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volume seven issue six


Solve Your

Small Business Problems





N E W R E S O U R C E S F R O M T H E R H O D E I S L www.risbj.com AND F O Useven N DAT | volume issue six I O 1 N

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volume seven issue six



6 Secretary of State 9 How I Work To Solve Small Business Problems 10 Increase Funding For State’s Smaller Airports 12 The Rhode Island Foundation


14 Key Trends for Digital Marketing in 2018 17 Why Branding Is Key To Success 18 Monthly Learning Tips


20 Valuing and Re-Valuing Your Business 21 PC Survivors 22 RI’s New Paid Sick Leave Law


ON THE COVER volume seven issue six

Help Featured

24 Automated Business Solutions Family

Solve Your

Small Business Problems


26 Command and Control or Empowerment


Key Trends In Digital Marketing




29 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition N E W R E S O U R C E S F R O M T H E R H O D E I S L A N D F O U N DAT I O N

Business Spotlight: Apollo Consulting

21 www.risbj.com | volume seven issue six


SECRETARY OF STATE | Nellie M. Gorbea What Clams Me About SMALL Manage A Remote Worker or Office SMALL BUSINESS BUSINESS || How Dear To Mom: A Taught Letter Home From ALeadership One Day Warrior


e c r e t a r y




t a t e

Nellie M. Gorbea


It is clear everywhere I go, that Rhode Island business owners want a government that works for them. As Secretary of State I have made it a priority to build a new culture at the Department of State that listens to small business owners and provides them with the government service they deserve. Making it easier to do business in Rhode Island is key to our economic growth. That’s why last year I supported a law that provides a new corporate structure called a “workers’ cooperative”. The law officially went into effect on January 1, 2018 and allows for the establishment of worker-owned businesses. The law is intended to: “Promote the creation of workers’ cooperatives by incentivizing workers to create enterprises that are democratically controlled and operated by their own workers.” What is a Workers’ Cooperative? Workers’ cooperatives are for-profit


island small business RISBJ | rhode | rhode island small businessjournal journal

businesses that are owned and controlled by those working for the business. Success in workers’ cooperatives is dependent on the labor and management decisions of workers, who also benefit from the business’ profits. Workers’ cooperatives are gaining popularity across the country for their democratic management principals. The U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC), a national organization established in 2004, estimates that there are nearly 400 worker-owned cooperatives in the United States currently employing 2,500–3,500 worker-owners. Thirty-five percent of these are in the service sector and have an average of 11 worker-owners. Despite its popularity in European economies such as Italy and Spain, and its history in the United States dating back to the Industrial Revolution, there are no federal laws or uniform code that provide a process in which workers cooperatives can operate. Therefore 19 individual states, including Rhode Island, have taken up this issue by passing legislation that streamlines the process of getting a workers’ cooperative started. Since January, four Rhode Island businesses have filed their Articles of Incorporation as workers’ cooperatives. If you are an existing business corporation and would like to organize as a workers’ cooperative, you can file an amendment to your articles of incorporation to comply with the new law. In the fast-paced world of business, options change quickly and often. As always, the staff at our West River office are available to answer any questions you might have about this

new entity type. Whether you are a new or an established small business, the Department of State’s Business Services Division is here to help. You can reach us by calling (401) 222-3040, emailing us at corporations@sos.ri.gov or visiting our office at 148 West River Street, Providence. Please feel free to contact me directly with any thoughts or suggestions you have on this or any other topics at secretarygorbea@sos.ri.gov or visit our website sos.ri.gov. We look forward to working with you to grow your business or non-profit in Rhode Island.





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Are you working too hard but not achieving the results that you want?

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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How I Work To Solve Small Business Problems | SMALL BUSINESS


Solve Small Business Problems by Bryan B Mason

I am Bryan Mason and I founded the Apollo Consulting Group nine years ago to help small businesses overcome their challenges and make the best of their opportunities. I have been writing articles to share what I know by providing what I hope has been useful advice on a range of business topics relevant to the small business readers of this magazine. You may have seen some of them. I thought I would vary the format this time and use this article to write about what I do and why I do it, so you can understand more about the man behind the advice. First of all, I work primarily with small businesses. While most of my clients have less than 50 employees, the majority have between 1 to 25. I really enjoy working with these clients because I can bring expertise they do not have and they can see the results of my effort in a very short time. I work in a range of industries including service companies, retailers, entertainment companies, restaurants, construction companies, and craft manufacturers. My clients tell me that my inter-industry experience allows me to look at problems in different ways and bring insights they do not see because I am not limited to the problems of a single industry. In the past year, I have worked with a dog walking service that provides over 200 walks a day, done strategic planning with a cemetery, provided profit improvement advice to a bowling alley, developed several business plans including one for a radio station, worked with a start up restaurant, provided marketing, strategy, branding and profit improvement advice to a home safety company and helped a paving company increase employee satisfaction and retention.

