SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses start, grow, and succeed nationwide. SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and has been mentoring small business owners for more than forty years.
SCORE is a valuable network of 13,000+ volunteers who offer small business entrepreneurs confidential business counseling services at no charge. SCORE volunteers have the knowledge and experience to help any small business owner get the help they need. Our dedicated volunteers represent over 3,000 years of experience across 62 industries.
SCORE also provides local workshops and events throughout the country to connect small business owners with the people and information they need to start, grow, and maintain their businesses, as well as online workshops available 24/7. SCORE provides resources, templates and tools to assist entrepreneurs in developing tools and plans they need to navigate their way to small business success.
Founded in 1964, SCORE is headquartered in Herndon, VA and has 364 chapters throughout the United States and its territories, with over 13,000 volunteers nationwide.
Tip Of The Mitt SCORE Exciting News
National SCORE Chapter of the Year Award
The “Tip of the Mitt” SCORE chapter (0622) located in scenic Northern Michigan, was established in 1988. The driving force was provided by the recently departed Mr. William Douglass, and Andy Hayes, currently the Executive Director of the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance. In 1988, Andy was the President of the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce. Initial guidance and training were provided by the Traverse City SCORE Chapter. The initial 10 volunteers were trained by Bill Douglass who traveled several times a month to Traverse City to be trained by the Traverse City Chapter. Bill served as the Chapter 0622 Chair for 10 years.
Northern Michigan is differentiated from southern Michigan. Northern Michigan is sparsely populated and has a very diminutive manufacturing sector. It is primarily service oriented and supports tourism. Golfing, boating, beach activities, fishing, fall color tours, snowmobiling, skiing (both down hill & cross-country), snow shoeing all drive much of the commercial activity. They provide about ten months of resort commerce. Major employers outside tourism include McLaren Regional Hospital and North Central Michigan College. There are also several senior housing facilities in the area.
There is still manufacturing in Northern Michigan; however, the manufacturing sector is static and not growth oriented. The area was originally a major timber center and logging remains a factor in the economy. Retail, construction, lodging, restaurants, and commerce that support recreation constitute the majority of the clients Tip of the Mitt SCORE chapter serves.
It needs to be stated the Tip of the Mitt chapter is small when compared to other successful chapters. We service a sparsely populated large area with a limited budget (less that $1,000/year) and only 15 volunteers. A large geographic area is serviced – approximately 100,000 in the upper lower peninsula and 300,000 in the 16,000 square mile Upper Peninsula.
As stated, approximately 15 dedicated volunteers mentor the northern third of the Lower and Upper Peninsula in Michigan. The volunteers include:
- An Ivy League (Yale) retired marketing executive that has been SCORE mentoring for 20 years
- A master’s degree engineer with a University of Chicago MBA. This gentleman supervised major construction projects in Iran, Great Britain and Australia. He is versed in business plan formatting and goal setting.
- A retired Ford Motor Company Personnel Executive. She is an expert in all personnel matters including progression and succession and working with non-profit enterprises.
- A recently, semi-retired Northern Michigan small business founder. She intimately understands the idiosyncrasies of doing business in Northern Michigan.
- An attorney versed in all facets of law.
- A retired intellectual property attorney who founded an information technology company.
- A former mayor of Petoskey, who owned/operated an automobile dealership in the area and then founded a retail haberdashery business. He is also a graduate electrical engineer who worked for IBM. This gentleman has lived in the Petoskey area and literally knows everyone.
- A recently retired bank officer that specialized in Small Business Administration interface and commercial lending.
- A retired owner of three local assisted living facilities. She is also experienced in working with non-profits.
- A retired CPA that managed a supplier to Toyota Motor Company.
- A retired business owner that supplied business furniture and supplies.
- An MBA with extensive marketing experience.
- A retired supply-side management executive.
