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Posts Tagged ‘Christine Davis’

Ask CJ: Focus Your Marketing Plan on Your Customers

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Q: I am looking at increasing our marketing efforts and need some guidance on where I should invest our marketing dollars. Should I focus on social media?”

A: Marketing is such an important part of the success of a businesses, and it is a topic that is quite expansive. I will try to be brief, but at least touch upon the key elements of a marketing plan that you should be thinking about.

For in-depth free assistance, I would recommend that you spend some time visiting the NH Small Business Development Center at www.nhsbdc.org. It has some great online classes that cover this topic. Your local SCORE counselor, www.scorehelp.org, can also be of assistance.

NH Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis

NH Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis

There are many ways a business can market itself from traditional print media, to radio, to television, to the increasingly popular social media. There is no one formula that will work for everyone. Just as your business is unique, so should be your marketing plan.

There are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself to help guide your decisions: First, what is my budget? As much as it would be great to have a commercial during the Super Bowl or “American Idol,” you may not have the funds for it. Second, who is your target market? If you can pinpoint your customers and understand what they want, you can begin to create advertising that will resonate with them.

I recently attended an event with the Center for Family Business at the University of New Hampshire. The guest speaker runs a successful gardening center and spent some time talking about his marketing strategy. First he talked about knowing who they were, in other words, branding. What type of product does the company sell? High-quality garden products. Who is the target customer? Women. His next task was to figure out what women want. (Yes, I did laugh out loud when he said that. Good luck, my friend. We don’t even know what we want).

Once these questions were answered, there was another aspect of the company’s marketing plan that I want to share. Are you looking for new customers or are you trying to recapture customers that have drifted for one reason or another? That can affect where you place those well-crafted messages. They didn’t need to persuade gardeners to garden, so instead of placing ads in a gardening magazine, the company’s advertising materials are being placed in other print media that is predominantly read by women, the target market. Again, the answer for you will vary depending on your business, but the questions are pretty universal.

When it comes to content, invest the time to create something memorable. We are inundated with all sorts of media, so an advertisement with impact is critically important. I am amazed when I watch yet another TV commercial that lacks creativity or content. Who is getting paid to write this stuff? I have to admit that there is a TV commercial for toilet paper that I can’t forget as much as I try. One of the lines in the commercial is, “It’s time to get serious about what happens in the bathroom.” As much as that tactic initially horrified me, I must admit that I haven’t forgotten the ad, and I certainly can’t say that about the vast majority of commercials I see on television. You have a very short window of opportunity to make an impression, so don’t waste it.

Like every aspect of your business the marketing plan requires just that, a plan. Throwing out generic ads in every direction at every individual isn’t a good plan. Focusing all of your energy on social media just because the guy next to you is doing it isn’t a good plan, either. A good marketing plan revolves around your customers. Who are they, where are they and what do they want? Answer those questions first and craft a message that speaks to them. Deliver that message frequently via the media that they use. Everyone needs to market their business, and today we have so many options and price points that I just don’t believe someone can say that they can’t afford it. If you lack the big corporate budget, you just need to tap into your creativity. At the very least, get out in your community and get involved. Grassroots networking is still a great way to get your name out there.

Christine J. Davis works for the N.H. Division of Economic Development as a resource specialist serving businesses in Rockingham and Strafford counties. Her role is to provide the support needed for businesses so that they may remain viable and growing entities in the community. She lives in Exeter with her two daughters. She likes to spend time outdoors to discover new places and activities in the community with her girls. She can be reached at Christine.davis@dred.state.nh.us.

Ask CJ: What Opportunities are Available to Women-Owned Businesses?

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Q: I may soon be buying my father’s business and wanted to know what opportunities are available to women-owned businesses?

A. This is a great question as I have heard from a number of people who want to know how they can take advantage of any opportunities for women-owned businesses.

NH Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis

NH Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis

Like most circulated information, some of it has been over-hyped or incorrect. That being said, there are potential opportunities for businesses that are at least 51 percent women-owned. To be eligible for certification at either the state or federal level, the female owner must manage the day-to-day operations of the business, work full-time in the business and meet other criteria to show she is not the head of the company in name only. Getting your business certified takes some time and effort, but it may help you land new contracts and clients.