The help I give my clients includes improving their profitability and cash flow, developing the winning strategy that will make them successful, helping them get more customers, solve operational problems, provide technology advice and last but not least, advise on how to price their product or service. If there is one thing that most small businesses are terrible at, it is pricing. You want to use pricing to drive customer behaviors into patterns that support your business goals. Small businesses have no idea how to do this yet it is one of the most effective actions they can take and it is completely under their control. Before Apollo, I worked with small and large companies as an economist, a technologist and as someone who optimized work flows. This background allows me to take a complex set of problems and break it down into manageable pieces. I thrive on this challenge. I think about business problems within the context of competition, creating sustainable competitive advantage, and product and service differentiation. I listen to my clients, generate my ideas about what the problem or problems are, dig deep to validate my suspicions, and then create practical solutions that my clients can implement with the money and people that they have. I have learned from my experience that small companies and big companies face many of the same challenges – they need to find customers, deliver their product and service efficiently, satisfy the customer and make a profit. However, the solutions to the challenges of small companies need to be very different because of the resource constraints of smaller enterprises. It also means that I have to be very efficient and affordable or my clients would not be able to collaborate with me. One of the things that I am most proud of is that I have developed the proprietary Apollo Profit Acceleration Technique™. This process combines analytics with business and economic modeling to identify the key drivers of success. It is the fastest way to unlock the profit potential of any company. Typical results are 20% to 40% improvement in profitability, even with relatively well run companies.

Article Writen By Bryan B Mason

Principal (401) 862-6339 The Apollo Consulting Group LLC

So if you are working too hard but not achieving the results that you want, please give me a call to set up a free, no obligation, independent assessment of your company’s situation.

www.risbj.com | volume seven issue six


SMALL BUSINESS | Increase Funding For State’s Smaller Airports SMALL BUSINESS | How SBDCS Meet The Needs Of Millennial Entrepeneurs

Students Can Shape The Future of

FLYING THE FRIENDLY SKIES Legislation introduced to increase funding for state’s smaller airports

An idea during a recent Northern Rhode Island Chamber networking event resulted in two-dozen Cumberland High School students learning about the aviation industry and the possibilities it may have on their futures.

Nearly two-dozen students from Michael Stead’s Robotics and Engineering Class visited North Central State Airport in Smith�ield to learn about the details of these trades and speak with several pilots, mechanics and other industry professionals. The day included chances to learn about the inner workings of plane engines, touching various switches and gadgets and the numerous jobs that will become available.

The �inal point regarding an applicant shortage was not lost on anyone either scheduling this event or local of�icials, including Lt. Gov. Dan McKee, State Sen. Stephen Archambault, Democrat of Smith�ield, and Northern Rhode Island Chamber Senior Vice President Paul Ouellette, who all lent their support and their experiences with the local airport. Sen. Archambault, citing the current state of local airports throughout Rhode Island, said he recently introduced a bill to help support more viable options. The bill was also introduced in the House by State Reps. Thomas Win�ield, Democrat of Smith�ield, and Gregory Constintino, Democrat of Lincoln, asking to revamp the other six airports around the state.

If enacted, this legislation would increase the number of years that the Department of Transportation may lease airport property where a substantial improvement/building is constructed from 30 years to 50 years. It would also increase the number of directors on the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) from seven to nine, with one appointment 10 RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

from a list of three candidates from the Rhode Island Pilots Association (RIPA) and one appointment from a list of three candidates from the Rhode Island General Aviation Business Owners Association (RIGABOA). The Smith�ield Democratic Senator said that for all the chances to train new pilots, the quality of the local airports to educate them there raises concerns.

“North Central and other municipal airports in RI are in serious disrepair and need immediate economic revitalization, upkeep and downright TLC,” Sen. Archambault said. “Sadly, business owners who provide an important source of commerce and revenue to Rhode Island (over $160 million annually) are not a priority to Rhode Island Airport Corporation. It is clear to me that RIAC could do a better job. We can’t forget the other smaller and critically important airports that make up RI’s aviation industry.” Local Businessman and Northern Rhode Island Chamber Member David Bellenoit said there will be many pilots, engineers, mechanics and other related �ields retiring, thus increasing the need for quali�ied replacements. Bellenoit said the issue is not so much with the industry itself, but how reachable for students to reach those goals are. “Kids often think about becoming police of�icers, �ire�ighters or doctors,” said Bellenoit, who has signi�icant �lying experience. “They don’t look into becoming pilots or mechanics because they think that goal is unattainable. The truth is there are numerous in-demand jobs, and the chances they could have seeing the world and doing things they initially didn’t think were possible will be in their hands.”

How SBDCS Meet The Needs Of Millennial Entrepeneurs | SMALL BUSINESS

Among the students who took a seat in one of the planes is CHS Freshman Liam Nichols. He found sitting in a pilot’s seat “pretty exciting” compared with sitting in class. However, the lessons Nichols said he learned in class were easily understood once he stepped on the tarmac. Nichols’ classmate, Sophomore Vincent Tarara, explained his fascination with aircraft from a much younger age. His reason for wanting to be on the �ield trip was simple. “I want to become a pilot,” said Tarara. “I want to join the United States Air Force, but I’ve been interested in becoming a pilot for six years. I also love being in the pilot’s seat and having the responsibility of other people’s lives in my hands.” That was Stead’s hope when he �irst arranged this trip with the Chamber and AirVentrues Flying School’s NAFI Master Flight Instructor Doug Auclair and others several months ago. Stead said having students see what the industry involves and the difference they could make should resonate with them. It’s not just �lying aircraft that students should consider in choosing an industry, he added.

