Business Development & Conflict Resolution

We assist individuals with starting their own businesses because small business is key to economic independence and community sustainability.

Archive for the month “January, 2014”

How Conflict Resolution Can Stop “Bullying” in School?

In the past 20 years we have seen many “bullying incidents” turn into fatal school shootings and children committing suicide. The school districts must take “bullying” very seriously and stop thinking of it as just a part of “growing pains” as a young person. There are many different forms of “bullying” today, student to student bullying, cyber-bullying, anonymous bullying, and group bullying. We, as adults, must teach our young people how bullying is wrong and not right. Also, young people must learn that are consequences to their actions involving “bullying”.

It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. Source: National Education Association.
One in Seven students K-12th grade are victims of bullying. 56% of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school. 15% of all school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being bullied at school. 71% of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school. 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month.
According to bullying statistics, 1 out of every 10 students who drop out of school does so because of repeated bullying.

Bullying statistics say revenge is the strongest motivation for school shootings. 87% of students said shootings are motivated by a desire to “get back at those who have hurt them.” 86% of students said, “other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying them” causes teenagers to turn to lethal violence in the schools. 61% of students said students shoot others because they have been victims of physical abuse at home. 54% of students said witnessing physical abuse at home can lead to violence in school. Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75% of school-shooting incidents. 1 out of 20 students has seen a student with a gun at school.

Suicide remains among the leading causes of death for children under the age of 14. And in most cases, the young people die from hanging. (AAS) A new review of studies from 13 countries found signs of an apparent connection between bullying, being bullied, and suicide. (Yale School of Medicine) Suicide rates among children between the ages of 10 & 14 are very low, but are “creeping up.” (Ann Haas, Director of the Suicide Prevention Project at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). Many young people being bullied find that the only way to deal with the situation is to commit suicide because they do not get any support from the school authorities and are told to just deal with the situation.

As adults, we must change our beliefs regarding “bullying” because today’s “bullying” is not the same as “bullying” when we were young. Today, a child can be bullied without even knowing who is doing the “bullying”. I believe that schools must take “bullying” seriously and let students know that the school will not tolerate such behavior and there are serious ramifications for such behavior. Schools are a primary place where bullying can happen. Helping to establish a supportive and safe school climate where all students are accepted and knowing how to respond when bullying happens are key to making sure all students are able to learn and grow.

Here are some key tools to use to stop bullying in school:

  1. Learn what bullying is and what it is not. Many behaviors that look like bullying may be just as serious, but may require different response strategies.  You can also learn about what to look for as warning signs that some of your students might be involved in bullying and who might be at more risk for being involved.  Know about special considerations for specific groups.
  2. Establish a safe school climate. Often the first step to preventing bullying is making sure the students, teachers, and administrators alike are educated about bullying. Tools like the School Bus Drivers Training and Classroom Teacher Training can help. For kids, tools like these webisodes can help them learn about bullying.
  3. Learn how to engage parents and youth in the building a positive school climate. Learning how to talk about bullying with youth is a critical step.
  4. Know about your obligations under your state’s anti-bullying law. Learn also about federal laws that require schools to address harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex, and disabilities. Work to establish rules and policies to help let the entire school community know the expectations around bullying and procedures to report and investigate when something happens.
  5. Assess bullying in your school and understand how your school compares to national rates of bullying.
  6. Avoid misdirection in bullying prevention and response strategies.
  7. Utilize free Federal and Non-Federal Resources on bullying.




Another key tool that can be used to combat “bullying” in school is conflict resolution/peer mediation programs. Peer mediation programs help students learn interpersonal skills important for the development of pro-social behaviors and constructive conflict management. The intervention consists of two critical elements:

  • School wide conflict resolution curriculum. Project staff developed a conflict resolution curriculum taught to all students in a school. Its purpose is to provide a constructive approach to conflict and alert students to skills helpful in finding productive resolutions. The curriculum provides a context for the initiation of peer mediation. The conflict resolution curriculum is delivered through courses selected by the school and is organized around five themes: Understanding conflict, effective communication, understanding anger, handling anger, and peer mediation.
  • Peer mediation program involving a cadre of trained peer mediators (20-35) in each school. A small group of students are chosen. School staff make efforts to involve a cross-section of students in terms of grade, sex, race, and socio-economic status; they also try to include some students who have or are at risk for behavior problems. The students attend two days of training in mediation skills. Those who successfully complete the training serve as school-wide peer mediators for the year.

