Women Entrepreneurs

TCA Thomas Comitta Associates, Inc.

Thomas Comitta Associates, Inc. is a town planning and landscape architecture firm serving public and private clients throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland since 1981. Their team of certified planners, registered landscape architects, and LEED certified professionals has extensive experience with client-centered land planning and site design services.

In 2009, TCA had its highest revenues in its 35+ year history.  In 2010, in the face of the global financial crisis, the bottom fell out of the state and regional real-estate and development industries and TCA revenue dropped significantly.  Finding that the old model of business was no longer working, the Comittas realized they needed to reinvent their business model and revamp their budget. 

In early 2011, TCA was referred to SCORE by West Chester University’s College of Business and Public Administration. Counselors Bob Fedor and George Edwards created a SCORE advisory board that recommended a zero-based budget with models based on a worst-case, likely, and best-case revenue scenarios. Working from the worst-case scenario budget, TCA cut expenses, reduced personnel and benefits, refinanced mortgages, consolidated other debt and froze non-essential operating expenses.   

While revenues are not back to 2009 levels, they are quickly climbing.  In 2012, actual revenue was 60% higher than their budgeted "worst case scenario" and grew in 2013 by another 8%. TCA is on track to increase revenue by another 8-15% in 2014.

In 2014, TCA hired one full-time and one part-time employee, with the prospect of adding another full time professional, bringing total staff to four full-time and four part-time. 

CFO Carolyn Comitta says TCA’s SCORE advisors are the first call for any business question.  “SCORE helped TCA survive the great recession and revamp our business model and budget for success in the new economy.”  SCORE is now helping TCA plan for the future, crafting scenarios for business succession, cyber security, and to update their personnel manual for the “new economy.”   

Owner/Founder
Thomas and Carolyn Comitta

Mother & Daughter Duo Launch Life Long Dream Boutique

Date
Sun, 2014-05-25 21:43

Houston, TX, May 25, 2014 --(PR.com)-- Two Elle’s Boutique announces a new online boutique that carries high-quality, cute and stylish clothes and accessories for women. Two Elle’s Boutique provides top customer service, high quality fashion, and ever changing designs to keep customers coming back. Scouring the market for a variety of designers to fit every budget, high end brands include Hunter Bell, winner of Fashion Star and small town new designer, Lauren James.

SCORE Has Been Helping Small Businesses Start, Expand For 50 Years

Date
Sun, 2014-05-18 09:53

RALEIGH, N.C.—Travis Andrews had an idea to expand her and her husband’s CrossFit Smithfield gym by offering wakeboarding classes.

To do this, however, she needed the help and advice of someone who knew how to see her idea through.

So she turned to SCORE, a national nonprofit organization that offers free counseling and low-cost workshops to entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

Weather or Not Forecasts to Save Clients’ Money and Time

Date
Tue, 2014-05-13 12:23

Though it was in the 80s in Kansas City a week ago, meteorologist Sara Croke was talking snow. She was in Cincinnati at the North American Snow Conference as part of the American Public Works Association, discussing emergency management and winter maintenance.

Planning for weather is all in a day’s work for Croke, whose company Weather or Not focuses on forecasting weather for schools, municipalities and businesses such as construction companies, utilities and road crews.

Petite Fleury Bakery Succeeds with SCORE Mentor

Laurie Williams-Fleury, a former executive in the fashion industry always had dreams of starting a new career as a bakery owner. Starting off as a "serious home baker" and then joining the Bread Bakers Guild of America, Laurie was ready to embark on her new career journey. Before she could begin, she knew she needed some resources to help her turn her dreams into a reality, so she turned to SCORE.

Owner/Founder
Laurie Williams-Fleury
My Location
Brooklyn NY
United States
What's Great About My Mentor?

"SCORE has been and continues to be an invaluable resource for me. Rita, my SCORE counselor is a wonderful advisor, mentor, motivator and has been as invested in me, my company and my future as any family member could be."

How SCORE Helped

"As I transitioned from a fashion industry executive to a small business owner, I knew it was important to use every available resource to guide me in making the best decisions for my new company." Rita Jackson, Laurie's mentor was able to help the new business owner construct a three year financial for Petite Fleury Bakery. Laurie also attended SCORE workshops that covered technology and the internet for small businesses. "Navigating a startup can be challenging, but with the assistance of SCORE it made the process less intimidating. Pairing the professional baking skills I obtained with the business skills from SCORE has been the greatest benefit for my startup bakery."

Gilded Pear Gallery Finds Success with SCORE

Working for local art and framing galleries in Cedar Rapids for many years, Suzy Mc-Grane Hop decided to take the leap and start her own art business. Finding inspiration from within, Suzy named her business, Gilder Pear Gallery after her own art work. This artist who holds certifications from The International Society of Appraisers and Certified Appraiser of Personal Property shows how learning new things can create a masterpiece.

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Owner/Founder
Suzy McGrane-Hop
My Location
Cedar Rapids IA
United States
Year Company Formed
2011
How SCORE Helped

In 2011, Suzy attended a local SCORE workshop entitled "How to Start Your Own Business." Soon after, Gilded Pear Gallery was up and running.  Within the first year, Gilded Pear's business doubled then tripled the following year. Susan's gallery hosts events for artists and she provides art consultations and appraisals. As the gallery continues to grow, Suzy plans to hire more staff soon.

Ask SCORE

            I own a small advertising agency, as well as being a wife and mother. I constantly read about women who “have it all” and would love to be one of them. How do they do it?

