Tag: small business arizona

SCORE 2016 Championship winner, LuckyLeo Dancewear 18 Apr

Luckyleo Dancewear Wins American Small Business Championship

Greater Phoenix SCORE client Luckyleo Dancewear, a small business start-up company that specializes in making custom handmade dancewear, was named a winner of The American Small Business Championship based on the company’s dedication and willingness to make its business successful in the marketplace.

SCORE, a national nonprofit dedicated to mentoring small business owners, and Sam’s Club partnered to create the award. A total of 104 winners, out of approximately 400 entries, was chosen from across the United States based on written, video and photo entries. Winners were determined by online voting and a panel of judges comprised of small business experts. Luckyleo Dancewear’s video entry received more than 7,000 votes.

LuckyLeo Dancewear wins SCORE 2016 Championship“We are so thrilled to have been chosen and are truly grateful for the honor of being selected as a national champion,” said Chelsea Early, owner and designer for Luckyleo Dancewear. “This is just the beginning for Luckyleo Dancewear. We don’t plan to stop here. We’re in the running for the grand prize of $25,000 at the SCORE Awards Gala in the fall, and are shooting for the big win.”

In the fall of 2015, Early and her sister Heather Walker turned to SCORE who partners with small business owners and entrepreneurs to provide free mentoring. They were teamed-up with Doug Whitney, SCORE mentor and former owner of several afterschool tutoring centers in Arizona and New Mexico.

“I have been meeting monthly with Chelsea and Heather to serve as a resource and provide guidance with human resources, accounting and marketing components of their business,” said Whitney. “I am very impressed with their company and the sound business decisions they continue to make. I am so happy they have been selected to be honored as small business owners with the American Small Business Championship award.”

In a little over a year Luckyleo Dancewear has had a 900 percent increase in gross revenues. The family-owned workshop in Central Phoenix is committed to keeping the design and manufacturing of their garments in the U.S. They create each custom leotard by hand and buy supplies locally whenever possible, supporting small Phoenix fabric shops.

“Doug has been so helpful to our growth as a business, guiding us through the transition from being just a small start-up to realizing our dream of becoming employers and running a successful business in Arizona,” said Early. “We continue to look forward to each meeting with excitement, knowing that he will be there to help us understand the ins and outs of being an entrepreneur. SCORE has been the missing key that we were looking for, the one-stop resource we needed to help us understand how to run our small business in Arizona.”

Luckyleo Dancewear received a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, an all-expense-paid trip to one of three SCORE training events, SCORE mentorship for one year, and promotion throughout the year to showcase the company’s story from a grant from Sam’s Club. One of the winners will be awarded a grand prize of $25,000 and receive national recognition at the SCORE Awards Gala in Washington D.C. on September 16, 2016.

To view the full list of the winning businesses, visit www.championship.score.org.

About Greater Phoenix SCORE

Greater Phoenix SCORE provides free mentoring to small business owners and entrepreneurs, along with classes, seminars, and special events to benefit small businesses across the Valley. In 2015, SCORE helped 647 new businesses start and created a total of 1,017 new jobs. Overall, the Greater Phoenix SCORE chapter delivered mentoring and classes to 7,288 people. SCORE has over 70 mentors, each with extensive business experience, ready to help individuals start up a business, grow a business, or work through difficult business management issues. Experts in all functional areas and many different businesses are available as a resource for business owners. For more information, visit www.greaterphoenix.score.org.

About Luckyleo Dancewear

Luckyleo Dancewear makes custom handmade dancewear created by former professional ballet dancers and sisters, Chelsea Early and Heather Walker. The family-owned company offers small quantities of hand-selected prints to keep their products creative and new and to encourage individuality within the art of ballet itself all the way down to every classroom where dance is taught. With sizes for all age ranges and a large offering of styles and fabrics, Luckyleo Dancewear has flourished since opening just over a year ago by hand-crafting one-of-a-kind dancewear for ballet dancers in 29 countries across the world.For more information visit www.luckyleodancewear.com.

Thank you to PR Specialist, Julie Frisoni of Frisoni PR, for this press release.


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19 Jan

Is Marketing Harder for Small Business Owners?

Don't let today's technology intimidate you - the small business owner! You can conquer it!Without the big budget of a public company, marketing can seem to be limited as far as how much you can do with a small budget if you are a small business owner. Sure, it can be challenging, but with today’s technology and huge variety of channels available for free, marketing can be conquered, effective and successful.

When the Internet and World Wide Web emerged into the marketing scene in the ’90s it was the great equalizer. All of a sudden, the little guy could compete on a level playing field with the big guys. Today, Social Media has enhanced the number channels that a business has to promote in. Still being the great equalizer.

Before, it was if you weren’t in the Yellow Pages, you didn’t exist. Then it was if you’re no on the WWW, you don’t exist. Now, it’s if you’re not active on Social Media you don’t exist.

