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volume two issue nine


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from the founder

Tis the season! For some, this means more time with the family, holiday shopping and lots of over-eating. For entrepreneurs, it might mean a few days off, without the disturbance of cell phones or email! As I look forward to those few days, I’ve been reflecting on the Thanksgiving holiday. I remember the first Thanksgiving dinner at my inlaws. Before our second feast of the day began, my motherin-law asked for everyone to mention one thing they were thankful for that year. This was a tradition of theirs, but new to me as the latest addition to the family. Of course I said I was thankful for their daughter (I think I earned brownie points for that), but the question made me actually stop and think about all of the great things we have around us every day. As entrepreneurs, many of us get caught up in the day-today of running our business and need to take time to reflect on the things we are thankful for. This is the time of year to think about our staff, and the commitment they have given to us. It’s also a great time to thinking of our clients, because after all, they are the ones that keep our staff busy and keep our business running. We should be truly thankful for those who help us do what we love every day. When was the last time you gave an employee a gift card for doing a good job? What about sending a hand written thank you note to a client or a vendor to show appreciation? Simple gestures like these go a long way. As a business owner, we should be incorporating these strategies around the year, and not just around the holiday season, but this is a great time to start. Continuing with the theme of being thankful, be sure to read page 15 where I thank all of those involved in our celebration of women entrepreneurs. Thank you for reading this, thank you for your support and I wish you a happy and healthy holiday season!


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Gil Lantini President, Founder Ralph Coppolino Vice President, Operations Carolyn Drumm Business Development Manager John Resnick Marketing Coordinator Mike Casale Senior Designer Pam Walsh Editorial Assistant Sara Celano Production Assistant Intern Staff Kyle Votto Mike DiSano Contributing Writers Chris Barnett Kristin Carcieri-MacRae Dana D’Orsi Clare Eckert Lawrence Fagan Amy Gallagher Jim Gallagher Peter George Jessica Granatiero Adam Harvey Mark S. Hayward Nick Lowinger David Lubelczyk Donna Mac Dr. Ivan Misner Ralph Mollis Mark Payden Olivia Piacitelli Elizabeth Pierotti Matthew R. Plain, Esq. Gina Raimondo Michael Rose Bob Salvas Dr. Ronald Shapiro Chris Sheehy Lisa Shorr Sabrina Soilares-Hand Tim Sullivan Angel Taveras Nancy Thomas Kristen M. Whittle, Esq.


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Special Thanks Joshua Vizzacco www.facebook.com/risbj twitter.com/risbj 401 831 7779 info@risbj.com www.risbj.com ©MMXIII Rhode Island Small Business Journal

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine




Secretary of State Ralph Mollis


Seeing Success Stories in our Backyard


Spotlights on Startups


The Power of Thank You


SBA | From Military Service to Entrepreneur


Small Business Profile | Health Care Services


Q&A with Jim Gallagher


Managing Change in New Employment Laws for RI Employers


How to Keep Your Clients Coming Back for More


Turning Courageous Communication into Cash


Capitol City Report


How Can We Thank You Enough?


Building Bridges


Probiotics | An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure


Personnel Practices


Giving your Employees a Boost


Annual Corporate Outings & Events Guide


Branding & Your Most Important Asset


Who Wants More Free Time?


Networking and Workshops


Coworking Helps More Than Startup Business


Featured Chamber: Greater Westerly Pawcatuck


Economic Empowerment for Domestic Violence Survivors


How Far We’ve Come


A New Way to Think of IT Ownership Free!


Seek First to Understand…Then to be Understood


Featured Nonprofit: Gotta Have Sole Foundation




How Introverts Can Be Better Networkers


Call Tracking Phone Numbers


Fixing Our Fundamentals Benefits Us All


Strategy Secrets of Successful Companies


Trailblazers | Women Entrepreneurs Doing Surprising Things


Develop Your Employees

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www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine



Secretary of State’s Office Releases Millions of Historical Documents to the Public by Secretary Of State Ralph Mollis I am very pleased to announce our State Archives Online Catalog is now available to the public! We recently unveiled the State Archives Online Catalog at Rhode Island College with President Nancy Carriuolo, faculty, staff and history students in Dr. Whitney Blankenship’s class. Dr. Blankenship’s class is currently using our catalog to successfully complete history homework assignments. This is an invaluable tool for anyone, including the general public, researchers, historians, educators, and students, interested in accessing information about the holdings, detailed finding aids, images, and links to other resources from the comfort of their own home, at school, work or when they’re on the go. This will no doubt be a model for other states around the country. I am so proud of my team for turning this vision into a reality for Rhode Islanders. Rhode Island’s historical public records date from 1638 to the present; among them are images of Rhode Island’s Colonial Charter granted by King Charles II in 1663, original letters from Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, and a request by a Rhode Island vehicle owner for a “low license plate number” from 1904. These are just a few examples of the millions of documents and images available at the State Archives, and we are adding content to our online database daily, so please call (401 222-2353) if you do not find the record that you are looking for. Our staff at the State Archives office at 337 Westminster Street in Providence is always willing to help! The State Archives office also features exhibits that are free and open to the public during normal business hours. The State Archives Online Catalog is available on our website at www. sos.ri.gov. Simply click the State Archives tab on the left hand column, and then click Overview. Here, you may browse and search the State Archives Online Catalog by typing in a search term in the search engine. It’s really that easy!


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This is what it’s all about… making it easier for the public to access the State Archives. I have created a brief demonstration video on YouTube to show everyone just how easy it is to navigate the State Archives Online Catalog. To view, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=5y4aAKRvwX4 This video is also located on our website at http://www.sos.ri.gov/archives/ Gwenn Stern, our State Archivist says, “I want to commend and thank everyone involved in its development. We’ve taken a huge leap in making information about the State Archives’ holdings available and providing access to the public. It’s especially remarkable how much has been done, with yet more to come.” I am also happy to see the public commenting on our Twitter page as well, congratulating us on making the State Archives more accessible through our online catalog. This is what it’s all about…making it easier for the public to access the State Archives. As your Secretary of State, I am committed to making it easier to vote, making it easier to do business in Rhode Island, preserving our history and making government more open and accessible. Use our website www.sos.ri.gov to find your elected officials, start a business, register to vote or explore state history. It is a great honor to serve the people of Rhode Island. Please let us know if my office can be of assistance. We welcome the opportunity to serve you.


Seeing Success Stories In Our Backyard | SMALL BUSINESS

Success Stories In Our Backyard

(L-R) Congressman Jim Langevin listens as Oswald Schwartz

(L-R) Congressman Jim Langevin listens as Matt Zimmerman

of Armando & Sons Meat Market in Providence shows him around.

of FarSounder shows him some of the company’s products.

by Chris Barnett

Congressman Jim Langevin is now a big believer in the Rhode Island Foundation’s “It’s All In Our Backyard” public education initiative after touring three businesses that are featured in the campaign that puts a spotlight on the people, businesses and organizations that are thriving here. “I know how great our state is and the stories I heard reaffirmed my passion and commitment for my home state,” Langevin says. “I encourage all Rhode Islanders to take a look at the ‘It’s All In Our Backyard’ website to learn more about the forward-looking technologies, academic advancements and creative endeavors that are happening all around us. There is good news in the Rhode Island economy. Now we need to empower those thriving businesses and gain best practices from them that will help small and growing enterprises to follow suit.” The Foundation has compiled facts about the Rhode Island economy that dismiss the oft-cited cynicism that many Rhode Islanders feel. Between 2000 and 2010, the health care industry added more than 10,600 jobs. Rhode Island farms have more than doubled their farm-to-table sales since 2002. Rhode Island is a top 10 state in leading energy efficiency innovation and programs. These bright spots are not few and far between – they are all around us, and the Rhode Island Foundation’s campaign continues to enlighten residents to that fact.

“The state has a self-esteem problem. This will change the way Rhode Islanders talk about their state. There are plenty of successes to feel good about right here in our own backyard – global industry and cuttingedge innovation, thriving entrepreneurship, world-class universities and a vibrant arts and culture scene,” says Neil Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. The Foundation is encouraging Rhode Islanders to share their own success stories on the campaign’s blog at ourbackyardri. com and on Twitter using the hashtag #ourbackyardri. The tour began at Armando & Sons Meat Market in Providence. Oswald Schwartz and owner Armando Nieves led them on a tour. Between the new Elmwood Avenue location and their location in Pawtucket, the company has grown to nearly 100 employees. “This is an old-fashioned butcher shop. Armando has been extremely fortunate in the state of Rhode Island to have his business grow exponentially pretty much every year,” says Schwartz. Their success is due to catering to their diverse customer base. “Many of our employees speak other languages. We have employees that speak French because we have customers from West Africa; other employees speak Italian, other employees speak Portuguese. We have a young lady who speaks Kriolu. We basically

have somebody from every part of the world working for us.” At Fielding Manufacturing, owner Steve Fielding showed off some of the 3D Petri dishes he makes for Brown University scientist Jeff Morgan. The Petri dishes enable labs and hospitals to grow cells that are more human-like for research and transplantation. The Cranston manufacturer’s ability to custom-make the devices -made of bright green plastic and about the size of a Kennedy half dollar – enable him to compete with overseas companies. Langevin ended his Backyard tour at a Warwick company that also is succeeding in the global market. FarSounder Vice President Matt Zimmerman told the Congressman about the company’s long-range sonar system and underwater detection devices for government, private or commercial use. Zimmerman says FarSounder’s sonar products have the potential to revolutionize shipping. “Some nautical maps date from the voyages of Captain Cook in the 18th century. Now the Arctic ice cap is melting, new routes are opening up. We’ve had a number of customers take our products through the Northwest Passage.”

Chris Barnett Senior Public Affairs Officer The RI Foundation

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


YANA Open Date: August 2013 Employees: Two, plus three college interns Address: 15 Vernon Ave., Unit 13, Newport, RI Website: www.YANAcares.com Twitter: @YANAcares Facebook: www.facebook.com/ YANAcares Biggest Challenge: : YANA’s biggest challenge has been figuring out how to have products manufactured in R.I. and the U.S.A., as well as how to finance the business. A comprehensive directory of U.S. manufacturers does not exist and many manufacturers will not work with start-ups. It is very easy to have items made in China, but we endeavor to have many of our products manufactured here in the U.S. and R.I. Profile: My passion is eliminating loneliness. Hence, I founded YANA (You Are Not Alone). We know we can’t accomplish our mission alone, so we are trying to inspire people to reach out to others and let them know you

care and you are there for him or her, sharing these four words: You Are Not Alone. Along with that, we have created YANA items that people purchase as a gift for themselves or for others... helping deliver this warm, sincere message that people care about you and that You Are Not Alone. That message is re-delivered with every use of the YANA item. We also founded the YANA Foundation, which will receive 5% of YANA’s profits and regularly support people, organizations, charities and initiatives worldwide that either need assistance or are living and breathing YANA’s mission. The funds will not be directed by YANA, but rather by randomly selected YANA customers each quarter!

Elite IT Open Date: May 5, 2013 Employees: 2 Address: P.O. BOX 4801, Rumford, RI Website: www.eliteitmanagement.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/eliteit Biggest Challenge: One of the biggest challenges of opening a new business is getting yourself out there getting fellow small business owners to see the value in Elite’s offerings and the level of experience we bring to their businesses. Profile: Elite IT Management, LLC would like to introduce SMB’s to the “New” IT model of Managed IT Services. It is important to convey the real savings and cost effective approach to a proactive managed solution. Most SMB’s seem to think that the reactive solution of calling for support when an issue arises is the right approach


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

to technology issues, but it is inefficient and costly. Having been in the IT industry for over 15 years, I have seen many different types of support and different levels of knowledge. I have the experience to offer rapid problem resolution as well as an “all in one,” proactive solution for local SMB’s for a low fixed monthly fee with NO hidden charges. My mission is to be the Best IT support company in New England. That is why the name of the company is Elite, as in “The Best.”

Wilder Therapy Open Date: January 3, 2013 Employees: 2 Address: 63 Sockanosset Cross Road, Suite 2A-7, Cranston, RI Website: wildertherapyandwellness.com Twitter: @WilderTherapyRI Facebook: https://www.facebook. com/pages/Wilder-Therapy-andWellness/266218833505973 Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge for us was connecting with our new community. We recently moved to the New England area from the Midwest. We are very new to Rhode Island. Profile: Wilder Therapy and Wellness serves individuals, couples, families and organizations in Rhode Island. We provide psychological care tailored to your needs.From therapy and assessment for adolescents, adults, and couples, to consultation and corporate trainings for business and other organizations, Wilder Therapy and Wellness brings high-quality and responsive care to the Ocean State. We are an inclusive and affirming place honoring the diversity of the human experience. Our clinicians practice in a way that honors the whole person and the context in which people live. We take a holistic and culturally competent approach that acknowledges the complexity of an individual’s life, experiences and world.

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine



by Bob Salvas At this time of year, we are often reminded of the importance of thankfulness. But do we understand why it is so important? The fact is that feeling and expressing thanks can profoundly affect our lives spiritually, personally and in our business. • Spiritual- For many people, there is a spiritual reason for giving thanks. The primary purpose being to thank the Creator for all that we have in this world. The Bible says “in everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The simple act of saying ‘grace’ before a meal is the most common demonstration of this. • Personal- Giving thanks not only makes us feel good personally, but it is also seen by many as a way to open our heart and mind to the opportunities that present themselves. If you are in a thankful state of mind, it is hard to be jealous or angry or self-absorbed. Not only is a thankful person more open to the possibilities, but they also have a more positive attitude, which makes them more attractive to other people and actually leads to more opportunities. The opposite happens if they are negative or focus on what they don’t have in life. By focusing on appreciation of what we do have, we actually get more things to appreciate! • Business- What does giving thanks have to do with business? A lot more than you might imagine… Do you sell? Notice, I did not ask if you are a sales person. You may not define yourself as a sales person, but if you are in business, you are in ‘sales.’ As business people, we do presentations, we network, and we continually sell ourselves and our business… and our attitude shows through in all we do. In fact, only 7% of our influence with people is based on our words. 55% of our influence is who we are, how we conduct ourselves, and what our attitude is. The most successful business people are those who have an ‘attitude of gratitude.’ Do you spend money on marketing/ advertising? As a business, it is important


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

to ‘get the word out,’ but how you do that can make a big difference. Consider Joe Girard, a former car salesman who is in the Guinness Book of World Records multiple times for selling the most automobiles. His marketing budget consisted of sending a greeting card to every person he knew every month of the year. A seasonal greeting and the words “I like you” were usually the message inside the card. He NEVER told them about any big sales event or tried to entice them to come in to buy a car. When people received Joe’s greeting card, they did not see it as an advertising piece of mail. They felt Joe appreciated them. And when it came time to buy a car or to refer a friend

customers live, you are, in effect, showing your appreciation for them as a whole. 3. The customer communication. While customer community looks at a group of customers, the idea of customer communication is to show appreciation to an individual customer. This can happen face-toface, but an additional way is to actually send the customer a communication - in other words, write a thank you note. Depending on your business, this can be right after a sale or at specific times of the year. But whenever you do it, it is crucial to make it sincere. In her book, Thank You Power, Deborah Norville talks about an experiment where one group of customers was sent a thank you; a second

