Affiliated with the SBA for 35 years, SCORE counselors help start-up entrepreneurs realize their dreams. With 389 SCORE offices throughout the country, there's probably one close to you. They provide many of the same services offered by SBDCs, with one major difference: The person you work with is retired and has worked in your industry--and possibly run a similar or identical business. And unlike the staff at SBDCs and entrepreneurial centers, SCORE counselors, whose average age is 71, volunteer their time.
The beauty of forming a relationship with a SCORE counselor, according to Ken Yancey, executive director of SCORE Counselors to America's Small Business, in Washington, DC. , is you're getting information from someone familiar with the ins and outs of your industry. Because SCORE counselors are older and experienced, it's easy to develop a mentor-mentee relationship. "We've documented relationships that have lasted more than 20 years," says Yancey.
Like the people who work at SBDCs, SCORE counselors point the way to vendors and suppliers, and help you open doors to those hard-to-crack markets. And SCORE counselors often give you as much time as you need. In the very beginning, start-up entrepreneurs typically require more time--as much as a few hours a month. Once the business is successfully launched, SCORE counselors schedule monthly or quarterly check-up summary meetings. Every meeting has an agenda, and the entrepreneur is required to accomplish certain goals.
SCORE offices are easy to find; to locate one near you, visit http://www.score.org