Women Entrepreneurs

LifeStyle Physical Therapy and Balance Center Succeeds With Help From SCORE Mentor

Dr. Michele Kehrer wanted to launch a new leading edge physical therapy clinic to facilitate rapid recovery of neurological dizziness and balance disorders, as well as musculoskeletal disorders. When planning to open her clinic, Michele quickly realized that while she understood the art and science of vestibular treatment, she didn’t know the business side of launching her practice, such as business planning, budgeting and cash flow projections, sales, marketing, management and financing. Michele contacted her local SCORE office for guidance and start-up help.

Dr. Michele Kehrer
My Location
Chicago IL
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

 “LifeStyle Physical Therapy and Balance Center has achieved its financial goals in the first seven months of operations. The response from patients, neurologists and orthopedists has been excellent,” Michele says. “More than 90 percent of the clinics patients experienced a marked decrease of symptoms within 4-8 weeks.”

What's Great About My Mentor?

Michele first met Elliot Shear, a Chicago SCORE mentor in February 2006.  First, Elliot helped her clarify and refine a business plan to obtain start-up financing. Elliot explained all the parts of the business plan that a bank would require to provide financing for the start-up working capital and acquiring the sophisticated equipment Michele needed for her clinic.  He also provided a lead to a banking affiliation at Fifth Third Bank, which eventually provided her line of credit. 

As the counseling continued, Michele worked with Elliot in developing a marketing plan that would influence medical practitioners to refer their patients to Lifestyle.  The plan included inviting prospective patients to the clinic for a free review of methodology and state of the art equipment. To arrange a visit, potential patients could call the clinic or visit the Web site.

How SCORE Helped

Michele continues to enjoy a mentoring relationship with SCORE “This would have been remarkable as a paid source,” she says, “but it was a dream come true to know that there are business professionals who want to give part of their successes back to the public by sharing their expertise for free.”

Ashtae Products Finds Success With Help From SCORE Mentor

In 1996, Michael and Ramona Woods decided to turn their mutual experience in the salon-servicing industry into an opportunity to become business owners. They launched Ashtae Products, which sells multicultural hair products to professional salons and beauty schools.

Michael Woods and Ramona Woods
My Location
Greensboro NC
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

Unlike many other newcomers to the world of business management, the couple had no problem attracting customers. Thanks to their previous experience, Michael and Ramona doubled Ashtae’s sales each of the company’s first three years. The problem was that the couple had little profit to show for their efforts. “We failed to realize that knowing how to sell and make money doesn’t mean you know how to keep it,” Michael recalls.

Michael and Ramona have been able to augment their sales know-how with sound business planning and management. Ashtae has moved to its own location in Greensboro, added staff members and increased its market share—despite the nationwide economic slowdown of the past two years. More importantly, the company’s financial picture is very strong, rewarding Michael and Ramona with a healthy profit. The couple can now focus comfortably on building an aggressive long-term strategy for Ashtae, and their own future as entrepreneurs.

What's Great About My Mentor?

Michael and Ramona made an appointment with SCORE volunteer mentor Eric Indermaur, a CPA and former corporate vice president of finance. A review of the company’s financial and accounting data helped Eric pinpoint Ashtae’s problem: The company was growing too fast.  Its inventory supply chain was out of sync with the normal ebbs and flows of the business cycle.

Eric helped Michael and Ramona better understand where Ashtae’s money was going, how to scrutinize the financial data and how to calculate sustainable profit margins. He also helped them secure a loan from the Greensboro Venture Capital Fund to provide a stable source of funds to finance inventory growth and turnover.

How SCORE Helped

Michael and Ramona continue to have regular meeting with Eric and other counselors at SCORE. “Their greatest asset is the ability to help a company understand the business cycle, and to plan for the various stages of growth,” Michael says. “Eric and SCORE opened our eyes to the real deal about running a business instead of the business running you. If we had never met them, we’d probably be unprofitable—and out of business.”

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Kamdyn's Kloset Business Plan Complete With Help of SCORE Mentor

If you are looking for a source of high quality, fashionable clothing for children, and a source of unique toys and gifts, you should plan a trip to downtown Guthrie and visit Kamdyn’s Kloset at 124 West Oklahoma Avenue.


Jessica Stout opened Kamdyn’s Kloset as a children’s clothing store in October 2009.  She was looking for a way to build her career while still being able to provide full-time care for her daughter, Kamdyn, who was born with special medical needs.  Owning her own store and being able to adjust her schedule as necessary allows Jessica the freedom and flexibility to take part in her son Caden's activities as well as other important family events. 


Jessica comments: “It is really the best of both worlds because I get to go to work and interact with expectant mothers, women who already have children and grandparents of all types.  So, I get to keep up on current issues with kids, and be involved with some of the best parents and while being an activist for kids at the same time.  I recently had a costume contest to support a family whose son was born requiring open-heart surgery days after birth.  Currently, I am working on several different promotions that are all part of a toy drive to collect toys for children who, without donations, may have nothing for Christmas.  In my business I am very LUCKY to be able to be active in causes for children that are dear to my heart, while greatly enjoying children's fashion and shopping… and still having the time to be with my family.”


