THROOP | Bonnie Ford has had family pets her whole life. Now, the motto of her business is to treat her clients' pets like her own.
Ford is the owner and operator of Paws n' Purrs Pet Care on Turnpike Road in Throop. Opened in 2013, the facility is dedicated to sheltering and taking care of dogs and cats while their owners are away.
The local has always loved pets, so when the opportunity came to open her own care center, she seized it. For Ford, it's a dream come true.
Mickey Miller doesn’t hesitate to admit that she hates to cook.
“I’m not a complicated recipe person,” she said. “But I have always loved baking. When I am in the kitchen I like to figure out how to make a recipe right and maintain the quality.”
Those are wise words coming from a woman who has spent the last couple of years honing her skills as a chocolatier.
Miller owns Mount Vernon Confections, a chocolate shop that prides itself on high quality, simple chocolate made from top of the line ingredients.
What makes a small business owner successful? Entrepreneurs that survive and thrive share commonalities. They seem to be cut from the same mold. Each excels at certain areas while utilizing similar tools. This infographic sponsored by Zipcar looks at what makes a successful entrepreneur. Download this infographic to learn more about what experience is most helpful, who successful small business owners turn to, and why these entrepreneurs always seem to be a step ahead.
Steven R. Culver had been a student of military history. He wanted to explore his passion with a creative business idea that ranged from games to a series of novels. The logistics and marketing issues of game making looked to be formidable. Steven then explored his desire to write. The result was not just one adventure novel, but the start of a series set in the 1700's during the Thirty Years War.
Read Steven R. Culver's First Novel: Howell Davidson Amongst The Musketeers
Steven R. Culver published his first novel, "Howell Davidson Amongst the Musketeers", in December of 2012 on Smash Words. Soon the novel became available on Amazon in paperback form. The reviews have been very positive with one reader saying, "This is a great read. The writing style is easy to read, yet you learn a little about the 30 years' war, and you start to like the characters and look forward to the next adventures. If you like historical novels, you will definitely enjoy this book". The novel currently has a 5/5 rating on the Smash Words website.
What's Great About My Mentor?
When asked about SCORE and his mentors, Steven R. Culver says, "I quickly found that I could learn how to construct a solid plot line, but I was completely at sea when I tried to imagine how I might turn my writing into the foundation of an actual business. Fortunately, I found SCORE and their team of knowledgeable mentors. I got suggestions about how to avoid legal problems, advice on how to form an LLC, and invaluable insights into how my writing endeavor looked from a business perspective. Most importantly, I gained the confidence that what I was doing really could be a business if I only put in the effort"
How SCORE Helped
Steven Culver had always heard of SCORE. It was a name that popped into his head when he finally decided to go into business and self-publish his novel. He approached SCORE with concerns about liability issues that may arise from writing a history based novel including using the names and likenesses of authentic historical characters that add realism to his work.
After these concerns were put to rest Norm Letofsky, Mr. Culver's SCORE mentor, began to work on alternative publishing methods. Soon the two had found that digital publishing offered the best cost effective way to self-publish without stretching Steven Culver's tight budget.
The Worcester Business Resource Alliance (WBRA) is a loose network of business professionals, technical assistance providers, lenders, and community development organizations that provide services to entrepreneurs, small business owners and managers in Central Massachusetts. Each month, representatives meet to collaborate and update each other on upcoming events. Current WBRA member organizations are outlined for the convenience of prospective clients at http://wbra.wordpress.com/organizations/.
The latest update of upcoming WBRA business events is found at http://wbra.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/.
Suntactics started in a garage in 2010 with a prototype product and a founder that realized he needed help to develop and launch his business. He immediately contacted SCORE and found the support required for getting the business off the ground and soaring. The result is a growing successful profitable American company with eco-friendly products manufactured right here in the USA.
Suntactics focuses on portable solar and off grid solar energy products. Their current products are a unique 5-watt handheld solar charger called the sCharger-5 for solar charging smartphones like the iPhone and the powerful dual port 14-watt solar charger called the sCharger-12 for solar charging multiple remote devices including tablets like the iPad. These compact, high power and durable solar power chargers meet the needs for a wide range of portable devices and are designed for long-term value, not obsolescence. The units are manufactured at Fastrak, a veteran owned contract manufacturer in San Jose, CA.
