Women Entrepreneurs

The Complete Hoot

 

Filling a Void in the Upper Valley Arts Community

Literally coming from nowhere, The Complete Hoot arrived on the scene last July and already has a circulation of several thousand copies each time it’s published which, for now, is bi-weekly.

The brainchild of Jo and Jerry Evarts, The Complete Hoot - subtitled Arts, Life & Entertainment in the Upper Valley - seeks to present in one very readable format virtually everything you need and want to know about the Upper Valley arts and entertainment scene. And, get this - it’s free.

Someone once said that the best way to be successful in business is to find a need and fill it. Well, the Evarts found the need and knew they had a very good idea on how to fill it, but they also knew that they needed help. They had so many questions and, at that moment, so few answers. How large an area to cover? How often to publish - weekly or bi-weekly? How big should the publication be - both in size and number of pages per issue? Would it be acceptable to the potential readers if the publication was printed in black and white or should it be in color which is much more costly? How much to charge per issue or should it be free and totally supported by advertising? What hardware and software would be needed to interface with an area printer? How do you sell advertising space in a new publication? Is there a need for an actual business location so advertisers and potential employees among others could visit?  In addition to budget, and staffing, and banking considerations among so many others.

Fortunately, Jo and Jerry saw an ad for a SCORE workshop on marketing. Not only did they attend the workshop, but they learned that SCORE - Counselors to America’s Small Business - provides free one-on-one counseling for start-up business along with counseling for existing businesses that might be experiencing some difficulties. So, they signed up with SCORE and requested assistance from a SCORE counselor. Enter Counselor Susan Davidson.

Working together for weeks on end, Jo, Jerry, and Susan came up with enough answers to enable The Complete Hoot to finally go to press in July 2007.

So here it is, all in one place. Arts calendars and performance schedules, restaurant reviews, book reviews, movie reviews, reviews of all manner of theatrical productions, and editorials on arts-related issues. Virtual one-stop shopping for the Upper Valley arts community from Hanover to Cornish and Woodstock to Meriden. Copies are available in area grocery stores, arts centers, arts venues, visitor centers, bookstores, libraries, restaurants, inns, B &Bs, real estate offices, and upscale retailers.

And, do yourself a favor. Check out The Complete Hoot web site at www.thecompletehoot.com. It’s really a companion piece to the publication, not just a “who are we and how can you reach us” web site. It’s crisp, clean, and very user friendly.

 

 

SCORE Mentors Helping Individuals Succeed Agency

As a child, Derschaun Sharpley learned that a little self-confidence can go a long way, especially for inner-city children who often come from broken homes.  Enrolled in Charm School by her mother, Derschaun learned manners, grooming and other fundamental lessons that enhanced her self-esteem and interpersonal skills.  “That experience gave me the confidence to pursue my interests in dance, acting and cosmetology, and earn a bachelor’s degree in health administration,” Derschaun says.

Owner/Founder
Derschaun Sharpley
My Location
Detroit MI
United States
Employees
2
Year Company Formed
2004
My Successes

A position with Detroit’s City Schools gave Derschaun the opportunity to develop programs and initiatives that instilled those same important skills in socially challenged youth.  Along with improving attendance and test scores, Derschaun’s programs also sought to provide young people with simple and effective tools that would serve them throughout their lives.

When budget cuts put an end to Derschaun’s school-based programs in 2003, she decided to continue serving Detroit’s young people as a business called Helping Individuals Succeed (H.I.S.) Agency.  Derschaun also knew where to find help getting her new venture off the ground—SCORE.  A search of online mentors on www.score.org led her to begin an email mentoring relationship with Iowa-based SCORE Mentor Ann Tompkins.

Today, H.I.S. Agency offers a variety of popular programs that teach both boys and girls with dining etiquette, personal hygiene and social skills.  Derschaun also works closely with the Girl Scouts of Metropolitan Detroit, hosting events such as “Mom and Me Tea Parties.”  She’s also hosted several workshops on “Personal Success” and “Dining Etiquette for Success” for families and local youth agencies. 

