Few clients walk into the SCORE office with a draft business plan as far along as Mark Boone’s plan for Blacksmith Books.
He wanted to be sure he had thought through the business and its costs before taking the leap into his establishing his own independent publishing company. Armed with a year-long analysis of his market and a draft plan, he went to SCORE’s Chicago office for an honest appraisal. He got it from counselors Larry Lakin and Peg Corwin. Over a period of six months in 2005, Boone met with the two to vet the plan, shoring up its marketing and financial weaknesses.
Ultimately the business plan got a rave review. “Peg referred me to a small business banker at Harris who was so impressed with my business plan that he committed to making the loan at our first meeting, which was a total surprise to me,” says Boone.
“Larry helped me correctly project the costs and revenues of book production over the first two years,” added Boone. “We went through numerous versions. Larry would correct my numbers and even compute parts of my inventory costs for me. He was very patient and encouraging.”
In retrospect, he admits “At times I though I’d never grasp the intricacies of the financial statements, but ultimately I did. It was the best exercise that I could have undertaken because it helped me to understand why
and how startups can fail.”
Boone’s marketing plan needed refinement too. “Peg helped me think through marketing activities and costs. She went on the Internet and looked up what my competition was charging. She had me do tables that forced me to reconsider my pricing. She enabled me to develop my marketing plans in more detail, which was really useful. She e-mails me articles on marketing strategies that I find extremely helpful.”
Boone has been in publishing for most of his working life. But his dream had long been to “do everything the right way” in his own publishing business. Thanks to SCORE, that dream has become a reality.
Incorporated in May 2005, Blacksmith Books, LLC is committed to publishing high quality works that reflect the diversity of African-American experience. The company’s logo and tagline “A Return to Craftsmanship,” is a tribute to his ancestors who mastered blacksmithing when brought to America. The firm has just published its first novel, The Demise of Luleta Jones. Based on the title’s strength, the company has been able to secure
national distribution. The book’s reception so far has been positive, with a major review appearing in Booklist. Blacksmith Books plans to publish two more titles in 2006.
Says Boone, “I know I wouldn’t have achieved my goal as quickly had it not been for the sound advice of Peg and Larry. I plan to continue to take advantage of this resource as I go forward with the company.”
Call 312-353-7724 to learn how business executives of SCORE can help you to start or run your business with free individual counseling and low cost workshops.
You can purchase the novel or learn if your manuscript fits their niche at Blacksmith Books, www.blacksmithbks.com.