and knowledge. If you are a certified Minority Business Enterprise/Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (MBE/DBE) in Rhode Island you are already aware of the help offered by such groups as Rhode

For

Suppo

Island Department of Transportation, Mission 360, and Rhode Island Small Business Journal. You should also be aware of the many private businesses whose primary focus is on small business development such as Rhode Island Small Business Development Association, local chambers of commerce, Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE), and many more groups that offer free, if not reduced fees for new business ventures that focus on the MBE/DBE community. A high priority must be placed on maintaining the ‘startup mentality’ beyond the start-up phase of any small business. We must be aware of what it takes from us to be an entrepreneur: when others are watching the game on television, we’re working on our development; when others are sleeping, we’re not; when others are eating out, we’re

When others are watching the game o we’re working on our development; when others are slee not; when others are eating out, we’re cooking at hom that new tool that will put us in front of the comp 18

RISBJ | rhode island small business journal


Start-up Or Re-start…You Have Help In Rhode Island! | MBE/DBE

… you have help inRhode Island!

ort,

Strength,

And

Guidance?

cooking at home to save for that new tool that will put us in front of the competition; and when we are meeting with our business mentors, community leaders, and association builders, others are at the movies…well, you get the point! Please focus on this statistic, over 85% of all small businesses fail within the first 18 months of launching! Choose to be in the 15% by taking action. I encourage you to do three things each day that are specifically focused on your businesses future growth, if you need help with this please call me. Who you spend the most time with makes a difference. Surround yourself with winners, take from them what will grow your business toward the goals you’ve set. If you haven’t reviewed your goals for the coming year and need help with this please call me. As always, I trust this article has been somewhat helpful for you. I enjoy hearing from all of you so if you have questions, thoughts, or would like my personal attention just reach out, thank you for focusing on a great 2016. See you on the job-site! Mike Brito can be reached by phone 401-952-5892 or by email msb@managetheroadahead.com. Michael Brito Team Member, Managing the Road Ahead www.managetheroadahead.com

on television, eping, we’re me to save for petition www.risbj.com | volume seven issue one

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SMALL BUSINESS | Using Mobile Devices For Small Businesses

USING MOBILE DEVICES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES REQUIRES

SECURITY INSTALLATIONS & UPDATES

W

by Bradley Fowler, MA

ith the growing use of mobile devices for small business practices, i.e. maintaining contacts, text messaging, and storing files in the Cloud; keeping security features and configurations on your mobile device updated, is essential to protecting your small business affairs. If you’re like me, maintaining security features on your mobile device has been the least of your concern. After all, in many cases, you store data you believe to be invaluable to your daily business operations. Yet to someone who relies on utilizing mobile devices to target unsuspecting users, your mobile device could very well become a tool for potential hackers to invade your privacy. One way to combat this threat is learning what antivirus and malware software is compatible with your mobile device operating system. This is extremely important, because not all mobile device operating systems are compatible with some of the current “free” open-source antivirus and malware software now available on the market.

Maintaining security on your mobile device can help protect your small business affairs while conducting business on your mobile device.

To learn what security software is most compatible with your mobile device operating system, conduct a simple Google search. Typing the following keywords will help you attain the intelligence needed to clarify what software is suitable for your mobile device operating system: best security software for my (name of your device) operating system. If your mobile device is a iPhone, Smart Phone, Android, or Windows Mobile, type that in the Google search. When you learn what security software is most compatible with your mobile device, be sure to thoroughly review the information provided. Doing so can help you avoid being victimized by unsafe security software installations. To help you better connect with the right security software, I’ve compiled a list of security software to consider installing on your mobile device: | rhode island small business journal 20 RISBJ

RECOMMENDED SECURITY SOFTWARE • Avira

• Avast Mobile Security

• Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus

• Norton Security

• Trend Micro Mobile Security and Antivirus

It is just as important to make sure, you evaluate your mobile device security settings. This can be a task for someone who lacks clarity on how to locate their settings. However, you can simple log into your mobile device and search your Apps. Scroll down until locating the Settings App icon. Once you locate the App, simply touch it and scroll down until, you see - Security. Touch the screen, which will open the Security features. If you haven’t applied Screen lock, configure your settings to do so. Adding a Pattern security block can prevent unwanted persons from gaining access to your screen, if you leave your device somewhere. Also, if your device enables you to add a finger print security feature, I recommend doing so. I also suggest encrypting the data on your memory card; this can be done by simply sliding the button from left to right. Next, I recommend disenabling Apps that you do not commonly use. This can help free up some gigabytes on your device as well as prevent unwanted intrusion. Maintaining security on your mobile device can help protect your small business affairs while conducting business on your mobile device. Staying aware of how to effectively manage your mobile device for small business affairs, will provide the additional security and privacy, you deserve as a small business owner. If you have additional concerns about mobile device security features and security software, please contact me for consultations. You can reach me via e-mail at info@constructionemarketing.biz Be sure to add: Mobile Device Security Concerns- in the subject box.