Derschaun is proud of H.I.S. Agency’s accomplishments, but she knows there are many more young people who need help coping with the challenges of daily living.  She’s hopeful that sponsors will allow her to further expand collaborations with Detroit’s schools and service agencies, and eventually take H.I.S. Agency’s programs nationwide.

What's Great About My Mentor?

“I needed help with everything,” Derschaun says.  “Ann put her heart and soul into helping me, going above and beyond what I expected.”

Ann was particularly helpful in showing Derschaun how to identify and market to her target audiences.  “I initially thought my market were the young people themselves, but Ann convinced me that I should be communicating to their parents, schools and youth service agencies,” she says.  “As I put my message and materials together, she helped with copywriting, proofing, and editing.  I can’t tell you how many emails we exchanged!” 

Derschaun also tapped the expertise of other SCORE mentors for help with financing, budgeting, and developing a consistent and profitable price structure.

“Every SCORE mentor I’ve worked with has been very receptive and willing to help,” she says.  “If they don’t know the answer, they’d recommend someone else who does.”

How SCORE Helped

Whenever Derschaun needs help with a business-related issue, she will reach out to her growing network of SCORE email mentors. “No one should be afraid to do something because they don’t know the answer,” she says.  “All you have to do is contact SCORE.”

Moms Making Money Succeeds With Help From SCORE Mentor

When Vivian Frankel was organizing a conference to help other stay-at-home mothers establish and grow their own home-based businesses in 2004, she made sure that mentor Jerry Earle of Los Angeles SCORE was on the agenda.

Owner/Founder
Vivian Frankel
My Location
Los Angeles CA
United States
Year Company Formed
2004
My Successes

Vivian’s conference proved highly successful, leading to numerous requests for her to stage similar events in other parts of the country.  Reluctant to be separated from her young son—the very reason she’d organized the conference in the first place—Vivian took her own advice and called on Earle for help in morphing her conference concept into a Web site called Moms Making Money, which would provide specialized counseling on business planning and financial organization, on-line classes, informative podcasts and other resources.  She also envisioned the Web site as the hub of a network of Moms Making Money chapters, where members could talk one-on-one, invite business experts for talks and presentations, and network with other entrepreneurial moms in the local community.

Vivian reports that the Moms Making Money Web site has become a national phenomenon, providing a mix of workshops, consulting resources and confidence that women need to maintain their self-esteem and identity while also tackling the challenging new role of mom.  Regional MMM chapters also have been established from Southern California to Connecticut.

Although Vivian has taken on a partner to help her manage Moms Making Money, she still works with Jerry Earle and SCORE.  Of his many roles in helping her build the business, Vivian considers “cheerleader” as the most important.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Jerry Earle served as a sounding board for Vivian’s ideas for Moms Making Money, helping iron out her business plan and offering advice on various issues.  He also arranged contacts with specialists who could serve as resources for Moms Making Money.  One was a fellow SCORE client, Dr. Dorene Lehavi. She is a business coach and author who has become one of Moms Making Money’s expanding staff of professionals.

“Whenever I had an idea or had a problem, I talked it over with Jerry,” Vivian says.  “He kept me focused, but also made sure I thought everything through.”

 “Without his encouragement, especially through my second pregnancy, I don’t know if I could have continued and grown the business to the level it is today,” she says, adding that SCORE is a valuable resource for anyone starting a business.

How SCORE Helped

“SCORE is such a great resource, and I wanted to ensure that mom’s who were thinking of starting their own business knew about and utilized their services,” Vivian recalls, offering herself as the perfect example.  “This was my first attempt at hosting a conference.  I wanted to discuss it with an experienced professional to make sure I’d thought of everything.”

“It’s so easy to get caught up in your idea and think nothing can go wrong,” she says.  “You need to go to someone like a SCORE mentor who’s objective and has seen it all before.  He or she will spot errors or opportunities you might miss, and help you with them.”

Organizations in the Atlanta metropolitan area that can help with mentoring and advice.

Small Business Administration The Atlanta office of the SBA. click here
Small Business Development Center The Georgia network.

Transforming Education in AMerica (T.E.A.M.)