Suntactics is meeting an increasing customer demand by increasing production so they can provide this critical resource to all their customers for a large number of everyday applications as well as emergencies like tsunami, earthquakes, floods and hurricanes where power is interrupted for days or even weeks. With increased demand they have been able to increase their workforce from 1 to 3 employees and nearly double their revenues in just a year’s time.
The company was recognized as one of the 10 Best Eco-Inventions of 2010 by The Green Market, one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment.
What's Great About My Mentor?
SCORE counselors Ray Muzzy and Frank De Turris are helping the company in sales and marketing and also in the manufacturing area. Now the issue is to continue this successful start. Web development and sales support will be required to expand the market opportunities and overall sales for current and future products. And here they need continuing on-going support from SCORE. Dean Sala said, “We continue to work with SCORE counselors on marketing to help us as needed.”
How SCORE Helped
Dean says, "With SCORE’s help, I have taken an idea (invention) and actually turned it into a tangible product that produces positive cash flow. My advice to the new entrepreneur, people should look into outfits like SCORE, follow their program, listen to what they say and you will be successful.”
When the hospital she worked at was bought out, Christine Osborne, an occupational therapist and marketing director, went home one day and told her husband, “My creativity’s gone. I can’t do it again for another company.” The antidote for Christine and colleague Dan Morrisey was to open a retail toy store that showcased the “wonder and magic of fun.” Since those early days in 1990, Wonder Works has become a model citizen of the Charleston community with 4 locations that greatly enhance the enjoyment and success of locals' lives.
Everything about her Wonder Works toy stores is one-of-a-kind. With an amazing and knowledgeable staff, over 2,500 hand-picked toys, creative free events that draw thousands and thousands of people in the community, and providing children with a platform to follow their dreams and charitable endeavors, Wonder Works creates an experience like no other for its customers. The mission of Wonder Works is four-pronged: to inspire its employees, customers, community and charities.
Wonder Works was named the 2013 Small “For Profit” Business of the Year by the Coastal chapter of SCORE.
And in 2013, Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., announced recently that Thursday, May 16 would be “Christine Osborne Day” in Charleston, due to all the contributions she has made over the years to the Charleston community, its children and its local charities. To celebrate the honor, the four locations will collected even more donations for the four charities the store works with the most: Happy Wheels at MUSC Children’s Hospital, Abby’s Friends, Hugs for Hope, and Keys for Hope.
What's Great About My Mentor?
Knowing very little pertaining to “retail,” Christine Osborne and her former partner, Dan Morrisey, reached out to volunteer SCORE mentor Bud Garforth in 1990, and he helped them lay the groundwork for the store's continued success. “We took his advice and contributing elements to the next level, and now have a business model that is so unique … and full of momentum,” said Christine.
Bud’s advice became invaluable from a business standpoint to include exceptional customer service tips, of which Wonder Works is known for in the region. For the first 3 years, Wonder Works did not make a large business decision, without first consulting Bud. Without Bud’s guidance, Wonder Works would currently not be in its present position with 4 successful stores. The groundwork and support provided was crucial in establishing Wonder Works mission and branding within the community.
The decision to begin growing the business came early on with a store catalog, then a physical store expansion into a location two doors down (tripling the selling square footage). Then the team decided to open a second location. With each growth initiative their SCORE mentor, Bud, assisted Wonder Works in reviewing the pros and cons of each choice, while sharing his “retail insight.” Bud’s ability to listen, provide necessary support when initiatives did or did not meet their intended targets, was a constant light. Christine says, “The unending support in these early years was EXTREMELY formative in helping develop Wonder Works into what it symbolizes for the community today…a place of wonder for individuals of all ages, where hopes and dreams do become reality.”
Greg Warner started MarketSmart in 2005 blending smart thinking with unique technologies to generate marketing that works. Over the next three years Greg built MarketSmart into a profitable business with a large list of clients. He had worked hard to establish his business, and was making some profits, but he wanted a lot more. When he talked to a friend, who was a small business owner herself, Greg was pointed in the direction of SCORE.
5760 Sunnyside Ave
In 2011 Greg showed a respected experienced consultant the plans he was working on with his SCORE mentor. The consultant looked them over and said, "What you're doing is game changing". This gave Greg confidence in his decision to go full speed ahead with his reworked strategies.
