It has been my pleasure to be a SCORE mentor for almost 14 years. Walt Knowles (now departed), Herb Carlson and Bill Hicklen approached me and then recruited me. Through the years, my fellow mentors have become more than colleagues, they have become friends. We share a common trait — we like to help people. Earlier this year, I had the satisfaction to recruit my recently retired brother-in-law to become a mentor in Fort Myers, Florida.
For most of us, SCORE is an integral part of our lives. Ifound myself scheduling vacations and trips out of town around the schedules and needs of my clients. A few clients have subsequently become mentors.
A few common threads form the foundation of small businesses. Two especially come to mind: (1) marketing and (2) cash management.
Many people have a great idea or product; however, if potential customers do not become aware of the product or service, there will be no business. “Build it and they will come” does not apply. SCORE mentors all reinforce the need for a marketing plan as one of the most important elements of the business plan.
Cash flow/cash management is the second foundation most needed. Adequate financing will be needed to buy raw materials, rent/buy floor space, pay wages and withholding taxes, pay sales tax, and any other expenses that must be paid. Clients often must decide if they will be giving up their “day jobs.” Normally we advise them to not give up a current job unless there are adequate cash reserves or the spouse has sufficient income. What happens if a coronavirus comes along? SCORE counselors will tend to bore in on the financial plan.
“One liners” I have found myself using include:
- “Raise your prices.” We tend to undervalue our goods and services here in Northern Michigan
- “If you don’t write it down, it didn’t happen”
- “People do what you inspect, not what you expect”
- “Attention to detail is the difference between mediocrity and superiority”
- The most important words a leader can say are “Here’s what we’re going to do”
We should acknowledge that the Tip of the Mitt SCORE chapter has become an integral part of the Northern Michigan business communities. Mentors in our chapter have and will continue to make a difference.