While editing magazines and books for Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Ric Cox learned a lot about “The Power of Positive Thinking.”
That power helped him start ChicagoCondosOnline.com. But it was “The Power of Positive Doing,” which Ric learned about from his counselors at Chicago/SCORE, that helped transform his struggling business into a more viable one that provides vital information on the condominium market to buyers, agents and loan originators.
ChicagoCondosOnline.com is a subscriber-only Internet service that provides access to comprehensive information on more than 4,200 condominium buildings in Chicago to more than 250 agents and loan originators and hundreds of their customers.
SCORE is a nonprofit 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.
Ric first came to SCORE in 2005. He had retired after 32 years as a magazine editor, 20 years with Reader’s Digest, 12 with Dr. Peale. As Ric said, “In my editing career, I learned to gather, organize and disseminate disparate data.” Those abilities, coupled with his investments in nine condos, led him to create ChicagoCondosOnline.com. “Our Web site offers what I call DDT—data, documents and tools,” Ric said. “When I went to SCORE, I had what I thought was a great idea, but I needed help turning it into a profitable enterprise.”
In his first meeting at SCORE’s downtown office, Ric was matched with SCORE counselor Elaine Waxman. She had owned her own real-estate firm and—after selling it—had held senior sales and management positions with one of the giants of the Chicago real-estate market. “What a connection!” Ric said. “Elaine’s first recommendation was to complete the Web site. It was multi-thousand dollar risk, but it helped land Fifth Third Bank as our first lender marketing partner, creating a new revenue stream.
“At SCORE, I also learned of a web developer who saved us tens of thousands of dollars in development costs. Tough criticism by a second counselor, Jerry Hicks, drove us to re-examine and adjust our strategy. Our improved business plan won us a $1000 award from the City of Chicago and strategic advice from MBA candidates at the University of Chicago.”
Ric hopes to partner with a local Multiple Listing Service soon, then take the concept to other cities.
What SCORE counseling areas did ChicagoCondosOnline.com use over the past two years? “I’ve had a dozen sessions with counselors, not counting phone calls and e-mails,” Ric said. “We focused on strategic planning and marketing. It was all free! Who knows what this counseling would cost on the open market.”
If you need advice to start your business, contact SCORE. If you’re in the market for a condo, seek out an agent or loan originator who subscribes to ChicagoCondosOnline.com. It costs buyers $300 a year for access, but participating agents and loan originators can provide buyers free access.