In her own words, Rosalind Resnick has been around the block a few times. Starting her professional life as a business writer for the Miami Herald, Resnick became a homebased freelance writer after the birth of her first daughter, covering business, legal, computer and Internet topics for a variety of publications. Based on her own experiences trying to become Internet-savvy in the early '90s, in 1993 Resnick wrote Exploring the World of Online Services, a guide for small businesses wanting to use the Internet, and co-wrote The Internet Business Guide: Riding the Information Superhighway to Profit with Dave Taylor in 1994.
By that point, Resnick had become well-known for her online expertise and became a public speaker. She also decided to apply this knowledge to her own Web firm, Netcreations, a company she co-founded out of her Hollywood, Florida, home in 1995. First launched as a Web design firm, Netcreations eventually became a New York City-based, publicly traded Web marketing company that was instrumental in pioneering permission-based e-mail marketing.
After the dotcom bust, Netcreations lost clients, and in September 2000, Resnick realized the company would miss its numbers. In February 2001, Netcreations was acquired in an all-cash offer, and Resnick walked away with $40 million. Not wanting to sit on a beach and drink mai tais, she decided to share her expertise with other small-business owners and founded Axxess Business Centers Inc. in 2002.
Axxess Business Centers (ABC), which currently has one location in New York City and plans to open in nine other major markets by 2004, are for-profit storefronts where business owners can meet with veteran entrepreneurs to get sales, marketing, financing, technology or management advice. Curious to see how ABC compares to, say, Small Business Development Centers, we spoke with Resnick to learn more about her company.
What happens when a business owner visits an Axxess Business Center?
Rosalind Resnick: You sit down with a counselor who is an experienced entrepreneur, not a retired executive but somebody who's still in the game, who can give you the kind of hand-holding and advice that you really need to start your own business and take it to the next level. It starts with the initial counseling session--we charge $49.95 for [that]. We walk them through a series of questions to find out about them, to find out about their business, and ultimately to find out about their goals and objectives.
The start-ups that come through the door--typically the roadblock they face in getting funding is that they don't have a business plan and they need one. It's interesting because when we opened our doors, I thought, surely, you as an entrepreneur could go to any number of not-for-profits and mentoring kind of groups that assist people with their business plans, but what we found was that even though you could take a 10-week course, take a workshop or read a book, none of the not-for-profit organizations would actually sit down with you and write your plan, and that's because they didn't have the staff or the funding. One of the first things we found was, people were coming in for counseling but they were asking us "Can you write my business plan?"
For the existing small businesses, again it starts when they walk in the door and sit down for the initial counseling session. The second step is typically for them to come back with their financials so that we can get a handle on their numbers. What I've found is, most small-business owners are excellent at what they do, whether it's cooking, designing clothes or any number of different things that our clients do, but when it comes to finance, typically they really don't know much about it and are either too busy to learn or it's not their thing or they're frustrated. So typically we'll sit down with them and put together a sales forecast, a cash-flow analysis and a budget, and then after working with them for a few sessions, various problems that they're having with their business will begin to emerge.
Have most of the entrepreneurs coming in already started a business, or are they trying to put a business together?
Resnick: I would say it's about 50-50 at this point. We do work with a lot of start-ups, but having said that, a lot of existing businesses come in.