Growing a Business

Use this template to create a break-even analysis for your business.

Mainstreet Art Centre

In 2006, Frankie Johnson, a professional artist and business owner, faced an unexpected challenge when her business partner decided to dissolve the partnership. Frankie quickly sought guidance from her local SCORE chapter and learned how to successfully organize a buyout and new business plan.

Frankie Johnson
My Location
Lake Zurich IL
United States
My Successes

While Frankie felt confident that she could run Mainstreet Art Centre as the sole owner, she had no idea about how to proceed with the buyout, particularly since the partner wanted the stake to be paid out in cash. She assumed that it’d take a business loan to execute the buyout, but even that was unknown territory for her.

As the new owner of Mainstreet Art Centre, Frankie reports that the company has been able to maintain a healthy level of profitability. The growing business provides a wide range of classes that are popular for professional artists, budding talents and children just discovering the fun of art.  In addition, the center also sells frames, equipment and art supplies and hosts demonstrations, workshops and other art-related events.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Volunteer mentor Seymour Stoller met with Frankie and carefully examined Mainstreet Art Centre’s financials. He felt that the buyout could be funded entirely from company profits and recommended a structure for the buyout proposal.  The details were worked out over two meetings and, after a series of negotiations; Frankie’s partner accepted the proposal.  Four months later, Frankie owned Mainstreet Art Centre free and clear.

How SCORE Helped

"Buyouts were a complete mystery. I was a member of the chamber of commerce, which sponsors the local office of SCORE, so I went to SCORE," says Frankie.

Projecting your balance sheet can be quite a complex accounting problem, but that does not mean you need to be a professional accountant to do it or to benefit from the exercise. The desired result is not a perfect forecast, but rather a thoughtful plan detailing what additional resources will be needed by the company, where they will be needed, and how they will be financed.

SCORE Mentors Heart to Heart Gifts, Inc.

Before import businesswoman Yi Ping Lai connected with SCORE, her giftware and decorative accessories business specializing in silk butterflies, bees, dragonflies and flowers was marginally successful. But after attending one of San Diego SCORE’s regular workshops on Internet marketing and being taken under the wing of SCORE Mentor Marty Weiss, it was as if the silk butterfly business suddenly underwent a stunning metamorphosis, sprouted wings and literally took off.

Yi Ping Lai
My Location
Oceanside CA
United States
My Successes

“I was a bit discouraged, lacking confidence in myself and having fears about expanding my business,” Lai says about the early days of her business, Heart to Heart Gifts, Inc.  “When you feel that way, you tend to think small, settle for less and stay in your comfort zone where you feel safe.”

Lai used her beloved butterflies to launch Heart To Heart Gifts’ Web site in October 2004.  Since then, she’s gradually added other product lines such as costumes, accessories for parties and weddings, nylon flowers, and themed room items.

“Sales had been relatively flat,” she says, “but after working with the SCORE team of counselors, things seemed to change literally overnight.  Sales steadily increased week after week, and within five months of working with SCORE, they had jumped an incredible 1,900 percent. We’ve grown four times in less than four years, and we are projected to top $1 million in sales in 2008.”

Her uniquely-designed products have since been featured on ABC-TV’s Extreme Home Makeovers program, Discovery Channel’s Party Show, and MTV’s Spring Break at Disney World. They are in demand by some of Hollywood’s hottest set and costume designers.  Business is on the rise so much that she projected a 100 percent increase in sales for 2005.

“Having my own business gives me the freedom to choose who I want to work with or for,” she says.  “My business is a also a channel for me to express creativity in a very positive way.  I am the artist of my business, starting with a blank canvas and my own vision.  These are all the good things of having your own business.”

What's Great About My Mentor?

Following her first SCORE workshop, Lai met personally with SCORE Mentor Marty Weiss, who asked her questions about her business and helped formulate an action plan.  He followed up with encouraging phone calls and emails and set up regular appointments to meet again to check on her progress.  He assured her the journey she was embarking upon wasn’t easy, but it was doable with some help.  Those were the words she needed to hear.

“Marty’s experience in online marketing and business in general is incredible,” Lai says.  “He taught me how to take things in stages to conserve my budget, rather than doing everything at once.  Marty also helped me understand the importance of disciplined financial management and analysis, something that I hadn’t been doing up until then.

With the help of Weiss, Lai refined her business plan, took additional business skills workshops in sales and marketing, and sent employees for software and bookkeeping training.

With help from additional SCORE mentors, she started looking at her business in a bigger and different way–building her brand and pursuing licensing contracts with artists and designers–which she feels was the key to taking her to that next level. “I can’t say enough thanks to Ron Woodland, Jerry Greenspan, Ken Abraham, and Arnold Jaffe,” Lai says.  “All of them are wonderful.”

How SCORE Helped

“Suddenly I was feeling more empowered and had more faith in myself and my abilities,” she says.  “I not only got valuable knowledge and business skills from SCORE, but also emotional support and someone to stand by me as well, even if I made a mistake.  At the end of the day, I didn’t feel so alone in my business.  SCORE coached me and cheered me on.”

“There’s no question that SCORE changed my life and direction,” Lai said.  “They are a source of inspiration, empowerment and wisdom, and are great role models.  It is intellectually stimulating and energizing being with them.  They have changed my world for the better.”

Lai considers SCORE a valuable business partner that motivated her to work hard and stay focused and disciplined on her tasks.  The reward for her efforts as a small business owner is independence, complete control of her direction, and the opportunity to be creative.

Looking back now, Lai says the rapid success she has already achieved under the tutelage of SCORE and its mentors would have otherwise taken her many more years had she done it by herself.

