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volume three issue one

Two Key IT Concepts to Highlight for 2014

Hybrid Cloud & Mobile

Business Websites

Tech-Forward or Brand-Backward

3 Key Elements for Digital Marketing Strategy FEATURED

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If I asked you to think back to your “startup” days, what would be the first thing that comes to mind? A ribbon cutting? The launch of your website? Your first satisfied customer? Your first hire? For many of us, these are the things we would share with others when asked about our early business days. But chances are, you also remember the hardships of securing financing, the never ending paperwork, the employee training, the challenges of managing cash-flow, and the (very) long hours.

from the founder

While some find it crazy to travel down the startup path a second, third or even fourth time, we might expect that our established wisdom would have us prepared for the journey. Wouldn’t that be nice? The fact is, every startup carries its own unique set of challenges. No matter how well prepared you think you are, you’re almost certainly not. Laws and regulations change, as does technology and economic conditions. Securing funding can be just as difficult the second and third times as it was the first, and finding the right employees doesn’t seem to get much easier. So why do we put ourselves through what some might consider a painful process? As entrepreneurs, we enjoy the challenge. We also enjoy learning – an education that can’t be taught in any traditional school, but comes straight from the school of hard knocks. We take what we learn from one venture, apply it to the next, and make the necessary adjustments. We do this only to find new challenges, which in time we figure out, master, and start all over again. So as you look to start your first company, grow your existing company, or consider a new venture, keep in mind that learning from each experience and figuring out how to overcome obstacles is the ultimate form of business education. There is no amount of preparation that will prevent us from facing challenges in our business, but learning from our past will help lead us to success.

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Gil Lantini President, Founder Ralph Coppolino Vice President, Operations Kelsey Powers Marketing Consultant John Resnick Marketing Coordinator Mike Casale Senior Designer Pam Walsh Editorial Assistant Sara Celano Production Assistant Intern Mike DiSano Contributing Writers Richard Austin Chris Barnett Kristin Carcieri-MacRae Michael Casey Ted Donnelly Amy Gallagher Jeremy Girard Larry Girouard Ben Goldstein Seth Goodall Lisa S. Griffith Ed Kedzierski Carolyn Lavin Dave Lubelczyk Donna Mac William F. Miller, Esq. Secretary of State Ralph Mollis John Nakowicz Jami A. Ouellette Mark Payden Matthew R. Plain, Esq. Gina M. Raimondo Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro Chris Sheehy Lisa Shorr Tim Sullivan Mayor Angel Taveras Nancy Thomas Kristen M. Whittle, Esq.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

6

08

Secretary of State Ralph Mollis

09

Art, Design and Manufacturing Intersect in Our Backyard

10

Spotlights on Startups

12

Promotional Products: Tools Not Toys

13

New Year, New Business

14

Small Business Profile: Coventry Home Care

15

Humor! Put it in Your Toolbox

16

Two Key IT Concepts to Highlight for 2014

20

Personnel Practices: Preserving the Employment – at – Will Relationship

22

Capital City ProvSmart Online Permitting and Plan Review

24

Clutter: the Cholesterol of you Company

25

Kayak to Success

26

Plugging in: Coworking Arrives in Rhode Island

27

Five “Must Haves” to Win Over New Customers

28

Sifting Through Marketing Communications Terminology

30

Business Website: Tech Forward or Brand Backward

31

Minding Your Own Brand: Why Can’t they See it?

32

Get Organized the Smart Way

34

Digital Marketing Strategies: 3 Key Elements

35

An interview with a Successful, Organized Small Business Owner

37

Communication Often Unspoken

39

New Year, New Money?

40

Featured Chamber: North Central

42

Sick of Work? Or is your Workplace Making you Sick?

43

The Lost Art of Leaving A Voicemail

44

Better Website Success through Better Website Performance

47

Save Crazy Amounts of Time Bookkeeping and Get on with Your Business

48

GO LOCAL Prov

50

Junior Achievement of Rhode Island: Empower the Future

52

Key Employee Protection: Preserving your Business

53

5.5 Non-Keyword Factors that Influence Search Engine Ranking Visibility

55

Reflecting on the Accomplishments of 2013

56

New Years Resolutions Take Two!

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SECRETARY OF STATE | Ralph Mollis

A Reminder to File Annual Reports by Secretary Of State Ralph Mollis

I want to wish all Rhode Islanders a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year! This is a very special time of year for all of us, and as 2014 begins, I want to send out a friendly reminder to the tens of thousands of companies doing business in Rhode Island that they must file annual reports with our office. State law requires for-profit corporations to file annual reports between January 1 and March 1, 2014. More than thirty thousand companies, ranging from auto dealers to mortgage companies to restaurants, are all subject to this requirement. The good news is corporations may now conveniently file online. Every corporation has been assigned its own unique Customer Identification Number and Personal Identification Number in order to ensure security. Corporations may also file by mail or in person at our office’s Business Services Division at 148 West River Street in Providence during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Last year, more than half of the annual reports filed were online, which is a testament to how user-friendly our database is. Our customers seem to really enjoy taking advantage of the technological advances our office has made to improve filing efficiency, while making it easier for companies to do business in Rhode Island. State law also mandates corporations to file annual reports. Failure to file an annual report can result in the revocation of a corporation’s Certificate of Incorporation or Certificate of Authority, so it’s important to meet these deadlines. These certifications provide corporations with the legal basis for conducting a variety of business-related activities in Rhode Island, including direct sales. For-profit corporations are not the only entities required to file annual reports. At other times of the year, non-profit and limited liability companies are also required to file annual reports with our office.

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Failure to file an annual report can result in the revocation of a corporation’s Certificate of Incorporation or Certificate of Authority, so it’s important to meet these deadlines Our office is responsible for corporate record keeping, and I am committed to giving Rhode Islanders 24/7 access to up-to-date and accurate information and the business community is my partner in this effort. For anyone interested, reports are posted on our website at www.sos. ri.gov. The public can search the database by the corporation’s name, location, and type of business, among other topics. There is also contact information for every company’s key contact. This transparency is consumer-friendly and ensures that the public has a place to turn for reliable information about businesses. Filing annual reports shows a company’s commitment to openness, and that can make consumers feel more confident about doing business with them. Our office works with every corporate entity registered to do business in Rhode Island, which totals over 60,000. Our office also oversees recording commercial liens and protecting corporate trademarks, and provides advice to start-up businesses. I am committed to making it easier for Rhode Islanders to vote, making it easier to do business in Rhode Island, and making government more open and accessible. For more information about the programs we offer Rhode Islanders, please visit www.sos.ri.gov.


Art, Design, and Manufacturing Intersect in Our Backyard | SMALL BUSINESS

Art, Design,

and Manufacturing Intersect in Our Backyard by Chris Barnett

New York City is often seen as one of the epicenters for the arts, but Our Backyard is quickly becoming a place where artists and entrepreneurs can find success in the intersection of art, design, and manufacturing. Loren Barham and her husband, Aaron, moved to Rhode Island from North Carolina a year ago. A big fan of history, Loren immediately identified the 750-square-foot workshop in a historic Pawtucket mill to be the home for Loren Hope Designs. What she didn’t know was how fast her business would grow here. After a few short months in Our Backyard, they needed to double the size of their office space to keep up with orders coming in from across the country. Loren Hope Designs, an evolving line of upscale, handcrafted jewelry, is a favorite on the fashion blog scene and has been featured in fashion magazines like Vogue, In Style, and Redbook – just to name a few. In just the past year, their wholesale orders have jumped from 5 or 6 orders a week to a weekly average of 100 orders. Soaring demand enabled them to grow from two full-time employees to eight. Loren credits the incredible success in such a short time since the move to Rhode Island to the accessibility of materials and rich history of the jewelry industry that exists here. “There is no place in the country to manufacture jewelry like Rhode Island,” she explains. “The accessibility to vendors and historic craftsmanship that exists here is unmatched and gives us a huge edge on competitors that are located elsewhere.” Just ask Otto D’Ambrosio. He began carving wood at the ripe-old age of eight when his parents presented him with a block of wood for Christmas and a knife from the kitchen drawer. From that point on he was hooked. By the time he was 13, Otto was working at Mandolin Brothers and learning the craft of “turning wood into music.” In 1998, he left New York for Rhode Island to work at Guild Guitars in Westerly and

Designer Loren Barham expanded his knowledge in repairing, rebuilding, and crafting guitars. Three years later, Otto opened D’Ambrosio Guitars and started making fine guitars by hand. In an old Pawtucket mill built in 1919, Otto handcrafts hollow archtop guitars and repairs priceless vintage instruments for clients across the globe. His most widely distributed instrument is an electric archtop guitar with a patented technology that provides superior feedback rejection (in other words, it prevents the ear piercing screech that occurs when an electric guitar is faced to the amplifier). The El Rey Guitar, designed for Eastman Guitars by Otto, is sold nationwide and endorsed by local performers such as Mark Cutler and Jim Robitaille. Sketches for custom concept guitars line the old mill walls of D’Ambrosio’s finishing room. People across the country send Otto requests to bring their creative concept to life in a handmade, one-of-akind instrument. He is currently working on several projects, including a guitar for actor Jeff Bridges that is inspired by his charitable work with No Kid Hungry. Custom pieces often require collaboration with other designers and artists. Fortunately for Otto he doesn’t have to look far for talent noting “that access to the craftsmanship and design expertise found in Rhode Island is a huge benefit of operating a business here.” There is certainly a unique chemistry that exists between art, manufacturing, and design in Our Backyard. To see more success stories or to share your own story, visit www.ourbackyardri.com. Chris Barnett Senior Public Affairs Officer The RI Foundation

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STARTUPS | Spotlight

Website: http://sitefly.co Email: contact@sitefly.co Twitter: https://twitter.com/siteflyco Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Sitefly.co Profile: SITEFLY, a Providence-based startup continues to push forward in their mission to become the world’s fastest and easiest way to create websites for small businesses, musicians, public figures, and non-profits alike. Since first being featured in RISBJ’s Spotlight on Startups under their former name ‘TouchVu,’ SITEFLY has grown from just 50 users to now 2,400+ users in over 100 countries worldwide. SITEFLY’s magic resides in its amazingly simple way to create websites with a single click by taking content from a prospective Facebook page and then assembling it into a beautiful website template. In seconds, any person with a Facebook page (not a personal profile) can create their very own professional website without any coding or design skills required. Once a site is created, SITEFLY then provides an intuitive editor where users can easily customize their site’s look and feel, add new pages and content, optimize for SEO, and even link an existing or register a new custom domain. If most of your customers come from mobile, don’t worry! Each site created with SITEFLY is responsive in design; therefore, they’re fully optimized for all mobile devices, PC’s, and tablets. This way, you can create one site that works perfectly on every device no matter the size of the screen. Another bonus SITEFLY offers its users is automatic, real-time updates to each published site. SITEFLY accomplishes this by syncing your site with your Facebook page. This way, each time you share the latest news, photos, events, or more on Facebook, your site will instantly update itself providing your visitors with the most recent and fresh information about your business or brand. With plans starting at just $8/month and a 14-day free trial, SITEFLY plans to save business owners an enormous amount of time and money by providing a website solution that effectively helps increase search engine rankings, build larger customer bases, and generate more revenue. As SITEFLY continues to evolve, they plan on constantly improving their platform by introducing more features like new site templates, integration with other social networks, new editing, and design tools along with much more. To create your very own SITEFLY site, visit www.sitefly.co and try it out for FREE!

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SMALL BUSINESS | Promotional Products: Tools Not Toys

PROMOTIONAL

PRODUCTS by Mark Payden

Everyone loves receiving promotional products. Visit an office at any company and I guarantee that you will see a coffee mug, writing instrument, calendar, desk accessory, or some type of promotional product with a corporate logo. Is that your company or your competitor’s? Bob Lederer, former president of a leading promotional product manufacturer states that, “Promotional product advertising is the only type of advertising that elicits a thank you from the recipient.” In traditional advertising, the number of impressions an advertisement receives measures an advertising campaign’s

more accurately than any other advertising medium. Maybe you’ve been using promotional products to advertise your business, but have you used them as a tool to increase leads, sales, and cash flow or only as a toy to elicit a laugh from fellow workers? Can you measure the success of your promotional product advertising campaigns? Or, is it just a line item in your marketing budget that increases when you have profits and is eliminated entirely when you don’t? If your answer is “no” to the first question and “yes” to the last, it’s time take another look at the manner in which your company uses these unique marketing items.

Visit an office at any company and I guarantee that you will see a coffee mug, writing instrument, calendar, desk accessory, or some type of promotional product with a corporate logo success. Just think about how many times and how many different people see a corporate logo on that coffee mug. A more important advantage of promotional products, when used properly to increase sales, is that the return on investment can be measured

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It is imperative to increase sales in a sluggish marketplace. Ironically, it is often easier to win over new clients and expand market share in poor economic times than it is in good times because many purchasing agents, desperate to improve performance, are willing to work

with new vendors presenting something conceivably more effective. To increase lead and sales, consider including a promotional product in your next mailing to your prospects and clients. A study by Silver Marketing Group, published by the Promotional Products Association, found that the use of promotional products, in conjunction with a sales letter, can make a significant difference in direct mail response rates and can improve the effectiveness of converting leads into appointments. In terms of appointments secured, a sales letter only received a 1.8% response. A letter with a promotional product enclosed received a 2.7% response and a letter with an offer of a promotional product incentive received a 7.3% response. Whether you’re a CEO of a large or small company, a promotional products campaign can be tailored to both your needs and budget. Promotional products should not be the line item in your marketing budget that is deleted first. Instead, they should be the creative marketing tool that puts your sales efforts in gear and contributes to making your company first in your market.

Mark Payden Managing Partner Payden and Company, LLC


New Year, New Business | SBA

New Year,

New Business by Seth Goodall

This is the season of New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s deciding to join a gym or cut back on sweets, chances are you’re making some resolutions for 2014. This year, though, think outside the box. As the New England Regional Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration, I encourage you to ask yourself: do you have a great idea for a product or service? Have you always wanted to start a business? Small businesses create two out of every three net new private sector jobs, and half of working Americans either own or work for a small business. Wouldn’t it be great if you were one of them? 2014 is a great time to start. As you come up with a plan, you’re not alone. You might not be sure how to begin or take your business to the next level. That’s where the SBA comes in. We provide so many resources to help you, and you can start by going to www. sba.gov to learn about everything we have to offer. On our website you’ll learn about our core programs, or what we like to call our 3 Cs.

Small businesses create two out of every three net new private sector jobs, and half of working Americans either own or work for a small business.

