50+ Entrepreneurs

Before you launch into your own business, there are dozens of details to be considered - from the momentous to the almost (but not quite) trivial.  Here is a checklist covering many items you need to take care of.

Preliminary Research

  • assess your strengths and weaknesses
  • establish business and personal goals
  • assess your financial resources
  • identify the financial risks
  • determine the start-up costs
  • decide on your business location
  • do market research
  • identify your customers
  • develop a marketing plan

Business Transactions

  • select a lawyer
  • decide on business organization-proprietorship, partnership, corporation
  • create your business-register your name, get incorporated
  • select an accountant
  • prepare a business plan
  • get financing
  • establish a line of credit
  • select an insurance agent
  • obtain business insurance

First Steps

  • design and order business cards
  • obtain a lease
  • get furniture and equipment
  • review local building codes
  • obtain a license or permit (if applicable)
  • send off for federal and state tax forms
  • apply for Employer Identification number (if applicable)
  • join a professional organization
  • line up suppliers if needed
  • set a starting date

 Business Plan

The most important reason to do a Business Plan is for you to become convinced that you can turn your idea or dream into a real functioning business. Until you have satisfied yourself that your plan "makes sense", you shouldn't even think of trying to sell anyone else. Once you're convinced you can make your idea work then you can show it to lenders and prospective investors. A Business Plan is not a "one-time" document just for obtaining investors or financing. You should consider it to be a "living document" which you will update and upgrade from time to time as information and circumstances change and as appropriate as you thus make changes in your business.

A Business Plan/Financial Plan is an absolute necessity in applying for a loan for a start-up business and is highly recommended in applying for a loan for an existing business.

How do you do it? It's not easy. And it's unlikely you can just sit down and produce a good plan in one sitting because a lot of trial and error and testing of ideas is involved. It will most likely evolve over a period of time.

How? Think about your business idea often and ask yourself these questions about every aspect of it. Who?, what?, where?, when?, why?, how?, how much?, how many?, how often? Write down the answers. Look for "holes". It's easy to list all kinds of ideas. Do you have the knowledge and resources to carry them out cost effectively? Are you "double counting" your resources, counting on them to do two different things at the same time?

Why do you want to pursue a particular part of your plan? Who will carry it out? When? Where? How much will it cost? How many sales will each marketing campaign generate? How does the cost to acquire a prospect, make a sale, or provide the product or service compare to your product or service pricing parameters?

Visualize some "typical days". What is being done? Why ? Who is doing it? Ask and answer these questions over and over until you are convinced you know how your business will function day-to-day. Now capture this knowledge in your plan and show how it will work financially. Make changes in your plan until you have a plan where all the elements fit together and work from a marketing, operational, and financial perspective.

There is no single prescribed format for a Business Plan. However, we believe many of you will find the format shown below to be helpful. You should feel free to adjust it to your unique circumstances.

A SCORE Counselor will be glad to assist you by reviewing your business plan draft(s) and giving you constructive comments. This can be accomplished in face to face meetings or by exchanging emails of sections of the plan as you write them. Use of a word processor such as Microsoft Word or Works is recommended.


You, the franchisee, have supported this system with your royalties and initial purchase price and it now will be one of your biggest assets as you decide to grow your business.

Betty Otte, SCORE Counselor

You, the franchisee, have supported this system with your royalties and initial purchase price and it now will be one of your biggest assets as you decide to grow your business.  

Since the systems for the franchise are already in place, your biggest concerns as you grow your business are:

  • Finances –having sufficient capital and resources

  • Location – for many businesses, location is critical.

If you are thinking about purchasing a franchise, keep the following 5 tips in mind.

Betty Otte, SCORE Counselor

If you are thinking about purchasing a franchise, keep the following 5 tips in mind.

SCORE to Launch New e-Business Learning Website for Small Business

Tue, 2011-03-22 23:02

Consortium of Public and Private Organizations

In Helping Entrepreneurs Leverage Technology to Fuel Their Growth and Success


Urban Solace

Urban Solace restaurant, located in North Park, is the first independent venture for partners Matt Gordon and Scott Watkins, who have 40 years of combined restaurant experience. Their restaurant serves delicious comfort food at neighborhood-restaurant prices, and it has exceeded revenue goals by 58 percent since opening in 2007. Urban Solace is also a critic's favorite, having received 13 food and restaurant awards in 2008 for such dishes as New York Cheddar Mac n' Cheese with caramelized bacon and charred tomatoes, and char-grilled prime Omaha hanger steak with homemade steak sauce and sweet potato mash.

Success was immediate at the North Park location, and he has since opened two additional “Solace” restaurants to accolades; Solace & the Moonlight Lounge in Encinitas, and Sea & Smoke at Flower Hill Promenade, Del Mar.