“The hope for this trip was for the students to get a better understanding of the �ields that are employed at an airport, said Stead. “There are design processes, all �ields of engineering and other positions that they might not have even

through about. My goal for doing this was opening the students’ eyes about the opportunities that are there for them.” Auclair understands how the potential pilot shortage will affect the industry. If the retirement path continue, more people will wait for fewer �lights. Having students go there and seeing the opportunities available may change their entire outlook, he added. Lt. Gov. McKee urged the students to follow their dreams. The former Cumberland Mayor and CHS graduate pointed out the advantages of learning as many trades and testing out what interests them the most.

Sen. Archambault noted that when he was the students’ age, he traded in his Trans-Am for a chance to become a pilot. While taking pilot lessons, he was ingrained about his �light teacher’s lessons about making sure he gives himself enough to prepare for landings and never taking anything for granted—particularly in the air.

To encourage more students to consider aviation careers, two $1,000 Flight Scholarships generated by NE Aviation, AirVentures, AOPA, and the Northern RI Chamber of Commerce were given to CHS students Stephen Poirier and Dominic Passanante. The remaining students were all given a free �light instruction class from AirVentures.

My goal for doing this was opening the student’s eyes about the opportunities that are there for them. www.risbj.com | volume seven issue six








SMALL BUSINESS | Building Success Together


















launching new resources for startups and small businesses PROVIDENCE, RI – Startups and small businesses looking to expand have a new resource. The Rhode Island Foundation today launched RIBizBuilder.com, an online directory to information about low- and no-cost help with borrowing, marketing to potential customers, local regulations and taxes, finding employees and more.

even they can’t do it alone all the time. And finding time to find the assistance and information that can help – about capital, marketing, regulations, talent, and more – has not been as easy as it should be,” said David.

The website gives entrepreneurs access to information about dozens of Rhode Island-focused organizations offering services that help start and grow businesses in the Ocean State.

The site contains more than 100 listings of resources and services that are available for startups and small businesses in Rhode Island. Visitors can narrow their search using a variety of filters including the type of assistance they are looking for, their industry and special factors such gender or military veteran status.

“Whether you are an established business, or a startup, or if you just have an idea, the point of RI BizBuilder is to quickly connect you with the people and entities that can help you with whatever you need, so you can move on, quickly,” said Jessica David, the Foundation’s executive vice president for strategy and community investments.

“RI BizBuilder is designed to help entrepreneurs navigate the landscape of business supports in the state. This is a resource to find low-and no-cost support services in Rhode Island. We are excited for you to try it out, and to send us feedback,” said Carmen Diaz-Jusino, the Foundation’s strategic program officer for economic security.

The directory was created by the Foundation in partnership with the Center for Women & Enterprise, Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, Rhode Island Small Business Development Center and many other partners with funding from the Foundation. The initiative supports the Foundation’s Economic Security strategic initiative.

RIBizBuilder.com was launched at a gathering of business leaders in Central Falls, Central Falls Mayor James Diossa led the RI BizBuilder partners and representatives of other business services organizations on a tour of small businesses in the Dexter Street commercial district.

“RI BizBuilder is easy to use; just answer four questions about the stage of your business, the type of assistance you’re looking for, your industry and whether you have any special circumstances. The site will find the most relevant information for you. You choose who you want to connect with, and RI BizBuilder will contact the provider on your behalf,” said David. “Starting and running a business is no easy task. Small business owners are among the most resilient, hardworking, determined and creative people I know. But


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“Central Falls has businesses that are both expanding and starting up,” said Mayor Diossa. “It is essential now more than ever that they have one central location where they can obtain all of the information and support that businesses in the past had not been privy to. The launching of this site has just made Rhode Island more business friendly.”

For more information about the Rhode Island Foundation, please visit... www.rifoundation.org.

Building Success Together | SMALL BUSINESS


WOONSOCKET—Dustin Falke prides himself as a problem solver. He corrected many issues through dedication and effort. That knowledge carried him through a stint with the United States Air Force, where he served for nine years as Staff Sergeant. Upon his discharge, he incorporated his business this past February with his wife, Allison, which is dedicated to helping people live better lives. That idea became the genesis of Precision Concrete Raising, a business devoted to fixing sunken floors, steps and other high-volume traffic areas. The company uses high-density polyurethane foam to fill in the voids left under the concrete slabs in order to raise the foundation. This option can be a better choice because it saves time, money and hassle compared with slab replacement, Allison Falke said. “This becomes a quality of life issue, particularly for elderly people and other people who need help moving around,” said Falke, who also works as an occupational therapy assistant. “Some people are afraid to go outside because they are fearful that they will either fall or have some type of accident. Sunken concrete can lead to them tripping, falling down and suffering significant injuries.” She noted there are few businesses that employ the polyurethane process to raise slabs to their original position. Because many other companies use a “mudjacking” process, there would be far more materials needed and a longer wait for the surface to be used, according to Falke. “We are one of very few companies in this area that use high-density polyurethane foam to raise the slab, called polyjacking,” she said. “This is different from ‘mudjacking’ because we use smaller holes to pump in the foam. Using foam is less impactful on the environment because it’s two pounds of material versus 100 lbs of mudjacking material. When we finish, the slab is ready for immediate use, whereas mudjacking requires one to three days before it can be used. “This process is a nearly invisible repair solution to sinking concrete, which is really beneficial for residential properties,” she added. Falke said the company uses a three-step process to fix the affected areas. First, holes are drilled in the areas that need

