Women Entrepreneurs

The Treats Truck

For Kim Ima, it was love at first sight – not with a person, but with the idea of the Treats Trucks. Kim wanted to spend her days baking delicious cookies, brownies and other treats and then serve them on the streets of New York, her adopted home town. “It combined my love of baking, my love of treats and my love of the city,” Kim says. “The more I thought about the idea and how it could evolve, the more I wanted to do it.” There was only one problem; Kim had no idea how to get her idea rolling. Kim went to SCORE and researched potential volunteer mentors before she requested a meeting with Elliot Merberg. It was then that Kim’s vision was closer to becoming a reality and ultimately did become just that. 

 

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Owner/Founder
Kim Ima
My Location
New York NY
United States
My Successes

Kim literally put the Treats Truck on the road in June 2007. Her treats, prepared in her Brooklyn bakery, immediately became a hit with New Yorkers who now look forward to the arrival of the Treats Truck (nicknamed “Sugar”) in their neighborhoods. Recently, Kim was among several small businesses from across the nation tapped by Visa to be featured in a commercial showcasing the innovation and commitment of entrepreneurs. “I still love seeing my customers and they’re supporting me as best they can, even though they’re dealing with economic problems too,” Kim says. “They want me to succeed because they see me working hard and know that I care about the quality of the food and the Treats Truck experience.”

What's Great About My Mentor?

“I hit the jackpot with Elliot,” Kim says. “His background was ideal for what I needed. Plus, we hit it off personally, which was very important to me. Starting a business is like a cookie recipe. Sometimes a dash of naiveté can be good, but you also need to realize the importance of decisions, because what you’re doing is big. I believed in my idea and Elliot believed in me.”

How SCORE Helped

Kim worked with SCORE mentor Elliot Merberg on a wide range of startup issues and other things she needed to consider as she put together the business plan for Treats Truck. “Sometimes when I met with Elliot and he didn’t know the answer to a question, he simply asked someone else to come over and help us,” Kim says. “There were always plenty of people with specific experience to draw on.”

Merberg also helped Kim manage the emotional ups and downs that come with starting a new business. “When I got over-enthusiastic, such as wanting to start with two trucks, he’d advise me to slow down and focus on starting with one,” Kim says. “When I got frustrated about something and was too hard on myself, he’d show me how things were actually going OK.”

Stitch Succeeds with advice from SCORE Mentor

Holly Aiken, entrepreneurial small business owner of STITCH, a handbag shop located at 20 E. Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh was guided to success by a SCORE mentor.

Owner/Founder
Holly Aiken
My Location
20 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh NC
United States
My Successes

Raleigh, NC

Holly Aiken, entrepreneurial small business owner of STITCH, a handbag shop located at 20 E. Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh was guided to success by a SCORE mentor.

Aiken, 35, a graduate of North Carolina State College of Art and Design said, "I started out making handbags for friends and slowly my designs became popular. I decided to do it full time. I didn't really know how to start a business. My mom mentioned SCORE and I made an appointment about 18 months ago. I didn't have a solid plan or money for growth."

Lou Martin, a retired project manager, worked with Aiken. She brought a whole bunch of 'stuff' with her not knowing what was required.

Martin interviewed Aiken ascertaining her need for a formal business plan and a small line of credit.

Manufacturing the handbags from a small space when she began her venture, Aiken's success has allowed her to relocate to downtown Raleigh where she achieves more local exposure. Her handbags are now sold on-line and at small boutiques around the United States.

"Being able to get advice, asking a variety of questions and having a person like Lou to help, has been an amazing experience. Not having to worry about paying for it gave me peace of mind. But having someone say, 'Yes, you're on the right track,' was the best," concluded Aiken."

This template can be used to calculate the projected profit of 3 years. 

A long term forecast is not a necessary part of a basic business plan. However, it is an excellent tool to help you open up your thinking about the company's future. Furthermore, venture capitalists will almost always want a long term forecast to get a feel for growth prospects.

The further out you forecast, the less accuracy you can maintain, so use round numbers, except where you know exact amounts; e.g.: rent expense if you have a long term lease.

This template can be used to calculate the opening day balance sheet.

This template is for the loan amortization schedule.

Charleston Cookie Company Finds Success WIth SCORE Mentor

Her search for the “perfect” chocolate chip cookie recipe lead Judith Moore's son-in-law to suggest that she start her own business. After making a deal to supply an advertising agency with cookies for a year in exchange for the development of a brand identity, Judith was ready to get started; and she did. Judith contacted Coast SCORE in North Charleston, S.C. and was introduced to SCORE mentor Greg Kopatch. With Greg's help Judith found a lot more than a chocolate chip cookie recipe; she found the recipe for small business success! 

