Women Entrepreneurs

Tremendous information source supplied by Chapter 143 to new entrepreneurs on business related topics. Information in workbook covers accounting, insurance, taxes, business plan, marketing, SBA loans, and business structure

Before you launch into your own business, there are dozens of details to be considered - from the momentous to the almost (but not quite) trivial.  Here is a checklist covering many items you need to take care of.

Preliminary Research

  • assess your strengths and weaknesses
  • establish business and personal goals
  • assess your financial resources
  • identify the financial risks
  • determine the start-up costs
  • decide on your business location
  • do market research
  • identify your customers
  • develop a marketing plan

Business Transactions

  • select a lawyer
  • decide on business organization-proprietorship, partnership, corporation
  • create your business-register your name, get incorporated
  • select an accountant
  • prepare a business plan
  • get financing
  • establish a line of credit
  • select an insurance agent
  • obtain business insurance

First Steps

  • design and order business cards
  • obtain a lease
  • get furniture and equipment
  • review local building codes
  • obtain a license or permit (if applicable)
  • send off for federal and state tax forms
  • apply for Employer Identification number (if applicable)
  • join a professional organization
  • line up suppliers if needed
  • set a starting date

 Business Plan

The most important reason to do a Business Plan is for you to become convinced that you can turn your idea or dream into a real functioning business. Until you have satisfied yourself that your plan "makes sense", you shouldn't even think of trying to sell anyone else. Once you're convinced you can make your idea work then you can show it to lenders and prospective investors. A Business Plan is not a "one-time" document just for obtaining investors or financing. You should consider it to be a "living document" which you will update and upgrade from time to time as information and circumstances change and as appropriate as you thus make changes in your business.

A Business Plan/Financial Plan is an absolute necessity in applying for a loan for a start-up business and is highly recommended in applying for a loan for an existing business.

How do you do it? It's not easy. And it's unlikely you can just sit down and produce a good plan in one sitting because a lot of trial and error and testing of ideas is involved. It will most likely evolve over a period of time.

How? Think about your business idea often and ask yourself these questions about every aspect of it. Who?, what?, where?, when?, why?, how?, how much?, how many?, how often? Write down the answers. Look for "holes". It's easy to list all kinds of ideas. Do you have the knowledge and resources to carry them out cost effectively? Are you "double counting" your resources, counting on them to do two different things at the same time?

Why do you want to pursue a particular part of your plan? Who will carry it out? When? Where? How much will it cost? How many sales will each marketing campaign generate? How does the cost to acquire a prospect, make a sale, or provide the product or service compare to your product or service pricing parameters?

Visualize some "typical days". What is being done? Why ? Who is doing it? Ask and answer these questions over and over until you are convinced you know how your business will function day-to-day. Now capture this knowledge in your plan and show how it will work financially. Make changes in your plan until you have a plan where all the elements fit together and work from a marketing, operational, and financial perspective.

There is no single prescribed format for a Business Plan. However, we believe many of you will find the format shown below to be helpful. You should feel free to adjust it to your unique circumstances.

A SCORE Counselor will be glad to assist you by reviewing your business plan draft(s) and giving you constructive comments. This can be accomplished in face to face meetings or by exchanging emails of sections of the plan as you write them. Use of a word processor such as Microsoft Word or Works is recommended.


General Exterminating Co. Enhanced By SCORE Advice

Donna Reese, owner of General Exterminating Co. became aware of SCORE in a circuitous fashion. As a woman small business owner, she was accepted into the Athena Power Link program thereby able to take advantage of an experienced advisory team. One of the advisors was SCORE counselor Larry Brown. Involved in ownership of the 87-year old company for 20 years, Donna accepted advice from Larry and others to sell her ownership in another unrelated company and concentrate on enhancing and branding the core pest control business. When she had trepidations about undertaking some market initiatives, Larry introduced her to SCORE counselor Tony Ciampa. Based upon his experience, he outlined tactics that gave Donna great confidence which ultimately enhanced the business. Competition in the pest control business has become formidable. Donna estimates that 20 years ago, there were 4 Erie firms involved - now there are more that 20. She has met this challenge by expanding her business to offer options other than the traditional services, providing do-it-yourself products though on-line shopping and a diagnostic service. In a downward economy, the firm has been able to maintain stable employment. Donna has established herself as a media "go to" person for expert comments such as advice on dealing with a local bed bug outbreak. Beyond her business,