The state of New Hampshire does not have a certification specifically for “women-owned” enterprises. What the state does offer is a certification for the “Disadvantaged Business Enterprise.” This certification covers women and minority-owned businesses who must also meet certain financial criteria. The certification is intended to level the playing field for minority and women-owned enterprises. You can find the application at the Department of Transportation’s Web site, www.nh.gov/dot/org/administration/ofc/dbe.htm. Any DOT contract with federal funding, in whole or part, through a public agency or corporation must utilize DBEs. That is where certification on the state level may work to your benefit. It is also attractive to corporations looking to meet their diversity goals. Other benefits to certifying with the state include: Listing on the NHDOT directory, receive bidding information for upcoming state and municipal projects and a value added service to your clients.

As far as federal certification opportunities, you may have seen some recent publicity about the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program that became effective Feb. 4. The program identified 83 industries that will allow contract preferences for women-owned or economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses. The set-asides are up to $5 million for manufacturing and $3 million for all other contracts. If you visit the SBA Web site, www.sba.gov, you will find most of these businesses are those that have historically been male-dominated. A person interested in getting certified can do it themselves at the moment and soon through a third party.

Any business in New Hampshire, male or female-owned, that is interested in soliciting government contracts can seek the assistance of the New Hampshire Procurement Technical Assistance Program, which is a part of the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development. The PTAP group offers free assistance to New Hampshire companies looking to sell goods and services to federal, state, local government agencies, and school districts. It offers training, counseling and other information that helps companies navigate the contracting process. Information can be found at www.nheconomy.com/sell-to-the-government.

One last thing I want to point out is that when it comes to securing new business, whether it is government or private, the business basics still apply. You can have all the certifications in the world, but you still need to provide a quality product or service that is competitively priced if you want to grow your business. Relationships matter in both the public and private sector. Once you obtain your certifications you will still need to market your business, develop good relationships and provide excellent customer service. It never goes out of style.

Christine J. Davis works for the N.H. Division of Economic Development as a resource specialist serving businesses in Rockingham and Strafford counties. Her role is to provide the support needed for businesses so that they may remain viable and growing entities in the community.

Ask CJ: Hanging Out the “Help Wanted” Sign

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Q: I am a sole proprietor and my business has grown so much that I think I need to hire one or more employees.  How do I do that and are there any resources to assist me?

NH Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine J. Davis

NH Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine J. Davis

A: Congratulations on growing your business!  Hiring your first employee is a big step and there are a few hoops you will need to jump through and important things to consider before you hang out the “help wanted” sign.

I did a bit of digging on the Internet and the good news is that there are a bunch of free resources available to educate you on what you need to know when hiring employees.  I visited a couple of sites that were full of information about hiring as well as other business issues.  The Small Business Administration, www.sba.gov, is a great tool for business owners looking for information.  They listed “10 Steps to Hiring Your First Employee”:

1. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) if you don’t have one already.
2. Set up records for withholding taxes-you can have an accountant work with you on this if desired.
3. Employee Eligibility Verification (Form I-9)-this does not need to be filed with the federal govt. but does need to be kept on file.
4. Register with the State’s New Hire Reporting Program.
5. Obtain Worker’s Compensation Insurance.
6. Unemployment Insurance Tax Registration-some exclusions may apply.
7. Obtain Disability Insurance-NOT required in New Hampshire.
8. Post required notices (finally, something easy to do!)  Here is a link to the notices required by the federal and NH government:   www.labor.state.nh.us/wage_hour_mandatory_posters.asp?ptype=
9. File Your Taxes-Can be done monthly or quarterly.
10. Get organized and keep yourself informed.

help-wantedSo those are some of the “hoops” that need to be dealt with.  What about the other issues such as how do I advertise for the position, what questions do I ask during the interview, should I do a background check, do I need to offer benefits and can I hire an independent contractor instead of a regular employee?  These are some pretty important questions too and are not to be taken lightly.  I will touch upon these a bit, but you can get more in-depth information from the Small Business Development Center’s Web site, www.nhsbdc.org.  If you are not yet familiar with the SBDC or SCORE, you should spend some time on their Web sites and take advantage of their free business counseling and low cost seminars.

