SCORE

What would your business do with $1,000 and personalized training?

More than 100 small businesses around the country are finding out right now. They’re the winners of the American Small Business Championship, SCORE’s fourth annual competition in collaboration with Sam’s Club.

After being announced in March, 102 winners representing all 50 states and Washington, D.C. received a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card. They also attended an all-expenses-paid small business training event in Dallas, Texas.

While the event offered many exciting opportunities to learn and network, each winner was also paired with a SCORE mentor who will guide them over the course of the next year — and potentially for many years to come.

But these businesses are still competing! After being judged by a panel on how well they use their SCORE and Sam’s Club resources, three finalists will advance — and one winner will receive a grand prize of $25,000.

Who’s who in the ASBC class of 2017?

Here are a few of this year’s state winners:

Jill Johns International of Statesboro, Georgia started partnering with local organizations in 2015 to provide retreat events for breast cancer survivors and caregivers. As a solopreneur diagnosed with breast cancer 18 months after she started her first business, Johns wants to motivate other survivors to thrive after a similar diagnosis. Johns plans to use her Sam’s Club gift card to purchase a photocopier for creating retreat materials.

Shea Bodyworks, a small-batch natural skin-care line, was born when owner Saidah Pearsall’s daughter suffered from extremely dry skin due to the chalk she used as a gymnast. Pearsall already works with SCORE mentors in the Carmel, Indiana area for guidance on business planning, FDA requirements for her products, product packaging, and more. She told The Network Journal she was excited to receive additional training as an ASBC state winner.

ZZZ Bears, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is only two years old. But the company has sold more than 8,000 stuffed bears, dressed in military uniforms “on duty” to help children sleep peacefully through the night. Founder Justin Baum hopes to expand his business after being recognized by this competition; since his home doubles as a warehouse, he plans to purchase office furniture and supplies from Sam’s Club to keep him organized.

Animal Den Pet Resort in Sacramento has grown dramatically over the past few years, but the business still has plans to grow. If her company wins the grand prize, owner Lisa Chafee plans to install a competitive agility ring as a training opportunity for her clients.

Montana Quilts owner Linda Parker was surprised to win for her state. She’s been quilting since 1976, and she uses vintage upcycled fabric to create Native American star quilts and other pieces that show a connection between people and the environment.

Enchanted Equine Adventures owner Kendra Lording told the Albuquerque Business Journal she planned to use her Sam’s Club gift card to create a shaded area for people who watch physical and occupational therapy sessions. She hopes to learn new marketing techniques from SCORE mentors.

Want to be a contender in next year’s American Small Business Championship? Meet with a SCORE mentor to learn how you can strengthen your small business.