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Small business trend: Why corporate types are going out on their own

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Dr. Laura Rokosz, founder, EGGLRock Nutrition LLC.
Dr. Laura Rokosz, founder, EGGLRock Nutrition LLC. - ()

Nearly three decades in the pharmaceutical industry provided Dr. Laura Rokosz a certain veteran status, not to mention a six-figure salary.

It also provided a dose of disillusionment.

 

“My contribution as an individual was so minimal in the grand scheme of things,” she said. “I felt there was more I could do to bring health and wellness to the masses.”

That’s why she left a job in researching and developing therapeutic drugs at a large company to start her own small business, not even exactly sure what that business would be.

It seems like a gigantic leap of faith; but Howard Dorman, partner in the New Jersey office of international accounting firm Mazars, said more people from the corporate world are making it.

Dorman said he’s seeing new entries into the local small business communities regularly come from those leaving comfortable corporate roles behind. And that’s most true of industries in which people’s passion prevails over contentment with cushy jobs.

The food industry in particular is one that Dorman has seen retreated to from corporate roles.

“Maybe it starts with cooking cupcakes at kids’ parties, and then someone finds a way to monetize that,” he said. “These small businesses can go from having one or two employees to 15 or more and hundreds of thousands in revenue quicker than you’d expect. … So, you can’t argue with it.”

Not that it’s just sweet treat businesses tasting success. Dorman said healthy eating businesses are thriving in the small business sector.

“People are really into organic foods and nutrition, eating local,” he said. “All of a sudden, you have this market that opens up a whole new entrepreneurial area. We’ve watched it come to fruition.”

Rokosz found her calling there; she promotes dietary and lifestyle strategies for disease prevention through her own nutrition-focused practice, EGGLRock Nutrition LLC.

She started the Union-based practice after tapping several resources, one being a local Small Business Development Center. It helps that the niche she entered, the area of health maintenance, is one that’s attracting a lot of interest due to national trends.

“Between the Affordable Care Act and the talk about reversing it, my patients don’t want to be taking expensive medicine,” she said. “They want to do all they can to not get sick to begin with.”

The practice allows her to utilize the Ph.D. she received in food science from Rutgers University. On top of all that, it’s the sort of fulfilling role she was longing for.

That search for a fulfilling career has also brought people to lesser but important roles at small businesses.

Dr. Lisa Aumiller’s HousePaws Mobile Veterinary Service business has been flourishing since its 2010 inception. In the past few years, it needed to hire 20 support staff to facilitate the new business it’s quickly taking on.

Even in a time of low unemployment and discussion about the difficulty of recruiting employees, there’s an enthusiasm about working for a small business like HousePaws that makes the company immune to job market trends.

“We get more applicants than we can interview — we rarely even have to post a job description,” Aumiller said. “And it’s often people disenchanted with their career who express that they have wanted to work with animals their whole lives.”

Paired with that is an immunity in the veterinary industry to dips in the market overall, Aumiller said.

“It’s not a luxury service, but the people who like to spend money on their animals’ health don’t stop doing that even during down economies,” she said.

Rokosz still mainly relies on herself and some intern help to run her practice, which also has strong indications of a small business that will grow. She recently landed her own call-in radio show, “Eat Right With Laura” on WMTR-AM.

Now that she’s doing what she loves, Rokosz has larger-than-life ambition.

“My goal is to have a (television) show,” she said. “I want to be the next Dr. Oz. And I think it’s time for a new face.”

Small business trend:Why corporate types are goingout on their ownBy BRETT JOHNSONNearly three decades in the pharmaceutical industry provided Dr. Laura Rokosz a certain veteran status, not to mention a six-figure salary.It also provided a dose of disillusionment.“My contribution as an individual was so minimal in the grand scheme of things,” she said. “I felt there was more I could do to bring health and wellness to the masses.”That’s why she left a job in researching and developing therapeutic drugs at a large company to start her own small business, not even exactly sure what that business would be.It seems like a gigantic leap of faith; but Howard Dorman, partner in the New Jersey office of international accounting firm Mazars, said more people from the corporate world are making it.Dorman said he’s seeing new entries into the local small business communities regularly come from those leaving comfortable corporate roles behind. And that’s most true of industries in which people’s passion prevails over contentment with cushy jobs.The food industry in particular is one that Dorman has seen retreated to from corporate roles.“Maybe it starts with cooking cupcakes at kids’ parties, and then someone finds a way to monetize that,” he said. “These small businesses can go from having one or two employees to 15 or more and hundreds of thousands in revenue quicker than you’d expect. … So, you can’t argue with it.”Not that it’s just sweet treat businesses tasting success. Dorman said healthy eating businesses are thriving in the small business sector.“People are really into organic foods and nutrition, eating local,” he said. “All of a sudden, you have this market that opens up a whole new entrepreneurial area. We’ve watched it come to fruition.”Rokosz found her calling there; she promotes dietary and lifestyle strategies for disease prevention through her own nutrition-focused practice, EGGLRock Nutrition LLC.She started the Union-based practice after tapping several resources, one being a local Small Business Development Center. It helps that the niche she entered, the area of health maintenance, is one that’s attracting a lot of interest due to national trends.“Between the Affordable Care Act and the talk about reversing it, my patients don’t want to be taking expensive medicine,” she said. “They want to do all they can to not get sick to begin with.”The practice allows her to utilize the Ph.D. she received in food science from Rutgers University. On top of all that, it’s the sort of fulfilling role she was longing for.That search for a fulfilling career has also brought people to lesser but important roles at small businesses.Dr. Lisa Aumiller’s HousePaws Mobile Veterinary Service business has been flourishing since its 2010 inception. In the past few years, it needed to hire 20 support staff to facilitate the new business it’s quickly taking on.Even in a time of low unemployment and discussion about the difficulty of recruiting employees, there’s an enthusiasm about working for a small business like HousePaws that makes the company immune to job market trends.“We get more applicants than we can interview — we rarely even have to post a job description,” Aumiller said. “And it’s often people disenchanted with their career who express that they have wanted to work with animals their whole lives.”Paired with that is an immunity in the veterinary industry to dips in the market overall, Aumiller said.“It’s not a luxury service, but the people who like to spend money on their animals’ health don’t stop doing that even during down economies,” she said.Rokosz still mainly relies on herself and some intern help to run her practice, which also has strong indications of a small business that will grow. She recently landed her own call-in radio show, “Eat Right With Laura” on WMTR-AM.Now that she’s doing what she loves, Rokosz has larger-than-life ambition.“My goal is to have a (television) show,” she said. “I want to be the next Dr. Oz. And I think it’s time for a new face.”Email to: bjohnson@njbiz.comOn Twitter: @ReporterBrett

Best in show

Dr. Lisa Aumiller started her mobile veterinary business with just a truck filled with a few pieces of equipment, but that set of wheels drove her to national-stage recognition.

Aumiller, founder of HousePaws Mobile Veterinary Service, was named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s New Jersey Small Business Person of the Year at the beginning of May. That put her in the running for the National Small Business Person of the Year Award, an accolade handed out by the SBA’s national administrator, Linda McMahon, in Washington, D.C.

She didn’t end up taking that top prize (it went to Maui Brewing Company from Hawaii), but she did get the chance to meet McMahon, as well as Ivanka Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

“No matter what your political affiliation is, it’s neat to have these people recognizing small businesses,” she said.

The local iteration of the SBA also showed up at the Mount Laurel office of Aumiller’s business to present her state-centered award.

“That was huge, because you often feel bad going out to accept these awards when it’s really your entire team that makes stuff happen — not just you,” she said. “So, it was special to have the work we all do together recognized.”

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