Mountain Glory Creations Succeeds With Help From SCORE Mentor
Jan Seale and Bob Brandenburger had big plans for their retirement years--travel, visits to family members, and perhaps a small business that would provide some extra income without cramping their newfound freedom.
But just ten days before bidding farewell to the nine-to-five routine, an automobile accident restricted Jan’s mobility for several months.
Suddenly faced with more down time than they’d expected, Jan and Bob began experimenting with their new digital camera. They photographed the scenic natural beauty and architecture near their Charlottesville, Va., home, and used their home computer and printer to create note cards for friends. As the distinctive note cards got around, Jan and Bob began receiving more and more requests for additional sets.
“This looked like the interesting and flexible business opportunity we had hoped to find,” Jan says of the enterprise they named Mountain Glory Creations. “However, both of us had been public-sector administrators. We had a lot to learn about running a small business.”
SCORE’s counseling and seminars have helped Jan and Bob grow Mountain Glory Creations at a comfortable pace. Their regular appearances at the summer Charlottesville City Market have led to new products such as prints, calendars and computer screensavers, as well as commissions to photograph area homes, farms, restaurants and vineyards. The couple also learned how to create a web site that exposes their products to an even wider market.
“Steve Cooper introduced us to a number of marketing paths, and how to evaluate their potential value to our business. He also gave me tips for approaching store owners about selling our cards, which was important since I’m not a natural salesperson.” says Bob.
Cooper also offered suggestions managing large influxes of orders, and cost- and labor-saving measures such as using an area printer for some of the more popular note cards.
Jan and Bob discovered that the local chapter of SCORE offered a series of low-cost seminars for new and prospective entrepreneurs. While the formal presentations gave the couple valuable information about business planning, financial management and other start-up issues, SCORE Counselor Steve Cooper provided free advice on specific aspects of their business idea.
Jan and Bob have a ready answer to anyone who admires their success and expresses interest in getting a business started. “We send them all to SCORE,” Jan says, “and we’re pleased to hear that many have indeed called them.”