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MIGHTY MOTIVATION AT SMALL BUSINESS SYMPOSIUM

Dec. 4, 2001 – Present and possible future small business owners bombarded presenters with appreciation, applause, concurrence and questions at a daylong symposium on "Turning Your Passions into Profits" that was sponsored by Citibank and hosted by the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.
In the general session at Saturday's symposium in the Holiday Inn Windward Passage Hotel on St. Thomas, successful small business owners told how they did it from their first week of business, and where they're going from here.
Randolph Maynard is the owner of Pita Express, which is about to expand into Palm Passage from a tiny locale on Back Street. He chronicled his Day 1, when he took the bus to get a rental car for deliveries and had a total of nine sandwich orders for the day; then Day 2, when 39 sandwich orders came in, and off they went.
Michelle Geary, president of Infinite Possibilities, got her start in radio sales, moved on into shipping, and now has a consulting and networking firm that focuses on the Caribbean import-export business.
According to Scott Barber, president of Universal Business Supplies and Barber Enterprises, "Experience is not the best teacher. Wisdom — other people's experience — is best." He started in business machine sales and realized, much as Geary did, that he could build a home-based business in his field.
Pamela Jurgen-Abdillahi, owner of Hi-Tek Beauty salon, knew from the age of 13 that she wanted to have her own business. A St. John native, she got her start manicuring her mother's nails, Later, she was approached by a couple visiting off a cruise ship, who invited her to become a nail salon product distributor. Eventually she would have a distributing business all over the Caribbean, serving 300 manicurists in St. Martin/Sint Maarten alone.
In a way, Jurgen-Abdillahi observed, her business is better than being a doctor: You visit the doctor; he cures you, and that's it. You visit a manicurist, two weeks later you go back, and you keep on going back.
Jamila Harris, director of Kids-N-Business, got her start after 18 discouraging months of joblessness and eventual homelessness. She made a list of what skills she had, chose to market her typing ability (in the days before word processing), posted a flyer at colleges near where she lived — and soon was on her way to a business that eventually became Harris Associates. She retired from that to start her work with the Kids-N-Business after-school program.
Wisdom from the elders
Harris introduced and moderated the panel. She said at the outset, "Listen to the elders," referring to small business people now running successful operations. John de Jongh Jr., speaking for the Community Foundation board of directors, observed that he hoped hers was a new definition of "elders," as one presenter was just 38, and few had gray hair.
All day, presenters provided attentive listeners with advice: Listen to yourself first. Listen to others if they're positive. Seek help from agencies. You can do it: Just do it! Just "wade in" to technology; it's new and anyone can do it; jump in and be creative.
Barber's alphabet begins: Attitude, proper attitude. Belief in yourself. Commitment. Discipline.
The term "a good job" is a lie, Jurgen-Abdillahi said: "J-O-B means Just Over Broke."
Following the business presentations, Nadine Marchena, assistant chief executive officer with the V.I. Economic Development Authority, informed the audience about available help — even if an aspiring entrepreneur has bad credit, is just starting up or has no financial backing.
Her wisdom: Always be prepared, be practical and be powerful. "You know you are good," she said, and that gives you power. She stressed the importance of having a business license, a tax-clearance letter and a written business plan in hand before formally applying for help. Offices under EDA's umbrella, she said, can help in a variety of ways.
Questions following the general session came from people who had apparently been pondering them long: How can you keep a government job and avoid conflict of interest if you can't afford to start up on your own full time? How can you approach a company with a great idea and not have it stolen? In a place so saturated with arts, media, galleries and graphics, how can I get started? Practical answers were provided, with the bottom line always, "Just do it, go with it."
Panel sessions get into specifics
Following the general session, attendees could choose among five panel session and attend one in the morning and another after lunch.
One on "Launching Your Home-Based Business" included local business owners Jason Budsan of Caribbean Herbals, Bridgette Julius of Kallaloo Cards & Gifts, Cheryl Miller of Cheryl's Taste of Paradise, and Lesa John of Lesa's Fashion, Jewelry and Accessories. Also on the panel were Linroy Freeman, a University of the Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center counselor, and Denise Francois, an attorney.
A panel titled "Get The Word Out," on effective marketing, featured Geary; Louis Ible Jr, of Creative Arts and Design Studio and Flair Magazine; and Lisa Jamil, media consultant from The Daily News and Media Group. The session covered media promotion and the development of effective graphic designs.
"Boost Your Business With Technology" offered advice from panelists Barber; Shaun A. Pennington, publisher of VI Source Inc.; and Sharon Mordecai, UVI web site coordinator.
Harris was the presenter on "How to Make Big Money With Your Small Business."
Judy Wallace of Wallace and Burke Presentations and Cathy O'Gara of Ad Pro Graphic Designs presented "Organizing and Managing Your Home Office." Discussion on this panel included lifestyle adjustments as well as set-up of the physical business area.
The closing session on "Financing Your Business" featured Freeman and Yvette deLaubanque, directorof the V.I. Women's Business Center, as panelists.

