In a prior post, Launching A Consulting Business – Engage A Board Of Advisors, I failed to cover a particularly useful advisory resource to help launch, grow and successfully manage a business.
You may have heard of the Small Business Administration (SBA). Their website (www.sba.gov) offers a ton of great content on starting, growing and managing a business. This can serve as a very useful reference point to aid in one’s success.
Like most people, when I was preparing to launch my own firm, I needed someone I could talk to. Someone to bounce ideas off and practice “pitching” my offering to get feedback that I could use to tune my plan and messaging for clarity and impact.
After researching, I came across an organization that offers free (yes FREE) mentoring services to entrepreneurs.
To be clear, I don’t use that term in the sense of just having accomplished something (i.e., a win). The name of the organization is: SCORE, which is a resource partner of the SBA.
When I first engaged with SCORE in 2001, while still employed by Corporate America, I believe that it stood for:
On meeting with them, the experience pretty much confirmed that: Retired, Executives. I found that some of their input and perspective was, quite frankly, outdated. More specifically, I was using phrases and concepts in my “pitch” that we used every day in the real business world. But, they argued with me, insisting my terminology was incorrect…
I simply took a deep breath and moved beyond those points 🙂
To be fair, it was a very valuable experience. And, I would highly recommend SCORE to others.
Fast forward to present day.
I was recently considering how I might offer my own skills and experience to mentor others who may be considering launching their own business, or who need insight and advice on how to successfully grow or manage their business. MANY people helped me along the way so I figured it is now time to give back.
I was quickly reminded of SCORE.
After reaching out and meeting with the leadership of a local chapter of SCORE I was pleasantly surprised. Surprised at a number of things:
- After they asked about my prior experience with SCORE they promptly confirmed that times have changed in 15 years, and so has SCORE. Certified SCORE Mentors are client-centric, regardless if they are retired or working professionals. SCORE recruits mentors for expertise, not age.
- The quality of their on-boarding process and training for new mentors ensures professionalism and consistency in the mentoring process.
- Their commitment to using technology to streamline and manage the process, including a centralized CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that all mentors are expected to use (nationally) to manage their clients.
- Their commitment to ongoing support and development of their mentors.
- How they now have many mentors who are still working on a part- or full-time basis. Not “just” retirees.
As a result of the above surprises and the steps I’ve taken so far you can now consider me a SCORE “mentor in training.”
Bottom-line: If you are considering launching a business (any kind of business) or grow/better manage your existing business, I’d encourage you to visit score.org. Here you will find valuable online resources as well as the ability to seek out a mentor who is experienced with the most pressing matters facing your business, whether it is still just an idea or a going concern.
And, while any given mentor can offer guidance, no single mentor is the expert in all areas. As such, you can expect that the mentor initially assigned to you will seek to help you, through mentoring, as best they can. And, if/when there are topics for which they are not an expert (or experienced) they can reach into the network of other SCORE mentors to identify somebody more appropriate to work with you on a particular topic or topics.
As a reminder, this service is 100% free, with no limit to the number of times you may engage with your mentor.
In summary, SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship.
Clearly a win-win: SCORE!
Feel free to click on the above image to visit SCORE’s website.