The first C is counseling. We know that business counseling helps small businesses succeed, which is why SBA has a strong counseling and training network to help small business owners and entrepreneurs gain access to these resources. I encourage you as you think about starting or growing your business to drop by one of our 68 SBA district offices, 63 Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) with over 900 outreach locations, more than 100 Women’s Business Centers, and 12,000 SCORE volunteers in over 800 locations. The second C is contracting. At SBA, we connect small businesses with the federal government’s supply chain. This program provides small businesses roughly $90 billion a year in federal contracting opportunities. Your small business could be one of them. The third C is capital. At SBA we want to make sure that every entrepreneur or small business owner who wants to start or grow their business can achieve their dreams. Since President Obama took office, SBA has supported more than $126 billion in lending to more than 260,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs and in fiscal year 2013, SBA supported $29 billion in loans nationally and $1.3 billion in New England. And for the current fiscal year, we have set fees on SBA-supported loans for $150,000 and under to zero. This makes loans cheaper for the borrower—another way SBA is helping to serve small business owners as they look for ways to access capital. That’s just some of what SBA has to offer our nation’s entrepreneurs. The American tradition of entrepreneurship has helped grow our country for the long term, creating jobs and strengthening the economy. Let’s keep that tradition going. The start of a new year is a great time to start a new business—and SBA is here to help. Seth Goodall Regional Administrator U.S. Small Business Administration

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SMALL BUSINESS | Coventry Home Care

COVENTRY HOME CARE Business Profile:

Coventry Home Care Open Date: 1998 Location: 960 Tiogue Avenue, Coventry Phone: (401) 823-5300 Website: www.phenix-homecare.com/coventry.htm

Coventry Home Care was established in 1998 by Nick Passarelli as a branch office to Phenix Home Care of Cranston. At the time, Phenix Home Care was receiving more and more referrals for patients south of Coventry, and the new branch office was opened to supply the staff needed to cover those areas. Coventry Home Care offers the same services as Phenix Home Care and allows Nick to provide quality at-home care to Rhode Islanders in the South County area. With almost a lifetime of experience in the healthcare industry, Nick was well-prepared to open both Coventry and Phenix Home Care. At the early age of sixteen, Nick took his first step into the medical world as an orderly. From there, he went on to be a Registered Nurse, a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, and a Certified Integrated Chronic Care Manager. “All I’ve done my whole life is take care of people. I think that lends itself to why we do what we do at Coventry Home Care,” Nick said.

All I’ve done my whole life is take care of people. I think that lends itself to why we do what we do at Coventry Home Care 14

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In 1991, Nick was working as a Nursing Home Administrator when he was inspired to open Phenix Home Care. At the time, Nick says Rhode Island had one of the highest elderly populations per capita, and Nick desired to improve their quality of life by offering healthcare services in the comfort of their own home. “The aging pyramid that we once knew is now upside down. The 65 and over segment of our population is now the largest and most rapidly growing segment of our population, and it’s about to at least double as the baby boomers enter it. This population will age in place, not only because that number of institutional beds simply does not exist, but because aging at home is the choice of this population. Home Care is essential to meeting this need,” Nick said. Keeping this in mind, Nick opened Phenix Home Care and only a few years later he opened Coventry Home Care. Coventry Home Care is Medicaid-approved and a Rhode Island Department of Elderly

Affairs program grantee. Coventry Home Care is licensed by the Rhode Island Department of Health to provide many services, including:

Home Maker Services: Light housekeeping, dusting, vacuuming, laundry, meal preparation and grocery shopping Home Health Aide Services: bathing, dressing, feeding, range of motion exercises, and more Since Coventry Home Care is a non-skilled nursing administration, they cannot care for those who become acutely ill; however, that’s when Capitol Home Care comes into play. Capitol Home Care is a network of three direct competitors, including Coventry Home Care, that offers a mix of both skilled and non-skilled services for a higher level of direct care. Coventry Home Care CNAs work with care providers at Capitol Home Care so that patients can continue to see their trusted CNAs while working with their physical therapists, visiting nurses, or whatever other services they need. This structure helps patients safely and comfortably recover, while also preventing rehospitalization. Nick says that the best way for Coventry Home Care to continue delivering higher quality care is through communication. “Our key to maintaining relationships with anyone is good communication. We make it our priority to ensure that everyone knows the information required in order to provide the best possible services to that client,” Nick said. Because of this, Coventry Home Care and Capitol Home Care have developed strong relationships with doctors, hospitals, and, most importantly, patients. Nick says that it’s entirely possible that they could open another branch office in Rhode Island in the future, but for now they are happy to provide a higher level of care for patients of Coventry Home Care, Phenix Home Care, and Capitol Home Care.


Humor! Put It In Your Toolbox | SMALL BUSINESS

H

mor!

PUT IT IN YOUR TOOLBOX… by Nancy Thomas

Perhaps the best test of a PR consultant and his/her value to you and your business, group or nonprofit, is when there is a PR crisis – a negative situation, and the need to handle it with your clients, customers, and/or in the press. We have all seen a negative story handled with finesse, and literally turning a negative situation into a positive situation. And we’ve all seen the opposite. A negative story grows “legs” and continues on and on and on, developing, morphing, and becoming larger than the initial problem ever was. Perhaps it was a misplaced comment by the company spokesperson, or it was inept handling of social media. By inept I mean allowing emotions to take control over the tone of your posting. Now you open the door for everyone who ever thought anything negative about you to chime in. What is the role of humor in handling a PR crisis? By humor I don’t mean making a joke of the situation, but rather, stepping out of the immediate inner circle of crisis and bringing a new perspective out and presenting it to those who are listening, reading, and watching. It is difficult to do this for yourself when you are in the vortex of crisis. That is perhaps the best time to bring on some professional assistance. A good PR consultant has been in your situation, and has also been skilled in distancing the response plan and keeping calm so that your professional voice speaks and not your emotional voice. Humor can be helpful in this regard. When you find how to bring a different perspective to the crisis, others will follow along with you. Immediately, you can sense your shoulders relaxing, a smile coming across your face. You are in control again. This is not a “spin” to reality. When you feel in control, it is because you have truly regained your control by regaining your composure. Now you can think clearly. An example would be if a young man puts graffiti on the side of your building, and he is arrested for it. Now your company is in

the news. Will your customers still have confidence in you? Will they think your place is unsafe to visit? They are watching what you will do now. If the story is big enough, the little piece in the print paper will now make the evening news. TV and radio have their own agendas – and their own needs. One is a visual need. The other is an abbreviated audio need. Meet those needs and they will be on your side and help you tell your story in your own way. This example allows you to show empathy for the young person – what was the personal situation? Is the economy contributing to this? Can you offer this person a creative way out? Maybe you saw the person’s talent, and can comment on the artwork in a positive way? Do you have a wall that he and his friends could paint – do a mural? Or can you pay for a local wall at a community center to be painted creatively by this person – after he repairs the damage he’s done of course. Can you offer this person a job? How can you take this random act and make it work for you and, incidentally, help to defuse future situations and help the community at large. Your kneejerk reaction – “look what those kids did!” – might need a moderating fresh approach. If you have a PR consultant in your corner, talk to them. They will help you through it, and you’ll have some great media moments as you show class and professionalism in handling the situation. You will take the high road to a successful resolution – one that will have legs for you, too! So, humor is a tool. Use it skillfully. What else is in your toolbox? I hope a PR consultant is in there – one who is familiar with you, personally, and your company, and is set to go – one with deep media relationships and maturity, and one who knows the power of a smile and will help you speak with it when you have a crisis. There’s real power there. Start 2014 with a PR person by your side. It’s the best tool you could ever have.

Nancy Thomas Owner Tapestry Communications

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SMALL BUSINESS | Two Key IT to Concepts to Highlight for 2014 3 Reasons Assess Your Company’s Data Infrastructure

Two Key IT Concepts to Highlight by Lisa Shorr

Welcome to 2014! May it be a year filled with health, prosperity, and the ability to keep up with the demands of our clients’ need for instant information. Hard to believe but there was a time that a client expected to wait 1-2 business days for a response. Today, thanks to innovations in technology, that same question requires an answer in a matter of minutes. Understanding technology is now the foundation of your business is the first step to meeting your clients’ expectations. Companies who lack this focus risk alienating their customers, or worse losing them to more nimble competitors. To stay in the game, focus on these two key concepts this year: Hybrid Cloud & Mobile. Each of these words are very unique in their definitions, yet actually go hand-in-hand as I reveal my top four tech trends for 2014. Have you stepped into the cloud yet? The time is now! What are you waiting for? There are so many reasons for shifting many of your business applications into the cloud. I mentioned our clients’ demand for instant information. Storing our data and retrieving it from a cloud-based solution can be done in a fraction of the time needed to search through manual files or documents saved on an external hard drive, server, or workstation. Cloud file sharing services provide a quick way to access critical documents with any device from anywhere around the globe! Many ask – “I just invested in new technology for my office. Do I have to replace everything?” No. You can incorporate a “hybrid” solution where you keep some of your legacy technology on premise while moving other applications into the cloud. Your mobile device – don’t leave the house without it! We’ve all done it – walked into a coffee shop and perused each and every table checking to see if there is an outlet nearby that we can plug our “mobile” device into. The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend is now common in the workplace (many with BYOD policies written into Employee Handbooks) thanks to the accessibility of the Internet and a multitude of cloud applications. Many managers and business owners tout that employees are more productive outside the workplace. As BYOD grows, so does the ability for a user’s home laptop, office desktop, and personal tablet or smartphone to “share” the same information. Email can be retrieved from any device, documents shared via the cloud, photos edited, calendars synced, and so on! This information integration allows for “on-the-go” productivity. R.I.P. Windows XP and Office 2003 - Hello heightened Hybrid Cloud & Mobile Usage Are you still running Microsoft Windows XP or Office 2003? As of

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| rhode island smallbusiness businessjournal journal RISBJ | rhode island small

While our cars are many of the futuristic Jane Jetson’s home ha


Two Key IT Concepts to Data Highlight for 2014 | SMALL BUSINESS 3 Reasons to Assess Your Company’s Infrastructure

ht for 2014 | Hybrid Cloud & Mobile

e not yet space mobiles, c themes in George and ave become reality!

April 8, 2014, Microsoft is completely pulling the plug on all security updates and support for these beloved products. Some will gawk and say “Eh – I’m not changing. Nothing will happen to me!” This is a very risky and bold statement. It’s like leaving your backdoor wide open to all kinds of security threats that hackers are just dying to get into. Many will heed this warning and upgrade their networks. Newer operating systems such as Windows 8 and applications such as Office 2013 or Office 365 provide easy access to your data via the cloud. This demise of Win XP & Office 2003 will inevitably push businesses toward adopting cloud-enabled applications. The Jetson’s Smart Home of Today! Whenever I think of the term “Smart Home,” I think of The Jetsons. Buttons and codes opened doors, cooked food, powered a walking conveyor in the house and motorized their space vehicles. While our cars are not yet space mobiles, many of the futuristic themes in George and Jane Jetson’s home have become reality! My husband, Eric, has made it his mission to turn our house into a Smart Home. (Look for more details of my smart home in an upcoming article!) I use a code to enter my back door, eliminating my need for a key. From my iPhone or office desktop I can set my thermostat, alarm system, view my surveillance cameras and open my garage door. Our mobile Sonos speaker system allows us to stream music from the cloud to any room in our house. Having this mobile capability provides peace of mind that I can monitor and control various aspects of my house while on a business trip, at the office, or at my daughter’s ballet lesson. Make sure you are secure. 2013 seemed to be the year of data breaches! We were horrified by the NSA leaks, held ransom by Cryptolocker, and left personally vulnerable by Target’s data breach. My article title should add Security in parentheses after Hybrid Cloud and Mobile. Be sure to add layers of security across all devices. Consult with your IT provider as to the best approach. Resolve in 2014 to step into the cloud and step out of the office! The next time a client asks for mission critical information – you’ll be able to say, “Sure, I’ll send it right away!”

Lisa Shorr VP of Marketing PC Troubleshooters, Inc.

www.risbj.com www.risbj.com| | volume three issue one

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SMALL BUSINESS | Personnel Practices

Personnel Practices PRESERVING THE EMPLOYMENT-AT-WILL RELATIONSHIP by Matthew R. Plain, Esq. & Kristen M. Whittle, Esq.

In Rhode Island, the presumptive employment relationship is employment-at-will, meaning that an employer may terminate an employee at any time, for any reason—or no reason—unless otherwise prohibited by law (for example, an employer may not terminate an employee due to his/her race or gender). However, employers may, intentionally or unwittingly, create a contractual employment relationship giving greater rights and protections to employees, including the right to continued employment. Although there may be benefits to a contractual employment relationship—including greater stability of the workforce and the attraction of higher quality candidates—such an arrangement makes it more difficult for an employer to terminate that relationship if the need arises. Specifically, contracts for employment, whether created intentionally or unwittingly, typically confer upon the employee a right to continued

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employment for a particular period of time. In addition, unlike at-will arrangements, employers may need a legitimate, supported justification for terminating a contract for employment, typically referred to as “good and just cause.” In order to uphold the termination of a contractual employee, the employer may be required to present welldocumented evidence of significant performance issues or misconduct. In order to avoid unintentionally creating a contractual relationship with an employee, employers should: • Be very careful when issuing written “offers of employment,” which may give rise to a contractual relationship. For example, any documents referencing a time period or duration of employment (such as an offer of employment for a particular season or academic year) may lead a court to conclude that the employee was entitled to continued employment during that entire time period, except in extraordinary circumstances.