The most successful business people are those who have an attitude of gratitude to buy a car, Joe’s name always came up. In the words of SendOutCards founder Kody Bateman, “Appreciation beats self-promotion every time.” Do you like to keep the customers you already have? Customer loyalty primarily comes down to three things, and they all have to do with appreciation: 1. The customer experience. This is what takes place when the customer is at your place of business or actually doing a transaction with your business. What is the experience like? If a customer comes to you and your place of business is dirty, the customer thinks that you don’t care enough about them to keep your place clean (in other words, you don’t appreciate them). 2. The customer community. This has to do with what you do beyond whatever your business is. What do you do for your ‘community of customers’? If you are a small town store, you might support the youth sports team. Or perhaps you have a loyalty rewards program that your customers can participate in. When you give something back to your community of customers or to the community in which most of your

group was sent a thank you and a 20% off coupon; and a third group was sent nothing. There was actually more repeat business from the first group (those who received just the thank you note and no coupon) than either of the other two groups. The reason is simple; the coupon offer was seen as an insincere thank you- they just wanted to sell them more stuff. That final point cannot be overemphasized. While showing appreciation is a key to success, the real power of THANK YOU comes from being sincere about it. You have to approach it with no expectation of getting anything in return. If you can do that, the power of THANK YOU can have dramatic positive effects on your life and your business. “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” -Melody Beattie Bob Salvas Marketing Consultant Minuteman Press RI

From Military Service to Entrepreneur | SBA

From Military Service to Entrepreneur: SBA Has Tools for the Veteran-Owned Small Business U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION AND R.I. SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER TO HOST 7th ANNUAL ECONOMIC SUMMIT by Mark S. Hayward

Do you have the mindset to be an entrepreneur? Many of our veterans do. In fact, of the 24 million military veterans in the U.S, four million are small business owners. Moreover, statistics show that the success rate of these veteran-owned businesses is higher than other startups - perhaps a reflection of the discipline, skills, and leadership experience acquired in military service. There are a number of tools and services from the U.S. Small Business Administration specifically designed to help veterans with the formation and expansion of their business ventures.

and their spouses. Those loans resulted in the creation or retention of 763 jobs. Much of this funding comes from the SBA’s Patriot Express Pilot Loan. Launched in June 2007, the program is a streamlined loan product based on the agency’s SBA Express Program, but enhanced with guaranty and interest rate characteristics. Loans are available up to $500,000 and qualify for SBA’s maximum guaranty of up to 85 percent for loans of $150,000 or less, and up to 75 percent for loans over $150,000 (up to $500,000). The loan can be used for business purposes, including startup, expansion, equipment purchases, working capital, inventory or business-related real estate purchases.

The following list summarizes some of the general business guides, financing options, incentives, and other resources available to help veteran-owned businesses succeed.

Franchising Incentives for Veteran Entrepreneurs

Getting General Business Advice If you are a current or prospective veteran business owner, familiarize yourself with the SBA’s resource partners, including the Center for Women & Enterprise, SCORE, and the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center, where you can find assistance, outreach and support for veterans interested in starting or expanding a small business.

If you want to be your own boss but are wary of the startup risks, buying a franchise offers an appealing alternative. There are also added incentives for veterans considering buying a franchise. The VetFran program, started by the International Franchise Association, provides financial incentives to veteran franchise buyers that are not available to civilian franchise investors. Some of the 200 participating franchisors waive training fees, others discount franchise fees, but all agree to offer incentives for veterans.

Financing for the Veteran Owned Small Business In the past 24 months, the SBA approved more than $19 million in loan guarantees in Rhode Island to 62 veterans

A current list of participating companies and the discounts these franchise systems offer is available on www.franchise. org, under ‘VetFran Directory.’ If you like the idea of a franchise, make sure to do your research first. The SBA’s Franchise Businesses webpage (http://www.sba.gov/content/ franchise-businesses) provides helpful advice on buying and evaluating a franchise and also includes information on how to avoid common scams. Doing Business with Your Former Employer - Government Contracting Many federal agencies and private businesses struggle to find enough veteran-owned businesses to meet their goals and contracting objectives in accordance with PL 106-50. You can find out more about how to become a federal contractor, find business opportunities, and find the rules and regulations that federal contractors need to follow on SBA’s Government Contracting Small Business Guide at www.sba.gov/contracting. Mark S. Hayward District Director U.S. Small Business Administration

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


SMALL BUSINESS | Health Care Services, Inc.

HEALTH CARE SERVICES Business Profile: Health Care Services, Inc. Open Date: 1972 Location: 400 Reservoir Ave, Cranston Phone: 401-941-9710 Email:rwhaig@health-careservices.com Website: www.health-careservices.com

We are constantly talking to clients, family members, and aides to get updates

Originally opened as a housekeeping service in 1972, Health Care Services used to send in maids for a day to clean clients’ homes, but they soon found that their staff was watching over and taking care of many of their clients. By 1974, Health Care Services staff was composed strictly of nurses and home aids in an effort to provide even better care to patients in the comfort of their own home. Today, Health Care Services offers a variety of at-home services, including: • nursing a recuperating patient at home • assisting an elderly patient • helping with meal preparation • assisting with the use of devices such as walkers • accompanying a patient on doctor visits • assisting with in-home and outdoor exercise • bringing medication to a patient’s bedside • helping with housekeeping • providing help with shopping • assisting with household management • providing companionship “99 out of 100 times patients want to stay at home, not at a hospital or nursing home, to recover. We look after them, helping them to get up and get dressed in the morning, taking them out for social activities, and making their recovery process as comfortable as possible,” said owner Bob Haigh. “It is our job to take care of your family…from 20-year-old children to grandparents over a hundred years old.” Many clients have been with Health Care Services for years. Haigh said he can think of at least 10 people who have stayed with Health Care Services for over 10 years, and several who have been with Health Care Services for at least 15-20 years. What’s their key to maintaining such strong relationships with clients? Communication. “We are constantly talking to clients, family members, and aides to get updates. We truly


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

listen to the client, and by always staying informed, we are able to immediately fix any problems they might have,” said Haigh. Another important aspect of Health Care Services is that they are part of Capitol Home Care. Capitol Home Care is a network of three direct competitors, including Health Care Services, that offers a mix of both skilled and non-skilled services for a higher level of direct care. Health Care Services works with care providers at Capitol Home Care so that patients can continue to see their trusted Health Care Services aides while working with their physical therapists, visiting nurses, or whatever other services they need. This structure helps patients safely and comfortably recover at home, while also preventing rehospitalization. “We all had clients who would go into the hospital, become qualified for Medicaid, and receive care from other Medicaid-approved agencies. These Medicaid agencies would later part with these clients, leaving us to pick up the pieces,” said Haigh. “We formed Capitol Home Care, a Medicare-approved agency, so that people would continue to get good care and not feel that bump when other services pulled out. Our companies work closely together to look out for the people we’re taking care of.” Family is at the core of Health Care Services. Health Care Services is family-owned and Haigh intends to keep it that way in the years to come. Currently, his daughter works for the company and he plans for her to eventually take over. Health Care Services also plans to roll out a new electronic service in the future. This service will allow them to provide 24/7 monitored care for clients in their homes. Haigh said they are always looking for ways to grow in the future, and they look forward to providing more clients a higher level of care in their homes.

Images Copyright 2013 Josh Edenbaum, Josh Edenbaum Photography

Managing Change in New Employment Laws for Rhode Island Employers | SMALL BUSINESS

On Monday, November 4th RISBJ hosted our first annual Entrepreneurial Women to Watch Awards at The Dorrance in Providence. The night was a celebration of leading women entrepreneurs in our state. Congratulations again to our 7 inspiring honorees: Blythe Penna, Lynne Phipps, Nancy Parker Wilson, Alison Bologna, Jessica Wood, Alayne White and Lynsey Colgan. The night wouldn’t have been possible without the hundreds of you that supported us at the event, the help of the entire RISBJ staff and many other individuals in our business community who generously donated their efforts to make this night truly memorable.

Thank you Gail Ahlers for your beautiful, hand-crafted awards. They were the perfect complement to recognize our 7 honorees. Thank you to Josh Edenbaum for photographing the event and capturing the night’s memories. Thank you to Rick Lataille for the sound and lighting, and for the fun that we all had at the photo booth. Thank you to Barbara Morse Silva for presenting our honorees with their awards. Thank you to Mayor Angel Taveras, Treasurer Gina Riamondo, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and Governor Lincoln Chafee for your recognition of this year’s honorees. Thank you to the Dorrance and their fabulous staff for hosting such an amazing event. And thank you to our sponsors BankRI, Horton Interpreting Services, Doorley Agency, Capitol Home Care, The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Blackstone Valley Office Systems and Neighborhood Health Plan of RI.

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


Q&A SMALL BUSINESS | Q&A With Jim Gallagher


Q. Why is it important for businesses to implement wellness programs?

habits and prevent health problems among employees and their families.

A. An MIT study found that by 2020, “half of the U.S. population will suffer from chronic disease and that management of these conditions will represent 80% of U.S. health care spending.” Chronic diseases must be managed proactively and prevented, and worksite programs go a long way to combat their rise and drive down associated costs. Good wellness habits prevent health issues for employees and their families – working against the burden of chronic diseases such as obesity, which is linked to cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers. Healthier employees translates to a decrease in absenteeism, a more productive business, improved morale and a decrease in healthcare costs over time, too.

Q. Besides healthier employees, how do these programs benefit employers?

Q. What does it take for a small employer to implement a wellness program? A. It takes action, commitment and the mentality that small steps and an investment of time will ultimately have a positive impact on both health and costs. Workplace wellness programs alone will not fix the healthcare system, but it is a way for employers to do their part. The healthcare climate is demanding a change in behavior, and building a culture of health within our worksite is a powerful first step. We recommend employers looking at it as a great opportunity to both encourage healthy

The healthcare climate is demanding a change in behavior, and building a culture of health within our worksite is a powerful first step. 16

RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

Wellness is a win-win for everyone involved. Worksite wellness programs keep employees and their families healthier, particularly when it comes to fighting chronic disease, boosting employee morale and retention, and reducing a company’s healthcare costs. A. A recent survey by Principal Financial Group found that worksite wellness programs reduce healthcare costs, decrease employee absenteeism, and improve employee retention and productivity. A business analysis of these programs proves that the return on investment within the first few years is better than breaking even. According to the Wellness Council of America, each $1 invested in a comprehensive wellness program saves about $3 in healthcare costs. A 2010 analysis of 36 studies by Harvard University researchers found that medical costs drop by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on corporate wellness programs, and absenteeism costs fall by $2.73 for each dollar invested. Healthcare costs are a central issue for Rhode Island employers, and there are steps employers can take to make a real impact on their bottom line. Q. Why is BCBSRI, as an insurer, interested in workplace wellness? A. We recognize the vital importance of these programs as an initiative that helps improve the health of Rhode Islanders and lower costs, and will remain committed to supporting companies as they roll out new programs. Earlier this year, we hosted our 19th Annual Worksite Health Awards, which recognized local employers’ successful efforts to keep employees healthy. Some

of the most impactful worksite offerings by Rhode Island employers included smoking cessation programming, flu immunization clinics, blood pressure screenings and walking programs. This year we also introduced Wellness Works ™, a new suite of wellness tools and resources aimed at providing a more progressive and robust wellness offering to small and large group employers. The product provides members with access to services including onsite wellness programs, incentive tracking and an individually customized online wellness portal. In addition, BCBSRI is building wellness services such as telephonic coaching and wellness workshops into newer insurance plans. Tools like Wellness Works™ demonstrate to employees how wellness and the cost of healthcare are directly linked. Q. Can you share some of the successful worksite wellness models that you’ve seen or heard about? A. While workplace wellness is a focus for large, national companies, we see great examples at small employers here in the Ocean State. For example, take Moran Shipping, a winner of the Worksite Health Awards in the small business category, which offers health screenings, walking competitions, sleep seminars and natural lighting in its Providence office. Other RI companies offer access to fitness activities or reimburse employees for their memberships at off-site fitness activities. Q. What would you say to employers who are considering a worksite wellness program but haven’t yet made that commitment? A. We’d say – why wait? And point them to the many successful examples here in Rhode Island of small businesses making a very real impact. Working together, we can improve the health of Rhode Islanders and bring down the cost of healthcare. Jim Gallagher Vice President of Marketing, Blue Cross Blue Shield RI

Managing Change in New Employment Laws for Rhode Island Employers | SMALL BUSINESS

managing change in new employment laws for

rhode island employers by Clare Eckert

Every Rhode Island employer is facing new challenges as to how they operate their businesses due to recent changes in employment laws. These new state laws have opened up a host of issues that need to be considered as part of their HR practices and policies. Some of the challenges include the expansion of TDI benefits, “ban the box” legislation and the new Marriage Equity law and the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. William E. O’Gara, who is a Partner at Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC and leads the firm’s Employment Law and Litigation Teams, has traveled across Rhode Island over the last several months as a guest speaker to business organizations sharing his knowledge gained over 20 years of helping business owners and their HR supervisors better manage these changes in the law and make good decisions. We interviewed Attorney O’Gara to learn about what businesses should be aware of when considering the new laws and regulations for their employees. Q. What is the first step business owners should take to prepare for new changes in employment law? A. The first step is to have a clear understanding of the changes to the laws and not depend on news reports for the facts. For instance, perhaps the most incomplete news coverage relates to the expansion of TDI benefits. Lost in the publicity is the fact that even small employers now have an obligation to allow employees to take up to four weeks leave if they are unable to work or if they need to care for a family member. Unlike family medical leave laws that have a threshold of fifty employees, the new law contains no such limitation. The impact may be significant on very small employers. An additional fact lost in the press coverage is that this William E. O’Gara was selected the 2013 Rhode Island “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers® in labor law-management. For more information about recent changes in the state’s employment laws or to schedule a workshop for your organization, call Attorney O’Gara at 401-8552601 or email him at wogara@pldw.com.

mandate may apply to even new hires. Again, unlike family medical leave laws that require leave after a person has worked for at least a year, any employee eligible for TDI benefits can take the leave. Employers have an obligation effective January 1, 2014 to provide a notice to employees regarding the law. With respect to “ban to box,” this legislation is part of a larger effort across the country to make it easier for people with criminal records to find employment. The legislation generally bars an employer from including a reference to criminal records on their application for employment. Employers can still ask about criminal records during an interview. In addition, employers subject to government

requirements that preclude the hiring of persons with certain criminal records – for example, day care or nursing homes – can ask about those offenses on the application. For employers, the task at hand is revising employment applications. The recent change that may pose the least challenge for employers is maximized equitability. The legislation and the demise of the Defense of Marriage Act, open the door to same-sex couples to marry and receive the same benefits as heterosexual couples. Q. How important is it for a business owner to have an employee handbook? A. There is a benefit for every employer to have a handbook. At minimum, a handbook should detail what is expected of employees. It should also reflect the nature of the organization if it is to be of value to the employer. I am not a fan of “one-size-fitsall” handbooks. Small employers generally need a short and simple handbook. Where I see problems is when a small employer with 10 employees attempts to use an employee handbook prepared for an employer with 100 employees. It makes no sense for the small employer and may end up creating issues in the long run. Q. How can owners of small businesses, without the resources that large employers have, keep up with new laws and regulations? A. Small employers are sometimes between a rock and a hard place when it comes to compliance with employment laws. They are required to comply, but lack the resources of an in-house HR professional. My recommendation is to find a knowledgeable consultant that can provide practical advice and guidance. The cost is fairly modest and the benefits are significant. Another alternative is membership in an employers’ organization like the Employers Association of the NorthEast (EANE). This is a very cost effective way to gain access to expertise and assistance in the HR area. Clare Eckert, FCG LLC President & Business Coach

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


SMALL BUSINESS | How to Keep Your Clients Coming Back For More

How to Keep Your Clients Coming Back for More by Dana D’Orsi

No question, it’s far more expensive and time-consuming to attract new clients than it is to get more business from your current clients. Here are 7 ideas to help you keep your current clients coming back for more. 1) First and foremost, you need to make sure your clients have received (or are receiving) tangible results from working with you–and even further, you want to make sure that the value you provide them EXCEEDS their monetary investment in working with you. It

add in little bonuses and “delighters”that your clients don’t necessarily expect. will be easier to retain them if they clearly see a return on their investment. 2) Develop a personal relationship with your clients. People do business with people. Make sure your clients know that they’re not just another number to you…that you care about them and their success. Show an interest in them on a personal level. 3) Under-promise and over-deliver. Add in little bonuses and “delighters” that your clients don’t necessarily expect. For example, you could provide special “Inner Circle” discounts on your new programs and products to those who’ve worked with you in the past. 4) Always have a next step. Be sure to offer different options for working together, with a logical order of progression. If you’re not sure what would be a good next step for them, go ahead and ask your clients directly. Find out what they would “do anything or pay anything for”…what would knock their socks off. Then, create exactly what they’re looking for.


