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May 10 2015

Small Business Counseling for Free

SCORE LogoAfter I left my corporate job in 2001, I finally had the flexibility to volunteer in my community. The first organization I offered my time and expertise was SCORE. It is a non-profit funded by the Small Business Administration. It is mostly used as a resource for free small business counseling.

It has to be one of the best experiences of my life. I loved doing mentoring business owners. We had a great SCORE chapter here in Northwest Arkansas with some awesome counselors who sincerely care about the success of small businesses in our area.

I had a great six years with them. My specialty was start-up counseling, business plan coaching, and marketing strategy development.

While it was great to be a cheerleader for small businesses, one of the most humane things we did was tell someone when they really weren’t cut out for self-employment or that their idea wasn’t worth risking their life savings on. It wasn’t what they wanted to hear, of course, but it was worth the risk to safeguard their retirement they had worked their whole life to tuck away.

Were we wrong sometimes? Sure. I remember a story from a longtime SCORE counselor who told a guy named Fred Smith that his idea to charge a flat rate to fly a package overnight to its destination wouldn’t work. You might remember that Fred Smith is the founder of FedEx.

I always told prospective SCORE clients that they would get a lot of ideas from SCORE. Some they could use, some they could use someday, and some they couldn’t ever use; but all ideas would make them think differently.

Check out SCORE. Get a counselor in Northwest Arkansas by going to the local SCORE website at www.nwascore.org. You can get an e-mail counselor at the national website at www.score.org. Grab a cup of coffee and spend some time at the website. There are tons of great resources there.

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