SCORE Can Help!
Imagine that you are embarking on an important project in your life with no prior training or experience. At that point, if you learned that you could have access to a panel of experts who would help you – for as long as you needed them, and at no cost, I expect that you would be both surprised and delighted.
Well, when it comes to starting your own small business, or growing an existing small business, you don’t need to imagine this scenario. Across the USA, some 11,000 SCORE volunteers are ready and willing to assist would-be entrepreneurs and existing small business owners to achieve their goals.
What kind of services does SCORE offer? SCORE provides several different kinds of support and assistance to clients. Mentoring is the primary service offered, and clients can meet with a SCORE Mentor by appointment. Mentoring services are always free. In addition, most SCORE chapters offer workshops on a range of business-related topics, and these are free or at low cost. Speakers at our workshops are either SCORE members or guest speakers. Periodically, SCORE stages special events targeted at specific audiences such as women business owners or veterans, and these are also free or at a reasonable price. Details of upcoming workshops and events are available on local SCORE chapter websites.
So how do I access these SCORE volunteers? Could hardly be easier. Visit the SCORE National website (www.score.org) and click on the link “Find a Mentor.” Give us your name and contact details, plus a little information about the type of business you are in and your business goals, and we will set-up a convenient meeting for you with a SCORE Mentor. A standard mentoring session lasts about an hour and can be via telephone, video, or email. We expect to begin in-person mentoring again soon, if the COVID situation continues to improve and both mentor and client are comfortable with this arrangement.
I’ve never participated in a video mentoring session and am not sure what to do. Do I need to have any special apps on my machine or any special training? You really don’t need any special training or apps – if you agree to a video mentoring session, your mentor will send you a link by email, and at the agreed time, you simply click on that link, and you will be connected with your SCORE mentor. We generally use the Zoom platform for our online sessions but if you would prefer a different platform, such as Skype or Google Meets, that can probably be arranged.
What kind of people are SCORE Mentors? SCORE volunteers have a very wide range of backgrounds. We have both retired individuals and others who are still employed or in business. They are both men and women, of varying ages, from different ethnic backgrounds and with a wide range of industry experience, educational qualifications, and training. But all SCORE Mentors share a common desire and commitment to help other aspiring entrepreneurs learn from their experiences.
Is a Mentor the same as a Consultant? There is an important difference. Generally, you pay consultants to perform a range of services to help you achieve specified goals and objectives. Mentors will not do the work for you, but will provide you with guidance, advice, suggestions, and feedback, plus assist you with links to useful sources of information, business tools and templates, and introductions to other sources of aid and support.
How many times can I meet with my SCORE mentor? There is no limit to the number of times that you can meet with your SCORE mentor. In some cases, you may get all the answers you are seeking after only a few sessions. But if you are looking for a long-term relationship with a mentor, that is certainly possible. Operating your own small business can be a lonely situation at times, and many of our clients find it useful to maintain contact with their mentor over periods of months or even years.
My business is rather unique, and I serve a very specialized market. Will SCORE have a Mentor with knowledge and experience of my situation? While SCORE Mentors have a wide range of backgrounds and experience, we may not have anyone with actual experience in your particular market. But most of the issues and challenges that our clients face fall into a number of general areas and the recommended actions that need to be taken are similar, regardless of the specific industry concerned.
OK, I’m sold – sign me up! Great – let’s get started. Remember that many small businesses fail within their first 5 years. Getting a SCORE mentor working with you as early as possible will greatly improve your chances of building a business that will both survive – and hopefully thrive. We only consider ourselves successful when you are successful – and best of all, our mentoring service is free.
We at SCORE look forward to hearing from you soon – and helping you begin your journey towards business success.
Barry J. Coates
With a background in nutritional biochemistry, business management, and marketing, Barry’s experience includes over 20 years working with major international businesses active in nutritional products, agribusiness, and banking. He held a number of marketing and general management positions serving US, Canadian, and European markets. Barry subsequently owned and operated his own small business for 6 years in Suwanee, GA, so he also has first-hand experience of the challenges of managing a small business. He has been involved in teaching and presenting material on behalf of several organizations. Barry currently serves as the District Director for SCORE in the state of Georgia.
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