Women Entrepreneurs

Descriptions for every section of a Business Plan

Vera Bradley Designs Finds Financial Success With SCORE Help

It's a long way from the basement to the big time, but Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia Miller have taken their line of women's luggage, accessories and clothing from trunk sales in their homes to major markets around the globe. The story began when the two new neighbors discovered they shared an interest in fashion design. They soon noticed that women lacked functional, attractive luggage form business trips.  With $500 and the name of Barbara's mother, they developed some prototypes for soft, quilted duffel bags and purses.

The items were the hit of an in-home clothing show, and demand grew. Barbara and Patricia soon found themselves searching for experienced seamstresses, deals on wholesale fabric, and -- perhaps most important -- sound business advice.  The two designing women contacted the Ft. Wayne chapter of SCORE.

Owner/Founder
Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia Miller
My Location
Ft. Wayne IN
United States
Employees
285
Year Company Formed
1982
My Successes

The good business habits we learned from SCORE served Vera Bradley Designs well as the company began to take off.  In just three years, the firm topped $1 million in sales and has enjoyed steady growth ever since.  In 1987, Barbara and Patricia received one of Ernst & Young's coveted "Entrepreneur of the Year" Awards.

Today, Vera Bradley Designs' 200 employees produce over 800 products from a 25,000 square-foot manufacturing center in Ft. Wayne.  The number of buyers has grown from local stores to thousands of retailers throughout the U.S. and overseas.  In addition, Vera Bradley products are prominently exhibited at over 20 industry tradeshows each year. Barbara was one of the first women on the board of the prestigious Chicago Gift Show and serves on the Board of Directors of the Gift Association of America. Barbara and Patricia's success story has also been chronicled in numerous newspaper and magazine articles as a proud example of other aspiring businesswomen to follow.

What's Great About My Mentor?

We contacted the Ft. Wayne SCORE and found our match in volunteer mentor George Cook, who applied his extensive background in corporate finance to help Barbara and Patricia develop a business plan, and establish bookkeeping and an inventory procedure. "From the very start, George insisted on a balance sheet, profit and loss statement, and inventory report every month, no matter how tiny the list of figures," recalls Patricia.
"George never told us what to do or how to do it. He would ask questions that helped us find the solutions for ourselves. We were very lucky to connect with somebody whose business expertise complimented our creativity. I'm sure SCORE does that for everybody. They are a fantastic organization."

How SCORE Helped

Even with their many business accomplishments, Barbara and Patricia never hesitate to contact SCORE and George for advice. "George's help is invaluable," Patricia says, "and he's never too busy to offer guidance."

SCORE Mentor Illinois Business Journal

Kerry Smith was looking for something new so she moved from Texas to Illinois in order to be closer to her family and friends. Smith began working at a local newspaper but something was missing.  “I realized that I was living in a six-county region with 30,000 companies that had no business journal.  I was working at a small daily paper looking for a place to write business news, but none existed,” she says.  Smith decided she would start her own Illinois Business Journal, but before launching, she did her research contacting chambers of commerce and SCORE. She and her SCORE mentor, Richard Rook, spent countless hours perfecting all aspects of her pending journal launch.

Owner/Founder
Kerry Smith
My Location
Alton IL
United States
Employees
2
Year Company Formed
2000
My Successes

The Illinois Business Journal has a circulation of 20,000 and a survey revealed that an average of four people read each issue, which pegs their readership at closer to 80,000. Kerry is also actively moving to provide all of their articles online. Unlike other older papers that depend on subscriptions for much of their revenue, the Illinois Business Journal is more dependent on advertisers. She sees that as a major plus, as journalism begins to move away from traditional print media.

What's Great About My Mentor?

“I didn’t even know what a business plan was, but veteran Southwest Illinois SCORE mentor Richard Rook helped me develop one.  He has been with me all along asking if there was anything that they can do to make my business even more successful. I would go in and ask, ‘How much will this cost?’ or ‘Is this a good idea?’ and they would tell me honestly,” she says. “They provided literally hundreds of hours of support, especially during the initial stages. They didn’t know much about newspapers, but they knew everything else.”

Through their weekly one-hour meetings and countless faxes, Richard led Kerry through the process of creating a business plan, including three-year cash flow projections, insurance, distribution and marketing. “Richard treated me so well, it was like he had adopted a family member,” Kerry says. “He was so helpful. It’s still hard to believe that I received all that advice and assistance for no charge.”

How SCORE Helped

“These days, more newspapers fold than get started,” Kerry says. “Richard Rook and SCORE are the reason this publication continues to prosper. At no cost, I gained expertise that you cannot put a price on. And the caliber of SCORE’s volunteers is amazing. The local chapter has CEO’s, Ph.D.’s, and other experts who willingly give up the free time they’ve worked so hard for to help people like me get started in business.”

The Translation Link

Translation Link—which offers translation services as well as marketing, document editing, consulting and other services in a variety of languages—hit the market and took off. After signing its first client in January 2007, by year two the company showed growth of 1,300 percent.

"Through the Internet, we found a local mentor Greg Hoffman," Alina Mugford explains. "First of all, I was new in the country in terms of how to go on doing business in the U.S. My experience in business is long in Venezuela. He helped me to do things here in the U.S. business-wise and all the steps that you should do to start a company. He also helped to narrow down my target market. I wanted to start big. He made me rethink my target."

http://www.thetranslationlink.net/

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Owner/Founder
Alina Mugford
My Location
Cortez FL
United States
Year Company Formed
2006
My Successes

"The company just took off on year two. It was something unbelievable," Alina says, noting that the success came "after very hard work; 24-7 is not an understatement."

Alina was nearly 50 when she immigrated to the United States in 2003. Although she had extensive business experience in Venezuela and was a college professor, the Cuban-born Alina didn’t know a lot about doing business in the U.S. "I don’t want to sound trite but I’m a good example of the American dream," says Alina, who became a U.S. citizen 1 1/2 years ago. "Hard work, hard work, hard work pays off. When you put your body, your heart, your soul into what you want to do, you can do it."

"When I was 44-years-old, I had a stroke. I immigrated to the United States when I was turning 50, and I started all over again," she says. "Having faith, vision in the future, internal spirit; I see it as a driving force within myself. No obstacle is insurmountable. If you set your mind to it, you can achieve it."

Translation Link is the recipient of the 2010 SCORE Award for Outstanding Small Business Launch by a 50 Entrepreneur.

What's Great About My Mentor?

SCORE mentor Greg Hoffman helped me understand the steps needed to start a company in the U.S.

How SCORE Helped

After learning that there was a terrific need for translation services in Florida's Manatee and Sarasota Counties, Alina began investigating business resources to help start her own service. She learned about SCORE through her local Chamber of Commerce, and also went online to find a mentor

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