filling. Next, polyurethane foam gets pumped through a tube that works its way into the concrete and fills in the injured area until it returns to its original level. Finally, the area gets patched up with new cement that dries immediately. She said the process usually takes about two hours for most jobs and up to four hours for tougher projects. She said several factors might lead to a residence having sunken concrete. Falke said they can usually determine possible problems if they either see soil not draining properly, tree roots taking in too much water, there is poor drainage and/or if there was compaction during the building process. Falke said not only does the process take less time than other traditional avenues; they are an environmentally-friendly company that uses EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) approved products and looks to serve the community moving forward. “We are getting our company out by word-of-mouth thus far, and it has been a real educational experience for us,” said Falke. “Not many people know about us or the process that they don’t have to rebuild their stairs, patios or other parts of the house. That’s where we can come in, do the job and be as minimally intrusive as possible.” The Veteran-owned company serves company works on residential, commercial and municipal clients in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. They handle indoor and outdoor concrete projects from floors, sidewalks, driveways, patios and garage slabs. For more information and for a free estimate, please call 401-660-0752 or e-mail them at theteam@raiseyourconcrete.com. Visit their website at www.raiseyourconcrete.com for additional information. www.risbj.com | volume seven issue six


KEY TRENDS A Shift to Social Media Spend Seventy-eight percent of retailers surveyed will spend more in 2018 on social media marketing. And although 67% said they will use email marketing and driving mobile conversion as a way to get more customers, some (10%) of the largest retailers reported they will keep their budgets exactly the same as 2017.

Consumers Want Deals and Promotions Increasing sales revenue is a top indicator for success. It is ranked most often as a determining factor of the promotions that retailers and brands offer to consumer (56%), followed by new customer growth (55%) and brand awareness (50%).

Website and App Partnerships Are Critical Website and app partnerships are crucial in digital marketing. Nearly 9 in 10 marketers said their brand will partner in some capacity with websites or apps focused on promotions, deals and loyalty. Most of the marketers surveyed (62%) prefer to work with comprehensive deal and website apps, followed by cash-back only platforms (53%) and loyalty specific apps (50%).


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

in Digital Marketing for 2018 A Shift to a Younger Demographic Most retailers are shifting the focus away from Baby Boomers for the younger demographic. As shopping behaviors between generations continue to shift so do retailers’ focus and targeting. Marketers who want to capitalize on the spending habits of younger generations are shifting marketing dollars toward them and away from older generations.

Creating a Brand Awareness Another trend is growing brand awareness in 2018. Although sales revenue and new customer growth remain important, there is a growing trend among retailers that say brand awareness is their focus to evaluate success of marketing centered around deals and offers. One in five retailer marketers reported this would be the most critical measure of success in 2018.

Making Mobile Checkout Simpler The survey revealed that mobile will be a key area for retailers looking to positively affect sales growth and offer consumers the smartphone shopping experience they are looking for. Those retailers withv an in-store presence, in-store cash back offers and card-linked offers rank high, with more than half (54%) planning to test these tactics in 2018.

www.risbj.com | volume seven issue six


SMALL BUSINESS | Why Branding Is Key To Success

Why Branding is Key to Success:



In a competitive small business environment, it’s not enough just to have a phenomenal product or service. Your widgets may be the best widgets east of the Continental Divide, but without a compelling and consistent brand, longstanding success will be hard to come by. Yet “having a strong brand” is one of those concepts that, while every entrepreneur knows it’s important, for many the details are fuzzy.

What goes into a brand, and why is having a strong brand marketing strategy critical to a venture’s success? A simple way to think about your brand is that it’s how people perceive your company. A brand elicits emotion, often subconscious. And it’s your business’s job to craft a strong brand strategy to tell your customers—and a world full of potential customers—how to feel about you. When they see your logo, hear your name, or read a tweet, it will bring up a picture of what kind of company you are.

These seven elements of a strong brand will help you cultivate a strong, positive brand image to tell the world the right story.


A strong brand knows what it is—and what it isn’t. Rather than trying to be everything to everyone, it knows its purpose and mission, and spends all of its energy working toward being exactly what it was designed to be and solving the specific problems it was designed to solve.


Good brands know their value proposition and can quickly articulate how they stand out from the competition. They don’t jump into an over-saturated market and ride on the coattails of existing brands— rather, they distinguish themselves through a brand message that frequently references the particular functions and features that set them apart—above and beyond.


A thriving brand is acutely tuned in to who is most likely to buy their product or use their service. All brand messages are designed to appeal to this carefully researched market. It’s OK if a brand doesn’t appeal to people who are quite unlikely to become a customer.


TLC Coffee Roasters West Kingston, RI


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

Strong brands must clearly and consistently communicate who they are (both features and personality) in every single official communication from the brand itself. This definitely doesn’t mean a brand has to be overly serious—unless that’s part of its brand personality! That also means its OK to be fun-

Why Branding Is Key To Success | SMALL BUSINESS

brands have a logo and colors that are unique, instantly “ Strong recognizable, and congruent with the brand personality. ” ny, clever, or cheeky, but only if a brand calls for it. This means every press release, memo, tweet, and Instagram post need to be considered through the lens of the brand’s personality, and every brand representative needs to be acutely aware of when and how they represent the brand across all marketing, PR, customer service, and social media.