In her 30-year career as a teacher and trainer, Gail Greenbaum discovered that the best way to help kids learn and achieve goals is to present information through clear concepts that they can relate to their daily lives. She also knew that in order to be more engaged in learning, young people needed encouragement to develop better eating, sleeping and exercise habits. The best way to do that, she felt, was for teachers to set the example.  In addition, by drawing analogies of these habits from the stories, teachers could teach more compelling lessons.

Owner/Founder
Gail Greenbaum
My Location
New York NY
United States
Year Company Formed
2006
My Successes

Gail, who spent most of her profession teaching English at a very high performing school, put her ideas to the test when she spent her final year as a teacher in a low-performing New York City school. Pass rates improved dramatically. “I realized that I had the centerpiece of a training program that could benefit all types of schools, and help re-ignite teachers’ passion by showing them the power of improving their own healthy habits,” Gail says. “Since all of my experience was as a teacher, however, and I knew nothing about marketing or how to create a viable business, I knew I needed help.”

Schools that are using Gail’s training are getting some equally incredible results.  One saw its students’ math scores increase by 31 percent. The school is now applying T.E.AM. to its English classes.

What's Great About My Mentor?

At a friend’s recommendation, Gail contacted New York City SCORE and outlined her training program idea to a volunteer mentor. The mentor immediately realized that Gail’s then-business partner was actually a liability. He recommended an attorney for her to consult. “He left a lasting legacy,” Gail says. ”The lawyer he recommended has become an invaluable advisor.”

Gail has similar praise for her current SCORE mentor, Elliott Merberg.  “He’s simply terrific,” Gail says, noting that one of the first things Merberg recommended was renaming her program “T.E.AM.” for Transforming Education in AMerica. “This defined exactly what I wanted to do,” she says. “That clarity made me even more motivated to make this idea work.”

Elliott also worked with Gail as she developed a sales presentation for schools. He accompanied her to the first appointment, and offered some follow-up ideas for improvement. “Within a couple of days, I had sold the program to three schools, which was exactly what I felt I could handle starting out,” Gail says. “The effectiveness of Elliott’s advice and support was incredible.”

Elliott is now helping Gail think about how to expand T.E.AM. from a one-woman effort into a successful business. Among the issues they’re discussing are investing in a dedicated marketer and creating a structure to hire and compensate a team of trainers who can bring the program’s benefits to many schools.

“Elliott is always expanding my awareness, and making me think about the next step,” Gail says.  “I’m very appreciative to him and SCORE for helping me learn how to make this a viable and sustainable business.”

How SCORE Helped

Gail says that the experience of working with SCORE itself is a valuable lesson for entrepreneurs of any age. “The outer world is changing so rapidly that young people don’t always realize the value of experience since many basic elements of human nature never change,” she says. “It’s wonderful to have a program like SCORE that honors experienced people.”

Baby Light and Clip Kept on the Right Path With SCORE Mentoring

It just didn’t make sense, thought Laurie Gadbois.  Most experts claimed that the best time for trimming babies’ finger- and toenails is when they are sleeping.  But seeing the nails of her two-year-old son, Tor, she thought the delicate job of clipping was difficult enough in the daylight, let alone a dimly lit room.  She worried about accidentally cutting Tor in the dark, or waking him and facing the difficult ordeal of completing the clipping, then settling him back down.

Laurie soon found many other mothers had the same concerns.  Fitting baby nail clippers with a built-in light seemed like a great idea, yet no such product seemed to exist.

“The answer was simple,” Laurie says.  “Why not do it myself?”

Owner/Founder
Laurie Gadbois
My Location
Las Vegas NV
United States
Year Company Formed
2002
My Successes

Enlisting the creativity of her father, Laurie went through the process of developing the idea into manufacturable product that Laurie named Baby Light and Clip. Along the way, she learned some difficult lessons about the scruples of potential business partners and the intricacies of readying a product for the market.

Although Laurie’s determination and her family’s limited financial resources kept the concept Baby Light and Clip moving forward, she still lacked a business plan that would guide her product when it became reality.  A chance conversation at a fast food shop led Laurie to Orange County SCORE and volunteer mentor Jim Anderson.

Four years after being inspired to create Baby Light and Clip, Laurie finally completed the arduous product development process.  With the assistance of a Florida-based outsourcing company and a foreign manufacturer, she received a container load of products and began demonstrating the product at various trade shows. 

