Women Entrepreneurs

SCORE Helps New Business Owners Soar - Philip Franchine

Thu, 2013-05-02 09:23

Nancy Lambert felt the urge to put her fashion skills to work a few years ago, but the former paralegal and alterations entrepreneur needed encouragement as well as business advice, so she turned to non-profit business consultants SCORE.

       I have a business that sells equestrian supplies both retail and online. I’d like to begin using social media as a marketing tool, but I’m clueless as to how to begin. How do I go about developing a social media strategy?



About the Author

       This column is brought to you by the Merrimack Valley Chapter of SCORE, with nearly 70 current and former business executives available to provide free, confidential, one-on-one business mentoring and training workshops for area businesses. Call 603-666-7561 or visit merrimackvalley.score.org for information on mentoring, upcoming workshops and volunteer opportunities. SCORE is a national, non-profit organization and a resource partner of the U. S. Small Business Administration.
       Have a question you’d like answered in this column? E-mail it to info@score-manchester.org, with “Ask SCORE” in the subject line.

Navarros Return Popular Taco Meat Filling to Q-C Marketplace - Doug Schorpp

Mon, 2013-04-29 09:32

A longtime Quad-City favorite is back on the grocery shelves to be sampled by a new generation of Mexican food fans.

 Navarro’s Original Taco Filling was marketed by Tony and Rita Navarro of Davenport. The frozen product was sold in area grocery stores for many years, beginning in 1982.

Victoria said she received assistance from SCORE which helped her get re-established.

Wonder Works Named SCORE Small Business of the Year - Jonathan Allen

Fri, 2013-04-26 11:26

Wonder Works has garnered its share of attention over the years, winning several awards and consistently getting involved in the community.

Now SCORE, a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses start, grow, and succeed nationwide, is recognizing the company as it's Small "For Profit" Business of the Year.

In the era of information overload, consumers are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages every day. A logo on a T-shirt, a radio ad, or a TV commercial may not stay in a consumer’s mind very long because the next wave of advertising messages is a few seconds away.

Consumers have adapted to ignore newspaper ads, and they instinctively change the radio station when their music is interrupted by local promotions. The change in the way consumers react to marketing messages has forced brands to reconsider using traditional media.

By Chuck Cohn

About the Author

Chuck Cohn is the Founder and CEO of Varsity Tutors, a tutoring company with 1,900 tutors that provides services including ACT tutoring in 19 metro areas. In 2007, while he was a student at Washington University in St. Louis, Cohn recognized that two of his best friends would make perfect tutors: they were brilliant, friendly, and could explain difficult concepts better than any tutor he had ever had. Cohn founded Varsity Tutors and hired his two brilliant friends as the first two tutors. The feedback he received from parents was outstanding and so he began hiring other extremely talented individuals who had the communication and technical skills necessary to be amazing tutors.

Steve Strauss, founder of www.theselfemployed.com, offers advice for improving your personal and business credit ratings.

Steve Strauss headshotQ: I own a one-person business. The business’ credit is my credit and vice versa. I have never incorporated, although I do have a business checking account. My problem is that I never can get any extra capital because I personally filed bankruptcy 11 years ago and it still shows up on my credit report. So what does a guy like me do?



About the Author

Steven D. Strauss is a lawyer and writer and is one of the country's leading experts on small business as well as an international business speaker. The best-selling author of 17 books, his latest is the all-new 3rd ed. of The Small Business Bible. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success Powered by Greatland, visit his new website for the self-employed, TheSelfEmployed, follow him on Twitter, and "like" TheSelfEmployed on Facebook. You can e-mail Steve at: sstrauss@mrallbiz.com. © Steven D. Strauss

VIP Dining and Entertainment Inc. - “The VIP Book”

Kim Stephenson
My Location
Butler PA
United States
Year Company Formed
How SCORE Helped

Community has always been important to Kim Stephenson, president and founder of VIP Dining and Entertainment. Kim was born and raised in Butler, and found that over time her home community only grew in importance to her. So when Kim started her discount coupon book business, the Butler community was at the center of her plan.

For three years in the 1980s, Kim owned and operated the Tucson, AZ franchise of a five-door coupon book franchise called VIP Dining and Entertainment. That company dissolved in the late 80s, and she had long been thinking about bringing the concept to Butler. A coupon book featuring businesses in Allegheny County already existed, and Butler residents often purchased it. The problem with that, in Kim’s view, was that the Allegheny businesses are Butler’s competitors, and actually pull business away from the area. Kim’s plan was to create a coupon book that featured Butler-area businesses, thereby helping to keep residents’ dollars in Butler and stimulating the local economy.

Kim brings an eclectic background to her current venture. In addition to her experience with the coupon book franchise, Kim worked as a drug and alcohol counselor. After taking several years off to devote time to raising her five children, she re-entered the workforce as a furniture salesperson. The skills Kim gained as a counselor complemented her already strong knowledge of sales. “The power of persuasion was very important in convincing people with a problem to seek treatment. In sales, you need the same power.”

With the crash of the economy and collapse of the housing market in 2008, Kim saw her income from furniture sales drop substantially. That’s when she was inspired to “resurrect” VIP Dining and Entertainment as a one-door operation, with herself as sole owner. She first heard about SCORE during the planning stages of her business and searched for a mentor because she needed guidance. That’s how she met her SCORE mentor, Ron Cox, whom she credits with much of her success. “Ron has been the man from the writing of the business plan stage,” she says. “He was so accessible, so responsive… I don’t think I could have done it without him.”