Getting Started In Real Estate | REAL ESTATE

Getting Started In Real Estate? HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO HELP GET YOU STARTED ON THE RIGHT FOOT by Robert Scaralia

Many people enter the real estate business because they consider themselves good with people and/or because they like houses. That’s great, but it falls short of what it really takes to be successful. It all starts with the decision to get your license. Rhode Island law requires a 45-hour real estate pre license course, which will teach you the principles and practices of modern real estate, as well as Rhode Island license law. Beyond making the major decision to become a real estate professional and passing the state exam, your most important decision is by far the brokerage you decide to join. This one decision can have the single greatest impact on your career. You want to find a firm that offers new agent training and support that will teach you the fundamentals of the business such as how to prepare contracts, how to determine property values, understanding the transaction process as well as how to find customers plus a long list of other things you will need to know. In addition, you want to select a firm that provides support in the form of someone you can lean into if you need help or have questions, this typically is the managing broker. Many firms today also offer mentorship opportunities where they pair you up with a seasoned agent who will hold your hand through your first couple of transactions. Another great and growing model within many firms is the team concept. In this arrangement you work directly with a successful veteran for the foreseeable future that provides an additional layer of ongoing support and opportunity. Either

way a good brokerage will provide you the real world training you don’t get in a pre-license class. Even with that, the truth is most fail in the business because they have the wrong perspective about what a real estate business is and just as importantly what it is not. We call this the fatal assumption. It is born of the belief that if you understand the technical work of a business you understand how to run a business that does that technical work. It’s like saying just because you learn how to bake cakes you now know how to run a business that bakes cakes. They are two totally and completely different things. To be successful in real estate requires complete knowledge of all the technical aspects of the business as well as the principles of running a business, because you are not so much in the real estate business as much as you are a businessperson who happens to be in real estate. The real estate profession can be personally and financially rewarding if you follow these simple rules. One, commit to ongoing education about everything related to your profession. It should never end for as long as you are in the business. No one would want to go to a doctor, lawyer or accountant who didn’t stay on top of his or her field. Second, work on yourself. Personal development (self-help) should be a priority because in a business of your own you are the asset that is leading the business. Third, learn how to run a business. Go outside of the real estate industry and learn from other businesses. If you do you will find that while their technical work may be different from yours, the challenges are fundamentally the same; how to find customers, convert customers to choose your business over anyone else and deliver on the promise of exceptional service. Robert Scaralia Education Director The Real Estate Institute of Rhode Island

www.risbj.com | volume seven issue one

21


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Small Business Spotlight: Coming To The Region | SMALL BUSINESS

Coming To The Region: Family-Owned Matt’s Local Pharmacy What makes Matt’s Local Pharmacy different from other pharmacies includes, among other points: offering free daily delivery, curbside delivery, a private consulting room and blister packaging. From his decades of experience in the pharmaceutical industry began the quest of Matt Olivier to own an independent and family-owned pharmacy. Olivier and his wife, Erika, have opened Matt’s Local Pharmacy, located on 88 E. Main Rd., in Middletown; that provides customers with alternative ways of providing healthrelated products and services. Matt Olivier, born and raised in Wakefield, said he worked for a large chain pharmacy for 18 years. A colleague suggested the idea of becoming a business owner to him. That was about two years ago, in which Olivier said he had not entertained the thought of becoming a boss. Changes at Olivier’s previous employer made the decision to chase his dream a reality. “The concept of being an independent owner never left my mind and the seed was planted,” said Olivier, who graduated from the University of Rhode Island School of Pharmacy in 2006. “The idea of being able to provide a better pharmacy service on my own truly began to grow. I would be able to provide in-depth consultations, assist others with understanding their insurance and better follow up with the patients and their doctors.” “After 18 years working at a ‘big chain’ pharmacy, I noticed that things changed,” said Olivier. “I wasn’t allowed the time and resources that are necessary to give the service I wanted to provide.” Erika Olivier, who grew up in Scituate, RI, graduated from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. Before opening their doors became a reality, the Oliviers toured New England to research what other people did in their respective fields. Their objective was determining which products and items consumers wanted, how they were manufactured and shipped. What the couple discovered during their travels spoke volumes about their mission, according to Olivier. It was Erika’s commitment toward shopping locally and encouraging others to do likewise that resulted in what direction they headed, he said.“Within a short time, we realized the great selection of quality products right in our backyard,” Olivier said. “The idea seems fitting; if we are the only independent, family-owned, locally-

