Michael Jones formed Popper-Razzi Gourmet Popcorn in August of 2004 and then started meeting with SCORE counselors. “After presenting my idea to start a gourmet popcorn venture, my counselors started asking many questions that I never considered. I had done a lot of homework but didn’t have many of the details that I needed.”
Harold Himmel saved Michael Jones almost $6,000 in rent and $2,500 in build-out expenses the first time they met.
Himmel volunteers for SCORE, a non-profit association of successful business executives who provide free one-on-one counseling, teach low-cost workshops and supply other resources to entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Says Jones, “I was in the process of negotiating a lease on a 1380 square foot of retail space to launch Popper-Razzi Gourmet Popcorn. After discussing this with my counselors, I realized I didn’t need that much space or overhead.”
Himmel also worked with Jones to refine his business plan and projections. In one instance, the SCORE counselors “helped me to understand the common area maintenance costs that are typically added to a commercial lease, over and above the per square foot costs.”
Even though Jones was financing the business himself, he revised his business plan several times because of counselor feedback. “Even though I was not looking for funding or to get a loan, these discussions gave me a better picture of what it was going to take to run my business.” For example, Himmel and Jones discussed labor and salary issues. “Harold emphasized to me the importance of including my own salary in any cost projections that I had done.”
The SCORE counselor also helped Jones refine his pricing. “The discussions that we had regarding cost of goods versus the actual selling price of my product helped me to really break down what things were costing me and helped me to adjust my prices accordingly,” says Jones.
Jones is already talking to Himmel about opening a second location after the first is on solid footing. The Popper-Razzi owner “appreciates the follow up visits that I get from Harold to see how things are going. I’m sure that as my business grows and I look to expand, I will be using SCORE to help me take my business to the next level.”
Himmel says that Michael Jones succeeded because of both his preparation and his passion. “Jones had all the details worked out. When I suggested changes to his business plan, I was impressed when he came back the next week with a major revision.” Jones’ hard work was backed up with enthusiasm and determination – “he was just convinced he could make this business a success,” recalls Himmel.
Based on his experience, Jones recommends SCORE counselors as business coaches – “Overall my experience with SCORE was very good. The guidance and mentoring that I received has really helped me to start my own business.” Call 312-353-7724 to learn how business executives of SCORE can help you too, with free individual counseling and low cost workshops, to start or run your business.