The location in downtown Guthrie, a unique historical community, was picked because it was next to a toy store, and because of the traffic generated by special activities in the town, as well as the proximity to Jessica's home.  Jessica sought SCORE assistance to develop an initial business plan and eventually financed the store herself. 


Experiencing cash flow problems after a couple of months, Jessica again came to SCORE and developed a short term marketing plan using e-mail and direct mail to bring shoppers in for excellent end of season values on fall/winter items.  In turn, this enabled Kamdyn’s Kloset to move into much needed spring clothes.  This approach has succeeded several times since.


A few months later, the owner of the toy store next door came into some difficult times and began to sell toys at Kamdyn’s Kloset on consignment, thus keeping their product available, and allowing the owner of the toy store to sort some things out and still move her merchandise.  This period also allowed Jessica an opportunity to experience the "toy world" with no upfront costs of risks of simply ordering toys.


In the summer of 2010, the owner of the toy store had a change of heart and Artisan toys became available for buy out by Kamdyn’s Kloset. After seeing how well the toy store and clothing paired over the consignment period, Jessica immediately jumped on the opportunity to own the toy business.  She once again sought SCORE advice and eventually applied for an SBA loan via one of the large Oklahoma SBA lenders who recognized her success and her opportunity.  With the loan in hand, Jessica moved into the toy business, and has been successful, due to the support of her husband, her extended family, and with the continued expertise of the previous toy store owner who continues to advise Jessica on her purchases. Jessica brought a training merchandising and fashion, as well as, management experience background to Kamdyn’s Kloset, but has had to learn the ins and outs of being a sole proprietor.

Jessica Stout
My Location
124 W. Oklahoma
Guthrie OK
United States


Ameravant, Inc. was established as a web design and development company by Michael Kramer in 2001. No stranger to business, Michael had an impressive track record in real estate sales and business consulting. The name Ameravant - a combination of America and “avant garde” – was intended as a symbol of the forward-looking business he was creating.  Michael had already identified an important business opportunity arising from the rapidly expanding role of the internet in commerce - hence his decision to set up a company which would design and develop customized websites and, specifically, empower owners to maintain their own content without paying a webmaster. Websites would be faster, cross browser compatible, and most importantly, search engine friendly, and customer support would be offered.  Ameravant also commenced its own web hosting operation, and thus enabled the company to support its customers even more effectively.

By 2004 the company began hiring, and the number of employees grew to seven as the business became increasingly successful.  However, by late 2008 the market was declining, and where previously the company had been able to turn a very high percentage of enquiries into business, the closing rate had dropped to 20%. The company was running into difficulty.  As the key salesperson, all of Michael’s time was spent on selling, and he had less time to work on daily operations or even send out business quotes.  This resulted in fewer sales and less business.

At this point Michael met with SCORE. He attended a business seminar where he listened to various presentations, and subsequently met two of its counselors, Henri Bainou and Gary Kravetz.

One of the best pieces of advice I was offered by SCORE was that when a client walks through the door with money in his hand, make sure you sell him something.

The advice was simple. See if you can come up with a product you can offer on a turnkey basis at a very competitive price. For Ameravant, this meant offering a basic website package, which offered all the important features required for a simple business, at a low price. To this, additional customized options could be added according to the clients’ business requirements.  The effect of this was twofold.  Firstly, the cost of the basic package made Ameravant extremely competitive in the local market. Secondly, by standardizing the package on offer, Ameravant was able to streamline its quotes, and make these available to customers almost immediately. These changes had an immediate impact, and Ameravant was able to convert a higher percentage of enquiries into business. Now the company was able to readily quote a price for everything from the most basic package to the most sophisticated, with any number of “add on” options, e.g. billing and payment systems, 360 degree panoramic tours, testimonial systems, event registrations, catalogs, online stores, etc.  This range of choices enabled the needs of a wide range of industries to be met.

As a result of this business turnaround, the company was able to retain almost all its employees and Michael was able to devote more time to business growth.  This led to the development of business-to-business operations. Because of the level of sophistication of Ameravant’s products, local competitors are now purchasing these to sell to their clients. This is particularly beneficial to Ameravant as this lowers support costs.

Now Ameravant combines the most advanced technology with the most rapid of turnovers.  New websites can be created within three days (in some cases even less) and its clients now include some major Santa Barbara institutions. The company website at www.ameravant.com illustrates the wide range of customers who have used its services. Michael continues to draw on the services of SCORE periodically.

And the future? Michael is optimistic. The company’s goals now include plans to expand its business-to-business commercial activities and also target more clients who need larger, more complex websites for their business operations. He has no doubt much of the company’s current success is due to SCORE.

