Grape-by-Grape: Marianne Frantz Built her Business from the Cellar Up – Business Goal Setting Series

Marianne Frantz chose an unlikely location and an ambitious pursuit with her Cleveland Wine School, then set the goal of treating herself just as she treats her clients as a formula for success.

Cleveland probably isn’t the first place that leaps to mind when you think of wine education, and that’s just what Marianne Frantz banked on when she founded the Cleveland Wine School in 2002.

With a background as a chemistry teacher and special events manager, Frantz relocated from New York City and uncorked a market for her unique talents. As an Approved Programme Provider for the internationally recognized Wine & Spirit Education Trust of London, Frantz’s school has the exclusive rights to the entire Ohio region.

It’s the only formal school in the area, and in 2007 Frantz will be expanding to Chicago as the American Wine School, and hopes to open locations in other cities by the end of the year.

Goal 1: Success, Not Stress

“When it came to funding, I was not willing to take out loans and decided to self-fund the business,” Frantz says. Looking back, this was a great way to grow at a safe pace, but Frantz also recognized that without proper funding, the business did just that – grew slowly. “If I had it to do over again, I would consider additional funding options,” she says.

Yet growing her wine school slowly has allowed Frantz to set goals that are attainable and necessary. “Owning and operating a small business is difficult, period, so the goals in place must foster success, not stress.”

Goal 2: Reward Your Accomplishments

As part of her business plan, Frantz asks herself four simple questions each year:

  • What do I want out of the business this year?
  • What upgrade will occur this year?
  • How can we add a client or increase our involvement with current clients?
  • What’s the target number of people we want to hit this year?

“That’s it. Four simple goals each year,” she says. And Frantz is quick to reward her own accomplishments. The Cleveland magazine columnist surrounds herself with her awards, certifications and recognition letters. “When you first hang your shingle out there, these objects serve to build confidence,” she says.

Goal 3: Keep Within Your Mission

Frantz says the tendency to overextend herself was an early fault with her business, until she realized that her opportunities needed to line up with her mission statement. “Cleveland Wine School provides wine education in a relaxed and entertaining environment,” says Frantz, who has educated nearly 2,000 students in that area. “If an opportunity comes along that’s in keeping with this mission, we go for it. If not, we pass.”

With a dedicated staff to assist, Frantz is able to provide a variety of classes for the beginner to the connoisseur, along with special events and package tours to wine countries.

Taking her business to the next level will mean training educators to teach other classes in other cities, and that’s exactly the thing that energizes Frantz’s passion for her work:

“I have a business that interests many motivated people looking for a career that is educational, rewarding and lifestyle-enhancing,” Frantz says. “They understand the end result and are interested in following my lead to get there.”

Alice Rhein is a frequent contributor to StartupNation.

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