Rural Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur’s Guide: Starting and Growing a Business in Pennsylvania is a 108 page booklet filled with current information about free services, check lists, helpful tips and licensing procedures. Because the information in this guide is not intended to be the final statement on any subject, you will also find addresses, web sites and telephone numbers for contacting business-related agencies.

Making a Difference

“SCORE‘s involvement has been ‘making a difference’ in my new business ever since its launch.”

Making a Difference Cornish, ME Roy Nelles, Founder and Owner
My Location
Cornish ME
United States
My Successes

Roy’s business idea had all the hallmarks of a classic Maine start-up when he decided to approach SCORE for advice. His late father, Barry Nelles, a Maine public school art teacher and illustrator, had left him a wonderful legacy of original cartoon drawings and prints which seemed ideally suited for decorating t-shirts. Roy and his wife had met the Directors of the Organic Consumers Association who introduced them to an organic t-shirt manufacturer that could provide them with just the type of ecologically friendly product they wanted to offer. All that was needed was a plan to turn an appealing business idea into a business reality.

What's Great About My Mentor?

SCORE counselors provided advice with possible family concerns, copyright and trademark areas, financing, marketing, web support and, most importantly encouragement in producing a realistic business plan. Roy’s plan has now evolved into a successful enterprise with t-shirts bearing his Dad’s characters being sold from a retail outlet in Cornish, ME, trade shows all over New England and nation-wide on an attractive “shopping-cart” website. Encouraged by the enthusiastic response to his father’s prints, plans are being made to add other lines of shirts and other products using artwork by his mother, Mary Lou Nelles, a prolific artist in both watercolor and oil, ensuring that Making a Difference remains a strong family concern .

How SCORE Helped

“I like to keep in touch with my SCORE counselors; their advice/suggestions always motivate me into more action.”

Homes and Harbors Real Estate

“I knew the real estate business inside-out, but counted on SCORE for advice in the personnel area as my new venture started to grow quickly"

Bruce Davis
My Location
Harpswell, ME
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

Setting out on his own in 2000, Bruce has seen his Homes & Harbors Real Estate business grow to 10 agents and brokers and a consolidated number one position in Harpswellreal estate over the last few years, with an ever-increasing standing all along the Portland to Wiscasset waterfront. Although growth came very quickly in the early days so did possible concerns on the personnel front. It was at this point that Bruce set up a counseling session with Portland SCORE.

What's Great About My Mentor?

SCORE counsellors talked with Bruce about ways to handle possible employee problems before they developed and in particular how to deal with key employee retention. Since then, Homes & Harbors has been able to shape itself into a boutique agency with great local knowledge which buyers and sellers are coming to expect of realtors in this current market. “It’s always a comfort to talk to experienced business people in strict confidence. I would go back to SCORE to discuss any business concern, any time.”

Cash Flow and Pro Forma spreadsheets with all formulas already in the template

Business Plan generic template. Can be modified to fit your business.

Simple Steps for Starting Your Business”


Is Starting a Business Right for You?

Attend this comprehensive series of workshops to help you test your new business idea and gets you started on the right path. Free one-to-one counseling is also a part of the workshop process.


Join us for five three-hour sessions that help you understand the basics of:

  • the concepts involved with assessing a business idea,

  • marketing your product or service,

  • understanding business financials and how they work, and

  • how to fund and finance your business.


Session 1: Start-up Basics (Free) , October, 25th 4 to 7pm

This introductory workshop focuses on the basics of testing your business idea and identifying the key factors that influence start-up success. Start-up Basics provides you with an overview of the skills and tools you need when deciding to start a business. In this session, you learn about: the advantages and disadvantages of owning a business, the most profitable form for your business, and the fundamentals of formation, organization, marketing, cash flow and funding sources.

Session 2: Business Concept, Nov  1st , 4 to 7pm

The second workshop focuses on your business concept and step-by-step guidance in researching your idea, your market, and your competition. At the end of the Business Concept workshop, you are able to: identify your target markets, describe your products and services, and collect key competitive information to support your feasibility plan.


