There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but at SCORE (the Service Corps of Retired Executives), small business financial counselors offer a tasty menu of no- to low-cost financial services to help you launch your small business or better manage your current operations.
SCORE is a nonprofit association of business counselors dedicated to assisting small business owners through education and confidential one-on-one support. Over the years, SCORE’s volunteer corps of both employed and retired executives and corporate leaders has assisted more than 8 million small businesses.
While SCORE volunteers possess wide-ranging business skills, the organization’s considerable and deep financial know-how attracts many fledgling entrepreneurs. SCORE’s wide array of finance-driven services includes the following:
- In-person mentoring: Whether you need assistance fine-tuning your business plan, have questions about funding, or need ideas for keeping the business solvent in economic downturns, a SCORE counselor can help. You can make an appointment for a one-on-one meeting with a counselor at one of SCORE’s 370 offices nationwide. Typically these meetings last an hour, but you can return as often as needed to get your financial planning on track. There is no cost for an in-person meeting.
- Online mentoring: If you just have a few financial questions, or you need a financial expert to be your sounding board, online mentoring may be right for you. Fill out the mentoring form on SCORE’s Web site, and submit your questions. A business advisor will contact you within 48 hours. This service is also free.
- Financial workshops: SCORE offers both online and onsite financial management workshops to assist you with business planning and execution. The cyber workshops run the gamut from preparing a cash budget and balance sheet to analyzing financial ratios and assessing your company’s financial needs. If you’re a financial neophyte, you might benefit more from an onsite business workshop. The workshops vary by chapter but usually cover topics such as business-plan writing and accounting basics. The cost for these workshops is nominal.
- Loan workshops: SCORE and its partner, the Small Business Administration, do not lend money. But they do team up to host business-loan workshops that help entrepreneurs understand their options. These free workshops cover details about the SBA’s loan guarantee program and basic financial principles and are often attended by a local banker who can give an insider’s view about small business loan requirements.
- Other resources: SCORE offers additional resources, such as finance-related podcasts; free documents, including a small business finance guide and financial management workbook for self-study; and business templates for a business plan, profit and loss projection, breakeven analysis, and more.
For more information visit the SCORE Web site or call 800-634-0245.