Her goal in 2007: A $1M business
When Doreen Zayer opened her massage-therapy business 11 years ago in the Staten Island Mall, she had to overcome lack-of-money fears, she said.

Recently, the licensed massage therapist, founder and owner of Relax on Cloud Nine, a health spa in the Hilton Garden Inn, Bloomfield, and on Clove Road in West Brighton, was named a winner of a contest that promises to help her business grow into a million-dollar-a-year enterprise.

Ms. Zayer was among 20 women entrepreneurs who were chosen from about 500 applicants as winners of the Make Mine a $Million Business Award.

Founded by Count-Me-In for Women's Economic Independence with OPEN from American Express, the award provides women with coaching, mentoring, money and marketing resources to help them cross the $1 million mark in annual revenues; it is part of a national event, said Alex Della Rocca, spokesman for the program, based in Manhattan.

Count Me In connected me with three different business coaches, and I picked the one that I thought would be the most helpful, Ms. Zayer related. Coaching is valuable because it helps your focus, keeps you on target.

I was most interested in how to handle payroll, and whether the number of employees is correct for my business, she said.

They look at things that are important to you as an individual, and they asked me about things I want to work on, Ms. Zayer said.

My goal is not just to reach the $1 million mark, but to increase my bottom line, and to enjoy what I'm doing.

She also appreciates that help from Count Me In is just a phone call away. You can e-mail your profit- and loss-statements, and they monitor any red flags. If they don't have the answer to the problem, they link you with someone who does have the answer, she said.

To learn from a successful business owner, whose focus is to see you succeed, to have them in your corner, guiding you, is so valuable, said Ms. Zayer.


While the contest offers its winners up to a $45,000 line of credit, Ms. Zayer noted, We already have a credit line with SI Bank & Trust, so it was not necessary.

Ms. Zayer and the other finalists delivered their business pitches last October to an audience of about 1,000 successful women entrepreneurs and celebrities -- including financial adviser and author Suze Orman, who has a television show in her name.

I knew what I wanted to say, but I was so scared at the prospect of preparing the video presentation, I almost didn't apply, Ms. Zayer related.

She contacted Islander Diane DiResta, speaker, coach and author of Knockout Presentations: How to Deliver Your Message with Power, Punch and Pizzazz, after hearing her speak at a conference.

It made all the difference. She coached me on how to open with a hook line ['I'm in the business of helping people relax and feel good'], how to look, how to stand, move my hands. I felt much more confident.

Ms. Zayer, who has five full-time employees and hires about two dozen independent contractors, said she first read about the contest online, and from the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce.

I've already benefited so much from mentoring by the SBDC (Small Business Development Center at the College of Staten Island) which gave her free and valuable advice soon after she opened her business in April 1995.

The Relax on Cloud Nine founder went on to win the 2005 SBDC's Growth Company Entrepreneur of the Year Award.


In 2005, Islander Pamela Coppola, president of Statewide Fire Corp., Meiers Corners, was named one of five winners in the OPEN from American Express Make Mine a $Million Business awards (Advance: Dec. 11, 2005). The prizes have been increased since that time, contest spokesman Della Rocca said.

The award is part of a national initiative dedicated to assisting the 97 percent of women entrepreneurs with businesses generating less than $1 million in annual revenues, and that show potential to reach the $1 million goal, spokesman Della Rocca said. Only 3 percent of women-owned U.S. businesses generate more than $1 million dollars annually, compared to 6 percent of men-owned businesses in the same category, he said.

Nell Merlino, president of Count Me In for Women's Economic Independence, told the Advance that the judges were impressed with the steady growth of Relax on Cloud Nine. She has two locations and a mobile spa. Those things sold us, she said, adding, Doreen Zayer will be very successful.

Carolyn Rushefsky is a reporter for the Advance. She may be reached at rushefsky@ siadvance. com.

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