Lifelong learning both for our volunteers and clients is an ongoing process at SCORE.
I moved to Prescott in 2018 after 41 years in the commercial audiovisual industry in Southern California. We opened and ran a successful manufacturers’ rep company for 33 of those years, serving a five-state region. I had several terrific mentors, but I wish I had known of SCORE in those days. I like to say, “I could have had a V8.” SCORE is a non-profit, volunteer-staffed, free business mentoring service.
SCORE is America’s premier source of free, confidential small business advice, and was founded in 1964 as a non-profit resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Because SCORE receives government funding, and thanks to our more than 10,000 dedicated volunteers, we are able to deliver most of our offerings at no cost.
During and after the pandemic, SCORE personnel were the go-to people for education on loans, grants and stimulus funds. We continue to fill that role, and our parent organization, the SBA, feeds us inquiries at a high rate.
SCORE volunteers go through a training curriculum before working with our staff of Certified Mentors. We are trained to listen and suspend judgement on clients and their ideas until we fully “get” what they’re saying. Although SCORE mentors do not actually perform physical tasks for the client startup companies, we lead, guide and recommend. Most SCORE mentors assign homework for their clients – including creating a business plan or doing a SWOT analysis (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threat).
The SCORE mentor/client journey can take as long as the client needs. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor were Prescott, Prescott Valley, Cottonwood, Sedona, Flagstaff or Kingman. Some clients see their SCORE mentor for years every month; others take a few meetings then go on their way.
The pandemic and video conferencing created an opportunity for SCORE. Called One SCORE, now clients can take on a volunteer to suit their needs anywhere in the country. One may shop for a mentor based on their specific experiences and backgrounds at score.org.
With all its years in existence, SCORE has volumes of work in the form of documents, articles, videos, podcasts and workshops on everything from finance to legal, sales, marketing, social media, search engine optimization and much more. Did I say it’s all free? Actually, some workshops do have a nominal fee.
Our Northern Arizona chapter, voted 2020 Most Improved Chapter in our District and 2020 Platinum Chapter, is managed by a six-person Leadership Team, comprised of myself as chair; Dick Milon, past chair and workshop leader; Terry Fearn, incoming chair and client intake director; Bud Heitman, marketing director; Joe Jenkins, finance manager and treasurer; and Mark Bagnall, volunteer input coordinator.
SCORE mentors are a diverse group of professionals who typically have held key positions in corporations or military, or have owned and run businesses themselves. Regardless of our experiences, we relish the chance to serve and to share our working knowledge with clients.
Lifelong learning both for our volunteers and clients is an ongoing process at SCORE. Our volunteers are educated in the latest methods of mentoring by the top thought-leaders. Clients are similarly exposed to a wide variety of subjects, such as Grow With Google – a roadmap for success within that search engine. All learning programs have proven success standards.
By using the methodology of co-mentoring, we are able to employ the knowledge and skills of two SCORE mentors. This has proven to be a very valuable tool for our mentors – two heads are better than one.
A new council has recently been created within our chapter, the Hispanic Business Owners Council (HBOC), which was co-created by our Chapter Leadership Team and Alianza News owner Rosanna Feyerabend. The purpose of HBOC is to foster improved startup practices in the growing Hispanic business community.
SCORE is always seeking volunteers. The gratification of serving others and the community by shooting the arrow forward in success is why we’re here. To be part of SCORE, either as a client or as a volunteer, go to score.org and click on “Find a Mentor” or “Become a Volunteer.” Or, email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. FBN
By Logan Enright
Logan Enright is the chapter chair and certified mentor for SCORE Northern Arizona.