The current trend in business is entrepreneurship, and anyone can do it—college students, women, minorities, senior citizens, veterans, ex-corporate leaders, etc. This diversity is the hallmark of entrepreneurship today. Colleges all over the United States are now offering more and more entrepreneur-based courses to meet this growing demand including COCC!
So with all this growth of entrepreneurship, where can an entrepreneur (or a business owner) turn to for help? One important answer is SCORE. SCORE provides free counseling and networking services for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Over eight million entrepreneurs have been counseled by SCORE since it started in 1964.
In 1964, Small Business Administrator, Eugene P. Foley, launched SCORE as a national volunteer group with 2,000 members, thereby uniting independent efforts into a national force.
Today there are over 13,000 volunteer counselors that provide individual mentoring as well as business workshops for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs as well as providing the formation, growth, and success of small businesses nationwide. Counselors work with entrepreneurs through every phase of their entrepreneurial venture. SCORE is also a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and has an impressive sponsorship list: American Express, Microsoft, Google, AOL, AT&T, and Bank of America, to name just a few.
SCORE is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia and in Washington, D.C. and has 364 chapters throughout the United States and its territories. As the innovator in Online Business Advice, SCORE was the first small business group to start e-learning and the Internet as an online counseling tool in 1997, offering free business advice 24/7. SCORE’s volunteer base of over 13,000 individuals is made up of both working and retired executives and business owners who donate their time and expertise as business counselors for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
SCORE’s volunteers are a diverse group of professionals offering their expertise in more than 500 skill areas to aid today’s aspiring entrepreneurs. SCORE mentors entrepreneurs primarily through individual business advising sessions. They also offer local and online workshops that cover every topic from starting your business (i.e. developing a business plan to protecting your business with patents, copyrights and trademarks), to managing your finances and all areas of marketing.
The payoff for entrepreneurs and small business owners who use an online mentor source is that they get to tap easily and quickly into the know-how of professionals they would not otherwise meet; mentors see it as a way to use their expertise. The down side is with only online contact, it is harder to build trust and miscommunications via email and text messaging can happen. So some experts still caution against using an online mentor because nothing is better than a face-to-face relationship.
In today’s highly competitive business environment, it is the smart and savvy entrepreneur who taps into others for help in starting a business. SCORE (www.score.org) is one online mentor service that can help. Try it; it won’t cost a cent and could be very beneficial to you and your business.
Also, if you are interested in helping aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners succeed, contact SCORE today and become a mentor (The same web address will provide the information you need to apply).
Theresa Freihoefer is an instructor in the business department of Central Oregon Community College. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.