Personnel Practices: Preserving the Employment-at-Will Relationship | SMALL BUSINESS

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• Carefully draft policies and procedures in order to avoid language that may give rise to a contractual relationship. In contesting termination, an employee may point to an employer’s policies, practices, and procedures to argue that the employer impliedly agreed to a contract of employment for a fixed term. For example, a policy or practice that employment shall be “year to year” may lead a court to conclude that employees had a right to continued employment throughout the course of an entire year. • Pay attention to language in employee handbooks that may also impliedly create additional contractual rights for employees, such as the right to progressive discipline. For example, where a handbook states that employees shall be provided verbal or written warnings before more serious discipline, an employer may be required to provide such discipline prior to termination, except in extraordinary circumstances. • Be aware that language in handbooks, policies, or offer letters that employment is “at will” or “may be terminated at any time” may be insufficient to rebut a former employee’s argument that a contractual relationship had been created. An employment contract that purports to be “at will” is still a contract for employment, and will likely be enforced by Rhode Island courts. • Remember that, when ensuring that the employment-at-will relationship is preserved, “less is more.” Employers should resist the urge to include a period of employment in an offer letter or any similar language in handbooks, policies, or procedures. Employers should carefully balance the competing considerations of a need for employees for a fixed period (such as a season or academic year) with the preservation of the employment-at-will relationship. In some circumstances, employment contracts with a specified end date may be preferable to a non-contractual employment relationship. Then, an employer may simply allow an employee’s contract to expire, without any obligation to renew the contract. When in doubt, contact an experienced professional for assistance in drafting employment documents in order to ensure, to the extent possible, that the documents outline actual intent. Matthew R. Plain, Esq. Partner, Barton Gilman LLP Kristen M. Whittle, Esq. Associate, Barton Gilman LLP

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www.risbj.com | volume three issue one

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What Clams Me And About SMALL CAPITAL BUSINESS CITY | ProvSmart || How Online Manage Permitting A Remote Worker Plan or Review Office SMALL BUSINESS Dear To Mom: A Taught Letter Home From ALeadership One Day Warrior

PROVSMART ONLINE PERMITTING AND PLAN REVIEW by Mayor Angel Taveras

One of the most important issues entrepreneurs face is how to deal with the scores of state and local regulations and permits needed to start and run a business. In Providence, we understand. According to a recent report by the Rhode Island Office of Management and Budget/ Office of Regulatory Reform (ORR), which is conducting a comprehensive review of all state regulations relating to small business, there are more than 1,600 state regulations. As part of

THIS NEW STATE-OF-THE-ART PROCESS BUILT WITH THE NEWEST SOFTWARE ALLOWS YOU TO TRACK PROGRESS ON ONE OR MULTIPLE PROJECTS their charge by the Governor, they’ve taken a look at 1,089 of them, and in their most recent review, they found 399 of them impacted small business, chiefly in “audit, inspection and enforcement activities.” They expect this number to grow as they review the final group of regulations and implement a new and more comprehensive small business impact model.

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Late last month, we launched an online permitting system that lets contractors and developers, homeowners and business owners alike, apply through their computers – or at a stationery kiosk in the Department of Inspections and Standards – for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and construction permits. Now, you can submit your permit application and plans, and then pay and print your Permit Card online. HOW IT WORKS When you visit www.providenceri.com/DIS/ provsmart, you will need to create an account if this is the first time you are using the system. This account will give you an online dashboard where you can track and keep a record of all your permits. Click the link Register Now or use one of the social media links to create an account. Once you have an account, just select the type of permit you require and fill out the application, leaving any fields blank that do not apply or that you don’t know the answer to. Click Save to submit your application or Save Draft to finish and submit at a later time. Your application will be reviewed and you will receive an email approving it or requesting more information. When you get this email, you can upload drawings for review. At any time in the online process, you can also come into the department at 444 Westminster Street for more help or to deliver paper drawings if you wish, or pay with a check.

By getting an accurate ‘lay of the land’ and working with cities such as Providence, the state will be able to build a more reasonable system of regulations and laws that is consistent, transparent, and supportive of small business.

In business, time is money. This new state-ofthe-art process built with the newest software allows you to track progress on one or multiple projects, and lets you get on with the business of doing business much quicker.

In Providence, we have been taking measures to help small business grow. As part of my Economic Development Plan, “Putting Providence Back to Work,” we have taken the lead with online permitting (https://www. providenceri.com/DIS/provsmart).

In the next month, we will be hosting a special event for all local business owners, contractors and developers, and brokers to learn first-hand how this new process works. We hope you’ll join us then. For details follow us on www. providenceri.com


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SMALL BUSINESS | Cluttler: The Cholesterol Of Your Company

THE CHOLESTER O L OF YOUR COMPA NY by Larry Girouard We talk about efficiency all the time. It is one of those words that is always brought up in the business discussion, but painfully little is done about it. It is the one element of the business that, if executed, would have a dramatic, positive, and measurable impact on a company’s value proposition. I Read An Article Recently That Stated: “.... There are 2.3 billion square feet of selfstorage space in America, or more than 7 square feet for every, man, woman and child in the country. Texas, Florida and California lead the country with the most storage space. It’s now ‘physically possible that every American

can take many forms in our businesses, but it has one common denominator being >>>> things that are not used. 20%-30% of work space is taken up by things that are either not used, or rarely used. We think of cholesterol as the measure that indicates the potential for plaque buildup in our arteries. This buildup restricts the flow of blood to the heart, and if left unchecked, often leads to a heart attack. Clutter does the same thing in a business. Clutter restricts the flow of any process in a business leading to poor corporate performance. For example, the picture below is an office supply storage area for a company in Massachusetts. Over the years “stuff” just

We think of cholesterol as the measure that indicates the potential for plaque buildup in our arteries. This buildup restricts the flow of blood to the heart, and if left unchecked, often leads to a heart attack. could stand - all at the same time - under the total canopy of self-storage roofing,’ boasts the Self Storage Association. There are about 51,000 storage facilities in the country - more than four times the number of McDonald’s ....” While this article was referring to our personal stuff, these referenced storage units are testimony to the cluttered lives we live. This may explain in the same article why 23 percent of Americans admit to paying bills late because they can’t find them, and why 25 percent of people with two-car garages have to park their cars outside. We have turned into a society of collectors, or perhaps better said, hoarders. We tend not to throw anything out rationalizing that “I may use that someday...” Here is the problem ... we bring this culture of clutter into our businesses every day. Clutter

process’ sake. We have many processes in our companies such as: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

The quoting process The scheduling process The billing process The material organization process The project management process The filing process The manufacturing process, etc.

Each of these processes listed above can be made up of a family of other smaller processes. The bottom line is that efficiency is all about process optimization. If you have efficient processes, your value proposition for your customers will reflect this efficiency in shorter lead times, improved on-time delivery, faster quote turn around, and the like. This picture is from a manufacturing company in Rhode Island that organized their “stuff.” They discarded all the things they did not use from the manufacturing area and then organized what was left into a well designed format so that what was needed in the process was easily found.

starts to accumulate, and any modicum of an organized system of labeling and placement went by the wayside years ago. Because everyone is too busy to address the clutter issue, this becomes the new normal. The problem is that when you go into the room to look for a particular something, it may take up to 3-5 minutes or more to find. Looking for “stuff” is a total waste of time and takes away from the efficiency of any process. Business = Integrated Processes Pull your mind away from the details of your business for a moment and look at your business as just a family of processes, integrated together to perform a task, a service, or manufacturing a product. Take the emotion out of it and look at these processes for

The advantages gleaned from the removal of clutter are profound, and will plant the seed for more robust changes in processes, leading to even greater efficiencies. Clutter removal is very visual, easy to do, and extremely cost effective to implement. Parting Hint De-cluttering, and the reorganization of what remains, needs to be driven by the employees and supported by management. This is a bottom-up process. If employees are empowered, and the results are similar to the pictures above, there is a much greater chance that the changes will be sustainable.

Larry Girouard President The Business Avionix Company

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Kayak To Success | SMALL BUSINESS

KAYAK TO SUCCESS by Richard Austin I have a 17 ½ foot wooden kayak. Beautiful, smooth, and stable. (Stable is big in kayaking.) There are two ways to kayak: float along with the wind and the currents and see where you end up; or, pick a destination, prepare for it, make a plan and go for it. I’ve done both. The first way is great for a cool, calm autumn day, but not for business. If I want to get somewhere, this is what I do: I decide where I want to be and when I want to be there (the when is important – more about this later). Then I make a plan, gather my resources and think about what could go wrong (very important). My checklist looks like this:

• Is my boat sound? • Do I have my pump? • Do I have a line? (kayakers call it line, not rope) • Is my cell phone charged and in its waterproof case? • Is my paddle tethered to my wrist? • Do I have my big floppy hat and sunscreen? • Do I have my compass? • Do I have water, snacks and other supplies? • Do I have my kayaking gloves? (Again, I think they look cool) • Do I have my skirt? (Keeps the water out of the cockpit) • Am I in shape and trained?

That last one is important. If, or when, the kayak rolls over, you need to know two things: First, how to exit a boat upside down in the water. Second, you need to be trained on how to get back in (you crawl up the stern into the cockpit). Then, when the adrenaline wears off and your heart slows down to (near) normal, you take stock of what you have left (resources), what went wrong (could you have avoided it or did that quahogger zip by a little too close? (The few times this has happened, I chose to think it was by accident.) After assessing myself, my boat, and my supplies, I go on my way. Okay, let’s make the obvious correlations to business. As a successful small business owner, you must decide if you’re going to float easy with the tide or pick a destination and go for it. Then, before you launch, go through the checklist. Is my business plan (boat) sound? Do I have the resources I need (paddle, lifejacket, hat, water, food)? What backup resources might I need if something goes wrong? Do I know what I need to know (training)? Finally, have I set an arrival time? Again, this last one is critical. Without buoys, islands, or other points of reference, you can’t know where you are and how much farther you have to go. Same thing in business; goals, timeframes and frequent reappraisals are critical if you want to be successful. So, let’s get paddling! Richard Austin President Speaking of Success, LLC

As a successful small business owner, you must decide if you’re going to float easy with the tide or pick a destination and go for it

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SMALL BUSINESS | Coworking Arrives In Rhode Island

PLUGGING IN

COWORKING ARRIVES IN RHODE ISLAND by Ben Goldstein With his company headquarters a plane ride away, Providence transplant Hunter Strader works full-time from the Founders League, a coworking community in the city’s Jewelry District. A manager for Bella Energy, a solar energy company based in Colorado, Hunter is Bella’s only Rhode Island employee. But when he comes into his “office,” he’s far from alone. Hunter is part of a new generation of mobile workers who are changing how, when, and where we work. For many of us, work is a thing we do, not a place we go. A generation ago, this held true for a few—think freelancers and home-based businesses. Today, a staggering number of people from a diverse set of organizations are not anchored to a traditional office. This transformation isn’t just about working in your bathrobe or from a coffee shop. From upstart entrepreneurs to established professionals, working remotely also means plugging into a community of people who do exactly the same thing.

everyone together, the Founders League is creating a neighborhood of entrepreneurs. We help each other and that’s really valuable,” says Jeff. Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures summed up the benefits of coworking like this: “The main benefits of this kind of setup are camaraderie, knowledge sharing, high energy, culture, and cost sharing. I have heard so many stories of software developers walking to the other side of the office to talk to software developers working for another company to talk about a thorny tech issue. That same thing can happen in finance, legal, business development, marketing, product management—really all parts of the business. You can get some of the benefits of scale without being at scale.”

Coworking has taken many forms, beginning in the 1990s with shared spaces where people split the costs of office and administrative services. In the last five years, this model has evolved to meet the needs of mobile workers who care less about access to a fax machine and more about joining a community where they find camaraderie and, in some cases, specialized support. Cities like New York City, San Francisco, and Boston have led the charge in dreaming up new spaces where a variety of people find what they need. Cities like Philadelphia, Austin, and Providence have joined in, adding their own local touch to the “best practices” established by mature platforms like NYC’s General Assembly and Massachusetts’ Cambridge Innovation Center. In Rhode Island, coworking communities are coming online, ranging from traditional space for traveling executives to a remediated jewelry factory at the Founders League for startups, mobile entrepreneurs, and growth companies that need space but not big overhead. Look at a map of Providence and you’ll see others, each offering something unique, including Anchor, the Design Office, Hatch Center for Entrepreneurship, and Digital City. When he came to Providence, Hunter wanted desk space in a cool building, wi-fi, and some simple amenities. But being a thousand miles away from his colleagues and mentors, Hunter also wanted to be around other entrepreneurs. “Working out of the Founders League is great,” says Hunter. “It’s important to have access to people you trust and can share ideas with. It’s much easier to find that when you are in a community than when you’re working alone.” Along with mobile workers like Hunter, coworking communities also make a good home for entrepreneurs growing their own startups. Jeff Allain, who founded his company New Economy to innovate accounting services for startups, is both a Founders League member and a mentor in the community. For Jeff, it makes sense to be connected to the 40+ startups resident in the Founders League space.

The arrival of coworking to Rhode Island is a GREAT thing. Foremost, it’s an easy way to nurture new companies and attract talent from afar. In 2013, industry leaders TripAdvispor, SendGrid, and McGrath Powers all took space at the Founders League. Creating places where entrepreneurs from mature organizations rub elbows with students and those just getting started is also an important step toward generating the circulation and flow that successful startup communities need to thrive.

“Great coworking communities offer more than workspace. With many companies in one place and programs and events that bring

Ben Goldstein Program Manager Founders League and RallyRI

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Five “Must Haves” To Win Over New Customers | SMALL BUSINESS

Five “Must Haves” To Win Over New Customers by Michael Casey Today, more than ever, prospective customers do online background checks when considering a new business to buy from, even if recommended by a friend. According to a recent YouGov survey of 2,000 consumers under 35 years of age, 55% use social media to vent about bad customer service. The percentage of customers venting online will only grow over time. It was in the teens just a few years ago. It doesn’t take the inventor of the internet, Al Gore, to know that the fastest and most effective way to learn everything about a prospective supplier is to go online. Now let’s look at the prospect’s thought process and determine what you may want to consider to “cover all your bases.” 1. Prospects look for a solid website with fantastic, relevant, current content. This can be an overwhelming task for some businesses, but you must have a foundation to post content quickly when you want. Your website content should showcase your strengths and expertise. If you don’t have it today, you are either sunk or quickly sinking. 2. Prospects look for customer reviews. Sixty-five percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a business that has positive online reviews, according to the 2013 BrightLocals Consumer Survey. They look for online reviews on Google Plus, Yelp!, Angie’s List, Apartmentratings.com, or the dozens of other social media/review sites that pop up daily. An easy way to drive five-star reviews is to build redirects into your online survey process. Make it easy for loyal customers to leave a review. Three percent of those taking a survey will give you a nice plug if they see a nice landing page when they hit submit. Over time, you will have a growing list of reviews, helping both your online search ranking and buyer background checks. 3. Prospects want references and they want to scan testimonials for familiar companies, people, industries, etc. You must have an easy way to post positive testimonials to your website continuously. Again, these can be gathered through your survey process. Overwhelm those looking at your website with dozens of testimonials a month that feed from your survey process. There is no reason why any size business can’t get at least 10 fresh testimonials per month with no effort by leveraging an online survey process. Don’t forget to put a date stamp on every testimonial when placing them on your website. Let them know that the testimonials are not the cherrypicked ones from 10 years ago, but instead recent customers that are WOWed. 4. Prospects will throw out a wide net to their LinkedIn or Facebook community asking for recommendations. Make sure you are participating in these places and have a nice company profile. If they put your name in the search for LinkedIn or Facebook, they should see a nice profile with active participation.

