Women Entrepreneurs

If financial problems have overwhelmed your finances, Bankruptcy may be an option.  Read some of the basics here.

http:// http://www.nhbar.org/for-the-public/bankruptypamphlet.asp

SCORE Mentor Helps Bellyrub Klub Find Success

Jobs beget jobs. When the Bellyrub Klub created eight new jobs to provide doggie day care in Lombard, a western suburb of Chicago, owners of the dogs were able to hold jobs they might not otherwise have been able to take. Sue Aikman is happy to make this leveraged contribution to our struggling economy with her growing business. And she is grateful to Bruce Zimmerman and Lee McFadden from SCORE for mentoring her through the process over seven sessions held over the past two and a half years.

“When I initially met with Lee and Bruce, I had started promoting canine care and training from my house and had developed a fairly sizable client base by word of mouth,” Sue said. “When I leased my first space for the business, I had to begin managing my time more effectively. No longer was I able to just say yes to everyone’s request. I had to start planning, putting costs together, hiring staff, creating pricing guidelines, defining services, making drop off and pick up schedules, etc.”

Sue quickly outgrew her first space and found a larger one that required a significant build out. “Lee and Bruce knew I was in desperate need of help managing finances, determining what services I could financially support, making budgets and business plans, and preparing loan documents for the bank. As they helped me prioritize, I was learning how to work ON the business instead of IN the business. They were also very good at holding me accountable.”

The Bellyrub Klub continues to grow, and Sue who comes from a computer consulting background, has proven to be a quick study as well as a dog lover. She is active in the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, the Animal Behavior College as an ABC Mentor Trainer, and the Delta Society with two dogs on a Therapy Dog Team.

Sue now does a lively business in dog-related retail items, as well as dog-specific seminars and workshops. Her new facility even provides for overnight boarding. And she uses an e-mail newsletter to offer canine tips and promote an imaginative stream of special offers and events.

“Lee and Bruce are always just a phone call or e-mail away,” Sue said, “and it’s comforting to know that. I expect to need them for a while to come and hope that someday I can do for someone else what SCORE has done for me.”

Owner/Founder
Sue Aikman
My Location
612 E. Western
Lombard IL 60148
United States

IRS Tax Center:  Employee vs Independent Contractor

It is important you understand the rules for an employee versus who may be an Independent Contractor.  The IRS defines it on this site.

http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Independent-Contractor-Self-Employed-or-Employee​

IRS Tax Center:  Frequent Questions

This page has a lot of the key questions we hear.  Check it out.

http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/index.html

IRS Tax Center:  Forms & Publications

You no longer need to visit the IRS to find the forms you need!

http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html

IRS Tax Center:  Key Business Taxes

Here are the main types of taxes you need to think about.   Some depend on what business structure you choose.

http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=98966,00.html

IRS Tax Center:  Starting a Business

Taxes are an important part of your new business.  The IRS works hard to help.  If you do the right things, you'll save money and hassles.

http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Starting-a-Business

Casauri Inc. Finds Success With SCORE

In 1999, Emily McHugh needed one more class to finish her master's degree in business at Columbia University. The course—"Managing New Business Ventures"—required her to write a business plan for a new enterprise. While searching for a topic, Emily noticed that most of her classmates used the same black laptop cases for their laptops. On the other hand, Emily had a more stylish case that her sister, Helena, had made for her. "People were always complimenting Helena's bag," Emily recalls. "So, I developed a plan for a company that would make laptop and Palm Pilot cases, and custom logo handbags."

Owner/Founder
Emily and Helena McHugh
My Location
Fort Pierce FL
United States
Employees
2
Year Company Formed
1999
My Successes

Emily got an "A" in the class and idea for starting a real business with her sister. She was unsure about pursuing it, however, because the real world of business is much different than a class assignment. "But when you wake up in the morning and in the middle of the night, and all you can think about is this business idea, that may be a clue that you should pursue it," Emily says.

Casauri has come a long way from Emily McHugh's class project, and there are still many steps ahead on this entrepreneurial journey. Whenever Emily needs help with a decision, she goes right to her team of small business experts at SCORE. "They are just like an advisory board for us," she says. "You can bounce ideas off them and get tangible feedback. If they didn't know the answer, they always guide me to someone else who does." Casauri relocated to Florida in July 2004 and continues to expand its sales and line of bags.

Casauri continues to grow and thrive, and the savvy business owners take advantage of all resources available to them. In 2010, they received an ARC loan from SBA. They also maintain contact with their SCORE mentors and tap them for advice as needed. In fall 2009, they got e-commerce advice from a SCORE mentor.

