Overcoming Challenges: A Conversation with Mary Adelman, UCEDC Business Counselor

Beginning the challenging journey of small business ownership requires more than just passion—it demands strategic planning, financial acumen, and the ability to adapt to a rapidly changing business landscape. In this article, we delve into the wealth of insights provided by Mary Adelman, a seasoned UCEDC Business Counselor with over 20 years of experience counseling small business owners.

For entrepreneurs, the journey often begins with challenges related to cash flow. Mary explains that while small businesses often start with funding from friends and family, entrepreneurs need to be prepared, emphasizing that “small business owners also need a well-structured business plan. This plan should outline expected expenses, strategic partnerships, and how they plan to proceed. It’s about securing funds through grants, loans, or collateral. At UCEDC, we assist in developing these plans.”

For individuals who lack access to personal networks, Adelman suggests investigating grants and incubator programs specifically offered in designated cities within New Jersey. Mary stresses the importance for small business owners to be aware of and utilize various resources in New Jersey. She highlights key entities such as the New Jersey Business Action Center, the Department of Labor, and local chambers of commerce as essential for both growth and networking opportunities.

Moving beyond the initial obstacles, Mary emphasizes the importance of continuous learning and engagement with resources. UCEDC offers a range of training classes covering marketing, finance, social media, and even franchise opportunities. Mary advises entrepreneurs to seize these opportunities, stating, “A lot of business owners neglect their financials, and that’s where our training comes in. For instance, we offer QuickBooks classes to get them on the right track.”

Additionally, there is UCEDC’s Virtual Incubator Program, which provides forgivable loans for eligible candidates alongside business counseling and online training.

To guide small business owners toward building a strong foundation, Mary offers three key tips:

  1. Regularly review financials. “Don’t wait until year-end; do it weekly,” she advises.
  2. Consistently consult with an accountant to ensure financial alignment with future goals.
  3. Maintain all necessary legal documents for professional services.

Mary also stresses that understanding your customers is paramount, sharing, “You need to know their demographics, preferences, and behavior patterns. Establish a personal connection and maintain consistent interactions. Also, explore resources for hiring and internships to bolster your marketing efforts.”

Mary Adelman’s expertise is a beacon for small business owners navigating the complex landscape. Her insights form a practical roadmap for success, from overcoming initial cash flow challenges to nurturing customer relationships and staying ahead through innovation. Small businesses, armed with Mary’s experience and knowledge, can confidently chart a course toward growth and prosperity in the ever-evolving business world.

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