5. Printer buyers will type your company name or certain key words into the browser search bar to see what comes back. What will they find? You hope the search results reveal lots of positive references to your business, and the online reviews on Google Plus or Yelp! are right there

65% percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a business that has positive online reviews on the first page. Make sure you preserve your brand by pushing five-star reviews, posting relevant content to your website, and pushing out press releases or articles. Put your best foot forward. It is a new ballgame. Well, a 5-year-old ballgame that is not going to end soon. Keep in mind you must stake claim to your Google Plus company profile and build out your company’s specific social media pages. Most businesses put a radius around their operation and look for any prospects within that territory. Do the same thing online so prospects find you in that online radius. It is now the cost of doing business. If you can’t do it yourself, find someone. Many companies out there will manage this for you, but make sure to do a background check on them! Make sure they are covering all THEIR bases. Good luck.

Michael Casey President, Survey Advantage www.surveyadvantage.com

www.risbj.com | volume three issue one

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SIFTING THROUG by Jami A. Ouellette for t important considerations Branding – one of the mos erstood, und mis are nds bra Yet, n. any business or organizatio small- to er-budgeted, especially by undervalued, and often und business, in rs yea 27 r Afte non-profits. mid-sized companies and nts understand. and examples to help clie I’ve tried a variety of ways to help. Below are a few that seem within the a logo. Yet, many of those First of all, a brand is not just brand and logo s industry use the term marketing communications ary tion Dic tion ocia Ass ng an Marketi interchangeably. The Americ defines a brand as: identifies bol, or any other feature that • a name, term, design, sym r sellers othe of e thos from inct dist as one seller’s goods or services definitions become a term with many Unfortunately, branding has s. For sale ns mea ng keti some, mar similar to “marketing.” For ions. In reality, icat mun com rs, othe For others, it means advertising. used to gs: an umbrella term, yet also marketing is all of those thin eath it. define the subcategories ben cribe its own g. The term is used to des The same goes for brandin nd itself. A bra the and nd of the bra elements: the representations ionery, is some basic usages like stat logo, usually combined with nd – the bra the of k ever it is only the mar often called a brand. How and lve evo to es tinu con ion, which most basic visual representat brand, A ge. usa ned plan ful, care builds brand equity through e. however, is still so much mor creatively the strategically defined and I like to describe a brand as that ice serv a company, product, or articulated embodiment of its essence. distinguishes it and defines rage business person. But that doesn’t help the ave les. mp exa couple real-world

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

So here are a

Pepsi read The odds are, when you just Pepsi is a well-known brand. of at ght thou ed its logo, and/or you the word Pepsi, you visualiz have who e thos n (eve e ost everyon least one Pepsi product. Alm tion to reac al tion emo te edia imm e an never tried a Pepsi) will hav the amount it is mentioned because of the Pepsi brand as soon as es that etim Som rs. t through the yea of equity the brand has buil usly. The scio con sub s pen hap it n but ofte reaction is obvious to you, rized pola ly like is ular brand like Pepsi, reaction, in the case of a pop the of n tatio rpre inte r ly negative. You – either highly positive or high logo – from your reaction to the ors fact y man on ed brand is bas to your opinion nd, bra the with nce erie and exposure to and/or exp publicity. on past advertisements and ly have a Cola drinker. If so, you like Perhaps you are an avid Coc the case, ’s that If nd. e to the Pepsi bra an inherent negative respons si Pep r othe of tion cep a negative per you also are likely to have is based r avio beh t Tha . them try ly to products. You are less like duct, but experience with the new pro on the brand – you have no an avid are you if e, wis the brand. Like you have experience with any product that nd bra the for s tion ecta Pepsi drinker, you have exp to try a Pepsi dards. You are more likely it creates will meet its stan nd beware, bra But nd. bra er the Pepsi product because it falls und ng a losi risk or to up live t it mus you have an expectation that dedicated consumer! ent of the logo. The logo is an embodim The brand is Pepsi, not its thing. e us they are basically the sam brand. In your subconscio ro dine ho muc nt many years and And because Pepsi has spe , ions icat mun com ng keti mar strategic on consistent, integrated, you s, nce erie and consistent brand exp thorough brand strategies, . tion reac ent sist si, you have a con see the logo, you think Pep date) : The Promise (of a hot Setting Expectations to use this hate (I e dat d blin g set up on a Imagine you’re a guy bein utiful, slender, r friend tells you she is bea example, but it works). You


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MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS TERMIN OLOGY

Understanding Branding in the Real World

r friend just a great sense of humor. You sophisticated, smart, with like it)! An you d (an nd bra her defined created an expectation and e to you. mad n mind. A promise has bee immediate visual comes to rageave ure, stat ll aurant, she is sma When she walks into the rest she is you tell will en wom we ile key. Wh looking and laughs like a don ent, intm ppo disa r really should get over you intelligent and kind so you d frien r you nd bra n set by the distinct you can’t. The bar had bee clear ing no expectations, you had hav than se Wor . represented only distinguish, not t mus nd bra A . met not expectations, which were organization, or y represent the company, it must clearly and honestl e. ping the promis product. That’s called kee In its simplest n in terms of a company? What on earth does that mea what you’ll get is this – h pitc ly your sales terms, the promise is basical t of branding pany. A very important par when you work with my com vering on it. deli g consistent with it, and is defining the promise, bein o, elevator, (log nd bra the of representations Then the visual and verbal will be based res, public relations, etc.) signs, website, ads, brochu t be easily il is in the details. Logos mus on that promise. And the dev subliminal vey con rs colo scious. Different remembered by the subcon e that the Not nt! orta imp are ds , and wor messages to different groups set term t Tha used the term “beautiful.” friend in the example above he ch whi uty, bea of n ed on your definitio an expectation that was bas ver. tsoe ing of wha had no control or understand usage of s is to create guidelines for The next step in the proces sistently. con ed icat mun rything is com images and words so eve e. And enc ess the and e mis pro the Everything communicates mised. n must deliver what they pro the company or organizatio sales, ng, keti mar r ch to build you That’s a solid brand from whi goal of ate ultim the to get and , ing, etc. communications, fundrais being successful. Brand? What if I don’t have a ? That’s like have a brand.” Wanna bet I hear this often: “We don’t e any promises mak ’t don essence and we saying, “We don’t have an el. mod s ines that bus to anyone.” Good luck with

able to r brand and you may not be You may not be aware of you of it – but ions ntat rese rep al al and verb define or have controlled visu you with has every experience a person it’s still there. It’s based on any by e mad rs othe every interaction with or your business, including t in the duc pro t bes the e hav iness. You may representative of your bus tone of the branding issue based on the ntal rime det a face but world, e is put eon som ne, the amount of time person who answers the pho through s goe er call a s the number of step on hold when they call, or someone rd hea you e hav s time y How man to get to the right person. a story pany,” and then continue with say, “I can’t stand that com son will per that l btfu erience? It is dou about their awful phone exp e on others enc influ ’s son per that , and bother to get to the next step l. erfu pow be can e up with brand promise and then com So it’s critical to define that and verbally ally visu you how from – it on strategies to follow through impression a r staff articulates it, to the communicate it, to how you your website t visi or r doo r k through you person gets when they wal companies er, social networks now give or Twitter feed. And rememb ations vers con y and allow for two-wa more tangible personalities ). (more on that another time people – use ions professionals – of all The fact that we communicat flawed by is stry indu our founds me. But such confusing terms con ies that pan com and y teg stra re that igno graphic design programs one of ed inde is t being said, the brand focus solely on tactics. Tha ortant. imp t mos the not if of a business, the most important aspects ly in the first ical teg stra hed roac app not And, without a doubt, if it was ve it will most managed, the structure abo fully care not /or and e plac s, few have pen hap that nately, by the time definitely crumble. Unfortu rly created, poo a to k bac stem s problem the insight to realize that the defined, or managed brand.

Jami A Ouellette President and Founder Imaj Associates

www.risbj.com | volume three issue one

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SMALL BUSINESS | Business Websites: Tech-Forward or Brand-Backward

BUSINESS WEBSITES: TECH FORWARD OR BRAND BACKWARD by Carolyn Lavin The world of websites is constantly evolving. For some companies, the monumental decision to update the organization’s website involves more than a refreshed logo and tweaks to the design look and feel. There is also a wealth of options to improve the entire platform – or back-end – that determines the technical functionality. However, with some of these high-tech enhancements, there may come some concessions to the level of design pizazz.

WHAT’S NEW Whether you are trying to remain at the forefront of technology with your two-year-old website or undertaking a complete website overhaul, you should strive to leverage all the tech tools available. Just like you would not buy an outdated model of a tablet or laptop or phone, choosing to ignore the latest technology developments puts you behind the ball right from the start. Among the most exciting enhancements now available is the technology to be “responsive.” That means you don’t have to “pinch-andzoom” to see a site on a tablet or phone. When a website is responsive, the layout and/or content responds (or adapts) based on the size of the screen. And, since most users are browsing on portable devises these days, having a responsive website is certainly worth the investment of dollars.

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From a marketing and business development perspective, other options worth considering include: adding a blog feed to your site, incorporating video via a YouTube channel, and modernizing your content management system…to name a few.

COSTS AND TRADE-OFFS The back-end of a website is like the inner structure of a house. It is a major undertaking to rebuild that structure, especially if you don’t need changes to its furnishings or décor. Thus, if you have created a greatlooking website that is serving you well, the cost to upgrade to a response site may seem daunting. If, however, you are starting anew to leverage the latest in technology, a responsive site is well worth the extra cost. Along the way, adding blogs, video, and content management will only marginally increase your expense while offering valuable tech-centric add-ons. It’s all about return on investment and what to select in your menu of technology options. The biggest trade-off seems to be in the design features. As always, the design/ development process may pose a conflict with branding and strategy. Yes, we want our website and materials to have professional panache and memorable branding elements. But, in a few recent updates for clients using responsive sites, we were faced with some formidable trade-offs between fashion

and function. In the end, we chose to omit one or two tech-savvy options in order to preserve the design wow-factor, and, instead, implement a few low-tech solutions to maintain the high standards of eye appeal. While the goal is to create a robust technology platform that will last well into the next two years, it is important to showcase your brand and strategy to the fullest via design components such as the logo, tagline, color scheme, and other aspects of your company’s identity.

WHERE TO TURN In the world of marketing and branding, everyone brings something to the table. The developer offers the technology menu, the writer uses marketing and business development strategy to create compelling content, and the designer ensures the successful brand recognition…all based on pre-determined goals and a keen understanding of your target audiences. Embarking on a new website can present a staggering array of technology decisions, but with a team you trust in place, it can be an exciting, collaborative, and fruitful effort!

Carolyn Lavin President Lavin Marketing Communications


Why can’t they see it? Minding Your Own Brand | SMALL BUSINESS

Minding Your Own Brand

by Dave Lubelczyk

While browsing at my library’s used book sale I came across a book of Magic Eye images. As I flipped through it, I remembered this early 90s fad when these images dominated shopping mall kiosks, poster shops, Sunday comics, and coffee table books. I also remembered the first time I tried to see the hidden image amidst the swirls of colors. Everyone who could see the magic 3-D object couldn’t understand why I was having so much trouble. It was obvious to them and they would shout out hints on how to see it like, “Let your eyes cross, blur your vision, then refocus.” For the longest time, nothing seemed to work. After staring at the image for a short eternity, I finally saw it. Then, because I was used to seeing the 3-D object, I couldn’t see anything but the hidden image. Most people were eventually able to crack the code, but there were a few people, like my grandfather, who either gave up trying or said they saw it just to shut everyone up. After re-living this perception-based fad, I began to reflect upon the concept of perception and the role it plays in building brand advocacy.

slipped through the cracks” or had been the result of a process “we fixed or can easily fix now.” Employees often perceive a customer issue as the result of “one bad apple,” and they often say, “We have a procedure for that, but one person just didn’t follow it.”

Because of their familiarity with the business, an employee’s perception of a customer’s issues may be that the customer is harping on the negative and needs to move on. But for a customer, THEIR ISSUE is not routine and they don’t know the company fixed the process, protocol, etc. Until proven different, that one bad experience five years ago is reality for the customer, even though many of the things the customer recalls as being negative may have been fixed or no longer happens now. Even if their current issue is unrelated, they think, “Here we go again.” The customer’s perception is based on THEIR past experience which is all that they have to go on. Therefore, THEIR experience is REALITY: one bad employee is ALL of the small business’ employees and it is not just limited to employees; this goes for product quality, pricing, customer service, and so on.

some other interaction changes their status either up or down.

However, if the interaction doesn’t work for the customer and they expect something you can’t deliver, they will be a detractor. This means they will tell the whole world how bad they perceive you to be.

On the other hand, if you (the small business owner) cultivate a culture which understands customer expectations and perceptions, you can ensure that every customer has an extraordinary experience each and every time. Because of this, your company will build passion in your customers and recruit advocates who will tell the world just how extraordinary they perceive you to be. So if you find yourself saying, “We are such a great company, why can’t our customers see it?” then ask yourself, “Are we giving customers an experience that they perceive is extraordinary?” If not, then ask, “How can we build an organization which understands expectations and provides brand experiences that people will perceive as extraordinary?”

How can we build an organization which understands expectations and provides brand experiences that people will perceive as extraordinary Our expectations plus our past experiences effect how we see a situation and because of that we often do not perceive things the same way others do. Like the people who cracked the Magic Eye code, small business owners and their employees are often so close to their products and services that they often perceive interactions very differently than their customers. Because of this, small businesses may feel they offer the best products and services in the world, but if customers don’t perceive it as the best and it doesn’t meet their expectations, then it is a crummy offering.

So how does perception play into building brand advocacy?