operated pharmacy on Aquidneck Island, then we should provide our customers with locally produced products.” He said what makes Matt’s Local Pharmacy different from other pharmacies includes, among other points: offering free daily delivery, curbside delivery, a private consulting room and blister packaging. Olivier is also a Certified Diabetes Outpatient Educator, which means he is authorized to provide counsel for patients dealing with the disease. They accept most major insurance carriers (with the same co-pay) and can offer advice on understanding the various plans customers have. “Another advantage to working with local merchants is their personal stake in what they make”, said Olivier. “These vendors are not just out to make money; they are trying to make products that they believe in,” he said. “Most of these people are getting their ingredients locally and it has been a great experience in meeting them and learning about what they do.”

Matt and Erika Olivier strive to highlight local vendors’ products Matt’s Local Pharmacy plans to hold their Grand Opening later this spring. The store is open daily from 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM, Saturday from 10:00 AM to 2:30 PM and closed on Sunday. More information may be found by calling the pharmacy at 401-619-5020 or by visiting their new website at: www.mattslocalpharmacy.com www.risbj.com | volume seven issue one 23


LEGAL | Personnel Practices: Wage And Hour Refresher For Rhode Island Small Businesses

Personnel Practices Wa g e a n d H o u r R e f r e s h e r f o r Rhode Island Small Businesses by Kristen M. Whittle, Esq. and Aaron Spacone, Esq.

The new year brings change, both in how employers run their businesses and in how employees approach their status and roles within those organizations. It is incumbent upon Rhode Island small business owners, then, to familiarize themselves with both state and federal wage and hour laws. The following is a refresher as to the wage and hour laws currently in effect, as well as a primer on possible developments taking shape in the future.

Federal Minimum Wage Law:

Since July 24, 2009, the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, provides that the federal minimum wage for nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour. In order for an employee to be “exempt,” he or she must: be paid on a salary basis; make the minimum salary ($23,600/year or $455/week); and have high-level responsibilities. Employees with “high-level responsibilities” can include executives, professionals, and administrators. The salary threshold of this exemption had been scheduled for change under the prior presidential administration, but has been on an indefinite hiatus since November 2016.

Rhode Island’s minimum wage law:

Effective January 1, 2018, the minimum wage in Rhode Island is $10.10 per hour, 50 cents more

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

than the previous rate and nearly $3.00 more than the federal minimum wage. It is important to note that, while the federal exemption is for employees earning $455 per week, Rhode Island’s salary threshold for exempt employees is only $200 per week. Rhode Island’s minimum wage law is now equal with one of its neighbors, Connecticut, while both states lag behind Massachusetts and its $11.00 minimum wage. Rhode Island, however, is set to increase its minimum wage again next year, to $10.50 per hour.

Tipped Minimum Wage:

For those small business owners operating a restaurant or bar, it is important to understand that a “tipped employee” is an employee receiving at least $30.00 per month in tips. The FLSA requires that “tipped employees” be paid a minimum wage of $2.13 per hour. While Rhode Island has been steadily increasing its general minimum wage, it has not taken recent steps to increase its tipped minimum wage, which remains at $3.89 per hour.

Overtime:

If a nonexempt employee works in excess of 40 hours in one week, the employer is required to pay that employee 1.5 times his or her pay rate for any hours over 40. Given that the minimum wage is now


Personnel Practices: Wage And Hour Refresher For Rhode Island Small Businesses | LEGAL

Effective January 1, 2018, the minimum wage in Rhode Island is $10.10 per hour, 50 cents more than the previous rate $10.10 per hour, Rhode Island’s overtime minimum wage rate is currently $15.50 per hour. Unlike some states, Rhode Island uses only a weekly standard for overtime, rather than a daily overtime limit.

Potential Changes to Exemptions:

As noted earlier, Rhode Island employees earning $200 per week are exempt from the minimum wage law as well as overtime pay. During the 2017 legislative session, the General Assembly considered increasing the threshold from $200 to $1,036 on the ground that the $200 minimum has never been adjusted for inflation and has become too all-encompassing, leaving executives and administrators working well over 40 hours per week without compensation. While that bill did not ultimately pass, and it is unclear whether such legislation will be passed during the present legislative session, it appears that Rhode Island may be trending toward a serious thinning of the exempt employee pool. Rhode Island employers should be particularly mindful of the above-discussed minimum wage and overtime laws, and they should certainly be aware of the potential legislation on the horizon. When dealing with wage issues such as these, advanced planning and consultation with an experienced employment attorney can lessen your burden and ensure compliance with federal and state mandates.