Referrals to peer mediation can be made by students, teachers, or administrative staff; pairs of mediators use structured mediation procedures to help disputants come to mutually satisfactory agreements. School staff develop a referral protocol and schedule for mediations that can accommodate disputants in a timely manner with minimal disruption of academic activities. All mediations are conducted by pairs of peer mediators with minimal adult supervision, and proceedings are recorded on mediation agreement forms. (Source:

This type of conflict resolution program can assist schools with dealing with “bullying” incidents in a positive way because it involves adults and students in the process.

“Bullying” is a problem that must be addressed and taken seriously by both adults and young people because we can no longer look at “bullying” as a rite of passage for young people.

Donya Zimmerman is a business consultant, mediator, and legal professional with over ten years of experience. She is owner of Family & Community Mediation and Business Consulting based in Baltimore, Maryland and has been in business since 2013. Contact information:,, and







If You Want to Succeed, Reach Out

Have you ever wondered why you are not succeeding at what you love to do in life? Or, why you are stuck in a job or career that you hate? It all stems from your fear of failure or rejection and your belief that you cannot do better with your life. I have learned as a Christian Business Owner that “you are the key factor” as to whether or not you will succeed in life. Gal 5:25 states “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit”. Gal 5:13 “By love serve one another”. God has set a plan in motion for your life and He has given you the tools to use in order to succeed in life. What are you waiting for go out and get your success on?

To succeed in life you must be connected to the right people. Those who enable you to succeed won’t always come to you, you must go to them. Success does not come knocking on your door, you must go out and find it. Jesus “went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere”. (Luke 9:6) To spread the good gospel of God. What is keeping you from reaching out others? Fear of rejection, fear of failure, or fear of change. Until your dream becomes more important to you than fear of rejection or fear of failure, you will never succeed.

Successful people dread rejection too, but they believe their goals are worth it. There are two kinds of people in your life: 1. those who already know you have something they need; and 2. those who do not know yet. Start a “people list” to reach the people who do not know about the services or products you have to offer them. Use your network of colleagues and friends, who know about your product or services, to reach the “unknown customers”.

You are already networked and connected, use that “network of connections”, to reach the mass of potential customers. Follow the dots and you’ll get to your destiny. Success always begins somewhere, at some moment, with someone. The secret to “your personal success” is you must reach out.



Donya Zimmerman is a business consultant, mediator, and legal professional with over ten years of experience. She is owner of Family & Community Mediation and Business Consulting based in Baltimore, Maryland and has been in business since 2013. Contact information:,, and



Why Is A Business Plan Good for Business?

As a small business owner (second time around), I am so glad that I completed a business plan this go around. When I had my first business, a law practice, I did not complete a business plan. I started my law practice without any guidance or “real game plan”. I believe that if I had done a business plan before starting my law practice, I could have avoided many of the problems and issues I had to deal with running my law practice. I believe that due to lack of proper preparation and proper planning, I had no choice but to close my law practice.

When I decided to start a mediation and consulting business, I made sure that I had a “game plan”; I was prepared; and I had proper guidance. I did this by completing a business plan and doing research on my desired business. A business plan is a formal statement of a set of business goals, the reasons they are believed attainable, and the plan for reaching those goals. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals. A business plan helps you to define your mission, vision, and statement of purpose for your business idea. A business plan assists one with the organization of their business and helps you to determine who will be the main players in your business.

A business plan is extremely helpful and required if you plan to seek financing for your business from banks or investors. Business plans may also target changes in perception and branding by the customer, client, taxpayer, or larger community. When the existing business is to assume a major change or when planning a new venture, a 3 to 5 year business plan is required, since investors will look for their annual return in that timeframe. Investors and Bankers like to see your “business plan” for your business to determine if it is worth the investment, viable, and when will they receive a return from their investment.

Depending on your audience, you should complete both an “external” business plan for bankers and investors, and “internal” business plan for your personal use to organize and grow your business. Externally focused plans target goals that are important to external stakeholders, particularly financial stakeholders. They typically have detailed information about the organization or team attempting to reach the goals. With for-profit entities, external stakeholders include investors and customers. External stake-holders of non-profits include donors and the clients of the non-profit’s services.  For government agencies, external stakeholders include tax-payers, higher-level government agencies, and international lending bodies.

