A Great Resource for Start-ups: SCORE
Sarah A. Scala, M. Ed & OD, ACC
Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes
Can you give me some tips on starting a small business? I am asked this question weekly from people who are curious about entrepreneurship. Some have a defined business strategy, and are simply looking for tips. Others have a loose idea and want to chat about it. I started my company, Sarah Scala Consulting, almost 6 years ago. Not knowing some of the initial steps to starting a business, I reached out and found mentors through SCORE. SCORE is a nonprofit organization that provides free business mentoring services to small business owners in the United States. They have more than 10,000 volunteers, and have chapters in major cities and regions. SCORE is funded through the Small Business Administration, a division of the U.S. Federal Government.
When I reached out to my first SCORE mentor 6 years ago, some of the initial questions I had were:
How do I get established as a legal business at the Federal and State level?
What type of business should I have - Sole proprietorship, LLC, Incorporated, etc.?
What insurance does a person starting a small consulting practice need?
Doing some research, along with gaining advice from mentors at SCORE, helped me with some of these foundational decisions. In 2012, my business was established as a Sole Proprietorship, and through the IRS’ website, I was easily able to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for my business. I work with a lot of businesses, and because I didn't want to give my social security number as the ID for my company, having an EIN has been helpful.
When I recommend SCORE, I often suggest that before they meet or request a mentor, they think about the following aspects of their potential business:
What is the dream of their business- who, what, when, why, and where?
What solution or product will they provide?
Is there demand for the product or service?
Do they have experience in providing this product or service?
When I meet with people who have interest in starting a business, I begin by letting them know that I am not an expert in accounting, marketing, operations, sales, or the type of business that suits them. I am best positioned to help start-ups and small businesses when they need Executive Coaching, the business is looking to hire people to the organization, or need some consulting around Leadership Development. I often recommend SCORE as the first resource for those who want to start a business. SCORE has trained mentors who are either retired or active business professionals that can answer many of the basic questions for a start-up.
I have had 8 SCORE mentors so far, as I have found new mentors each time I’ve relocated. Currently, I have 3; one focused on marketing, one on sales, and one for the overall management of my consulting practice. I highly recommend SCORE to people because of the quality and diverse specialties of the mentors.
What resources would you recommend to others who are in early stages of a start-up?
Please share in the comments. If you have specific questions for me, ask away. I’m happy to help
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