At Anderson’s suggestion, Laurie also marketed the product directly to retailers to maximize profit.  A public relations agency also has generated valuable publicity for Baby Light and Clip in parenting magazines and on the Internet.

Within 11 weeks after Laurie launched her marketing campaign, Baby Light and Clip could be found in 114 stores nationwide with the promise of more to come, thanks to the sales expertise of Laurie’s husband.

What's Great About My Mentor?

“I thought about everything we were trying to do, and generated a business plan for Jim to review,” Laurie says.  “He helped me feel confident that I was on the right path, but said we had to pay closer attention to the financial aspects.”

Anderson created a spreadsheet that Laurie could use to monitor and analyze her company’s financial position.  “I can send him the numbers anytime and make sure I’m still on the right track,” she says.  “And he’s always ready to provide guidance and encouragement.”

“Jim makes sure I’ve considered everything, which is so important because there are many unknowns to starting a small business,” Laurie says.  “He is a true source of strength.”

How SCORE Helped

While the experience of becoming an entrepreneur has been both exhilarating and sometimes frustrating, Laurie confesses to having only one regret.  “I wish I’d known about Jim Anderson and SCORE earlier,” she says.  “It would have made things go so much faster.  Jim could have helped me focus on the right path rather than sometimes being all over the place.”

As Baby Light and Clip grows in step with son Tor, now six years old, Laurie is counting on SCORE to help keep her company on the right path.

Starting a business or non-profit organization is not a trivial undertaking. The following steps should only be undertaken after you have completed your business plan and obtained sufficient funding.

Business Plan

Starting a business or non-profit organization is not a trivial undertaking.  The following steps should only be undertaken after you have completed your business plan and obtained sufficient funding.  Help in developing a business plan is available from local SCORE mentors, Online mentorsface-to-face workshops and

ATC International Launches Business With Help From SCORE Mentor

Since 1991, Amy Frey has helped Australian manufacturers gain a niche in the lucrative North American market through her small business, ATC International. Drawing on her experience as a trade consultant for the State of Victoria (which includes Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city), Amy has nurtured ATC from its humble origins in a spare bedroom office to a 6,000-SF warehouse outside Washington, D.C. From here, she and her four-person team provide market research, business management, distribution and logistics services to clients in Australia and New Zealand.

Learn more about ATC International at www.atcinternational.net.

Owner/Founder
Amy Frey
My Location
Silver Spring MD
United States
Employees
4
Year Company Formed
1991
My Successes

ATC “is surrounded by positives.” The company has added several new clients in the past few months, and is on track to grow by 10 percent this year. Amy enjoys the benefits of the Australia – United States Free Trade Agreement, which may lead to the opening of a new warehouse on the West Coast.

“Although ATC is well established, the challenges of running a small business don’t stop; they just assume a different form,” she says. “Being able to share my concerns and questions with my SCORE mentor Ann has been enormously valuable. It is also helpful to have a woman’s perspective, particularly one I respect and admire. I hope that during the course of my career, I will achieve at least half of what she’s done.”

What's Great About My Mentor?

In 2000, Amy began working with Ann Dobbs, a former partner with a supermarket chain. Ann provided help with employee relations, legal issues, insurance and banking.  She also guided Amy through the difficult task of firing a less-than-satisfactory accountant during a critical phase of ATC’s transition from partnership to corporation.

“Ann has been a wealth of inspiration and encouragement,” Amy says. “When I’m wrestling with a difficult decision or disappointed with the way things are going, she provides the wisdom and insight to point me in the right direction.”

How SCORE Helped

Despite having a tailor-made educational and professional background for this kind of business, Amy knew that even the most successful entrepreneur occasionally needs advice. Her father had been a SCORE Volunteer Mentor in her home state of New Jersey, and she recalled how the organization had helped many small business owners launch and sustain their own ventures.

“After nearly 10 years in business, I was ready for that kind of advice in my career,” Amy says. “Knowing the kind of services SCORE provided, I would have been crazy not to take advantage of it.”

