Monday, April 4, 2011

Two Months Later -SCORE!

The good news is I've been so busy that blogging has taken a back seat on my agenda of "things to do" since the end of January. The bad news is I'm still uncertain what direction to take my blog in. But let me at least pick up where I left off on January 25th with some really good advice.

...I checked my email. Something I do at least 10 times a day. I find it hard to accept that some business owners I know check their email maybe once a week or less. They would have missed the opportunity that I received back sometime around March of 2009 from Wilmington It was an open invitation to attend a SCORE awards breakfast at the Landfall Country Club. I didn't know what SCORE was so I clicked the link in the email to their website. It did not take me long to realize this was a valuable invitation and an open door we needed to walk through. (this is where you should pause, click the SCORE link and learn about them) then come back and read on. I went to the breakfast not knowing what to expect and heard three incredible success stories from entrepreneurs who received counseling advice from a SCORE adviser and how that help continued long after they had opened their businesses. I heard from advisers themselves telling why they are volunteers in the organization, giving back to the business community after retiring from successful careers. And I had the opportunity to meet Sara Raleigh, then Wilmington SCORE president and retail professional. Crescent Moon at the time wanted to secure working capital to help get us through the tail end of the recession. We had made all the right adjustments internally, so a little external help seemed the right choice. But our bank wasn't listening or helping. Sara Raleigh agreed immediately to come to our shop for a meeting and assessment. I felt optimistic right then and there. What amazed me is that this meeting was not going to cost us a penny. Every bit of advice, hand-holding, document reviews and planning help wasn't going to cost us a penny. That is invaluable. Sara Raleigh subsequently helped me through 4 months of writing a business plan and marketing plan that ultimately allowed us to secure a "community express" loan from Superior Financial Group (more on SFG in the next post). Sara was a mentor and a tutor and sounding board all in one. I've written a few business plans for others in the past, but writing one for our existing business and not a start up was new for me. The thing about SCORE is that they have several advisers that come from different business backgrounds and can assist small businesses in lots of ways other than BP writing. They are volunteers whose passion is helping others thrive. That the service is free is priceless. I should make note here that SCORE is a resource partner of the Small Business Administration. Wilmington Score has recently joined the social media environment and can be "liked" on Facebook and "followed" on Twitter.

My priceless advice to add to this? Open your never know what you will find there that could take your business to the next level.