Retail and Wholesale Trade

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

earthbath

In 1995 when “green” was far from mainstream, Paul Armstrong saw potential in a fledgling pet shampoo company started by three of his buddies in San Francisco. Paul believed bringing totally natural grooming products, sold under the brand “earthbath,” to pet lovers everywhere offered a new market opportunity. He purchased earthbath for a few thousand dollars and, with zero knowledge of the pet industry, set out to learn and grow the business.

In the ensuing years since launch, earthbath has become a household name among conscientious animal lovers everywhere. More than 45 earthbath shampoos, wipes, spritzes, and grooming foams are made from totally natural human-grade ingredients and pure essential oils that do not harm the planet. The products are pH-balanced for sensitive pet skin and contain no animal ingredients or harmful chemicals or toxins. Paul is so serious about the quality of the company’s products that he personally tests each one on himself and offers customers an unconditional satisfaction guarantee with every sale.

earthbath comes widely recommended by veterinarians, groomers and pet hospitals, and is the official shampoo of the San Francisco Zoo. The company has reached several million dollars in annual sales and is sold in thousands of pet stores and via online merchants in 12 countries. In 2010, the company acquired SheaPet, a line of cruelty-free and environmentally conscious products that feature Fair Trade organic shea butter and the highest quality botanical ingredients. In light of the company’s rapid growth and market leadership, Paul continues to run earthbath like a small business, where employees are treated like family and bring their dogs to work.

Earthwhile Endeavors Inc., Founded 1995
www.earthbath.com
Bob Boesch, Lead SCORE Counselor
 

Owner/Founder
Paul Armstrong
My Location
San Francisco CA 94141
United States
Revenue
Several Million
Year Company Formed
1995
My Successes

The company has reached several million dollars in annual sales and is sold in thousands of pet stores and via online merchants in 12 countries. In 2010, the company acquired SheaPet, a line of cruelty-free and environmentally conscious products that feature Fair Trade organic shea butter and the highest quality botanical ingredients. 

What's Great About My Mentor?

Facing unique challenges and barriers to success in the pet industry, Paul immediately turned to SCORE counselors – accomplished executives, professionals and business owners who mentor and advise existing businesses and startups as a nonprofit partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

 

How SCORE Helped

Working together for almost a decade, Paul and his SCORE lead counselor, Bob Boesch, honed manufacturing and production, inventory management and warehousing, marketing and pricing, distribution, financing, exporting, and administration in building a trusted brand. “SCORE advisers have always been easily accessible and many times instrumental in helping me to see through a challenge that I could not otherwise unlock,” said Paul. "Paul has been an enthusiastic and interested client to work with over the years,” says Boesch. “ It is gratifying for me to witness the success he has made with earthbath  

Closets By Design Finds the Right Track With SCORE

Ron Lichwala and Bob Qualters, both senior managers with Fortune 500 companies, were in similar quandaries. Each lived in Florida, and each commuted long distances on a regular basis: Ron to Washington, D.C., and Bob to Dallas. Both had extensive experience in sales, marketing and operations management in high technology manufacturing industries, and neither wanted to relocate out of state.

For two years Ron and Bob discussed options. In 2002, they got serious about making a change. The booming home construction market in Central Florida held strong appeal. The home organizing industry was going gangbusters in growth markets, and mid-Florida was not fully serviced by that type of business.

Owner/Founder
Ron Lichwala and Bob Qualters
My Location
Orlando FL
United States
Employees
30
Year Company Formed
2003
My Successes

In March 2003, Ron and Bob bought the franchise, Closets By Design. Through careful marketing, hard work and implementing a strategy of providing a quality product at a reasonable price, they sold and installed more than 1,500 systems in 2005. They now have more than 30 employees, and the prognosis for strong future revenue is excellent. “We are now receiving many referral leads from satisfied clients,” Bob says.

Bob says, “The team that we put together–SCORE, with our accountant and lawyer–was instrumental to our business. When we made our decision to purchase the franchise and get to work, we had already identified areas of concern and had a business plan in place to ensure our success,” says Bob. “We were confident, and I think that helps when starting a business, particularly in an industry that was somewhat new to us. SCORE really helped us get started on the right path. I think our relationship with SCORE is going to pay off in a big way.”

What's Great About My Mentor?

Ron and Bob first sought help from the U.S. Small Business Administration at the University of Central Florida. Then they heard about SCORE, where they were put in touch with Orlando SCORE Mentor Stan Becker.

Through several discussions with Stan, Ron and Bob solidified their plans. They decided to purchase an existing business rather than start from scratch. After they narrowed the field to three or four, Stan helped with due-diligence reviews and provided accounting expertise that enabled them to read between the lines on the balance sheets. In the end, they focused on a local Closets by Design franchise.