Dave Lubelczyk Image Identity imageidentity.com

Every time a customer interacts with your business, if you don’t provide and experience that which they “perceive” as extraordinary, they will remain passive if you’re lucky. They will stay that way until

To someone who is close to the company’s everyday inner workings, a customer problem may seem routine, no big deal, and something that just happens. The employee may see the issue as something that “just

www.risbj.com | volume three issue one

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SMALL BUSINESS | Get Organized The SMART Way

GET ORGANIZED THE

SMART WAY by Lisa S. Griffith

In the glow of beginning a new year comes a renewed sense of purpose and a vow to change our habits for the better. However, by February, that glow has tarnished a bit and our resolutions are often abandoned for the comfort of our old habits and lifestyle. If getting organized was on your list and you’re still struggling to get started, it’s time to reframe that resolution and get organized the SMART way. The SMART acronym is an often-used, project management-based concept that translates well into formulating and accomplishing organizing goals. While there are a few different versions floating around, I’ve found the following definitions to be helpful for my clients and myself when it comes to framing their organizing objectives:

S

Specific: Goals should be simply phrased, easily defined, and specify what needs to be done. Instead of “I want to get organized,” name the space you need to organize and break it down into specific areas. A mind map can be helpful for this process. If your goal is to get your home office organized, divide it up into specific areas and set goals for each area. For example, your first goal may be to organize your filing cabinet. Making that happen means breaking it down into purging outdated documents one drawer at a time. The next step would be to rework your filing system to accommodate any needed changes. The last step would be to set up a document retention schedule to maintain the system.

M A

Measurable: Establish concrete ways to measure the progress of your goal. Instead of “I will get my kitchen organized,” resolve that you will have countertops that are clear of papers and other clutter. This gives you an easily visible standard to reach.

Achievable: Your goals should stretch you so that you feel challenged, but not intimidated, and be within the scope of your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Organizing papers, spaces, and time requires making decisions in a timely fashion. If you struggle with decision-making, or know that your organizational abilities are limited, you may need to hire expert help to guide you through the process and teach you the appropriate skills.

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R

Realistic: A goal must be something that is possible within your power and control to make happen. If you have multiple spaces that have been disorganized for a very long time, setting the goal to have every single space completely organized in one weekend is unrealistic. The problem didn’t arise overnight, and it won’t be solved in a day. Challenging yourself to clean out the junk drawer in the kitchen over the course of the weekend may seem small, but may also be the most you can expect if your weekend is filled with errands, kids’ sporting events, and just catching up on work. Breaking your project down into small, realistic chunks and working at it steadily in short increments of time is realistic, and much more likely to become reality.

T

Time-bound: Establish a specific time period and deadline for yourself to accomplish each step of your goal. Deciding that you will make more time for your family in the coming year is a laudable goal, but won’t happen without a specific framework. Deciding that you will leave the office by 5 pm, 6 times between now and March 1st, will more likely help you accomplish the goal of having dinner with your kids more often (and putting some specific time management measures in place to make that happen will greatly improve your odds). One thing that the SMART system doesn’t cover is broad-based outcomes. Before you sit down to frame your goals for the year, you need to decide where you want to be when you’re done. How do you want your space to look and function? What is your ultimate purpose for getting organized? Do you want to be more efficient at work? Make more money? Spend more time with your family? Have more leisure or vacation time? Eliminate the stress that being disorganized causes? Whatever the answer to your big question is, make sure that you clarify it before you begin and keep it in mind as you progress. Stopping every once in a while to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing helps keep the momentum going and gets you over those rough patches when you just want to give up. Picture your uncluttered, efficient space in your mind, savor the thought of time and money saved, and imagine the peace you will feel. By next year at this time, you will be able to move on to a new resolution with new Lisa S. Griffith goals, because getting organized will be a done deal! Owner

The Organized Way


Get Organized The SMART Way | SMALL BUSINESS

www.risbj.com | volume three issue one

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SMALL BUSINESS | Digital Marketing Strategy

DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY

3 KEY ELEMENTS by Ed Kedzierski In order to create a successful digital strategy for your business, understanding the difference between owned, earned, and paid media is essential. This digital marketing trifecta works together to create the perfect marketing strategy. Learning the roles of each element will help you to create the greatest fit for your brand. Here are the differences between the three types of media:

Owned Media Owned media consists of web content that is unique to your brand. This includes websites, blogs, and social media channels that represent your business. Having a variety of digital media channels for your brand creates a stronger presence on the web, but keeping each channel up-to-date is crucial to their success. Good content creation that states interesting and informative facts about the brand is also crucial because the information will be valuable and worthwhile to viewers.

social media, review sites, and blogs. These interactions typically include replies, mentions, shares, and other forms of online ‘word of mouth.’ This is where having a good SEO strategy comes into play because first-page rankings create a better position for higher engagement and shares.

Paid Media Paying to promote content is a great way to create exposure and drive traffic towards your brand’s owned media. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all offer advertising strategies that could make your content more visible. Paying influencers on Twitter to discuss content increases the presence your content has on social media. Pay-per-click and costper-impression (CPM) search engine and display ads are another strategy that will help to increase traffic on your brand’s media. Combining these three elements together will help to create an overall effective digital strategy and build a name for your brand in the digital marketing world.

Earned Media Earned media is the element that drives traffic, consisting of the interaction and engagement users have with your owned content on

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Ed Kedzierski Internet Marketing Consultant Netsense


An Interview with a Successful, Organized Small Business Owner by Kristin Carcieri-MacRae People always ask me, “Were you always organized?” My answer is yes, I grew up in an organized home. I do believe it’s also a skill set that is developed from a small age or you may even be born with it. The jury is still out on the latter. As a business owner, I have learned the core values of owning a business from my dad. For this issue, I thought it would be fun to interview a successful small business owner, my dad, Anthony Carcieri. When was Andy’s Nursery established? In 1946 my father was injured in the war and when he arrived home, he needed work. He knew how to garden and out of that he established Andy’s Nursery. I started working there in elementary school through college and took over the business in 1975. My son, Tony, is the nursery manager. Can you give me a brief description of your business? Andy’s Landscape Nursey, Inc. is a landscape design build firm. We design, execute, and build jobs. We also have a retail/ wholesale nursery that supplies plant materials for design and build.

I notice the trees at the nursery are all in alignment and very organized. How does this help you and your customers? It is quick and easy to take inventory with the plants in alignment. We know exactly what we have in stock, which trees are popular, and can tell how many trees we need to order by walking up and down the rows. We don’t use computers; everything is counted by hand. It’s easier for our customers to shop because we arrange everything in color order so our customers can see how the colors blend together and it makes it easier for them to get a better visual of how plants will look together. What is your most valuable organizing tip relating to business? Plan ahead and prepare. Our day is planned and organized according to the job. We never have to go back to the nursery to pick up something that we forgot, which wastes time and money. All the tools on the trucks are organized by application and type. There is a different tool box for each category. When a tool needs to be found, everybody knows where it is and it can be located quickly and efficiently.

How has being organized helped your business?

All the trucks and tools are maintained in the off season. Equipment and tools are maintained in the winter because you can’t afford a breakdown during the busy season.

Being organized makes you more profitable because you don’t waste any time. I always say, “Every shot has to count.” Meaning, everything you do, you can’t waste time and energy. Put your nose to the grind and get it done right the first time. Time relates to money. Bottom line, the more time you waste looking for things, it turns into money lost.

Being organized, planning, and preparing is just a small part of what has made Andy’s Landscape Nursery, Inc. so successful over the past 67 years. Dedication, attention to detail, and great customer service all come together and make this business successful. Kristin Carcieri-MacRae Owner Organizing In RI, LLC

Saturday, February 1 Centerville Seminar Center Tell Your Story…on VIDEO! 8:30am-2:00pm 875 Centerville Road, Building 2, Suite 5, Warwick Tuesday, February 4 East Bay Chamber of Commerce Simple Strategies for Email Marketing, WEBOND Women’s Series 12:00pm – 1:00pm 16 Cutler St., Warren Thursday, February 6 Newport County Chamber of Commerce Chamber 101: Learn What the Chamber Has to Offer 8:30am – 9:30am 35 Valley Rd., Middletown Thursday, February 6 Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce Business Writing Excellence Seminar 8:30am – 4:30pm 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Lincoln Thursday, February 6 The Village Inn Narragansett Chamber of Commerce Southern RI 40 Brightest Stars Event 6:00pm 1 Beach St., Narragansett Sunday, February 9 The Venice Ballroom Westerly-Pawcatuck Chamber of Commerce 9th Annual MBA ALOHA LUAU 6:30pm 165 Shore Rd., Westerly Tuesday, February 11 East Bay Chamber of Commerce “Together We Can” Referral Networking Group Meeting 9:00am – 10:30am 16 Cutler St., Warren Tuesday, February 11 East Bay Chamber of Commerce Holistic Financial Planning, WEBOND Women’s Series 12:00pm – 1:00pm 16 Cutler St., Warren

www.risbj.com | volume three issue one

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SMALL BUSINESS

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

401 351 3036


[continued from previous page]

Communication Often Unspoken by Donna Mac Busy business people know there’s a fine line between getting things done and slowing down enough to meticulously get things right. If an important project is due, we pace ourselves so we have enough time to complete it and review it before we turn it in.

with your employees, counterparts, AND superiors because, like all good communication, it’s less about you and more about them. Even when you need to ask someone to step up to the plate on a work project, they’ll likely deliver because you trust each other and “you’re in this together.” SPEAKING BEFORE A CROWD

But when it comes to speaking, communicating, and interacting, why is it that we spend little or no time to prepare? Granted, our time is precious and extra time is rare, but the investment of time we spend on sharpening our communication skills can mean the difference between moving forth polished and ready to make a difference or being viewed as someone who is ill-prepared and easily forgotten.

When preparing for a presentation or keynote, speakers often spend time on content but fail to take time to fully assess their audiences. Even if you’ve yet to meet, ask the meeting planner about who will be in the room. What type of people are they? Common sense tells us that you’ll address a roomful of doctors differently than a roomful of gourmet chefs.

The goal in business is to make an impact, build trust, and solidify relationships. There

Once you know who will be on hand, ask yourself what your audience might need (at

Unlike professionals with individual skill sets, mentors provide a 50,000 foot view and can see the forest for the trees are many techniques you can learn to speak, listen, converse, and deliver, but none is more important than taking the time to understand your audience. Most of the world thinks that communication is all about output. But you have to remember that communication is a two-way street. You send. Then, you receive. You send. And then receive. SPEAKING ONE ON ONE Have you ever sat next to someone who has never taken the time to learn about you? These folks are all about “output.” If they had taken time to learn about you, your relationship would most likely be stronger. Plus, they’d be more influential when they spoke. While conversing, you would feel valued and appreciated and you’d be open to spending more time with them. Now, turn the tables. Spend just a little time evaluating someone prior to starting a conversation and right away, they’ll know that you care. They will also be much more apt to want to continue the conversation or even collaborate with you. Now, mix in a combination of speaking and asking questions during the conversation, and you’ve begun to develop a relationship built on mutual respect. This kind of “communication foundation” works wonders

this time of day/week/year) to be inspired. Take time, put yourself into their shoes, and then do your best to align yourself with them. Some of what you’re learning here are the secrets to “unspoken” communication. These are skills to acquire first, before you choose which words to use or angle to take. And they are skills that will take you places. We often ask why we were not impactful after speaking and, more times than not, it’s because when people speak, they’re thinking more of themselves and not enough about their audience. This is critically important while delivering an important, career-building presentation. So, take the time to understand your audience WELL before you begin to communicate. It will help you form alliances that are so appreciated in business. It will also help you avoid the thought that trips up people more than anything else while they’re speaking: “What are they thinking?” Now, you’ll take the time to answer that question days or even weeks before your job of communicating begins!

Tuesday, February 11 Twin River Casino Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce 23rd Annual Dinner 5:30pm – 9:00pm 100 Twin River Rd., Lincoln Wednesday, February 12 Westerly-Pawcatuck Chamber of Commerce Valentines Chocolate and Wine Stroll Wednesday, February 12 Newport Chamber of Commerce HR Roundtable: Understanding Changes to Group Health & Dental Insurance dues to Healthcare Reform 8:30am – 9:30am Wednesday, February 12 Centerville Seminar Center Think your checkbook is your main business scorecard? Use your P&L for powerful operating metrics! 11:00am-1:00pm 875 Centerville Road, Building 2, Suite 5, Warwick Thursday, February 13 Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce Customer Service Excellence Series (2-day program) 8:30am – 4:30pm 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Lincoln Friday, February 14 Newport County Chamber of Commerce Chamber Connections: Referral Based Networking 7:45am – 9:15am 35 Valley Rd., Middletown Tuesday, February 18 Eleven Forty Nine Restaurant East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Lunch & Learn – Organizing in RI Featuring Krtistin MacRae 11:30pm – 1:00pm 1149 Division Rd., East Greenwich Tuesday, February 18 East Bay Chamber of Commerce WEBOND Women’s Series 12:00pm – 1:00pm 16 Cutler St., Warren Wednesday, February 19 Newport County Chamber of Commerce Health and Wellness Seminar – Sponsored by Olympic Physical Therapy 8:30am – 10:00am Thursday, February 20 Newport County Chamber of Commerce Business During Hours – Sponsored by: Chili’s Middletown 12:00pm – 1:30pm Saturday, February 22 The Ocean House Westerly-Pawcatuck Chamber of Commerce Black & White Masquerade to Benefit the Westerly Hospital Foundation 1 Bluff Ave., Westerly Tuesday, February 25 East Bay Chamber of Commerce “Together We Can” Referral Networking Meeting 9:00pm – 10:30pm 16 Cutler St., Warren

Donna Mac DMacVoice & Media Media Producer, Executive Coach & Speaker

www.risbj.com | volume three issue one

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AVA I L A B L E P RO P E RT I E S

400 South County Trail, Exeter:

Great location!! Design Award of Excellence. Private baths. Centrally located 6 minutes South of Home Depot in North Kingstown. Easy access at the gateway to South County. Taxes are approximate. Assessment as unfinished. 900-4,000 sq.ft. available. From $105,000

1755 Smith Street, North Providence:

Former Dunkin Donuts for over 30 years (they bought & moved across the street). Seats 30+. Has a drive-thru. Parking for 20+. GREAT for ANY fast food concept. 2000 sq. ft. $2,500/mo.

1950 South County Trail, East Greenwich: 20,000 SF warehouse space with 5 dock height doors, 24’ clear height. Ample Parking, Located off Route 2, Great Access to Route 4. Lease at $5 psf.