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

5) Address any “elephants on the table.” In addition to getting feedback from your clients on what additional services or products they’d like from you, make sure you ask them for candid feedback on their experience with you thus far. Let them know you’re focused on continually improving how you do business and that you’re fully open to any suggestions they can share with you. And don’t just wait until the end of your time together. If you have a sense that there’s any tension building, address it immediately. This

way, you have the opportunity to resolve the issue right away, instead of them keeping it to themselves and silently transitioning to work with someone else when your contract is over. 6) Stay current. It’s important to be on top of the trends in your industry. When you make your growth and development a priority, your clients will get the benefit of the training and mentoring you invest in. And as you learn more, you’ll have more to offer them. 7) Use the 80/20 rule to direct your energy appropriately. According to the 80/20 rule, 80% of your profits will come from 20% of your clients. Similarly, 80% of your frustrations will come from 20% of your clients. Be sure to know who’s in each of these groups. Focus your energy and attention on the 20% who provide you with the greatest return on that energy and attention–and don’t be afraid to let go of the clients who are draining you.

Dana D’Orsi Business & Marketing Coach Dana D’Orsi International


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www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


SMALL BUSINESS | Turning Courageous Communication Into Cash

Turning Courageous Communication i n to Cash

by Donna Mac The end of this year and the beginning of the next is the perfect time to assess where you’ve been and where you are going. What have been your accomplishments? Your challenges? What do you want to bring forth into next year? And what can you do differently or add so you can continue to fortify and grow your businesses? As you take into account your infrastructure, your people and technology, also ask yourself the question: “How well do we communicate internally and externally?” While products and procedures often dominate the success of a small business, it’s sometimes the insidious lack of communication that can slow you down, personally and professionally. So, in terms of how you communicate with your colleagues and clients, where do you excel? Is there anything blocking the flow of communication inside the company? Is there anything getting in the way of you spreading your messages and proudly representing yourself and your services? Are your interactions with current and potential customers strengthening relationships and building your business? The most efficient way to do this is to consider each customer you communicate with. Then think about the challenging people you interact with and how much extra time, energy and effort it takes to do so. Is it worth the investment?


speak YOUR truth and then stand in silence RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

Experience has shown that when most professionals encounter someone who’s difficult to communicate with, they step away from the uncomfortable situation. This choice can give immediate relief. However, as we see from the following example, this may also mean we’re shutting the door to growing - both as a person and as a company. Communications story: Matt is a professional exit planner based in Southern New England. His service-based business means he deals with a lot of personalities, namely business owners who have worked for years building companies that they are now planning to sell. Matt encounters these people in a very emotionally charged time. The business owners have attained a level of financial success, often after years of navigating rocky waters, with or without a small group of employees. He or she has had the last word on numerous life or death decisions pertaining to their business, and they’ve done an outstanding job. It’s no wonder that there’s some ego related to that. Matt, meanwhile, is a mild-mannered, intelligent, gracious professional with tons of integrity. He’s worked hard to set up important systems and processes to help his customers through this challenging time. Matt is a “good guy” and most people truly like working with him. It’s his goal next year and beyond to attain “ideal” clients; people who are also a joy to work with and know. But these days, Matt is dealing with Joe. Joe has been a nightmare since almost day one, disagreeing with much of the way Matt works as well as the potential buyers he brings Joe’s way. Because the communication between Matt and Joe is seriously stressful, Matt is considering firing this client, something he’s never done before. So, when Matt and I sat down, we spent time laying things out so we could “see the bigger picture.” To do that, we first needed time to understand Matt’s essence and that of Joe. In this case:

Turning Courageous Communication Into Cash | SMALL BUSINESS

1. Matt believes Joe is slowing him down and wants him gone because it would bring immediate relief. 2. Joe is acting like a bully (ego and control) and is difficult to be around, yet contributes to Mark’s bottom line. We then took a moment to look at what would occur if Matt did indeed fire Joe. 1. Matt would get immediate relief (personal).

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2. Matt would lose the income earned from working with Joe. 3. Matt would lose this opportunity to learn how to better communicate with difficult clients, which will surely come again! 4. Ultimately, Matt would know that in firing Joe, he actually chose to quit this job. When considering sharpening your communication skills, it’s always important to know that you can indeed choose not to deal with people who are categorized as extremely unkind or disrespectful. But keep in mind that difficult people are often put in our paths as opportunities for growth and advancement. With that said, Matt and I developed a strategy for improving communicating with clients and/or co-workers who always seem to be disrupting the flow of our lives and businesses.

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1. Schedule time to speak with Joe about the importance of quality, intricate collaborations, which include difficult conversations. 2. First, write down what needs to be said, making sure that you’re seeking a win-win for all.

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3. While writing, take time to note how the two of you are aligned. 4. Rehearse what you will say, keeping things concise and anticipating objections, yet always allowing the other person to “save face.” 5. Speak YOUR truth and then stand in silence. Matt now understands that by doing this, one of two things will happen: Joe will either run for the hills because his ego will need to win out over a successful business encounter. Or, Joe will appreciate Matt’s honesty and candor and their relationship will become stronger than it ever has been. By taking on the opportunity to become a more effective communicator, Matt has also fortified his business. He will no longer wait to “speak his peace” until after he encounters a challenging client. He now discusses the importance of open, honest, often challenging communication up front, before a customer agreement has been reached. What a way to attain “ideal” clients! That’s the bonus! Do these steps take time and tenacity? Yes. But, like other investments into your company, the return will far exceed what you put in. And like all other processes you’re upgrading next year, once you break old habits, your workdays will flow with much greater ease.

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www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


What Clams Me About SMALL CAPITAL BUSINESS CITY | Protecting || How Our Manage Children A Remote Worker or Office SMALL BUSINESS Dear To Mom: A Taught Letter Home From ALeadership One Day Warrior


In January 2012, I was pleased to sign two local ordinances designed to limit the ability of the tobacco industry to harm Providence’s young people. Together, these laws banned the sale of flavored tobacco products in the City of Providence, as well as sales involving the redemption of coupons and multi-pack discounts that are designed to circumvent state pricing restrictions. Tobacco use poses a major public health threat for our young people. Nearly all


tobacco use begins in childhood and adolescence – in fact, according to a 2012 Surgeon General report, approximately 88% of regular smokers begin by age 18. Each day, over 3,800 people under 18 smoke their first cigarette. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an estimated 23,000 children currently under the age of 18 could die prematurely from a smoking-related illness. In Providence, we fought back. Fruit- and candy-flavored tobacco products appeal to young people who wrongly think that these products are less harmful than traditional cigarettes. The FDA banned most fruit- and candy-flavored cigarettes in

22 22

RISBJ | rhode island small RISBJ | rhode island smallbusiness businessjournal journal

September 2009 and our ordinance closes the loophole that allows the tobacco industry to sell other fruit- and candy-flavored tobacco products, such as cigars, chewing tobacco and other emerging tobacco-based products, here in the City of Providence. Similarly, research has shown that the single most effective deterrent to smoking – particularly for young people – is the cost of a pack of cigarettes. According to the American Lung Association, a 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth consumption by approximately seven percent. But in Rhode Island, the tobacco industry circumvents the state’s minimum price law through creative ‘buy-one-get-onefree’ gimmicks. Our ordinance closes this loophole as well. Predictably, Big Tobacco has challenged us in court. In December 2012, the U.S. District Court rejected the tobacco industry’s arguments, siding with the City in our efforts to protect vulnerable young people from the dangers of the tobacco industry. The tobacco industry appealed this decision to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. On September 30, the First Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the validity of Providence’s anti-tobacco laws, affirming the December 2012 decision of Rhode Island U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary Lisi. This court decision is another clear and decisive victory in our efforts to keep children from using and becoming addicted to tobacco. I applaud the First Circuit for their wellreasoned decision affirming the legality of our anti-tobacco ordinances, and I commend City Solicitor Jeffrey Padwa and his team for their strong and successful legal defense. This is an important step towards a healthier city. I hope that this ruling inspires other communities to follow Providence’s lead and take a stand against Big Tobacco.


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www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


SMALL BUSINESS | Minding Your Own Brand

How can we

thank you enough? by Dave Lubelczyk

It’s that time of year again. The holidays are upon us. The smell of turkey is in the air and Christmas carols have been echoing through the malls since the day after Halloween. It all adds up to one thing: holiday promotions. Businesses are trying harder than ever to move their bottom line away from Christmas RED and turn it into a profitable end of the

drive up customer spending with promotions masked as holiday Thank You’s. All too often, companies send holiday cards which are poorly disguised “Please Buy from Us” cards. Whether they are 10% off gift cards or offering a free gift when you bring the card into the store, these holiday greetings often say please more than thank you.

please. If you give out genuine appreciation on a consistent basis, people will feel a stronger bond to you and your relationship will truly deepen. Then, when you do have to ask them please, they will gladly give you what you need.

We are taught from an early age that the

First, don’t wait until the holidays to thank your customers, employees, vendors and anyone who helps your business succeed. Thank them throughout the year. Many small gestures of thanks go much farther than one at the end of the year.

most companies use the holidays as a way to drive up customer spending with promotions masked as holiday Thank You’s year BLACK. This means that companies are doing everything they can to “give” unbelievable savings in order to “take” their customers’ money. But aren’t the holidays supposed to be a time of pure giving; a time to say thank you to the ones who have helped us throughout the year; a time to appreciate what we have? Not in the business world. The holidays fall during the fourth quarter, which is when you need to make your bottom line as profitable as you can. With that in mind, most companies use the holidays as a way to


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

“magic words” are “please” and “thank you.” We quickly learn that as long as we are polite, we can use these phrases to manipulate others into giving us what we desire. Therefore, most people miss the intended lesson and use please and thank you for selfish means rather than to be polite and appreciate the kindness of others. The words become less magical and we begin to only use them to get exactly what we want. Ultimately, we have become jaded to the true meaning of please and thank you, and what most never learn is that the true power of these words lies in the thank you, not the

So what can small businesses do?

Second, always try saying thank you many more times than you say please and remember to separate the thank you from your promotions. Finally, give as much as you can before you ask for something in return. By giving without expectation, you will truly reap greater rewards because you will build stronger relationships with people who will want to thank you for your kindness. Happy Holidays and Thank You for being such devoted readers.

Dave Lubelczyk Image Identity imageidentity.com

Building Bridges Between Art Business & Small Business | SMALL BUSINESS

BUILDING BRIDGES BETWEEN ART BUSINESS AND SMALL BUSINESS by Michael Rose Rhode Island is home to over 70 art galleries. Dotted throughout the state, these spaces range in scale and specialty, but together they represent a great draw for local, regional, and national tourists. The visual arts provide a valuable leisure and entertainment resource to the community and there are a myriad of ways to channel their impact to benefit the local businesses that surround the many galleries and artist studios across the state. Utilizing the visual arts as a means to promote local small business starts with promoting galleries and building connections between art business and the broader community. Rhode Island has a few examples of highly effective gallery partnerships that have helped to raise awareness for local art dealers as well as the neighborhoods that surround them. For example, on the third Thursday of each month the galleries of Providence come together to open up to the community in tandem. With many retail galleries and several large institutions, including the RISD Museum, taking part, Gallery Night Providence is a citywide event with a wide circle of influence. It encourages new visitors to travel through the city and brings them to neighborhoods they may not have visited otherwise. The towns of Bristol and Warren host a similar event called Art Night in which visitors are invited to visit local galleries and open studios. Like Gallery Night in Providence, Bristol-Warren Art Night offers free transportation in the form of a trolley and provides guides that inform art tourists about all the spots included in the event. Art Night has built a special relationship between the flourishing art communities of two towns and, like Gallery Night, has established a singular art

attraction out of a collection of small- and medium-sized art galleries. While Gallery Night and Art Night certainly provide great opportunities for galleries to find new customers, the value to surrounding businesses should not be overlooked. These programs can be very impactful, both as promotional events for purveyors of the visual arts and as an economic booster to their neighbor businesses. In order for businesses to tap into the excitement generated by art venues, they must make an effort to reach out to artists and gallery owners. By building relationships with the individuals at the center of the burgeoning art world in Rhode Island, local businesses can get the attention of the important and growing demographic of art tourists. With an added focus on the special programming around gallery nights, restaurants and shops that add specials and sales on these days can hope to gain traction with new visitors brought to their neighborhood on art tours. They can go further by establishing professional relationships with their neighborhood galleries to build word of mouth about their services. By establishing meaningful relationships with local galleries and artists, businesses can network to build interest in their products and services that will be effective throughout the year, and not on these gallery nights alone. As the business of art becomes more integrated with the general economy of small businesses, its effect will be magnified, and the artistic ability to bring new interest to local towns and cities can be harnessed to impact everyone for the better. Michael Rose Public Relations Consultant

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine



probiotics an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! by Tim Sullivan A healthy gut and digestive tract is a vastly underrated aspect of wellness. The digestive tract is not simply a way to process foods and drink; it has much to do with the immune system, can affect the brain, is responsible for some moods, and can affect an employee’s performance at work. A healthy gut contains millions of microorganisms that live symbiotically in the digestive tract. Illness or medicines like antibiotics can kill off many of these beneficial microorganisms. The person (or their doctor) is often unaware that their system is out of balance due to this condition. A lack of beneficial microorganisms can create an environment in the gut where growth of dangerous yeasts and potentially deadly bacteria like Clostridium difficile (CDIF) can occur. Probiotics in Workplace Wellness Any wellness program is wise to include information about the importance of probiotics use by not only employees, but also their spouses and children. Making literature available, along with seeking promotional discounts from probiotic manufacturers, can help employees begin or continue to take these health-promoting supplements. There are a great multitude of probiotic product choices from which a person can choose; finding the one that works best is the

trick. It is probably best to ask for the advice of a Naturopath (natural food store owner) or even a knowledgeable vitamin store employee on what brands seem to work best with their clients. Over-the-counter probiotics can vary in terms of price and quality, but in general the price pales in comparison with the cost of some of the diseases and ailments they can prevent.