            “If only I had more time….”

About the Author

          This column is brought to you by the Merrimack Valley Chapter of SCORE, with nearly 70 current and former business executives available to provide free, confidential, one-on-one business mentoring and training workshops for area businesses. Call 603-666-7561 or visit merrimackvalley.score.org  for information on mentoring, upcoming workshops and volunteer opportunities. SCORE is a national, non-profit organization and a resource partner of the U. S. Small Business Administration.

Chosen Resumes, LLC

Owner/Founder
Marni Vyn
My Location
Grand Rapids MI
United States
Year Company Formed
2011
How SCORE Helped

Just a few months after I launched my company, Chosen Resumes, LLC in the Fall of 2011, I was fortunate to connect with my SCORE mentor.  As a new business owner, I was – and continue to be – so appreciative of their time and expertise.

 

I came to entrepreneurship somewhat accidentally: after working as a Resume Writer for a national resume writing company, I decided to start my own business in order to have more control over the business practices and customer relations.  I have a strong educational background, with dual Master of Business Administration and master of Social Work degrees, but I’d never owned my own company before.

 

I felt confident in the content of the resume writing work but nervous about the back-end management of the business.  I knew that successful planning would be critical to my success, and I also knew that my limited time might keep me from taking those proactive steps.

 

Doug provided me with practical, technical guidance to help me hone my business plan that included short- and long-range goals and emphasized sales, marketing, and finance.  He provided me with relevant templates and online tools.  He encouraged me to perform a detailed competitor analysis and identify my unique value proposition for competitive advantage.

 

Doug is exceptionally good at asking tough questions. He has a supportive style that pushes me to stretch and go beyond what I think I can achieve.  He has also connected me with other networking opportunities in the community, both through SCORE as well as his own professional network.

 

In addition, to the practical business assistance, Doug has helped me to overcome intangible obstacles.  His support and guidance has provided me with the confidence I need to grow as a business owner.,

 

I have increased my sales exponentially over the last 3 years, and am on track to meet my goals for 2014.

Ventavia Research Group Succeeds wtih SCORE

Having over 10 years of research experience in various areas such as: psychiatric trials, vaccine studies, hypertension, smoking cessation and so much more,Olivia Ray who recently became a new mother, knew she needed flexibility in her schedule if she continued working. Instead of working as a contractor for various projects or working in a large clinical research group, this new mom opted to start her own clinical research center, Ventavia Research Group. Ventavia Research Group was the perfect fit for her new lifestyle, allowing her the freedom to be able to take care of her child.

Owner/Founder
Oliva Ray, CCRC
My Location
Fort Worth TX
United States
My Successes

Because of her diligent networking skills, after 3 short months of opening, Olivia successfully secured her first client. Olivia and her staff are participating in a study for a Clostridium Difficile vaccine. Clostiridium Difficle is a disease that hospitalizes 350,000 individuals each year.

 

 

How SCORE Helped

Olivia's mentors helped the research professional turn her four page business plan into a solid 50 page plan that consisted of a budget and estimated cash flow. With the complete business plan for Ventavia Research Group in place, Olivia was able to successfully receive a $150,000 line of credit that was used to launch her business.

Cheryl Newton Architect, LLC

It seems like yesterday. It was February 4, 2010. I had been working for various architect firms for the previous 15 years and was kicking around the idea to start up my own business. I live in Glastonbury, Connecticut and was visiting our Chamber of Commerce and was asking the people there some basic questions dealing with setting up my legal entity. They suggested I meet the two mentors from SCORE who provide free business mentoring in the community. I set up a meeting. I met Jim Cirilli and Mark Cutler and it was the beginning of an amazing journey which continues to this day. I remember looking at the SCORE logo on the documents they had with them; “For the life of your business” and thinking what that really meant. 

In my business, I get the greatest compliments from those clients who have referred their friends and family to me. Over the last year, I have referred 6 of my friends and associates to SCORE. This is the greatest compliment I can give.

See video
Owner/Founder
Cheryl Newton
My Location
Glastonbury CT 06033
United States
How SCORE Helped

Over the last two years I have been blessed with the advice, friendship and support of my SCORE mentors. Mark and Jim continued to be my primary mentors but there were dozens of other specialists brought in to assist me with everything from business planning, to sales planning and execution, to putting together a marketing plan and then assisting me to find the right tools to reach my target audience to planning and executing a public relations plan. I found SCORE specialists in every functional area there to support me under the umbrella of my two main mentors who have helped me double my business the last two years.

I am a woman wearing many hats. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am the owner operator of a growing architecture firm in Connecticut. I am often asked how I have been able to grow what is often a one person show as chief cook and bottle washer. I tell them about SCORE. I tell them that on my team is an army of experienced people who volunteer their time and who have been there and done that and help me discover the right ways to grow my business and grow it profitably. 

Among the team of SCORE volunteers who I have worked with over the years, included David LaBeau who had retired from SLAM, the largest firm in the area, a firm I had worked for and a man I had great respect for.  There was Jim Cirilli, a sales executive who gave me the courage to go for it, who taught me the power of positive thinking. Through this power of positive thinking, a lesson he was teaching me while he battled against the terrible cancer, I have exceeded the goals established in my strategic plan. Jim and David are now gone but their learnings stay with me every day.

I am still growing and I am still relying upon Mark and the Greater Hartford Score team, my army of specialists I can call upon during my time of need. I am still out there telling the world about SCORE. It’s the best compliment I can give. 

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