Session 3: Marketing Plan, Nov 8th, 4 to 7pm

The third workshop provides you with an introduction to marketing communication methods and tools to maximize your customer reach. The discussion in the Marketing Plan workshop covers pricing strategies, positioning, the difference between features and benefits, and different marketing strategies. At the end of this session, you will know how to: outline your marketing strategy, test your marketing message, choose the right sales channel, and exercise your marketing strategy.


Session 4: Financial Projections, Nov 15th, 4 to 7pm

The fourth workshop uses exercises to help you better understand financial concepts. This session reviews sales and prices, financial risks and rewards, true start-up costs, ongoing operating expenses, setting benchmarks for tracking progress and the organization of all your financial information. Using a hands-on approach, you learn how to use our financial model to forecast sales revenue and build solid pro-forma financial forecasts.


Session 5: Funding Sources and Next Steps, Nov 22nd, 4 to 7pm

The final workshop offers information on how to finance your small business. In this session, discussions include sources of funds, accounting the six C's of credit, banking relations, ratio analysis, and monthly preparation and review of financial statements. A bank loan officer will give an inside view of how a banker assesses the merits of business plans and loan application. At the end of the series, you have all of the tools necessary to decide whether or not to launch your small business.


First session free. Attend all five for $125.00.


Register for Simple Steps for Starting Your Business in Fort Wayne, IN  on Eventbrite

Flower Connections

Linda Jack feels a sense of accomplishment each day when she opens the doors of Flower Connections in Victor, Iowa. Linda’s store is a one-of-a-kind shop that has done well for twenty years despite a "new economy" that has been rather unkind to the small towns of America. Towns like the picturesque Victor.

In fact, Linda beams with pride knowing she has bucked the trend. "Loving what I do and the people I do it for," says Linda, "is the reason I continue in spite of uncertainty." This is her story of success.

Linda Jack
My Location
219 Washington Street
Victor IA 52347
United States
My Successes




Bus Card

Linda Jack feels a sense of accomplishment each day when she opens the doors of Flower Connections in Victor, Iowa. Linda’s store is a one-of-a-kind shop that has done well for twenty years despite a "new economy" that has been rather unkind to the small towns of America. Towns like the picturesque Victor.

In fact, Linda beams with pride knowing she has bucked the trend. "Loving what I do and the people I do it for," says Linda, "is the reason I continue in spite of uncertainty." This is her story of success.


Linda knows no other home than Victor. She was born and raised on a farm just three miles south of town. Her childhood dreams of being a teacher or a beautician required more schooling, and that was out of reach for this small town girl.  After high school, she held various jobs and experienced miles of driving to work in Grinnell and Brooklyn. Linda married and started her family.  Wanting to drive less and be near her growing family, she started her own cleaning business.

Bus CardIn a not-so-nice garage in downtown Victor, there was a flower shop, the only flower shop in town. More than twenty years ago, prior to Mother's Day, one of the busiest holidays for the flower business, Linda got a call for temporary help from the owner.  The woman owner agreed to let Linda work during the hours that did not conflict with her cleaning business.  Linda's talent for creativity, making things that are neat and clean, came to the surface.  She fell in love with the flower business.

Linda drove home in tears on her last day of work after six weeks in the flower garage.  There was a brief ray of sunshine when she discovered that the owners of the Victor flower store were opening another store in Brooklyn.  She hoped this would be an opportunity to continue her newfound vocation, but the owners hired someone else to manage the store.

Opportunity presents itself

She continued her own business of professional cleaning, which included cleaning men's toilets.  One night, in a particularly dirty toilet, Linda backed up to the wall, tears streaming down her cheeks; she called out "God, there has to be something more for me to do than this."  Less than twenty four hours later, the phone rang.  It was the husband of the Victor Flower Shop owner; he asked Linda if she wanted to buy the business.  He wanted her decision within a few hours; she begged for more time and they agreed.  This time allowed Linda to spend six weeks in training at the Chicago Flower Design Studio.

In February 1988, Linda bought the business including inventory, a cooler, and a cash register—only the cooler remains.  Linda had no money, but loads of ambition and excitement as she began to look for a location that would be better than a garage.  She wanted to rent space, not buy, but the owners of the building she chose only wanted to sell and they gave her a good price. 