Best known for his American comfort foods, served with health and sustainable ethics in mind, Gordon's newest restaurant, Sea & Smoke, an American restaurant, explores the flavors of the wood-fired oven, a central feature of the space, with a modern interpretation of an American menu.

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Gordon and Watkins
My Location
San Diego CA
United States
My Successes

When preparing to open Urban Solace, partners Gordon and Watkins used SCORE San Diego's free business consulting for financial advice and business plan guidance.  
"SCORE San Diego helped us with numerous aspects of opening our restaurant by pairing us with a diversity of counselors," said Gordon. "We had a team of consultants who could advise us on a wide range of topics because of their specialized business backgrounds, and there are no restrictions on the number of counseling sessions."  
Starting a small business is always tough, and the small business loan application process is especially difficult in the current economy. So, when Gordon and Watkins decided to open a second restaurant, they returned to SCORE San Diego for assistance.

Gordon's personal accolades include "50 People to Watch" by San Diego Magazine in 2011, "40 Under 40" by San Diego Metropolitan Magazine and "Best Chef" by San Diego Downtown News in 2008.

What's Great About My Mentor?

"Due to the current economic crisis, banks have increased their credit requirements and, at the same time, have decreased the number of loans they're approving," said Paul Hollenbach, SCORE San Diego business consultant. "Our business consultants know what information banks require when reviewing a loan application and are able to help small business owners put together a strong business plan and resume that will increase their likelihood of approval."  

How SCORE Helped

"We returned to SCORE San Diego for help because restaurants are notoriously risky investments and the help SCORE gave us the first time around was invaluable," said Gordon. "Their connections and knowledge of bank loans helped identify lenders willing to finance a start-up business during a recession."  
For more information about Urban Solace, visit www.urbansolace.net or call 619-295-6464. 

Backyard X-Scapes

While setting up national distribution of faux waterscape products more than 6 years ago, Jamie Kocher and Steve Raketich became convinced they could streamline the process by purchasing direct from the factories. As a result, they started Backyard X-Scapes, a landscape retailer/ wholesaler specializing in fountains, pottery, bamboo fencing, bamboo products, thatch palapas, thatch products, artificial turf, artificial rocks and rock waterfalls. 

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My Location
San Diego CA
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

In need of financial planning and marketing guidance, Kocher and Raketich contacted SCORE San Diego and attended several workshops, including Internet Marketing, Small Business Marketing and Business Plan 101: How to Develop Your Competitive Advantage. The Internet Marketing workshops proved especially beneficial as the Backyard X-Scapes and their Bamboo and Tikis web sites currently account for more than 25 percent of total sales. To further expand their horizons, Backyard X-Scapes has hired an online marketing team to increase sales and awareness of the Backyard X-Scapes name. 

What's Great About My Mentor?

Kocher and Raketich received financial planning guidance from SCORE San Diego counselor Paul Hollenbach. "Paul explained how important it is to have open lines of credit for future expansion. We supply bamboo fencing, carved tikis, and faux rocks to more than 120 Home Depot stores nationwide, and when The Home Depot wants us to supply more stores, we now have the ability to finance this expansion immediately," said Kocher. "Having great cash flow and this solid line of credit has also allowed us to purchase our products in container load quantities directly from the manufacturer and sell at wholesale prices, which gives us an advantage over any and all competitors. We guarantee the lowest pricing of everything we sell, plain and simple."  

How SCORE Helped

Kocher and Raketich continue to use SCORE San Diego's services to stay in touch with the latest developments in the business world. Kocher states "Six months ago, Steve and I handled most aspects of the day-to-day business, but with Paul's guidance, we hired Ray Valdez as controller and general manager to solidify operations for the future. SCORE San Diego has been a great source for information and guidance. I cannot say enough good things about them and how much they have helped us."  
Even in the current economy, Backyard X-Scapes continues to prosper, with sales up 27 percent this year. Due to this success, Torrey Pines Bank has nominated Backyard X-Scapes for the Small Business Administration 2009 Small Business of the Year award.  


O'Brien Financial Planning

We are a small financial planning firm focused on individuals, families and small businesses. We have a focus on comprehensive financial planning and institutional investment management for individuals as well as qualified plans for small businesses – 401(k)s and profit sharing plans. I started this business after eighteen years as a senior leader at GE, in a number of businesses
and industries.