Owner/Founder
Judith Moore
My Location
N. Charleston SC
United States
My Successes

Charleston Cookie Company has seen plenty of successes since its inception in October, 2003. Aside from the profitability of its online cookie ordering and corporate gift business, Charleston Cookie Company has been featured on MSNBC’s Your Business and is the proud recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 2011 Dream Big Small Business of the Year Blue Ribbon. Also, Judith recently entered into a new partnership with Dean & Deluca, a retail and catalog gourmet food company based in New York City.

What's Great About My Mentor?

When speaking about her SCORE mentor, Greg Kopatch, Judith says his encouragement and enthusiasm helped to keep her going forward.  She also says “I could not have accomplished this much without SCORE’s help. It’s been a pleasure working with Greg, and a thrill to have all that information available to a small business, like we are, at no cost. Having the expertise of SCORE counselors is invaluable!”

How SCORE Helped

Judith contacted Coast SCORE in North Charleston, S.C., for advice on her business plan. SCORE mentor Greg Kopatch helped her focus her vision. Greg also recommended that she create a spreadsheet and produce cash flow projections for three years of business. Judith says Greg’s guidance was crucial to the completion of Judith’s business plan, as well as the necessary financial data to support it. Greg continues to advise Judith on her ongoing business and its structure, business management and growth. 

Piece, Love & Chocolate - Success Story!!

Mmmmm… I never realized opening a real-life brick and mortar chocolate shop (Piece, Love and Chocolate, in downtown Boulder, CO) had so little to do with chocolate…

Long before the sledgehammers began swinging, there was work to be done. In order for this chocolate part of the business to succeed, the business itself must succeed first. I needed to channel my passion on the business development and sustainability first, foremost and always – the chocolate part is the fruit of the labor – the “gravy”. I will touch a little on that, because in my opinion, you cannot fully appreciate my pile of rubble until you’ve peeked at the inertia that created it – my pile of rubble is a result of years of hard work.

I knew that in order to make this endeavor successful, it would take a whole lot of research, legwork, money, sacrifice, persistence and patience. “Work smarter, not harder,” as Chef Genny always quotes. It took a very long time, indeed, and I definitely have worked harder than smarter some of that time. But, I have learned oh-so-much!

Owner/Founder
Sarah Amorese
My Location
805 Pearl Street
Boulder CO 80302
United States
Employees
14
Year Company Formed
2011
My Successes

After 27 sessions of “non-candy coated” SCORE advice (and a few tears) Piece, Love and Chocolate was born.  Opening in February 2011 on a “Wing, Prayer, Business Plan and SCORE”, this chocolate lover’s dream has continued to grow.  Piece, Love &Chocolate has grown from 4 employees to 14, increased revenues 45% in 2012 and is on track to increase another 26% in 2013. Most importantly, I love my job!  

The Boulder community has embraced the love, oh and the chocolate.  See what they have to say: Boulder 2140.

9News featured Piece, Love & Chocolate and one of my mentors, Larry Storms, for Small Business Saturday: 9News.

How SCORE Helped

First off, (and do forgive me if this morphs into an Oscar-like gratitude speech) let me start with my local Denver chapter of SCORE (affiliated with the SBA) and the value of a good business plan.  These people are AMAZING!  I could not imagine having started this business without them! I enrolled in almost every workshop they offered and they helped me to create “Bodacious Bertha” my business bible, aka my business plan.

My SCORE advisers were so eager to share with me their years and years of cumulative business experience; this is the kind of stuff you just can’t put a price on. I got comfortable, really quickly, with the fact that I do not know it all and I will continue to make mistakes along my journey. These beautiful people of SCORE were willing to share with me the mistakes that they have made – I listened, I learned, I laughed, I cried. Let me tell you though, not everything they have to say is positive – they didn’t candy-coat anything!

All my cherished advisers were and continue to be supportive, honest, caring and blunt. Enrique, food service specialist – emotionally prepared me and continues to support me (big hugs!). He came up to Boulder to visit my new shop and sat with me amongst my rubble on a gnarly old hunk of concrete. We discussed where I could get the best deals on used kitchen equipment. Tom, accountant extraordinaire – taught me how to create and understand financials, no small task let me assure you (he has the patience of a saint). Larry, banking specialist – scared the bejeebers out of me – yikes! But, scared is a good thing when you’re talkin’ the kind of funds it takes to create this kind of a business. (Luv ya, Larry!) I couldn’t possibly thank you gentlemen enough!