English: www,domain,internet,web,net

Ah,  but you say, “I don’t have a budget to hire someone to do my social media and I don’t have time!” Sure you do. You have to carve out the time. You can’t afford to NOT be active on social media. You can bet your competition is – no matter how big they are!

Here’s how social media, content marketing and search engine optimization works in today’s marketing even for the small business owner:

If you can’t afford to hire someone to do your marketing for you, then you need to learn how to do it yourself or train someone in your staff. It’s not that difficult when it’s explained methodically in a way that makes sense.

Related Article: 10 Steps to Social Media Marketing Success

Learn how to be more productive.

There are so many time-wasters, like an overwhelming email inbox, in your everyday work-life that if you became a little better organized, you’d be surprised how much more you can get done!

Recently, I worked with Margo Brown, a productivity coach, to help me get organized after the fire in my apartment building displaced my home office. Ever since then, I find myself 100% more organized and productive!

She’s got an Email Inbox Organizing Class at SCORE coming up. If you have an email inbox, you need to take it!

Anything that seems intimidating can be conquered one step at a time.

About the Author, Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media Wiz

Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media WizGiselle Aguiar, founder of AZ Social Media Wiz is a social media, inbound and content marketing strategist & trainer helping business owners learn how to leverage the power of social media marketing, increase traffic to their websites, generate leads, increase brand awareness and establish themselves as experts in their fields. She’s the official Social Media, Newsletter and Blog Manager for Greater Phoenix SCORE and offers Social media classes at the new AZ Social Media Training Center. 602-738-1700. You can connect with Giselle online at LinkedIn or on Google+.

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Today's Content Marketing 3 Nov

Video: Content Marketing for Startups

Are you using Content Marketing to promote your business? The more fresh, relevant content you produce or publish, the higher your changes of getting on the first page of Google.

In this video, Susan Su, explains how people read content online and gives some cool advice on how you can get your content seen!

  • Paid advertising isn’t what it’s made out to be. Internet users have “banner blindness”. They don’t pay attention to paid ads or banners that look like an advertisement.
  • There is no such thing as free traffic – you either pay with money or time.
  • 50% of your energy goes into creating the content and the other 50% goes into its distribution.
  • There are many types of “content”.

Any type of marketing requires a marketing plan – even so with today’s digital channels.

A SCORE mentor can help you by reviewing your marketing plan for free. Click here to schedule your appointment.

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How to Earn $10,000 a Month with your Business

How to earn $10,000 a month!Who doesn’t want to make $10,000 a month in their business! For a startup, that is a “Dream” goal not a “Realistic” goal.

This video by Derek Halpern of Social Triggers explains the difference.

Your “Dream” goal needs to be broken down into smaller, bite-sized goals that are realistic and attainable.

A SCORE mentor can help you set “SMART” goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Click here to schedule a FREE mentoring session with a SCORE mentor near you!


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Do You Want 60% More Revenue in Your New Business? Join a Franchise System

Then Join a Franchise System

Do You Want 60% More Revenue in Your New Business?Some prospective business owners may ask, “Why should I invest in a franchise business when I can open my own independent business in the same industry?” The implication is that the first time business owner can do just as good a job opening their independent business as the franchise system does in opening its new outlets. And, since an independent business doesn’t pay royalties the novice independent business owner will put more money in their own pocket.

If we check the data, this turns out not to be true in almost all cases. Actual data shows that in those industries in which franchise systems operate, franchised establishments produce 60% more revenue than independent establishments. Do you want 60% more revenue in your new business?

There are many, many factors that work together to give these results. Let’s look at just two of these factors today. Franchised business establishments end up hiring about 30% more employees than independent business establishments. More importantly, each of the franchise employees produces about 24% more revenue per employee than employees of independent business establishments. These two factors multiplied together (1.30 employees x 1.24 revenue/employee = 1.60 revenue) gives the 60% higher revenue.

The franchise employees are more productive than the independent business employees. Again, there are many, many factors that work together to make this so. Among them typically are better recruiting programs, better training programs, better operating systems and economies of scale.

But does all this put more money in the first time business owner’s pocket?

That is the key question. In addition to franchise businesses having higher revenue they also tend to have lower expenses expressed as a percentage of revenue. One of the biggest expense line items in many industries is labor. Labor is frequently expressed as a percentage of revenue in a profit and loss statement.

Since franchised business have more productive employees their cost of labor expressed as a percentage of revenue is much lower than independent businesses. For those who like math, a 24% increase in revenue per employee translates to a 19% reduction in cost of labor as a percentage of revenue. Would you like a 19% labor reduction to go with your 60% higher revenue? And, would you like an apple pie to go with your cheeseburger?

A well-run franchise system will help reduce the cost of every other line item expense on the P & L Statement as well.

As a percentage of revenue, the franchised establishment will have lower cost of goods, lower overhead cost, lower selling, general & administrative (SG & A) costs, lower cost of debt service (assuming a first time independent business owner can even get financing) than the independent business owner trying to compete with them.