Before you put out an advertisement, you should have a job description ready that clearly describes the position including:  job objective, scope of position, duties, responsibilities and necessary qualifications.  Be prepared to receive a number of applications that don’t fit the description, however, as there are still a lot of people looking for work.  It is good to be a bit flexible but you want to be sure the candidate has the tools and education to fulfill their role.  There are a number of ways to find candidates from using a temp agency, to the State’s Employment Security office, to traditional newspapers and online.  The type of position will also be a factor in which avenue you choose.   The job description also determines if the position should be classified as hourly (non-exempt) or salary (exempt). Many employers are under the false assumption they can make this determination because it is more cost effective for example, to pay someone a salary rather than have to pay them overtime. Actually the federal government’s Fair Labor Standards Act outlines which positions are eligible to receive salary/exempt status as determined by the job duties the individual will perform. Employers can receive hefty fines for misclassification.

Though not legally required, consider offering some benefits for your employee(s).  Many small businesses are unable to afford health insurance but if you can offer it you will be able to attract more candidates.  Other things to consider are holidays, vacation and sick time as well as whether or not you are open to (and the job is conducive to) having your employee work from home.  Again, so much is industry specific so there isn’t a one size fits all answer to these questions.  Some businesses hire Professional Employer Organizations or professional Human Resource firms to handle these issues for them.  These groups can assist with the intricacies of HR and take responsibility off of your plate so you can focus on your business (Wouldn’t that be nice!).

Some businesses may be best served by hiring an independent contractor versus a traditional employee.   A business benefits by using an independent contractor with savings in labor, reduced liability and more flexibility in hiring and firing (source:  www.SBA.gov).  However, there are distinct differences between the two and a misclassification could be costly.  A few of the descriptive for an independent contractor are:

• Operates under a business name
• May have their own employees
• Invoices for work done and keeps records
• May have multiple clients

This is not an exhaustive list, so please do some research if you are contemplating going down this road and know that different government entities such as the IRS and the NH Department of Labor, have differing “tests” to determine whether the individual is eligible to be an independent contractor.   Another good site to visit to learn more about hiring issues and concerns is www.business.gov.  I have hired both employees and independent contractors in the past and always checked with a professional before offering employment.

There are lots of hoops to jump through and much to consider before you hire that first employee.  I also recommend that you spend a good deal of time talking with that person and making sure they are a good fit for your organization.  You can have a seemingly perfect fit on paper but a personality clash that just won’t work.  Don’t forget to check references and perhaps even conduct a background check.  That’s so important to the decision making process as well. 

If you do your due diligence, you are quite likely to bring on a person that will help you grow your business.  There aren’t any guarantees but I do believe that the better you educate and prepare yourself, the more likely you will be successful.

Special thanks to Delise West of Human Resource Partners in Dover, NH for her contributions to this article, www.h-rpartners.com

Whether you have been in business for 20 years or just getting started, we have the resources and the expertise to answer your questions. You can e-mail me at Christine.Davis@dred.state.nh.us. I look forward to hearing from you.

Ask CJ – Is “Factoring” Right for Your Business?

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Question: My small business is growing, and I may be seeing a dramatic rise in orders soon, which is great. However, I don’t have the cash available to purchase the materials for large orders. Is “factoring” something I should consider?

Factoring is a special type of financing that can be a good option for the right business in the right circumstances. So, what is that business and what are the circumstances?

NH Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Resource Specialist Christine Davis

NH Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Resource Specialist Christine Davis

First of all, I should give a brief explanation of factoring for those that may not be familiar. Having a master’s degree in French, I decided it would be best that I go to Wikipedia as opposed to relying on my interpretation of this financial tool. “Factoring is a financial transaction whereby a business job sells its accounts receivable (i.e. invoices) to a third party (called a factor) at a discount in exchange for immediate money with which to finance continued business. Factoring differs from a bank loan in three main ways. First, the emphasis is on the value of the receivables (essentially a financial asset), not the firm’s credit worthiness. Secondly, factoring is not a loan — it is the purchase of a financial asset (the receivable). Finally, a bank loan involves two parties whereas factoring involves three.”