Kristen M. Whittle, Esq. Partner, Barton Gilman LLP Aaron Spacone, Esq. Associate Barton Gilman LLP

www.risbj.com | volume seven issue one

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SMALL BUSINESS | Don’t Forget To Take Out The Trash

New Year’s Resolution DON’T FORGET

To Take Out The

TRASH By: Larry Girouard

It was in the fifties, but seems like yesterday. I can still hear the faint strains of my mother’s voice saying “Don’t forget to take out the trash”. This was one of my chores. It wasn’t one of my favorite things to do, but there was a price to pay if I forgot. The trash was the waste our family generated each week, and for a family of five, it was significant. That said, with today’s more throw-away society, it seems like the amount of waste I bring out to the curb each week seems much greater, and there are only two of us! The bottom line is that you would never let trash accumulate in your home for very long, yet we allow trash to clutter our businesses every day in the form of waste in processes, and in the way we organize the things around us. Since my first introduction into the world of Lean over 20 years ago, I have changed the way I look at a business. Perhaps my mechanical engineering background helps me frame that vision. It is so simple to get a clear picture of your business once you take away the emotions that encumber that view, and just look at the processes that make up all business activities. Processes, routines, and habits are all the same. We all do things in a

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

in a certain way because this is the way we initially learned it, and there is a comfort the sameness of “we have always done it that way”. While most of my professional career was spent in the world of manufacturing with both fortune 500 companies like DuPont, and small high tech start-ups, process is not held captive by this manufacturing world. Regardless of the business model within the spectrum from manufacturing to service, it is all about the implementation of processes, and the integration of those processes to yield the product or service your market demands. Processes are void of emotion ... A goes to B which goes to C, D, E, F, and so on. All processes can be mapped out in concrete form. All processes can be measured, with the most valuable measurement being time. How long does it take to go from A to B, B to C, etc. You have heard the saying “time is money” over and over again. If processes, many of which have evolved over the years to become convoluted and cumbersome, are not viewed from the unemotional perspective of “time to execute”, you are doing your business a huge disservice. There is one thing I learned about Lean that you can take to the bank > every process has waste, and in most cases, a lot of waste. In reality, over time the degree of waste increases as process modifications are made to address this issue or that issue. Here is a simple exercise that might help to punctuate how waste, or trash, impedes the ability to efficiently service your customer base: 1.) Pick a process or activity that frustrates you that involves several people, and departments (functions), to execute.

2.) Map out that process on a large piece of paper, or preferably on a white board. Process mapping is simplified by just following the paperwork, or communication trail, within that process. It is important that all the details be included. It is most revealing to map out a proce ss using swim lanes. Think of a swimming pool with each swim lane representing a different function within your organization (sales, finance, QC, etc). The process may serpentine between swim lanes several times before you get to the end. As that happens, the more obvious waste elements will “float” to the surface. (Note: It is of critical importance that you have the employees that are involved in the process help develop this map because they are the ones that do the work.) 3.) Once the Current State of the process is complete and all the stakeholders are comfortable with its correctness, the next step is to try to apply times to each step. Allocated times must include wait times to move information along, and not just the time to perform the actual work at each step. In this way, the total time for the process to be completed can be established. For example, if you are mapping out the quoting process, how long does it take from the time you received the RFQ from the customer to the time you deliver it back? This defines the overall process time. Better said, this is how long the customer is waiting for an answer. 4.) Determining the Future State > Take

Happy N

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Don’t Forget To Take Out The Trash | SMALL BUSINESS

out the trash, or waste: With the involvement of the employees, how might this process be streamlined? As mentioned, this goes beyond just performing the actual required tasks more efficiently, but also must address wastes such as waiting transportation of information, prioritizing information and actions that come across an employee’s desk, or work station, etc. Modifying the Current State of a process will result in dramatically reducing its time for completion, like this RFQ example. This will open up your eyes to the potential value of this approach.

The end game is to evolve to a more efficient company by eliminating (taking out) the trash, or waste, in all your business processes. This will positively impact your value proposition resulting in an improved top and bottom line. Make a New Year’s resolution to “take out the trash” in one key

process, and see what happens. There is no downside, and the upside potential is most rewarding.

The end game is to evolve to a more efficient company by eliminating (taking out the trash, or waste, in all your business processes.

5.) Mutual Exclusivity is Rare > As you begin to transform a process to a more efficient level, the actions of employees within that process will change. Some employees may well take on additional responsibilities in the new process while others will have less of a role. Because no process in an island, by default, this will impact other processes and job descriptions that, at some point, will need to be addressed.

New Year!

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