From the D.A., tactics for business success
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Small-business owners who want their ventures to succeed would do well to take a closer look at New York City's crimefighting strategies, says District Attorney Daniel Donovan.

"We call it 'paying attention to small things,' " said Donovan at an early-morning conference yesterday at which he and a panel of business experts advised some 100 local entrepreneurs on "Surviving the Small Business Jungle & Boosting Your Sales."

Donovan invoked the "Broken Windows theory," which holds that graffiti and broken windows, when not promptly addressed, invite more crime. By paying attention "to the small stuff, you can fight crime . . . and solve major crimes by attacking small issues."

The theory can apply to business, he said, citing an article on the subject in the Harvard Business Review, because "when a problem is ignored, it gets worse."

Yesterday's event, which was presented by the Staten Island Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the College of Staten Island (CSI) and the SBDC at Boricua College, Brooklyn, took place at the Staten Island Zoo.

Like those in law enforcement, Donovan advised, business owners need to pay attention to detail.

Customers will judge an enterprise by how well they are treated by employees, and even by the cleanliness of the rest rooms, he said.

Every victim's case is treated with equal importance in the district attorney's office, he said, and businesses should view each customer in much the same way.

"Rude employees give a poor impression of your business," he said.

Another key crimefighting tool used by the city, Donovan said, is COMSTAT -- the computerized initiative that optimizes police coverage in the most-needed locations during the most likely hours that a crime will occur.

Clear identification of patterns helps to reduce crime, and could, in turn, help to improve the efficiency of a business, Donovan said. Others who addressed the group included Linda Baran, president and CEO of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce (SICC); Dr. Michael Kress, CSI vice president for technology systems; CSI business Prof. Jonathan Peters; Bill Dubovsky, president of Comtel Information Services, Eltingville, and Jon Salmon, president of Salmon Real Estate, Castleton Corners.

"What made this a highly-successful event is that we had a diverse group of participants and exhibitors from three boroughs," said Dean L. Balsamini, director of CSI's Small Business Development Center.

Local business people were attracted to the seminar for networking opportunities and insight into business-growing strategies.

"The auto-collision business is kind of a jungle itself," said David Fazio, a co-owner of Deville Auto Collision, based in Elm Park. "The theme 'Surviving the Small Business Jungle' kind of fits. I wanted to see what advice they could offer a business such as mine, as far as marketing and surviving the business jungle."

Moji Solar-Percy, a real estate broker and owner of 7-year-old Solar Realty, West Brighton, believes its advantageous to attend business conferences like the one held yesterday.

"I've already been at two . . . (business-association) seminars," she said. "I learned so much from them; there's health insurance opportunities; there's funding; there's business development, and, also, you come into contact with people that have been in business for years ahead of all of us. So, you're learning from the professionals."

In addition to the SBDC, SICC and the Zoo, a number of exhibitors provided literature about their organizations, including the U.S. Small Business Administration; U.S. Department of Commerce; the Staten Island Care Center for Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, New Brighton; the South Shore Rotary Club; Office of Citywide Health Insurance Access, Human Resources Administration, and Brooklyn-based Opportunity Development Association.

Barton Horowitz is the Advance senior business writer/columnist. He may be reached by e-mail at

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