Youth Entrepreneurship

Analyzing Your Competition

Summary

Analyzing Your Competition

This free online business workshop will: show you how to gather competitive intelligence, provide case studies, and help you be ready for the competition.

The Arizona Department of Commerce offers a must do Small Business Services Online Program that guides you through what you need to know to start or expand your business in Arizona. The step by step guide acquaints you with all the statewide resources and information needed to start up your Arizona small business!  Included in the guide is detailed “how to” information on the following subjects:

  • Business Structure

  • Business Name Registration

  • Specific Business Activities

  • State Regulatory Licensing

  • Transaction Privilege Tax

  • Employee Hiring

  • City/Town Compliances

  • Loans

  • Procurement Opportunities

  • Certification for S/W/W/DBE

You should NOT start a business in Arizona without going through this guide. It is available 24/7 and you can proceed at your own pace. It is extremely valuable! : Click This Link  

You should NOT start a business in Arizona without going through this guide. It is available 24/7 and you can proceed at your own pace. It is extremely valuable!

Serving up Success: Lavu, Inc. Launches iPad Tableside Order System

When Lavu, Inc.'s three employees engaged with Albuquerque SCORE they were putting the finishing touches on PosLavu, a revolutionary tableside ordering system for restaurants.  But, more than merely a stylish way to take orders, PosLavu's iPad order entry was only part of a robust system that included table management, order entry, communication with the kitchen, multi-course ordering, email receipts and back office restaurant management -- all at an anticipated price point far below competitors' fixed location order management systems.

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My Location
901 Rio Grande Blvd. NW
Albuquerque NM 87104
United States
Employees
42
Year Company Formed
2009

A nationally recognized expert on entrepreneurship, Barry Moltz has founded and run small businesses for the past 15 years, experiencing both great success and great failure along the way. His latest book, BOUNCE!: Failure, Resiliency, and Confidence to Achieve Your Next Great Success, offers entrepreneurs a new perspective on the concept of failure, and how recognizing and even embracing it can set the stage for bigger successes.

Forget about having “no fear,” or asserting that, “failure is not an option.” Actually, it is a very real option, and often happens. It’s okay to be afraid and it's okay to fail. Not everything works. Learn from failure and bounce to the next action and success. It's about resilience.

VIPs - Veterinary Services Succeeds with the help of SCORE Mentor

“Our animals make us feel better. Let me help them feel the best they can,” insists SCORE client, Christine Woodford, DVM, owner and founder of Veterinary Integrative Performance Services, Inc. (VIPs).

Owner/Founder
Christine Woodford
My Location
1661 O'Connor Road
Mt. Vernon IA 52314
United States
My Successes

Veterinary Integrative Performance Services, Inc. (VIPs)

“Our animals make us feel better. Let me help them feel the best they can,” insists SCORE client, Christine Woodford, DVM, owner and founder of Veterinary Integrative Performance Services, Inc. (VIPs). Dr. Woodford graduated Summa Cum Laude from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry. She then received a Master of Science in Organic Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996. In 2002, Dr. Woodford graduated with honors from Iowa State University and received her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Woodford, a licensed veterinarian, worked in regular practice for six years. While she was working, she went on for advanced training in animal chiropractic and veterinary acupuncture. In 2006, the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association certified her in Animal Chiropractic. In 2007, the Chi Institute in Florida certified her in Equine Veterinary Acupuncture.

Jim Williams, SCORE mentor and counselor, first met with Dr. Woodford in September 2006 and has met with her about once a month since 2007 when she first began to think about someday opening her own veterinary practice. When Dr. Christine, as most people know her, first met Jim, the assignment he gave to her was to write a business plan. She states that writing the business plan was “painful” but she admits that it was a “very important process and one of the key tools that has contributed to the success of her new company.”

After working through the start up worksheets provided by SCORE, Dr. Christine realized that she could start her own veterinary practice specializing in chiropractic and acupuncture for small animals and horses. She left her previous employer on good terms and was able to retain her existing chiropractic and acupuncture clients. In May 2008, she founded VIPs. Her overall goal is to keep the horse’s body balanced through chiropractic and acupuncture to optimize the horse’s health and performance. Chiropractic is a drug free approach to animal health care. It focuses on restoring proper motion to the spinal column and limbs to keep the nervous system working optimally. The goal of acupuncture is to unblock stagnation and allow “Qi” to flow properly. This restores balance and harmony to the animal.