We have two additional women to our ranks (now three). We also have volunteers with Non-Christian religious backgrounds to add to our diversified team. We counsel with a minimum of two mentors for each client appointment. This has proven beneficial in our effectiveness and training. It also provides better feedback to the clients. It should be noted that we (counselors) “like” each other. We regularly socialize together. We feel strong personal relationships and trust is vital to our success. Being small is actually an advantage for us.
SCORE has become an integral part of the community. We are truly part of the fabric of Northern Michigan. The chapter regularly assists the local college instructional staff by proving instruction to their classrooms. The counselors teach entrepreneur basics, cost accounting, leadership, business practices for artists and social networking. This teaching has been in practice for three years.
The counselors visit clients to ask “how is it going”. We maintain a “first name-friends” relationship with many of our clients. It is not uncommon for clients to call us several months or years after their last visit. They have told us “you are an important part of our business – you are like a board of directors for us”. It is not unusual for us to make “cold calls” to area business during the course of personal activities. Rarely do we have to explain “what is SCORE”.
We have helped non-profit organizations such as the Northern Michigan Chamber Orchestra, Christ Child Society, local YMCA, Great Lakes Sailing School and area churches. We have assisted them develop strategic plans and/or goal setting. We also provide aid in how to minimize embezzlement.
The local mayor, city manager and safety director have met with selected SCORE team members for advice on decision making process and budget proposals. We are an integral part of the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce. They provide administrative help at no charge. They also house our files and prove a conference rooms for our monthly team meetings and mentoring sessions.
The SCORE chapter provides two articles per month for the Petoskey News Review (circulation approximately 10,000). This activity has been in effect for almost four years. These articles run the full gamut of help and information for small business owners. The articles have included tax advice, how to write a business plan, business hours, personnel issues, marketing, embezzlement avoidance, etc. We receive positive feedback from new clients and community leaders from these articles and they also provide first time clients. The Petoskey News Reviews features the articles in the business section with eye-grabbing placement and key lines.
A recent Petoskey News Review insert entitled “2013-2014 Our Community” showcased a Tip or the Mitt SCORE counselor, but perhaps more importantly, featured five successful SCORE clients!
Seven SCORE counselors are active Rotarians and use this service organization to promote the services of SCORE. Two members are Rotary past presidents, one a president elect, and five past or present board members. At least 15 Rotarians are SCORE clients.
The SCORE chapter regularly partners with the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance. NLEA provides business assistance in the northern four counties of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. We jointly teach monthly "How to Really Start Your Own Business: Practical Information From Those Who Have Done It" Classes. About 10 to 20 attendees participate in these classes. This joint activity commenced in 2013.
Goals for 2013 were exceeded in Total Local Services, Face-to-Face and Workshop attendees. All were at all-time highs. It should be noted the members tend to not focus on metrics, but rather quality interfacing and successful coaching. Many of our counseling sessions result in advising clients to not venture in what we feel is a dangerous financial situation. We spend a great deal of time advising people to save their hard earned money, do not borrow against their homes or incur credit card debt. In spite of not holding ourselves to “lose or fail” metrics, out numbers continue to improve.
We strongly encourage all clients to reschedule follow-up meetings and normally walk them to the SCORE scheduler and witness them make follow-up meetings. So much of our success depends on the trust gained by meeting several times.
Partnering with Northern Lakes Economic Alliance has resulted in the Monthly workshops mentioned above. This is a new activity and is proving to be beneficial to the SCORE brand.
For the second year, we named a SCORE “Client of the Year’ in conjunction with a local bank. A small cash award was made and press coverage was significant as provided by the Petoskey News Review.
Because we dual mentor, ethical behavior is almost a given. We have, and do believe, this is vital to professional counseling.
Adding women to our cadre has improved our client/mentor relationships. We mirror SCORE nationwide, in that about 60% of our clients are women.
OUTCOMES AND SUCCESSES
In our monthly meetings we allocate time to discuss specific clients to not only share information, but also to solicit input from team members. Our diminutive size allows us to maintain a personal knowledge of most of our clients, by all of the team members.