Kim explains that at first, “there was too much emotion in the idea. I needed someone who lacked the emotion. It’s common when embarking on a business venture to let emotion cloud reality, to be too overzealous in your projections.” Ron helped Kim by giving her assignments to complete that enabled her to come up with a sturdy plan of action. “He constantly gave points of view I wouldn’t have had.” She describes him as “supportive but realistic. He helped put in place goals and helped map out ways to achieve those goals.”

Now Kim’s plan has become a reality. VIP Dining and Entertainment launched in August 2011 and it has really taken off. There are around 140 participating advertisers from the Butler area, and the coupon book is currently in its second edition, with the third edition set to be released soon. Printed and bound locally in Butler, the coupon book looks like a two-inch thick checkbook and the coupons look like checks. The books usually sell for $25 each, but they can be purchased at a bulk rate of $15 each. She frequently works with fundraising groups, who are given books on loan with no upfront costs and no minimums to sell. They can then sell the books at the full price of $25 and retain $10 per book.

Adding to VIP’s growing list of successes, Kim recently received a Small Business Award from Sam’s Club, part of the Sam’s Club Holiday Giving Campaign. The award honored 102 recipients in the US, two in each state and the District of Columbia, with a prize package including a $1000 gift card to be used toward business expenses and a three-day all-expense-paid workshop, which unfortunately Kim had to decline due to a family issue. She is extremely grateful to Ron for nominating her for the award, and he is also thrilled with the outcome. “She made this possible through her tenacity and hard work,” Ron says. “She doesn’t discourage easily. There were times when it looked questionable if she’d have the drive to keep going, but she did.”

Kim offers the following advice to those looking to start their own business: “You should definitely bounce your ideas off of three or four respected individuals that have no connection to you or your family. Take the emotion out of it; it’s too easy to be blinded by excitement. You have to have a plan, you have to see it on a cash flow chart, that’s when it comes to life. You need to see that to make it real.”

In the future, Kim hopes to take her concept to Beaver County and other places throughout Western Pennsylvania. 

LINSTAR Corporation Soars With SCORE Mentor Help

Mary Jo Cornell
My Location
430 Lawrence Bell Drive
Buffalo NY 14221
United States
Year Company Formed
How SCORE Helped

A SCORE Success Story

May 2013


Buffalo, NY 14221

In 1998 and after a 12 year career in the secure card market with industry leader Datacard Group, Mary Jo Cornell founded LINSTAR.  At about that same time Ms. Cornell attended a SCORE workshop on “Starting and Managing Your Business”. With a strong background in this industry and determination to be successful, a long term mentorship was created with SCORE Mentor, William A. Danesi. Subsequent counseling sessions included business planning, marketing and financial plans. William A. Danesi was also available just to give objective comments to any ideas that surfaced.

Now, fast-forward to 2013, Mary Jo Cornell has steered LINSTAR Corporation from a single office in Buffalo, NY to becoming a successful full service security systems integration company with offices in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica and  Albany currently employing 26. LINSTAR is trusted to secure some of the most security conscious organizations and facilities across New York State and Pennsylvania including military, law enforcement, emergency management, colleges, school districts, hospitals and corporations. LINSTAR has reached such a high level of expertise that most of its' new business is from referrals.

Mary Jo Cornell, President and CEO of LINSTAR, Inc is  being named SBA-SCORE's Buffalo/Niagara “Client of the Year”. In addition and more rewarding, on the eve of the opening ceremonies of the  International Security Conference and Exposition awards reception in Las Vegas of this year, Cornell was the recipient of the Women's Security Council 2013, Woman of the Year Award.

By the way, the Buffalo Niagara SCORE Chapter is now a customer of LINSTAR. They are the supplier of security badges to our 60+ membership. 

Congratulations, Mary Jo Cornell.

SCORE Chapter 45, Buffalo/Niagara

Economy is Mother of Their Inventions - Esther Keane

Mon, 2013-04-22 09:58

When the economic downturn forced Regina Bundy to search for new job opportunities, the middle school teacher came up with an idea to show students how they can help the environment.

In 2009, the Williamsburg resident invented the WormWatcher, a lockable habitat system in a bin that contains about 500 worms. 

Regina Enterprises' next product is the Tape Genie, an invention Rich created that started selling last week on Amazon.com. The Tape Genie replaces other frustrating tape guns with an easy-to-use tape holder that can be mounted anywhere.


       Our four-year-old printing business is finally on solid footing. We’ve worked hard and 
been very fortunate, and now we’d like to begin giving something back to the community. What 
types of activities can you suggest?



About the Author

       This column is brought to you by the Merrimack Valley Chapter of SCORE, with nearly 70 current and former business executives available to provide free, confidential, one-on-one business mentoring and training workshops for area businesses. Call 603-666-7561 or visit merrimackvalley.score.org for information on mentoring, upcoming workshops and volunteer opportunities. SCORE is a national, non-profit organization and a resource partner of the U. S. Small Business Administration.
       Have a question you’d like answered in this column? E-mail it to info@score-manchester.org, with “Ask SCORE” in the subject line.

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