Another reason Causari, Inc. has maintained momentum on a growth trajectory is by using broadband, which they see as a crucial element of their business model. “Without broadband, our time was spent in utter frustration and total inefficiency,” adds McHugh. “Broadband access is as basic as electricity and running water. I firmly believe that every small business–make that human being–should have access!!”

What's Great About My Mentor?

As part of her project research, Emily had learned about many SBA programs, including SCORE. She visited Newark, NJ SCORE Chapter and began meeting with Volunteer Mentor Lou Zivi, who counseled her on business start-ups, setting priorities, and obtaining financing. Emily also had several sessions with Dan Frisch, a former accountant, who helped fine-tune her business plan.

A year into her business start-up project, Emily met SCORE Mentor Stephanie Farrar, an instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. "It was wonderful to work with someone directly involved with the fashion industry," Emily says. "She offered many ideas on the creative side, and encouraged me to attend seminars and other meetings where she would introduce me to her industry contacts."

As the McHugh sisters began putting the pieces of her new enterprise together, Emily began seeking help on specific business issues from SCORE experts. When a fellow alumnus helped Emily identify an overseas manufacturer, SCORE Mentors Peter Nachburg and David Malka provided help with international trade and shipping issues. For marketing guidance, Emily relied on Mentors Al Pearl and Marvin Solomon. Former attorney Joseph Horowitz reviewed contracts and provided legal advice. And whenever she was at the SCORE office, Marvin Strauss always made time to check up on her progress.

How SCORE Helped

With SCORE's help, Emily and Helena had everything ready to debut their line of designer laptop and palm computer cases in time for the start of the December 2001 holiday shopping season. Their products can be found in several stores and boutiques in New York City, including Bloomindales and Sony Style.

“When I first started my business SCORE helped me in many ways, from preparing my business plan to applying for a loan. Now ten years later, my current SCORE mentor has helped me to clarify and focus on our core value proposition in order to maximize our web presence and better reach our target market online. SCORE provides and adds significant value throughout the entrepreneurial spectrum.” says Emily McHugh.

Cha Cha’s Doggie Day Care Uses SCORE Mentor as Financial Sounding Board

Desalene Jones’ career as an entrepreneur has gone to the dogs.  And she couldn’t be happier.

Desalene is the founder and owner of Cha Cha’s Doggie Day Care of Sacramento, California.  Modeled after daycare centers for children, Cha Cha’s provides dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds with a wide range of care services, activities, toys, and plenty of canine company while their humans are away at work. 

In addition, Desalene and her staff ensure that their canine customers receive balanced diets, trim nails, groom coats, clean teeth and willingly clean up after the occasional “mistake”—a welcome relief to owners who don’t relish finding such surprises waiting for them when they get home after a long day.

Owner/Founder
Desalene Jones
My Location
Sacramento CA
United States
My Successes

While Cha Cha’s is a dream-come-true for busy dog owners, the business exists only because Desalene was unable to realize her dream of bringing her own dog to her former job.  “I tried every argument imaginable to convince my boss that it’d be OK, but he never agreed,” she says.  “I was 27 then, and figured that if I was ever going to strike out on my own, this was the time to do it.”

Desalene quit her job and began providing dog care at her client’s homes. Because many of them had other, sometimes exotic pets that were difficult to deal with, she decided it would be better for everyone if she cared for her clients’ dogs at a central location

While trying to understand the nuances of preparing a business plan for her new enterprise, Desalene attended an SBA seminar for start-up businesses that included a speaker from Sacramento SCORE.  Seeing that he had brought his own small dog to the session, “I knew instantly that these were people I could connect with,” Desalene recalls with a smile.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Desalene visited the Sacramento SCORE office and discussed her business idea with a team of volunteer mentors who assured her that she wasn’t barking up the wrong tree.  She began working with several experts with different business backgrounds to develop her business plan, calculate financial needs and formulate a management strategy. 

“One of the most important aspects was mapping out where to invest money as my business grew,” she says. “They developed a big spreadsheet that has turned out to be a very valuable business planning tool.”

Desalene also discovered that the expertise of SCORE mentors goes far beyond their respective business specialties.  While at a business planning session, she happened to mention some of the difficulties she was having hiring good employees and dealing with those who failed to meet their responsibilities. “The mentors gave me some tips and suggestions that proved very helpful,” she says.  “It’s great to be able to talk with them about anything.”

Desalene plans to do a lot more talking with her SCORE mentors as she prepares to open a second Cha Cha’s location.

