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Client Success Stories & Testimonials

All clients below have provided written consent to publication of their success story.

Deb Proctor

The Barkery on Science Ridge

Challenge: Deb Proctor came to the Illinois SBDC at Sauk Valley Community College back in 2017 looking for assistance on how to build her luxury kennel space as well as how to properly establish her business in Illinois, create a formal business plan, and obtain financing. Deb has been working closely with her advisor, Justin Bergman, since 2020 on actively addressing her challenges to starting her business.

How Illinois SBDC helped: The Center and her advisor, Justin Bergman, have helped in numerous areas, such as business licensure, obtaining an FEIN, establishing tax accounts, creating several comprehensive business plans with financial projections, zoning, building and construction budgeting, market research, and operational planning.

Result: Deb Proctor was able to start and build her business and will officially open in early August 2022. Deb indicated that she will keep working with the Illinois SBDC, which has provided many valuable resources, support, knowledge, and tools to put her business in a position for success. When reflecting on her experience of working with Justin at the Illinois SBDC, she said, “It has been an exciting and growth-filled journey. Thank you, Justin and the Illinois SBDC, for guiding and supporting me along the way.”

Picture of Simply Hair Studios Team

Simply Hair Studios

The team of Ann Manon, Amber Paladino, and Danielle Wolff have been working together for over 7 years as licensed cosmetologists. With nearly 55 years of combined experience in the field, they came to the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Sauk Valley Community College with a dream of starting their own salon but were unsure of the various start-up complexities that they would need to follow to become an official Salon in Illinois.

Ann Manon, Amber Paladino, and Danielle Wolff began working with the Assistant Director of the Illinois SBDC at Sauk Valley Community College, Justin Bergman, in March of 2020 after hearing about the SBDC from Janna Groharing from Sterling Main Street. Together, they established a detailed action plan to establish their company – Simply Hair Studio – into a dream come true!

The Simply Hair Studio team and their Advisor, Justin Bergman, worked through numerous meetings to establish the company as a Professional Limited Liability Company , obtain their FEIN number, establish their Illinois Department of Revenue accounts, obtain salon licensure through the IDFPR, create a professional website with online booking and online sales capabilities, establishing their recordkeeping through Intuit Square and Intuit QuickBooks, establishing their online presence through social media channels, business location planning, and developing a comprehensive business plan with detailed 3-year financial forecasts.

The no-cost services provided by Justin Bergman and the Illinois SBDC at Sauk Valley Community College were invaluable and instrumental in the start-up assistance needed to turn Simply Hair Studio’s dream into a reality as their grand opening was held in September 2020 at 603 Freeport Road in Sterling, IL.
Ann Manon and the team appreciated the assistance they received from the Illinois SBDC: “Without the help of the Justin Bergman, we know we would not be where we are today. We were truly fortunate to be connected with Justin very early on in our business planning. He has helped us through every step of opening our small business, from drawing up our initial business plan, to teaching us to do our bookkeeping, building an online presence, and many other areas of assistance. Justin has gone above and beyond any expectations we could have had and helped us in ways we did not even know we would need. We started this journey in January, kept the dream alive during a pandemic, worked on every aspect of our business, from building the website to building the salon walls, and we have now finally been able to open our doors! None of which would have been possible without the help of the SBDC and Justin Bergman. We will never be able to thank you enough!"

Picture of Jordanna of Wellspring Med Spa

The Wellspring Medical Spa

Jordanna Devine came to the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Sauk Valley Community College initially looking for assistance in starting a new business for the Sauk Valley Area with a special focus on adding a local med spa. Jordanna has a ton of experience in the medical field and has been a nurse practitioner for over 5 years, which prompted her to start her own company – The Wellspring Med Spa. The Wellspring Med Spa blends artistry and medicine to provide beautiful results in a comfortable setting. All of their clients receive medical skincare treatments by a certified nurse practitioner to restore their natural beauty and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, acne, and sun damage with a specialization in noninvasive facial rejuvenation (i.e. botox, filler, chemical peels, and microneedling).

The team worked through numerous advising sessions and meetings to establish both the Wellspring Med Spa and Devine Buildings as an Illinois LLC, obtain an FEIN numbers, open Illinois Department of Revenue accounts and creating an intuitive payroll system, establish efficient recordkeeping system through Intuit QuickBooks, establish a robust online presence through various social media channels, business storefront planning, and developing several comprehensive business plans with detailed 3-year financial forecasts as well as obtaining business financing.