Stan consulted with Ron and Bob through the negotiation with the franchisor and provided valuable insight based on his vast experience. He also advised them on how to promote their business through zoned advertising in areas with higher incomes, and suggested they make direct contact with custom builders.

Perhaps more important, Stan played “devil’s advocate” during his discussions with Ron and Bob. “Stan put our feet to the fire asking: Do you really want to be in this business? Are you really confident about what you are planning?” Bob says. “And, of course, the really big question: Can you be successful operating a Closets By Design franchise in Central Florida?”

How SCORE Helped

“SCORE really helped us get started on the right path. I think our relationship with SCORE is going to pay off in a big way.” says Bob Qualters.

Curzon Hill Antiques Seeks SCORE Mentor

Three times a week, Sarah Hill opens the door of her antiques store and welcomes visitors into a world of delicately crafted porcelain, linens and glassware. Such a career is appropriate for Hill, for her journey to becoming an entrepreneur is as colorful as the tales behind the exotic treasures that occupy her store.

Owner/Founder
Sarah Hill
My Location
Alexandria VA
United States
Year Company Formed
1996
My Successes

When Sarah received her degree from Mt. Holyoke College in 1993, she faced a dilemma common to many liberal arts majors—finding a job in a world dominated by high-tech industries. She eventually joined a computer consulting firm, but found that things weren't all bad. The job was based in Lisbon, Portugal. "I think I enjoyed being in Europe more than having the job," she confesses. "For 18 months, I was able to do a lot of traveling and pursue my personal interests."

One of those interests was a love of antiques and old houses. Sarah used every opportunity to visit countries and locations that had fascinated her as long as she could remember. When her employer’s project ended, Sarah returned home to Alexandria, VA, and began looking for ways to capitalize on her experiences and education. A specialty antique store in the city’s historic Old Town district seemed like a perfect idea. But with so many established stores there already, how could a newcomer survive?

After Sarah opened Curzon Hill Antiques in November 1996, word spread quickly about her unique offerings and eagerness in helping customers locate hard-to-find items. Her success was so impressive, SCORE’s Washington, DC, chapter named her the Client of the Year less than a year later. A feature story on Hill in the Alexandria newspaper was soon followed by a high-profile article in the The Washington Post’s Home Section, in which she discussed the care and preservation of antique linen. The resulting publicity led her to launch a side business that specializes in the care and washing of treasured handbags, tablecloths, linens, and blankets. "It’s amazing what some publicity can do," Hills says. "I’ve received orders from across the United State and Europe. I’m also preparing to launch an Internet site."

What's Great About My Mentor?

Sarah’s grandfather, who had owned a successful advertising and printing business in Omaha, suggested that she contact the local chapter of SCORE. After attending seminars on start-ups and developing business plans, Sarah began working with Volunteer Mentor Eugene Rosen, a former small business coordinator for NASA. Rosen helped Sarah understand the nuances of cash flow, advertising, and expenses, as well as preparing and analyzing financial reports.

Another benefit of Rosen’s experience came when Sarah began evaluating potential retail locations for her store. “One site that seemed very promising had been vacant for two years,” Sarah recalls. “Mr. Rosen sensed that something was wrong and suggested that I first find out why it had been on the market so long. It turned out that the landlord didn’t have a good reputation. I found a much better location near the heart of Old Town while that other space has stayed unoccupied.”

How SCORE Helped

As Hill’s business has grown, so too has the value of SCORE’s expertise. Along with Rosen, Hill now works with Volunteer Mentor Herb Robinson, who formerly owned five dress shops in the metropolitan Washington area. "Mr. Robinson has brought some great insights into specialty retail markets," Sarah says. "Both he and Mr. Rosen have been wonderful about staying in touch and taking a personal interest in my business. Now, I’m doing something that I’d always dreamed about, but wasn’t always sure could really happen. I’m really having the time of my life."

Bridal Trousseaux Gets Off the Ground With Help From SCORE Mentor

Penny Timmons purchased Bridal Trousseaux as an existing business after seeking financial planning help from SCORE. The store had been open for eight years and she saw room to diversify garment selections and extend marketing to grow this specialty clothing business. SCORE helped with Penny's loan application, business plan and future financial planning.

Owner/Founder
Penny Timmons
My Location
Moline IL
United States
Employees
4
Year Company Formed
1996
My Successes

When Penny and a friend went searching for bridal fashions, but could not find that perfect gown, Penny decided there was a target market that could use more in bridal wear selections. The quest for the perfect gown for a perfect wedding day led Penny Timmons to become the owner of a bridal and formal wear boutique in Moline, Ill. In 1997, Bridal Trousseaux increased total revenues by 12 percent.