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Dec. 4, 2001 - Present and possible future small business owners bombarded presenters with appreciation, applause, concurrence and questions at a daylong symposium on "Turning Your Passions into Profits" that was sponsored by Citibank and hosted by the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.
In the general session at Saturday's symposium in the Holiday Inn Windward Passage Hotel on St. Thomas, successful small business owners told how they did it from their first week of business, and where they're going from here.
Randolph Maynard is the owner of Pita Express, which is about to expand into Palm Passage from a tiny locale on Back Street. He chronicled his Day 1, when he took the bus to get a rental car for deliveries and had a total of nine sandwich orders for the day; then Day 2, when 39 sandwich orders came in, and off they went.
Michelle Geary, president of Infinite Possibilities, got her start in radio sales, moved on into shipping, and now has a consulting and networking firm that focuses on the Caribbean import-export business.
According to Scott Barber, president of Universal Business Supplies and Barber Enterprises, "Experience is not the best teacher. Wisdom -- other people's experience -- is best." He started in business machine sales and realized, much as Geary did, that he could build a home-based business in his field.
Pamela Jurgen-Abdillahi, owner of Hi-Tek Beauty salon, knew from the age of 13 that she wanted to have her own business. A St. John native, she got her start manicuring her mother's nails, Later, she was approached by a couple visiting off a cruise ship, who invited her to become a nail salon product distributor. Eventually she would have a distributing business all over the Caribbean, serving 300 manicurists in St. Martin/Sint Maarten alone.
In a way, Jurgen-Abdillahi observed, her business is better than being a doctor: You visit the doctor; he cures you, and that's it. You visit a manicurist, two weeks later you go back, and you keep on going back.
Jamila Harris, director of Kids-N-Business, got her start after 18 discouraging months of joblessness and eventual homelessness. She made a list of what skills she had, chose to market her typing ability (in the days before word processing), posted a flyer at colleges near where she lived -- and soon was on her way to a business that eventually became Harris Associates. She retired from that to start her work with the Kids-N-Business after-school program.
Wisdom from the elders
Harris introduced and moderated the panel. She said at the outset, "Listen to the elders," referring to small business people now running successful operations. John de Jongh Jr., speaking for the Community Foundation board of directors, observed that he hoped hers was a new definition of "elders," as one presenter was just 38, and few had gray hair.
All day, presenters provided attentive listeners with advice: Listen to yourself first. Listen to others if they're positive. Seek help from agencies. You can do it: Just do it! Just "wade in" to technology; it's new and anyone can do it; jump in and be creative.
Barber's alphabet begins: Attitude, proper attitude. Belief in yourself. Commitment. Discipline.
The term "a good job" is a lie, Jurgen-Abdillahi said: "J-O-B means Just Over Broke."
Following the business presentations, Nadine Marchena, assistant chief executive officer with the V.I. Economic Development Authority, informed the audience about available help -- even if an aspiring entrepreneur has bad credit, is just starting up or has no financial backing.
Her wisdom: Always be prepared, be practical and be powerful. "You know you are good," she said, and that gives you power. She stressed the importance of having a business license, a tax-clearance letter and a written business plan in hand before formally applying for help. Offices under EDA's umbrella, she said, can help in a variety of ways.
Questions following the general session came from people who had apparently been pondering them long: How can you keep a government job and avoid conflict of interest if you can't afford to start up on your own full time? How can you approach a company with a great idea and not have it stolen? In a place so saturated with arts, media, galleries and graphics, how can I get started? Practical answers were provided, with the bottom line always, "Just do it, go with it."
Panel sessions get into specifics
Following the general session, attendees could choose among five panel session and attend one in the morning and another after lunch.
One on "Launching Your Home-Based Business" included local business owners Jason Budsan of Caribbean Herbals, Bridgette Julius of Kallaloo Cards & Gifts, Cheryl Miller of Cheryl's Taste of Paradise, and Lesa John of Lesa's Fashion, Jewelry and Accessories. Also on the panel were Linroy Freeman, a University of the Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center counselor, and Denise Francois, an attorney.
A panel titled "Get The Word Out," on effective marketing, featured Geary; Louis Ible Jr, of Creative Arts and Design Studio and Flair Magazine; and Lisa Jamil, media consultant from The Daily News and Media Group. The session covered media promotion and the development of effective graphic designs.
"Boost Your Business With Technology" offered advice from panelists Barber; Shaun A. Pennington, publisher of VI Source Inc.; and Sharon Mordecai, UVI web site coordinator.
Harris was the presenter on "How to Make Big Money With Your Small Business."
Judy Wallace of Wallace and Burke Presentations and Cathy O'Gara of Ad Pro Graphic Designs presented "Organizing and Managing Your Home Office." Discussion on this panel included lifestyle adjustments as well as set-up of the physical business area.
The closing session on "Financing Your Business" featured Freeman and Yvette deLaubanque, directorof the V.I. Women's Business Center, as panelists.