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Donna Reese
My Location
5526 Peach Street
Erie PA 16509
United States
My Successes

Donna is active in business and community affairs. She currently chairs a fundraiser for Erie Homes for Children and Adults. Recently named Global Erie person of the year, she also works at the Erie City Mission. She is a vocal support of SCORE encouraging other owners to utilize the free, confidential service.

How SCORE Helped

 Donna accepted advice from Larry and others to sell her ownership in another unrelated company and concentrate on enhancing and branding the core pest control business. When she had trepidations about undertaking some market initiatives, Larry introduced her to SCORE counselor Tony Ciampa. Based upon his experience, he outlined tactics that gave Donna great confidence which ultimately enhanced the business. Competition in the pest control business has become formidable. 


The Legal Balance

After watching women attorneys struggle to manage work and life, Erica Zalokar, a former corporate litigator, wanted to help them succeed in both dimensions.  She saw smart female attorneys working very hard, but most were not moving up the law firm hierarchy to become equity partners.   Others were being laid off or leaving the practice.  She observed that many of these women had obligations at home that kept them from networking and operating like the men, increasing their stress.
Erica wanted to help them solve these problems.   She came to SCORE in the fall of 2007 with a business plan for an exclusive community of women attorneys, designed to unite and empower them.  Needing help with marketing, financing and web design to put her plan into action, she was matched with SCORE counselors Peg Corwin and Iain Lopata
With the assistance of these counselors and other supporters, by 2009 she had a working website and a popular Legal Balance newsletter with 5,000 subscribers .  In 2010, TheLegalBalance.com held an official launch party, promoting a community that offers members exclusive events, mentoring opportunities, work-life balance articles, business development guidance, and experts.  The site also brings together a unique mix of businesses that provide laundry delivery, meal delivery, childcare, concierge assistance, meal preparation and personal shopping.

This vibrant community is on the web at www.thelegalbalance.com

Erica Zalokar
My Successes

In the past 11 months, The Legal Balance has grown to 500 members and has garnered the sponsorship of some of the largest and most prominent law firms.  Its popular Legal Balance newsletter has over 8,000 subscribers. In addition, a number of powerful women attorneys in Chicago serve as career leaders and mentors in its community.  In 2010, The Legal Balance was showcased in Crain’s Chicago Business and was front page news in The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.  

What's Great About My Mentor?

Erica is emphatic that both Peg and Iain were indispensable in making her dream become a reality.  According to her, “Iain Lopata’s business and technology expertise taught me how to take my idea and transform them into technology specifications that allowed web developers to bid out the work. Iain also taught me how to manage my technology projects, test a website, negotiate, and ultimately deliver a working site.  Peg Corwin’s social media, marketing, business, accounting and management background was invaluable.  She helped me understand how to set priorities, get organized and execute the mountain of tasks a startup faces.  She also taught me about marketing and social media, as well as budgets and revenue projections.”

How SCORE Helped

Erica credits SCORE Chicago as a major factor in the successful start of her business: “The Legal Balance would not have launched without the mentoring, guidance, tools and encouragement that these counselors gave me.  Both counselors willingly gave their time and shared their knowledge to help me reach my business goals.  SCORE is an incredible organization.  I am grateful to SCORE Chicago and Peg and Iain for their past and future support. I have also recommended that several other friends take advantage of SCORE’s services.”  