One of the goals of a successful workplace wellness program is to reduce the number of days an employee is absent. Because some employee absences are due to a sick family member, it is important to help prevent illnesses among employees’ spouses and children. The use of probiotics by the whole family has been demonstrated to reduce the incidence of a wide variety of conditions. Three- to Five-Year-Old Children Benefits A 2009 study published in “Pediatrics” (DOI:10.1542?peds.2008-2666) demonstrated that the use of probiotics significantly reduced the incidence of fever, cough, Rhinorrhea, and the need for antibiotics in a study conducted on 3- to 5-year-old patients. The study compared the use of one probiotic strain or two strains used in conjunction, administered twice per day for 6 months versus a placebo. The results are shown in the following table: Single Strain vs. Placebo reduction Fever 53.0% Coughing 41.4% Rhinorrhea 28.2% Duration of (F,C&R) 32.0% Antibiotic Use 68.4% Absent from Group 31.8%

Combo Strain vs. Placebo reduction 72.7% 62.1% 58.8% 48.0% 84.2% 27.7%

Encouraging employees to look into regular probiotic use is an inexpensive way to promote better health and wellness of not only the RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

Probiotics and Recovery from Illness An increasing body of evidence in the form of studies is showing that taking a regular probiotic, especially after a course of antibiotics, is of paramount importance to a healthy recovery and, in some cases, survival from illness. In hospitals, the issue of CDIF infection rates is a source of great concern in terms of both mortality and containing costs. A recent review of 16 probiotic studies (Open Medicine 2013;7(2)e56) found that the use of probiotics led to significant reductions in the incidence of Antibiotic Associated Diarrhea (AAD) and Clostridium Difficile Infection (CDI). AAD is considered a major contributor to the spread of CDI, especially if there happens to be a breakdown in hygienic practices.

A healthy gut contains millions of microorganisms that live symbiotically in the digestive tract.



employee, but also their entire family.

Probiotics Help Prevent Brain Damage in Patients with Liver Damage A recently published study out of Amsterdam demonstrated the positive effects of probiotics in preventing a particular type of brain damage common in patients with cirrhotic livers. The study suggests that ammonia produced in the gut is a “main mediator” in the development of Hepatic Encephalopathy (HE). HE is the name given to a spectrum of neuropsychiatric abnormalities resulting from elevated toxins in the brain. The hypothesis was that the gut of patients taking probiotics would produce less ammonia and, therefore, those patients would be much less likely to suffer from HE. The study supported the hypothesis. It found that twice as many patients taking the placebo developed HE compared with those taking the probiotic! Conclusion It is well worth looking into the addition of probiotic promotion to one’s workplace wellness offerings. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Tim Sullivan Life-Panel www.well-track.com

Personnel Practices | SMALL BUSINESS

Personnel Practices

is your independent contractor actually an employee? by Matthew R. Plain, Esq & Kristen M. Whittle, Esq.

At some point during the life of your business, you may face the need to engage the services of others. If you have struggled with the decision of whether to hire an independent contractor or an employee, then you are not alone. There can be a host of advantages associated with employing an independent contractor – generally, an employer will not be liable for the negligence of an independent contractor; an employer may not need to provide workers’ compensation insurance to an independent contractor; and an employer may be free of wage and hour obligations with regards to its independent contractors. Because of these advantages, employers may experience a tendency to call newlyhired help an “independent contractor,” and avoid the shackles associated with the employer-employee relationship. However, if a situation goes south, and litigation ensues, a Court may determine that an employment relationship exists, notwithstanding the nomenclature an employer assigns. In these situations, a seemingly savvy employer may now find herself absorbing the liability of a worker, without the appropriate insurances to provide coverage in the event of a loss, or facing significant penalties for violations of fair labor standards wage and hour provisions.

How does one avoid such a catastrophe? First, delineate the factual circumstances of your intended relationship, analyze these facts in connection with the law, memorialize the relationship, and proceed with confidence. An independent contractor is defined as one who contracts to do a piece of work according to his or her own methods, and without being subject to the control of his or her employer, except as to the result of

work for the person doing the work. Where a worker has invested his or her own resources to acquire tools or equipment, the more likely the worker is to be considered an

his work. Generally, in determining whether hired help equates to an employee, or an independent contractor relationship, Courts will assess the employer’s right or power to

An independent contractor is defined as one who contracts to do a piece of work according to his or her own methods, and without being subject to the control of his or her employer, except as to the result of his work exercise control over the method and means of performing the work, and not merely the exercise of actual control. In assessing this, Courts will consider: • The extent of control which, by the agreement, the master may exercise over the details of the work. This is the most important factor. Generally speaking, the more control the employer exercises over the worker, the more likely the worker is to be considered an employee, rather than an independent contractor; • Whether or not the one employed is engaged in a distinct occupation or business; • The kind of occupation, with reference to whether, in the locality, the work is usually done under the direction of the employer or by a specialist without supervision; • The skill required in the particular occupation. In general, the greater the skill required to perform a given function, the more likely the worker is to be considered an independent contractor; • Whether the employer or the worker supplies the instrumentalities, tools, and the place of

independent contractor; • The method of payment, whether by the time or by the job; • Whether or not the work is a part of the regular business of the employer; • Whether or not the parties believe they are creating an employment relationship or an independent contractor relationship; • Whether the principal is or is not in business; • The length of the relationship between the parties. Where the work performed is irregular, sporadic, and brief, the worker is more likely to be considered an independent contractor.

By carefully considering these factors when beginning a relationship with a prospective independent contractor, business owners may avoid uncertainty (and potential headaches) down the road. Matthew R. Plain, Esq. Partner, Barton Gilman LLP Kristen M. Whittle, Esq. Associate, Barton Gilman LLP

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine



Marc Allen, Inc. Providing One-of-a-Kind Menswear for RI Entrepreneurs

Im a gin e walk i ng i nto a clothin g st ore , si tti ng d own with th e o w ner, a nd re laxin g o v er a g la s s of win e. T ha t’s th e norm at Ma rc A llen, In c . , t he premi er clothin g comp a ny i n R h o de Islan d l o ca ted in Provide n c e, b est known for it s l ux ur i o us b espoke me n s w ea r.

Marc A. Streisand, President of Marc Allen, Inc., compares his store to a clubhouse for his clients: “We’re a break in their day. We all know what it’s like to run a business on a daily basis, and we provide a fun place for both men and women to come to stop all the action and then go about their day.” The design of the store is lively and inviting, which draws people in. Their orange club chairs have become a staple to their company. Streisand says he chose the Luxe orange chairs because people would remember them, and so they did! Orange quickly became an identifier of his brand, and Streisand redesigned everything—even the awnings over his store—so that orange became their signature color. As a passerby, it’s hard to miss his South Main Street store. Marc Allen, Inc. was established in Providence in 2005 when the previous owner was planning on retiring and offered Streisand the opportunity to buy his store, Briggs Providence. Streisand took his offer and began the tough job of building his brand. Working 100 hours a week, Streisand and Chief of Staff Jim Fortier were able to develop a business that matched Streisand’s


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vision and level of sophistication. Coming from New York City, Streisand also had to adjust to the different culture and style of Rhode Island. His wardrobe designs became more colorful, but still offered the same classic, yet edgy character. Besides their “clubhouse” environment, what makes Marc Allen, Inc. unique is that they design their own line of ready-towear clothing for the store and make bespoke clothing for their clients. Bespoke means that they take the raw fabric, design it for the individual, and assemble it by hand in their own tailor shop. “Bespoke clothing is one of the oldest world arts there is. It’s the best product we offer, and so few people do it,” said Streisand. “We have exclusivity with our vendors, so we carry fabric and clothing brands that no one else has. We try to make as much of the clothing in store as we can, and we use as many local companies as possible to complete the rest.” Tailors for Marc Allen, Inc. are from all around the world, including Italy, Greece, and Portugal, but they share one common goal: creating clothing that makes people look great. Streisand says their in-house

designs tend to be a little advance of trends, so he finds himself vacuum sealing products to make them available in the future. Despite this, Streisand says that he likes to design clothing with “staying power,” and mostly uses “trends of color” through their accessories to keep clients current with the trends. Most of Marc Allen’s clients are men, but they will do women’s clothing if requested. Originally, the company mainly designed for 50-70-yearolds, but over the past several years, and with the advent of more technical fabrics that allow them to create more youthful clothing, they’ve started dressing people in their twenties, thirties, and forties as well. Streisand said it’s easier to design for men because they keep their styles more constant than women do, and therefore, they don’t react to immediate changes in trend. Streisand creates wardrobes with this in mind, developing a look that he says is “youthful without looking like a kid.” Marc Allen also offers the finest ready-to-wear clothing in the world, corporate seminars to help employees enhance their appearance, and personal at-home or in-office appointments to refine your wardrobe.

Streisand says he found his passion for menswear in high school when he began picking out clothing that helped him appear taller. Eventually, he recognized that you can show people what’s on the inside through clothing, and his career blossomed from there. Since the age of 18, Streisand has worked in luxury image business, holding positions from Personal Shopper to Managing Director. In the late 1990’s, Streisand apprenticed under a Master Clothier in New York City, learning how to design custom clothing that could completely transform a person’s presence. Streisand said that moving to Rhode Island and starting a business was definitely a challenge, but he had some help. He said having a great and supportive team as his companions was a great way to get moving along; however, “it can be challenging here in Rhode Island and being funded at the beginning was tough. I had unexpected cash flow issues, and the SBA gave me a loan when no one else would, and they also provided me with leadership and entrepreneurial advice,” said Streisand. “I would recommend that anyone just starting out should make sure they are funded and have enough money in

reserve to last for 6 months without generating any income.” Over the years, Marc Allen, Inc. has worked with several charities. Streisand sat on the board of Year Up for three years and the company has donated clothing from their own inventory and from their clients’ closets, so that the students can have polished working clothes for their careers. They have also worked with the American Cancer Society’s Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, and they have participated in LIFEcycle, Inc.’s bikea-thons for local cancer research and awareness. Streisand sponsors many of these foundations’ events, and even donates about 10% of his personal salary to charity every year. In the future, Streisand looks forward to transforming more clients’ lives through their power or their personal appearance. “Fashion is fleeting and lifestyle is forever. We create clothing that reflects your lifestyle, and not brief trends,” said Streisand. “People should take pride in how they look because you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


SMALL BUSINESS | Giving Your Employess A Boost

GIVING YOUR EMPLOYEES A BOOST By Jessica Granatiero & Sabrina Solares-Hand

It seems that every time you turn around, there is a new study suggesting that employee morale has hit an alltime low. Considering the constant drumbeat of negative news stories reporting of layoffs, downsizing and salary cuts, it is no wonder employees are feeling more cynical, less loyal and less appreciated. Fortunately, for many companies in Rhode Island, the future looks bright. Often, the main challenge for employers is not deciding who is getting a pink slip, but instead how to retain top talent and increase the productivity of a talented workforce. Lee Iacocca once said that “Management is nothing more than motivating other people.” Studies show that the best way to motivate your team is to show that you appreciate the integral role each plays in the success of the company. Feeling appreciated is the key factor in boosting employee morale. And healthy employee morale is directly related to a healthy bottom line. We work regularly with companies to create and implement ideas to boost team morale and build a more cohesive work environment. Sometimes, it is the little things that mean the most. Other times, a grand gesture of appreciation can go a long way. Here are some ideas for adding some fun to the office, while at the same time giving the team a much-needed thank you for hard work:


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

Company Candy or Dessert Bar: Display candy, such as M&M’s and Smarties, in glass jars and leave in the break room for employees. Mini Concert: Hire a musician or musical performer to do a miniconcert in the office during lunch hour. Raffle: Raffle off a vacation day or a VIP parking permit. Local Gift Cards: A variety of low denomination gift cards can be placed in new wallets or planners and handed out to employees. Employee Car Wash: Hire a car-cleaning service to come once a month to the office to provide car washing and detailing. Office Olympics: Plan a series of simple, small, in-office competitions where the winner gets an extra vacation day, donation or other prize.

Annual Corporate Outings and Events Guide | SMALL BUSINESS

Themed Day: Select a theme for the day and invite employees to participate by dressing to the theme or decorating their office or desk. For instance, if the theme was a tropical, employees could wear Hawaiian shirts and/or sunglasses and decorate their space with leis, shells, and other coastal items. Corporate event planners do this a lot. Opening Day: Any sports fans in your office? On the opening days of sports such as baseball, let the event planner arrange for a game day in-office adventure complete with a hotdog cart and cracker jacks. Perhaps stream the game in the office during lunch.

experience. The group was divided into teams for blending trials, which involved blending different wines in order to come up with a final creation. This mirrors the same activities that happen in the office environment. During a typical work day, each employee brings a unique perspective and expertise. Understanding how to blend the talents of the team is a valuable lesson. As children, one of the first rules we learn is to say thank you. This civil lesson should extend from the preschool playroom into the corporate boardroom. Companies need to let their employees know that what they bring to the table every day is valued. During this season of Thanksgiving, remember to say thank you. Whether a simple gesture or a grand production, your effort will be appreciated.

Off Site Retreat: While visiting a vineyard might not sound like your typical day at the office, it can lead to a fantastic day of teambuilding. Recently, we took a group to Jonathan Edwards Winery in Connecticut for a harvest day

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

PROVIDENCE’S OLDEST For nearly a Century Camille’s stands in a class of its own in a city of culinary excellence

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www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine

Chapel View Blvd. Cranston, RI | 401.275.4970 | www.bonefishgrill.com


SMALL BUSINESS | Annual Corporate Outings and Events Guide

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11/21/2013 10:31:10 AM

Annual Corporate Outings and Events Guide | SMALL BUSINESS

Celebrate The Holidays Kirkbrae Country Club is fully equipped to handle all of your social event needs this holiday season. From intimate gatherings to the grandest of affairs, casual or elaborate, let Kirkbrae’s event professionals customize your holiday celebration! Contact our event professionals today at 401.333.1300 prompt #4. EventsAtKirkbrae.com ▪ 197 Old River Rd Lincoln, RI 02865 15 minutes from Providence ▪ 45 minutes from Boston

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


SMALL BUSINESS | Annual Corporate Outings and Events Guide

Book your holiday event with us and receive a $100 gift card! Valid on groups of 15 or more people. Through January 31, 2014. Not valid on previously booked events.



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Annual Corporate Outings and Events Guide | SMALL BUSINESS

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


SMALL BUSINESS | Annual Corporate Outings and Events Guide

Branding & Your Most Important Asset YOUR EMPLOYEES One of the most commonly used buzzwords in business today is branding. When most of us think of branding, we think of our logo, the collateral it’s printed on and the advertising we do to get our company name or brand in front of our customers and prospects. An element that plays a role in conveying our brand, yet is seldom considered when protecting it, is our employees.