Since Dr. Christine offers very specialized services, she knew she would have to cover a wide area to reach her clients. She travels to different areas of Iowa each month to provide those services. Dr. Christine says, “Managing the travel throughout the state and the work schedule was the toughest part of my first year in my own business.”

After that first year, she began renting office space at Crystal Creek Equine Center. This is a premiere horse facility in Marion conveniently located one-fourth mile north of Highway 151. This location allows her to work on small animals safely in a climate-controlled office. It also has a large indoor arena and an area where she can work on horses. Currently she sees patients at her office two to three days a week and travels to other areas of the state two days a week. When asked what the biggest surprise of owning her own business was, she answered, “The amount of time it takes to ‘manage’ and the need for consistent/constant marketing, accounting practices, time management; someone told me that ‘starting your own business is like taking care of a newborn child—it takes constant care and attention.’”

Marketing has been an important factor in the success of VIPs. As Jim Williams stated, “marketing is announcing who you are and what you do.” Dr. Christine writes educational articles for local animal owner magazines. She has taught courses at Kirkwood Community College. She also has a website, www.Vipsvet.net. She has her logo and contact information on the sides of her vehicle that she refers to as her “mobile billboard.” She also reaches prospects through direct mail. About two weeks before she plans to be in a certain part of the state, she sends post cards to her existing contacts. Even if that client’s animal is doing fine and does not need treatment that month, the reminder postcards generate a tremendous amount of word of mouth advertising and she receives referrals from satisfied clients.

Dr. Christine created a tri-fold informational brochure that explains her services. She has contacted other veterinarians, human chiropractors and acupuncturists, and pet groomers, boarders, and trainers. They display her business cards and brochures at their places of business. She joined Linn County Le Tip, a local networking group of business professionals. She gives educational talks and demonstrations for animal enthusiasts.

Dr. Christine says the greatest satisfaction of owning her own business is in “Helping animals feel better; providing hope to animal cases when traditional veterinary medicine has left them with a poor prognosis.” She states that she gets continuing satisfaction from the “feedback from her clients telling me that their animals feel better and are happier. In addition to her highly specialized services, other distinguishing characteristics of Dr. Christine’s business is that she schedules all appointments—no emergency services—and that she always collects for her services at the time of service; this contributes to her low overhead. When asked what have been the most important keys to her success, Dr. Christine agrees that a well thought out business plan, including a detailed marketing plan is high on her list and that she could not have done that without the help of her SCORE mentor. Dr. Christine states that Jim has been a mentor on every aspect of her business, including making suggestions about how to dress to make the best impression on clients.

 

SOS Sales Help -

“I am amazed by the ever-increasing amount of business we are getting,” says Jason Siefken, President and Owner of “SOS-Sales Help™,” a newly created East Central Iowa business. Despite starting his firm in October, 2008, one of the worst times for business in the last one-hundred years, SOS is defying the odds in this “bear” market. What’s the secret to Jason’s success? Find out here.

My Successes

SUCCESS STORY: SOS Sales Help

BEATING THE ODDS IN A DOWN MARKET

 

Bus Card“I am amazed by the ever-increasing amount of business we are getting,” says Jason Siefken, President and Owner of “SOS-Sales Help™,” a newly created Cedar Rapids area business. Despite starting his firm in October, 2008, one of the worst times for business in the last one-hundred years, SOS is defying the odds in this “bear” market.

What’s the secret to Jason’s success? “We cost-effectively identify sales prospects, allowing sales people to focus on bringing in the revenues,” says Jason. “We reduce customer acquisition cost.” A real business need, it seems.

Sounds simple now. But getting to the great idea took planning—and some help from SCORE®.

Bus CardIn early-July, 2008, Jason came to SCORE® armed with an idea and an aspiration to be in business in 30-60 days. The SCORE® counselor at the time recalls feeling his jaw drop. Businesses normally require a minimum of 4-6 months of planning, if not years. This is the story of how confusion turned into a great kickoff success in record time.

Backstory

Like most entrepreneurs, Jason started with the belief that always precedes determined independent business action: he was convinced that he could do something “better.” After working in larger customer acquisition and service companies for years, he truly believed he had a better approach. He also had the confidence and the drive every successful business person needs. “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” he recalls.

Bus CardA Cedar Rapids native and graduate of Linn-Mar High School, Jason attended Kirkwood Community College for his business management education. He then worked at MCI, APAC, Toyota, Yellow Book, and Stamats, Inc., where he held management positions in business-to-business (B-to-B) sales, customer services, and setting up call centers. At Stamats he helped build an inside “B to B” sales team, growing it from one to 17 people. These experiences prepared him for his new start-up.

