The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Vision 2013

April 28, 2013

Help offered for those starting out

JOHNSTOWN — Not every idea for a new business is going to succeed, but there is help for those pondering a leap into entrepreneurialism, said Edward R. Huttenhower, director of the Small Business Development Center at St. Francis University.

“A lot of what we do is help them evaluate their idea and work with them through development of the business plan,” Huttenhower said. “The plan gives them a tool to operate the business and a tool to take to financial institutions.”

Ideas like Jonathan Miller’s and his mother Mem Miller’s innovative printer font that saves businesses money on ink and reduces waste sent to landfills.

The son-mother team from Ashville launched Dimples LLC after coming up with the software to print letters full of tiny holes. Their idea grew out of experience with another business.

“We were trying to reduce the cost,” Jonathan Miller said. “We couldn’t reduce the paper consumption very much.”

After brainstorming, they created a prototype and tried it out.

“There are special perforations in the font,” he said. “If you look closely, it has a bunch of little holes – little dimples.”

Working through St. Francis, the Millers got their new business up and running, demonstrating a savings of up to more than 30 percent in ink consumption.

To date, Dimples is installed on a few thousand computers and a new generation of software is in the works. Sales representatives are working in different parts of the country and the partners are looking for some more help.

Not every idea makes for a good business, Huttenhower said.

“A lot of times, we try to get them to realize themselves that this is not going to make sense,” he said. “They can’t demonstrate that there is a sufficient market for them.”

It takes more than a good idea to succeed, Huttenhower stressed.

“To thrive, the big things are that the entrepreneur has the financial resources to survive, and the background at what it is they are planning to start,” he said.

That background is a huge factor, he added.

“Sometimes people come and ask, ‘What kind of business should I be starting?’ ” Huttenhower said. “That’s a big red flag.”

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