Thursday, May 19, 2011

Who is the smartest small business leader around?

C'mon, you know that I'm not going to name names, although I can think of a few good nominees. The stupidest leader around is the one who won't ask for help - the one who won't ask questions. The smartest leader around is the one who does his or her homework. The smartest startup leaders in the U.S. consult SCORE before they open their doors.


SCORE is a resource partner of the Small Business Administration (SBA).  It used to be known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives, but right now in our local chapter almost half of the SCORE mentors are still quite active in business.  Their information is current, and at the level that new and emerging businesses need. 

Most of the Summit coaches are volunteer mentors at SCORE.  For experienced business owners and senior executives, volunteering through SCORE is a great way to give back to the community, and to help the local economy grow.  A role as a SCORE mentor can be very rewarding, helping new ventures create a solid startup foundation, and helping emerging leaders steer around the avoidable potholes in business ownership.

One of SCORE's signature services besides mentoring is its Simple Steps workshop series that helps a new business create a solid business plan.  When a prospective new business owner is seeking financing for the startup, financial institutions are going to look at the quality and thoroughness of the thought process as they assess the risk in providing financial backing.  Beyond its use in obtaining needed startup financing, the strategic plan helps the business owner fill knowledge gaps that could be deal-breakers once the doors are open.

The best way to benefit from SCORE is to contact your local chapter early in your thought process.  They can guide you on some appropriate homework so you are going into your business with your eyes open - you'll develop answers on things like:  what you expect your customers to look like, who your competition will be, what marketing and delivery methods you will use, and how much cash you'll need to have on hand.

You aren't limited to calling SCORE when you are new.  You might have hit a rough patch or dug a hole for your business and would like advice on how to get back on the right track or climb out of the hole.  An appointment with your SCORE mentors can give you ideas on what to do next.  They can be neutral thought partners for you when you're too emotionally involved to think straight.

Here's how to connect with SCORE:
  • Go to SCORE.org
  • Find a mentor online (there are 13,000 of them,) or
  • Call your local SCORE chapter (there are 364) to set up a meeting and they will assign mentors to you, selecting them on the basis of their experience with your type of business, question or problem
Many of their services, starting with your initial mentoring session,  are completely FREE.  There is no good reason not to contact SCORE when you're trying to build a healthy, thriving business.

2 comments:

Lynn Marie Caissie said...

Morning, Julie,

We have something like this in our regional municipalities, although I don't know if they exist country-wide. Same kinds of services to small business owners. Excellent resources.

Lynn Marie, Toronto

Julie Poland, certified business coach said...

It's so exciting to see the guy or gal down the street with the big idea have the opportunity to build it, to grow it into something real. How many of today's success stories started in somebody's garage?

I think it's our responsibility to help budding entrepreneurs to think their ideas through thoroughly, but also to nurture their dream. More ideas are lost due to inaction than are lost due to wrong action.