Women Entrepreneurs

If you are thinking about purchasing a franchise, keep the following 5 tips in mind.

Betty Otte, SCORE Counselor

If you are thinking about purchasing a franchise, keep the following 5 tips in mind.

Johnson Consulting Services Finds Success With SCORE Advice


After earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Drake University, Jill joined a consulting firm in her native Twin Cities in 1984 and—in another unusual move for someone only 24 years old—became active with Minneapolis SCORE.

“The chapter encouraged younger people to get involved and complement the expertise of the veteran counselors,” Jill explains.  “I started attending the small business workshops and got to know the volunteers very well.  I knew that someday I’d want to start my own firm, but figured that was several years in the future.”

The future arrived sooner than Jill expected.  Finding herself in a difficult work situation in 1987, she decided that the time had come to get started on her own business, Johnson Consulting Services.   Jill’s colleagues at SCORE immediately stepped up with advice and encouragement.

Jill J. Johnson
My Location
Minneapolis MN
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

In return for their wisdom and support of her mentors, Jill has helped in the Twin Cities and other Midwest SCORE chapters assist other aspiring entrepreneurs by contributing her own knowledge to workshops on marketing, new business planning and demographics.  She also helped SCORE leaders understand how to work with women entrepreneurs. 

Twenty-two years after those first tentative steps, Johnson Consulting Services is still going strong.  Jill has worked in 21 states and overseas, and consulted more than one billion dollars’ worth of business decisions.  She has earned numerous awards; been interviewed for stories in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Money magazine; and served two terms on the SBA’s National Advisory Council

And while businesses of all types and sizes look to Jill for answers and advice, she continues to learn from her friends and colleagues at SCORE.

What's Great About My Mentor?

“One volunteer counselor—Dick Bloom—called me every month for nearly a year to check in and ask how I was doing,” Jill says.  “That personal touch made a big difference.”

So did the volunteers’ expertise.  At every stage of her company’s evolution, they advised Jill on dealing with the realities of owning and building a business, from financial management to simply staying positive.

“The SCORE volunteers believed in me,” Jill says.  “They had made fortunes in business, and were confident that I would too.  That support helped carry me through those times when doubts started to creep in.”

How SCORE Helped

“More than half of my practice is in health care, which often involves people having to make difficult decisions about friends, loved ones and themselves,” she says.  “Working with SCORE has given me insight on how to age gracefully, and with vitality and relevancy.  It’s a blessing to see SCORE volunteers with so much to give still working to help new entrepreneurs and their community.  That’s a valuable lesson for everyone.”

SCORE to Launch New e-Business Learning Website for Small Business

Tue, 2011-03-22 23:02

Consortium of Public and Private Organizations

In Helping Entrepreneurs Leverage Technology to Fuel Their Growth and Success


FoxTale Book Shoppe

Ellen Ward had run an ad agency for 18 years. Jackie Tanase had worked as a corporate paralegal. Karen Schwettman was a freelance interior designer. All three shared a lifelong passion for writing, books and independent bookstores.

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Ellen Ward, Jackie Tanase, Karen Schwettman
My Location
105 East Main Street, #138
Atlanta GA 30188
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

The trio thought back to the encounter with the fox near Denver and decided that “fox tale” would make a great name for their new bookstore. Since opening in June 2007, FoxTale Book Shoppe has been embraced by the community. The mayor of Woodstock declared opening day “FoxTale Book Shoppe Day.”

“It’s amazing how much the bookstore has helped bring about a sense of community,” Karen says. Jackie adds, “We greet our customers as they come in and try to make them feel welcome. We’ve made friends, and you know just what they need the more you get to know them.”

In addition to books, the store also sells greeting cards, knickknacks and writing tools. “Our customers can get things they can’t buy anywhere else,” Ellen says. “We’ve also been in just about every publication in the Atlanta area, including the Atlanta Journal, Atlanta magazine and the Fox 5 morning show.” They also reach out to job fairs and local schools, and even talked about being an entrepreneur with students at Woodstock Middle School.

When the final Harry Potter book was printed, they held a party in the gazebo across from their store and more than 100 people showed up. “When we opened the boxes at midnight, the people rushed in, bought their books, and rushed out,” Jackie says.

Ellen, Jackie and Karen are proud of their growing business. “An independent bookstore puts money back into the community and not back into a corporation,” Ellen says. “We support the community, and it instills a sense of ownership in our customers.”

The three continue to receive mentoring and advice from Atlanta SCORE and Hooper Wesley. “SCORE will shine helping people who wouldn’t go into business without a strong support base,” Karen says.

What's Great About My Mentor?

"SCORE mentor Hooper Wesley said, what a great idea, this could work. It really encouraged us. He was with us every step of the way. He even went to meetings with us at the bank. SCORE will shine helping people who wouldn’t go into business without a strong support base." says Karen Schwettman, co-owner, FoxTale Book Shoppe, Woodstock, GA.

