Tag: Strategic Planning

SCORE Success Story: Heartsweet Cakes

Heartsweet Cakes, a SCORE Success Story“When starting your business, you are going to need a plan A, B, C, and D,” said my SCORE mentor Roger Robinson, at one of our first meetings together. I left this meeting frustrated and discouraged because I only had a plan A.

Upon graduating college with a degree in business, I moved to Chicago and began working downtown at a marketing research firm, working only the left side of my brain in a cubicle for three years. From day one, I yearned for something more. I knew I wanted a career that I was passionate about and fulfilling. I went back to my love of art and design and began searching for cake decorating programs at culinary schools. I enrolled at the prestigious French Pastry School and I never looked back.

A couple of internships later, I worked my way up and managed the top cake shop in the city. I honed my skills and learned as much as I could about the industry and cake design. It was at this shop where my vision and dream for Heartsweet Cakes began to take shape. I drafted a 40-page business plan, complete with a 600+ item inventory list with prices and suppliers, and I estimated all of my start-up costs.

I moved to Arizona with a plan, a single plan, a plan A. I knew what I wanted my business to become and I was confident that I had the skills and talent to achieve it, but I reached a point in the process where I needed some help. Specifically, I was looking for advice in finding a commercial property and financing support/advice. I reached out to the local SCORE office in Phoenix and both Roger Robinson and Bill Robinson were assigned as my mentors.

Haley Cairns of HeartSweet Cakes - a SCORE Success StoryOnce Roger and Bill had a chance to review my business plan, we dove into some in-depth discussions and analysis of my financials. This was when my plan A started to seem like something that may be too risky financially. They asked me, “Is there a less risky way to start your business but still produce the same product to the same client market?” The answer was “yes”, and I truly feel like they both guided me into a less risky start of my company.  I decided to begin my business out of my home and I installed all of my commercial equipment into a spare room with a separate entrance. I am able to produce the same quality product that my clientele expects from me with less overhead and minimal construction costs. I was able to invest my startup capital into my branding, website, high-quality equipment and materials. I now have room to steadily grow my business with less pressure and financial risk and I will have a lot more control over my work-life balance.

I owe a big thank you to SCORE and the mentors that devoted their time, knowledge, advice, and support to me with my journey of making Heartsweet Cakes a reality. I believed that I could start my business with my plan A but, along the way, I was guided into a plan B, which was the smarter way to achieve my dream and I can attribute this to my experience with SCORE. Thank you to my mentors, Roger and Bill, and all of the other SCORE mentors who support entrepreneurs like me, who are willing to work hard to turn their dreams into a reality.

Haley Cairns
Owner of Heartsweet Cakes – Phoenix, AZ

You can be a SCORE success story! Get free business mentoring no matter where you are in your business: thinking of starting, start-up, growing or established. Click here to schedule a mentoring session with a mentor in one of our many Phoenix Valley locations.

Are you a SCORE Success? We’d love to feature you here in our blog and in our newsletter! Contact your SCORE mentor or the SCORE office with your story.

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Video: 5 Tools to Make Your Business Pop!

5 Tools to make your business popNo matter what business you’re in, there are one thing that you can’t deny – it’s all about the customer. Without customers, you have no business. Here are 5 simple tools – some of them that we either take for granted or unwillingly ignore – that if diligently practiced, should make your business pop!

Presented by Jesse Torres and Aaron Michael Sanchez: “Two Men in Your Business”

  1. Listen to your customer
  2. Be available
  3. Serve the customer
  4. Make purchasing easy
  5. Be strategic

If you’re a bit clueless on how to adapt these ideas in your business, a SCORE mentor can help. Click here to schedule a free mentoring session in a Phoenix Valley location near you!


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Video: How to Create a Successful Business Strategy

How To Create a Successful Business StrategyHas your business strategy gotten lost? Many times you create a strategy for your business plan as a start-up and it gets filed away and never looked at again. Not good. In this video, business experts, Jesse Torres and Aaron Michael Sanchez explain how to create a successful business strategy. From their YouTube Channel, Two Men in Your Business.

  1. Set clear priorities
  2. Collect and analyze data
  3. Keep in touch with your employees
  4. Evaluate your strategy

 If you need help with your business strategy whether it’s for a start-up or reviewing your original strategy and helping your redo it, a SCORE mentor can help you for free! Click here to book an appointment.


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Video: An Overview of Strategic Planning

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Strategic Planning is crucial for any businessBen Franklin’s quote is the essential mantra for any business – whether you’re just starting out or have been going for years.

Strategic planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy. It may also extend to control mechanisms for guiding the implementation of the strategy. (Wikipedia)

We have a Strategic Planning Seminar 4/23 at 1 pm where you can learn:

  • The difference between a Strategic Plan and a Business Plan.
  • How an effective strategic plan can be used as a road map to achieve business goals.
  • How strategic planning is a critical process that lays the foundation for all other planning in order to achieve growth and profitability.

Presented by Michael Mobley of CEO Focus. Click here to register.

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Who Needs a Marketing Plan?

SWOT-Analysis of the organic business idea.
SWOT-Analysis of the organic business idea. Belongs to The Organic Business Guide. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You do! A marketing plan is the road map to profitably increase sales. If you want to grow sales, you need a marketing plan. While every plan is different, all marketing plans should cover the following:

  • Description of products and/or services.
  • Define your target market (who will buy from you). What are the geographic, demographic, and behavioral characteristics of your customers.
  • Unique Selling Proposition (How is your product/service different from the competition). This is your competitive advantage.
  • Market Analysis (What is the economic, social, technical, industry and competitive environment). What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT Analysis). Conduct focus group studies, if warranted.
  • Objectives for sales volumes, market share, cost of sales, gross margins and net profit including dates for achievement.
  • Strategies and action steps to achieve the objectives. (pricing, product, distribution, promotion/advertising, and people strategies). Use Internet and social media marketing to grow your business.
  • Assign specific tasks, responsibilities and time frames for accomplishment.

A well thought out and executed marketing plan is invaluable to achieving profitable sales growth in your business.

Learn how to develop your marketing plan by attending SCORE’s 2nd annual Symposium at Grand Canyon University on March 31st. Attendance is free including lunch. The conference educational theme is ‘Increasing Sales through Internet Marketing and Social Media”. Our mentors will be standing by to help you with marketing or any other business “hot button” on your mind. You will leave the Symposium with tangible marketing ideas you can implement right away in your business

You will need to register on line to attend – click here!

About the Author:

George Obst, Certified SCORE MentorGeorge Obst is a Certified SCORE mentor with more than 30 years experience profitably managing and growing businesses, including start-ups, purchasing, financing and selling businesses.

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