Employees’ attitudes, actions, and personalities can positively or negatively impact a company’s brand. Whether you have the best known brand in the world or you’re working to build one, it’s important to train your staff as to how you want your brand represented. -Mark Payden

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Managing Partner Payden and Company, LLC

The plan I presented was to supply Here is an example. For two years, another gift at no cost to the client. I had been providing promotional Although it would not have their products to a large university. This school logo on it, the item had a had been a great client; however, much greater value than the one I realized that I was only receiving they originally purchased. This a very small percentage of their gesture cost my firm over $1,000. In budget. So, we began to work addition, I recommended they use diligently to gain a bigger share, this situation to their advantage by and finally we received a personal suggesting that when the original introduction from our contact to gift arrived, they send it out after the the head of event planning for the tournament to all the participants school. We completed a few small merchandise projects for the contact, with a thank you for participation. We also offered to pay the cost of which went smoothly. Each time, this mailing. our contact communicated they were pleased with our performance. The president of the school loved Soon thereafter, however, the the idea, my contact became a bottom fell out, and we missed the hero for using our ideas and I delivery of a product for an annual saved a client, as well as future golf tournament the university revenue and my company’s brandsponsors every year. The product our reputation. Make sure your was a gift with the school’s logo on employees are representing your it. It was to be given to attendees brand with long-term goals in representing major companies from mind. Brand is much more than the across the country who traveled to stationary it’s printed on; it’s what Rhode Island to play in the event. your company stands for. Unfortunately, the national shipping company we used incorrectly routed the product to Florida. Our contact, who was new to the position, was sure that she would lose her job because of the problem. In an attempt to salvage our relationship with this client and the potential for thousands of dollars in future business, we needed to turn this into a “win-win” situation.


by Mark Payden

Who Wants More Free Time?

by Kristin Carcieri-MacRae What if I told you that you could have at least 7 extra hours in your week? You would love it, right? More free time to exercise, play golf, spend time with family and friends, etc. Stop wasting precious time and put working, organized systems in place. Before you can set up working systems, you must first remove the clutter. Go through desk drawers, shelves, cabinets, and closets and toss or shred anything that is no longer useful to you and your business. Once you remove the clutter, you can focus on what is left and develop systems that will help create more free time for yourself.

Here are 6 ways to create more free time in your workday: 1. To-do lists. Utilize daily to-do lists vs. weekly to-do lists. Daily to-do lists are less overwhelming. Take about 15 minutes on Friday afternoon and plan for the following week. Create a daily to-do list from your calendar and add any other tasks that need to be handled. Attach any correspondence that needs to be handled to your daily list. By utilizing a to-do list, your time management skills will improve. 2. Create working organized systems. Have a system in place for everything that comes across your desk. By having these systems set up, no time is wasted shuffling through paper trying to find what you are searching

for. Everything has a procedure and process, which will save you time in the long run. 3. Utilize a calendar. Is mental clutter stressing you out and making you feel overwhelmed? It’s time to start using a calendar. If your electronic calendar isn’t working for you, there is nothing wrong with using a paper calendar. Calendars aren’t just for appointments. Jot down deadlines and any important information that you need to get out of your head. 4. Streamline workflow. There is always a better way to handle a procedure at work. Take a look at how your day flows and try to think of an easier way to accomplish tasks. 5. Focus and limit distractions. When are you at your best during the day? Tackle difficult tasks when you are at your best. 6. Delegate. Do you have a support staff? If so, utilize them to the fullest! All of the above may sound like small changes in your day, but once they all come together and function on a whole, you will have more time to work on new projects, focus on other areas of your business or just get away from work and have fun.Now that you are practicing all of the above, what will you do with all your new-found free time? Kristin Carcieri-MacRae Owner Organizing In RI, LLC

Friday, November 29, 2013 Downtown Westerly Westerly Chamber of Commerce Santa’s Arrival 6:00pm Saturday, November 30, 2013 East Greenwich East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Small Business Saturday- Shop Local! Sunday, December 1, 2013 East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Main Street Holiday Stroll- “Elf on the Shelf” Scavenger Hunt Main Street, East Greenwich 12:00-4:00 pm Tuesday, December 3, 2013 North Central Chamber of Commerce Holiday “Lipstick Luncheon” at Night for Ladies 5:00-7:00pm Kirkbrae Country Club, Lincoln, RI Wednesday, December 4, 2013 Westerly Westerly Chamber of Commerce Downtown Holiday Stroll and Luminaria 5-8pm Wednesday, December 4, 2013 Middletown Newport County Chamber of Commerce Getting to Grade 13: Plan & Pay for College Without Going Crazy or Going Broke! 8:30-9:30am 35 Valley Road, Middletown, RI Thursday, December 5, 2013 North Central Chamber of Commerce November/December “Business After Hours” - Networking Event 5:00-7:00pm OPTX Rhode Island, Johnston, RI

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine



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[continued from page 27]

Coworking Helps More Than Startup Businesses by Olivia Piacitelli

when you send them to a coworking space to look for people with unique ideas. When your company is planning on recruiting someone, have your HR manager look around a coworking facility first. The HR manager can gain information about what makes employees more productive at a coworking space and can then apply the strategy to their own office. Another option is to require employees to visit a coworking space independently every so often to positively impact the business. Coworking facilities are a fantastic spot to test new markets without much of a risk. Working together with other companies when faced with a problem means more than one angle is thought of, and together you can find a solution.

Coworking spaces are places where people can come to work and build a stronger community of people from different industries. Coworking not only gives an advantage to “newbies” to the business world, but to any independent worker. Everyone who can benefit from innovative ideas and new perspectives should be visiting his or her local coworking facility.

Startups Startups in Rhode Island who are low on budget and need a permanent place where they can focus on work can rent an office or desk at The Hive RI. Coworking spaces are usually cheaper because they have a lot of temporary visitors. Who knows, the person working at the coworking space down the street may also be someone with top talent who can assess your business. Looking for employees? Look around! There is sure to be someone who at least knows the general idea of your project and you can turn to them for advice and opinions. When it comes time to hire staff, you can reach out to your trusted network that is familiar with your business design.

Entrepreneurs As an entrepreneur at a coworking space, you could potentially find your next client or investment. The Hive has many faces that can lead to all kinds of networking opportunities. You can expand your contacts and network with their contacts as well. Even if you don’t use their expertise or your skill doesn’t come in handy for them, you are adding more people to your social circles. You can endorse each other’s skills and serve as a gateway to meeting more people.

Thursday, December 5, 2013 Middletown Newport County Chamber of Commerce Chamber 101 8:30-9:30am 35 Valley Road, Middletown, RI

If you’re still wondering who coworking helps, the answer is all kinds of people. From startups to entrepreneurs, to big businesses, everyone who spends time

It doesn’t matter who you are; it never hurts to test the waters and try coworking in a coworking space has had a positive experience. Startups can make connections and strengthen their network while continuing to expand their company by using the connections they’ve made to promote their company in some way. Entrepreneurs can find potential partners or investments. Big Businesses are able to track up-to-date trends, and scout out new employees, or just offer a faster commute for some employees. It doesn’t matter who you are; it never hurts to test the waters and try coworking. Take it from me; I’m a high school senior, and I spend three days a week in a coworking facility. You can learn loads.

Big Businesses HR managers are similar to the scouts out recruiting at a high school basketball game

Thursday, December 5, 2013 East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Tree Lighting and Visit from Santa and Luminaria East Greenwich Town Hall 5:00-6:00 pm Friday, December 6, 2013 Middletown Newport County Chamber of Commerce Chamber Connections 7:45-9:15am 35 Valley Road, Middletown, RI Sunday, December 8, 2013 East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Main Street Holiday Stroll- Santa Look Alike Contest Main Street, East Greenwich 12:00- 4:00 pm Tuesday, December 10, 2013 East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours at Spring Hill Suites 14 James P Murphy Industrial Hwy, West Warwick 02893 5:30-7:30 PM Wednesday, December 11, 2013 Twin River Event Center Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce Annual Holiday Open House 5:00-8:00pm 100 Twin River Road, Lincoln, RI Sunday, December 15, 2013 East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Main Street Holiday Stroll- Cookie Exchange Photo with Santa $5 Donation Main Street, East Greenwich 12:00-4:00 pm Wednesday, December 18, 2013 North Central Chamber of Commerce Chamber’s Holiday Open House 3:00-5:00pm 255 Greenville Ave, Johnston, RI Thursday, December 19, 2013 Westerly Westerly Chamber of Commerce Westerly Young Professional Network Third Thursday hosted by Junque N’ Java 6-8pm Sunday, December, 22, 2013 East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Main Street Holiday Stroll- Family Hat Parade Main Street, East Greenwich 12:00-4:00 pm

Olivia Piacitelli Student North Kingstown High School

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine



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www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


FEATURED CHAMBER | Greater Westerly Pawcatuck


Greater Westerly Pawcatuck 1 Chamber Way, Westerly, RI 02891 (401) 596-7761 www.westerlychamber.org

The Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce has earned a reputation as a dynamic organization that delivers results. We have approximately 800 members from throughout southern Rhode Island and southeastern CT. “Our top priority is your bottom line” is our slogan and it speaks volumes about our philosophy to help you succeed. Simply put, we are an organization whose entire program of work centers around helping our members make money and save money. We are tireless in our efforts to support and advance the business community and promote tourism in the two state regions we serve. The Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce provides a plethora of benefits to our members, with a distinct focus on those that provide tangible results. We realize that if businesses can measure the value of their membership, they will certainly renew each year. To that end, we continually strive to manage programs and promotions that bring new customers to their doors, and new revenues to their bank accounts. Consider our gift certificate program. This one program generates over $260,000 each year for our members. That money is generated by our marketing efforts, kept within our community, and benefits many businesses in the Chamber family. Each business that participates can easily track the amount they make from our efforts engaging the public to support the local economy through this program. We are


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

very proud that this is the largest, most successful gift certificate program run by a Chamber of Commerce in all of New England. The Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce had numerous successes over the last year. We remain the largest Chamber of the 7 Chambers of Commerce located in southern Rhode Island. We were the only RI community to engage voters in a heated contest to win the Benjamin Moore “Main Street Matters” painting contest. As a result of our success in winning, Westerly will enjoy a complete, complimentary makeover of our downtown business district this spring. When Superstorm Sandy hit and threatened 500 jobs and the future of our entire local economy, we responded with a force that was just as strong. We rallied the community and raised an incredible $428,000. We gave those funds to businesses at Misquamicut Beach to help them with the many expenses not covered by insurance. When Memorial Day weekend came, our shoreline was repaired, renewed, and ready to welcome tourists again. The Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce makes many other investments in businesses and in our community. In the last year alone, we have distributed over $7,000 in grants to downtown businesses as part of our Façade Improvement Program. By leveraging public and private funds, we are able to


community and generate significant sales for a broad cross section of businesses. Our Restaurant Week promotion and Go Westerly Magazine also generate sales and increase visibility for our members. We believe these are just some of the reasons why our membership renewal rate was 96% this year, a strong indicator of our effectiveness.

enhance the aesthetics of our downtown business district and provide funds to businesses making improvements. We also fund bike racks, flower pots, wayfinding signs and even own our own billboard to showcase our members. We will continue to be responsive to the needs of our community, to be creative with our ideas, and to collaborate with others to advance our economic development initiatives going forward.

On the state level, The Greater WesterlyPawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce is a partner in the Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce Coalition, which speaks collectively with the voice of over 7,000 Rhode Island businesses. Through this effective coalition, we keep our members informed, educate them on the issues and help defeat many pieces of bad legislation that would have adversely affected our members.

Encouraging new business development and fostering the expansion of our existing businesses base is the core of our everyday efforts. The Chamber’s business assistance services extend far beyond ribbon cuttings and press releases, as we provide customized marketing guidance and support to help businesses realize their goals and attain new successes. Networking opportunities are numerous through our monthly Business After Hours and our Young Professionals Network. We offer excellent exposure opportunities through our 3 publications and website.

We are proud of our accomplishments over the past year and confidently face the challenges ahead. We invite you to join our organization and be a part of the positive momentum. To learn more about the Greater Westerly Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce, and how we can help you, visit us online at www.westerlychamber.org.

Our large-scale special events such as River Glow, Virtu Art Festival and the Pawcatuck River Duck Race draw thousands to our

CHAMBER CHAT Central Chamber

Lauren E.I. Slocum, President/CEO 3288 Post Road, Warwick, RI 401 732 1100 | www.centralrichamber.com Making Connections – Your business thrives on it, your future depends on it. The Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce strives to help its members make connections and reach their goals. The dedicated staff, volunteer Board of Directors and Ambassadors are available by phone or email to assist. Each month there are a number of business opportunities where individuals can meet potential clients, further develop relationships with existing ones or enhance their personal development. The Central Rhode Island Chamber is always expanding what they have to offer their members based on what needs are being expressed. If you are looking for a working partner for your company that is friendly and accessible, give us a call. We welcome the opportunity to speak with you. New Members Basta Ristorante Italiano BR Sportswear FASTSIGNS of Seekonk Fred Astaire Dance Studio Hope Valley Industries ISA Java Skin Care The Ripe Tomato

Cranston Chamber

Stephen C. Boyle, President 150 Midway Road, #178, Cranston, RI 401 785 3780 | www.cranstonchamber.com

Newest Members: Westerly Car Wash The Sea Goose Grill & Raw Bar Successwatchers.net Riverwalk Condominium Association of Stonington

Walgreens Sunnyside Up Ambit Energy Mary D’s Antiques

The Cranston Chamber of Commerce recently held a Chamber Connections networking night at Bonefish Grill that was attended by over 100 people. Christie Ferguson, the Executive Director of HealthSource RI addressed the crowd with regard to the success of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and its positive effect on small businesses. Ferguson emphasized that RI is one of the few states to offer full employee choice, which allows their employees to pick the health plan that best suits them. The Chamber has also been working with the City Council to review and restructure tax credits for commercial development, and they have proposed a façade improvement program for small businesses. In addition, Chamber President Stephen C. Boyle recently filmed a small video for the Welcoming RI crowd funding program. Welcoming RI is the statewide program to bring awareness to the positive aspect of the immigrant community. Boyle is co-chair of the Welcoming Cranston Committee.

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


SMALL BUSINESS | Economic Empowerment For Domestic Violence Survivors

Economic Empowerment for Domestic Violence Survivors

Around 210,000 people living in Rhode Island, or about 20 percent of Rhode Islanders, have been victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In addition to physical, emotional, and other types of abuse, many of these people were likely victims of a less-discussed type of abuse: financial, or economic, abuse.

Financial security will often be the determining factor in whether victims are able to leave an abusive relationship and create a new, safe life for themselves and their children. In addition to not having access to money and savings, victims of financial abuse may face other barriers to economic success even after they leave the relationship. For example:

Financial Abuse and Domestic Violence:

• not having a credit history • a negative credit history due to their abuser’s actions • limited or no work history • lack of experience with personal finances • still being responsible for debts incurred by their abuser

Domestic violence is a pattern of power and control, wherein abusers use a variety of tactics to exert power over all aspects of their victims’ lives. Financial abuse involves the abuser controlling the victim’s money and ability to participate in the economy through tactics such as: • preventing a victim from getting a job, or interfering in the victim’s ability to get to work, in order to get them fired • preventing a victim from getting education or job skills • controlling a victim’s access to bank accounts • giving the victim an “allowance” • using the victim’s identity and credit history to get credit cards for the abuser While financial abuse is very common in relationships, according to The Allstate Foundation, 74 percent of Americans fail to connect financial abuse to domestic violence. This lack of awareness can make it even harder for a victim of this form of abuse to get the help she or he needs.


