Construction, Industrials and Utilities

How to set up a non profit

How to set up a non profit

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Screening test for startup

How to look at costs

How to look at costs

A comprehensive source of information resources compiled under 3 main categories of Planning Tools, Sources of Data, and General Sources.  Each of these 3 categories is broken down into subcategories and detail lists under the navy blue headings.  While Northern Illinois SCORE has made every effort to insure the accuracy of this list, we can not be responsible for changes in the URLs or the content on these references.

A comprehensive source of information resources compiled under 3 main categories of Planning Tools, Sources of Data, and General Sources.  Each of these 3 categories is broken down into subcategories and detail lists under the navy blue headings.  While Northern Illinois SCORE has made every effort to insure the accuracy of this list, we can not be responsible for changes in the URLs or the content on these references.

Planning and analysis templates in Excel, PDF, or Word format to help you analyze specific areas of your business start-up or growth venture.

Planning and analysis templates in Excel, PDF, or Word format to help you analyze specific areas of your business start-up or growth venture.

The selection of a business entity (form) will affect your exposure to personal liability, how you draw profits and pay taxes, your ability to raise capital, how you run your business, and how difficult it is for business reporting.

Generally, all businesses fall into one of these broad categories: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Limited Liability Corporation, or Corporation.

A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business owned by one individual. A partnership is a legal entity existing between two or more persons who join to carry on a trade or business.

If financial problems have overwhelmed your finances, Bankruptcy may be an option.  Read some of the basics here.

http:// http://www.nhbar.org/for-the-public/bankruptypamphlet.asp

California Gardens Utilizes SCORE Mentor

Closing an office and laying off employees is not an easy decision for any business owner to make. But in late 2001, Li Vellinga had few other options. Either she could trim the size of California Gardens, her 10-year-old landscape design business, or watch it disappear entirely.

Owner/Founder
Li Vellinga
My Location
San Carlos CA
United States
Year Company Formed
1991
My Successes

A native of Sweden, Li was co-owner of a successful San Francisco-area home and garden center when she decided to start a new business in 1991 that would capitalize on her garden design talents. It didn’t take long for California Gardens to attract a number of commissions for commercial and residential garden projects, many of which involved high-profile locations around the Bay Area. To keep up with the company’s growing workload, Li took on employees and leased office space.

Then came September 11th, 2001, and the tragedy’s ripple effect through the nation’s economy. California Garden’s four-month backlog quickly evaporated as clients cancelled their landscaping plans. Knowing she had to make some tough decisions, Li remembered her bookkeeper talking about SCORE’s small business mentoring services. If there was ever a time to get expert advice, she decided, this was it.

Li took John’s advice and based California Gardens in her home. John helped Li set up the technical tools for the business, from developing a Web site to setting up her business computer. He also encouraged Li to attend SCORE’s business seminars on building a business plan and using advanced accounting software. 

By the end of 2002, California Gardens was blooming once again with a 350-percent increase in net income. Li once again enjoying the feeling of success, accomplishment and inspiration, designing project ranging from small front yards to several acres of planned landscape. She has also developed management skills that enable her to focus more closely on her clients’ needs without compromising her personal life—another benefit of her monthly meetings with John Edwards and SCORE.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Li began working with volunteer mentor John Edwards, a veteran of California’s technology industry. Based on a meticulous review of Li’s overhead, John recommended that she convert California Gardens into home-based business and rely on contractors when needed. 

“This was one of the hardest things I’ve faced, and it wasn’t until January 2002 that I could bring myself to do it,” Li says. “Fortunately, my employees were very understanding and supportive.”

Perhaps most important, John regularly reviewed Li’s financial statements and provided guidance on how to analyze trends and forecast income. “It’s been three years, but we still do this,” Li says. “Now I’m better able to set reasonable business goals. John is also teaching me how to spot potential financial problems, and develop clear communications materials. If I encounter a stumbling block, he’ll suggest good books to read on the subject.”

How SCORE Helped

“One of the best things about working with John is that he always allows me to take my time to make each decision,” Li says. “He will ask what I think is best for me, while also offering suggestions on what he thinks might work. Yet he always supports me, no matter what I decide. As long as I’m in business, I plan to continue utilizing the wonderful support John and SCORE provide.”

Fideldy Brothers Well Drilling Finds Success WIth SCORE

It might sound strange that a company that's been around for nearly 40 years would have to start over. But for the Fideldy brothers of Bovey, MN, that approach was just what they needed to stay in business.

Owner/Founder
Jim, Dennis & Ralph Fideldy
My Location
Bovey MN
United States
Employees
3
Year Company Formed
1959
My Successes

The Fideldys' father had begun a well-drilling business as a sideline to his job as a driller for northern Minnesota's mining industry, and ran it until his death in 1968. The four brothers, who spent summers working for their father, decided to keep the business going. They bought more equipment and gradually attracted more work. But a lack of business expertise and occasional family rifts limited the company's growth.

When Bill, the eldest brother, retired in 1997, Jim Fideldy and his younger siblings, Dennis and Ralph, sensed that the family business had reached a crossroads. "We knew the technical side pretty well because we'd managed to keep up with drilling technology over the years," Jim says. "But from a business standpoint, we were really struggling. We felt the time had come to do things right—to put together a formal business plan and marketing strategy, and take a more professional approach to our operations."

Jim explains that because well drilling has a high profit margin, even a handful of additional projects can vastly improve the bottom line. "We've already invested in the equipment; it's just a matter of getting the job, researching it, and doing the work," he says.

For help, the brothers turned to a longtime family friend: Dr. Crumpton Farrell, a former professor of business at St. Cloud State University, and a SCORE mentor.

The company's business has steadily increased by 20 to 25 percent a year. The brothers drilled 120 wells in 2000 and entered the winter with a backlog of projects that will allow them to make a fast start in the spring. The improved operations have also allowed the brothers to upgrade their equipment and enroll in training courses that will further enhance their operations and service.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Dr. Farrell provided the brothers with expert guidance on developing improved business and marketing plans, as well as financing, budgeting, sales, and general management practices. He also gave the brothers tips on effective advertising strategies and planning for long-term growth.

Dr. Farrell's assistance had an immediate impact on Fideldy Brothers Well Drilling "Before, we would do about 50 to 60 wells a year," Jim says. "The first year we worked with Dr. Farrell, we did 80 wells. Most of that increase was due to us hitting the pavement and doing a better job of marketing, which had been a problem area in the past."

Along with being poised for a more secure future, the brothers also know that they can always count on their SCORE mentor for help. "Dr. Farrell faithfully keeps in touch with us every month," Jim says. "He always sends us articles and information that he feels we can apply to our business. It's nice to know that he's always thinking of us."

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.

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