Dr. Sue is an uncharacteristic entrepreneur. Not because doctors don’t think of better devices or start new ventures. No, Dr. Sue is different from most entrepreneurs in that she didn’t begin her business with the intention of leaving her day job.
Dr. Sue really likes her job as a doctor, but she also has another love as well, cooking. Trained by her mother in cooking and making candies, she had long been entering her creations into the county fair. But, after becoming an internal medicine doctor and spending time talking to patients about leading a more healthy lifestyle, she discovered that dark chocolate actually had health benefits. She shared “It was exciting to me that we might be able to give people permission to enjoy something like chocolate. Chocolate is fascinating in and of itself. It is beautiful, challenging, and there is lots of science in it.”
She became intrigued and enrolled in a course for would-be Chocolatiers. Soon after completing her course, she was making chocolate bark (slabs of dark chocolate with fruit or nuts or chilies or flavors in them) for friends. Friends would say, “You should sell that.” She recalls laughing at the thought, "Yeah I'll get right on that second job."
Dr. Sue continued to make tasty treats giving them to friends and family as gifts. It was a solid hobby. She had been making chocolate bark; she had recipes but hadn’t sold a thing. She was giving it away. But, the hobby was growing bigger and faster than she expected. She needed to make it a real business.
We make chocolate that people feel good about eating. Our chocolate tastes rich, delicious, and luxurious, but has the added benefit of all-natural, local, and organic ingredients rich in antioxidants and flavanols. We exclusively use dark chocolate because of medical research suggesting its potential health effects when consumed daily in small amounts
Dr. Sue is only getting started. She is in the middle of her first significant expansion project, building a “cold” kitchen and purchasing equipment to meet projected demand in the 2012 holiday season while at the same time expanding her presence in their retail partners' networks. She has hired her first full-time managing director and is happy to be able to donate money to events that support the Dallas Farmers Market and programs that educate the community on nutrition
Dr. Sue hadn’t been an entrepreneur before. Lacking business experience she turned to research how to start a small business. That is where she learned of SCORE. She was amazed to learn that the SCORE volunteers are free, knowledgeable, and experienced. She joked, “You have got to be kidding me. Do you just have to make an appointment?
Dr. Sue recalls that the volunteers at SCORE were encouraging from the start. “They thought this might work. I brought in my first business plan, knowing it was grossly inadequate. I fully expected to be laughed out of the room. Instead, they were totally supportive. They were very kind, very nice, and tried to show me how to play to my strengths.”
Dr. Sue attended a SCORE workshop, How to Start a Small Business, and after a couple of initial meetings was assigned a Mentor, Chuck Rudnick. Though it started with the inception and a business plan, Dr. Sue is now working with her SCORE mentor to structure expansion and growth, bring in other people, and develop systems to stay organized and keep the execution on track.
Chuck is an honest and kind straight shooter. Experience is expensive, it is hard to find. To be able to call or email somebody and ask ‘what do you think?’ that is priceless.”