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Higher Grounds Bakery

Submitted by: Jacalyn Bohman
State: Wisconsin
City: Wisconsin Rapids

Business Description

Higher Grounds Bakery is a prize winning specialty bakery of breads, cakes, scones and yummy pastries with a full espresso and smoothie bar of organic fair trade coffee and teas.

How does your business make a positive impact on the community?

We make a positive impact on the community by taking care of our own. A handful of local youth receive hands on kitchen and food prep training. This gives them a start in the food industry from recipe creation to food safety and customer service. We provide 2,000 plus cupcakes and buns to a summer picnic where the community eats free. Also, rather than throwing out our 'day old' goods we share wherever we can. From soups and breads for shut ins, pastries to the retired vets and bread loaves to our local soup kitchen. We share because we care We are conscious of our environment and choose to waste as little as possible.

What would you do with a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, training, and help from a SCORE mentor to grow your business?

We often buy supplies at Sam’s Club and our goal with 1,000 "free dollars" is proactive. We would purchase small equipment and multiple LED signs for our large frontage window. Our street visibility is key to getting noticed since we are located on the towns’ busiest street near a Walmart. We have cultivated enough customers and business to business to sustain us and pay our loans, but not enough to grow our family out of poverty, purchase equipment or hire staff. Training and help from SCORE are extra bonuses! An intelligent person is only as great as the information he keeps filling his mind with. Learning and training are vital in today’s marketplace. We are always studying and learning and we desperately need and appreciate mentoring.

The following responses will be considered in judging for a SCORE Award.

How has working with a SCORE mentor helped your business?

Working with a SCORE Mentor has helped my business greatly. I have a constant coach who believes in my success, great advice in decision making and also encouragement when I feel beat down by the tough business world. My SCORE mentor assisted in writing a business plan to gain loans for renovations and cover equipment expenses. A business owner needs great advice, sometimes correction, and also someone who commends them and tells them they are doing a great job. My mentor directs me to opportunities in my community. She is a cheer leader behind the scenes. She continually offers word of mouth advertising and recommends my business to others. She shares her pride in my products and creates networking connections.

Have you had to overcome any obstacles along the way to build your business?

Our business has many obstacles. Faulty equipment, being underfunded and prepack expectations are our greatest battles. Our family has faced crushing poverty. As a single mom with 3 small children I, Jacalyn opened a coffee shop in the mall. When the mall was dying, the original loan paid, SCORE helped secure small loans to expand. However, being underfunded we bought faulty used equipment that cost us dearly. Without proper equipment and signs our earning potential is limited. The challenge is to grow with low visibility, $0 advertising budget and minimal staff. We participate in high profile community events and connect ourselves politically. We cultivate customers and wholesale business but yet not enough for stability.

How will you utilize the marketing video and national recognition of winning a SCORE Award to help take your business to the next level?

With this recognition and marketing aid, we would create strategic social media posts and drive traffic to a web page. Winning an award such as this would greatly assist in validating our small family business. It would allow us to hire skilled people and make our community aware of our passion for excellence in people and our great products. Our city is currently somewhat oblivious to the fact that we exist and changing this factor will likely double or triple our current yearly revenue. It will drive us to pursue more training in our industry and take our skills and our customers to a whole new level in the bakery business!
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