Women Entrepreneurs

DMG Grows Business In Right Direction With SCORE Help

Entrepreneurs often face the dilemma of deciding how and when to add new services in order to keep a small business growing. For Angela Todd, founder and CEO of DMG, Inc., the challenge was identifying the most promising niche for her company, then investing the right resources to make it successful.

Owner/Founder
Angela Todd
My Location
Laguna Niguel CA
United States
Year Company Formed
1999
My Successes

In 1999, Angela Todd had started her own business that provided “turnkey” services for Southern California’s commercial real estate market. Drawing on her experience in professional services marketing, she helped connect real estate brokers and developers with qualified engineering consultants and contractors to help launch and complete new projects.

Angela enjoyed tremendous success in her first four years as an entrepreneur. In 2003, her husband Charles, himself a commercial development professional, was ready to become a partner and help take the business to the next level. The question was, what direction was best for the company go?

“We were growing fast, trying to be a lot of things to a lot of people,” Angela recalls. “With so many potential paths available, we needed to find one that was right for us.”

By narrowing their market, it helped DMG double its business in 2004. Angela is now looking to bring the company’s services to new markets, including banks that provide SBA-backed loans to other small business owners. DMG is also giving back to the community through activities such as sponsoring a luau fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and sponsoring a motocross racing team.

“We essentially created our own niche market—providing due diligence engineering and inspection services within the ‘short escrow’ period—the brief timeframe that brokers and developers have to verify the value of their properties to lenders,” Angela says. “We act as the ‘building police,’ investigating the property and the surrounding areas for hazards and concerns using our own engineers and inspectors to ensure that these services are performed within each customer’s stringent escrow contingency deadlines.”

What's Great About My Mentor?

While researching SBA loans, Angela learned about SCORE’s free mentoring services. After meeting with volunteer mentor Betty Otte, an expert in launching and managing various types of businesses, Angela was confident that she had found the answer.

Otte made recommendations for shaping DMG’s marketing advertising strategy. “Even though my background was in marketing, Betty provided valuable advice on how to tailor our message to our target markets,” Angela says. “Betty essentially gave us homework assignments, and every one proved to be successful.”

Along with refining DMG’s direct mail pieces and client newsletter, Otte has helped the couple bring some fun to their work. “Betty gave us the idea of turning our business development visits to brokers into ‘holidays,’ where we deliver pastries along with company information,” Angela says. “That reinforces our presence in each office, and we almost always meet someone we’ve not done business with.”

How SCORE Helped

“A lot of credit goes to Betty and SCORE,” Angela says. “Our discussions have produced valuable ideas that have helped us build our business, and address issues that might have thrown us off track. That’s why I recommend SCORE to everybody I talk to. Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of all that valuable knowledge and support?”

Tagline Communications

Since her college days, Celina Taganas Duffy, ran her painting, graphic design and greeting card business by the seat of her pants. Celina managed to achieve a measure of success thanks to creative talent, hard work and unique line of patented envelope-free greeting cards.

Celina recognized that regardless of her creative skill, her business—Tagline Communications—would be stymied unless she improved and streamlined her business practices. “I had been running my business for awhile, but I knew I could run it more effectively and efficiently,” says Celina.

Owner/Founder
Celina Taganas Duffy
My Location
Tustin CA
United States
Employees
2
Year Company Formed
1995
My Successes

Now I focus on the important areas,” says Celina. She claims that her revenue has risen by 80 percent with the help of her team of SCORE mentors and is grateful for their help in “completely turning the business around.”

Celina is now making plans to hire a graphic designer and find dedicated studio space, two steps that will allow her to spend more time painting her colorful and vibrant canvases. Celina’s greeting cards feature miniatures of her paintings and she’s also eager to expand Tagline Greetings, the greeting card side of Tagline Communications.

What's Great About My Mentor?

In November 2001, Celina visited the SCORE Santa Ana, CA Chapter and met with Mentor Leanore Saks. As an artist herself, Leanore offered insightful advice on the industry, pricing, portfolio development and general business planning.

When Leanore was going to be out of town for some time, Mentor Betty Otte stepped in to help Celina develop some marketing ideas. While learning more about Tagline Communications, Betty discovered that Celina frequently sent her invoices out late. She asked Mentor Hiro Kranz, a certified management accountant and retired controller, to assist. Soon, Hiro began meeting with Celina to develop a system to invoice accounts properly. Hiro taught Celina how to use QuickBooks and advised her on hiring a bookkeeper.

Betty continues to visit Celina’s office each month for mentoring. Celina says, “Betty keeps me focused and motivated. She gives me monthly project tasks to help me evaluate my business.” The future looks bright and busy for Celina, and she is confident with her SCORE mentors lending a hand, she will continue down the road of success.

How SCORE Helped

“My experience with SCORE has been amazing. I know I have strengths, but I’ve learned that I can’t do everything by myself. Having experts handle various aspects of my business, has freed up a lot of my time.” Says Celina Taganas Duffy. 

Barbara Gray Krause Designs Finds Success WIth SCORE Mentor

Barbara Krause had everything it took to be a successful graphic designer: more than 20 years of experience, numerous awards, and a Rolodex full of prestigious clients who appreciated the quality and timeliness of her work.

So what was she doing selling construction products?

That's what a volunteer mentor at SCORE's Las Vegas chapter wanted to know in 1996 when Barbara sought advice about her latest business venture. " Doubtful of the product's prospects for success, the mentor encouraged Barbara to consider a business that would capitalize on her natural talents instead. Barbara went home still pondering the potential of her relative's proposition, but the words of the SCORE mentor had struck a chord in her thinking. While attending a business networking luncheon some time later, Barbara sensed the proverbial "light bulb" clicking on in her mind. Instead of concentrating only on logos and brochure typefaces, why not help other businesses design their overall corporate image?

