Entrepreneurs often face the dilemma of deciding how and when to add new services in order to keep a small business growing. For Angela Todd, founder and CEO of DMG, Inc., the challenge was identifying the most promising niche for her company, then investing the right resources to make it successful.
“A lot of credit goes to Betty and SCORE,” Angela says. “Our discussions have produced valuable ideas that have helped us build our business, and address issues that might have thrown us off track. That’s why I recommend SCORE to everybody I talk to. Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of all that valuable knowledge and support?”
In 1999, Angela Todd had started her own business that provided “turnkey” services for Southern California’s commercial real estate market. Drawing on her experience in professional services marketing, she helped connect real estate brokers and developers with qualified engineering consultants and contractors to help launch and complete new projects.
Angela enjoyed tremendous success in her first four years as an entrepreneur. In 2003, her husband Charles, himself a commercial development professional, was ready to become a partner and help take the business to the next level. The question was, what direction was best for the company go?
“We were growing fast, trying to be a lot of things to a lot of people,” Angela recalls. “With so many potential paths available, we needed to find one that was right for us.”
By narrowing their market, it helped DMG double its business in 2004. Angela is now looking to bring the company’s services to new markets, including banks that provide SBA-backed loans to other small business owners. DMG is also giving back to the community through activities such as sponsoring a luau fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and sponsoring a motocross racing team.
“We essentially created our own niche market—providing due diligence engineering and inspection services within the ‘short escrow’ period—the brief timeframe that brokers and developers have to verify the value of their properties to lenders,” Angela says. “We act as the ‘building police,’ investigating the property and the surrounding areas for hazards and concerns using our own engineers and inspectors to ensure that these services are performed within each customer’s stringent escrow contingency deadlines.”
While researching SBA loans, Angela learned about SCORE’s free mentoring services. After meeting with volunteer mentor Betty Otte, an expert in launching and managing various types of businesses, Angela was confident that she had found the answer.
Otte made recommendations for shaping DMG’s marketing advertising strategy. “Even though my background was in marketing, Betty provided valuable advice on how to tailor our message to our target markets,” Angela says. “Betty essentially gave us homework assignments, and every one proved to be successful.”
Along with refining DMG’s direct mail pieces and client newsletter, Otte has helped the couple bring some fun to their work. “Betty gave us the idea of turning our business development visits to brokers into ‘holidays,’ where we deliver pastries along with company information,” Angela says. “That reinforces our presence in each office, and we almost always meet someone we’ve not done business with.”