Brands that stand the test of time don’t try to be something that they’re not. While this is similar to being purpose-driven, it’s more nuanced. Being authentic means that not only does a brand stringently define who it is (purpose), but it ensures that “who it is” is really who it is.


Every brand will get negative feedback, no matter how perfectly that brand is strategized, defined, and executed. Some of the feedback is legitimate, in instances where a brand has made a mistake or needs to right a wrong. Sometimes, “haters are just gonna hate.” Never more so than in the very public realm of social media, a comprehensive branding strategy needs an on-brand plan for managing customer disappointment, responding to negative press and negative feedback, and correcting mistakes.


Strong brands have a logo and colors that are unique, instantly recognizable, and congruent with the brand personality. And it needs to be visually consistent absolutely everywhere. This type of “picture” will speak a thousand words about a brand, and any small variation will at best be confusing for customers, and at worst make it look like the business doesn’t take itself seriously. Does all of this feel like a tall order? Keep two things in mind while creating and defining your brand. First, hire a professional to help you solidify concepts of your brand—and absolutely hire a professional to select colors and design logos. This is undeniably an investment in your business’s longevity and bottom line. If you don’t know your brand, you can’t express it. And second, be proactive about controlling the message as your brand launches and grows. In order to maintain consistent control over visuals and messaging, don’t bite off more than you can chew. If resources are thin, a very well done website and Facebook presence are far superior to a stew of poorly executed blogs, irregular podcasts, and social media overreach.

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. Photo Credits: Manuel Batlle, Director of the Providence Region for the RISBDC with Reymond’s Brother Tailor Shop owners Alba Baez and Ruben Ogando. Josh Daly, Director of the Southern Region for RISBDC, with RI Mushroom partners Mike Hallock and Bob DiPietro, and RISBDC State Director Ed Huttenhower.

Happy branding! www.risbj.com | volume seven issue six


SMALL BUSINESS | Monthly Learning Tips


Including Acupuncture & Establishing a Small Business by Ronald G. Shapiro, PhD

This month’s learning tips come from Jo-Ann Sarro, D.Ac., Dipl.Ac., M.Ac., the acupuncturist and business owner of Five Harmony Health in East Greenwich, RI. Jo-Ann was born in Providence, Rhode Island, where her father was a reporter for the Providence Journal and mother was a nurse. The family moved to Maryland for her father’s professional growth when he joined the Washington Star newspaper in DC and later became a reporter for two local TV stations. Jo-Ann studied Graphic Design and went on to own a graphics design business in Towson, Maryland for ten years. As a result of talking to one of her clients, Jo-Ann became really interested in the study of acupuncture and enrolled in a 3-year intensive study program to become a licensed acupuncturist. Dr. Sarro opened her first acupuncture practice in Maryland and after five years moved to Rhode Island to marry on Block Island and to be closer to family. In transferring her practice from Maryland, Dr. Sarro became a nationally credentialed acupuncturist through the NCCAOM certification program, and established her practice on Main Street in East Greenwich, where she has practiced for the last 5 years. Dr. Sarro describes acupuncture as “A healthcare system that looks at health concerns from the level of the energetic workings of the Body-Mind-Spirit. It recognizes pathways in the body called meridians, and points along this pathway where the supporting functions of energy (known as Qi) can be reinforced, and influenced to promote good health. Symptoms of illness and disease, that are not acute, usually happen over time, balancing and preventing situations that encourage disharmony helps a person lead


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a healthier life. In my style, Five Element Acupuncture, we also stress the importance of treating the whole person, the body and the emotional and spirit level of each individual. Life style choice and life skills, along with other factors (such as toxins and environmental issues) are also extremely important considerations in examining a person’s overall health. Energy in nature and in humans moves in recognizable ways. Five Element Acupuncture’s diagnostic ability is very powerful, and opens many opportunities for patients to know themselves in deeper ways, and be their healthiest selves.” Jo-Ann points out that ideally one should receive acupuncture treatments to prevent problems, but more frequently, patients seek acupuncture when they have medical issues. In either case, acupuncture is good for companies. Employees who receive acupuncture treatments: May need less time off and be less likely to experience colds, flu, and periods of general pain. May be more centered, productive and better communicators. May be more creative and able to work as dynamic team members.

Monthly Learning Tips | SMALL BUSINESS

Reach out to others in your industry, learn from their experiences and collaborate with them when possible. Have an open attitude towards other businesses. The needs of the client are the most important. How will you build your brand and reputation? Are you a sole proprietor, working in a shared office or under an existing company’s umbrella. In the first years of a business it can be difficult to move and reestablish yourself in new locations. When working with others attend carefully to any non-compete agreements that you may need to sign. Make sure it’s a win-win. If you love a certain area, that may be an issue if you leave an organization and have a non-compete clause that requires you to move from your desired town.