SCORE helped me to create a working business plan that really works. “Make a plan. Work a plan,” my granddaddy used to say. I cannot imagine I would have made it this far without them and I will continue to use their services. What a fantastic business resource! No doubt, they are surely improving our local economy by helping one entrepreneur to succeed at a time! You are all my heroes!!!!

Visit Piece, Love and Chocolate

Roy’s Delivery Service

Hada Grullon has overcome both critics and the recession using the highly personal touch that she brings to her business: Roy's Delivery Service. While many companies today make their customers feel like a number by having them jump through bureaucratic hoops, Hada is known for remembering people's birthdays and making them cookies. She has overcome being robbed and nearly knocked out of the entrepreneurial game altogether. The result is a thriving company with more than 300 clients.

Owner/Founder
Hada Grullon
My Location
Miami FL
United States
Year Company Formed
2001
My Successes

A self-described “little girl from the island,” Hada is a first-generation American from the Dominican Republic who has never forgotten about the people who got her to where she is today: the head of one of the most success delivery services in Florida. She was named the Outstanding Businesswoman of 1999 by the National Association of Women Business Owners and has won numerous awards, including the Customer/Client Service Excellence Award by Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter. But how did she manage to come out of seemingly nowhere to blaze a whole new trail in the business field?

Hada started in the business world where most do: at the bottom. She worked as a banker in Florida for 15 years, learning the standard ins and outs of business. Her first major business influence was her boss during this time, the first woman to serve as the chief financial officer at her bank. “She taught me how to be a more professional person and a hard worker,” Hada says.

In 1992, the news that would forever rock the foundation of Hada's life would be delivered: she was fired. Though immediately picked up by another bank, she hit bottom again after being the victim of another round of layoffs. But the spirit that later carried her to the top of the business world wouldn't let her go out that easy. “I'm tired of getting laid off and I'm going to do something about it,” Hada said to herself at the time. Instead of trying to get another bank job, she decided to start her own business. In a refrain common to many successful business owners, she says simply, “The best thing that happened to me was getting laid off.”

Starting at the bottom again, Hada had to fight for every inch and every customer. She worked out of her garage, and took second and third jobs just to pay the mortgage on time every month. Yet when it looked like clear skies for her business, she would face her most difficult challenge yet. A thief had struck in the night. All of her money and resources—gone, representing a devastating blow out of left field, almost pushing her out of business all together. “Sometimes you go through the journey and get a wake-up call when you're doing something wrong,” she says.

Her personal touch is evident in every aspect of the job. When a client called for 500 packages to be delivered in time for Christmas just days beforehand, Hada rounded up every friend and family member to help her finish on time. She isn't just creating a business, but rather a meaningful, responsive community. Though times are tough because of the recession, she still thrives as a business owner and person. Given such success, other businesses will no doubt follow in her footsteps. “People have forgotten about the personal touch these days; you must build lasting relationships with your customers,” she says.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Hada contacted Dade SCORE in Miami to explore her options and how to prevent something like this from happening again. Because of her mentor’s help, she was able to slowly but surely regain her footing in the business world, by deciding to go above and beyond what her customers expected from their delivery service. She started remembering clients’ birthdays, their kids’ names, and all manner of large and small details. These weren't just faceless pie-chart statistics and percentage points; they were people. “You must take one customer at a time. It’s better to manage 10 than not manage 100,” she says.

Consuelo’s Travel

Consuelo Castillo knows a few things about long-distance travel. Like many other Latin Americans who have come to the United States, the native of Peru had experienced the difficulties of making travel arrangements and dealing with immigration issues while also trying to overcome a language barrier. With the Hispanic population in and around her new home in Lakewood, NJ, growing steadily, Consuelo set her sights on starting a travel agency that specialized in serving Spanish-speaking customers.

Owner/Founder
Consuelo Castillo
My Location
Lakewood NJ
United States
Employees
4
Year Company Formed
1998
My Successes

Consuelo realized that she had much to learn first. She spent several months working as an unpaid part-time employee for another travel agent to gain experience while also building her English skills. In 1998, she felt ready to take the plunge.  Drawing on her personal savings and the part-time assistance of her husband, Orlando, she launched Conseulo’s Travel.