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These challenges can significantly impede the ability of survivors to become independent from their abusers, and may lead to feeling that they have no choice but to return to the abusers. A Fresh Start: Economic Empowerment for Survivors The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV), with grants from The Allstate Foundation, has started

74 percent of Americans fail to connect financial abuse to domestic violence

an innovative program called “Project Fresh Start,” to address these issues and work towards greater economic empowerment for survivors of domestic violence in Rhode Island. Through this program, survivors of domestic violence have access to training and education on financial literacy and job readiness skills. The program has been expanding over the past few years, and expects to reach 750 survivors in 2014. In addition, through collaboration with the Center for Women and Enterprise (CWE), survivors who are interested in entrepreneurship can take classes in topics such as exploring a business concept, marketing strategies, targeting customers, financial planning and writing a business plan. Those who complete the program are eligible for micro-loans to help get their businesses started. In May 2012, the first class graduated from the Project Fresh Start entrepreneurship program and began working to make their business ideas reality. Lynell Masterson, one of the graduates, explains that before the program she was, “struggling with the direct vision of [her] business.” Through the program with RICADV and CWE, she came up with the plan for nell, a holistic wellness and life coaching business. Using techniques such as holistic psychology, expressive arts therapy, and yoga, nell will work towards a vision of helping “guide people on a transformative journey.” The first nell weekend workshop series will begin on Friday, March 21, 2014.


How Far We’ve Come…

HOW FAR TO GO by Elizabeth Pierotti Growing up in the 1950’s, when women could vote but before there was affirmative action, entrepreneurship was neither a topic of conversation nor was it in the consciousness of the day… at least not for high school girls. The closest to a business course available to us at the time was a typing class. We never heard about the few women trail blazers there were or thought of them as potential role models to follow. As a result, young women coming out of high school in the early 60’s had little, if any encouragement to pursue a course of studies in business or finance. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that women began to find their voice in numbers and embraced

business. She was someone who loved to overcome challenges and problem solve. In working with Robin on developing her Granny Squibb’s Iced Tea (how could a product with a name like that lose?), we communicated for a year and a half until her business launched. It was a thrill watching Robin beat the odds. She wants her claim to fame to be “the oldest female entrepreneur to start a business in a field in which she knew nothing about.” Robin is a success story to be celebrated. Her products are available in stores throughout the northeast, including Whole Foods, Wegmans and Stop & Shop. We are all shaped to a degree by the times in which we live, but whether we choose to stay the course is another matter.

Even now, 35 years later, I am still excited by the process of coming up with new product ideas and working to get them commercialized. the cultural changes that led to more women taking the plunge. My first entrepreneurial venture wasn’t until the late 1970’s when I opened my own stereo store, being only the second woman in the country to venture into this industry. Without a business background, the learning curve was steep, but the experience led to discovering a space where my creative instincts could thrive. Even now, 35 years later, I am still excited by the process of coming up with new product ideas and working to get them commercialized. Over the years, I have also found a passion in mentoring others with ideas they’d like to turn into business ventures. This is the most rewarding work I can imagine, and work I hope to continue doing for years to come. In 2008, I was introduced to Robin Squibb who was on a mission to launch a line of iced tea based on her grandmother’s formula. Robin was in her early 60’s when we met and had a successful career in the film industry. While she had no experience in the food trade, she had a natural instinct for

Entrepreneurship is about leadership, having the confidence to take responsibility for a project or a venture. There are as many ways to chart that course as there are individuals with the courage to chart them. As women entrepreneurs, we have undoubtedly made progress, but there’s more to do. I think we’ll know when we have arrived. There will be clues: e.g., when more women believe they can succeed and want to get into the arena; when women have equal access to loans; when applications no longer need to include the line “woman-owned business,” to cite a few. As seasoned entrepreneurs and mentors, we can help this cause by sharing our vision, insights, and wisdom with this next generation of women entrepreneurs for whom we have such great hope and expectation.

Elizabeth Pierotti The Inventing Life www.theinventinglife.com

East Bay Chamber

16 Cutler St #102, Warren, RI 02885 (401) 245-0750 | www.eastbaychamberri.org Our mission is to promote businesses as the foundation for community growth and wellbeing by being the most reliable resource and leading advocate for businesses throughout the East Bay and surrounding areas. We are here to help you succeed! New Members The Mello Group Pomodoro Pizzeria Colewillaidan, LLC - Cole’s Fine Foods Ch’i Spa Inc. Atlantic Home Loans Speedpro Imaging

East Greenwich

580 Main St East Greenwich, RI 401 885 0020 | www.eastgreenwichchamber.com Recently, MSNBC’s Your Business came to East Greenwich to interview Main Street merchants on the subjects of buying local and plans for Small Business Saturday on November 30th. The show is expected to air sometime in November. This visit by MSNBC came on the heels of the 2 nd Annual East Greenwich Restaurant Week. This year we had 32 restaurants participating. The Chamber thanks EG Town Manager Tom Coyle, EG Town Council President Michael Isaacs and many others for helping with Restaurant Week. Our Chamber will be reinstituting our EG Chamber Sent Me gift coupon program in an effort to stimulate buying local. Plus, we will now have trolley service starting Small Business Saturday and also during our Holiday Strolls, now scheduled on Sundays, 12-4 pm. New Members Morgan Stanley-Danielle Warren and Robin Russo Sampson’s Automotive O’Leary Law Associates The Cupboard Kitchen + Bath Design Center RASA Indian Restaurant Pinnacle Financial Services, LLC USI Insurance, LLC Gerry Divisions in Hair Amax, Inc.


Jody Sullivan, Executive Director 35 Valley Road, Middletown, RI 401 847 1608 | www.NewportChamber.com NEW Health and Wellness Seminar Series The Newport County Chamber of Commerce is encouraging their members and local residence to THINK LOCAL this holiday season. THINK LOCAL is a Chamber-led, community wide initiative to support the local Chamber members and economy by encouraging consumers and business owners to support local businesses when making purchases. The primary goal of THINK LOCAL is to stimulate the local economy by keeping their dollars local, which keeps sales tax revenue in Newport County and Rhode Island.

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


SMALL BUSINESS | A New Way To Think of IT

A New Way to Think of IT

Ownership FREE! by Lisa Shorr Think about your IT costs. Keep thinking. Do you add in IT upgrades and fixes to your yearly budget? How much do you spend on a yearly basis buying new hardware and peripherals (such as printers and web cams) and fixing a variety of network issues? How much time have you spent away from your day-to-day work to wear the hat of IT Manager even though your official title is Office Manager or President? Now assess your current IT needs. Do you have an aging network that is not keeping up


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

with your client demands and needs repairs exceeding your allotted budget? Or, are you looking to upgrade your network to innovate and move into the cloud, but do not have the manpower or expertise on staff to manage it? Technology offerings for the small business have seen a tremendous boost in sophistication over the past decade. With the introduction of Managed Services (remotely monitoring and maintaining a client’s network for a fixed fee) and cloud computing, the SMB can experience many of the same technology capabilities as an enterprise corporation. This shift away from a “break/

fix” model to a “proactive” IT approach allows the business owner some peace of mind that for a monthly fee, their computers, servers, and network infrastructure is being monitored, maintained, and updated. But what if something happens to your network outside of your contract? Do you have the cash to pay for it? I am excited to introduce you to a new technology model that takes all of the guesswork out of wondering whether your network will break and how much it will cost to fix it. Not to mention, how much time will you lose trying to deal with the issue?


The program is called: HaaS – Hardware as a Service. With HaaS, all network hardware such as servers, workstations, firewalls, BDRs, VoIP Solutions, thin clients, switches, and notebooks are owned by your technology services provider but housed on your premise. Services such as data backup, email, and network monitoring and network updates are all accomplished remotely through the cloud. The client (you) pays one monthly fee. In other words, your IT costs become an operating expense versus a capital expense.

3. Customer Support – Your HaaS contract includes 24x7 remote monitoring and maintenance of all hardware, software and peripherals. With proactive maintenance on your entire network, your number of IT calls will decrease. 4. Single Point Of Contact - Because your IT service provider owns all of your hardware, they become your single point of contact when an issue arises. Your printer jams, call your IT provider. You want to add

We don’t try to fix things ourselves because, after all, where do we start?

Let’s look at some of the key benefits to a HaaS solution: 1. Predictable Budgeting – This program boasts a fixed-fee monthly expense covering all hardware and related services. 2. Operational Versus Capital Expense – A typical HaaS agreement or contract lasts 3 years. At the conclusion of the agreement, you can choose to end your contract or renew and upgrade your existing network. If you choose the latter, all dated equipment will be replaced and your contract will be renewed once again for another 3 years. Because you do not own any of the equipment, you can move your expenses from a capital expenditure to be taken over years to an operational expense, which you can write off immediately.

additional users to your network, call your IT provider. Your tablet won’t connect remotely, call…well you get the drill.

I am still amazed as to how far technology has evolved in my lifetime. Having a network data center, with the latest technology to grow your business, at your location, but not having to own or maintain it is truly a gift to the busy small business owner. It’s about aligning IT to work for you, not against you. Are you ready to go ownership-free?

Small Business Saturday, an American Express marketing campaign, inspires consumers to shop small and support local business. The Chamber and Town of Middletown are partnering in promoting Shop Small on Saturday, November 30th. New Members Aflac Aquidneck Island Broadband Project Atlas Studios

North Central Chamber

Elizabeth Berman, President 255 Greenville Avenue, Johnston, RI 401 349 4674 | www.ncrichamber.com

As the cooler temperatures have arrived, our Chamber event schedule is still HOT! We are sponsoring food drives for local families and senior citizens, along with promoting local resources to small business in regards to “Recycling in the Workplace.” We have several events on tap for the remainder of 2013, including our “Speed Networking” – this is a very relaxed atmosphere for new networkers and very productive for those looking to make quality business connections. Please consider joining us for this networking event or for one of our events before the close of the year. Be sure to check out our website and “Like” us on Facebook.Wishing YOU and YOUR BUSINESS much success! Deborah Ramos, President New Members Sorella’s – The Handbag Suite Nickle Creek Vineyard

Northern RI

Lisa Shorr PC Troubleshooters, Inc.

Elizabeth Berman, Coordinator 230 Old Tower Hill Road, Wakefield, RI 401 783 2818 | www.srichamber.com The NRI Chamber will host its signature Holiday Open House and Table Top Expo on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 from 5:00-8:00pm at the Twin River Event Center in Lincoln. The event also features a silent auction and 100% of proceeds from registrations are donated to the RI Community Food Bank to buy food for food pantries in Northern RI. The event will also offer an opportunity for chamber members to exhibit and showcase their business at the event. For more information, to donate an item to the silent auction, or for registration information, contact the NRI Chamber at 401-334-1000 or events@NRIChamber.com. New Members Ballyhoo Enterprises, LLC Duquette Family Eye Care, Inc. Elite Physical Therapy Hearing Health Professionals of New England The Last Resort Maidpro Northern Rhode Island Collaborative PeaPoddery LLC

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine



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Seek first to understand…

Southern RI

Elizabeth Berman, Coordinator 230 Old Tower Hill Road, Wakefield, RI 401 783 2818 | www.srichamber.com

then to be understood by Nancy Thomas

Messages are coming at us from media, computers, phones, billboards, radio, television, and more - information delivered in nanoseconds from a wide variety of media channels - some we may not ever be aware of receiving. Some we don’t want to hear at all. In developing ways for our brains to handle all of this, we’ve learned to sort through, and avoid many messages. When we have the choice of what – or who - to listen to politically, we sort through even more selectively. With all this information floating around, we are even more polarized as a country – and some would say we are downright divided. Looking at political polarization as an example helps us to understand our business marketing approach. How do we form our opinions? How do we decide on the best speaking points for our products, service, or business? Why do we think we are right? Would we even know it if we weren’t? And how do those in our targeted audience view us? Most of us listen most often to like-minded people saying similar things that we say. We reinforce our positions this way - like putting clay over any rough spots in a sculpture. The clay hardens and we become even firmer in our stance. And when we speak – or write - we sound just that way. What would happen if we really listened? To stay with the political analogy, how about listening to the “other side”? Politically, if we’re conservative, how about also listening for a week to NPR? If we’re liberal, how about watching some FOX News? Or listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio? I suggested that recently to a colleague who had an emotional reaction that was really quite humorous – “Oh! Oh! I can’t listen to that stuff.” I think you cannot NOT listen to it. Not if you are going to be a good communicator for the position you hold. True, all this diversity of opinion may raise our blood pressure and cause us considerable angst. But “seek first to understand…then to be understood.” Habit #5 of Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People rings very true today. (If you haven’t read it, do!) Not only will we build more tolerance in society and in our politics, but we will learn important things for promoting our business.

In the rush to get our point across, we often don’t listen very well. Or we ignore what we hear because we are too focused on waiting for our turn to retort. In business, if you are making a presentation, or crafting a product sales pitch, you’ll want to spend at least 25% of your time listening to your competition – not only in your geography, but also around the country. Do your research. Who is better than you? I know, no one is. But someone really IS. Who has a better website, or a more competitive price, or more brand loyalty, or a better delivery system? If you are working with a professional marketing or communications consultant, make sure they are not only listening to YOU – the #1 thing they should be doing – and asking critical, probing questions – but ask them how they are researching the competition. Ask them how they are listening, and what they’ve learned. They’ll understand the job better, and be better able to troubleshoot and anticipate new challenges coming at you and your company. Years ago, a group of PR folks got together with fundraising and program staff at a large national nonprofit and did the Myers-Briggs Personality profile. Then, we sorted ourselves on the Extrovert-Introvert index and we looked at where we all fell on that continuum. As expected, the fundraisers were on the Extrovert side. But where were the majority of the most effective PR staff from throughout the United States? We were on the far end of the Introvert side. This did not mean we were introverted in our jobs, but it did mean something interesting. The facilitator, who was now laughing at everyone’s surprise and the success of her visual demonstration, said, “Isn’t that interesting? They actually think – and listen – before they speak.” So – next time you rush to an opinion, or feel so steadfast about it – or what direction you think your company should go in because you ‘know’ – take a deep breath, do your research, delve in where you don’t want to go – and listen – really listen. Seek first to understand…so you can be more effective at being understood.