How SCORE Helped

“I don’t know how I would have made it this far without SCORE,” she says.  “I started with a few hundred dollars, and there’s no way I could have paid for all that valuable advice myself.  And I don’t simply mean clichés flung in my direction, but actual sit -down meetings and hands-on development of essential materials.  There will never be a time in the life of my business that I could not use the assistance and expertise of the individuals at SCORE.”

Curzon Hill Antiques Seeks SCORE Mentor

Three times a week, Sarah Hill opens the door of her antiques store and welcomes visitors into a world of delicately crafted porcelain, linens and glassware. Such a career is appropriate for Hill, for her journey to becoming an entrepreneur is as colorful as the tales behind the exotic treasures that occupy her store.

Owner/Founder
Sarah Hill
My Location
Alexandria VA
United States
Year Company Formed
1996
My Successes

When Sarah received her degree from Mt. Holyoke College in 1993, she faced a dilemma common to many liberal arts majors—finding a job in a world dominated by high-tech industries. She eventually joined a computer consulting firm, but found that things weren't all bad. The job was based in Lisbon, Portugal. "I think I enjoyed being in Europe more than having the job," she confesses. "For 18 months, I was able to do a lot of traveling and pursue my personal interests."

One of those interests was a love of antiques and old houses. Sarah used every opportunity to visit countries and locations that had fascinated her as long as she could remember. When her employer’s project ended, Sarah returned home to Alexandria, VA, and began looking for ways to capitalize on her experiences and education. A specialty antique store in the city’s historic Old Town district seemed like a perfect idea. But with so many established stores there already, how could a newcomer survive?

After Sarah opened Curzon Hill Antiques in November 1996, word spread quickly about her unique offerings and eagerness in helping customers locate hard-to-find items. Her success was so impressive, SCORE’s Washington, DC, chapter named her the Client of the Year less than a year later. A feature story on Hill in the Alexandria newspaper was soon followed by a high-profile article in the The Washington Post’s Home Section, in which she discussed the care and preservation of antique linen. The resulting publicity led her to launch a side business that specializes in the care and washing of treasured handbags, tablecloths, linens, and blankets. "It’s amazing what some publicity can do," Hills says. "I’ve received orders from across the United State and Europe. I’m also preparing to launch an Internet site."

What's Great About My Mentor?

Sarah’s grandfather, who had owned a successful advertising and printing business in Omaha, suggested that she contact the local chapter of SCORE. After attending seminars on start-ups and developing business plans, Sarah began working with Volunteer Mentor Eugene Rosen, a former small business coordinator for NASA. Rosen helped Sarah understand the nuances of cash flow, advertising, and expenses, as well as preparing and analyzing financial reports.

Another benefit of Rosen’s experience came when Sarah began evaluating potential retail locations for her store. “One site that seemed very promising had been vacant for two years,” Sarah recalls. “Mr. Rosen sensed that something was wrong and suggested that I first find out why it had been on the market so long. It turned out that the landlord didn’t have a good reputation. I found a much better location near the heart of Old Town while that other space has stayed unoccupied.”

How SCORE Helped

As Hill’s business has grown, so too has the value of SCORE’s expertise. Along with Rosen, Hill now works with Volunteer Mentor Herb Robinson, who formerly owned five dress shops in the metropolitan Washington area. "Mr. Robinson has brought some great insights into specialty retail markets," Sarah says. "Both he and Mr. Rosen have been wonderful about staying in touch and taking a personal interest in my business. Now, I’m doing something that I’d always dreamed about, but wasn’t always sure could really happen. I’m really having the time of my life."

California Gardens Utilizes SCORE Mentor

Closing an office and laying off employees is not an easy decision for any business owner to make. But in late 2001, Li Vellinga had few other options. Either she could trim the size of California Gardens, her 10-year-old landscape design business, or watch it disappear entirely.

Owner/Founder
Li Vellinga
My Location
San Carlos CA
United States
Year Company Formed
1991
My Successes

A native of Sweden, Li was co-owner of a successful San Francisco-area home and garden center when she decided to start a new business in 1991 that would capitalize on her garden design talents. It didn’t take long for California Gardens to attract a number of commissions for commercial and residential garden projects, many of which involved high-profile locations around the Bay Area. To keep up with the company’s growing workload, Li took on employees and leased office space.

Then came September 11th, 2001, and the tragedy’s ripple effect through the nation’s economy. California Garden’s four-month backlog quickly evaporated as clients cancelled their landscaping plans. Knowing she had to make some tough decisions, Li remembered her bookkeeper talking about SCORE’s small business mentoring services. If there was ever a time to get expert advice, she decided, this was it.

