Monday, September 23rd, 2019

Chamber is now a satellite office for SCORE

Posted: Friday, April 26, 2019

The Huntington County Chamber of Commerce is now a satellite office for the Northeast Indiana SCORE chapter. SCORE is a non-profit resource partner of the United States Small Business Administration, and is a resource for small businesses.

SCORE provides free, confidential business advice and one-on-one mentoring in person and online to small business owners or those looking to start a business. Through over 300 plus chapters nationally and over 10,000 volunteer business mentors, SCORE provides sound business planning, product and service reviews, financial insights, marketing and promotion recommendations, resource planning, strategies for starting and improving vendor relationships, exit planning and more.

Business mentors for the SCORE program are volunteers who have expertise in a variety of industries. They receive special training to help individuals confidentially review their business ideas and help create a detailed business plan. Mentors also explain how to apply for licenses, purchase equipment, lease real estate and more. They have been helpful in the pre-startup or startup phase, and have provided information to find legal and CPA services. SCORE mentors can offer advice about business negotiations and coach future business owners through pre-finance preparations.

In 2017 SCORE helped create over 54,000 new businesses, 61,000 new jobs and 58% of businesses increase their revenues. Northeast Indiana SCORE helped 73 new businesses start, were helpful in beginning 108 non-owner jobs and held 2,089 total mentoring sessions. Huntington County currently has three certified SCORE mentors.

Over 11 million small businesses have been served since 1964, and 370,000 have been assisted in 2016. Success stories include Jelly Belly, which currently has $160 million in revenue, and Vera Bradley with $288 million in revenue.

Huntington’s SCORE launch has begun through the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce through sponsorship and support. A strong base is currently being built through outreach to community leaders and service clubs. Mentors and volunteers are being recruited through community outreach, publicity and client engagement.

Mentoring takes place through one-on-one meetings, at workshops and in seminars and events in the local community. SCORE also offers business tools and templates at www.score.org. SCORE mentors often work in teams to meet whatever the needs are. It is free, personalized and confidential.

“One thing I learned from my doctoral study of successful entrepreneurs is they utilize mentors and support systems. SCORE is a nationally-recognized organization, which offers free services to meet this need. I look forward to sharing my business expertise as a SCORE mentor and offering SCORE services to Huntington University undergraduate and graduate students who want to start businesses locally,” said Brock Zehr, professor of business and economics at Huntington University and a member of the Chamber board of directors.

SCORE mentors can help prepare a business for new growth. They will confidentially review and evaluate the business’s situation, identify the markets served vs. new markets and assess the product portfolio. Mentors can also identify business options and develop growth strategies.

Mature businesses can be helped by SCORE mentors with HR challenges and can help to create succession plans for key managers. Assistance with supply chain management, managing intellectual property and exit planning are also part of a SCORE mentor’s training.

Many helpful resources are available through SCORE including free training webinars available online 24/7, a SCORE small business success blog providing news and how-to-advice and an email newsletter on leadership topics for entrepreneurs. All of these can be found at www.score.org.

SCORE enables those with business talent to share their expertise with others. Training and co-mentoring with experienced SCORE mentors are provided and online training modules enhance knowledge. Continuing education opportunities occur at monthly meetings and an individual’s expertise is augmented by working with members who have varying backgrounds and experience. Scheduling is available to fit the needs of those with other commitments and obligations.

SCORE not only needs mentors, but also subject matter experts, workshop presenters, event coordinators and administrators. If you would like to become a SCORE mentor, a subject matter expert, or just volunteer some time with workshops, etc., call the Chamber office at (260) 356-5300. The Chamber office can also be contacted by those looking to start or grow their business through SCORE.  Those looking for a mentor can also call the Chamber office or go to www.score.org and click “Find a Mentor.” Mentoring can be done at the Chamber office, or anyplace the entrepreneur and mentor deem appropriate.