“SCORE’s professional advice came at a crucial time for the company. It changed everything, and set us on a great path to further business success.”


My Location
Santa Barbara CA
United States

FoodCALC Seeks Advice From SCORE Mentor

Seven years’ ago Lucy Needham was sitting in a restaurant with her father looking at menu items and wondering how these compared for calorie and fat content.  This triggered a brand new business idea. Through extensive research, she discovered that to obtain food nutritional analysis and create nutrition labels, food professionals had to depend on sending food samples to a laboratory, which was very slow, or using CDs or other third party consultants. CDs were hard to use and geared to nutrition specialists only. She conceived the idea of creating a cutting edge web based technological model as a solution to the food industry’s problem, where the user could easily access the information via a website and produce FDA compliant food product labels and nutritional information in minutes. FoodCalc was born.

In 2005 the initial company product LabelCalc was launched, designed for small to medium-sized food manufacturers and retailers. This proved successful, business grew, and within two years two hundred food manufacturers were using LabelCalc to generate their own nutrition labels. With these developments, Lucy recognized the need to plan much more systematically for company growth and expansion. At this critical moment she came to SCORE in Santa Barbara for advice, and met counselor, George Rusznak.

“George forced me to think big. He told me I should visualize my company as creating a product to meet the needs of the entire food industry, building a brand which would meet all USDA and FDA regulatory requirements, and meeting growing consumer demand for better nutritional information. Our ongoing discussions led me to a much greater understanding of how to set goals, create a meaningful business plan and how to go about marketing my business effectively.”

In 2008, George Rusznak successfully encouraged Lucy to enter the SFentrepreneur Challenge competition for new entrepreneurs. To her surprise, Lucy was voted as one of five finalists, who then each made their pitch live to a panel of three influential entrepreneurs. She won! This opened up a whole network of important contacts, including the California Restaurant Association, which wanted to work with FoodCalc and offer an exclusive deal to their members. 

"After the contest last year, I was interviewed by the San Francisco Business Times and two other local publications that led to national interviews with my industry trade publications," said Lucy at the time. "My company's revenue in the past quarter tripled, making the revenue close to the amount generated from the previous full year. The contest was one of my best experiences!"

Now the food industry is changing, and food professionals are becoming much more accustomed to obtaining nutritional information using web based products. In 2007 the company launched a second, new product, MenuCalc, designed for chefs, restaurateurs, dieticians, food writers and recipe authors, to enable nutritional information for menus and recipes to be easily calculated.

Both company products have been extremely well received. LabelCalc now has an impressive client base which includes snack manufacturer Energy Club, airline food service provider Gate Gourmet, and soy yogurt producer Whole Soy & Co. MenuCalc has been utilized by top-level media, e.g. NBC's Today Show and multi-unit restaurants such as Asian Chao and Speciality's Bakery.

FoodCalc, now based in San Francisco, is now anticipating steady growth and employs five full time and two part time workers. The next stage is to set up business partnerships, to facilitate cross marketing and alliances with complementary vendors. In April 2009, FoodCalc entered into partnership with Tundra Specialities, a leading national restaurant equipment and parts supplier. Tundra will offer discounts to its customers off MenuCalc’s fees. As more diners seek to make informed and healthy choices about what they eat, the services provided by MenuCalc are likely to be much in demand for the foreseeable future.

Lucy is very grateful to the ongoing assistance provided by SCORE counselor George Rusznak.  “He always asked the difficult questions. He forced me to work not only IN the business but ON the business. Critically, he made me look ahead, and focus on long term development and expansion which has been so essential to our recent growth.” 


My Location
San Francisco CA
United States

This business resource guide will cover many different aspects of starting a company here in town and will help you think about many of the questions one should ask before opening a business.

Rebecca's Family Restaurant

Barb Hogan as a child sat in the old Linesville Islay's Ice Cream Shop and often wondered what it would be like to own and operate a restaurant. Now with the help of SCORE, she is doing just that, in the exact same location as the old Islay's Ice Cream Shop.

After taking an early retirement from the State's labor and Industry Department, this Harmonsburg native started Rebecca's Family Restaurant in May 2007.

Barb Hogan
My Location
144 West Erie Street
Linesville PA 16424
United States
What's Great About My Mentor?

From the start, SCORE was able to assist her. leading the SCORE assistance team was Art Cocolin, a restaurateur armed with over 60 years of restaurant experience. His team mates included Dan Leech and BJ Smith from the Meadville Branch of the Erie SCORE Chapter.

How SCORE Helped

Together they helped Hogan bring many business principles into light. SCORE was able to assist this business owner in menu selection, controlling food costs, kitchen design and layout, insurance requirements, advertising and marketing, pricing, equipment selection, and incorporating some of the latest technology impacting the restaurant field. Despite the high wash out rate in the restaurant field,

Rebecca's family Restaurant has constantly held a steady market share. The owners owe a debt of gratitude to the entire SCORE organization. 

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