In addition Jo-Ann reminds us that acupuncture is also helpful in improving clarity of thinking, vision, and understanding self-direction. She encourages business owners to include acupuncture in healthcare initiatives or in team building retreats or workshops. These programs could include mini-acupuncture treatments for groups of employees. For the bigger healthier and happier picture for employers, Jo-Ann recommends including acupuncture treatments as part of their employees medical plans. Including acupuncture is easy to do, but employers should ask their insurance representatives to be sure that it is included. In the event that an individual is not covered for acupuncture treatments, Dr. Sarro does offer a sliding scale for costs per session to help people have the opportunity to receive acupuncture and meet budget requirements.

Market your business in a variety of ways, including being active in your community, having a professional online presence (website, social media, professional listings). Jo-Ann finds that the best referrals come from satisfied clients followed by other professionals, and notes that most people check out her online presence prior to contacting her. Please contact Jo-Ann at 443.831.2347, by email at FiveHarmonyHealth@gmail.com or check out her FiveHarmonyHealth.com website. Jo-Ann will be pleased to discuss how acupuncture can help your business to become more successful and help individuals to feel better. I would like to thank Industrial Consultant Dr. Margarita Posada Cossuto for helpful comments.

Having gone through running an acupuncture business in two states, Dr. Sarro provides the following recommendations to people thinking about opening their own business:

Have a clear vision for the services you will be offering and to whom, writing a mission statement can be very helpful. These are the guiding principles for your business. Make sure to review them and factor them in as checks and balance for business decisions.

Research the community you want to set your business in. Is it a good match for your services? Become involved and know your community. Always share information and connect with those who have a shared commitment to your ideals and community you serve; local or global.

Five Element Acupuncture’s diagnostic ability is very powerful, and opens many opportunities for patients to know themselves in deeper ways, and be their healthiest selves.

www.risbj.com | volume seven issue six


SMALL BUSINESS | The Importance of Valuing and Re-Valuing Your Business


VALUING AND RE-VALUING YOUR BUSINESS by Ted Donnelly As a business owner, you probably know everything about how your company works. But maybe not what it’s worth. If so, that might create problems in the eventual sale or transfer of your business, especially if the sale or transfer is sudden. Proper valuation of your business helps you better protect your interests and the welfare of your family and heirs; it also eases the transition. By taking the guess work out of the valuation process you can avoid disagreements between the different parties.

Valuation serves as an important management tool that can give you insights on how to reposition your business to enhance its marketability.

Subsequently, valuation may help you in planning and saving taxes. Since valuation helps the IRS determine estate taxes and the tax basis for any future sale, with proper planning you may be able to put financial strategies in place that may save you money in the long run.

Now, even if a sale or retirement is years away, understanding what your company is worth today can have multiple pay-offs; it’s information that can help you secure financing or make decisions on whether to expand or stay the course. Valuation serves as an important management tool that can give you insights on how to reposition your business to enhance its marketability.


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So how do you determine the value of your business? There are generally three approaches used to calculate a business valuation. The asset-based approach is balance sheet-focused using the difference between a company’s assets and liabilities to determine its value. The second is the market approach which values the business, based on pricing multiples derived from the sale of comparable companies. And finally there’s the income approach, which establishes a figure from capitalizing or discounting the company’s projected economic benefit stream. Remember that as your business changes so might your valuation, so be sure to keep it up-to-date. The best way to do that is to make it a standard part of your annual financial review. For instance, you can make it a habit to have your valuation reviewed by a specialist each year right before you meet with your agent to review your insurance policy. That will also help you ensure that you maintain just the right amount of insurance coverage for your business. Valuation is a simple idea but one that’s complex to execute. Certified financial experts who specialize in valuations are uniquely qualified to determine which valuation methods will deliver an accurate assessment for a given industry. They take the emotion out of the calculation but instill peace of mind. Business owners have many complicated issues that they need to navigate day in and day out. The sooner you address the needs of your business, the better off you’ll be. Neither New York Life Insurance Company nor its Agents or affiliates provide tax or legal advice. Consult your legal or tax advisor to find out whether the concepts in this essay apply to your personal circumstances. 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 401-276-8728 or efdonnelly@ft.newyorklife.com.


addition, R2/RIOS™ meets international standards, which makes it easy for businesses to expand across country boundaries when they are ready.

PC Survivors PC Survivors, a local company based in Hanover, Massachusetts, has made a mark by educating small businesses about responsible electronics recycling and providing solutions for electronics reuse and recycling. Their innovative recycling programs give companies the resources that they need to be environmentally compliant with their e-waste. When disposing of electronics, many companies fail to realize that their business is potentially negatively impacting on the environment, while also exposing themselves to increasingly common data violations. Electronics Recycling programs offered by PC Survivors of Massachusetts empower small businesses to further their own HIPAA Compliant and Environmental Stewardship programs. To establish a new electronics recycling program, PC Survivors of Massachusetts involves a service team that assesses the company’s needs as well as current state and federal regulations. They design a program accordingly at biweekly or monthly pickup intervals. The company guarantees that any particular needs relating to data and technology disposal, such as hardware destruction or asset tag removal, will be met. Their experts can also perform a confidential asset appraisal to evaluate an existing disposal program and make suggestions for improvement.

Environmental safety and data security are global issues, and PC Survivors of Massachusetts has made a commitment to doing their part to improve electronic recycling practices.

