Sam Walton, Founder of Walmart, was known for hiring people that worked for his competition in areas of business that he knew he needed to build up as a strength. There is a quote that he said, something like, “Surround yourself with people more knowledgeable than you are, and, you can’t go wrong.”
Sam Walton was a small business owner that listened and learned from others, then hired them to help people save money and live better. This, of course, helped him grow his business and ultimately make it the largest retailer in the world.
Sam Walton had to hire many of his leading experts but what if there was an easier way of finding experts in key business areas to help you (and it was free and you didn’t have to add them to your payroll)?
SCORE which stands for Service Corps of Retired Executives is an established nonprofit and free resource that helps small business owners through mentoring and education. It’s an opportunity for small business owners, nonprofits and small organizations to surround themselves with people more knowledgeable than they are, and that want to help with your business.
Well, there are many reasons why people volunteer but part of their core beliefs is that “small businesses and their support are critical to vibrant communities in our society”. According to their website, last year alone their volunteers donated over 1.2 million hours and helped over 148,800 small businesses. This organization believes that small businesses bring up the communities they live in. And with the goal of helping over 1 million people by 2020, that’s an open door for you to get involved and take advantage of the help out there.
Mentoring is one of the core components of SCORE’s support. On their website, you can submit a request for a mentor or find a local affiliate to help pair you with a person or a couple in your field or the area of business you want to develop. You set up the meeting time and location with your mentor and then from there, you can choose to remain in a mentoring paring or, if it doesn’t seem like a good fit, you can ask for another mentor.
Why is mentoring important?
Well, diversity of thought is incredibly important when starting a business. You may not think just like all of your customers today, the customers of tomorrow, your suppliers or you may not have the experience needed to look at a situation from different angles. I also find that it is so much nicer learning from the mistakes of others versus making them myself and in mentor situations, you can learn from their mistakes as well as best practices.
George Deeb, Managing Partner at Chicago based Red Rocket Ventures, mentions this in his article about the importance of mentoring posted on Forbes.com on Jan. 30. He is an active mentor and mentions an opportunity for him to help a small business who was working with media organizations but was unsure who to build relationships with and how to best leverage them. George was able to help them optimize their situation with some of the details in their contracts, things that he wished he’d known when he did the same thing with business earlier on in his career.
The Institute for Clinical Research Education’s website lists many ways of mentoring to benefit individuals and help them to best meet their goals:
- One on one mentoring – Allows for a closer relationship between mentor and mentee and is personalized to fit the specific need
- Team mentoring – Provides a more diverse learning atmosphere with different opinions and group learning.
- Multiple mentors – Combines both one on one and team mentoring to allow for a personalized mentoring situation but with a diversity of expertise and perspectives
- Peer mentors – Learning from people in the same stage of business or possibly a bit ahead of you allows you to compare and contrast the same issues from different approaches or perspectives
- Distance mentoring – Mentoring via emails, telephone calls, or via the web can maximize both the mentor and mentees’ time but doesn’t always allow for a closer relationship.
SCORE Webinars & Workshops
Webinars are a great way to dig into particular topics in the comfort of your own home, office, or listen in on your way to work. SCORE offers many new options every month and provides the older webinars on their website for viewing at your leisure. Their next live webinar is on Oct. 1: Know Thyself: How to ID your behavioral style and flex it to achieve business success.
Workshops are a way to get the learnings of a webinar but also receive the added benefit of networking with other small businesses and mentors. These types of sessions are not always easy for those that are time-constrained to attend but at times, provide more value and allow for additional information to be shared in question and answer time, allowing for a bit more personalized experience in addition to the networking opportunities. In Northwest Arkansas, the nearest SCORE chapter is in Springdale, Ark. but they have meetings all over the area. If you are outside of NWA, click HERE to find a SCORE chapter near you and to find out when their upcoming workshops are held.
One of the most common ways for people to learn today is the “Google search” approach which is basically searching for a particular topic because an issue came up and you have no clue how to address it. When you have this happen or simply want to dive into a particular topic of business, SCORE has a full list of resources available to assist you. Looking at the main page of their website (example picture above), you will find a valuable list of topics and subtopics listed in their main toolbar. No need to click hundreds of times to get to the information you want, it is organized and easy to find. (Shameless plug alert: We can help make your website this clean and user-friendly, email Michael to find out how.)
Why take my time with SCORE?
Lastly, if I haven’t fully convenience you of the countless benefits and opportunities to take advantage of with this organization, here are my top 10 reasons why you should take the time to learn from this organization:
- It’s Free – This is a no-cost opportunity for you to learn from experts in the business, in your community or across the nation.
- They are experts – These are retired EXECUTIVES in various industries. They are leaders that have years of experience, knowledge and leadership skills to pass on and, they want you to keep them busy 🙂
- They want to help you – They are not people that are forced into doing this. They are volunteers and they do this to give back and help develop people and small businesses.
- They are organized – This isn’t an organization or group of people that go willy-nilly or can’t follow through to their commitments. They have been in business or in roles that require a level of commitment and dependability, something that many small business owners can learn from.
- They have resources available – They have resources available, either through learnings on their main page, from their members or from their business sponsors.
- Other organizations think they are awesome – They have countless awards and recommendations from companies and organizations across the nation.
- They appreciate your feedback – This isn’t one sided. They are here to help you and want to know what is working, what isn’t and what you really need to grow.
- They have numbers to prove their effectiveness – They don’t just talk about being effective, they have metrics to prove they are impactful. Look at their 2014 numbers here.
- They are easy to access – Whether you want one on one mentoring or just have time to listen to a webinar on your way to work, you can connect with them as frequently as you need.
- Did I mention they are free? Again, most people pay for access to these types of people and this hub of subject matter experts – they are called business consultants and they come at a premium.
Thanks for reading and for more on small business resources, check out more blogs from Type 3 Web Design.