These are some of the reasons why astute business owners choose to wisely invest in a well-run franchise system. With higher revenue and lower costs, after paying a royalty, they end up with more money in their own pocket.

Not sure what type of business you should start? A SCORE mentor can help you with this. Schedule a free mentoring session here.

About the Author:

Kent Craven with FranNetKent Craven is the longest tenured office owner in FranNet. FranNet has worked with SCORE Chapters nationwide since 1987 to help educate prospective business owners about franchising. Contact him at www.frannet.com/kcraven or by phone at 602-224-9333 ext. – 2.


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SCORE Success Story: AZ Social Media Wiz

I have a unique relationship with Greater Phoenix SCORE. I am a volunteer as I manage their social media and teach a workshop at least once a month. I’m also a vendor – they pay me monthly to manage this very blog site and to send out the weekly email newsletter and email promotions for their seminars. But I wouldn’t be where I am today, with out the free mentoring. And since I spend so much time there, I get to pick their brains every whenever I have a question.

I’ve been doing Internet marketing in one form or another since 1995. I moved to Phoenix 10 years ago and was working in various sales and marketing jobs till September 2008 when I got laid off. I was unemployed for 2 years. When I lost my job, I started a blog, “Internet Marketing Tips” and became active on LinkedIn. Those two efforts got me a job doing online marketing and events for a financial planner. I got laid off after a year and I saw it as a blessing in disguise. Having learned all about blogging and social media marketing on-the-job, I gave a presentation on blogging and Twitter for a group of writers and I saw that there was a huge opportunity training small business owners, over 40, on how to use social media marketing to promote themselves.

SCORE Success Story: AZ Social Media WizHence, I took the leap of faith and started AZ Social Media Wiz, providing 1:1 training, set-ups, strategic plans and implementation. I went first to the AZ Small Business Development Council (AZSBDC) (a sister organization to SCORE) to get help with my business plan.

I first encountered SCORE at a NetworkingPhoenix.com event and asked them, “who do I need to talk to about holding classes for SCORE.” That started it. My first class was a joint seminar with SCORE and the Ahwatukee Chamber of Commerce.

I was about 3 months into my start-up when I attended the free SCORE’s ABCs of Starting a New Business at the Phoenix Public Library that they present every first Saturday. (You can see their schedule here.)

A few months later, I was contacted by Scott Schreiber, now retired, about writing a couple of blog posts a month. In the summer of 2013, Scott asked me to help promote their upcoming Symposium on social media. I informed him that you can’t just start doing social media and stop after an event. People will think you fell of the face of the earth. It’s an on-going effort. That’s how I became a volunteer managing their social media. (My post, “11 LinkedIn Reputation Killers“, is the most popular post in their blog!)

Besides doing the 1:1 training and providing the social media services, I thought of recording training videos and offering them online. The challenge is that social media changes constantly and as soon as something is published — book or video — it’s obsolete. The other challenge was taking the time to record the videos. I remodeled my business plan in attempts to get some funding so I can take 3 months off to record the videos. I met with several SCORE mentors, Rod Houston, Andy Beran regarding my “pitch” for an Indigogo crowdfunding campaign and I also picked the brain of Tom FitzSimons when I thought of bringing on a business partner.

My problem – no collateral and lousy credit history. Crowdfunding didn’t work for me.

I ditched the video idea and decided to hold more local classes for the Phoenix-area entrepreneurs. I searched for the right space, rented a room at a computer school for a while, but I felt the best way to go was to find my own retail space. Problem came back to: no funding.

At the annual SCORE volunteer appreciation dinner, I sat next to Mike Levy. Not wanting to miss the opportunity of picking his brain, I started, “I’ve been growing my business with just the income – no funding or investors.”

SCORE Success Story: AZ Social Media Wiz“You’ve been bootstrapping,” he said.

“Yes, I want to open a training center in a retail location, but I have to buy tables, chairs and equipment. Any ideas?”

He said, “Try ACCION. They’re here in the Southwest and they help minority business owners with loans – and you cover 2 minority – Hispanic woman.”

I ran with it. The next day, I applied and I got an $8,000 loan. The SCORE dinner was a Wednesday night, the money was in my bank account Friday. Wow!

July 28, 2015, I signed a lease for a 1250 sq. ft. space in North Phoenix and opened the AZ Social Media Wiz Training Center. It’s a dream come true!

If you’re a business, no matter what stage you’re in: just thinking about it, starting-up, growing or established, you can benefit from either the free mentoring sessions and/or the local workshops and even online webinars! They also have free templates and tools to help you put together your business and marketing plans, budget, financial statements, etc.

Thank you, SCORE for all your continued help! Oh, and you’ll all get an invite to the grand opening!

Giselle Aguiar
Owner, AZ Social Media Wiz

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