As New Jersey’s unemployment rate continues to skyrocket amid the pandemic, more than half of New Jersey businesses anticipate not being profitable at pre-COVID levels for up to a year, according to a survey conducted by New Jersey Business & Industry Association. This scenario is leaving individuals to look for income sources. And many are coming up with new business ideas or expanding their side gigs.
It’s not always easy to put an idea to work. More than ever, New Jersey’s entrepreneurs and aspiring small business owners need the knowledge, tools and support necessary to overcome the common struggles small businesses face.
The more entrepreneurs who attain financial stability for themselves and their families also help position New Jersey for long-term economic growth. Toward those ends, Linda Wellbrock – founder of Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Force for Change NJ – has teamed up with successful entrepreneur and business strategist Michael Dermer, the founder of The Lonely Entrepreneur, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to helping New Jersey’s entrepreneurs turn their passion into success.
Together, Wellbrock and Dermer created the New Jersey Entrepreneur Initiative to help 10,000-plus entrepreneurs in the state “overcome the entrepreneurial struggle” and significantly increase their chances for success, while making a positive impact on New Jersey’s overall economy.
Wellbrock said this effort is probably one of the most important initiatives of her career. “I am excited to further my mission to empower New Jersey’s most deserving entrepreneurs,” said Wellbrock during an invitation-only Zoom announcement.
NJEI hopes to bring together a broad-based coalition of statewide leaders, business decision-makers, philanthropists and influencers as sponsors to arm thousands of struggling entrepreneurs and small business owners with free access to The Lonely Entrepreneur Learning Community.
The Learning Center is a comprehensive “one-stop” system that is now available to give entrepreneurs and small business owners the resources they need at no charge. There are over 300 online, digestible, and organized teaching vignettes available with hundreds of business templates and multiple ways for budding entrepreneurs to get the answers they need–everything from how to set up business to an entrepreneurial survival guide.
Additionally, there is continuing support via interactive weekly coaching and an online community, as well as 24/7 access from any desktop or mobile device.
“For those visionary businesses, corporations and entities who support these deserving entrepreneurs by giving them an economic lifeline, the rewards can be even more far reaching and significant,” Wellbrock said. “Not only will these companies be able to establish direct connections with the next generation of thriving New Jersey business builders, but perhaps even more importantly, these entities will become known to their consumers, clients and benefactors as authentic and positive influencers in the recovery and growth of New Jersey’s economy.”
Wellbrock and Dermer have created a team of “New Jersey trailblazers to advise and spearhead the formation of The New Jersey Entrepreneurship Initiative.” The members are:
- Lyneir Richardson, a champion of the Black community for more than 20 years. Richardson served as the economic development lead for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, and he currently leads The Rutgers Center for Urban Economic Development and is assistant professor of Professional Practice at Rutgers Business School.
- Tara Gilvar the founder of the New Jersey grassroots women’s empowerment organization B.I.G. Gilvar creates safe and supportive environments for thousands of entrepreneurial women in communities throughout the state and offers them the inspiration, community and tools they need to move their personal and professional goals forward.
- Yvette Donado a leader and valued advocate in the state’s Hispanic community. Donado is a graduate of Harvard Business School and former C-Suite business executive at ETS. She is passionate in her mission to bring community and business leaders together to effect positive change, particularly for those living and working in New Jersey’s underserved communities.
Early supporters of NJEI include New Jersey Business & Industry Association; the African American Chamber of Commerce; Junior Achievement of New Jersey; HISPA (Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement); and The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of NJ.
A range of statewide institutions and businesses are expected to join the effort in the weeks and months ahead. In supporting the entrepreneurs, participants can enhance their own brands with current and potential customers and provide access to potential clients. Involvement also demonstrates social responsibility efforts, and it can drive economic development by bringing new services to a community.
“It is truly an honor to partner with New Jersey’s finest to support the lifeblood of the state’s economy, our entrepreneurs and small business owners,” Dermer said. “By bringing together this coalition of committed and passionate leaders to help distribute these business building – and business saving –resources, we are well-positioned to help the people of New Jersey not just recover, but thrive.”