Bus Card

Adapting to Change

The building at 219 Washington Street was big and empty.  Funerals, school activities, and holidays did not bring in enough income to keep the flower business alive.  Linda knew she must expand into other areas to make her business survive and to keep the citizens of Victor and surrounding towns as customers.  Gradually, Linda added home décor, pictures, Christmas decorations, candles, and gift items to accent a home during the holidays and changing seasons. 

Bus CardOver the past twenty years, Flower Connections evolved with the wants and needs of the buyers.  Linda did whatever it would take to make her business successful.

She had open houses, half price sales when necessary, and continued to vary the inventory.  Now, she offers personal items, such as lotion, jewelry, purses and some clothing.  She has created a children's area (pictured to left) that delights the little ones and of course, the grandmas. 


Have there been problems?  Of course.  The local grocery store closed causing the Victor residents to shop in near by towns. Walmart opened in close vicinity selling similar merchandise at cheaper prices. It has not been easy and each day she asks herself, "What should, and can, I do next?" 

If you ask Linda what she would tell a stranger about her business, she would say, "I sell happiness, either something you wear on your body or enjoy in your home.” When you enter Flower Connections, you feel the warmth, the beauty, the excitement—all that represents happiness.  Linda and her staff enthusiastically greet you as you enter; their smiles let you know this is where you want to be.  It is very likely they will call you by name. 

Calling SCORE – Friendly help

Bus Card

In 2005, Linda (left, in picture to left) called SCORE after reading about the organization in a magazine.  She wanted to bounce her ideas off an unbiased counselor and ask for recommendations as to how to continue her business.  Linda says, “I was able to ask for a counselor I could relate to.

SCORE responded with the right one. As a woman client I was able to work with a woman counselor and that worked well for me.” Kathy McArtor was that counselor (above, right).  It was obvious to Kathy that Linda ran her business with her heart and she made suggestions as to how she might continue to do so.  Kathy keeps in touch with Linda by an annual phone call. For Linda, this is proof that SCORE counselors will listen and they really care about your success. 

Lessons Learned

Bus CardTwenty years of selling happiness to Victor residents gives Linda the right to share some tips about running a small business.  “You need to love what you are doing and give 110% at all times.  The desire must come from the heart.  Treat your customers as if they are guests in your home.  A small business is like a family and you need to treat your employees as if they are part of your family.” 

There is no question that Linda's talents of creativity, drive, optimism, boundless determination and an ability to adapt have helped this natural businesswoman.  She will tell you that building a business is exciting and that her biggest surprise is that she is still in business after twenty years.

To us at SCORE, however, Linda's past 20 years come as no surprise. Linda is simply one of the people that “have it.” They work hard, they grow and they ask for help when it is needed. That's what it takes to be a business success story.


If you ever find yourself in the area or nearby in the outlet mall at Williamsburg, why not take an easy, interesting jaunt over to Victor. It is one of Iowa's wonderful small towns. In the middle of the city you will find Linda Jack's warm and unique Flower Connections. Find out how welcoming she can be and learn how a small business succeeds from someone that has.


Potts Harbor Lobster & Reversing Falls Lobster Wharf

As shorefront property in Maine escalates in price, it is more difficult for fisherman to retain direct access to the water.  Potts Harbor Lobster in Harspwell initially did not have direct access to the water, having to truck its catch, and what it purchased from others from someone else's wharf to its operations inland. When an operating wharf in Harspwell became available for purchase, Jim Merryman, principal owner of Potts Harbor, seized the opportunity. The problem was to raise the very large sum required for the purchase price.

Visit us in Harpswell

Jim Merryman
My Location
PO Box 261
Harpswell ME 04079
United States
private company
My Successes

Working with Alan Shaver from Portland SCORE, I wrote a business plan that persuaded the Maine Department of Marine Resources to fund a significant portion of the purchase price, in return for a covenant to retail the property as working waterfront.

Working waterfront

How SCORE Helped

"SCORE told us about the grant, introduced us to marketing consultants and others who helped.  I attended a Marketing & Sales Workshop which lead to additional contacts. SCORE'S guidance made the purchase of the working waterfront possible."

Lobsterman at rest

Local Agencies and Web Sites

Federal, Mississippi State and Local Web Sites
Syndicate content