MarketSmart is on track for a full unveiling of their new game changing approach in January of 2014. The progress since 2011 has led to Greg and MarketSmart being named SCORE Washington D.C.'s 2013 Business of the Year.
What's Great About My Mentor?
Greg Warner came to Henry "Hal" Shelton and SCORE because his gut said to do what his brain was against. He had a safe profitable business, but he knew he could do more. Greg says that Hal made everything, "make sense". Hal sat down with Greg to look at MarketSmart and pointed out it wasn't just one thing that needed to be overhauled. Together, they came to the realization that if Greg wanted to go to the next level then he needed to go backwards.
Greg and Hal began to work on each aspect of the business with what Greg calls, "homework". They started on the business plan, then insurance, and even tackled MarketSmart's accounting practices. Hal has helped Greg form a plan going forward that is going to give MarketSmart the success they envisioned.
How SCORE Helped
SCORE helped Greg uncover the parts of his business that needed to be worked on from his business plan to his accounting. From July 2011 to today, the change in MarketSmart has been dramatic. The plans for the future are bright as Greg restructured his business. He is prepared for 2014 when the levels he strived for in 2011 will become a reality.
Dr. Sue is an uncharacteristic entrepreneur. Not because doctors don’t think of better devices or start new ventures. No, Dr. Sue is different from most entrepreneurs in that she didn’t begin her business with the intention of leaving her day job.
Dr. Sue really likes her job as a doctor, but she also has another love as well, cooking. Trained by her mother in cooking and making candies, she had long been entering her creations into the county fair. But, after becoming an internal medicine doctor and spending time talking to patients about leading a more healthy lifestyle, she discovered that dark chocolate actually had health benefits. She shared “It was exciting to me that we might be able to give people permission to enjoy something like chocolate. Chocolate is fascinating in and of itself. It is beautiful, challenging, and there is lots of science in it.”
She became intrigued and enrolled in a course for would be Chocolatiers. Soon after completing her course, she was making chocolate bark (slabs of dark chocolate with fruit or nuts or chilies or flavors in them) for friends. Friends would say, “You should sell that.” She recalls laughing at the thought, "Yeah I'll get right on that second job."
Dr. Sue continued to make tasty treats giving them to friends and family as gifts. It was a solid hobby. She had been making chocolate bark; she had recipes, but hadn’t sold a thing. She was giving it away. But, the hobby was growing and bigger and faster than she expected. She needed to make it a real business.
Learn more at drsueschocolate.com.
About Dr. Sue’s Chocolates
We make chocolate that people feel good about eating. Our chocolate tastes rich, delicious and luxurious, but has the added benefit of all-natural, local and organic ingredients rich in antioxidants and flavanols. We exclusively use dark chocolate because of medical research suggesting its potential health effects when consumed daily in small amounts
Dr. Sue is only getting started. She is in the middle of her first significant expansion project, building a “cold” kitchen and purchasing equipment to meet projected demand in the 2012 holiday season while at the same time expanding presence in their retail partners' networks. She has hired her first full time managing director and is happy to be able to donate money to events that support the Dallas Farmers Market and programs that educate the community on nutrition
How SCORE Helped
Dr. Sue hadn’t been an entrepreneur before. Lacking business experience she turned to researching how to start a small business. That is where she learned of SCORE. She was amazed to learn that the SCORE volunteers are free, knowledgeable, and experienced. She joked, “You have got to be kidding me. You just have to make an appointment?
Dr. Sue recalls that the volunteers at SCORE were encouraging from the start. “They thought this might work. I brought in my first business plan, knowing it was grossly inadequate. I fully expected to be laughed out of the room. Instead they were totally supportive. They were very kind, very nice, and tried to show me how to play to my strengths.”
Dr. Sue attended a SCORE workshop, How to Start a Small Business, and after a couple of initial meetings was assigned a Mentor, Chuck Rudnick. Though it started with inception and a business plan, Dr. Sue is now working with her SCORE mentor structuring expansion and growth, bringing in other people, and developing systems to stay organized and keep execution on track.
When asked if she’d recommend SCORE to other entrepreneurs, Dr. Sue said, “I would absolutely recommend them. I literally think it is one of the best assets out there for anyone, but especially those that lack experience like me. They are honest, kind, straight shooters. Experience is expensive, it is hard to find. To be able to call or email somebody and ask ‘what do you think?’ that is priceless.”