SCORE (the Service Corps of Retired Executives) is one of the best small business resources in America – and one of the most under appreciated. No matter what stage your business is in, SCORE can provide you with your very own business consultant (usually a retired business exec.) who will meet with you, face-to-face, to help you solve problems or answer questions on starting and growing your business. Or you can select a counselor online and correspond by email. Here are three keys to understanding what SCORE can do for your business:
- There are about 12,400 experienced SCORE counselors nationwide, and they offer nearly 600 distinct business skills at your disposal.
- SCORE also offers a hugely-popular email counseling program. "Ask SCORE" counselors are available online to answer questions and help you solve problems with Web-based convenience.
- Counseling and workshops are offered at 364 SCORE chapter offices nationwide.
Discover what SCORE has to offer and sign up for free in-person counselingBusiness consultants often charge between $100 and as much as $500 per hour. But expert SCORE counseling from individuals who've "been there, done that," is free and confidential. Volunteers - many former Fortune 500 executives or successful entrepreneurs - join your team as mentors.
Visit a local SCORE chapter websiteMost local SCORE chapters also have their own websites where you can obtain detailed information about what's offered in your area, schedule an appointment and get directions to the office.
Get expert answers quickly and easily by emailThe "Ask SCORE" service lets you submit your most pressing business questions via email 24/7 and receive an answer within 48 hours via email.
Discover 60-second answers on key business questionsSCORE's 60-Second Guides on a variety of topics are worthwhile reading and can get you answers quickly.
View success stories of small businesses that have worked with SCOREThis is a very cool section of the SCORE site filled with fun-to-read profiles of small biz owners who've grown their businesses with help from SCORE.
Sign up for local business workshops and free e-newslettersSome workshops require a small fee. They are geared for both startups and entrepreneurs already in business. Free business planning and business structure workbooks are also available at local chapters.
- Business counseling relationships can last just a few sessions or a number of years, based on your needs as an entrepreneur.
- Prepare for your counseling session by arriving with a well-thought-out idea, preliminary business plan and other information that will help you maximize your one-on-one consultation.
- SCORE volunteers sometimes counsel in teams, bringing a specific strength to the table. Counselors may be available to visit you at your place of business to learn about your venture and concerns.
- Workshop training covers a variety of topics, from writing a business plan to importing/exporting to e-commerce. Workshops also offer a chance to network withother local business owners.