On business: SCORE hits a home run in the business community
Special to the Tribune
Steve Weich has worn many hats. His career began in the microelectronics industry and he went on to create his own computer company. He’s owned and operated restaurants and has been a mortgage broker. It’s not surprising when he retired he wasn’t ready to hang up those hats. Instead he joined the force of more than 13,000 volunteers nationwide who donate time to SCORE. SCORE, “Service Corps of Retired Executives,” is now recognized as SCORE, “Counselors to America’s Small Business.”
“The name shift seemed fitting once non-retired volunteers came on board. We enjoy helping people succeed” Weich says, “It’s that simple.”
I recently conducted an interview with Weich. See what he has to say below.
Briefly describe SCORE’S mission.
To create new businesses and jobs throughout the country.
Who are the volunteers?
There are a variety of experts from all areas of business to advise and assist aspiring business owners. Ninety percent of our volunteers have owned a business or are currently business owners. We don’t encourage volunteers interested in self-promotion or advertising their businesses. We seek out only those who are focused on helping others to be successful. They have solid business savvy, and a strong desire to pay it forward. Forty percent of our volunteer staff is women. We have medical experts, a radio station owner and human resource managers. We even have a nuclear physicist.
Briefly explain the process when the client makes a contact.
Clients contact us because they want to start a business or need help sustaining one. Through our website they can obtain a contact number, leave a voice message or email. We will get back to them within 48 hours. The first thing we do is to determine their needs. They will be invited to a three-hour meeting that will involve various topics related to business ownership. Then they will meet with an individual counselor for about an hour to crystallize their ideas. They can either stay with that counselor in a local setting or they can opt for another expert anywhere throughout the United States who might be a better match for their needs. Nobody is turned down.
Is there a charge for services?
There are no charges for our services since the US Small Business Administration and volunteers support us. Our volunteer force includes experts that can give legal and financial advise for businesses as well. They can help set up a website or get you started with a business plan. These services are for no fee. There are other programs or workshops, if one chooses to participate, in which a nominal fee is charged. “Simple Steps” for example, is a program that meets every Saturday for three hours for four consecutive weeks. The normal class size is 25-30. It includes sales, marketing and financial information. We charge a small fee for our business workshops but if one can’t afford it we award scholarships.
What preparation is needed before contacting SCORE?
There is no preparation. We take our clients from concept to completion. All they need to have is a strong desire to succeed and an idea of what they want to achieve.
Is there follow up?
We stay with our clients for life. They can call us anytime they need assistance with their business.
Must one be computer literate?
We conduct business by telephone, email or face to face. Computer literacy is not required to participate. We find that many of our customers are over age 55 and entering a second or third career, some without computer skills.
Can you relate a success story?
There are many but one that stands out in particular was a female business entrepreneur from Reno, Nevada. She started her own knitting business that spun off into multiple branches. It became a huge success.
Do you do community presentations?
Yes, we can tailor our presentations to fit the audience’s needs. For example, we’ve done presentations for senior citizens and round table discussions for business owners.
How does one contact SCORE?
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