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David J. O’Brien
My Location
3761 Westerre Parkway, Suite C
Richmond VA 23233
United States
My Successes

We have a focus on comprehensive financial planning and institutional investment management for individuals as well as qualified plans for small businesses – 401(k)s and profit sharing plans. I started this business after eighteen years as a senior leader at GE, in a number of businesses
and industries.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Right off the bat, I learned how my corporate experience was only partially applicable to my new business. My counselors provided me with critical assistance in filling my knowledge gaps.
I was very fortunate to have been given two counselors at SCORE, Shelly Shapiro, who had significant corporate experience and was a past SCORE chapter president, and Fred Esposito, who had experience in my industry. Both were very experienced counselors and combined to give me support and guidance I couldn’t find anywhere else. One thing that really set SCORE apart from the myriad of “business coaches” out there was the personal nature of the coaching I received. These gentlemen really wanted to learn about my business and deliver the advice that was appropriate for me. I saw a lot of businesses ready to sell me a packaged solution, but never got the impression they were aligned with my best interest the way SCORE is.
Perhaps the most important guidance I received from Shelly was that a new business like mine needed a plan that focused on the first one to three years. I showed up with a business plan that had a five year outlook, and a ten year outlook, like we always did at GE. That advice is one of the things I point to when I identify early milestones in this business.

How SCORE Helped

When I was first starting out, as many entrepreneurs know, it was pretty lonely. I didn’t have much business, so I had time to plan the business, but also time to worry about the prospects for success. Shelly and Fred were excellent cheerleaders for me. They helped put things in perspective, and keep me focused on the progress I had made – measuring that progress was extremely important to keeping forward momentum. I needed unbiased feedback and support, and they certainly gave me both.
They also delivered tough messages I needed to hear, helped me get out of my own way when it came to conquering fears of developing my business. While I don’t view sales as my core competency, they made it clear that I had to get out there and sell myself and my business in order to grow. Without their well-placed advice, I would have had a much tougher time growing my business in the early days. I still rely on that advice every week.
Even after the first year of the business came to a close, I felt like the coaching I received from my SCORE counselors was important. While they had helped me identify critical success factors early on, my challenges were changing, and their insight and candid feedback was still important.

Memphis Best BBQ-National SCORE Success Story

As a young man I started researching how to write a successful business plan and what you need to get going. Several years before I retired from the Marine Corps, I relocated to Peoria Arizona. I had heard from several friends in Okinawa, Japan, that Phoenix was the new place to be and that it was growing faster than any other state.

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My Location
Buckeye AZ 85326
United States
My Successes

So I decided to take a trip to the area from Japan and check out the real estate. It caught my eyes and so my decision was to sell my condo in California and purchase in Peoria. I moved my family to Peoria and remained in California to f inish out my term. Doing this time I was zeroing in on my dream. I continued working on my business plan and attending numerous business classes and seminars offer in San Diego, California. Every time people would ask what type of business I was opening and I mentioned BBQ, their eyes would light up.

What's Great About My Mentor?

This was my personal reward for all my hard efforts and it has paid off. My restaurant is doing great and we are approaching the one year mark. Thanks to Jim Batz and all of you at SCORE and Marva Booker at Wells Fargo Bank. It's God that knows I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for these great people. 

How SCORE Helped

Goodyear had a SCORE Counselor. I called and made an appointment and met Mr. Jim Batz. I remember that day very well because of his face and his look as I introduced myself. I think he immediately felt sincere about my business plan and immediately went to work counseling me on my vision and what I needed to do before going to a bank. This was a well-executed effort for over two years working with Jim. My last meeting with Jim was simple, “Okay, what else do you need from me”, were his words. “I think you are well on your way. Keep
me informed.” I also attended the Self Employment Loan Fund course at Glendale Community College.

Unkle Timz Salsa

For more than 15 years, Tim Blake had been making homemade salsa for himself, family and friends. Over the years, people became more outspoken about how great his salsas were. Tim realized he might have something special. He did not share his recipes or processes. With much encouragement and support, Tim decided to go after his dream of running his own business.

My Successes

Tim consulted with Newark SCORE who helped him develop a business plan and made sure he had all the necessary licenses, insurance and inspections. Tim found a commercial kitchen and began his quest. He made his first commercial batch August 13, 2007. The salsa, produced under the name “Unkle Timz” Gourmet Salsa, is made in small batches weekly so it will always be fresh and just like homemade.

How SCORE Helped

A slow start was followed by steady growth. Continued growth and promising sales have recently allowed Tim to take another step; securing his own commercial cannery.

His goal, for the time being, is to offer quality, fresh, all natural, gourmet salsa in the central Ohio area. Unkle Timz salsa is available in 16 varieties and can be found in local farmer’s markets and restaurants,  as well as a number of stores. It can also be purchased on line at www.unkletimz.com .

Tim says: I am thankful to SCORE for encouragement and helping me get started properly. By helping me avoid some of the typical startup pitfalls, I was able to keep moving in a positive direction. I know that, if further growth allows me to pursue my dream to higher levels, SCORE will be there to help and guide me.

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