Amanda Cox first came to the SBDC in 2009 for information on turning her hobby, chocolate making, into a small business. She started making chocolates on the side in 2004 and by 2009 she was starting to become busier and busier. Amanda was laid off from her job, so she decided to take this time to learn how to turn her passion and dream of being a Chocolatier into reality, creating ‘Nothing But Chocolate’ as her business name.

She attended several classes that the SBDC offered that first year and focused on her business plan. She worked with the SBDC monthly to discuss her SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Action steps, Resources needed and Time to accomplish). Additional goals were established to keep her on track monthly in meeting her SMART goals in the areas of; Sales and Marketing, Business Management and Finance. Profit and Loss and budgeting was also discussed each month.

Amanda started a part time job but soon realized she was going to need a location with a store front to operate. Armed with the advice of the SBDC, she spoke with many resources and worked on comparing cost with potential income for each idea. By 2010, she was starting to make a profit and even taking a small owners’ draw. After all her research and budgeting, she decided to turn the downstairs of her home into her retail store – she lived in a business district, so this was a perfect cost effective way for her to get started.

During this time, she continued working with the SBDC on meeting her goals. She was able to obtain a loan for equipment and displays to grow her business. She approached a local grocery store and started working on a contract for them to begin selling her chocolates. She was rapidly becoming the local place to go for great chocolates.

By 2011, she was working with employees, again with the help of the SBDC. She was confident in hiring and retaining employees. The SBDC then began working with her on her pricing strategy, inventory control and manufacturing processes. By the fall of 2011, she held the grand opening of her new store front and preparing for the holidays. Her contract with the local grocery store was finalized and ‘Nothing But Chocolate’ was growing by leaps and bounds.

In 2012 she won the SBA Home Base Business award and was manufacturing more than 100,000 pretzel rods and 50,000 buckeyes annually, along with her other chocolate products. Her business slogan became, “Making the world a sweeter place one chocolate at a time”.

Around 2014, she again received funding for another move. She expanded into a building downtown and moved her manufacturing to that location. Amanda continued working with the SBDC preparing for the loan and taking steps in moving and growing sales. She hired more employees and participated in many downtown events catering to the locals as well as tourist.

Recently, she returned to the SBDC, ready to expand with the goal of finding another space, because she had outgrown her existing facility. She has begun to make a list of her pros and cons with a budget of different locations, with the possibility of purchasing this time. Her goal is to be in her new location by Spring of 2018. She has between 8 and 10 employees, depending on the time of year and will be looking into additional capital for more equipment, building improvements and marketing.

Fourth Quarter – 2017