Li took John’s advice and based California Gardens in her home. John helped Li set up the technical tools for the business, from developing a Web site to setting up her business computer. He also encouraged Li to attend SCORE’s business seminars on building a business plan and using advanced accounting software. 

By the end of 2002, California Gardens was blooming once again with a 350-percent increase in net income. Li once again enjoying the feeling of success, accomplishment and inspiration, designing project ranging from small front yards to several acres of planned landscape. She has also developed management skills that enable her to focus more closely on her clients’ needs without compromising her personal life—another benefit of her monthly meetings with John Edwards and SCORE.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Li began working with volunteer mentor John Edwards, a veteran of California’s technology industry. Based on a meticulous review of Li’s overhead, John recommended that she convert California Gardens into home-based business and rely on contractors when needed. 

“This was one of the hardest things I’ve faced, and it wasn’t until January 2002 that I could bring myself to do it,” Li says. “Fortunately, my employees were very understanding and supportive.”

Perhaps most important, John regularly reviewed Li’s financial statements and provided guidance on how to analyze trends and forecast income. “It’s been three years, but we still do this,” Li says. “Now I’m better able to set reasonable business goals. John is also teaching me how to spot potential financial problems, and develop clear communications materials. If I encounter a stumbling block, he’ll suggest good books to read on the subject.”

How SCORE Helped

“One of the best things about working with John is that he always allows me to take my time to make each decision,” Li says. “He will ask what I think is best for me, while also offering suggestions on what he thinks might work. Yet he always supports me, no matter what I decide. As long as I’m in business, I plan to continue utilizing the wonderful support John and SCORE provide.”

Bridal Trousseaux Gets Off the Ground With Help From SCORE Mentor

Penny Timmons purchased Bridal Trousseaux as an existing business after seeking financial planning help from SCORE. The store had been open for eight years and she saw room to diversify garment selections and extend marketing to grow this specialty clothing business. SCORE helped with Penny's loan application, business plan and future financial planning.

Owner/Founder
Penny Timmons
My Location
Moline IL
United States
Employees
4
Year Company Formed
1996
My Successes

When Penny and a friend went searching for bridal fashions, but could not find that perfect gown, Penny decided there was a target market that could use more in bridal wear selections. The quest for the perfect gown for a perfect wedding day led Penny Timmons to become the owner of a bridal and formal wear boutique in Moline, Ill. In 1997, Bridal Trousseaux increased total revenues by 12 percent.

Since we last spoke with Penny Timmons, she has graduated from college and bought a second bridal store in Moline. She reports that things at both locations are going well, although she says "like many other small businesses, I'm finding it hard to hire and keep good employees. Still, everything is great."

Since purchasing Bridal Trousseaux, Timmons has fine-tuned the company's marketing structure and traveled to Paris to conduct bridal fashion research. She is now exploring the possibility of opening a second Bridal Trousseaux store in a nearby city.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Penny says, "Dale helped me bring my ideas out of the clouds and down to earth for some realistic thought."

To help Bridal Trousseaux navigate growing pains, Penny has set up meetings with her SCORE mentors. "I want to do some long-term planning and find out what skills or education I'll need to carry it out," she says. "I've also had the opportunity to visit with some of SCORE's national directors and other chapter leaders. I think I'll always have questions about my business, but I know that SCORE will always have the answers."

How SCORE Helped

With the assistance of SCORE, Penny applied for an SBA-guaranteed loan. She used the chapter's business-planning disk to prepare a complete business plan, which detailed past sales history for the business and projected future growth. SCORE Mentor Dale Hankins helped her prepare her business plan—together they reviewed cost and revenue projections to develop a realistic operating budget to support operations and staff salaries. Dale is a volunteer with the Quad Cities SCORE Chapter, the national SCORE Chapter of the Year. He helped Penny secure a $70,000 SBA-guaranteed loan and a $20,000 economic development loan from the City of Moline.

SCORE Mentors The Saucy Chef to Success

What do you do when you're an empty-nester with no business skills who wants to start a business? "I always had a passion for cooking. I taught my kids how to cook. Then I read an article in a women's magazine about chefs who make house calls, and I said, 'That's me!'" remembers Karen Wetch, owner of The Saucy Chef. In 1997 after seeing SCORE mentioned in in an American Personal Chef Association brochure, Karen sought out her local SCORE Chapter.  She was introduced to SCORE mentors Bill Perehudoff and Bill Scown. The combination of Karen’s drive and focus blended with Perehudoff and Scowns business expertise was a winning one and this empty-nester with now business skills is now a successful small business owner. 