About the Company Since 2005, PC Survivors of Massachusetts has helped companies effectively improve their bottom line and reduce business risk by implementing environmentally-responsible electronic waste practices. CEO Lisa Bacewicz and VP of Sales Charles Bacewicz founded the company to address the growing recognition of a need for safe standards and accountability for the electronics recycling industry. PC Survivors of Massachusetts is a certified R2 RIOS Responsible Electronics Recycler.

Operating in a 22,000 square foot facility just southeast of Boston, MA, PC Survivors of Massachusetts currently processes about 20,000 pounds of electronics, electrical components and medical/ lab equipment per week. They uphold their high standards of data security by emphasizing their seven-step data destruction process safeguards. In addition, they have acquired their R2/RIOS™ certification, which requires the highest, most responsible standards in recycling. When working with an R2/RIOS™ facility, companies can generally expect far fewer fines and customer complaints, while gaining protection against data theft and privacy infringements. In www.risbj.com | volume seven issue six


LEGAL | Personnel Practices: RI’s New Paid Sick Leave Law

Personnel Practices RI’s New Paid Sick Leave Law by Kristen M. Whittle, Esq. and Alexandra Rotondo, Esq.

A new law that requires most Rhode Island employers to provide paid sick and safe leave to their employees will go into effect on July 1, 2018. With the passage of the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplace Act, Rhode Island has joined the growing list of states and municipalities that require paid sick leave. All employers to which this law applies must ensure that their leave policies comply with the statewide standards set by this new legislation.

Covered Employers and Employees

The Act requires employers with 18 or more employees in Rhode Island to allow employees to accrue and use paid leave. Employers with fewer than 18 employees should still provide the same amount of leave to their employees, but such leave may be on an unpaid basis. The Act generally covers all full and part time employees.

Reasons for Leave

Employees may use paid sick and safe leave for themselves or to care for or assist a “family member,” which includes a child, parent, spouse, mother/father-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, or, domestic partner, siblings, care recipient, or member of the employee’s household. Specifically, the Act allows employees to use paid sick and safe leave for the following purposes: • Mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition of an employee or family member; • Medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition of an


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employee or family member; • Preventive medical care for an employee or family member; • Closure of an employee’s place of business, or a child’s’ school or place of care, by order of a public official due to a public health emergency; • Determination by a health authority or health care provider that an employee’s or family member’s presence in the community may jeopardize others’ health because of the individual’s exposure to a communicable disease, whether or not the individual has actually contracted such disease; or • Time off needed when an employee or family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.


The amount of paid sick and safe leave that can accrue is being phased in over the next

Personnel Practices: RI’s New Paid Sick Leave Law | LEGAL

The Act requires employers with 18 or more employees in Rhode Island to allow employees to accrue and use paid leave. three years. Employees accrue one hour of paid sick and safe leave for every 35 hours worked up to a maximum of 24 hours during calendar year 2018, 32 hours during calendar year 2019, and 40 hours each year thereafter. Generally, employers must allow employees to carry over accrued sick leave from one year to another or provide a payout for accrued but unused sick leave at the end of a year. However, employers are not required to pay employees for accrued but unused sick time upon termination of employment.

Requesting and Documenting Leave

Leave must be provided upon an employee’s request, which, whenever possible, should include the expected duration of the absence. Further, if the use of paid leave is foreseeable, the employee must provide the employer with advance notice and make a reasonable effort to schedule the use of such leave in a manner that does not unduly disrupt the employer’s operations. If an employer chooses to require notice for unforeseeable absences, it must establish and provide its employees with a clear written policy describing the procedures for giving notice. Additionally, employers may require their employees to provide reasonable documentation that such leave has been for a covered purpose. Again, employers must give employees advance written notice of these requirements in order to enforce them. Rhode Island employers should take time to review their existing leave policies and make any necessary changes and/or additions to comply with law well in advance of the upcoming July 1, 2018 deadline.

Kristen M. Whittle, Esq. Partner, Barton Gilman LLP

Alexandra Rotondo, Esq. Associate, Barton Gilman LLP www.risbj.com | volume seven issue six




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Automated Business Solutions Family | SMALL BUSINESS


AUTOMATED BUSINESS SOLUTIONS FAMILY Automated Business Solutions is proud to announce the acquisition of Printer Support Corporation of Acton, Massachusetts. Printer Support Corporation has a rich history of serving customers from Western Massachusetts, Northern Massachusetts and the Boston area for over 40 years (1977). PSC assists small to large entities, proudly including some of the area’s largest and most prestigious banks and financial institutions.

We are excited to be taking on such a prosperous, innovative and successful company.

Printer Support Corporation is an independent organization currently located at 531 Main Street, Acton, Massachusetts. PSC’s 15 employees offer cutting-edge technology solutions from some of the finest manufacturers available, such as Burroughs, Craden, Epson, HP, Panini and Xerox. Printer Support Corporation joins an industry leader in Automated Business Solutions.

