By Jean Kruse / Guest Editorial

Have you ever been to the SCORE website at www.score.org? SCORE is an organization that provides free and confidential assistance to all entrepreneurs.

Usually I simply mention SCORE in the last paragraph of my monthly articles. Today is an exception because I believe many of you will find this information helpful. This is a quick overview of what you are likely to find on that website and why you will want to return to the site frequently.

Upon arriving at the site, you will probably first notice the revolving messages with pictures near the top, left-hand side of the screen. The pictures change rapidly, but you can slow it down by either clicking on the forward/back arrows under the picture or the “Read More” message at the bottom of each of the messages. The revolving messages will no doubt be different every time you visit the site, but recently the five messages promoted these webinars and podcasts.

    • A podcast about starting your business by buying a franchise
    • Writing Your First Business Plan: 4 Things You Need to Know
    • Free Shipping for the Holidays: Ways Your Business Can Offer Free Shipping
    • When to Hire, When to Outsource
    • Business Plan Assist 

Near the top of the screen and across the width of the screen are the following topics: Business Advice, Startup, Run & Grow a Business, Marketing, Finance & Money, Technology, and Management. When you click on any of these topics a drop-down list of more detailed subject matter appears. For example, when you click on Finance & Money, you will be able to access Excel Templates for Cash Projections, Income Statements, Balance Sheets and many more topics.

When you click on Startup, and then choose the “Buying a Small Business” drop down, one of the many articles you can choose is a Business Acquisition Questionnaire. This article includes all of the questions you should ask the owner to help you decide if you should buy the business. The drop-down lists for each of these seven topics provide a lot of valuable information that you may like to investigate.

Directly below those seven topics is another line of topics, one of which is “Workshops.” The drop down for that topic is either Local Workshops or Online Workshops. The local workshops will take you to the East Central Iowa SCORE website, www.scorecr.org, where you can go to the calendar to see what workshops or roundtables are available for the current or next month; click on the event for details.

During the summer months, there are two roundtables scheduled. Beginning in September, in addition to the roundtables, there will be two free workshops each month at the Marion Public Library on various business topics, plus the “How to Really Start Your Own Business” seminar at the Kirkwood facility on Armar Drive in Marion. In addition, QuickBooks instruction for beginners is presented by SCORE volunteers at Kaplan University several times a year—watch our calendar.

Selecting Online Workshops will provide access to a myriad of webinars on all aspects of business. The list begins with the upcoming live webinars followed by lists of webinars that are recordings of prior live webinars—live webinars allow you to ask questions of the presenter in real time; you can listen to the asked questions on the recordings.

Directly above the revolving messages is a place where you can type in your zip code to get advice and mentoring face-to-face from a local SCORE representative. The message on that box is “Get Free Business Advice Near You”—enter your zip code and click “Go.” This will bring up a screen on which you can enter details of your request and your contact information. There are two places where you can enter a description of your business and details of the issues on which you want advice.

Enter as much information as possible in those two places so the person who assigns a mentor to you is better able to assign the best person for your situation—the East Central Iowa SCORE Chapter has 60-plus mentors, each with their own area of expertise and industry skills. Frequently, you will need more than one mentor—team mentoring is the usual method of providing our SCORE clients with the business advice they need.

Directly under the revolving messages is a green box that explains how you can get free business advice via email by typing in your business concern, question or need and then click “help.”

Several names/short bios of SCORE mentors from all over the United States are then listed from which you can select. Under each short bio is the option to get “more information” which provides a longer, more detailed biography of the mentor. When you have selected the mentor whose bio sounds the best to you, click on the “Request Mentoring” button. You will then have the opportunity to explain your business question in more detail and provide your email contact information. You will receive a response from the mentor within 48 hours.

Keep in mind that you can ask the same or a similar question and select a different mentor as many times as you like. You can have a continuous correspondence with these mentors over many years or you can stop at any time.

Another topic that can be selected is Volunteer. Click on that topic if you would like to give back to the community by becoming a SCORE volunteer. You can also click on the About SCORE topic if you want to learn more about what SCORE can do for you.

 

 

Jean Kruse is a SCORE counselor and SCORE Iowa district president. She operated her own CPA firm for 13 years and in 1988, joined RSM McGladrey, a national firm, where she provided accounting and tax services to small businesses.