Anyone who wants to start or improve a small business venture has come to know SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business” as a valuable service. Making it easier to access information, statistics, and mentoring, SCORE, based in Herndon, Virginia, has added a section for minority entrepreneurs on its Website, www.score.org/minority.html.
“It’s been in the works since late last year,” says Jennifer Ruben, marketing director at the headquarters. Ruben says the organization is continuing to update its site through a redesign and a re-launch is planned for 2009. “We just added more links and stats and articles.”
Since 1964, SCORE, a resource partner with the Small Business Administration (SBA), has helped more than 7.9 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners. The agency matches would-be entrepreneurs through counseling and workshops with executives and business owners who donate their time and expertise.
Inspired by filmmakers Spike Lee and Oliver Stone, NYU film school graduate April Patrick decided to pursue her dream of starting her own film company. At the urging of her mother, Patrick turned to SCORE for guidance. Patrick was partnered with volunteer counselors who had media experience, and in 2001, April Films was founded (renamed Atypical Pictures, www.atypicalpictures.com). The New York City SCORE chapter helped her develop a business plan, expand production, and reach new markets.
Patrick still stays in contact with a few of her mentors, and each gave her different pieces of advice in developing her business. One gave her a simple cornerstone: Find out what a business needs and be the solution. “He really taught me how to understand the service I was providing—[to] use visual language strategically,” Patrick says. From another SCORE mentor, “[I learned] how to position myself strategically in the industry, [and] stay on top of things,” she adds. Another film industry veteran gave her advice on managing cash flow, pricing, and negotiating payment.
As an African American woman in the field, Patrick was also told she needed to be conscious of appearance in a way others may not need to be. She would not only need to outbid her competitors, but admittedly, “as superficial as it sounds,” she would need to maintain a professional look in order to present a competent image of her business.
In 2003, Patrick was honored with the Entrepreneur of the Year award by the SBA and SCORE at the United Nations. Today, Atypical Pictures provides film and video production services to clients including major corporations and organizations.
With a budding archive of success stories like Patrick’s, SCORE began investing last year in expanding its Web-based resources to reach and support more minority entrepreneurs. The site’s “Insights for Minority Entrepreneurs” section offers key articles on business licensing, protecting your idea, generating income, and business financing. The “Resources for Minority Entrepreneurs” section includes a list of more than 30 organizations, groups, and Websites that offer news, strategies, and advice. The site also provides the latest research and facts on the growing number of African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American entrepreneurs.