Skip to main content

Original text

Powered by Google TranslateTranslate
Powered by Google TranslateTranslate
30 Years and Going Strong

Hannah/Gold Communications, Cheri Bales

Title / Role: Owner
Location: Schoolcraft, Michigan
Formed in: 1991
What do you do?

I am a marketing consultant who helps businesses figure out a strategic marketing plan for maximum return, then help them implement that strategy and measure their return on investment.

What inspired you to start your business?

Financial need. I had a great position with an ad agency, but a new governor was elected in Michigan, and all my accounts were .gov or .edu accounts, so our agency was replaced with one favored by the new governor. My first client hired me to write paragraphs of condolence for their CEO (hospital) to correspond with employees who lost loved ones. That gig turned into a three-year contract with me writing a weekly newspaper column and eventually managing the Senior Olympics for their hospital system.

What's special about your business?

I provide a free 30-minute consultation and bring 30 years of experience to the table. I offer not just the skill sets small businesses to need, but also the in-the-trenches experience to prove the worth of my direction. I also train my clients on what I am doing for them so they can go off on their own at some point. In Addition, I was a SCORE client in 1991, and now I'm a SCORE Mentor!

What have been the high and low points of being a business owner?

The high points have to be guiding small businesses through the thralls of COVID by presenting 28 weeks of marketing webinars. Working with SCORE Kalamazoo/Southwest Michigan's Education Team, I produced, scheduled, and presented one webinar a week for 28 weeks on various small business marketing strategies that could be quickly and easily implemented. I subsequently was taped to present 3 Google webinars for SCORE National, which remain on the website to this day.

The lows have to be the point where you realize you may need to supplement your income. My business took a hiatus while I worked for others doing part-time assignments (Kalamazoo Public Schools, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo Valley Community College). Still, I always kept the name and DBA (now LLC). Working part-time during that period allowed me to spend time with my two sons, who were getting through high school, and I wouldn't do anything differently.

It wasn't until 2017, when I joined SCORE as a Certified Mentor, that I began to feel of value and service to small businesses and gained the confidence to re-launch my business with intent. My SCORE mentor's leadership, faith in me, and encouragement helped me move my business toward the potential it had always had but never realized.

What is your relationship with SCORE? SCORE volunteer What influenced you to seek help from SCORE?

It was starting a business in 1991. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family that owned restaurants, grocery and party stores, and recreation centers, so working full-time for someone else either a) wasn't rewarding enough or b) didn't generate the level of income I desired.

How SCORE helped.

In 1991 and again in 2017, I was influenced by a SCORE Mentor(s) to pursue my dream to build and grow my business. My mentors have given me the confidence to value my experience and skills at the "happy dance" level and have been a constant source of grounding when I begin to doubt myself. Imposter syndrome is a real thing. The positive reinforcement from my mentors came when I a) started the business; b) relaunched in 2017, and c) redefined my rates and packages in 2020.

What's great about my mentor?

They often have more confidence in me than I do in myself and constantly encourage me to ask about my worth!

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a small business?

It's hard to give up your day job. It may take years. Like me, you may have to put the business on hiatus, but if you're dedicated and determined, eventually, you will be able to pursue your business passion and make a living doing so.

What have you learned from your experiences as a business owner?

It's more work and heartache than working for someone else. I sometimes have to force myself to do the "icky" things like billing and routine work and am starting to reach out to form a "team" to work on some of the tasks that I dislike.

Additional media
Communications flyer
My mentors
Headshot of John Kepplinger
John Kepplinger

Areas where I can be of assistance: Design and help implement strategic plans Identify and leverage...

Read full bio
1126 Gull Road, Suite B
Kalamazoo, MI 49048
(269) 888-6667

Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association,

Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

In partnership with
Jump back to top