Counselors to American’s Small Businesses, Fairfield Chapter
It was the late ‘90s. Like most young women in the free world, I decided to start a handbag business. Because I had no clue what I was doing, the handbag venture sort of fizzled. (I did get to tour creepy manufacturing facilities in New York and Fall River, though, so that was a plus.)
In retrospect, I did two things correctly with my business: 1. Consulted a retired businessman through SCORE, who gave me very helpful advice, 2. Folded.
Given today’s economy, thousands of people are starting their own small businesses. I advise them to consult SCORE for help. (Not to be confused with Scores. Biiiig difference.)
What they do: “SCORE… was established by Congress in 1964 as a nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education and formation, growth and success of small business. … SCORE volunteers use their expertise and energies to implement proven business practices in accomplishing your business objectives.” (website) Counselors offer expertise in almost every skill (IT, General Management, Marketing, PR, Strategic & Growth Planning, etc) and in almost every interest area (Photography, Retailing, Traveling, Gardening, etc.).
Who they are: “The Fairfield County Chapter has 50 volunteer professionals with a very broad mix of senior executive and small business experience. These dedicated men and women include both working and retired executives and business owners.” (website)
How it works: SCORE offers one-on-one counseling and workshops. Counseling is typically at their headquarters and is a 1 to 1.5 hour session with a business expert. Experts are assigned based on their knowledge of the business specialty, as described by the business owner. They may meet with “the expert” as often as necessary. Counseling is confidential.
Business owners are expected to complete homework assignments, such as developing cash flow projections and a business plan.
Workshops are free or low cost, and include topics such as Business Plan, Marketing Plan, Funding Sources, and the like.