“We are excited to be taking on such a prosperous, innovative and successful company”, said Alan Albergaria, CEO and co-founder of Automated Business Solutions. “After building such a successful legacy, we look forward to having them on board and are confident that this will be the beginning of a fruitful future for both our company and all of our clients.” Automated Business Solutions now operates in 5 locations within 3 states. With 75 employees, including 25 technical specialists, and is well positioned to meet and exceed our clients’ needs and expectations. Automated Business Solutions and its affiliates have been serving New England since 1959. With this latest acquisition, Automated Business Solutions offers the right business solutions for virtually every business operational need. Our clients vary from home-based office professionals to Fortune 500 entities. Automated’s product offerings include Copiers, Printers, Wide-format, Mailing Equipment, Folders, Shredders, Digital Check Scanners, Specialty Financial Institutional Printers, Receipt Printers, Thermal Label Printers, Content Services & Business Process Automation and full managed IT service offerings. www.risbj.com | volume seven issue six


I was studying for my MBA back in the late 60s. We were taught about the power of command and control, management by objectives, and other top down leadership principles. Granted that this was 50 years ago, but I cannot remember one time where a lecture focused on the empowerment of employees. Fast forward to the late 1990s and a plant tour I was on at a company that had been on their lean journey for several years. For the most part, command and control was on the back burner. The core of lean focuses on employee empowerment with a leadership style that is much more servant than dictatorial. Employees were fully engaged in driving performance, and the performance results had measurably and significantly improved. Many management teams I have worked with through the years have driven their company using a top down management approach rather than implementing a bottom up servant leadership approach. The former is, in my opinion, steeped in management thought that “no one knows better that I about issues regarding the business”. Performance data collected over the last 20-30 years would suggest that, in most cases, a higher preforming business culture can be attained through the employee empowerment business model.


or Empowerment? Which is best for your

company’s growth? By Larry Girouard 26

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An empowering leadership style is the practice of sharing power with subordinates and allowing them to collectively make decisions. If you want to get something done quickly, the more direct command and control works the best, but if you are looking for a longer term program that will positively and sustainably impact both your top and bottom lines, employee empowerment is the best foundation even though there are added short term costs in transitioning to this approach. The cost to empower employees to make decisions as part of an employee team is real because projects will initially take longer. Also, mistakes will certainly be made by the employees as they move through this cultural transition. Empowerment is all about continuous improvement and, over time, this type of culture will pay off in spades. There are several key things that management must come to grips with before embarking on an employee empowerment journey. 1.) Because efficiency is one of the desired outcomes, employees must be guaranteed that no one will lose their job unless they are “off the bus” regarding the change process. 2.) Employees are encouraged to take risks and they must be allowed to fail, or not present optimal solutions. This is

Command and Control or Empowerment | SMALL BUSINESS

part of the learning process and therefore a segment of the cost of implementation. 3.) The commitment of management must be real regarding empowerment, or the initiative will fail.

learn new technical skills, but they cannot force this level of personal change. Transformational change can only be accomplished by willing employees that clearly see the win/win for both themselves and the organization.

Employees are not motivated about their work in the same way managers are. That said, employees do what they do 8 hours every day. They know the daily processes they execute on better than any manager ever will. This presents the opportunity to tap into this employee knowledge resource that has laid dormant all these years. Getting employees involved with decision making at the process level addresses Maslow’s hierarchy of needs head on. Maslow’s needs list includes self-actualization, self-esteem, love/belonging, safety and physiological. Think about this ... empowerment addresses all of these employee needs. When employees are stimulated through empowerment, this provides the catalyst for improved performance.

In researching for this article I referenced the HBR article “Control in an Age of Empowerment” by Robert Simons. The article outlines the need for four distinct control levels: 1.) Belief Systems ... They communicate core values and missions that promote the employee’s desire to contribute and help remove uncertainty about an organization’s purpose.

One important caveat for success in culture transition is that leadership must also change themselves. If not, change will be

2.) Diagnostic Control Systems ... They articulate goals with clearly defined targets, focusing resources and encouraging employees to achieve. 3.) Boundary Systems ... They provide specific limits of acceptable practices and are designed to avoid temptations of unethical or non-strategic efforts.

An empowering leadership style is the practice of sharing power with subordinates and allowing them to collectively make decisions. looked at as the “flavor of the month”. To be a change leader you must back away from the historic influence of command and control because this culture destroys any chance of success in over 80% of transformational change efforts.

4.) Interactive Control Systems ... They provide an early warning detector for when a business inevitably steers off course. These are represented by dashboards that reflect real time performance data that reinforces behavior.

Management does not always know best. Motivating employee behavior to focus on a list of goals through process optimization is essential. Employees do not naturally contribute to the change effort. Management must help, and encourage them along this journey. Management needs the eyes, ears and ideas of their employees for sustainable change. This is a co-creative effort that must be enthusiastically supported by management.

When I think of an organization working effectively on all cylinders I look at the NBA for an analogy. The NBA playoffs are in full swing in May. If you watch any of the games, take a moment and back away from the game. Look at the 5 offensive players as functions in your company, and the ball as communication in the form of paperwork, product, information etc. The ball moves almost effortlessly between players because they practice, practice and practice some more. It is all about the employees practicing plays so they can minimized any wasted motions.

Cultural transformation cannot happen without changing the mindset and style of the change leaders, including the company president. This is more important than the methodology and tools implemented to set the course for change. The nature of transformative change is so profound that the employees’ mindsets and behavior must also change to succeed. Leaders can always command and control employees to

Today’s changes are just too complicated and dynamic to place the burden solely on change leaders to succeed. The entire enterprise needs to be fully engaged, working together within and across functional lines, in pursuit of what is best for the overall organization.

www.risbj.com | volume seven issue six


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