Business Perspectives

Score helps counsel small-business owners

The Wichita Score Chapter (Counselors to America’s Small Business) has accomplished in 2012 what it would like to refer to as an outstanding year in supporting its mission, which is to help small businesses grow and prosper through the willingness of a dedicated group of volunteer counselors who donate their time and business expertise.

Who are these volunteers?

Score, originally known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives when it was founded in 1964, is America’s free and confidential source of small-business mentoring and coaching. It is a nonprofit association of more than 13,000 volunteer business experts nationwide. Many of them operate their own businesses or are in leadership positions in organizations. Wichita has more than 30 volunteer counselors who mentor clients one on one, in person or online.

Score selects people of business experience who can make small-business clients feel comfortable and who can develop a collaborative bond with them as they guide them in areas of opportunity and growth.

Each new volunteer starts with a detailed training program, incorporating mentoring and coaching techniques and ways to access the many sources of information and methodology via the Internet.

Monthly Score chapter meetings have guest speakers from the community presenting current information on business development, which helps counselors expand their knowledge base for the benefit of clients. Extra emphasis is focused on social media and their application to business and market needs and trends.

Score is working with the Wichita library to help put programs together that focus on subjects such as business plans, social media, business insurance and business finance.

The chapter is also affiliated with the Wichita Independent Business Association, a diverse group of small-business people from whom some volunteer counselors are drawn. These professionals include attorneys, accountants, marketing executives and social media strategists.

Score conducts monthly Saturday workshops for clients who are coming for business counseling or who just need refreshers on the different business disciplines. There is a modest fee to attend these. The presenters at these six-hour workshops include both volunteer counselors and people from the business community in areas such as advertising, marketing, law, retail, manufacturing and finance.

Workshops are also conducted at community colleges and at military bases – with heavy emphasis on assisting returning military personnel who are entering the corporate or entrepreneurial environment. Training is also conducted, when requested, for employees at corporations that are downsizing or moving their facilities to other locations.

Score and SBA

Score comes under the banner of the Small Business Association, which is a major source of financing assistance. Financing your business requires research to find the most appropriate funding model. SBA offers a variety of loan programs.

Score has worked with the SBA in a program called the Match Maker. It is where local purchasing managers and local small businesses attend sessions on how to do business with the aerospace industry.

Score teams up with SBA at various job fairs throughout the year. They talk to all attendees of the job fairs and encourage people who may have the potential to consider starting their own businesses as one way to have employment.

The SBA and Veterans Outreach Centers have approached Score Wichita on working with soldiers who were coming back from deployment who had an interest in starting their own businesses. They are also in discussions to support the new Boots and Business programs at McConnell Air Force Base. They have already supported two days of training for airmen and will help in the future as this program develops.