In part two of the Small Business Saturday blog, I will be discussing my interviews with owners of two small businesses in the Harrisburg area, Bart Kaminski of Kollision Media and Tim Tatge of Provider Select.  The interviews that I conducted with these two gentlemen really provided insight into the small business landscape.

Bart Kaminski (@KollisionMedia) of Kollision Media has been a freelance employee of Solutions for Advertising for more than 3 years now.  When we aren’t keeping him busy doing design for our website, media kit, or advertising ads, he has built himself quite a small business.  He is a skilled graphic designer and makes awesome web sites for his clients.  I began discussing with him the advantages of operating a small business.  Bart thought that he had an advantage over his corporate competition because he doesn’t have the overhead of having to maintain an office with a staff.  He has the ability to work within a set budget because of this reason.  When I asked Bart who his corporate competition was he mentioned JPL Productions (although I’m sure there are many more).  While the quality of his work is on par with his corporate competition, he has the advantage of catering explicitly to his clients’ needs.  To quote Bart:  “People prefer a casual atmosphere for meetings instead of a board room with “suits”.   Small business needs this personal touch.   The ability of communicating with your client and making them feel comfortable allows you to connect with them on a different level without the corporate persona.”

I then asked Bart about the future of Kollision Media.  He began describing his ideas for his social media corner on his website.  In the very near future, Bart is going to include a section of his website that can promote his clients in a different way than before.  He envisions an open forum that allow people to post reviews and allow the client to post new products, services, or specials all in one place on his website.  He is also including in his fees banner ads on his site and direct links to clients Facebook, Twitter, and website.  I encourage you to check out Kollision Media, and keep him in mind for any graphic design needs.  I truly want to thank Mr. Kaminski for his time and wish Kollision Media great success.

Website:  http://www.kollisionmedia.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/kollisionmedia

To conclude my interviews regarding Small Business Saturday, I spoke with the owner of Provider Select, Tim Tatge.  Tim has been a longtime friend of mine, and recently won a grant from the state of Pennsylvania through Ben Franklin Technologies.  The interview I conducted with Tim did not specially speak about his small business versus corporate competition, but how you go about starting a small business if you have a great idea.  I don’t want to go into great detail about Provider Select, as it is truly in its infancy, but Tim did provide amazing insight to a program available in Pennsylvania for entrepreneurs looking to start a small business.

Tim had a successful career as a drug representative for Pfizer, one of the largest drug manufacturers worldwide.  After electing early retirement, Tim found his days with little meaning.  He knew he was still able to work and must do so to save his sanity.  He began doing research and found a company called Ben Franklin Technologies (http://benfranklin.org/what-is-bftp/who-we-work-with/entrepreneurs).  BFT is a company that is giving grants from the state of Pennsylvania to help promote the creation of small business in the state.  I was surprised to hear that our state actually had this sort of thing.  I’m proud that Pennsylvania understands the importance of small business and how our state can benefit from the creation of it.

The process, however, is not very easy to complete.  According to Tim, here was the timeline for his business to go from idea to winning the grant:

Step 1:  Contact Ben Franklin Technologies and pitch the business.

Step 2:  Being chosen to enter the program (not everyone is chosen).

Step 3:  Begin an eight-week training session at TeleCelerator in Carlisle.

Step 4:  Each week you have classes to prepare you for your final pitch.

Step 5:  Develop and present your final elevator pitch for the panel.

Step 6:  Be chosen to receive grant money.  In the case of Mr. Tatge’s group, there was a total of $10,000 awarded, $8,000 to Mr. Tatge and $2,000 for the runner-up.  Tim mentioned that over the course of these classes, the full $10,000 is rarely awarded in its entirety.  Tim was extremely lucky and his idea should be considered as one of the best.

At this point, this is where Tim finds himself today, between Steps 6 and 7.  The one thing about winning this competition is that you are not simply awarded a check and sent on your way, you have an advisor that controls the money and how it is spent.  It is now Tim’s job to put this plan into motion, and the wheels are already turning.  Mr. Tatge looks to the new year for getting the business up and running,  “I think that January, February, and March will be the most important months for this business.  I have so much to do and so little time if this idea is going to get off the ground.”

So if you have an idea for a small business, Ben Franklin Technologies is a great way to start making your idea a reality.  Tim should truly be commended for his perseverance and dedication in winning this grant.  Hopefully, in the coming months Provider Select will take off and be another success story for small business.  Stay tuned.

It has truly been a wonderful opportunity to speak with Cory Lauer, Bart Kaminski, Pete Anderson, and Tim Tatge on behalf of this blog and Solutions for Advertising.  While each of the businesses are quite different, it certainly is refreshing to know that in this ever corporate world, small business is still at the paramount of our thoughts.  I would really like some comments about the concept of shopping small and would love you to share any stories about your holiday shopping regarding this.

For my next blog, I am thinking about doing something about QR Codes and their prevalence in new media.  Due to the holidays, check out our Facebook page for announcements about when this blog will be posted.  I will promise my loyal readers that I will have a new blog up prior to Christmas, but it will be my last until the new year.

Paul Miller

http://www.facebook.com/solutionsforadvertising

Twitter: @solutionsforadv

Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495