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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

The Best-Kept Secret Resource for Small Business – SCORE Mentors!

Written By: Doug Nohe | No Comments

Goal for Your BusinessThere is an easily accessible and FREE resource that is available to every aspiring entrepreneur and small business owner. Nationally, SCORE provides services to small businesses, no matter the stage of the business, through a network of more than 11,000 volunteers in more than 300 communities. SCORE is a national not-for-profit organization that is affiliated with The Small Business Administration (SBA.gov).

Mentors can be accessed via in-person meetings or through an email program. The SCORE volunteer mentors are experienced business executives, entrepreneurs, bankers and consultants who are dedicated to giving back to their communities.

The benefits of having a mentor

The benefits of having a mentor/advisor have been studied and documented continually. A quick Internet search will yield millions of references to the value of the mentor/mentee relationship.

From as far back as the Greek poet Homer’s faithful and wise Mentor assisting Odysseus, or Merlyn giving advice to the young King Arthur, mentors have played an important role in the success of leaders.

The very best corporate executives can tell you who their mentors have been throughout their careers. They acknowledge the benefits of these relationships from the beginning through the end of their careers.

Have you ever considered having an ongoing advisor for your company, someone experienced in business, totally independent from your company, and who has enormous resources to draw upon to help your business deal with all kinds of challenges?

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to utilize outside advisors similar to those used by the most successful large companies?

The value a SCORE mentor can bring

A SCORE mentor can provide advice, a different perspective to solutions for your business problems, and strategies to reach your goals. They will help you to build confidence, assist you with professional skills development, and encourage you along the way.

The SCORE advisors have access to, and utilize, some of the very best business growth resources available. They can assist you from developing your start-up business plan all the way through accessing your growth capital needs.

In some cases, it’s just nice to have an outside person, someone who has been there, to vent to about the business ownership issues and challenges facing you daily.

The best way to work with your mentor

To take advantage of this resource, all you need to do is go to www.score.org and request a mentor in your area. You can search by location and background. Once you are paired with your mentor, they will be able to reach out to all of the other mentors around the country if your situation requires a specific skill or industry background.

What is the cost to do this? Only your time and desire to succeed! 

To make the most out of the time with your mentor, you should think in advance about the most important issues you want to discuss when requesting your mentor. When filling out the online request form, provide as detailed information as possible so that your first meeting can be targeted. Typically, the mentoring sessions last for one hour, so staying on point will provide the most positive impact.

Developing a mentor/mentee relationship is a bit like dating. Your first meeting should be spent getting to know one another and talking about your business or ideas, learning about your mentor’s background and experience, and setting expectations for each other.

If you are expecting to have someone simply give you answers, you will be disappointed. If you are willing to be challenged, accept advice, and schedule regular times to meet, it will be the best business decision you have made.

The ongoing support you need

You should schedule regular meetings with your mentor so that they can continue to provide insight and assistance as both you and your company grow.

SCORE mentors are willing to give you as much time as you want for as long as you want it. This is a relationship that truly is “for the life of your business.”

Article written by
Doug Nohe is currently Chairman of SCORE Chicago, a resource provider of counseling, consulting and educational services to small businesses. As a successful business executive and entrepreneur, he focuses on partnering and collaborating with government organizations, NGOs and for-profit companies to build the success rates of small businesses throughout the nation.