From the December 1999 issue of Startups

Before you continue reading, maybe you'd better sit down. No, actually, grab some tissues packed with moisturizing ingredients, because you may experience uncontrollable sobbing. Sorry to be the bearer of sad tidings, but here it comes: Scott Fiore's goings-on will no longer be made public on a monthly basis--in this magazine, anyway. If he gets his wish, you'll be hearing about him plenty as he strengthens The Herbal Remedy name in the coming months and years.

We hope our Littleton, Colorado, natural pharmacy start-up story has inspired those of you on the cusp of "No, that's a dumb idea . . . but maybe it could work" to believe in yourselves. As this 32-year-old, who's living proof that the unknown can be conquered, reflects on the past year and looks forward to a bright future, keep in mind it all started with a fleeting thought.

On the list of "insights gained" since opening The Herbal Remedy's doors in October 1998, Fiore places his need for independence at the top. (That's right before "I should've listened to my gut when choosing the size of my original location.") "I don't want to go back to corporate America--without a question," he says. Although some drawbacks to entrepreneurship are inevitable, like covering for vacationing employees, satisfaction prevails. "The best person to work for is yourself," says Fiore. "You know how to please yourself, and if you're doing the right thing, you reap the benefits immediately."

But are those I-can-choose-my-own-hours-and-still-make-an-OK-living benefits, or are they of the Should-I-drive-my-new-Range-Rover-or-my-new-BMW-today sort? In Fiore's case, the former scenario is closer to reality. (And no, there's not a Euro-speedster in his driveway yet.) "It's not like it's financially lucrative right now," he says, "but it's going in the right direction." By that, Fiore means his venture is following the path of a strong start-up and beginning to turn a profit. The Herbal Remedy and That Juice Place (the organic juice bar Fiore opened inside The Herbal Remedy in April) enjoy many days each month when sales exceed the break-even point. Of course, higher averages--like $1,000 a day--would prove even more satisfying.

We think Fiore should steal two seconds away from running his business and give himself a well-deserved pat on the back. After all, he grew The Herbal Remedy's sales from just $5,000 in its first month to its current average of $20,000 a month. Tack on an additional $10,000 to that figure, and we'll have one happy, successful entrepreneur on our hands.

Luckily, Fiore has nothing but growth to anticipate. Only two months into Starting Up: The Second Year, expansion issues (unrelated to the need for space) have entered the picture. "We're hoping to get a second store, or an idea for a second store, soon," he explains. In what market has yet to be decided, and until it is, increasing The Herbal Remedy's sales remains the primary focus. Cutting back on operating hours is a necessity, however. "Expanded hours were good for summer, but not beyond that," says Fiore.

As for that slim chance of franchising--let's just say it's still a slim chance. The two Colorado Springs, Colorado, men to whom Fiore gave his blessing to clone his herbal pharmacy haven't yet succeeded with the concept. "They're not moving as quickly as I would," explains Fiore, "and I'm not pushing them." If they were able to meet the high service standards Fiore and 20-percent co-owner Joe Raciti have for the past year, you might see Herbal Remedy franchises popping up nationwide. But don't hold your breath.

With Fiore being the case in point, we hope we've persuaded you that although not all businesses make $2 million their first year, that doesn't mean they're not successful. The Herbal Remedy expects close to $180,000 this year--quite an accomplishment for a novice entrepreneur. "The really positive stuff is when people come back saying `This has really made such a difference. I feel so good now, whereas before, things were just OK,' " he says. Into his parting words of wisdom, Fiore packs his won't-fail morale and fearless attitude: "Follow your dreams--I learned that one young. If it sounds too wild, maybe it is, but you never know until you try."

Contact Source

The Herbal Remedy, (303)795-8600, www.theherbalremedy.com