Turning passion into profit
Scott Pietreface is a cigar aficionado.
Make that a cigar aficionado's aficionado.
In casual conversation, Pietreface, sole owner, proprietor and employee of Fumatore di Sigaro Premier Lounge and Cigar Shoppe, Cape Girardeau, throws out such terms as belicoso, habano and draw in speaking of his business, the cigar renaissance and the joy of hand-crafted cigars. He speaks with the rapidity, knowledge and intensity of nearly 30 years of savoring cigars.
But knowledge and passion, as every small business owner knows, aren't enough. Pietreface knew he needed help and couldn't do it alone.
- Scott Pietreface, sole owner, proprietor and employee of Fumatore di Sigaro Premier Lounge and Cigar Shoppe in Cape Girardeau
So he called on Richard Proffer, business development specialist, Cape Girardeau County MU Extension Center SBTDC, to help develop a viable business plan. Pietreface calls Proffer his mentor and credits him for turning smoking passion into smoking reality.
"Anyone who has ever met me knows I am extremely passionate about cigars," Pietreface says. "The challenge was to try to turn an idea to success ... Richard understood my passion and helped turn my dream into reality."
Pietreface says he and Proffer spent two and a half solid years crafting the plan and researching a galaxy of such vital stats including population growth, number of visitors to the Cape Girardeau region (about 1.5 million a year), income, age, race, gender and economics of smokers. They added to that what percent of those smoke hand-rolled cigars in the city, county and its surrounding communities in Missouri, across the river in Illinois and all the way up to St. Louis.
Read this complete story with additional photos and a video.
MO SBTDC's new financial analysis tool offers unparalleled financial analysis — and a peek at your future
How well has your business weathered the recession? Are you poised to seize the opportunities created by customers re-opening their wallets, cautious as this recovery is? Do you know how well you are doing in comparison with your competition and how well you will be doing?
To answer these questions you need precise, in-depth financial data. And the MO SBTDC's new ProfitCents is the tool to get it done.
- Jim Gann, director of technology and business development for the MU SBTDC
ProfitCents is a web-based financial analysis software suite that turns complex financial data into a report written in plain language, with charts and graphs whose meaning you can grasp in a glance. The report uses ratio and trend analysis as well as unique industry comparisons and even expectations to analyze your firm's financial health in hundreds of categories from sales, inventory and assets to debt, payroll and borrowing capacity to better position your firm for growth.
The report is a snapshot of exactly how well you're doing, how well you will be doing and how your financial situation compares to similar businesses. This unique industry scorecard examines nearly 20 indicators, compares them to the industry average and indicates how far or close you are to similar firms. Each report is unique to your company's financial condition, financial performance and industry because no two businesses are exactly the same.
Owners of seasonal small business are feeling cautiously optimistic this year.
Although some admit that the premature arrival of warmer temperatures caught them by surprise with an early influx of business, they're taking that as a sign of good things to come. "We weren't ready for this," one store owner told us, "but we'll take it" as she hurried to unpack inventory and change light bulbs. If you add to that early spring the encouraging upticks in the general economy, some seasonal entrepreneurs are thinking this may be one of the best years they've had recently.
But running a seasonal business comes with its own unique challenges. While their income may be limited to only five or six months, they have expenses for 12 months a year. They often repeat the hiring and training cycle every year, and their marketing budgets can fluctuate tremendously.
Here are some tips to make riding the seasonal business roller coaster a bit more predictable.
Happy Hollow Farm: Bringing organic, local produce to mid-Missouri
A new word, "locavore," defines a growing number of people interested in eating seasonal, local and organic food. The explosion in farmers markets and specialty produce markets is testimony that many consumers are seeking a closer connection to the sources of their food.
There are many reasons for this trend, including concerns about food safety and the environmental impacts of eating large-scale, commercially grown food. Research suggests that locally grown foods can also have positive impacts on the local economy by requiring local labor for farming and processing activities. However, farming is pretty much a year-round activity that produces profits only at harvest, so many small farmers find themselves at best economically challenged during growing seasons and at worst shutting down operations.
Happy Hollow Farm in Jamestown, Mo., is trying a more creative approach to farming. The 100 percent certified organic farm, owned by "Farmer Liz" Graznak and her partner, Katie, participates in what is known as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). CSA farms allow their customers to purchase a share of the crops prior to harvest; in return they receive a weekly box of fresh-picked produce.
"I always describe CSAs as similar to co-ops. You have to pay up-front, and in return you get produce during the 25-week growing season, which lasts from mid-May through the end of October. I also offer an eight-week winter season that starts at the end of the fall," Graznak explains.
Do you extend credit or bill your customers later? What you need to know about the FTC's Red Flags Rule
Identity theft is on the rise. Impacting more than 10 million consumers each year, it also costs businesses an estimated $221 billion annually. To help combat this threat, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has just implemented new regulations designed to help prevent identity theft, known as The Red Flags Rule.
If you are a small business that provides products and services to your customers and bills them later, there's a good chance you need to comply with these new requirements.
Accredited Member of the ASBDC
Association of Small Business Development Centers.
Representing America's SBDC Network
Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.
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