Owner/Founder
Barbara Krause
My Location
Las Vegas NV
United States
Employees
3
Year Company Formed
1996
My Successes

Certain she had finally hit on a solid, attractive opportunity, Barbara wanted to avoid making the same mistakes that had limited her success in the past. "It was discouraging to know so little about running a business," she says. "I was determined to learn how to become a business person."

Barbara initially gave her plan six months to succeed, yet she hardly noticed when that deadline arrived. By then, she had developed a thriving business aiding firms of all sizes and types. Her strategy included conducting seminars on marketing, even though she was a novice at public speaking. But by concentrating on what she knew and what her audience wanted to learn, she quickly became a hit on the Las Vegas business-meeting circuit. Her message is simple, yet effective: Small businesses can support each other by trading their expertise and knowledge.

Barbara has since expanded the scope of her services by teaming with Nevada State Bank to offer seminars on home buying in the fast-growing Las Vegas area. She's also conducting programs on how members of today's "sandwich generation" can balance their home and work responsibilities with the demands of caring for aging parents. Another project in the works—a TV production on do-it-yourself logo design—will soon bring her to cable systems around the country.

Meanwhile, demand for her seminars on marketing and networking continue to grow along with her consulting business. Barbara says that this torrent of talent might never have been unleashed had it not been for Bill Burns and her other SCORE mentors.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Barbara needed assistance and knew exactly where to go to find the expertise she needed,  SCORE. With the help of Volunteer Mentor Bill Burns, a former manufacturing and marketing executive with a large aluminum company, Barbara formulated business and marketing plans that would help her identify and contact clients in need of her services. The chapter's pre-business seminar also helped her understand the ins and outs of business management. "I couldn't believe it," she says. "I had paid thousands of dollars for marketing classes over the years, and here I was getting all this expertise for free, not to mention the invaluable follow-up support."

"Bill and others were so kind, approachable, and full of experience and good ideas," Barbara says. "They gave me the confidence and guidance that are so important to get a business started. Thanks to them, I've found a conduit by which I can succeed by doing something I enjoy, enrich my own life and help many other people in the process."

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.

Partnering Resources Succeeds By Using Advice From SCORE Mentor

During her career in the field of organizational development and change, Maya Townsend helped clients align people and resources to achieve their goals. So when she began planning her own enterprise called Partnering Resources, Maya looked to SCORE to fill her knowledge gaps.

Owner/Founder
Maya Townsend
My Location
Cambridge MA
United States
Year Company Formed
2004
My Successes

“It’s a challenge to maintain a steady cash flow during natural ebb and flows of work,” she says. “Pete mentored me to anticipate this issue and identify ways of mitigating those effects. With his guidance, I’ve secured several long-term clients and developed partnerships with colleagues in complementary fields. Although most start-ups don’t break even in their first year, Pete has me on track to make a profit.”

Recently Maya appeared in Women's Business Boston magazine. She is currently collaborating on a book about how complex organizations can improve decision-making processes.

“I’m very busy, very happy and very grateful to SCORE,” she says. “Everything goes back to the thinking I did with Pete when I was developing my business plan. He and Bob have been accessible, encouraging and very knowledgeable.”

What's Great About My Mentor?

A call to Worcester, MA SCORE put Maya in touch with mentor Peter Allen, a retired business development consultant. “Pete was absolutely tremendous,” Maya says. “He coached me through my business plan and asked challenging questions that I hadn’t considered. He got me to think about all the practical aspects to running a business—projecting finances, handling insurance—and how to do them. What’s more, his advice helped me land three clients before I formally started my practice.”

Even with such a fast start, Maya knew she needed a solid marketing strategy. To get objective feedback on her Web site, she tapped SCORE’s online counseling resources and contacted Bob Ross. “Bob critiqued my ideas about format and content and provided examples of other website to look at,” she says. “It was so easy, yet I received so much valuable information and advice.”

How SCORE Helped

SCORE helped Maya by setting the foundation for success with her business plan. SCORE played an important role in guiding Maya through her first year in business—a critical “make-or-break” period for many entrepreneurs.

Maya still works closely with her SCORE mentors. Maya says, “SCORE offers such a tremendous service, I can’t believe everyone doesn’t use it. The quality of mentoring and advice is great. I couldn’t have gotten this far this fast without them.”

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.

 

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.

Add-A-View Murals and Prints

I came to SCORE with the strong determination to start my own business but with the frustration of not knowing where to begin.

Owner/Founder
Diane R. Mouzon
My Successes

I came to SCORE with the strong determination to start my own business but with the frustration of not knowing where to begin.

My mentors at SCORE immediately made me feel comfortable. They led me by the hand through a step-by-step analysis of myself and the market I wanted to enter. This helped me to further define my product line and identify all the possible markets that I could target.

They also kept me motivated when I felt discouraged at what I thought were stumbling blocks, helping me to see the other roads that I could take to achieve my goals.

I consider the members of SCORE an invaluable source of knowledge to anybody either starting or considering starting their own business and I will be forever thankful for this wonderful service.

Turner Government and Public Affairs

Entrepreneurs frequently cannot be as objective about their companies as they should be. I am lucky and grateful that my SCORE advisors are always available and willing to share their years of wisdom and experience to help me grow my business.

Owner/Founder
Caren Turner
My Successes

My ScoreBergen counselors have been an essential part of my business success.

Both of them have established and run their own successful businesses. They now magnanimously donate their time to help my business avoid pitfalls, overcome significant obstacles and reach for greater goals and objectives.

Entrepreneurs frequently cannot be as objective about their companies as they should be. I am lucky and grateful that my SCORE advisors are always available and willing to share their years of wisdom and experience to help me grow my business.
 

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

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