SCORE: Group Support

The oBOXx Team is participating in a five-week SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives) workshop, Simple Steps for Starting Your Business. At the first session, our facilitators told us, “This group will be one of your first support systems as you start your new business.” Oh, how true it is turning out to be.  

Roger Fleming discusses a workshop exercise with Audra Supplee of Electro Magic Productions, LLC

The oBOXx team is in this adventure with 21 other entrepreneurs – a diverse group that includes such businesses as: Mobile Document Destruction, Jewelery Making, Crocheting, Writing, Videography, Dog Day Care, Restaurant Management, Stone Masonry, Staffing, Sunless Tanning, and Legal Consulting.  While we are each the subject matter expert in our own fields, we’re all beginners when it comes to launching a business.  That’s the common thread in SCORE.

In this week’s session: Marketing Plan and Business Structure, we touched on such topics as: Product Differentiators; Target Market Comparison; Company Position Relative to Competition; and Marketing Communication Channels. 

A young entrepreneur with SCORE leaders George Edwards, Charles F. Espenlaub, and Roger Fleming

Typically, SCORE leaders Charles F. Espenlaub, Roger Fleming, and George Edwards, present information, walk us through a business case study, initiate discussion, and then have us participate in an exercise or two. 

For one of the workshop exercises, the oBOXx team partnered with writer and speaker, Audra Supplee, and her husband, Brian, of Electro Magic Productions, LLC.  In addition to the workshop, the Suplees are also conducting extensive research at the Chester County Library so that they can put together a tight business and marketing plan.

Delfina Doherty, who focuses on personalized baby gifts, and started Delfina Designs, said, “There is a lot to think about when you’re starting a small business.  This workshop is great because it brings us outside expertise about all aspects of planning and marketing.”

John Burke, initiating a mobile document destruction business, said, “I appreciate the fact that we’re tasked each week, and we have to respond to the information presented. Taking a course like this, you’re forced to come out of your comfort zone and develop more confidence in yourself.”

As our facilitator, Roger, reminded us again this week, “The steps may be simple but the process is not. Starting a business takes months and months of hard work.”

One very important take away for all of us SCORE participants was that, as business owners, we must believe in our product and be able to sell it.  If we’re not out there selling our product/concept no one will know what a unique, well priced service we offer.  And that was the gist of Marketing Plan and Business Structure.

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SCORE: Business Models

Session Two with our oBOXx SCORE mentor, David J. Paxton, brought the team to a higher level of understanding about what a business model is and how to define our oBOXx goals within the framework of a business model.

Vice Chairman, David J. Paxton, mind mapping the oBOXx success story

After today’s outstanding business counseling session, we felt more focused and directed. Dave’s keen mind and expert business sense are helping us sort out and
bring together that which is relevant for our particular project.

It is amazing to watch the ease with which Dave can listen to us and then immediately draw or mind map our whole thinking process on the whiteboard. By adding his own perspective to what we have shared, Dave teaches us. He points out flaws in our thinking, identifies weaknesses in our plan. He plays “devil’s advocate.” He throws out new solutions.  He asks plenty of questions. Armed with a few colored markers, Dave literally shows us other ways to view our situation. And, that is what getting outside the box is really all about.

Dave’s recommendations for the coming weeks include the following:

  • Continue to network
  • Continue to research
  • Further define our product
  • Identify our market segment
  • Profile our audience
  • Write, write, write

 With Dave’s generous gift of time and the sharing his business acumen, oBOXx is moving forward.  Aren’t mentors wonderful?

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Library: A Business Resource

Marie with Melissa Straka, Business Outreach Librarian, in Section 650.1 of the stacks at the Chester County Library in Exton

This oBOXx knows for sure: it really is a world of one connection building upon another. SCORE recommended library research, which, in turn, led us to the Chester County Library and a connection with Business Outreach Librarian, Melissa Straka.

An early morning appointment with Melissa – free of charge – gave us the confidence and knowledge to start on our business plan. Melissa had us work both on-line and in the stacks to identify resources that oBOXx would need in the near future. Melissa shared a template for “The Pitch, The Plan, The Numbers” (available through Kutztown University Small Business Development Center) to focus our thoughts on developing our business model.