With two successful September events behind us — Twisted Puzzle Run and International Wine & Local Cuisine of Southern Rhode Island, plus seminars regarding healthcare reform and small business practices, the SRI Chamber is now planning its second Ignite! Southern RI. The event takes place November 23, 7:00 p.m., at The Contemporary Theater Company, 327 Main Street, Wakefield. Upcoming networking events include the November 1 First Friday Coffee, hosted by The Hive RI, 650 Ten Rod Road, North Kingstown, 8 to 9 a.m.; and the November 20 Business After Hours, hosted by Museum of Primitive Art and Culture, 1058 Kingstown Road, Wakefield . All networking events are $5/person; all are welcome. Details on all events may be found at www.srichamber.com. New Members Kinesics - Studio Sign A Rama Coldwell Banker/Mary Kammerer Lighthouse Real Estate Group Sherri L. Marshall, CPA AM 1230 WBLQ & 96.7 The Buzz Carol J. Charters Re/Max Central – Christine DiNardi

Greater Westerly

Lisa Konicki, Executive Director 1 Chamber Way, Westerly, RI 02891 401 596 7761 | www.westerlychamber.org Our Chamber is thrilled that our campaign to win Benjamin Moore’s “Main Street Matters” national contest was a huge success. Westerly was one of 20 towns, and the only one in RI, to be selected for a FREE downtown paint makeover. Three blocks of businesses will receive a complimentary paint job in spring 2014. Our Downtown Façade Improvement grant program continues to award money to businesses for new awnings, doors, windows and paint jobs. This private/public partnership encourages economic investments in our community. Our gift certificate program remains strong and generates over $260,000 annually for our members. New Members Claus Encounters Orange Leaf Westerly Successwatchers.net Marketing & PR Consultants

Visit risbj.com for more information on your local chamber and events

Nancy Thomas Owner Tapestry Communications

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


FEATURED NONPROFIT | Gotta Have Sole Foundation

Helping Children Get off on the Right Foot

Gotta Have Sole Foundation by Nick Lowinger I started Gotta Have Sole Foundation, Inc. in 2010 as part of my Bar Mitzvah project when I was 12 years old. Through my charity, I donate brand-new footwear to children across America who are living in homeless shelters. From a very young age, I started visiting homeless shelters and met children who were just like me, but lacked proper footwear, if they had any at all. I knew I had to do something. I began donating my gently used footwear, but soon realized they were not the correct fit for the children because they were broken in to my own feet. I was frustrated at being unable to give the children their correct sizes, so I created Gotta Have Sole with the mission of providing all homeless children living in shelters throughout the U.S. with new, properly fitting footwear to call their own. To get the program started, I placed a bin in my temple, Temple Sinai, contacted corporations and private donors for support, and called shelters in RI for footwear orders. Shoe donations came pouring in and our garage quickly turned into a warehouse! What started out as an operation serving 400 children in Rhode Island, has quickly grown to a foundation serving over 11,000 children in 26 states. My goal is to expand my footwear program into all 50 states by the time I graduate high school in 2016. In addition to the footwear program for homeless children, I also launched two additional programs under the Gotta Have Sole umbrella. One program is called, SOLEdiers, and was established in honor of my grandfather, Irwin Shulkin, who is a WWII veteran. Through this program, we donate footwear retail store gift cards to disabled and impoverished veterans, while giving their children the new footwear they need. The other new program is called Serving Love, through which we donate sporting footwear, specifically tennis at the moment due to my passion for the sport, to children from disadvantaged homes who want to play the sport. Gotta Have Sole has partnered with an organization here in RI that gives free tennis lessons to children who would not otherwise be able to afford them. Our donations give them the opportunity to play a sport they love while wearing the proper footwear. My plan is to include the necessary footwear for other sporting programs when funding is secured. I am humbled by the organizations that have awarded me for my volunteerism in my community and across the country. Awards such as a 2011 Jefferson Award for Public Service, a 2011 Hasbro Community Action Hero Award from GenerationOn, a 2012


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

Huggable Hero from Build-A-Bear Workshop Foundation, a 2012 Prudential Spirit of Community Award, a 2013 Global Teen Leader, a 2013 Make A Difference Day National Honoree, a Myra Kraft Community MVP Award, a 2013 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award, a 2013 Barron Award for Young Heroes, a 2013 CNN Hero Award, a 2013 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award by Muhammad Ali Center for the core principle of Giving, and a 2013 Peace First Prize and Fellowship by Peace First. I do not assist the disadvantaged for any recognition and view these awards as vehicles in helping my program grow. These awards have increased my corporate and

What started out as an operation serving 400 children in Rhode Island, has quickly grown to a foundation serving over 11,000 children in 26 states. private donor base, enabling me to help many more children in need. Many people throughout RI and in other states support Gotta Have Sole. They volunteer at numerous events we have throughout the year, sorting and packaging footwear, creating personalized cards for children in the shelters who are about to receive footwear, and sometimes making deliveries with us. Additionally, many businesses hold fundraisers for us, like dress-down Fridays, collecting pocket change for a week’s time, making monetary contributions via a split raffle, and also holding new sneaker and new sock drives for us. We have also had businesses sponsor a shelter during the holidays. If anyone is interested in getting involved or wants to make a monetary or product donation, please visit the Gotta Have Sole Foundation website at www.gottahavesole.org, or email us at gottahavesole@gmail. com. You can also follow Gotta Have Sole on Facebook at: www.facebook. com/GottaHaveSoleFoundation. Additionally, shelters can contact us at gottahavesole@gmail.com and we will be happy to serve your child residents.

Gotta Have Sole is a 501(c)(3) public charity, strictly run by volunteers! All donations go to our footwear programs and are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Our tax number is: 27-1992301

P.O. Box 8379 Cranston, RI 02920 Office: 401.944.8779 Fax: 401.943.7803 www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine 55 www.gottahavesole.org Facebook: facebook.com/GottaHaveSoleFoundation Twitter: @gottahavesol

GO LOCAL| Rhode Island Gets $670K For Workforce Training + Education

GoLocalProv.com is the “go to” local Web experience that breaks the biggest local stories, sports, high school sports, weather, news, politics, arts, entertainment — and allows users to go as deep as they wish. Branded, credible, and respected contributors from RI create the stories and content. Information is delivered through multimedia, written, and video platforms. All at GoLocalProv.com.

Smart Benefits: Health Insurers Go Retail By Amy Gallagher GoLocalProv Business/Health Expert

Add to your list of things to pick up at the Mall: health insurance. When consumers head to the mall, they’ll now be able to buy health insurance in addition to shopping for clothes. In a move that continues to gain steady momentum, leading health insurers across the country are opening retail stores to cater to individuals who now have to purchase health insurance on their own because of healthcare reform.

A Regional and National Trend The insurers, many of whom are participating on the federal and state exchanges, know they need to build relationships with these individuals, many of whom previously had employer coverage, and are looking to malls as a good place to start. • UnitedHealthcare currently has 20 retail locations nationally spanning from New York to California. • In Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, Fallon Community Health Plan offers a retail information center at the White City Shopping Center. • Several Blue Cross Blue Shield plans across the country have opened stores as well, the latest of which is in Rhode Island.


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

First RI Outlet Opens Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI last week unveiled its first retail location, The Blue Advantage Center, at Cowesset Corners in Warwick. At the location, Rhode Islanders can purchase a health plan for themselves or their family, explore their Medicare options or get assistance with their current BCBSRI plan. According to Peter Andruszkiewicz, president and CEO of BCBSRI, “Health insurance hasn’t been thought of as something we typically ‘shop’ for, like clothes or groceries. With the effects of healthcare reform, people have more choices than ever before and more ways to purchase insurance; they will review the options and select the plan that’s the best fit. With Rhode Islanders playing a more active role in the health insurance process, The Blue Advantage Center aims to be another outlet/resource for them as they shop, providing them with a place to meet with a salesperson, ask questions and discuss their decision.”

Offering More than Information Insurers know it can be difficult to talk about healthcare with consumers because of the complexity involved. By offering retail settings with friendly, approachable staff, the

carriers are aiming to remove some of the mystery that surrounds the topic. And many are finding that a good way to do this is to provide more than information and engage shoppers with activities like biometric health screenings stations, healthy cooking demos and onsite wellness classes.

Good for Business It’s not just consumers who benefit from the new outlets; the stores enable the carriers to embed themselves in the community and strengthen their relationships with customers. That’s why insurers are just the latest in a line of industries to go local – like the return of the community bank. So watch for a health insurance retailer coming soon to your neighborhood.

Providence | GOLOCAL

Smart Benefits:

Flexible Spending Accounts Get More Flexible By Amy Gallagher GoLocalProv Business/Health Expert

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) have been used by consumers for many years to help pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses. Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) have been used by consumers for many years to help pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses. Known for their pre-tax advantages, these savings vehicles have provided convenience and savings to millions. But there’s always been one big drawback: the “use it or lose it” feature, which means that if employees don’t spend the entire amount they set aside, they lose the money. That’s all about to change.

IRS Reverses Use it or Lose It The IRS announced last Thursday that it will now allow consumers to carry forward any unused balance up to $500 from the current plan year and apply it in the following plan year.

to be saved and carried over from year to year.

Employer Requirements Don’t forget: employers who want to offer this enhanced feature must amend their cafeteria plan documents to meet the new conditions of this law before doing so. Amy Gallagher has over 21 years of healthcare industry experience guiding employers and employees. As Vice President at Cornerstone Group, she advises large employers on all aspects of healthcare reform, benefit solutions, costcontainment strategies and results-driven wellness programs. Amy speaks regularly on a variety of healthcare-related topics, and is often quoted by national publications on the subject matter. Locally, Amy is a member of SHRM-RI, the Rhode Island Business Group on Health, and the Rhode Island Business Healthcare Advisory Council.

Effective Immediately The change is effective immediately for current plan years in force now. And the timing couldn’t be better as many consumers are bracing for the increased costs of healthcare reform, including higher out-ofpocket limits being set for most health plans.

FSA Contribution Limits Unchanged Employees can still save up to $2,500 per plan year through their FSA; the $500 carryover amount is allowed in addition to the maximum annual contribution limit.

Leveling the CDHP Playing Field The IRS’ announcement will put FSAs more on par with similar vehicles known as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which allow much more money

From Rhode Islanders and for Rhode Islanders: See it. Read it. Share it.

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


SMALL BUSINESS | How Introverts Can Be Better Networkers

How Introverts Can Be Better Networkers Peter is the BNI Areas Director of Rhode Island and, along with RISBJ and others, he hosts NetworkingRI, RI’s largest monthly networking event. Yet he, too, is a “situational extrovert.”

by Dr. Ivan Misner and Peter George A common assumption that isn’t necessarily true is that an extroverted “people person” is the best type of networker. While an extroverted person might be better at meeting new people, someone who’s more introverted can be better at the second part of business networking -- communicating his or her ideas and forming meaningful relationships.

While there are numerous techniques that can help make networking easier for introverts, here are three that can get you meeting new people now and building valuable relationships for the long haul: 1. Be an ‘ambassador.’
If you feel uncomfortable approaching strangers at, say, a chamber business mixer, you can volunteer to be an ambassador for that group. In this role, you are in effect a host for the chamber, which makes it easier and more natural for you to greet people and say, “Welcome to our event. My name is [your name]. I’m an ambassador for the chamber and . . .” Before you know it, the ice is broken and you’re engaged in conversation.

Experience shows that introverted people tend to be better listeners and ask more questions, which are essential factors for getting to know a person and his or her business. But far too often, introverts eliminate themselves from the benefits that come from networking and relationshipbuilding because they aren’t comfortable initializing conversations. Consider Ivan Misner (co-author of this article), for example. One evening during a dinner conversation with his wife, he mentioned something about my being an extrovert. She looked at him and said, “Um, honey, I hate to break it to you but, you’re an introvert.” An introvert? Ivan laughed, but she insisted he was, and she outlined all the ways he has introverted tendencies. So, he went online and took a personality test. It determined he is a “situational extrovert”; that he is a loner who is reserved around strangers, but outgoing in the right context. It struck him then that he started the BNI networking organization almost three decades ago because he was naturally uncomfortable meeting new people. He found that the smaller, more intimate approaches to building a network enabled him to meet people in an organized, structured networking environment that did not require that he actually “talk to strangers.” The same is true for Peter George (coauthor of this article).


RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

2. Get involved.
Opportunities to learn the art of networking abound, and often in

These can be effective opportunities for meeting new people – many of whom could be future clients. 3. Be an influencer.
Another way to break the ice is by speaking formally to a group about a specific topic. People have become great networkers by joining a parent-teacher association, where there are opportunities to speak on behalf of the children, or by speaking at a political event for a local or national aspiring candidate. Once you have presented the platform of a political candidate to a group of voters that you can sway with the power of your words, you can present yourself, one-on-one, in an equally engaging manner. Bottom line: Networking is a skill that can be learned no matter your level of gregariousness. If you remain ill-at-ease in environments where you have to mix and mingle or meet new people one-on-one, you can take steps to interact with people in other ways to help break the ice. You’ll find that when you learn ways to handle these

Um, honey, I hate to break it to you but, you’re an introvert places you may not have considered. Do you do volunteer work for a cause you feel passionate about? You can help organize committees, recruit other volunteers (on the phone or in person) or help solicit donations for your group’s worthy cause. You start off talking about the project and the next thing you know, you’re chatting about any number of topics.

situations, you’ll become more relaxed and confident in a networking setting.

Ivan Misner Founder and Chairman, BNI Peter George Director, BNI Rhode Island

Call Tracking Phone Numbers | SMALL BUSINESS

Call Tracking Phone Numbers The Wrong Call for Local Marketing by Chris Sheehy Have you been tempted to use one of those marketing services that reports on how many calls your business receives from your search or social listings? I see their ads touting their local marketing services all the time. (Heck – even I get them!) You see them everywhere, so surely they must be onto something – RIGHT? There is so much to think about when it comes to internet marketing – being able to quantify where your leads comes from seems a nobrainer. Oh, if only it was that easy. I mean, businesses tell me all the time how difficult it is for them to know which marketing tactics work and which ones don’t - what tools or services would be good for them, and what’s going to hurt them. So when a client was asking me about these services recently, I went directly to the source and sent them the following excerpt from Google to answer their question. Q: Does it matter whether I include multiple telephone types?

The question was pretty unspecific, so it’s easy to imagine that the person was referring to possibly using both a main phone number and fax number, or perhaps they were inquiring about using sales and service numbers on their website or within their linkbuilding. Regardless of the lack of specificity, the answer from Google was very specific. CALL TRACKING NUMBERS ARE DISCOURAGED As it turns out, a business phone number has some very important SEO data that search engines use to quantify a business. The phone number is a foundation data element that is vital for local internet marketing. The trade refers to this data-set as NAP (Name, Address, and Phone); it’s a component of a business citation (the actual mention of a business’s NAP online). The phone number helps authenticate a business via its area code

We don’t try to fix things ourselves because, after all, where do we start?

A: You should only provide the phone number for the location of the actual local business.

(state validation) and phone prefix (town/city/ neighborhood).

Types of phone numbers that should not be included are: call tracking numbers and phone numbers that are not specific to a business location*

When the phone number is replaced with a generic number that is not consistent with the local standards, they lose that vital component of authentication.

Libations Restaurant

The loss of local identity wasn’t something that was mentioned in the information my client had received. Neither was the question as to what happens when a business no longer subscribes to the service. The short answer is – they lose again.



I’m sure there is a business that could find these types of services valuable, but in my experience, businesses that rely on local marketing should steer clear of the calling and play their numbers safe. Chris Sheehy Local SEO Specialist

Our clients know we’re here for them year-round, not just at year-end.