Yup, much better explanation than I could have done.

I also reached out to Darlene Friedman, a certified public accountant and owner of The Interface Financial Group, which specializes in factoring (commonly referred to as invoice discounting but not exactly the same thing). Friedman typically works with companies that are growing but don’t meet the requirements for a traditional bank loan or line of credit. The rates vary depending on when the account debtor pays IFG. The invoices her company would buy are strictly commercial, and she recommends that a company looking to sell invoices to generate cash has around a 30 percent margin in order to still retain some profit after paying the fee associated with the factoring service.

Friedman’s clients often sell her their invoices when they need cash for supplies or overhead such as payroll. She doesn’t recommend this type of business financing for someone looking to buy equipment or real estate. A company that is struggling and simply looking for an infusion of cash to keep their doors open is also not a good candidate for this service.

Funding your business at its various stages can be challenging and even a bit scary. Whether you have tapped into your savings, credit cards, family, investors, bank or other business financing institution, you have taken a risk. Taking risks (and by that I mean educated, well-thought out risks) is all part of being an entrepreneur. It may mean you work a heck of a lot more than you thought you would, make less money in the short term and perhaps even lose a few dollars and a few hours of sleep along the way, but it really can be the best decision you ever made.

Whether you have been in business for 20 years or just getting started, we have the resources and the expertise to answer your questions. You can e-mail me at Christine.Davis@dred.state.nh.us. I look forward to hearing from you.

The Business of Hiring a Lawyer

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Determining when to hire a lawyer can be one of the most confusing decisions a new business owner makes. In this edition of “Ask CJ,” New Hampshire Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Resource Specialist Christine Davis explores the subject of business law for beginners.

Do I need to hire a lawyer when I set up my business?  What expertise would they provide that I can’t figure out myself?

Many people are leery of lawyers.  They appear expensive and we often think that we can get by without one for most of our needs.  I am no different.  I used a computer program to set up my will and if I get married again one day, I am still on the fence about prenuptial agreements.  Foolish but true.  But those are personal issues that I am talking about – what about business issues?

Christine Davis

Christine Davis

I wanted to get a better understanding of some of the issues that might benefit from legal expertise so I put in a call to Angela Martin from Devine Millimet Attorneys at Law.   Angela is the chair of the Small Business Team and they have been advertising free legal assistance for starting a business so I figured she would be a good resource. 

While every new business is unique and has different needs, there are some areas that apply to most businesses.  Angela said that choosing a business entity is one area that could benefit from professional guidance.  For example, if you are seeking venture capital or taking on a partner, do you know which entities best fit your profile?  Also, if you plan on hiring staff, do you have intellectual property that you want to protect?  Are you thinking of using independent contractors versus employees?  Will you be leasing office space?  These are just some of the major concerns that if not handled properly could end up creating big, expensive problems later on.

Ms. Martin recommends that businesses hire a lawyer who specializes in business law.  Just as you go to an allergist for allergies, you should work with a lawyer who specializes in your area of need.  Angela recommends that a new business also find an accountant and an insurance agent to cover and protect those areas of their business. 

I know we New Englanders like to do everything ourselves and we take great pride in our frugality.  I think it’s great just as long as we know enough about what we are doing to do it right.  If you have never owned a business, you just may not know enough to do it all yourself.  I recently met with a new business owner who sorely regrets not having a lawyer look at her lease before she signed it.  An investment of a few hundred dollars could have saved her thousands.  A lawyer will ensure that your business is set up properly and the relationship you establish with them will help you long term as you navigate the unanticipated issues that may arise over time.

Whether you have been in business for 20 years or just getting started, we have the resources and the expertise to answer your questions. You can e-mail me at Christine.Davis@dred.state.nh.us. I look forward to hearing from you.