Haven Art Group Finds Success with SCORE

Drawing on her experience as a paintings specialist at Sotheby’s of London, a supervisor of appraisers at Chubb Insurance and director of the art services division of American International Group, where she advised on the management and protection of private art collections worth from $10 million to $1.2 billion, Claire Marmion started her own business, Haven Art Group, in 2009. The purpose of the business is to provide art management services for high net worth individuals with major art collections and for internationally-known art collectors, as well as art claims services for major insurers.  Claire  refers to herself as “a curator for hire”.

In October 2008, Claire came to SCORE seeking help in getting her business off the ground.  As Claire said, “I first stumbled onto Score completely by accident through a friend’s recommendation.  It was one of the most brilliant discoveries of my first year in business—a bright glow while wading through the slow and sticky tar that is building and then running your own office for the first time.”

To learn more about Claire’s business, see her website at http://www.havenartgroup.com

Claire Marmion
My Successes

Since its founding, Haven Art Group has grown substantially, opening offices in New York and Chicago.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Her primary SCORE counselor has been Mitchell Morris, with whom Claire has been working on a monthly basis.  According to Claire, “Mitch and the SCORE team were absolutely vital in keeping me focused, in providing tips for maintaining discipline and solving problems in bite-sized chunks—a business partner to brainstorm ideas with.  And it’s not over yet.  I hope I shall be sapping their energy for many prosperous business deals to come.”

A well-researched and realistic business plan will help you create a viable new business with a feasible business model and business strategy for future growth.

Saigon Sisters

Mary Nguyen Aregoni and Theresa Nguyen are sisters who were born in Laos, lived in Vietnam and Thailand, and came to the United States as young children with their family in 1976.  Inspired by their mother (Mama Suu) and grandmother, who were successful entrepreneurs in Vietnam--having grown an open-market grocery into a large food market operation that was the main supplier to nearby embassies--the sisters opened a Vietnamese street food kiosk in the Chicago French Market. 

Their kiosk became so popular that they decided to expand their horizons by opening a full restaurant in Chicago’s Fulton River District/West Loop neighborhood.  It was at this point that they sought the advice of SCORE mentor, Brian Stinton.  Brian helped them to create a business plan and cash flow analysis which enabled them to obtain bank financing.  He also worked with them to establish a sound bookkeeping system and to set realistic goals.

In November 2010, Mary and Theresa opened their restaurant at 567 W. Lake Street in Chicago.  As they said, “Our passion is to bring the delicious street foods we grew up with to Chicago, offering creative, contemporary interpretations but using authentic Southeast Asian ingredients. Saigon Sisters Restaurant is a contemporary casual restaurant where our guests can enjoy deliciously fresh, quickly prepared food at lunch and can come back to relax and enjoy a frequently changing menu of interesting small and large plates at dinnertime.” 

The Saigon Sisters website can be found at www.saigonsisters.com

Mary Nguyen Aregoni and Theresa Nguyen
My Location
567 W. Lake Street
Chicago IL
United States
My Successes

Their restaurant soon received great reviews and continues to attract new and repeat customers. 


What's Great About My Mentor?

Brian Stinton’s contribution to the sisters’ success is best described by them:

“The thorough analysis and unbiased advice we got from our SCORE mentor, Brian Stinton, helped us understand the risk and the reality of what we were getting into so we could be better prepared for it.  It gave us a roadmap of what our sales goal should be and what capital was needed to overcome startup hurdles and risks.  It gave us the realistic picture of what to expect and gave us the courage to proceed with the venture.”

You, the franchisee, have supported this system with your royalties and initial purchase price and it now will be one of your biggest assets as you decide to grow your business.

Betty Otte, SCORE Counselor

You, the franchisee, have supported this system with your royalties and initial purchase price and it now will be one of your biggest assets as you decide to grow your business.  

Since the systems for the franchise are already in place, your biggest concerns as you grow your business are:

  • Finances –having sufficient capital and resources

  • Location – for many businesses, location is critical.

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