In this month’s client success story, Leslie Taylor explains how SCORE helped her gain both confidence and clients for her graphic design firm, Buffalo Creative Group. The business not only offers print and website design services, but book cover art and book trailer videos, a hot market in the world of self-publishing.
Over 17 years ago, Leslie freelanced as a graphic designer while working fulltime in a corporate marketing company. She took a 15 year break from her side business ventures to focus on raising her children. As her kids grew older, Leslie had the itch to return to freelance work. She decided to return to what she loved.
While working with her accountant on her taxes, Leslie declared that 2013 would be the year to start her own business. Her accountant suggested SCORE, and Leslie took full advantage of the free resources. She attended an 8-week intensive SCORE workshop for startups to help transition her side job into a viable graphic design business.
Leslie felt like she was “floating around at first and didn’t know what direction to go in.” She met her SCORE mentor, Max Ellis, at the perfect time. Max, a founder of one of the largest creative agencies in the nation, Crowley Webb, had struggled with the same challenges in the advertising industry.
The two met monthly to develop her business strategy. He advised her on how to acquire and retain clients. She learned how to negotiate and communicate with all types of clients. Max recommended using LinkedIn, and she found several steady clients from the social media channel alone. Max also encouraged her to join nonprofits and the Rotary Club. Her pro bono work led to paying jobs.
When Max didn’t have the answers, he simply asked another SCORE mentor for help. Attorney Fred Witherby reworked her client contracts which she still uses today.
Working with mentors built Leslie’s confidence and inspired her to keep going. She appreciated finding Max who worked in her industry and “built a wonderful company out of nothing as well.” She says he was “more helpful than some seminars that you pay for and are run by younger people. You can’t do everything on Facebook. You get a different perspective…from people who’ve ‘been there, done that.’” Even a year after they stopped working together, Max still checks on her. Just a week ago, he emailed her with a client suggestion.
Leslie stresses that small business owners take advantage of SCORE’s resources. The free mentoring and training seminars were crucial for her success, and she knows they can help others. She valued her mentors keeping her on track and inspiring her along the journey.