We found ourselves among the success books in the 650.1 section of the stacks.  Here, we closed our eyes and randomly pulled out two books with big impacts – one by Donald Trump and another by Napoleon Hill. We are confident that in the very near future our oBOXx books will reside here and another aspiring entrepreneur will pull out one of our volumes and pose for a photo.

We now have a greater appreciation of how our tax dollars are being spent for library services and staff who are genuinely interested in helping small local businesses to succeed.

Any positive business impact at the local level benefits all of us locally.

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SCORE: Business Mentoring

When the oBOXx team first heard of the SCORE organization, they knew it would be a turn-key resource for their fledgling business. SCORE offers free and confidential business advice for entrepreneurs on more than 600 business skills.  

SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) is a nonprofit association founded in 1964. SCORE volunteers are retired and/or employed business owners, executives and corporate leaders who share their wisdom and lessons learned in business.

According to the SCORE website, SCORE is America’s premier source of mentors dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small business start, grow, and succeed nationwide. The 13,000 volunteer mentors offer advice on-line and in-person at their 364 SCORE offices nationwide.

Several well-known businesses SCORE has helped include: Vermont Teddy Bear, Vera Bradley Designs, and Jelly Belly Candy.

SCORE is a resource partner with the US Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA offers the following statistics in their “Small Business by the Numbers” sheet.

  • In 2009, there were approximately 27.5 million small businesses in the US.
  • In 2009, more than 552,600 new businesses opened. 
  • Small businesses account for 99.7 percent of all employers.
  • Small businesses generate 65 percent of new jobs annually.
  • Small businesses employ more than half of all private sector employees.

Clearly seeing oBOXx, LLC amid these numbers in the future, the oBOXx team scheduled a consultation with the Chester County SCORE office earlier this month. What could be better than our own SCORE mentor – someone dedicated to helping oBOXx start, succeed, and grow? 

We met with David J. Paxton and George Edwards at the Chester County Economic Development Council office in Eagleville and began discussions about our oBOXx business model. And then, we spent several weeks on our homework assignments. George and Dave recommended the following steps for the oBOXx team:

  • Access the local and national SCORE websites
  • Register for introductory SCORE business classes
  • Initiate contact with additional people in our field
  • Refine our mission statement and clarify our customer base
  • Research existing resources

oBOXx firmly believes that SCORE will help us take our small business to the next level. Stay tuned for new developments in our outside-the-box success story.

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Campli Photo – Wrapped Up!

Marie H. Tartaglio (left) and Joann Mercer

Thank you to David Campli of Campli Photography for an outside-the-box photo session and a spectacular professional picture!  We added our new photo to the content on The oBOXx Team tab.

The oBOXx Team

Founded in 2010 by two writers, Joann Mercer and Marie Tartaglio, oBOXx, LLC is an outside-the-box company that helps people achieve success using their 2x Formula

Joann and Marie are learning and development professionals forced to think outside-the-box when downsized from two global pharmaceutical companies.  Their commitment to developing people, combined with their professional expertise, led them to form oBOXx, LLC.  Marie and Joann created their 2x Formula, which provides five simple steps to get outside-the-box and change peoples’ worldviews.

Joann and Marie have several book proposals to support their formula, and are developing a product to stimulate conversations on how to adopt and maintain an outside-the-box approach to life.  The team is constantly in search of quality outside-the-box stories for the website and their upcoming book series.  

The company name, oBOXx, LLC, is also the formula acronym, sequentially defining the steps: Opportunity, Brainstorm, Optimize, eXecute, and eXpand. The phrase, “Just oBOXx It!” is becoming increasingly popular in suburban Philadelphia.

Joann and Marie are supported by the following extraordinary staff members:

     •  Barbara Peterson, Web Designer
     •  Dave Grant, Web Programmer

     •  Anna Bailey, Story Contributor
     •  Caitlin Birks,  Story Contributor

     •  Abbi Morgan, Technical Support

Marie and Joann are passionate about providing a roadmap to help people manifest their desires and achieve their dreams – bringing out their personal greatness. 