After acquiring all that experience, Jason felt ready to break into the world of personal business ownership. But like many entrepreneurs with a great idea, he had trouble focusing on specifics: how to start his new business, how to identify the important initial priorities, and how to overcome the fear of the “business plan.” Fortunately, he had the conviction and courage to ask SCORE® for help. He soon discovered how simple these things can be.


How it came together

“SCORE® helped to make the business planning straightforward and easy. It gave me a layman's approach I could understand.”

Bus CardJason’s SCORE® counselor, Greg Tomsic (at right), introduced him to the four (4) basic parts of a business plan. He explained to Jason how to do each part quickly and in what order.

Jason and Greg began by creating a draft “marketing brochure” to surface and hone the new business's strengths and pitch. They followed this with the approach to and creation of an 18-month forecast.

“If you take the time to do an 18-month forecast and you get it right, you cannot help but succeed,” suggests Tomsic. “This forecast is the secret. Jason was one of the best I have seen at this task.”

Jason's “knacks” in forecasting and market sense allowed him to begin his business in under 60 days. He did this by unrelentingly dealing with each planning step and doing it well. And, he did it on about four (4) pages.
Jason also learned to be frugal with money. Rather than establishing a fancy storefront, Jason began his business in his home with minimum investment.
“Minimize expenses. Don't take on debt,” Jason advises others who are just starting. “Most people know that quote 'If you build it, they will come.' Do the exact opposite,” he says. “When they come, you can build it.'”

What now?

Bus CardJason's business is doing better than he expected—better than his plan. He has found that providing high-level executive leads to clients is greatly appreciated. “We facilitate successful sales and our clients are responding.”

Jason has bigger plans for the future. He foresees a number of other services he can provide to help small businesses understand their customers better, secure them and grow revenues. And happily, he prefers working with small businesses with revenues in the $0.5 to $2.0 million. “I want to help businesses like mine grow.” SOS and its team are there to help the little guy. This could prove a great benefit to our community and others.

TIPS for success -- from this month's "Success"

  1. Start with something you know.
  2. Keep it simple
  3. Understand your market.
  4. Minimize expenses. Don't take on debt.
    (Start in your home if you can.)
  5. Make maximum use of technology to ease the workload, frugally.
  6. Ask SCORE® for help. (“The quality of help I got from SCORE® was far superior to any I could have imagined.”)
  7. Get a good accountant. “I went to the one in a recent SCORE® Success Story, and they are wonderful to work with. Classic Tax of Marion understands the little guy.” This is another lesson learned from SCORE®.

A useful business lesson:

Any business can benefit by asking firms like 'SOS Sales Help™' to do customer surveys or lead development for them. It can be a cost effective way to understand your customers better, figure out how to reach them and grow. And, many companies think this month's Success Story is 'one of the best' at this job. Food for thought.

How SOS Can Help You

  • Have a small business that needs new customers?
  • Want to discover what customers think of you and your strengths?
  • In need of a someone to help you identify and document prospects?
  • Want to test your marketing ideas or assess a new product?

Call (319) 550-8203 or visit SOS on the web at:
http://sossaleshelp.com/ OR CLICK THE CARD BELOW.

Bus Card

 

1616 1st Avenue NW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52405

 

 

 

MORE ABOUT THE 4-PARTS OF A BUSINESS PLAN:

Biz Card

A proactive approach to managing potential disasters may help mitigate the effects on your business, and lessen the time and resources necessary to resume normal operations.

 

SCORE is committed to helping small business owners with disaster preparedness and relief. Below is a comprehensive list of helpful resources.

Small businesses on the Internet are racing up beside large multi-national corporations on the information superhighway and giving them quite a scare. On the Internet a small business like can compete with, and even surpass, large national firms.

E-Commerce Lowers Business Costs
A global business on the Internet does not require bricks and mortar or staff around the world, just a Web site and perhaps one central warehouse. .

E-Commerce Is Accessible Anywhere, Anytime
The audience on the Internet is global.

E-Commerce Strengthens Customer Service
A Web site allows a business to address its customers on a personal level.

E-Commerce Develops Customer Loyalty

A list of suggested service providers for SCORE Clients

Data sources of marketing and demographic data for client use, primarily for Business Plans

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