By Natasha Emmons
You can't buy experience, but you can get it for free through the Small Business Administration's Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). About 12,400 working and retired executives volunteer their time at the 389 local SCORE chapters nationwide to help guide new entrepreneurs through the sometimes-bumpy territory of starting a business, including developing a business plan, securing financing and managing business growth. SCORE volunteers come from such notable companies as Eastman Kodak, General Electric, IBM, and Procter and Gamble.
Confidential, one-on-one guidance through rough terrain like accounting, finance, marketing, engineering and retailing can be found through the organization's Web site. Recently established e-mail counseling matches mentors to entrepreneurs seeking help.
You can also benefit from SCORE wisdom through local workshops such as "How to Set Up a Home-Based Business" and "Let's Talk Business About Your Business." The workshops cost between $20 and $75 to attend, depending on your area of the country. Workbooks designed to help you map out your business and financial plans are also available through SCORE. So lace up your boots, grab your guide and hit the entrepreneurial road. Check out SCORE's Web site at http://www.score.org or call (800) 634-0245.
Adams-Hall Publishing, (800) 888-4452
Pat Hudson, Ph.D, 5111 Shadow Glen Dr., Grapevine, TX 76051, (800) 234-4076
Susan Silver, (310) 207-7799