155 South Main Street Providence, RI 02903 401 421 2710 www.thebravergroup.com

Libations Restaurant & Lounge at the RADISSON HOTEL PROVIDENCE AIRPORT

2081 Post Road • Warwick, RI 02886 401.598.2121 • www.radisson.com/warwickri






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Fixing Our Fundamentals Benefits Us All | SMALL BUSINESS

Fixing Our Fundamentals

Benefits Us All by Gina M. Raimondo Rhode Island General Treasurer

In October, the Rhode Island Council 94 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees paid for and released a report by Ted Siedle. The contents of the report contained nothing new, as evidenced by an earlier collection of the author’s blog posts on Forbes. We should see this report for what it is – a political attack that is only interested in discrediting me and undermining pension reform. Contrary to the author’s narrative, I did not enter public office to enrich myself. My job is to stand up for all Rhode Islanders. Politics as usual, including attacks like this, are getting us nowhere fast. Rhode Island is struggling. In 2011, Rhode Island was facing a pension crisis. Prior to the passage of the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act in 2011, the state-administered pension fund had an unfunded liability of $7 billion and was 48 percent funded. Reform reduced this liability by $3 billion, making it possible to tell every public employee and retiree their pension checks will be there when they need them. Although the decisions the state made were difficult and the reforms have significantly strengthened the system, the fund still pays out more in benefits than it receives every year in contributions. This reality means we have to use different ways to reduce risk, even more so than other pension funds. We have to balance our long term obligations and our shorter term cash flow requirements when building the investment portfolio. The system is still recovering from the 2008-2009 market crash, when it lost $2.1 billion. In order to have the money needed to pay pensions, the system needs to earn an investment rate of 7.5 percent after all fees are paid. The State Investment Commission is pursuing a strategy of diversification and risk reduction, which we believe will be the best way to reach the state’s investment goal of 7.5 percent over time. The return last fiscal year was 11.1 percent after all fees were paid. The three-year return was 10.43 percent after all fees were paid. Unlike the tactics being used by those financing this report, pension reform has never been about “us vs. them.” It’s about ensuring that no public employee or retiree faces losing half their pensions like Central Falls retirees experienced, and that the state can continue to invest in the education, roads, libraries, and public transportation to get the Rhode Island economy back on track. It is also important to note that the Rhode Island pension system has been investing in alternatives since 1982. Over the past two years, our state has become a national leader for transparency regarding investments and fees.

Rhode Island has a proud history of leading the way. So it’s no surprise we are out front bringing freedom to healthcare. HealthSource RI gives individuals, families and small businesses a whole new way to compare and buy health insurance from a wide range of plans and health insurance providers you already know. Explore our site, call, or come see us for help every step of the way.

Our investment fees, along with data and minutes from every State Investment Commission meeting since June 2008, are listed on the Treasury’s website as part of the state’s first ever Investor Relations Portal developed by this administration. It is important to continue to build trust and allow for honest dialogue through transparency and disclosure. Creating an environment that encourages accountability and developing a more robust and transparent system for financial disclosure will help build investor and taxpayer confidence. I am proud of the work the Retirement Board, State Investment Commission and General Assembly did to make our pension system stronger for public employees and retirees. This work also has a ripple effect across our entire state and its economy. Fixing our fundamentals, including the pension system, benefits us all.



H e a l t h S o u rc e R I i s t h e o ff i c i a l h e a l t h c a re p o r t a l f o r t h e s t a t e o f R h o d e I s l a n d . C o p y r i g h t ® H e a l t h S o u rc e R I l o g o i s t h e t r a d e m a r k a n d s e r v i c e m a r k o f H e a l t h S o u rc e R I .

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


SMALL BUSINESS | Strategy Secrets of Successful Companies, Part 2

Strategy Secrets Of Successful Companies, Part 2 WHAT IS STRATEGY? by P. Lawrence Fagan Part one of this series presented the hard truth about good strategy: almost no one gets it. In this installment, we address the need for basic strategy education by looking at what strategy is and what it is not. So what is strategy? Strategy is the gradual, nonrandom process by which organizations build more or less competitive advantage in a market as a function of the choices of their leaders. Good strategy builds unique and valuable positioning in a market, enabling the organization to realize its vision, and ultimately to fulfill its mission. Vision is what the organization aspires to become in the intermediate term. Mission is why the organization exists; its long term reason for being. Strategy has a universal structure in three parts: goal, advantage, and activity set. Goal is the choice of what precisely the strategy is designed to achieve during a chosen time frame. For example, managers could choose “to grow to $5 million in net sales by 2015,” or “to grow to 100 sales reps by 2020,” or “to grow to 2 global partnerships by 2014.” There is no one right answer here. Managers have considerable discretion in setting the goal, and choosing an appropriate one for the strategy is crucial as it will drive the kinds of investments managers make during the strategy’s time frame. It’s important to note that the goal of the strategy shouldn’t be to “maximize shareholder return” or a similar measure of economic value creation. While ultimately all strategic choices are made against the backdrop of maximizing return on invested capital (ROIC), the goal of any given strategy is not that. Rather, the strategic goal is set according to what managers believe will drive economic value creation during the selected time frame. So, if you are starting a quick-service restaurant and believe that the best way to create value is to grow through franchising, then it could make sense to select a goal of reaching a certain number of franchisees by a certain date. Furthermore, a good strategy has a single goal, and this should not be confused with the various metrics that companies use in parallel. Managers often get this wrong and confuse metrics, which should track the progress of the business towards meeting the goal, with the goal itself. Accountants and control experts have muddied the waters here by offering tools that create dashboards of metrics that track all kinds of things, but give no guidance as to how to make tradeoffs among them to fulfill the goal of the strategy (Balanced Scorecard anyone?). Choose one goal and stick with it. Remember: multiple objectives is no objective!


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The length of the time frame can vary, but building a positioning takes time and thus, it is wise to choose a time frame that is longer than one planning cycle. A good rule of thumb is to set a horizon for the goal of between 5-10 years, but it could be shorter depending on the situation faced by the business. Advantage is a clear articulation of what makes a company’s product or service offerings different from competitors’. This is captured by the company’s value proposition: the features and benefits of the company’s offerings that deliver unique value for target customers. For example, New Strategy Group’s value proposition is: “Only New Strategy Group empowers your managers to discover their competitive advantage for themselves by creating an immediate breakthrough in their ability to think and act strategically—at high speed and at a fraction of the cost of strategy consultants.” This value proposition is a statement of how we are different in ways that matter for our target customers, and is designed to move target customers to act: to want to know more about our offerings and ultimately to engage with us. Crafting the value proposition is a complex task involving the identification of certain problems the enterprise will own on behalf of its customers, the type of customers targeted, the geographies that contain them, etc. Each company needs a strong value proposition as a core element of its strategy. Note that a value proposition is not the same thing as a marketing tag line, although in some cases, a value proposition can do double duty. For example, YouTube allows users to post video clips of themselves to a worldwide audience at no cost. Their value proposition for those who want to share themselves can be properly stated as “Only YouTube allows you to broadcast yourself to the world for free.” Not coincidentally, their marketing tagline is “Broadcast Yourself.” When crafting strategy, however, it is essential for managers to define their own value propositions before they engage with marketing and advertising experts to create specific tag lines that communicate the value propositions to their target customers. Often, because managers don’t “get” strategy, they try to outsource the definition of the value proposition to those who are in no position to do so. Activity set refers to the investments that managers make to build a set of interlinked activities inside or connected to the firm that are distinctive in that they make the firm’s value proposition(s) real. So to follow our example, if we make the claim that “Only New Strategy Group empowers your managers to discover their competitive advantage for themselves by creating an immediate breakthrough in their ability to think and act strategically—at

high speed and at a fraction of the cost of strategy consultants,” then if we looked inside the company, we would expect to find a set of activities that enable us to do just that (and you would). Otherwise, value propositions are merely empty marketing slogans—and thus bad strategy. Here you can see the danger of outsourcing the creation of advantage to advertisers and marketers, who cannot be expected to understand your business well enough to craft good strategy for it. An activity set also encompasses the degree of vertical integration of the enterprise: which activities will be done in-house and which will be outsourced. In the language of strategy, this addresses the specifics of a firm’s value chain: the discrete steps in the sourcing, production and distribution of goods and services the firm does itself, and which it contracts or partners for. Competitive advantage—a much used and abused term—grows from the degree to which the activities in the set fit together; that is, the degree to which they are consistent with and reinforce each other. So, in building competitive advantage, it’s the set that matters, not any one activity in isolation. In the case of New Strategy Group, it’s not just that we are less costly than strategy consultants, it’s the whole set of activities inside the company that bring our entire value proposition to life. What strategy isn’t So strategy is the integrated set of choices managers make to differentiate their enterprise from competitors in their markets. In this sense, strategy is not a plan. Rather, strategy is choice in action expressed as 1) a goal in a stated time frame; 2) a unique and valuable advantage for target customers; and 3) a set of activities (investments in research and development, labor, technology, equipment, partnerships, distribution networks, etc.) that are undertaken cooperatively by all human beings employed by or related to the enterprise. The degree to which the activities in the set fit together and reinforce each other connotes the firm’s competitive advantage. In the end, strategy is what a company actually does, without regard to what it says it does or will do (i.e., its plan). Strategy is the observable set of choices managers and employees make about the business each and every day. So, that’s the structure of strategy. Stay tuned for part three in this series, which will address the chronic lack of discipline shown by managers in crafting good strategy day-to-day.

P. Lawrence Fagan New Strategy Group

Trailblazers | SMALL BUSINESS


Women Entrepreneurs Doing Surprising Things

by Adam Harvey

Let’s face it, women are natural born trailblazers, and I want to highlight a few special ladies who, with amazing vision and entrepreneurial spirit, have done something rather unexpected and wildly successful in business. So let’s get to know them… Ada Lovelace In 1833, Ada Lovelace was introduced to Charles Babbage, a professor of mathematics at Cambridge University. This began a lifelong friendship between the two, in part because Ada’s mother had made sure that her daughter was schooled in mathematics—something highly unusual for women of the time. Babbage had been working for years on a “Difference Engine,” an elaborate machine that performed mechanical calculations, and the complexity and utility of the design enthralled Ada. Ten years later, in 1843, Ada Lovelace translated a French article about Babbage’s Analytic Engine. In

her translation, she added extensive notes describing Babbage’s invention and the ways in which it could be used. In particular, note G describes an algorithm to compute a sequence of Bernoulli numbers—a significant contribution because it outlined the very first set of instructions specifically written for a computer. Yes, Ada Lovelace was the first computer programmer in history! And don’t forget that she did it all while wearing a corset and a fancy hat. Julia Child After working with highly classified communications for the United States Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor of the CIA), the soon-to-be cultural icon experienced a culinary revelation at dinner one night in Rouen, France. That single experience of oysters, sole meunière, and fine wine led Child to re-invent herself, exploring her newfound passion for cooking, enrolling as a student in Le Cordon Bleu and studying with master chef Max Bugnard. In 1951, after opening an informal culinary school in Paris with two partners, the three continued researching and collecting recipes, with Julia specializing in making them detailed, interesting and practical. Then, in 1961 she used those recipes to publish the bestselling book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Two years later, she debuted as the star of the Emmy Award winning television program, The French Chef as well as many others. Audrey McClellan After graduating from Brown University, Audrey moved to New York City and worked for Donna Karan where she became immersed in the world of fashion. Six years later, with one child and another on the way, she left the frenetic metropolis and moved back home to Rhode Island—and subsequent unemployment. Fruitlessly searching for mom fashion resources online, she realized that a niche had grown to the point that she could bring her expertise in both realms to bear, and in 2008 momgenerations. com was born.

Readers quickly tuned in to her authentic voice and real opinions and the site’s popularity soon exploded. Self-described as “a hip online destination for moms, featuring daily product reviews, fabulous giveaways, smart family advice and the latest celebrity news,” the site attracts 15k unique visitors per month. As a mother of four boys and a girl, understanding her target demographic, and focusing on easy, practical, and affordable tips and advice for moms has paid off for Audrey. Clearly, I have a deep appreciation and respect for the female entrepreneurial spirit. Why, you might ask? Well, because I’m kind of an expert having had the chance to see it in action for years. My partner, the woman who founded my company, Gina DiSpirito, started out with a vision eighteen years ago… Gina DiSpirito As her Providence College classmates took power naps, Gina DiSpirito was busy networking, planning and establishing a freelance graphic design business. Acutely aware of the newly erupting desktop publishing industry, her passion for creative design found the perfect time to take hold. When faced with the choice of investing in either a car or a computer, DiSpirito knew that the computer would ultimately help her to get a future car. So, she went to work for Apple Computers in pursuit of the tools she needed for a business. Working against the norm as a college junior, DiSpirito made a path for herself by incorporating her company within an industry traditionally dominated by older male executives. Eighteen years later, her entrepreneurial spirit, unwavering commitment, and incomparable passion shaped that business venture into a fullservice advertising agency, Glad Works Inc. By studying math, eating well, being authentic, and working hard, these four trailblazers have set the bar high! They can certainly teach us all a little something about what it takes to be a true entrepreneur.

Adam Harvey GLAD WORKS www.gladworks.com

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine


SMALL BUSINESS | Develop Your Employees

ALL ELSE WILL FOLLOW by Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro Talent Management Magazine’s Associate Editor Frank Kalman recently reported (October 15, 2013) on a study done by global human resources services firm Towers Watson, which indicated that: • Only about one third of the employees in U.S. corporations know how they can advance their careers • Less than half of employees are able to advance in their careers Kalman goes on to point out that “the survey’s findings are especially alarming considering the prospect of continued development is the reason many people join companies to begin with, while the lack of career advancement once they join is among the top reasons people leave.” Since the cost of replacing an employee who leaves is far greater than the cost of retaining existing employees, looking into some of the causes of this problem might be beneficial. Kalman cites Laura Sejen, global leader of rewards at Towers Watson, saying that: • Managers are not effective in providing career management support to their employees. • The benefits of focusing on employee development far outweigh the costs. While Talent Management magazine tends to focus on larger corporations rather than small businesses, there is an important lesson which we can learn from the study: focus on developing your employees.


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As a manager in large business, I always focused first on developing my employees. My informal motto was Develop Your Employees: All Else Will Follow. Whenever I began a new project or thought about moving into a new area, I first asked myself, “How can this be used to develop my team?” I would recommend that small business owners adopt this motto as well. By doing this, you will keep employees engaged, perhaps lessen the risk of your most valued employees leaving the business, and prevent boredom (which can lead to errors and lower quality work). While skill development is very important to many high-quality employees, developing skills alone does not lead to guaranteed employee retention. As employee skills develop, you may be able to take on more business, make more money and consequently increase the compensation for your employees. You may be able to grow the business and make today’s trainees into

Even with all of the above development activity, employees may still decide to leave and potentially become your competition by working for someone else or by deciding to go into business for themselves. I’ve heard some people say they don’t want to teach their employees too much because they may be training the competition. This is a genuine possibility, thus, on a daily basis each of us needs to work on increasing our employee loyalty. If we do this correctly, we should be able to be the most profitable business in town, and consequently pay the highest wages. If we make our employees into business partners and maintain a friendly environment, there would be much less of a motivation to leave to start one’s own business. True, some employees will leave due to family reasons for moving out of state, but if you have built a trusting relationship with your employees, they are more likely to share their intent months, if not years in advance

As employee skills develop, you may be able to take on more business, make more money and consequently increase the compensation for your employees tomorrow’s team leaders. You might also consider succession plans for your business. Perhaps, as part of your compensation plan, over time you might want to gift or sell part of your business to your employees, ultimately leading to possible lifetime loyalty from the employees at little cost to you.

so that you will be able to plan a more logical transition to training new employees rather than discovering yourself shorthanded at the busiest time of the year. Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro Independent Consultant in Human Factors Learning & Human Resources

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Let’s do this together

www.risbj.com | volume two issue nine Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.



RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

Profile for Rhode Island Small Business Journal

RISBJ Volume 2 Issue 9  

Volume 2 Issue 9 of the Rhode Island Small Business Journal featuring the Annual Corporate Outings and Events Guide

RISBJ Volume 2 Issue 9  

Volume 2 Issue 9 of the Rhode Island Small Business Journal featuring the Annual Corporate Outings and Events Guide