Looking to Expand American Sun Control Contacts SCORE

In 1985, Karen Zaborac wanted to find work in rural Osage Beach, MO, so she could help care for her ailing father. But there were no job opportunities at the same level or even similar to Karen's corporate St. Louis employment. But little did Karen know a world of opportunities would open up for her when a friend mentioned the hot summer sun's reflection off the lake, security film and the lack of quality local workmanship.

Owner/Founder
Karen Zaborac
My Location
Osage Beach MT
United States
Year Company Formed
1986
My Successes

Karen started researching the demand for security film, which is similar to sun tinting film used on car windows, but is break-resistant. She quickly learned most of the homes in the area are vacation homes, and believed that security film, which protects carpet and furniture from sun fading, would have a market in the area.

In January 1986, American Sun Control, specializing in break-resistant, sun-blocking security film opened its doors. Karen and her team worked hard at developing a good reputation; she trained workers to be prompt, courteous and polite. Business began slowly, but soon Karen started getting jobs and opportunities to place bids at FBI buildings and police departments. Then calls came in from all over the country requesting security film for retail windows. Karen even had the chance to bid for the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Headquarters Building in Washington, D.C. "Though American Sun Control wasn't offered the job, it was an honor to just be one of the five firms invited to bid," she recalls.

Karen has grown the business to 15 employees, who she respectively treats like family. "Much of our success is due to the hard-working contractors that are out in the field face-to-face with the client," she says. "I want my employees happy, so my clients are happy. Bottom line, you have to remember who pays your check—your clients."

What's Great About My Mentor?

With the new challenge to expand, Karen contacted SCORE for help and began working with SCORE mentor  Richard Bunk, who had owned a building products business and sold awnings in the Lake of the Ozarks area. "I met Karen at a point in her business when she was looking to expand, to offer her customers a greater line of products." Together they read the market and identified the growing need for custom awnings. After testing the market, Karen expanded to offer custom window and boat dock coverings.

Rich brought in fellow SCORE mentor George Ottman, who is experienced in manufacturing equipment costs, to provide Karen with insight for product pricing, labor costs and overhead. "These two gentlemen are invaluable. I don't know if I could ever afford this type of consulting," Karen says.

How SCORE Helped

I’m proud of what we’ve built and of what the SCORE team has done to help us.” says Karen Zaborac.

Clair David - Office Design on the Central Ave Strip

Driving west on Central Avenue, between I-475 and Central Park West in Sylvania Township, you might spot Clair David’s large store front.  If you venture into the spacious showroom, you might think you are in an interior designer’s store, and you would be partly correct. 

But as you look around the spacious display area, you will suddenly realize that everything you are looking at is office furniture, in all its variations!  

While the showroom is impressive, what really attracts Toledo-area businesses is the depth of knowledge and expertise that owner Kim Marion and her staff bring to the challenge of designing and furnishing offices for today’s high-tech and space-limited businesses.  Kim herself has 25 years of experience selling office furniture; after working for others, she decided in 2005 that the time was right to “strike out on her own.”

Kim Marion credits SCORE – Counselors to America’s Small Business – and local counselor Jack Chezek with helping her meet the challenges of running a small business.  “We need someone to talk to, someone that understands our problems,” she says.  Kim is so pleased with SCORE’s free mentoring that she sent her son in Columbus to SCORE for help in starting his own enterprise.

Kim and her staff have an impressive list of credentials and certifications, all of which can be found on their highly informative website (www.clairdavid.com), which even includes a virtual tour of the showroom in case you didn’t stop while driving by! 

Their professional approach to office design and furnishing is seen in the conference room – which is available for meetings and seminars – equipped with a “smart board” and three-dimensional design technology.  The staff emphasizes design for efficiency, helping clients to get organized and utilize office space economically – it’s called “space planning.”  This design service is offered at no charge to serious clients, who range from individuals furnishing their home office, to larger companies trying to maximize productivity – as well as provide a pleasing (and “green”) environment.

Clair David offers the whole package: a large showroom where clients can “touch and feel” the furniture; and a professional design service that brings a high level of expertise to assist today’s businesses.

SCORE is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and may be reached at 419.259.7598 and www.nwoscore.org

Owner/Founder
Kim Marion
My Location
6540 W Central Ave
Toledo OH 43617
United States
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