For those that are thinking about starting your own business or if you are already on your way, getting one-on-one advice from a business professional is definitely a great idea. An even better idea is getting that advice for free(!!). Which is why if I have one secret to share it is: find a Score counselor to help you on your company’s journey.
So what is Score? Score is a non-profit based on helping entrepreneurs grow their dreams into reality – FOR FREE. Yep, while some people volunteer at animal shelters, other business-types donate their talent helping start-ups. I first used Score in Ann Arbor during college for Jess LC when I needed tax advice. Since I was already in business, my main objective when using Score counselors was to get specific, objective advice about matters in which I knew nada. This was an effective way to get very vague legal and tax advice without paying a professional.
When I came to Chicago I looked up Score here in the city to get some accounting advice. The first counselor I met with didn’t quite mesh. But I surprisingly got a follow up call to a survey I (honestly) filled out asking me to meet with another counselor. I agreed. And on my second visit I met my current mentor and “business coach” who I have worked with for over a year now. We meet once a month and he helps me keep my sights on the stars and my eye on the bottom line. And since I don’t have a boss or other go-to person for wisdom and strategy he helps me work through long term goals, pricing, and execution. Without our monthly meetings I think I would feel just a tiny bit more in the entrepreneurial dark.
So how can Score fit in your business? With 370 branches and over 11,200 volunteers, there is a good chance you can meet with someone near you in person. If not, they also have online counseling as well. I think there are three main ways to utilize this goldmine of professional wisdom:
- Help you start at ground zero: If you are just in the vision stages of starting a business, reaching out to a Score counselor will help you hone your ideas into actionableÂ steps. They can walk you through creating a business plan and help you avoid a lot of rookie mistakes. If you need capital or funding, they also have lots of resources at their branches.
- Help you over the next hurdle: If you are already doing well in your business but you are lacking expertise in a certain area like I was in accounting, legal, and taxes, meeting with someone in that specific field can fill your knowledge gap. This avenue may only last one or two visits.
- Help you develop over time: I think this is the best route to take no matter what level your company may be at- having another mentor, adviser, and confidant to help you grow and manage your company is always a good idea. Especially someone you respect, has industry experience, and doesn’t charge you money.
So hop over to their site and look up a location near you. When going into business it’s very easy to fall into the “you don’t know what you don’t know” trap and end up wasting a lot of time and money.
[Full disclosure: I was not asked to write about Score by anyone involved with the organization, I really, truly think this is a genuinely great idea for everyone who wants to follow their passion.]