Growing a Business
This free online business workshop will: examine how to run a profitable company with a healthy margin, help you analyze your company's profitability, and provide interactive worksheets to help put it all together.
This free online business workshop will help you: develop your pricing strategy for your product or service, determine if your prices are working for you, and put it all together with provided worksheets.
Entrepreneurs often face the dilemma of deciding how and when to add new services in order to keep a small business growing. For Angela Todd, founder and CEO of DMG, Inc., the challenge was identifying the most promising niche for her company, then investing the right resources to make it successful.
In 1999, Angela Todd had started her own business that provided “turnkey” services for Southern California’s commercial real estate market. Drawing on her experience in professional services marketing, she helped connect real estate brokers and developers with qualified engineering consultants and contractors to help launch and complete new projects.
Angela enjoyed tremendous success in her first four years as an entrepreneur. In 2003, her husband Charles, himself a commercial development professional, was ready to become a partner and help take the business to the next level. The question was, what direction was best for the company go?
“We were growing fast, trying to be a lot of things to a lot of people,” Angela recalls. “With so many potential paths available, we needed to find one that was right for us.”
By narrowing their market, it helped DMG double its business in 2004. Angela is now looking to bring the company’s services to new markets, including banks that provide SBA-backed loans to other small business owners. DMG is also giving back to the community through activities such as sponsoring a luau fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and sponsoring a motocross racing team.
“We essentially created our own niche market—providing due diligence engineering and inspection services within the ‘short escrow’ period—the brief timeframe that brokers and developers have to verify the value of their properties to lenders,” Angela says. “We act as the ‘building police,’ investigating the property and the surrounding areas for hazards and concerns using our own engineers and inspectors to ensure that these services are performed within each customer’s stringent escrow contingency deadlines.”
What's Great About My Mentor?
While researching SBA loans, Angela learned about SCORE’s free mentoring services. After meeting with volunteer mentor Betty Otte, an expert in launching and managing various types of businesses, Angela was confident that she had found the answer.
Otte made recommendations for shaping DMG’s marketing advertising strategy. “Even though my background was in marketing, Betty provided valuable advice on how to tailor our message to our target markets,” Angela says. “Betty essentially gave us homework assignments, and every one proved to be successful.”
Along with refining DMG’s direct mail pieces and client newsletter, Otte has helped the couple bring some fun to their work. “Betty gave us the idea of turning our business development visits to brokers into ‘holidays,’ where we deliver pastries along with company information,” Angela says. “That reinforces our presence in each office, and we almost always meet someone we’ve not done business with.”
How SCORE Helped
“A lot of credit goes to Betty and SCORE,” Angela says. “Our discussions have produced valuable ideas that have helped us build our business, and address issues that might have thrown us off track. That’s why I recommend SCORE to everybody I talk to. Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of all that valuable knowledge and support?”
Since her college days, Celina Taganas Duffy, ran her painting, graphic design and greeting card business by the seat of her pants. Celina managed to achieve a measure of success thanks to creative talent, hard work and unique line of patented envelope-free greeting cards.
Celina recognized that regardless of her creative skill, her business—Tagline Communications—would be stymied unless she improved and streamlined her business practices. “I had been running my business for awhile, but I knew I could run it more effectively and efficiently,” says Celina.
Now I focus on the important areas,” says Celina. She claims that her revenue has risen by 80 percent with the help of her team of SCORE mentors and is grateful for their help in “completely turning the business around.”
Celina is now making plans to hire a graphic designer and find dedicated studio space, two steps that will allow her to spend more time painting her colorful and vibrant canvases. Celina’s greeting cards feature miniatures of her paintings and she’s also eager to expand Tagline Greetings, the greeting card side of Tagline Communications.
What's Great About My Mentor?
In November 2001, Celina visited the SCORE Santa Ana, CA Chapter and met with Mentor Leanore Saks. As an artist herself, Leanore offered insightful advice on the industry, pricing, portfolio development and general business planning.
When Leanore was going to be out of town for some time, Mentor Betty Otte stepped in to help Celina develop some marketing ideas. While learning more about Tagline Communications, Betty discovered that Celina frequently sent her invoices out late. She asked Mentor Hiro Kranz, a certified management accountant and retired controller, to assist. Soon, Hiro began meeting with Celina to develop a system to invoice accounts properly. Hiro taught Celina how to use QuickBooks and advised her on hiring a bookkeeper.
