Everyone needs a little advice now and again, a nudge in the right direction, someone to bounce ideas off or provide a helping hand. This is exactly what small businesses have had since 1984 through the mentors who volunteer for Northern Arizona SCORE – and best of all, it’s for free!
The main office for the Northern Arizona Chapter is located in Prescott; but help is available throughout Yavapai, Coconino and Mohave counties. The extent of knowledge from this one chapter covers such wide-ranging expertise as; Accounting, Aerospace, Assistant Professor, Author, Banker, Business Administration, Business Consulting, Business Expansion, Corporate Ombudsman, Customer Service, Distribution, Hospitality, Human Resources, Lodging, Marketing, Military Careers, Nuclear power industry, Patent creator, Personnel Security, Photographer, Pilot, Product development, Retail, Risk Management, Sales, SBA loans, Social Media, Technology, Telecommunications, Tourism, Travel, and Women's sportswear just to name a few.
Plus, in addition to all the knowledge and experience they bring, these volunteers are also your neighbors, your friends, your customers and most importantly, they are citizens of your community. The Northern Arizona SCORE chapter has some amazingly talented and accomplished folks, some retired and some who are still actively running their businesses.
And, although, no chapter can cover every possible business, the good news is that the counselors can tap into the nationwide resources of SCORE – and all that is FREE to SCORE clients.
What the entrepreneur receives, regardless if it is someone just beginning a business or someone who has been operating for years, is confidential mentoring; not a hand out, but a hand up to help avoid the pitfalls so many small businesses face. Typical areas of support include:
(1) Beginning a business, establishing name and legal entity
(2) Promoting, pricing and selling a product or service
(3) Accounting and financial management techniques
(4) Protecting intellectual property with patents, copyrights and trademarks
(5) Hiring, training, compensating and motivating employees
(6) Creating a Business Plan and finding financing
(7) Complying with business and labor laws and regulations
(8) Using the Internet in business.
So who are some the folks that have profited through SCORE’s mentorship program? Eric Moore, owner of Jay’s Bird Barn began his business in 2003 in a 575 sq. ft. building at Watter’s Garden Center in Prescott. He has worked with three different counselors over the course of his business transitions. Moving from that small space to a shop in the Safeway Shopping Center on Willow Creek Road, dealing with a fire at that location, increasing his Prescott store to now having three shops; the original in Prescott, one in Sedona and the third, opened just last year in Flagstaff.
What does Eric say about SCORE? “SCORE has provided on-going support over the years and several of the SCORE counselors are also my customers,” he declared, “and the support from SCORE has been both on an informal basis and then on a structured basis when I needed more formalized assistance. So, even though I didn’t always have a need for specific direction, I still had casual but consistence guidance. And, when I needed more assistance, SCORE has been there.”
Larry Curell, owner of Better Deal Printing, began his business in his garage. Now, with tremendous support from his co-mentors, Tom Roegge and Joe VanBourgondien, he has acquired the designation of a disabled veteran business owner and has franchised his business and has franchisees in five states. He has just moved his headquarters in Prescott to a 13,850 sq. ft. location at 6750 Intercal Way near the airport.
Larry encourages other entrepreneurs to reach out to SCORE and he advises, “Don’t wait for the phone to ring; you have to be pro-active and ask for the business you seek.”
Bob and Susan Obijiski had been looking for an opportunity to own their own business. In 2013, the owners of Ramsey’s Rocks and Minerals, a Sedona retail landmark, decided it was time to retire and sell their business. The Obijiskis were paired with Wade Bell. With his background in commercial banking, this relationship turned out to be an excellent match. Wade guided Bob and Susan through the steps needed to value the business, create a business plan, obtain an SBA loan, negotiate a fair purchase price, and ultimately make Ramsey’s their own.
Sue enthused, "Many business owners consider SCORE for the free advice and counsel, and that is certainly a benefit, but the real value is in the years of experience and knowledge the SCORE team offers. Their insight and skill provide a steady hand for both new and existing business owners. More than two years into our relationship, Wade is still with us, offering counsel and advice and helping us to develop creative ways to succeed in our business endeavor. We consider Wade a part of our team!"
If you are planning on becoming one of America’s small businesses or want to make changes, either large or small to your existing business, this is where SCORE’s volunteers are invaluable. They will guide you through the steps of launching, establishing and growing a business or making adjustments to your current business. They are the folks who invest their time and energies to meet with you, help you find solutions and talk through whatever issues you are grappling with.