65 Montebello Road, Warwick:

Great block building with two overhead doors, heavy power, and 2nd floor office. Great access to highway, train, and airport. $175,000

111 Airport Road, Warwick:

Very nice 2nd floor office space near Hoxsie 4 corners. Tastefully decorated, good paint & carpet, possible office furnishings (nice stuff!) Three offices, conference, reception, lav., plus large basement storage. $180/month condo fee. $77,500

222 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick:

Class “a” law office includes conference room, 4 private offices, lavette, reception, storage, kitchen. over 1450 sq ft, plus 500 sq ft storage! Reduced $179,900

TION DUC E R E HUG

10 Southern Industrial Dr, Cranston:

111 Hopkins Hill Road, West Greenwich:

2220 South County Trail, East Greenwich:

2240 South County Trail, East Greenwich:

Great contractor space, building is expandable 5000’ footprint. First floor =3000 office, 2000’ wh. Second fl. =3000’ part finished office . First floor rented to national company. 20*50 covered canopy in rear and plenty of vehicle parking. Located Between Scituate Ave and Plainfiled Pike, Close to I-295. Building is expandable on 3.44 acre lot Asking $525,000

One year lease offers buyer(s) time and income to space plan & seek permits. Close to Exit 7 on Rte 4 across from Stanley Bostich and adjacent Stork’s Nest Child Academy. Lease at $14 psf.

Commercial • Investment • Residential

½ acre – 16 acres Very fast growing area off Exit 6A near GTech, Amgen & Centrex. Front pad is busy Dunkin Donuts, balance of site permits office, retail, warehouse & light industrial. Traffic count 15,000 and growing! Multitude of possibilities- 6 other avail. lots. From $150,000

All spaces include utilities except warehouse. Warehouse space includes 1,200 SF of office space and shared loading dock.Located in expanding business park with ample parking. Quiet, wooded site. Direct highway access to Route 4. On Route 2, near intersection of 402 (Frenchtown Rd.). 6-12 sq ft warehouse from $6 psf. Call for details.

7265 Post Road, North Kingstown:

7.82 acres on US Rt.1. Zoning permits apartments/office/medical/retail. Many possibilities!! Will build to suit, sale or lease, or land only. Great location. Dozens of acres and walking trails behind property. Adjacent 5+- acres also available. Call For Details!

39 Nooseneck Hill Road, West Greenwich:

2,000 to 20,000 sq. ft. flex space for lease. Warehouse, office, classrooms, thearte, recreational, 6 acre site with 500’ front on route 3 land lease available for outdoor storage, nursery greenhouse, ect. Only 1.2 mile from Exit 6. Next to retail plaza. From $5 psf.

Many more Commercial Properties

www.RemaxCommercialRI.com or email Jeff Butler at jab@ButlerRealty.us Trusted Real Estate Service Since 1977 Looking to Buy or Lease? Call the Butler!

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New Year, New Money? | SMALL BUSINESS

New Year, New Money? Considerations For Raising Capital From Outside Investors

by William F. Miller, Esq.

The start of a new year is often when business owners review their long-term strategic goals. As part of the review process, many companies will consider the need for additional capital that cannot be satisfied by bank debt or further investment by existing shareholders. Before you decide to seek private investment capital, it is important to be informed as to how these transactions are typically structured and what potential investors are likely to expect. Keep in mind that capital raising activities are also subject to federal and state securities laws and it is important to know what you should and should not do in the course of seeking investment capital. Below are a few frequently asked questions and answers that may help in your decision-making process. For more information, visit http://bit. ly/1eHEOon. Are outside investors likely to lend money to a company or do they want an ownership interest?

is different, but you should usually plan to raise enough to carry the company for 6 to 9 months. Remember, the higher the company’s value when you bring in investors, the less equity you will need to give up to raise the money. For that reason, companies often seek investor capital in several smaller installments (“rounds” or “tranches”) rather than all at one time. How do potential investors evaluate investments opportunities? In general, it is much easier to finance a management team with a successful track record than it is to finance a great idea or great technology in a company with inexperienced management. If your company’s management does not have a demonstrated track record (ideally, one of successfully founding, building, and selling a prior company) consider strengthening your management team with experienced outside directors or an experienced advisory board. How do I find investors and what information should I be prepared to share to prospective investors?

How much money should a company try to raise?

With very limited exceptions, federal and state law usually prohibits any form of “general solicitation.” Therefore, unless you qualify for an exception to the general rule, you CANNOT use advertising, mass mailings, or email solicitation. The best source for investors is often people who know the company and its management – key customers, suppliers, friends, family, and business associates. There is also an increasing number of “angel investor” groups that make investments in private companies. If the company limits offers and sales of securities to accredited investors, there are no specific disclosure requirements, nor a mandated form for the disclosures. If a single non-accredited investor is included in the offering, the disclosure that must be given to all investors (not just the non-accredited investor) is much more extensive, must follow certain strict guidelines, and is expensive and time consuming to prepare.

It depends on what the money is needed for (e.g., working capital vs. building a prototype for a new product or device). Every situation

William F. Miller, Esq. Partner Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West

Investing in even the most promising private company involves a high degree of risk. Investors typically want to structure their investments so that their return compensates them for the risk they are taking. This typically translates to either promissory notes which may be converted to preferred or common stock (“convertible debt”) or preferred stock which may be converted into common stock (“convertible preferred”). A variation of this structure is to sell either notes or preferred stock, along with “warrants” (the right to purchase a stated amount of common stock in the future for a stated purchase price). Both structures have advantages and disadvantages and the proper choice depends on the particular facts and circumstances.

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FEATURED CHAMBER | North Central Chamber of Commerce

F E AT U R E D

North Central Chamber of Commerce 255 Greenville Avenue Johnston, RI 02919 (401) 349-4674 www.ncrichamber.com

Let me introduce you to the North Central Chamber of Commerce! I am proud to represent such an organization that proudly supports the small business community in the towns of Johnston, North Providence, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster and Glocester! We have been supporting the small business community for over 30 years and our celebration continues, making this the year to join the North Central Chamber and allowing us the opportunity to help you grow your business! This is the year…I can feel it! Get out there, get active, meet people, and take advantage of benefits and opportunities that might come your way…do it with the North Central Chamber! Our Mission continues to develop business partnerships to enhance the climate of our region for business growth and quality of life, and to deliver the key ingredients for businesses to succeed: Growth, Education and Networking, and additionally – Chamber Advocacy. The Chamber staff is committed to your business (Growth) and will work one-on-one helping our members increase

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their business. Our Business Boosters (Education) create learning opportunities for our members, their employees and other business professionals. Our monthly events (Networking) create opportunities to meet and connect with other business professionals in a comfortable environment. We are proud members of the Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce Coalition (Advocacy) working with many Chambers in RI and together representing over 10,000 small businesses. The North Central Chamber of Commerce offers many growth opportunities to our small business community, from monthly networking events, complimentary promotion of our members’ “Deal of the Week/Month,” social media sharing, and much, much more. Our Spring Series of Business Boosters are already scheduled and include workshops on Work Opportunity/Tax Credit, QuickBooks and Social Media. These workshops are offered to our members and their employees, and are open to the general business professional population.


What’s New | CHAMBER CHAT

Ladies, check out one of our “Lipstick Luncheon” events throughout 2014! These are great opportunities to meet other women, build relationships, have a laugh, enjoy a guest speaker, and more! Watch for details regarding our “Dress for Success” event in the spring and later in the year our “Women of Power” event. I’d like to welcome you to learn more about the North Central Chamber of Commerce and its value. We offer DI$COUNT$ on bulk mailing, credit card, document shredding, water/coffee, and much more. Visit us at www.ncrichamber.com for more details. The North Central Chamber of Commerce is more than just your typical Chamber of Commerce; we are hands-on, working every step of the way with you to help you grow

your business! We truly want to help YOU! We not only create the opportunities, but we also act as liaisons assisting our members to build relationships day-to-day…it’s like having an extra person on your payroll. And when you succeed, so does the Chamber and the small business community it serves. Remember, small business stimulates the economy; the North Central Chamber is committed to working hard to assist our members in stimulating the economy.

CHAMBER CHAT

My goal for 2014 is getting our members active…you need to meet people, build relationships, connect and get leads – networking is essential! Network with US in 2014!

Central Chamber

Deborah Ramos President www.ncrichamber.com

Lauren E.I. Slocum, President/CEO 3288 Post Road, Warwick, RI 401 732 1100 | www.centralrichamber.com Networking – Support – Advocacy. The Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce serves as a key partner with many businesses. We work with our members as part of a tight-knit community in order to promote their economic prosperity. The cohesive relationships within our community allow members to receive numerous benefits and rewards. From networking events to legislative advocacy, we sincerely seek to further their goals. It is of paramount importance to stay up-to-date on today’s changing technology. By working closely with our members, the Chamber can continue to be a positive influence on the Rhode Island economy. New Members A to Z Primary Care Best Western Borrelli & Rosa’s Bakery & Deli Builders Surplus CBW I, LLC Centers for Integrative Medicine and Healing Doherty’s Ale House Grid Iron Ale House & Grille Ocean State Animal Coalition Retail Therapy Beauty Bar The Lighthouse Preschool

Cranston Chamber

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

Newest Members: Body Armour Fitness KEY PR KOI Japanese Restaurant

Liberty Mutual Insurance Tolento’s Ice House Grille

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

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SMALL BUSINESS | Sick Of Work? Or Is Your Workplace Making You Sick?

SICK OF WORK? Or is your workplace making you sick?

by Tim Sullivan Have you ever felt much better once you leave your workplace, even after a successful day? Does it happen consistently? Are your co-workers constantly coughing, hacking, having runny noses and itchy eyes? The problem could be that your workplace is sick! As office work has grown over the years, on occasion, buildings have become the crucible for trapped germs and some diseases. Designers have struggled to come up with new designs and modifications to existing designs that avoid the dreaded “sick building syndrome”(SBS). The last thing any business owner wants is to have the building be the source of sick, and therefore, less productive employees. The EPA uses the term SBS to “describe situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.” Jordan Amaral from Purifad, an HVAC maintenance company, alerted me to this condition; he shared the following: “In the year 2013, it is hard to believe that we are dealing with the same issues that workers in the industrial revolution were dealing with. A common misconception is that the HVAC system cleans itself because it filters the air. Employees and facilities professionals that work in facilities where this misconception occurs often attribute their acute SBS symptoms to stress and workload rather than poor IAQ.” One of the chief causes of SBS is inadequate ventilation; from the early 1900’s the standard for building ventilation was to allow 15 cubic feet of fresh air per minute for each occupant. The 1973 oil embargo led buildings to reduce this level of airflow to 5 cfm per occupant as a means to save energy. The combination of insufficient airflow along with other factors such as noxious building materials, chemicals, or

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biological contaminants can all contribute to SBS in a building. Advancements in office building design such as “Under Floor Air Distribution” (UFAD) have sought to alleviate air distribution problems, but have also caused long-term problems in terms of maintenance. A UFADdesigned building runs power and data cables under the floor along with heating and air conditioning air, which rises into the workspace through grates in the floor. Over time, the accumulation of dust in the UFAD system can be the breeding ground for contaminants both particulate and biological. There are certain things a business owner can do to ensure the office environment is as healthy as possible. 1.

2. 3. 4.

5. 6.

If the heating and cooling system has filters, change them at recommended intervals. Keep office environments clean and uncluttered. Be sure that all food items are properly disposed of in order to dissuade vermin. Make sure hand washing is a priority in both the bathroom areas and eating areas. Encourage the use of natural light in work spaces. Introduce fresh air into the workspace when practical and appropriate.

Mr. Amaral also shared the following story about one of his first experiences in remediating a newer building that experienced signs of SBS: “There were tissues, eye drops, allergy medications, air purifiers, aroma therapy creams, and all kinds of other remedies that I noticed on all of the employees’ desks. They felt that there was something wrong and had no clue as to what was going on literally underneath their noses. After completely discovering and solving that problem for them and having employees approach me with gifts and cards saying thank you, I knew that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” Tim Sullivan Life-Panel www.well-track.com


What’s New | CHAMBER CHAT

The Lost Art of Leaving a Voicemail:

Secrets of the Masters by Adam Harvey

In this age of impersonal email and text messages, making a good old-fashioned phone call is becoming a lost art, and I think that’s a shame. The telephone is a great way to reach out and make an instant, personal connection with someone—IF you can get him or her on the phone. But how do you leave a compelling voicemail that gets folks to call you back? As a business owner, I find myself on both sides of this conversation. I leave many sales related voicemails, and I receive many, too. Over the years, I’ve learned a few secrets from the voicemail masters. Let me impart my wisdom, grasshoppers. Secret #1: Keep it quick and to the point Spare folks the long story about why you’re calling and boil your message down to the most important part. If you tell them everything you

important it is to be friendly and engaging on the phone. I always try to sound like someone I’d like to talk to myself when I’m making a sales call. I think this technique works pretty well, too. I have a client who says she has a crush on my phone voice. She always calls me back! Secret #4: Leave your name and number at the beginning and the end

I get some really terrible voicemails. Some people only leave a name and number one time at the beginning of the voicemail. If I have to go back to get your name and number, forget it. I’m not doing it. Your contact information should be repeated at the beginning and the end of the voicemail so that it’s easy for the recipient to record. Make sure you say it clearly, and if you have an unusual name, for the love of all that is decent, spell it out. Secret #5: Use your connections

If I have to go back to get your name and number, forget it. I’m not doing it want to say at the very beginning, why should they call you back? Try to leave them with a little teaser to pique their interest. Secret #2: Speak simply, clearly, and slowly Your recipient may be listening to your voicemail while riding in the car, walking the dog, or standing in line at Starbuck’s. We are all multitaskers to the nth degree, so if you want your message to be understood, speak very clearly and slowly so that your point is easy to grasp and remember by a potentially distracted person. Secret#3: Use your schmoozy voice I cannot stress how

If you’re calling someone you’ve just met at a conference, remind him or her who you are by saying something like: “this is Jennifer from the conference last week. I’m calling to reach out about the conversation we had.” Or if you have a mutual acquaintance, you can say, “your friend Ted from the coffee shop thought you might need my help, so I’m reaching out.” If you’ve met the person already or have a mutual acquaintance, by all means mention it! Even though I send a ton of emails in addition to making phone calls, I always initiate contact with new business prospects by telephone first. It’s a great way to make a personal connection, so make sure your voicemail etiquette is spot on so you’ll get that call back!

Adam Harvey GLAD WORKS www.gladworks.com

immigrant community. Boyle is co-chair of the Welcoming Cranston Committee.