Betty continues to visit Celina’s office each month for mentoring. Celina says, “Betty keeps me focused and motivated. She gives me monthly project tasks to help me evaluate my business.” The future looks bright and busy for Celina, and she is confident with her SCORE mentors lending a hand, she will continue down the road of success.
How SCORE Helped
“My experience with SCORE has been amazing. I know I have strengths, but I’ve learned that I can’t do everything by myself. Having experts handle various aspects of my business, has freed up a lot of my time.” Says Celina Taganas Duffy.
It was a smart move, that so many of you slowed hiring and capital spending while inventories dwindled, according to NFIB’s Small Business Economic Trends - January 2009. Profits are impacted by overhead and your quick response to rein in costs is a big help in weathering a recession that still has months for us to work through.
This free online business workshop will help you: identify your company's competitive advantage, determine your strengths, weaknesses, and goals, and devise a strategy to set your company apart from your competitors.
This free, online business workshop will: outline the components and process of a profit and loss statement, illustrate 2 formats of profit and loss statements, and help you gain greater insight into the growth and financial health of your business.
This free online business workshop will provide: info on why you need to conduct a market analysis, case studies showing how to learn about your market, and interactive worksheets to help put it all together.
After former welder turned coffee shop owner Kevin LaPlante realized his gourmet coffee shop and bistro had lost a significant amount of money in an eight month period, he was beginning to wonder if there really was a problem or if he was just a bad business man. Kevin remembered his positive experience with the UTICA chapter of SCORE when he was trying to get his idea of the ground four years earlier and called on them once again for some help.
A great idea for a gourmet coffee shop and bistro came to fruition with the Adirondack Coffee Company in Clinton, NY. Owner Kevin LaPlante was able to make his business successful thanks to its ideal location, unique product, and growing number of loyal customers.
After a SCORE mentor was able to assist Kevin in exposing a stealing employee, Adirondack Coffee Company quickly regained its financial health and Kevin LaPlante was soon able to begin considering various opportunities for expansion, such as opening new branches and selling his products on the Internet.
The Utica chapter of SCORE named Adirondack Coffee Company its Small Business of the Year for 1999, giving the company some valuable newspaper exposure in the process. "That story generated a lot of calls about my restaurant, but also a lot of questions from other prospective entrepreneurs eager to learn more about SCORE," Kevin says. "I'm glad the story generated that kind of response because SCORE is a great, yet often overlooked resource. I'm always happy to talk them up."
What's Great About My Mentor?
Volunteer mentor Frank Mitchell helped Kevin in the initial stages of starting his company and was able to counsel Kevin and point him in the direction of another SCORE mentor, Andrew Trinkaus, the former owner of a highly successful local restaurant whose experience and guidance helped Kevin crack the case of the missing money. Kevin is able to contact his SCORE mentors on a regular basis as he evaluates financing, location and marketing issues.
How SCORE Helped
Volunteer mentor Frank Mitchell assisted Kevin in formulating a solid business plan that impressed even the most discriminating commercial loan officers in order to get Adirondack Coffee Company started. Also during a time when Kevin had a very specific need in the operation of his business, Frank was able to recommend another SCORE mentor with the experience needed, Andrew Trinkaus.
Andrew carefully scrutinized Adirondack Coffee Company's books, scheduling and inventory procedures, and agreed that that LaPlante was doing everything possible to control costs. His gut feeling was that there were two possible explanations for profit loss: either products were leaving the store without being paid for, or worse, one of Kevin's employees was stealing. It turned out Andrew was right and Kevin was able to confront the employee and put an end to the stealing.
"You can't afford to make a mistake with a business because your name and your family's welfare are at stake. I needed to talk to people who have been in the trenches. I had confidence in Frank Mitchell and Andrew Trinkaus because they didn't just know about business; they've lived it." In reference to nailing down why his business was losing money and how SCORE mentors were able to help, Kevin says "I knew I could trust Andrew's judgment because he had experienced these and other problems while running his restaurant for many years. He offered some ideas for modifying my financial controls, and encouraged me to be more observant."
At its simplest, a goal is just something you aim for. But goals are powerful contributors to successful business growth in several ways. To begin with, the process of setting goals forces you to think through what you want from your business and how growth may—or may not—provide that. This process helps suggest directions for pursuing that growth, which can greatly improve your chances of achieving your goals in the first place.