Christine J. Davis works for the N.H. Division of Economic Development as a resource specialist serving businesses in Rockingham and Strafford counties. Her role is to provide the support needed for businesses so that they may remain viable and growing entities in the community. Ms. Davis lives in Exeter with her two daughters.  When not performing her work or parenting duties or shoveling snow she likes to spend her time skiing with her girls or snowshoeing around Exeter.

When Does a Hobby Become a Business?

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Here’s New Hampshire Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis’ newest Portsmouth Herald column that answers the often tricky question: When does a hobby become a business?

I received several questions this past week on a variety of topics related to owning a business.  It amazes me how much there is to know about business ownership and how little I actually know.  I guess we all feel that way some days and can be thankful for having the Internet and colleagues to go to for help.

New Hampshire Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis

New Hampshire Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis

Does a business need to make certain minimum revenue in order to be considered a business?  I am just doing this on the side and don’t expect to earn much the first year in operation.


The simple answer is no.  I went to www.irs.gov to get a more complete response for you and here is what they say:  Generally, an activity qualifies as a business if it is carried on with the reasonable expectation of earning a profit.  It gets a bit more complicated when you drill down to try and separate a hobby from a business as I learned from the site that you can actually deduct expenses from having a hobby.  Really.  I love this country.

NH is pretty easy as far as starting a business (assuming a permit isn’t required).  You can register through the State by visiting www.sos.nh.gov/corporate and downloading the appropriate forms.  The good thing about registering as a business, besides being a law-abiding citizen, is that you can deduct the expenses you incur that relate to your business.

I heard from another start-up this week:

Do I need to get a permit in order to start a photography business?  Also, do I file for a business name the same time that I file as an LLC?

I smiled when I heard this question as I had just returned from the Business & Industry Association’s “Small Business Day at the State House” and had learned that NH requires permits from over 90 different business industries.  I went to the following site, www.nh.gov/nhes/elmi/licertreg, to learn that while a Shampoo Assistant Apprentice does need to file for a license, a photographer does not. 

As far as reserving a business name and filing to become an LLC, you need to first file for the name to ensure the name is available.  This avoids needing to rewrite the articles of incorporation in the event that the name is not available.  If the name is available, it can be held for 120 days to allow time to prepare the necessary documents needed for incorporation.  More specific information can be found through the corporate division of the Secretary of State’s office website, www.sos.nh.gov.

I also wanted to thank those who wrote to me in response to the last article about health care costs and small businesses.  I heard from a reader who suggested businesses also look into wellness programs to reduce costs.  A healthier workforce will also be a more productive workforce.  You should talk to your provider about these options.  More information about the health care tax credit was requested and that can be found at the IRS website, www.irs.gov.  Just type, health care tax credit for small employers, to be directed to the appropriate page.

A Prescription for Small Business Owners

Monday, January 24th, 2011

This column was authored by New Hampshire Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis:

Before I started working for the Division of Economic Development, I had run two small non-profits here in New Hampshire.  Due to their size and budget, health care coverage was not offered to the employees.  The cost for a relatively young and healthy individual was a big and painful surprise to me.  I could only imagine the financial pain inflicted on small businesses that are trying to offer health care to their employees.

christine-davis1I cringed when I heard from a business owner who wanted to know what he could do to lower his health care costs.  He had just learned that his costs were going to rise by $1,000 per month this year.  Every year his costs have increased and like most businesses, he has seen a dip in revenue over the past 18 months.   The reason why I cringed is two-fold.  First, the financial increase he stated is just crazy.  Second, I don’t have any answers that can eliminate his problem and I hate that.

Although I don’t possess a magic wand (something my seven-year-old thinks she can get from the tooth fairy), I do have some thoughts I can share which might be helpful.  It is important that as a business owner you go over your policy with your provider to make sure everything is accurate and up to date.  Are there any new plans that might fit your company and reduce costs?  Have you talked to any other providers?  There aren’t a lot of options but you need to look at them all before you settle for one.  You can go to www.nh.gov/insurance to learn more about providers in the State and up to date insurance information.