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 The East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce looks forward to its Annual Meeting and Expo, which is scheduled for Thursday, January 30 at Quidnesset Country Club. Our featured speaker is Yardney CEO Richard Scibelli. Yardney (http:// www.yardney.com/), which moved to East Greenwich in 2013, has made positive headlines by supplying its lithium batteries to NASA, the Department of Defense, and ocean exploration teams. January started out with a scheduled joint Business After Hours with the North Kingstown Chamber at Poliquin (http://www.poliquingroup. com/ ) on South County Trail in East Greenwich. The joint Business After Hours marked the beginning of an ambitious 2014 schedule of events for the EG Chamber. New Members Alpine Ki & Snowboard Kevin Hagerty, DMD New England Wireless & Steam Museum Coldwell Banker Team Matt Patty Samsara Wellness Cobblestones Wood Fired Pizza Champagne & Light D.M.D.S. Open Mobile Services

Newport

Jody Sullivan, Executive Director 35 Valley Rd, Middletown, RI 02842 401 847 1600 | www.newportchamber.com With a new year come resolutions, rejuvenation, and commitments that we must make and keep. The Newport County Chamber is looking forward to a year of enlightening experiences. On January 1st, the Chamber introduced a new online training section on the Chamber’s website. Members are now able to click a simple link to find a large selection of affordable training courses that are relevant to their business needs. Details of this and many other 2013 events will be featured in the Newport County Business Journal available in the Newport Daily News’ January 31st issue.

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SMALL BUSINESS | Better Website Success Through Better Website Performance

BETTER WEBSITE SUCCESS THROUGH BETTER WEBSITE PERFORMANCE by Jeremy Girard Today’s websites have gotten bloated and slow – and they continue to grow at an alarming pace. According to a number of studies, including one by Web Performance Today, “the average size of a webpage has almost doubled in size since 2010.” This is a problem, because while the file size of our websites has grown (as has the time needed to load those sites), the attention span and patience of our visitors has not. Add in the growing number of users visiting our sites on mobile devices with variable connection speeds and download bandwidth limitations, and the ballooning size of websites becomes an even greater obstacle to success. In our rush to add new features and other bells and whistles to our sites, we often neglect to consider one other critical component – performance. Let’s take a look at a few items you can consider improving on your site to impact download speed, as well as some tools you can use to assess that site’s overall performance.

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PRIORITIZE FEATURES Anything you add to a webpage adds to the size of that page and the time it will take to load the information. Different additions add different amounts to the page. Adding a few extra paragraphs of text will add almost no additional “weight” to the page, while a streaming feed from your company’s Facebook or Twitter account or a large video file will have a considerably larger impact. Every addition is different, so it is important to weigh each feature to decide what is worth adding and what is worth skipping. Start by making a list of all the features on your website’s homepage. Your list may include those aforementioned social media feeds, as well as common site features like rotating or animated billboard presentations, feeds from your news or blog sections, signup forms for eNewsletters or other communication resources, and more. Once you have your list in place, assign each entry a value from 1 to 5 (1 being the somewhat useless and 5 being critically important) for

each of these features. If any feature is listed as a 1, it’s a safe bet that you can eliminate that one almost immediately. Those that are a 5 are critical and should definitely stay where they are. Those that fall between these two extremes are open for discussion and for you to prioritize what stays and what may need to be eliminated. Later in this article, we will look at some tools to assess the performance impact of these features so you can decide if the value to your users and business outweighs whatever performance hit it adds to your site. FOLLOW CURRENT BEST PRACTICES FOR HOW THE SITE IS BUILT If your website was built quite a few years ago, odds are that the way that site was constructed does not conform to current web practices. The structure of your site’s code impacts the site’s speed. If your site is slow because it is old and outdated, then it is time to plan for a redesign/ rebuild of that site.


What’s New | CHAMBER CHAT

New Members Gogiro-RI Newport Pilates Christ Temple United Pentecostal Church Restorative Nutrition Stella & Dot Essential Cloud Egg & Dart David Bruce Fine Art Compton Clambakes

Northern RI

By building your new website correctly, with current standards and best practices in mind, you can ensure that the architecture of the site does everything it can to support a quality experience with speedy page downloads and performance. OPTIMIZE IMAGES A current popular trend in websites is to use large images that span the full width of a screen – even for large widescreen displays. While these striking images add a lot to a site’s visual presentation, big images can often mean big download times. Unoptimized images are one of the biggest contributors to slow website downloads. Many times these images come right off of digital cameras, which take the shots at a resolution and size much larger than is needed for a typical website. When you consider that many sites use multiple images per page, this problem becomes compounded many times over, slowing a website’s download to a crawl. Whether you are updating your website’s content and images in-house or working with a professional web design or marketing firm for your updates, make sure that any images added to that site are first treated for optimum web performance. You can use a professional program like Adobe Photoshop to prepare these images, or you can use one of the main other tools available, such as the free online Photoshop alternative, Pixlr (www.pixlr.com). SERVER AND CMS CONFIGURATIONS The last tip we have is one which you, as a business or website owner, may have little insight into – how the site’s web hosting environment or CMS (content management system) is configured. These hardware/software components of your website absolutely impact that site’s overall performance. Old, inefficient web servers hosting your website’s pages can have a negative impact on the site’s speed. So can improperly configured CMS installations that include too many calls to a database or other dynamic resources.

Ask the team managing or hosting your website about how your environment is configured and whether there are any changes that can be made to improve performance. Sometimes, minor changes to back-end architecture can have big results for your website. TOOLS TO ASSESS PERFORMANCE The general tips in this article should give you a few points to look at in terms of your website’s performance – but how can you assess that performance both before these changes are made as well as after? One of my favorite tools for evaluating website speed is the Pingdom Website Speed Test (tools.pingdom.com/fpt/). This free online resource allows you to enter a website URL to get a performance grade, the load time for the page, and overall page size. The results will also break down each resource the webpage uses, including images, script files, and more so you can see which elements have the biggest impact on the page’s overall size. This can be a great guide to show you which pieces have the biggest impact and may need to be eliminated or optimized for better performance. Another free online resource for assessing website speed is provided by Google through their PageSpeed Insights tool (developers. google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/). Similar to the Pingdom Speed Test, this resource allows you to enter a URL to get some performance metrics. The nice thing about the tool from Google is that it breaks the “mobile” and “desktop” experiences down separately. Google’s results will include suggestions on what should be fixed to improve performance, including links to learn more about those suggestions. Finally, one resource you should always consider when assessing your website and its performance is feedback from seasoned web professionals. In addition to an assessment of your site’s speed, those professionals can also speak to other aspects of your site’s performance - including mobile device support, design aesthetics, usability, content strategy and more to ensure that your business and your customers can get the most out of your site. Jeremy Girard Director of Web Design/Development Envision Technology Advisors jeremyg@envisionsuccess.net

John C. Gregory, President/CEO 6 Blackstone Valley, Suite 402 2nd floor, Lincoln, RI 02865 401 334 1000 www.nrichamber.com Happy New Year from the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce! We hope 2014 will be a prosperous year for all local businesses. Start the year off right at the NRI Chamber’s 23rd Annual Dinner on Tuesday, February 11th at the Twin River Event Center in Lincoln, RI. This signature event features a reception starting at 5:30pm, with dinner and a speaking program to begin at 6:30pm. Neil Steinberg, President & CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, will serve as guest speaker, and this year’s honored recipients of the distinguished Barbara Burlingame and Ben Mondor awards will also be announced. New Members Ameriprise Financial Ani’s Pizza & Seafood Bad Kat Kupkakes n’ Kafe Blackstone River Theatre Century 21 Stachurski Agency Massage Envy Panera Bread, Lincoln Vision Care, Lincoln

Greater Westerly

Lisa Konicki, Executive Director 1 Chamber Way, Westerly, RI 02891 401 596 7761 | www.westerlychamber.org We’re excited to announce the launch of a new website, LuvDowntown.com. Two years in the making, and this unique, collaborative effort finally came to fruition. Check out this site to see the all-inclusive listing of what is “historic, hip, and happening” in 5 partner downtowns. The site features arts, events, recreational activities, historic sites, parking options, and downtown businesses. Chamber members have “featured” status at no extra charge. New Members Rhode Island Marine Denali RX Lifeline in Homecare

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

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Save Crazy Amounts of Time on Bookkeeping and Get on with Your Business | SMALL BUSINESS

Save Crazy Amounts of Time on Bookkeeping and Get on with Your Business

How Technology is Creating Better Connections for the Small Business Owners by John Nakowicz The process for most small business owners has for a long time been: fumble through small business accounting software to come up with some sort of records or, at minimum, keep a check register. They never have a true view of where their company is at any given moment and they rely on themselves to recall pieces of the company’s financial picture to make decisions. Then at year-end, they walk into their accountant’s office with their income and expenses, hoping they do not owe more than they have in their accounts. This is all a thing of the past!

start to learn your habits of expense coding by replicating the coding history. This feature is far superior to the auto coding you may have seen in other types of software, where transactions get renamed and classified based on a rule which is generated by the software, not you. As the business owner, you get to verify all the transactions and change anything that is incorrect. Would you agree that the job of just verifying data is much easier than actually creating the data? So let technology work for you. Your computer can do all the work while you get on with growing your company.

We’re talking about connection. These advancements are all about connecting you back to your company. Giving you the power to make informed decisions, with no more guessing. You can even connect to your accountant, you know, more than once a year. Giving your accountant access to your cloud books allows them to look over your financials and act as your business advisor versus your bookkeeper. And now when tax season comes, you are closer to the outcome and know what to expect. NOW that sounds simpler! John Nakowicz, CPA President Nakowicz Financial Services, Inc.

Cutting edge cloud accounting applications can now save you time on the monotonous job of inputting checks and deposits into bookkeeping software. There are even ways to create invoices, email clients and get paid faster via merchant services right through the applications. The way these applications work is they connect directly to all your accounts (yes, even credit cards) via a direct feed. Your business activity is updated from all accounts on a daily basis, assembling your books every night while you sleep. So NOW, this goes without saying, at any given moment, your books will show you exactly where your company stands. Going to your books to find out what is in your accounts is something most small business owners do not even consider. These applications draw power from the banks. They have invested many dollars into identifying what type of expense a particular transaction is. When the banks incorrectly code something or cannot properly identify a transaction, the applications take over and

Cutting edge cloud accounting applications can now save you time on the monotonous job of inputting checks and deposits into bookkeeping software www.risbj.com | volume three issue one

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GOLOCAL | Providence SMALL BUSINESS | Rhode Island’s in a Transatlantic GO LOCAL| Rhode Island Gets $670KPlace For Workforce TrainingPartnership + 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:

Make the Most of Your Health Plan in 2014 By Amy Gallagher GoLocalProv Business/Health Expert

Every year it seems health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses increase while plans cover less. So how can consumers get the most out of their coverage in 2014? Here are five ways to put your plan to good use next year – and reap some savings along the way. 1. Get your Annual Wellness Check. An annual dose of prevention can mean early detection for a myriad of illnesses. So be sure to see your primary care physician (PCP) annually for a wellness check this year. Healthcare reform requires your coverage to provide this service at no cost – meaning, you’ll pay no copay or deductible. Get ageappropriate screenings as part of your visit since those are also covered. 2. Switch to lower cost prescription drugs. Carriers charge up to three or even four different prescription copays depending on the coverage. And the differences can add up. Tier 1 medications are usually $7 or $10 while Tier 3 copays are often $50 or $60. Ask your physician if there is a lower cost equivalent of your Tier 1 medication to save $43 or more per month – with potential annual savings of greater than $500. 3. Move to mail order and save even more. Most insurance carriers offer mail order benefits for maintenance medications, which can typically save you the equivalent of 2-4 weeks of medication costs per

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quarter. Plus, you’ll save on gas by having the medications shipped right to your door. And you’ll avoid impulse buying at the pharmacy while waiting for your prescriptions to be filled. 4. Join a fitness club. Carriers offer discounts, and in some cases, reimbursements if you join a fitness club and use it. Tufts Health Plan just enhanced its fitness discount reimbursement program to include studio classes for programs like Pilates and dance classes. 5. Comparison shop. BCBSRI and UnitedHealthcare both offer cost estimators that allow consumers to shop and compare costs for care by type of service (e.g. MRI versus x-ray) or by setting (e.g. hospital, doctor’s office or stand-alone facility) and even check prescription copays by pharmacy. If you’re willing to do the research, you can save a tremendous amount of money. And if you have a plan with a deductible, any savings realized means less money from your pocket. To save even more, remember to enroll in either a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA), both of which help to pay for out-of-pocket expenses on a pre-tax basis with money you are able to set aside through payroll deduction or savings deposits. Money saved

is loaded onto a credit or debit card and can be used to pay for purchases through the year – so you don’t have to take from your spending money. 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.


Providence | GOLOCAL

Providence Business Leaders Awarded as

“Stars of the Industry” By GoLocalProv Business Team President’s Award

Lisa Doucet-Albert, Regan Communications

Chairman’s Award

Anthony J. DeFusco

Hotelier of the Year

Jose Estrompa, Radisson Hotel Providence Airport

Restaurateur of the Year

Jacky Ko, Jacky’s Galaxy

Vendor of the Year

Platinum Fire Protection Flagship Trailways

Volunteer of the Year

Frank Martucci, Twin River Rick Lataille, WRIK Entertainment

Caterer of the Year

Fine Catering by Russell Morin

Vendor Representative of the Year

Greg Gamon, US Foods

Chef of the Year

J. Daniel Knerr, The Black Pearl

Mary Brennan Tourism Award

Myrna George, South County Tourism Council

Hospitality Ambassador of the Year

Senator Roger Picard

Several Providence hospitality professionals were honored this week by the RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) at its “Stars of the Industry” Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony at the Rhode Island Convention Center. These awards recognize the outstanding achievements of members of the hospitality, foodservice and tourism industries. Award recipients were chosen not only for their dedication and contributions to their careers, but for their involvement in their local communities. “It is with great honor that I congratulate this year’s Stars of the Industry winners for all their incredible accomplishments,” said Dale J. Venturini, President and CEO of RIHA. “With more than 63,000 Rhode Islanders working in the hospitality industry, it is important to take the time to recognize all of their hard work. It is with their dedication that the hospitality industry continues to be a cornerstone of the state’s economy.”

