Having move to Bend from Southern California last year after selling my businesses, I wanted to work out a way to stay engaged in a useful volunteer role. I had heard of SCORE when I was in California, and knew that the organization provided free mentoring to people either considering starting a new business or seeking guidance to improve the performance of their existing businesses.
With 30+ years of business experience, I realized that I would have something to offer in the way of guidance and mentoring. SCORE was the perfect connection to facilitate putting my experience and knowledge to use, so I joined the team.
As a quick background, the SCORE acronym stands for Service Corps of Retired Executives. As a volunteer organization of mentors, it is a part of the SBA. It was originally formed back in the 60’s by a few people retiring from their professions who wanted to keep their hand in supporting small businesses. Since its inception, it has grown to a national organization with hundreds of chapters around the country, including over 10,000 volunteer mentors.
The stated mission of SCORE is: Foster vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education. While the name includes the term “retired” — though many are retirees — a number of those volunteering with SCORE are still active in business roles while providing free mentoring.
Locally, the Central Oregon chapter has around 30 active volunteer mentors. The chapter spans the area including Bend, Redmond, Sisters, La Pine and Prineville. In the last six months, eight new mentors have joined the team, thus expanding the capacity to help the business community. In the last year, the local chapter key statistics include assisting in the creation of 57 new businesses and 137 new employment positions. That reflects growth in both categories, in spite of the COVID restrictions.
One of our local businesses in the healthcare field that received mentoring support was featured in a national SCORE publication. Here is a brief summary of the value that was received: My SCORE mentor was the perfect fit. He brought over 30 years of industry experience with financial planning/HR/Hiring/HIPAA/OSHA/ expertise that was incredibly helpful for us.
Mentoring support is available to anyone considering a new business venture, in start-up mode, or wanting to address any area of possible improvement needed in a current business — including improving profitability, HR issues, marketing/sales, and expansion. The mentoring is always free of charge. SCORE mentors are also available to discuss your business situations on a walk-in basis at the downtown Bend Public Library from 5:30-7:30pm on Tuesday evenings in the months of September through June, with the exception of end of year holiday weeks. To learn more about SCORE Central Oregon, the website is centraloregon.score.org. The site includes links to request mentoring, mentor profiles, extensive business education content and other useful links.
As our local chapter is growing, there is definitely room for more volunteer mentors! Whether you are retired from business, or are still working and want to help, we would welcome your application to consider joining our team.