Every day, SCORE mentors help people just like you to start, run, grow, and sell successful businesses.
All of their expert advice is absolutely free. Yet, as you’ll hear in this success story from Margie Hurd, owner of SLO Fresh Catch, it’s also priceless.
An Unexpected Turn
SCORE Mentor: Why did you start your business?
Margie Hurd: As our two children approached college age, my husband and I took a serious look at our family budget. We decided that he would pay for our mortgage, living expenses, etc., and that I would fund our kids’ college costs.
Then, unexpectedly, my position within a university program was cut. I needed a way to generate income—and within just a couple years, as by then we’d have not just one but two kids in college. (Thank God they both selected affordable schools!)
So, I started the first community supported fishery (CSF) on the US West Coast. It’s like a farmer’s harvest box that subscribers pick up once a week, but, in this case, it is fish caught by local, commercial fishermen.
I wrote a newsletter once a week that explained what the fish would be that week, who caught it, and ways to cook it. Then, I delivered the fish to different pick-up sites around our county.
SM: What challenges did you face?
MH: Writing and driving were the easy part. What I cannot do is business accounting. I never knew how much money I had.
One month I owed my fish buyer and processor almost $8000. And it was February, the shortest month of the year! I had no idea how I was going to pay him, let alone finance the kids’ college expenses that month.
Back in the Black
SM: How did SCORE help you?
MH: I was matched with two mentors who had a strong background in accounting. They were a married couple named Bob and Carol Kerwin.
The first thing they did that was helpful was just listen to my fears and intense dislike of anything smacking of QuickBooks or more involved computer time. Once they knew my weaknesses—and strengths—they came up with a low tech solution.
I had monitored our family’s budget for years. My mentors took the form I’d always used for our family budget and tweaked it to turn it into a template for the fish business. It was instantly accessible to me.
They did the same on Excel for the farmer’s markets at which I also sold fish. Now I knew how much I was making at each market.
Reeling in the Success
SM: What are you most proud of in your business?
MH: In 2010, the CSF model was the equivalent of a start-up. At the time, there were only about seven of them in the entire US. Now, there are around fifty.
I’m proud that I started a successful business for which there was little precedent. Plus, I succeeded in my goal of putting two kids through college so they wouldn’t be saddled with debt when they graduated—and neither would we!
The business is still thriving today, even after I’ve retired from it. All of this makes me feel like a success.
Margie has now become a SCORE mentor and helps at many of the workshops when she is in town. Come and see her in person.
Do you have a great idea for a business but feel uncertain of how to get it off the ground? Or have you started a business, only to realize a skill-gap in a crucial area?
SCORE mentors are here to help. Talk to a SCORE mentor today and get started on the road to a profitable business.
Want to be the first to know what’s new on our blog, which free workshops are coming up, and the business trends to watch? Sign up to receive our newsletter.
Margie Hurd is a retired fishmonger with a master's degree in Education. She is a freelance team-building facilitator with over 20 years experience. Currently, she is following her husband as he rebuilds roads in remote part of the west. The two are currently in Death Valley, rebuilding the road to Scotty's Castle. Margie has two adult children and lives in Arroyo Grande, California. She finds retirement both nice AND weird.