Owner/Founder
Karen Wetch
My Location
Santa Rosa CA
United States
My Successes

In the beginning, Karen cooked once or twice a month for seniors. She used that time to develop a rhythm. Now, she has consistent days she works and consistent clients. She cooks three days a week at most, dedicates one day a week to research and development, and reserves Sundays for paperwork. Along with her newfound business skills and former knowledge, Karen says a good personal chef is organized, personable and resourceful. "I spent six months conducting research, trying freezing and food replacement techniques. I never cook from memory and I always clean up before I leave a client's home.
"Because of the experience she's gaining, Karen not only works for seniors, but also working couples and new parents. In addition, she finds time to enter her new recipes in the local fairs and always walks away with awards. A local paper featured her in an article about personal chefs in June 2000. As her popularity and business grow, she is pondering a different business direction.
Choosing the days and times she works are what she considers the best part about being a small business owner. "I love being personal with a client and bringing joy to people's lives. I'm always looking for a better way of doing things. I love what I do."
 

What's Great About My Mentor?

Bill Perehudoff and Bill Scown were counselors in Santa Rosa, CA. The former was most helpful because he was a restaurant owner at one time. On the other hand, Bill Scown had never heard of a personal chef. Scown says while Karen did the basic start-up work, he got her to focus on that one slice of the market: seniors. "It's important to find your target and concentrate," he says.
"Karen was a very positive person with a very unique and interesting idea. I live in a retirement community and knew it was a great potential market," says Bill Scown. "Today, if you need cooking help, you can depend on Karen to bail you out."
 

How SCORE Helped

They advised me on advertising, teaching me that frequency wins out over ad size. I wanted to get into senior communities so they helped me with referrals and taught me patience. It worked and I'm still getting calls today from those original ads," says Karen. “I continue to rely on SCORE’s services. I attended it’s Women in Business conferences in ’98, ’99 and ’00, the latter on the Internet. They keep me abreast of marketing workshops and seminars. I have learned that business is a whole different language-no emotion-just business. That’s very different from the operation of a personal chef.” 

The Treats Truck

For Kim Ima, it was love at first sight – not with a person, but with the idea of the Treats Trucks. Kim wanted to spend her days baking delicious cookies, brownies and other treats and then serve them on the streets of New York, her adopted home town. “It combined my love of baking, my love of treats and my love of the city,” Kim says. “The more I thought about the idea and how it could evolve, the more I wanted to do it.” There was only one problem; Kim had no idea how to get her idea rolling. Kim went to SCORE and researched potential volunteer mentors before she requested a meeting with Elliot Merberg. It was then that Kim’s vision was closer to becoming a reality and ultimately did become just that. 

 

See video
Owner/Founder
Kim Ima
My Location
New York NY
United States
My Successes

Kim literally put the Treats Truck on the road in June 2007. Her treats, prepared in her Brooklyn bakery, immediately became a hit with New Yorkers who now look forward to the arrival of the Treats Truck (nicknamed “Sugar”) in their neighborhoods. Recently, Kim was among several small businesses from across the nation tapped by Visa to be featured in a commercial showcasing the innovation and commitment of entrepreneurs. “I still love seeing my customers and they’re supporting me as best they can, even though they’re dealing with economic problems too,” Kim says. “They want me to succeed because they see me working hard and know that I care about the quality of the food and the Treats Truck experience.”

What's Great About My Mentor?

“I hit the jackpot with Elliot,” Kim says. “His background was ideal for what I needed. Plus, we hit it off personally, which was very important to me. Starting a business is like a cookie recipe. Sometimes a dash of naiveté can be good, but you also need to realize the importance of decisions, because what you’re doing is big. I believed in my idea and Elliot believed in me.”

How SCORE Helped

Kim worked with SCORE mentor Elliot Merberg on a wide range of startup issues and other things she needed to consider as she put together the business plan for Treats Truck. “Sometimes when I met with Elliot and he didn’t know the answer to a question, he simply asked someone else to come over and help us,” Kim says. “There were always plenty of people with specific experience to draw on.”

Merberg also helped Kim manage the emotional ups and downs that come with starting a new business. “When I got over-enthusiastic, such as wanting to start with two trucks, he’d advise me to slow down and focus on starting with one,” Kim says. “When I got frustrated about something and was too hard on myself, he’d show me how things were actually going OK.”

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