One option that has been gaining more subscribers is the high deductible plan.  I switched to one myself a year ago to reduce my premiums.  It may lower your premium but you need to be prepared to cover a higher deductible, which can amount to some hefty out of pocket expenses if you have an unexpected injury or illness.  If you decided to go the high deductible route, you can buffer it with a Health Savings Account (HSA). 

An HSA is an account that you can put money into to save for future medical expenses. There are certain advantages to putting money into these accounts including favorable tax treatment. 

I also want to remind small business owners of the tax credit that became available as of December 2010.  If your business has less than 25 full-time employees or 50 half-time employees and the average pay is less than $50,000.00, you very well may be eligible for up to a 35% tax credit.  That credit will increase to 50% in 2014.  There is a gradual phase out with wages between 25-50k and 10-25 full-time workers.  Non-profits can receive up to a 25% tax credit that will increase to 35% in 2014.  This tax credit can have some real positive impact on small businesses that are covering at least half of the cost of their employees’ health care.

There are so many reasons why our health care costs have gotten out of control.  While I can’t reform the system or get Americans to take better care of their health, I can recommend that you look into the above listed options and talk to your local legislators to learn where they’re at on the issue.  Those individuals can be found by visiting www.gencourt.state.nh.us.  If you are looking for change, reach out to those who have the power to make those changes.  On February 1st, you can attend the Small Business Day at the Holiday Inn in Concord to hear from health care experts on the high cost of health insurance and what suggestions they have for reducing those costs.  You can register for this morning event, a joint effort supported by the Division of Economic Development, the Business and Industry Association of NH and numerous business support organizations, by visiting www.nhbia.org.

Business Financing Made Simple

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Congrats to our Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis who was recently asked to serve as a columnist for the Portsmouth Herald. Here’s her latest column that centers around the question of how to best secure business financing:

How to get business financing?
Starting with a bank you know is best choice
By Christine Davis

It wasn’t a big surprise to receive a number of questions related to financing your business. Businesses face multiple challenges every day, but one thing that seems to trump them all is money. How do I get it, how do I generate more and how can I hang onto more of it?

NH Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis

NH Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis

Let’s start with how do I get financing for my business? The person who sent this question has owned his business for a number of years, had a small dip in revenue but has regained profitability over the past two years. His first call to a large bank was unsuccessful and he wanted to know what would be the best next step.

I spoke with Rob Barry, our in-house NH Division of Economic Development finance expert, to see what he recommends without knowing the particulars. In general, we recommend that you first reach out to the institution where you currently bank. Just like in everything else, it often boils down to relationships. If you have got one, go there first. If they are unable to meet your needs, make sure you understand why and then consider what changes your business needs to make to become more bankable. Most loan requests that are rejected are done so because of weak financials or because a company does not have a long enough history of being profitable. In some cases, they may not have an appetite for the type of financing you are seeking. If you have a relationship with a large bank, you may want to consider looking at some of your local community banks. While banks all share some common requirements (good credit, positive cash flow and collateral) some may be more aggressive in certain lending areas than others.

Another source of financing may be your local community economic development corporation. For the Seacoast area, there is the Rockingham Economic Development Corporation in Exeter, the Coastal Economic Development Corporation in Hampton and the Seacoast Economic Development Corporation in Dover. Each one covers a specific area so you will need to check and see which one covers your location. The REDC provides loans to businesses for a variety of needs and may be able to work with a business that does not qualify for a traditional bank loan. If you have a weak spot on your financials, such as a low credit score, but good cash flow and collateral, you might be a good candidate for a REDC loan. Since it is taking on more risk, the rates are typically a bit higher than a traditional bank.

Another alternative source of funding is the NH Community Loan Fund in Concord. It offers both debt and equity financing to business owners. Micro loans start at $1,000 and business growth loans can go as high as $500,000. The Loan Fund is more risk-tolerant and may ask to provide some educational guidance and input.