“I would highly recommend SCORE to anyone thinking about launching or expanding a business,” she says.  “People don’t get the whole SCORE concept until they go through it.  They helped me keep an open mind, have the patience to stay with it, and believe in myself.  Finding SCORE was the turning point for me and my business.”

EmergiCare, Inc.

EmergiCare, Inc. first worked with Pueblo SCORE 27 years ago as a start up company. In early 2009, this successful ambulatory medical care business  engaged the Colorado Springs SCORE Plus program for a general business status review. The SCORE Plus involvement continued throughout year 2009 and has now evolved to participation in periodic, advisory review meetings.

Dr. Robert Hamilton
How SCORE Helped

From EmergiCare owner Dr. Robert Hamilton:

The SCORE Plus approach to reviewing  our business and providing recommended courses of action was very professional and added to our understanding of areas needing to be addressed. They helped restructure positions, which allowed me to focus more on strategic issues for EmergiCare. SCORE Plus has become an integral advisory resource to my company.”

Create a Business Plan

East Cooper Community Outreach Finds SCORE Mentor Extremely Helpful

As the extent of Hurricane Hugo’s devastation became clear, community leaders in Charleston, S.C., realized that short-term fixes would do little to help residents of the impoverished areas east of the Cooper River. Indeed, Hugo had exacerbated many long-standing problems in those neighborhoods, including substandard housing, limited access to health and dental care, hunger, and the threat of homelessness.

In response, Monsignor James A. Carter, pastor of Christ Our King Catholic Church, led the formation of East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO), a nonprofit ecumenical organization that would offer a permanent source of help to those in need.

James A. Carter
My Location
Charleston SC
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

Rev. Jack Little, ECCO’s executive director, feels very good about ECCO’s ability to tackle challenges. “Our funding has been super, and we have good relationships with people and other groups across the community,” he says. “And, we have the input from SCORE, which is helping us become a better, more efficient organization.

The sentiments are mutual, as SCORE named ECCO the Outstanding Socially Progressive Business for 2009.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Several SCORE counselors worked with ECCO to launch a long-needed microloan program that has since aided several families. SCORE also offered ideas for realigning the organization’s staff and responsibilities, resulting in streamlined processes and substantial overhead savings.

How SCORE Helped

Rev. Jack Little believes other nonprofits can benefit from working with their local SCORE chapters.

“The price is right, and their volunteers have the expertise, wisdom, and judgment to help guide you through the issues. The fact that SCORE’s counselors all have deep business backgrounds strengthened my trust and confidence in their observations and recommendations,” he says. “What’s more, they really care about the organizations they work with. They sense your passion and live it themselves.”

Strategic Growth Partners LLC Awarded SCORE Washington DC Client of the Year for 2011

The Metro Washington DC SCORE Chapter named Strategic Growth Partners LLC (SGPLLC) of Arlington, VA its Client of the Year for 2011. SGPLLC, a management consultancy business, is a leading provider of Federal Bid management and staffing solutions, including Pipeline Optimization, Capture Management, and Proposal Development services. In recognition of SGPLLC’s success in creating a comprehensive business plan, securing financing, and reaching agreements with several major customers, Mr. Ken Laszczych was honored at SCORE DC’s annual luncheon reception on May 20, 2011.

Mr. Laszczych, Managing Director and founder of Strategic Growth Partners LLC, engaged SCORE in October of 2009 to help develop a comprehensive business plan. According to Laszczych, “Each step in the SCORE process has provided invaluable insight and assets enabling SGPLLC to confidently set its direction, stay focused, and achieve success.” SGPLLC recently signed two multi- year contracts with Tier 1 Federal prime contractors.

Since 2008, SGPLCC has successfully assisted Federal contractors winning over $1.7B in opportunities and maintains an unparalleled win rate of over 90 percent.
 Joe Clarke, a volunteer SCORE counselor, was assigned to work with Laszczych. “The development of the business plan was the key success factor and it was due to Joe’s persistence … he helped SGPLLC develop an exceptional business plan,” said Laszczych. He added, “It has helped us identify underserved markets, identify our brand and a market where we could be competitive, so it’s at the heart of our success.”

How SCORE Helped




Simply Beautiful Interiors

SCORE was contacted to discuss ways for the business to grow and expand their customer base. The discussion immediately started with the need for a business plan and definition of their Unique Selling Proposition (USP) In addition, their initial attempt at developing a electronic marketing presence was discussed.

At the same time the business was working to relocate to another location.  This took place in the summer of 2009 and has proven to be a great success with increased store traffic and existing clients continuing to patronize the business. 

Their website is

Marcie Senita and Carol Smith, Designers/Owners
My Location
2630 West 8th Street
Erie PA 16505
United States
How SCORE Helped

The discussion has yet to result in a formal business plan but it is clear that the discussions have focused the owners business direction. Because of the increased sales volume, the web site presence is being revised and expanded resulting in the site being more accessible and product life focused. Counseling will continue with focus on the formal business plan, content review for the web site and attention on new issues that present themselves with business expansion .


When starting Synergema,  I had the opportunity to meet with a SCORE mentor in West Chester, PA.  I remember him saying to me that we could have the best services in the world, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t know and truly understand your clients.  He strongly urged me to put a CRM as one of the central components of our business.  Today, our CRM is one of the vital elements to our business.  For sales we are able to see our pipeline and forecast sales trends, for project management we can see where projects are successful and where there are pending issues, and for the business as a whole we are able to forecast the ups and downs of business.  It truly is a vital part of our business. Thank you SCORE.

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Brandon Steiger
My Location
517 E. Lancaster Ave.
Downingtown PA 19335
United States
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