SCORE offers free business counseling. For those near Lynn, MA you can find them at the Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursdays. I’ve been going since January. They’ve answered all my questions: finance, marketing, sales, strategy. You name it, they’ve seen it!
It’s been a great journey so far and I am learning new skills (for example, the sales pitch, marketing collateral). The SCORE counselors have a variety of backgrounds and are eager to brainstorm ideas. Business patterns are similar across industries, for example, Customer service is always about… the customer. For a startup or small business owner who has done 80% of the work, getting sound advice is crucial to completing the next 20%.
A session is 1 hour with whichever 2-3 counselors on hand. I treat it a bit like a project review meeting and a bit like a board of directors meeting. It’s a great tool to keep one honest with the schedule and plan. I keep up my project planning and communication chops by preparing the bi-weekly summary. I have developed KPIs to help understand how my efforts are paying off. For someone used to working in organizations, it is a familiar routine.
But it’s also a way to weed through all the potential ideas and keep focus. Taking an idea from conception to sustainability is a challenge. Having others involved in the narrative makes it possible to connect tactics with the overall strategy.
One needs to prepare for overnight success and the best method for me to prepare is to practice. The counselors provide a process within which I can operate. There is also a bit of encouragement, which is helpful, too.
Have you used SCORE or a mentoring program? Tell me about it in the comments!