SCORE mentoring is a two-way partnership, and some clients make our job as mentors seem easy. Ken Carlsen, founder of ShoreScan Solutions (center), is one of those clients.
The steps Ken followed in his determined quest to become a successful business originator and entrepreneur serve as a useful guide for others who are considering starting their own business:
Identify a vital need.
Before launching ShoreScan Solutions in 2009, Ken worked for a document recovery company in the medical insurance industry dealing with medical malpractice defense litigation. This hands-on experience gave him a clear understanding of the problems caused by unsecured, poorly organized and difficult to search document storage systems. Crucial documents were often difficult to locate, retrieve, sort, copy and share securely among the interested parties. Ken could see that the system needed to be reengineered.
Explore marketable solutions.
Ken realized that digitizing documents and storing them in an easily searchable electronic database would streamline the process of locating and sharing all the relevant documents. Such a process would also enable several interested parties to search the database at the same time and then print out hardcopies of each document as needed. He also understood that rather than storing the electronic files in one place, using redundant, secure servers in a variety of locations (“cloud” storage) would provide a safe and scalable solution. Plus, stored documents could be easily accessed at any time and from anywhere using a secure internet interface.
After months of extensive market research, Ken’s plan came into sharp focus in 2009 when he attended his first economic development seminar in Cambridge, Maryland. By chance, he sat next to the Mayor of Secretary, MD, a small town in Dorchester County. Ken began asking questions and discovered that many small towns like Secretary, were still storing all their records in overloaded file cabinets, cardboard boxes, back rooms and storage sheds. Important documents were not only difficult to find, but were deteriorating over time and at risk being destroyed by fire, flood or even a leaky roof. Ken realized that his digital, cloud-based document storage concept was the very solution that such municipalities needed, and set his sights on this new market of potential customers.
Make a long-term commitment.
With a degree in Business Administration, Ken knew the challenges he would face in building a new business from scratch, and that it would take a personal commitment. He realized that he would have to accept an immediate and extended loss of salary. He knew that it would take many months to develop the service, structure alliances with a cloud-based storage provider and scanner manufacturers, and then market the new service to prospective customers. Ken accepted the fact that he would need patience, perseverance and resilience to succeed. He took comfort in knowing that each new client contract would add to the ongoing monthly revenue base, eventually growing into a solid financial foundation that could continue indefinitely.
Leverage available resources.
Armed with a wealth of related experience and a clear understanding of the document management challenges that would motivate municipalities to sign on as customers, Ken was ready to launch ShoreScan. All he needed was investment capital and business advisors who could help him set up and maintain sound accounting procedures and persuasive marketing materials. Ken turned to Queen Anne’s County Department of Economic Development for a long-term, low interest business loan for the start-up capital he needed, and to the Upper Shore Chapter of SCORE for business guidance.
Ken credits the financial support he received from Queen Anne’s County and the business advice provided by his SCORE mentors for his success. “My SCORE team provided the structure I needed (and still do). In my opinion, the accountability that they required on all phases of the business was one of the most important secrets to my success. I have often referred to them as “My Board”, or in some cases, the “Firing Squad” (in a nice way) when I was having difficulty with accounting or in a slump.”
Persistence pays off.
Launching an entirely new business that requires customers to change the procedures they’ve used for decades is not easy. But with hard work and commitment, Ken has grown ShoreScan Solutions into a solid and highly respected business with 65 ongoing customer accounts and annual revenue approaching a quarter of a million dollars. ShoreScan currently serves clients in the greater Mid-Atlantic Region and has been staffing up to expand across the Northeast, Western PA and several Southeastern States.
To learn more about ShoreScan Solutions, please visit their website at www.shorescan.com.