SCORE Advises Feeney Farm
“Feeney Farm is a 501(c)(3) organization that brings fresh produce into communities in need in Fairfield County, Connecticut. We rescue fruits and vegetables from farms and wholesalers and deliver them to food pantries and community programs serving those in need. Without a doubt, if Feeney Farm had not received assistance from SCORE counselors Bill McLeod and Richard Blackwell from 2010 to 2011, it would not have grown into the successful organization that it now is.
As a start-up, it’s common to receive well-meaning advice from friends and family who want to see your business succeed. Although these suggestions can be helpful, it’s rare that this advice is truly enterprising – meaning that it takes into account all the nuances involved in starting and operating a successful start-up. Before I met Bill McLeod and Richard Blackwell in June of 2010, I found myself in this exact situation.
I met with Bill and Richard about once a month for about a year since June 2010. Without judgment or pretense, Bill and Richard listened to the dilemmas Feeney Farm faced and offered their advice on how to “pivot” the company so as to not get stuck in the common start-up situation of “spinning company wheels” without producing any tangible results. They helped me create multiple “what if” scenarios for the company, allowing me to take into account problems/opportunities I had not previously thought of but proved critical to the success of my organization. In addition, because of their experience in the corporate and small business world, they undoubtedly reduced my “time to market” (or concept-to-product life cycle) by helping me avoid common start-up opportunity costs.
I’m happy to report that about twelve months into production, there was an opportunity to partner with two non-profits that could expand our operations and serve additional people in need. These two organizations could “absorb” our routes and grow them using their existing resources. It was a great opportunity to see our operations grow into something much larger than itself, and we were thrilled to partner with two like-minded organizations that saw value in what had been created. It was a win-win all around.
Perhaps the best part of my SCORE experience was how Bill and Richard did not force their opinions on me, but instead used their experiences to act as a safety net for my own decision making process; allowing me to use my own judgment at all times, but not letting me get too far off course. Leveraging their experience also enabled me to expand the scope of Feeney Farm’s coverage to providing more produce to needy families year-round rather than just seasonal fresh produce.
In summary, becoming a SCORE client was one of the best decisions I made as a small business owner and I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking of starting a new company.”
COUNSELOR’S COMMENTS: The key to SCORE’s successful mentoring with Ms. Feeney was ongoing communication. Starting with her original business idea and plan, she was responsive to our questions and willing to adapt to new directions. We would, on occasion, arrange ad hoc meetings whenever significant issues arose that required immediate attention. Our free-flowing interaction and Ms. Feeney’s strength in implementation enabled Feeney Farm to grow into a more effective organization reaching many more families than originally envisioned. It is especially gratifying to see that the tangible result of this process and her dedicated effort has become a continuing, long-term benefit to the community.