Believe it or not, there are people who are dedicated to helping you succeed in business. The United States is a nation full of organizations that work hard to help entrepreneurs realize their most significant goals. The point is that you have to look for these organizations. Also, you have to work very hard, once you find them. It is important to capitalize on the opportunities, when you are exposed to the right organization.
One such organization is SCORE. Founded in 1964, SCORE was developed to assist small businesses. It has since grown into the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors.
According to Candice Stennett, director of marketing for SCORE, the program creates a powerful, direct economic impact. “SCORE has more than 10,000 volunteer business experts. Each year, they provide over 350,000 free small business mentoring sessions, workshops, and educational services to clients in over 300 chapters nationwide. In 2015, SCORE helped to create more than 45,000 jobs and 55,000 small businesses,” she says.
Some of the areas for basic advice include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Developing business plans
- Conducting market research
- Developing financial projections
- Legal issues of starting a business
- Finding financing (business loans, investors)
- Advertising and marketing
- Developing a business website
- HR and employee management
Below, Ms. Stennett addresses a few of the major questions, and the benefits they provide for business owners.
Why should I use SCORE?
“At SCORE, you can find the free support, resources, and assistance you need to start or grow your business. With SCORE, you have access to thousands of experienced people, who have been in your shoes and are eager to help. Avoid costly errors and increase your chances of success by leveraging the collective experience of our mentors. With business advice and training available online or in local communities, you have access to the information you need.
Whether you’re an experienced entrepreneur, a brand new business owner, or [you are] just thinking about starting a business, SCORE is here to help. No matter how often you meet with your mentor, our mentoring is always free of charge and all information you share with your mentor is kept confidential, so you don’t have to worry about sharing proprietary information or ideas. We’re here for the life of your business.”
What resources does it provide to entrepreneurs and small business owners?
“SCORE provides free mentoring to small business owners, as well as free and low-cost live workshops, and hundreds of free online resources, templates/tools, and online workshops at score.org.
Having a mentor means small business owners don’t have to go it alone. Starting a business can be challenging and intimidating, but clients reap the benefit from SCORE mentors’ wealth of experience on small business matters. The mentors make them better able to avoid mistakes and achieve success.”
How do people take advantage of what it has to offer?
“The best place to access resources is at score.org. There, you can sign up for a mentor, access free online workshops and webinars, and utilize free tools and templates for starting and growing a business. We encourage anyone who is interested in receiving mentoring services to sign up without delay, but if someone wants to gain a better understanding of what it is all about before taking the jump, reviewing our blog posts, registering for an upcoming webinar or live workshop, and/or taking advantage of a recorded past webinar or online course are all great places to start. To learn more about a particular business topic, you can search by keyword to easily access all related resources on our website.”
Who are the SCORE mentors?
“SCORE’s mentors are men and women of all ages from across the U.S., who are experts on small business, either through their own experience as entrepreneurs, or through corporate experience. In addition to vetting mentoring applicants to ensure their collected experiences and expertise make them a good fit for our clients’ needs, we also require new mentors to undergo training offered by SCORE. When a prospective client submits a mentor request at https://www.score.org/find-mentor, SCORE does its best to match that individual with a mentor whose background aligns well with his or her needs. For example, the client may need a mentor that is particularly familiar with a particular business development stage, or someone who understands the nuances of the client’s specific market and so forth.”
Is it really free?
“Yes! There is no catch. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the efforts of our volunteer mentors support our nonprofit organization. We receive additional support through the efforts of The SCORE Foundation. People always say, ‘I had no idea all of this was available for free!’ They don’t believe it until they try it. There is an abundance of information available including free, weekly webinars with business experts, free business plan and financial planning templates, and free advice and support from our mentors.”
Who do you help?
“We help people at every stage of business ownership–from defining your business idea to planning your business strategy. We have helped over 10 million people since our inception. You can read a selection of our client success stories here: https://www.score.org/success-stories.
If you’re considering starting a business, SCORE’s assistance in business planning can set you off on the right foot. SCORE workshops and one-on-one mentoring will help you determine whether your business idea is viable, how much money you’ll need to launch, how much to charge for your product or service, how soon you can expect to turn a profit, and more.
For established businesses, SCORE offers in-depth assistance with challenges, such as deciding whether to add a new location, expanding to new markets, streamlining operations, and obtaining expansion capital. SCORE can also help you put together loan applications and suggest potential lenders to approach.”
You can find your local SCORE chapter at https://www.score.org/content/find-location.