The no-cost services provided by Justin Bergman and the Illinois SBDC at Sauk Valley Community College were crucial in assisting Jordanna to establish The Wellspring Med Spa, which now has moved to their new building in Dixon, IL at 735 North Galena Avenue.

Carolitza Ribbon Cutting Picture


Carolitza Mendoza came to the Illinois SBDC at Sauk Valley Community College in December 2020. She was driven to open a store offering special occasion attire for all.  Recognizing a need in the community, her store features options for baptisms, first communions, quinceañera gowns, and accessories. In addition, the store has traditional Mexican apparel and artisanry.

Business Advisor Pam Clodfelter talked with Carolitza about the services and support the center offers. Pam learned that assistance was needed with a business plan, business registration, website, and a marketing plan. Pam worked with Carolitza on her business plan and guided Carolitza on registering her LLC and obtaining her EIN completed in February 2021.  The challenge was finding a location that would fit Carolitza’s needs of economical rent in a highly visible location. Carolitza settled on a recently vacated space in the area’s Northland Mall next to Claire’s and started accepting customers by appointment in April.  Her store officially opened its doors in early June.   

Carolitza’s recently had a ribbon cutting with the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce. During that event, she thanked the Illinois SBDC at SVCC for “the assistance that they provided in helping her in opening her store.”


Out of The Box Music

Jennifer Smith has a passion for bringing music into every individual's life. The excitement she shares makes all who meet her want to pick up a tambourine and play along. As one client stated, Jen can integrate art and play into the lessons. "Jennie has a gift, and such a blessing she is!!"

Out of the Box Music offers individual piano and vocal lessons and Kindermusik classes that provide research-based activities that stimulate your child's growing mind and body. Kindermusik is for ages 0-5 yrs.

Challenge: Jennifer Smith first came to the Illinois SBDC at Sauk Valley Community College in April 2022. She wanted to expand her in-home private music lessons to a music studio in Dixon, Illinois. In this space, she would be able to add group classes to her current course offerings.

How Illinois SBDC helped: During the first session, Business Advisor Pam Clodfelter met with Jennifer to provide her with the services we offer and to learn more about her business goals and aspirations. Pam had learned that our assistance was needed to develop a business plan to obtain financing to open the studio. Pam and Jen also discussed business structures.

Result: Out of the Box Music received its financing and officially opened the studio doors with a soft opening on June 14. When reflecting on her experience working with Pam at the Illinois SBDC, Jennifer said, "Sometimes my brain only wants to see or process something one way. Pam was so patient in taking the time to connect with the questions I asked and where they came from."

Picture of Whoop Your Axe

Whoop Your Axe

Josh and Meaghan Coward's desire to create a unique family-friendly experience is what started Whoop Your Axe (WYA) – a mobile axe throwing business in 2021. The mobile unit could be found at county fairs, town festivals, and private parties during the summer season.

With the popularity of the mobile unit, they realized that taking the leap into business ownership at the storefront level made sense.

Challenge: The Cowards needed to create a sound business plan to confirm that expanding to a storefront would be financially possible and determine all the expenses they would incur. They also needed information on applying for a business loan. They contacted the center in March 2022 and aimed to obtain financing by May 1.

How Illinois SBDC helped: From the beginning, Josh and Meaghan worked with Business Advisor Pam Clodfelter. Pam provided resources such as templates, market research, and explanations of available loans. The Cowards developed their business plan using an online template where Pam could offer advice efficiently and timely. They shared that "Pam was a fantastic resource for us from day one. Being new to the business owner world, we had so many things to do, items on our lists to complete, and papers to turn in. Pam was there to help navigate all of this and help draft our business plan. She played a huge role in completing our business plan. Not only did this plan have to be completed for loan purposes, but it was also nice to see our future projections on paper. We would have never been able to do this plan without her help, and we are thankful this resource is available to our community."

Result: Whoop Your Axe obtained financing through the Advantage Illinois program and welcomed customers to their store in October. They have created a family-friendly experience. The atmosphere is active play, with the main focus on axe throwing. They also have several TVs to watch sporting events and arcade games to accommodate the younger ones that can't throw axes just yet. Whoop Your Axe is where the Cowards take their children and welcome other families to enjoy it as well.

Testimonials: Clients
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