“We soon found that customers were asking for help for other things such as money transfers, translations, tax returns and immigration counseling,” Consuelo recalls. “My husband and I quickly learned as much as we could about them so we could add those services.

Consuelo soon found it necessary to hire another part-time employee, and to seek financial assistance for new equipment and leasehold improvements. While researching information at the local library, she saw a notice for a SCORE-sponsored seminar on business start-ups. That led to one-on-one mentoring with Bob Miesemer, the former president/CEO of a business machines company.

What's Great About My Mentor?

“We needed help developing business plan, our marketing strategy, and legal requirements,” Consuelo says. “Bob took us through each one step by step, showing us what elements were needed and why they were important.”

With Bob’s help, Consuelo received her loan and continued to grow her business. Unfortunately, the rent on her leased space began to take off as well. That challenge simply created a new opportunity. In 2002, the couple purchased a three-story building ideally located across from the Lakewood municipal building. Consuelo’s business occupies the ground floor, with the remaining space leased to tenants that include a lawyer, employment agency, and a newspaper. With her fully bilingual staff, which includes Orlando, Consuelo enjoys steadily growth in both her revenue and customer base.

One frequent visitor to her business is Bob Miesemer, who drops by to check on their progress and answer questions. “I really appreciate his counseling and support,” Consuelo says. “When you talk with SCORE, they are as interested and excited about your business as if it was their own.”

How SCORE Helped

“When you talk with SCORE, they are as interested and excited about your business as if it was their own.” says Consuelo Castillo.

With Bob’s encouragement, Consuelo is working on becoming a SCORE volunteer so that other Hispanic entrepreneurs will benefit from her experience. “I tell them that if I can succeed after being in the United States for only seven years, anybody can,” Consuelo says. “You just need to be sure of what you want to do, and where to go to get help.”

SCORE Mentors Haas Media LLC

“I wish everyone had a Howard!”

That’s how Kim Haas, president of Jersey City, N.J.-based Haas Media LLC feels about her SCORE mentor, Howard Geltzer.  For the past three years, the communications and community outreach entrepreneur has relied on Geltzer’s business expertise to market her skills in the busy and competitive New York City market.

Owner/Founder
Kim Haas
My Location
Jersey City NJ
United States
Year Company Formed
2003
My Successes

Originally from Philadelphia, Kim combined her love of languages and cultures with communications to start her own business while living in Milwaukee in 2003.  Clients relied on Haas’ multi-lingual capabilities to reach an increasingly diverse population. 

Her work included the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s first Hispanic marketing campaign; public relations, community outreach, translation and educational initiatives for several multi-billion-dollar Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) highway reconstruction projects; and an award-winning WisDOT educational initiative called  “Careers in Motion,” which introduces elementary and middle school students to the wonders of science, engineering and transportation.

Eager to return to her East Coast roots and experience big-city living, Kim and her husband relocated to metropolitan New York City in 2006.  One of the first things Kim did was contact SCORE’s Manhattan office.  “I’d learned about SCORE while living in Milwaukee,” Kim says.  “I was so fortunate to get to work with Howard, who once owned his own public relations agency.”

Kim’s efforts are paying off.  Along with maintaining her presence in Wisconsin, she currently provides Spanish media training for the Toy Industry Association. She will soon begin production on a Latin American travel series.  Kim is also pursuing projects in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Kim’s relationship with Howard Geltzer had an immediate benefit, as he mentored her on a strategy to maintain her business in Wisconsin while establishing a new presence in New York. “I was afraid that I would have to give up all those great clients because I was no longer there physically,” Kim says.  “Howard showed me how to make it work.  It didn’t have to be an either/or decision.  I could do both.”

Over the past two years, Kim and Howard have met each month to discuss potential business development opportunities, strategize and plan for the future, and discuss trends and issues affecting the communication business.   “Howard holds me accountable on what I need to work on between meetings,” Kim says.  “He’ll then evaluate what I’ve found, and help me analyze what did and didn’t work.”

“I’ll keep working with Howard as long as he’ll have me,” she says.  “I’ve been richly rewarded by his experience and guidance.  And he’s so accessible; I can call or email him, and he’ll get right back to me.  He’s one of the best things to happen to me in New York City!”

How SCORE Helped

“Anyone even thinking about starting a business should check out SCORE. They give you great insights on things to think about. And, it’s always nice to have someone in your corner who’s always there for you.” says Kim Haas.

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