Internally focused business plans target intermediate goals required to reach the external goals. They may cover the development of a new product, a new service, a new IT system, a restructuring of finance, the refurbishing of a factory, or a restructuring of the organization. An internal business plan is often developed in conjunction with a balanced scorecard or a list of critical success factors. This allows success of the plan to be measured using non-financial measures. Business plans that identify and target internal goals, but provide only general guidance on how they will be met are called strategic plans.

    Business plans are decision-making tools. There is no fixed content for a business plan. Rather, the content and format of the business plan is determined by the goals and audience. A business plan represents all aspects of business planning process declaring vision and strategy alongside sub-plans to cover marketing, finance, operations, human resources as well as a legal plan, when required. A business plan is a summary of those disciplinary plans.

    In conclusion, a business plan to me is way for you to tell your story as why you want to start your business, description of your product or services, a road map on how to set-up your business and maintain your business, and a guide for bankers and investors as why they should invest in your business. A business plan is a road map for you to follow in every step of setting up and running your business. Also, a business plan gives you a three to five year plan for the growth of your business. One good thing about having a business plan is that you can always change and update it as your business changes and grows.


Donya Zimmerman is a business consultant, mediator, and legal professional with over ten years of experience. She is owner of Family & Community Mediation and Business Consulting based in Baltimore, Maryland and has been in business since 2013. Contact information:,, and


How Conflict Resolution Can Be Useful In Your Everyday Life?

Conflict Resolution is a very resourceful tool to use in your everyday life, especially when need to resolve conflicts with others (like family, friends, co-workers, business partners, etc.) Conflict resolution teaches one effective techniques that can come in handy in everyday life. Some effective techniques used in conflict resolution are: 1. being impartial; 2. being non-judgmental; 3. Open-minded; 4. good listener; 5. Reflective; and 6. Not opinionated. There are many types of conflict resolution like mediation, arbitration, and alternative dispute resolution. The most common type of conflict resolution is mediation which uses a third party to assist individuals with resolving disputes in a safe, neutral, and stress-free environment. One type of mediation is the “inclusive model” which has a five step process: 1. Explain mediation process; 2. Information gathering; 3. Listing topics; 4. Brainstorming and developing solutions to the issues that may come up; and 5. Writing an agreement that resolve the issues. Information gathering is a good technique to use in a dispute because it teaches you how to strategically listen to others to understand their feelings and their values about the problem at hand. Also, with information gathering, you can ask open-ended questions to gain a better understanding of the issue at hand and get the flow of communication going to resolve the dispute. Also, when in dispute with another you can sit down and brainstorm with each other to try and resolve your problems. Conflict resolution can be very effective in resolving legal disputes without wasting money and time in court. Conflict resolution skills are very helpful in one’s daily communications with others.





Donya Zimmerman is a business consultant, mediator, and legal professional with over ten years of experience. She is owner of Family & Community Mediation and Business Consulting based in Baltimore, Maryland and has been in business since 2013. Contact information:,, and

Let’s Get Crackin!

How social media can help your business by “The Social Merchant”

Daily Prompt: Simply the Best

I do my best thinking anywhere.

Where is Your Passion?

As a business consultant and entrepreneur, I have learned that individuals who want help with setting up a business has the drive and passion to do so. The biggest mistake people make in life is not doing what they enjoy. Some people have the dream and desire to start their own business, but are afraid to do so because of finances, support, or courage. To succeed in life, we must stay within our “strength zone”, but move outside of our “comfort zone”. It takes initiative to succeed at anything in life and requires you to take risks. Passion prompts us to leave our “comfort zone” and cross the threshold of our doubt. Passion pushes us out the door, so that we can get going on the journey in life that God designed for us. So step out in faith, take the initiative, and believe that God is with you and start your business. Many people believe that “success brings you happiness”, but in actuality “happiness brings you success”. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. When you feel passionate about something and allow yourself to pursue it, you position yourself to succeed in life. Dreams come true when gifts are set on fire with passion. Passion is the starting point for all your achievement in life and it’s the energy that fuels your dream. The best career advice you will ever receive is to discover your God-given passion and follow it.

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