Representative Brian Kennedy Representative Joseph McNamara Kathryn Farrington, Discover Newport Philip Pelletier, Preservation Society Newport Lifetime Achievement Award

David C. DePetrillo

Media Partnership Award

John Howell, Warwick Beacon

Woman of the Year

Elaine Wilcox, RI Hospitality Association

Man of the Year

Mark P. Gervais, The Hotel Viking

NRA Restaurant Neighbor Award

Seven Stars Bakery

Faces of Diversity Award

Bahjat Shariff, Panera Bread

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

www.risbj.com | volume three issue one

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FEATURED NONPROFIT | Junior Achievement of Rhode Island

Junior Achievement of Rhode Island:

Empower the Future ABOUT JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT Junior Achievement (JA) is the state’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. JA’s mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy with a legacy for all youth to be given access to opportunity and success. Founded nationally in 1919 as a non-profit organization teaching economic education, JA programming came to RI in 1921. With the assistance of twenty-two local businesses such as Amica, Davol-Bard, Textron, and others, JA formally incorporated into Junior Achievement of Rhode Island, Inc. in 1949 to maintain a permanent, long-term presence in the state. In 2012-2013, JA reached 10,339 students, or approximately 7% of the K-12 student population, in 76 schools across Rhode Island. EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS JA programs, taught by community and business leaders rather than paid staff, empower students to make a connection between what they learn in school and how it can be applied in the real world, enhancing the relevance of their classroom learning and increasing their understanding of the economics of staying in school. JA’s unique approach allows volunteers from the community to deliver the JA curriculum while sharing their experiences with students. Embodying the heart of JA, our classroom volunteers transform the key concepts of our lessons into a message that inspires and empowers students to own their economic success. URBAN AND URBAN-RING SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT 70% of JA programs are offered in Rhode Island’s urban and urban-ring school districts, representing some of the most disadvantaged parts of our state. The students in our most disadvantaged neighborhoods are least likely to hear a message of how to be successful in our economy. JA is one way to ensure that this happens. In addition to the students we reach

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

directly, we are also influencing their parents. These children carry a message of hope back to their homes—hope of breaking the cycle of poverty, and the encouragement and knowledge to do it. Our children must see that the economy includes them, that they have a stake in the economy, and that they are vital to our future. ADDRESSING RHODE ISLAND’S CRITICAL NEEDS JA programs are designed to address some of the most critical issues currently affecting Rhode Island. As the state’s largest businesseducation partnership, JA is focusing its efforts on addressing these critical issues affecting our state, such as: • High School Dropout Rate and the Dropout Rate Gender Gap • Workforce Skills Gap • College Readiness • Lack of Youth Financial Literacy • Urban and Urban-ring School Development THE JA EXPERIENCE: NOT JUST FOR STUDENTS In addition to the students JA serves, JA also benefits educators, adults, and businesses in the community. Educators benefit from JA interactions and develop a greater appreciation of economics and the local business community. They become more open to interactions with the business volunteers and the business community, and they are better able to connect the needs of the business and students. Volunteers gain from the experience as well and employers view JA as a workforce development and training opportunity for their employees. Many volunteers report improvement in their own skills (i.e. public speaking, presentation development, time management, etc.) through JA training, and they gain an appreciation for the academic environment. JA also offers ways for businesses and corporations to build on their respective corporate strengths and attitudes about community support and involvement. Through JA, businesses and corporations of all sizes within Rhode Island are able to give back to the community and help business people share their expertise with young people.


Empower the Future.

You might just change a life. People who say Junior Achievement has changed their lives often credit their JA volunteer. Sometimes it takes that one caring adult to recognize the potential in a young person that might have been missed by others. By becoming a Junior Achievement volunteer, you can empower young people to own their economic success by sharing your experience and JA’s proven and engaging lessons. Learn how to Empower the Future through JA. Visit Junior Achievement at http://jarhodeisland.org.

ja.ri@ja.org facebook.com/juniorachievementri

Financial Literacy

@JARhodeIsland

Work Readiness

Junior Achievement of Rhode Island

Entrepreneurship

youtube.com/JuniorAchievementRI www.risbj.com | volume three issue one

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SMALL BUSINESS | Key Employee Protection Preserving your business

Key Employee Protection Preserving your business.

by Ted Donnelly Plan today for the future. As a business owner, you recognize the importance of insuring your building, inventory, and equipment. These assets are vital to the success of your company. But what would happen if a key employee died unexpectedly or became disabled? 1 Key employees are the foundation of a successful business. They are business owners, sales directors, CFOs, or any other individuals who are sources of leadership and profitability, and who would be extremely difficult to replace. Unless the proper steps are taken, the death or disability of a key employee can be devastating to the financial well-being of your company. The solution: key employee protection. Funding a plan to protect key employees may give your business the additional funds it needs to: • • • •

Hire and train replacements. Replace an employee’s contribution to profits. Maintain the confidence of clients and creditors. Meet possible loan obligations if the key employee was also a guarantor on business loans.

There are three basic options for funding the costs associated with the sudden loss of a key employee: cash accumulation or a sinking fund, borrowing from a bank, or life insurance. 1. CASH OR SINKING FUND. In this option, a business establishes a savings plan, much like a bank account, to protect itself from the death or disability of its key employees. At death, the cash in the savings plan is used as a source of funding. Unfortunately, this method has several drawbacks: •

• •

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A savings plan accumulates funds over time. What if funds are needed tomorrow? Accumulated cash could cause an accumulated earnings problem. Any growth on the accumulated funds RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

• •

may be income taxable. A savings plan may be depleted to pay for other expenses. The business owner will pay dollar for dollar, thus depleting the amount of cash that could be used elsewhere.

2. BORROWING FUNDS. In this option, funds are borrowed, usually through a bank loan, to replace the financial loss caused by a key employee’s death or disability. Drawbacks of this option include: • • • •

A potential slowdown in business growth due to additional loan repayments. A reduction in future profits may occur because of the loan repayment. The business owner will pay dollar for dollar plus interest. The company’s credit may be adversely affected due to greater debt.

3. INSURANCE. Purchasing life and/or disability insurance on your key employees can be a costeffective way to safeguard your business and minimize the impact of a key employee’s death or disability. Life insurance and/or disability insurance can provide your business with the following advantages: •

Funding with insurance is easy to administer. Funds are available

Ted Donnelly Agent New York Life Insurance Company

even if death or disability occurs the day after coverage begins. Although the premiums are not deductible, the life insurance proceeds at death are generally received income tax-free to the business.

FUNDING THE FUTURE PLAN. The business applies for a life insurance policy on the life of a key employee. The business is the owner and beneficiary of the policy. As policyholder, the business pays premiums to an insurance company for the policy as long as the key employee is alive and an employee. Should an insured key employee die, the death benefit proceeds from the insurance policy would pass generally income tax-free to the business, 2 providing an immediate cash source for debt repayment, liquidity, or other related concerns. This educational third-party article is provided as a courtesy by Ted Donnelly, Agent, New York Life Insurance Company. 1Disability insurance is available through one or more carriers not affiliated with New York Life, dependent on carrier authorization and product availability in your state or locality. 2The Pension Protection Act of 2006 established that the death benefit of an employer-owned life insurance policy will be income taxable to the extent that the benefit exceeds premiums paid unless the parties fit into one of the specified exception categories, a specified form of notice is provided to the employee, and the employee consents to be insured.


5.5 Non-Keyword Factors That Influence Search Engine Ranking Visibility | SMALL BUSINESS

5.5 Non-Keyword Factors That Influence Search Engine Ranking Visibility by Chris Sheehy

4. 5.

Does it keep you awake at night that your SEO reports don’t always match what you see? Assuming all is well with your on-page/offpage elements (let’s pretend for the story that they are), here are some non-keyword factors that influence search visibility to consider when things seem wonky. 1. 2. 3.

Are you logged into Google while searching? Do you have your personal search history turned on or off? It is expected that Google will make nearly 1.5 changes every day to its algorithm this year. Was your search conducted before or after any algo changes? (Trick question – nobody knows the exact timing of Google algo changes except Google.)

Libations Restaurant

6.

If cookies are turned on, what is the data freshness? Are you using Google’s Chrome browser when making searches? Where are you located? (Checking your online placement from home, the office,

inevitably at some point you’re going to get dethroned, even when everything else is up to par. Shift happens – and sometimes, it’s totally out of your control. So the next time you think your SERP

Sometimes visibility changes are slight, sometimes they’re wild – sometimes a business holds firm in their ranking while their competition shows great change or on your phone is likely to deliver different results.) The good news is search fluctuation happens for most businesses, so don’t panic. Sometimes visibility changes are slight, sometimes they’re wild – sometimes a business holds firm in their ranking while their competition shows great change. But

Lounge

S M A L L P L AT E S • B I G F L AVO R • G R E AT VA L U E

rankings have shifted, or when a friend (or SEO services company) across the country (across the world) calls to tell you that your business just lost its top positioning, consider these non-keyword elements before taking action. Chris Sheehy Local Marketing Expert Specialist Sidewalk Branding

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

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AT BRAVER, IT’S THE WAY WE DO BUSINESS.

ROBERT J. CIVETTI

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

NEWTON

BOSTON

TA U N T O N

PROVIDENCE

C O NC O R D

www.risbj.com | volume three issue one

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

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Reflecting on the Accomplishments of 2013 | SMALL BUSINESS

Reflecting on the

Accomplishments of 2013 by Gina M. Raimondo

A new year is upon us, and I am thankful for the opportunity to look back and reflect upon the accomplishments of the Treasury team. Of particular note is how well we worked with our colleagues in the legislature. This past session, we worked with Speaker Fox to create a predictable funding stream for cities and towns to invest in their infrastructure and create jobs through the Municipal Road and Bridge Revolving Fund. This legislation: • Builds on the success of the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Authority, an expansion modeled after other states • Provides local budget relief by lowering annual debt service payments • Creates economic opportunities for the construction trades • Continues the momentum of pension reform, allowing us to invest in the future More than a dozen municipalities applied for funding through this program. We expect the final projects to be selected early in the new year. We also partnered with Speaker Fox, Reps. Williams, Hearn, Naughton and Ajello, Senators Nesselbush, Sosnowski, Crowley, Gallo and Goldin to strengthen our Crime Victims Program. We are providing relocation expenses for victims of violent crime, including those impacted by domestic violence, and we are keeping families safe. Often for victims of domestic violence, rebuilding begins with finding a new place to call home or traveling to loved ones for protection. This life-altering legislation provides up to $2,500 for victims to relocate. Our Empower RI program also made huge strides in 2013. From helping to kick-off the Earned Income Tax Credit program, to Financial Empowerment Roundtable discussions, to more than 20 Smart Money stops throughout the state, Treasury is working for everyone. Our high school financial literacy program, EverFi, has increased in popularity. Rhode Island’s Teacher of the Year, Patricia Page from East Greenwich High School, had this to say about the web-based program: “EverFi is an engaging, interactive platform that is the perfect technology component to a blended learning environment. The program augments the classroom instruction.” I would like to acknowledge our Financial Coaching Corps partners, specifically the Capital Good Fund. Together, we have helped thousands of Rhode Islanders become financially secure. By working with partners in and out of government, we are creating a stronger Rhode Island. We look forward to continuing to build on this progress in 2014.

HealthSource RI is changing much more than healthcare. From the people with pre-existing conditions that can finally get covered, to the small businesses that can now give their employees the freedom to choose their own health plan — lives are changing in Rhode Island. Right now many of your neighbors, friends, and coworkers are already qualifying for tax credits and getting quality affordable health insurance. And we’re just getting started.

To enroll call 1-855-840-HSRI, visit HealthSourceRI.com, or come by. We’re open 7 days a week.

HealthSource RI is the official healthcare portal for the state of Rhode Island. Copyright ® HealthSource RI logo is the trademark and service mark of HealthSource RI.

Gina Raimondo Rhode Island General Treasurer

www.risbj.com | volume three issue one

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SMALL BUSINESS | New Years Resolutions Take Two

New Years by Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro We are about 2 or 3 weeks into the New Year. Are you keeping your New Year’s resolutions for improving your business and/or your personal life? If so, congratulations! No need to read the remainder of this article now, but keep the article handy because the next few weeks are prime time to start to slip on those resolutions. If you are starting to slip on the resolutions, ask yourself the following six questions: • Do you really care about your resolutions? If not, it is time to make a new resolution you really do care about. • Do you have too many resolutions? Some experts recommend having only 1. • Are you trying to stop doing something or not do something? This is very difficult to do. (If you doubt this, be absolutely sure you do not visualize a lion right now.) You may need a new strategy to start doing something instead (e.g., have a carrot when you want to snack rather than trying not to snack). • Do you have an organized plan with small incremental steps to fulfill your resolution or are you trying to achieve your resolution in one giant step? Small steps with very regular commitments are much more effective than giant steps. • Are you discussing your progress with a colleague, family member, or friend? This is a very helpful thing to do - it can help encourage progress and drive motivation. • Are you putting too much pressure on yourself to succeed? Too much pressure may be counterproductive.

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

Resolutions Now that we’ve answered these six critical questions, let us not wait until next December to come up with new resolutions. Instead, let us come up with resolutions for this year and start the process of thinking of 2015 resolutions now. If you have any doubts about your having selected the right resolutions, please write down everything that you can think of that you could change…one item per small piece of paper. Then arrange these slips of paper in order of importance and achievability. If

Take Two! has been shown to work, please refer to my article, Use the Tuesday Technique to Help Get It Done, in Volume 1, Issue 6 of RISBJ. Schedule time every Tuesday to talk with someone about and hopefully celebrate your progress on your 2014 resolutions. Celebrate small steps. Even if you did not fully achieve what you planned to, celebrate the progress you did make and just adjust your calendar to accommodate the slower progress. Try not to have a no progress or a regression week, but if you do, don’t give up, just reset

don’t resolve to stop doing email first thing in the morning; instead, resolve to call a customer before you do anything else you would like to do this systematically, please refer to my article, Should You Do It: A Prioritization and Decision Making Tool, in Volume 1, Issue 8 of RISBJ. Choose 1 or at absolute most 2 or 3 resolutions to work on for 2014 and 2015. If a resolution of choice is to stop doing something, replace it with a resolution to do something. For example, don’t resolve to stop doing email first thing in the morning; instead, resolve to call a customer before you do anything else. Prepare a plan outlining very specific small steps you will take each week to help you achieve your resolution and record these on your calendar. If you would like to do this systematically using a technique that

the calendar (and be pleased your regression wasn’t worse than it was). Once or twice per quarter discuss your 2015 resolutions and plans, learning from your 2014 experience, so that executing your 2015 resolutions will be easier. Before you know it, December 31 will be here. Have a big celebration to recognize your accomplishments. For the next day is January 1, and it will be time to start achieving the 2015 resolutions. 1 Special thanks to Margarita Posada Cossuto for helpful comments. 2 See Why We Don’t Keep Our New Year’s Resolutions December 21, 2013 blog post in Psychology Today for further discussion (http://www.psychologytoday. com/blog/wired-success/201312/why-we-dont-keep-our-new-years-resolutions).

Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro Independent Consultant in Human Factors Learning & Human Resources


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

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

Volume 3, Issue 1 of RISBJ  

Volume 3, Issue 1 of the Rhode Island Small Business Journal

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