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Thinking of jumping into the shark-infested waters known at entrepreneurialism? Best not to take that leap with out a buddy swimmer watching your back.
That is what the volunteers at SCORE: Counselors to America’s Small Business in Louisville can provide – someone to look out for small business owners and possibly keep them from drowning.
“Ninety-nine percent of the business in this country is entrepreneurial. They represent the core of economic activity in a community,” said Joe Hatfield, chairman of the Louisville chapter of SCORE.
Hatfield, who was the guest speaker at Thursday’s Spencer County-Taylorsville Chamber of Commerce luncheon, was providing information about the free services provided by SCORE.
Through counseling and workshops, SCORE uses a national volunteer force of 11,000 active and retired business professionals to dispense savvy advice. A total of 103 volunteers work out of the Louisville chapter, while other Kentucky chapters can be found in Lexington, London and Owensboro.
Whether you are interested in starting a business, or already have a business, Hatfield said SCORE supplies unbiased counseling in a confidential atmosphere. There are three ways clients can receive counseling: online, one-on-one or team counseling – where two or three field-specific volunteers help entrepreneurs work through specialized issues.
“And if you can’t get up our way, we’ll find someone to drive down here to Taylorsville,” said Hatfield.
At the initial counseling meeting, clients will first under go a needs analysis by answering a series of questions. From those responses, the lead counselor can develop a team of advisors who call themselves a shadow board. Hatfield said that usually small businesses do not have a board of directors, so the shadow board can help serve that purpose and provide guidance for the owner.
“We can meet as long as necessary,” said Hatfield, whether that means solving a client’s problems in two meetings or scheduling meetings for an entire year.
As a retired entrepreneur himself, Hatfield said that he “felt a deep need to pay back the business community.”
He encouraged other professionals at Thursday’s meeting to do the same. All potential volunteers go through an initial screening process prior to attending a two-hour orientation and 90 days of training.
SCORE, formerly known as Service Corps of Retired Executives, was founded in 1964. For more information, check out score-louisville.org, or call 502-582-5976. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Next Chamber meeting
At the September meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, the guest speaker will be Michael Ashcraft, center director of Kentucky Small Business Development Center. He will be discussing how business owners can tackle real problems instead of just trying to fix the symptoms. The next luncheon is set for Thursday, Sept. 10 at 12 p.m. in the Chamber of Commerce building.