I also wanted to respond to a question I received about getting grants for business development. In a nutshell, there aren’t any. If you get a call with someone offering to help you find grants in exchange for a fee, run. It’s a scam. While there are some federal grants available for some very specific industries and research projects, they are highly competitive and few and far between. You won’t find grants to buy new equipment or open up a shop on Main Street. There are grants available for training through the N.H. Job Training Fund, www.nhjobtrainingfund.org, but they are for training projects only. I will talk more about that gem of a fund another day.

To learn more about these and other financial resources you can visit our Web site, www.nheconomy.com.

Whether you have been in business for 20 years or just getting started, we have the resources and the expertise to answer your questions. All information is confidential, and I promise not to print your name, age, height, weight or marital status without your approval. You can write to me at: Christine.Davis@dred.state.nh.us. I look forward to hearing from you.

New Hampshire Companies Boast Positive Outlook

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Last week, our own Christine Davis was the host of a New Hampshire Public Television “Outlook” special program titled “Recession Business Success Stories” where she visited four companies that not only survived but thrived during challenging economic times. Now you can check out the segment here:

Watch the full episode. See more NH Outlook.

Excellent job Christine and thanks NHPTV for the opportunity!

Thriving During the Recession

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Please be sure to check out the Division of Economic Development’s own Christine Davis who will be hosting a special edition of NH Public Television’s “Outlook” program this Friday on Channel 11 at 6 p.m. to discuss businesses that not only survived, but thrived during the recession. Here’s a background piece that Christine recently wrote about the experience:

The recession impacted just about every business in New Hampshire. Some of those businesses are now closed, some are still struggling and others are growing. I wanted to know more about those that are growing and what they were doing to get there.

I don’t often get lucky, but I certainly felt lucky (and flattered) when I received a call from N.H. Public Television asking me if I would like to guest host a special edition of “N.H. Outlook.” Since it was up to me to choose the topic, I decided to seek out businesses that used the challenges of the recession to rethink how they were running their businesses, take some risks and make changes.

NH Division of Economic Development Business Services Specialist Christine Davis

NH Division of Economic Development Business Services Specialist Christine Davis

Many businesses weathered the recession through cutbacks, dipping into financial reserves or picking up customers from businesses that closed. That’s all well and fine, but I wanted to meet with people who took a risk and made changes to how they ran their business. It takes courage to take a risk, especially when you have staff that is counting on your decision-making abilities for their livelihood.

I met with four very different businesses with very different stories. They did possess one common trait — a willingness to overcome adversity by taking risks and making changes to how they ran their businesses.

The owners of The Governor’s Inn in Rochester, Herman and Anthony Ejarque, did a complete 180 in the type of atmosphere that they offer their patrons. Gone are the linen napkins and menus loaded with French words. Now you will find walls covered in Spaulding High School sports memorabilia and hamburgers on the menu. Their other initiatives will also be discussed during the broadcast on Dec. 10.

I also spent time speaking with Geoff Martin, owner of the Cedar Mill Group in Webster. Martin’s home remodeling business was on the brink of disaster when he decided he had to go against the status quo for his industry. His competitors thought he was crazy, but Martin’s business is now thriving, and his only regret is that he didn’t make the change sooner.

Another great story is Goss International in Durham. Known for manufacturing print presses, Goss is taking its manufacturing capabilities in some new directions, including wind turbines. While they still manufacture print presses as their core business, they are using their resources in ways that might surprise you and most certainly will inspire.

My fourth guest is a real bundle of energy and determination. Scott Johnson started Certified Parts Warehouse on the second floor of the old Stratham Town Hall in 1992. He now has two buildings in Dover and a rapidly growing business due to his willingness to take risks and embrace change. Johnson’s story is about how developing all potential aspects of your business — combined with a commitment to the highest quality products and services — can only lead to good things.

I hope you will join me by tuning into this special edition of “N.H. Outlook” to learn more about these insightful and inspiring stories. The show airs on N.H. Public Television, Channel 11, at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 10. Repeat showings will be at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 12 and on Monday, Dec. 13 at 5:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Christine J. Davis is a business resource specialist with the N.H. Division of Economic Development. She can be reached at 271-2591 or Christine.Davis@dred.state.nh.us.