Hooper formerly worked for the governor’s office and he has a lot of experience in financing and the government. Last year, Atlanta SCORE clients secured more than $1.5 million in SBA-backed loans. Hooper’s clients account for almost half that amount. “If he gets excited about a client, he goes to the nth degree,” says Atlanta SCORE Vice Chair.

“We told Hooper our idea and concept,” Karen says. “He said, what a great idea, this could work. It really encouraged us.” Hooper began working with them on their business plan. “He was with us every step of the way,” she adds. “He even went to meetings with us at the bank.”

How SCORE Helped

SCORE will shine helping people who wouldn’t go into business without a strong support base.

New-Age Preparatory Academy Finds Success With SCORE Mentor

Tanya and Chris Furlow had a passion to create a quality day-care center in their community.  This husband-and-wife team planned to combine their talents, Tanya bringing her experience in childcare and Chris his experience in building renovation.

In 2005, they came to SCORE seeking advice on how to develop a business plan for their day-care facility.  However, their plan required a substantial amount of money since they wanted to purchase a building on a spacious lot. Their primary counselor was Kisoon Park who introduced another SCORE counselor, John Costello, to help them with the financial section of the business plan.


Tanya and Chris Furlow
My Location
8938 S Cottage Grove Ave
Chicago IL 60619
United States
Year Company Formed
My Successes

Their loan application was approved later that year, which Tanya and Chris attribute to the strength of the business plan that SCORE helped them develop.  They believe that in-depth demographic research combined with detailed competitive analysis for each and every day-care center in their target market was a key to their success in obtaining the loan.

Building and facility renovation took almost two years to complete, and the New-Age Preparatory Academy opened its doors in late 2007. 

Tanya and Chris’s strong business plan, close teamwork and meticulous execution paid off.  New-Age has already opened a second location and total enrollment in their academy reached over eighty children by late 2010.

What's Great About My Mentor?

“SCORE counseling helped us in doing detailed market studies with emphasis on competitive analysis," say Tanya and Chris. "This enabled us to develop business strategies that separate us from the competition and, most importantly, helped us in securing the building loan.  Working with SCORE counselors over a period of time helped us in the successful implementation of our business plan.”

Women in Business: Growth is Up, But Sales are Down

The Fight Women Face in The Market

While women-owned businesses are growing in number, a new report from The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce found that their sales are shrinking at an alarming rate.

Leadership: As Technology Takes Over, Will Women and Men Become More Alike?

The Closing Technology Divide

There’s a ground-breaking change going on in society, says Sally Helgesen, author of The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work. Interviewed on Bnet.com, Helgesen notes that today, for the first time in human history, men and women are using the same basic tools at work. In other words, we’re all using computers, mobile phones and the same software, giving us the same experience.

Growth: What’s Holding Your Business Back?

The Secret to Growing Past $1 Million

Nell Merlino headshotAre you trying to grow your business past the $1 million mark, but not getting results? You’re not the only one.

Work/Life Balance: Managing Working Mommy Guilt

All women who have kids and work outside of the home have guilt. Period. This is not an opinion or an assumption. It is a reality. Something happens to you when you give birth and you forever feel that responsibility and that tie to your child. So when you go to work, and leave that child behind, there is an incredible amount of guilt that goes with it. Even if you have no choice and must work, and maybe more so if you have a choice. I think the hardest thing to reconcile is the personal need and personal self-worth that that women get at work vs. the need to provide for your children every moment of everyday. At this point in our society, not only is it ok to be a dad and a working man, but it is the expected path. Somehow though, many people still feel that women should be home with the children and that going to work is somehow putting kids second. So how do you reconcile it? How do you get beyond the “Mommy Guilt” and feel good & proud of your choices? I wish that I had all the answers, but I don’t. At the very least, I can share what has worked for me:

Work/Life Balance: Business Travel and Kids – Do They Mix?

I often get asked how I manage to juggle my life as a mommy and my life as a CEO. People assume that I give up a lot of time with my children, especially since they know that I travel quite a bit. What a lot of people in my business life don’t know is that when I travel, whether for business or pleasure, I take my kids with me. Yup, you heard me. I take them with me. So how do I do this and still manage to do business? I put in a lot of hard work and definitely a good amount of out-of-pocket money. Since my two kids were born (ages 2 and 4), I have arranged business travel to coincide with:

1.  My husband being able to come

2.  My mother being able to come

3.  My mother-in-law being able to come

4.  One of my sisters, or sister-in-law being able to come

You see the pattern. I travel enough that I use mileage to bring along family members. When my kids were under 9 months old I didn’t buy them seats and just brought them with me. After 9 months though traveling with a 20+ pound child on your lap can be ridiculous – so I started buying seats for the kids, and they started building miles that they can share with family members to get them to come along. Once I get to the location, I don’t stay at hotels. I use short-term rentals which usually are the same price as a hotel room – but come with a full kitchen and generally two bedrooms. Because the cost is equal to what I would spend on my own in a hotel room, the company picks up the tab for the rental. My family member who accompanies me is comfortable and we all have access to a kitchen to make easy meals for the kids and not have to go out to restaurants. It works and the kids get the benefit of time with an extended family member.

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