Tawnia King was ready to give up. Having decided to fulfill her dream of owning her own furniture design studio and showroom in early 2004, the San Diego interior designer consulted software and books that claimed to make writing a business plan easy.
But, says Tawnia, “The software kept taking me in too many different directions. The books made the process look so overwhelming, especially for someone like me who has no business background. All I did was become more and more frustrated.”
A visit to the SBA’s website introduced Tawnia to the many start-up resources available from SCORE. She enrolled in the San Diego chapter’s business plan workshop and made a fresh start on her small business dream with the assistance of local volunteer mentor Frank Lewis.
By fall 2004, Tawnia had prepared a solid business plan that earned her an SBA-guaranteed loan for her new business, and praise from the loan officer for the plan’s thoroughness. As a bonus, the San Diego SCORE chapter selected Tawnia’s plan as the best of those prepared by its clients during 2004.
Within a few weeks of receiving her loan, Tawnia opened Adorn, a 3,700 square foot design studio and showroom on Kettner Boulevard in San Diego’s famed “Little Italy.” Along with interior design services, Adorn showcases transitional to contemporary furnishings, accessories, jewelry, fashion, and original art designed primarily for the city’s growing population of condominium dwellers.
Tawnia reports that her first year in business has been successful. “We’re doing everything we want to do,” she says. “We’re building visibility for Adorn through art shows and charity events. I’m also a founding member of the Kettner Art and Design District, a co-op program designed to attract shoppers to Kettner Boulvard’s many design studios and stores.”
“The course and mentors simplified the process,” Tawnia says. “I knew exactly what to research and how to present information the way banks want to see it.”
Through a series of email exchanges, Frank Lewis helped Tawnia with her financial sections and projections. A search of SCORE’s online mentor list put Tawnia in touch with Martin Kahn, a member of SCORE’s Spring Valley, N.Y., chapter. A professional interior designer, Kahn drew on his more than 40 years of experience in retail to suggest specific organizational and tactical areas for Tawnia to present in her business plan.
“My SCORE mentors were great,” she says. “Someone like me could have very easily been stopped early on, but they helped make things understandable and were there for me every step of the way.”
SCORE continues to play a role in Tawnia’s new career, helping locate qualified professionals to handle her accounting and other business needs.