Since we last spoke with Penny Timmons, she has graduated from college and bought a second bridal store in Moline. She reports that things at both locations are going well, although she says "like many other small businesses, I'm finding it hard to hire and keep good employees. Still, everything is great."

Since purchasing Bridal Trousseaux, Timmons has fine-tuned the company's marketing structure and traveled to Paris to conduct bridal fashion research. She is now exploring the possibility of opening a second Bridal Trousseaux store in a nearby city.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Penny says, "Dale helped me bring my ideas out of the clouds and down to earth for some realistic thought."

To help Bridal Trousseaux navigate growing pains, Penny has set up meetings with her SCORE mentors. "I want to do some long-term planning and find out what skills or education I'll need to carry it out," she says. "I've also had the opportunity to visit with some of SCORE's national directors and other chapter leaders. I think I'll always have questions about my business, but I know that SCORE will always have the answers."

How SCORE Helped

With the assistance of SCORE, Penny applied for an SBA-guaranteed loan. She used the chapter's business-planning disk to prepare a complete business plan, which detailed past sales history for the business and projected future growth. SCORE Mentor Dale Hankins helped her prepare her business plan—together they reviewed cost and revenue projections to develop a realistic operating budget to support operations and staff salaries. Dale is a volunteer with the Quad Cities SCORE Chapter, the national SCORE Chapter of the Year. He helped Penny secure a $70,000 SBA-guaranteed loan and a $20,000 economic development loan from the City of Moline.

Blaine’s Fine Men’s Apparel

"Dress to impress is your key to success."

Buddy Goldstein helps his customers do just that at his upscale menswear store, Blaine's Fine Men's Apparel located in Cincinnati's Old Montgomery neighborhood. With over 10 years in retail menswear, Buddy knows quality and style when he sees it. But even with his extensive experience, Buddy realized there was a lot to learn about starting and running a business.

Owner/Founder
Buddy Goldstein
My Location
Cincinnati OH
United States
Employees
2
Year Company Formed
2000
My Successes

"My fondness for the challenges of retail clothing began when I worked part-time for a menswear company in high school," Buddy recalls. "After college, they offered me a full-time job, which I eagerly accepted. They were in a major growth phase, and I helped open four new stores in Chicago. Eventually, I became assistant vice president of operations for a $50 million-business."

Looming changes in the company's direction spurred Buddy to think about his future. He went to graduate school and landed a job with a curtain manufacturer. While that job offered both security and opportunities, he missed the menswear business. Perhaps, he thought, it was time to go into business for himself with a clothing store he could call his own.

Buddy opened Blaine's Fine Men's Apparel in September 2000—"the worst possible time for menswear considering the economic downturn," he says. Still, he has managed to consistently meet his "best case" projections each month. "With everything that has happened in this country, I feel very fortunate," he said a few months after Blaine's one-year anniversary. "Now, I have to focus on balancing my inventory with cash flow, and make sure I don't overbuy. There are a lot of challenges ahead, but this experience is everything I hoped it would be."

What's Great About My Mentor?

A family friend suggested that Buddy contact Ralph Lowenstein, the former co-owner and president of a local sportswear wholesaler, and a volunteer mentor with SCORE's Cincinnati chapter. "I had a sketchy business plan for my store, but really didn't know how to get started," Buddy says. "Ralph turned out to be the perfect match for me. He helped flesh out the business plan and alerted me to considerations I hadn't considered. He is the perfect devil's advocate because he's been through all of this before."

That was the beginning of what Buddy calls a terrific relationship. "I've never dealt with anything like cash flow before," he explains. "It's not rocket science, but you do have to know what to look for and why it's important. Ralph helps me understand the numbers and what they mean. I can see now why so many new businesses fail."

Because Buddy was targeting a select market for his store, Ralph helped him conduct market research, including several focus groups. That valuable input led Buddy to identify a location that, while perfect for attracting customers, required substantial remodeling. With Ralph's guidance, Buddy was able to negotiate a favorable lease, arrange a line of credit with a local bank, and keep the necessary improvements within his budget limitations.

"This wasn't a case of Ralph telling me something and me just nodding my head," Buddy says. "When he talked, I listened because I wanted to avoid the silly mistakes that can undermine a business." Buddy admits to committing some errors, such as purchasing inventory before he had a lease. "That saved some money up front, but cost me in the long run," he says. "But starting a business is a learning process. And I couldn't ask for a better mentor than Ralph. He's a great sounding board for ideas, and an invaluable source of experience and knowledge."

How SCORE Helped

One thing Buddy can count on is the continued support of SCORE and his mentor Ralph. He and Ralph meet monthly to review financials and watch for potential problems and opportunities. "There truly is no substitute for experience," Buddy says. "Ralph has been an emotional and strategic partner in the growth of my business. I couldn't have asked for a better mentor."

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