Living life outside the box on a daily basis is the wellspring for their upcoming oBOXx book series.

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WIM: Necessary Networking

The oBOXx Team knows that, beyond being a nice idea, networking is a necessary activity in today’s fast-paced business world. With this in mind, they accepted an invitation from colleague, Rhonda Galvin, Realtor, at Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors, to be her guests at the Chester County Women in Motion (WIM) networking meeting on Tuesday evening at the Vicker’s Tavern in Exton, PA.

According to figures from In-Stat, there are now more social-networking accounts than there are people in the world – approximately 10 billion social-networking and online-world accounts in 2010, and 4.5 billion of these are active. 

Not to diminish the importance of connecting electronically, face-to-face contact is equally imperative to build the local and grassroots relationships that launch and sustain a business. 

Chester County’s largest dining and  networking organization, Women in Motion,was started by Dee Rogevich seven years ago.  According to a recent article in the Women’s Journal of Chester County, the WIM group boasts a membership of 190 business professionals with 65 to 80 women attending each monthly meeting.

The Associate Publisher of Women’s Journal, Beatrice Berger, told us during dinner that WIM members identify WIM as their “number one” resource for business growth. There are no lengthy programs or speakers; no obligations or referrals – just plenty of business for everyone.

Dee told the oBOXx team, “As the founder and president of WIM, I am in the business of helping women grow their businesses. Everyone is here to help everyone else grow. This organization is about women who are in motion, who are moving forward.”

Sponsor and speaker for the April meeting, Marjorie R. Johnson, a clinical social worker, certified coach, and president of Ascend Consulting, Inc, told her audience that coaching can help people design a life that will support the rest of their life.  

On the meeting’s topic of Business and Career Coaching: Empowering You to Achieve Your Everest Goal, Marjorie instructed, “Ask the tough questions. Get outside of your box and think through your plan.” Marjorie pointed out that the value  of coaching – and belonging to a group like WIM – is the support and accountability these activities offer for the individual.

WIM member, Ann Byer, Realtor at Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors, concurred: “This is a great group of women – so positive and upbeat – supportive of one another.”

True to a commitment to network, Ann introduced the oBOXx team to a WIM member who shares a similar passion for writing: Molly Nece.  As a speaker, life coach, author, and educator,  Molly is enthusiastic about WIM as a forum to share the positive benefits of her businesses: Molly Sunshine Tour and Rhino Living and Legacy Producers.  Molly’s mission in life is to “make a difference and be the difference.” Molly helps people of all ages unleash their potential, shine bright, and discover their “star power.”

Molly said, “I support anything we can do as a community to help other people around us live happier and more productive lives.”

Ronnie Montgomery, Sr. Associate Director of Admission at the Westtown School in West Chester, also a WIS member, talked about the importance of being able to converse with women who share her passion for critical thinking. 

Ronnie said, “Our school  develops the mind to think with conscience to act. We  inspire and prepare our graduates to be stewards and leaders of a better world.  It is great to share my values with people who embrace the same values for their communities.”

WIM is a diverse group – from real estate, insurance, and financial planning to chocolate tasting, cooking, and silk flower arranging – each member has the opportunity to briefly introduce herself and her businesses at every meeting. 

The value of this personal “20-second” commercial can not be overstated. As any WIM member can tell you, lots of business gets done at a WIM networking meeting.  It truly is an organization in motion.

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Young Writers: Caitlin Birks

The oBOXx team added another writer to the Young Writers Opportunity (YO) program.

Joann, Marie and Caitlin at Starbucks

Marie and Joann met with Caitlin Birks at the West Chester Starbucks.  Caitlin is in her senior year at  West Chester University, pursuing a degree in Secondary Education.

Caitlin is very enthusiastic about writing and her expertise is recognized by The West Chester University Writing Center.  Caitlin is one of three English Majors who hold writing tutor positions.  The selection process  for the tutor position was intensive, and the interview process took place over an entire semester.

Caitlin is very busy with her school work, personal writing, and tutoring, yet also finds time to model for QVC.

The oBOXx Team is delighted to welcome Caitlin onboard.  Caitlin will begin working with the company several days a week, starting in May.

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