Navigating a Solid Path to Entrepreneurship

The path to business ownership is an exciting journey. Sometimes it is straight and simple; other times it takes you on a long and winding road.

New, potential small business CEOs have probably dreamed of owning your own business for a long time. But dreaming alone is not enough. You need knowledge, resources, and a plan for transforming that dream into reality.

Think of it this way…. would you set out on a long-dreamed-of vacation without an itinerary, a road map or a GPS to show you the way? Of course, you wouldn’t— and you shouldn’t start your entrepreneurial journey without guidance, either. When you have a plan for getting where you want to go, you’re more likely to get there. That’s where a mentor from SCORE comes in.

At SCORE, we’ve been helping aspiring business owners succeed for more than 50 years. From working with thousands of small business clients from across the country each year, we’ve learned that all startup entrepreneurs share the same fears and concerns:

  •  Financial fears of not finding funding, losing money on the business, not having enough money to start, or losing current income
  • Fear of making bad decisions
  • Worries about finding customers and not knowing how to market the business
  • Concerns about being disorganized or lacking motivation
  • Fear of failure

I am starting a series of columns that will provide several helpful business topics for the new small business. It will be based on one of SCORE’s recent projects that was developed with the help of and in partnership with FedEx. This project is called “Startup Roadmap” and outlines every step in starting a business. A SCORE mentor will use this program to help you reach your goal smoothly. Working with a mentor greatly increases a startup entrepreneur’s odds of success. Consider these statistics:

  • Entrepreneurs with access to a mentor are five times more likely to start a business than those who do not have a mentor.
  • 70 percent of mentored businesses survive more than five years — double the rate for non-mentored small businesses over that same time period.
  • 93 percent of startup entrepreneurs say mentorship is instrumental to their success.

Whatever adventures your startup journey holds for you, the Startup Roadmap provides direction along the way. It will help you chart a course to success, minimizing detours and dead ends so you can get to your goal faster.

To reach your destination faster, I suggest that you work on the Startup Roadmap with a SCORE mentor. Like an experienced tour guide, your SCORE mentor can point out things you might otherwise miss, offer insider suggestions and shortcuts, and help you make the most of your journey. Each chapter of the Startup Roadmap contains:

  • Steps to Success: A series of steps you complete to move on to the next chapter. Each step contains concrete, actionable tasks to complete, as well as information to help you. Some steps include recommended homework; your mentor may recommend additional work. 
  • With Your Mentor: This section provides suggested topics you can discuss with your mentor. This might include questions you can ask or recommendations on what types of mentors might be best to help you with the current topic.
  • Resources: Information and resources, including tools, templates, and online workshops, to help you learn more or complete the steps in that chapter.

Starting a business is an exhilarating adventure. Along the way, you will have good days and bad ones. Do not get discouraged. As Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” And if you work with a SCORE mentor, you do not have to do it alone.

About the Author(s)

Dean Swanson

Dean is a Certified SCORE Mentor and former SCORE Chapter Chair, District Director, and Regional Vice President for the North West Region, and has developed and managed many businesses. The Rochester Post Bulletin publishes his weekly article on a topic geared toward the small business community. The articles here are printed in their entirety.

Certified SCORE Mentor for the Southeast Minnesota Chapter

Key Topics

“Startup Roadmap” Helps Entrepreneur’s Launch Their Business