SCORE Mentors and Volunteers Help Small Businesses

One of my latest emails said “Dean, I read your business columns every week, and you write about “SCORE mentors” but I haven’t seen anything about who they are and how do they become a mentor”.  John B, you are right!!!!  So let me tell you about that today.

SCORE is proud to have the nation’s largest network of volunteers, expert business mentors. Without these wonderful, willing-to-share folks, there would not be a SCORE.  Local business CEOs share their talents and expertise with the small business community in four different roles as a:

  • Mentor: they offer confidential business mentoring services, either in person or online
  • Subject matter expert: they provide focused knowledge based on their professional skills or industry
  • Workshop presenter: they lead local workshops, seminars and events to help entrepreneurs meet their goals and achieve success
  • Chapter support role: they share their skills in marketing, tech, finance, fundraising and more to help expand the outreach of SCORE

In many instances, CEOs serve in more than one role as a SCORE volunteer.  Some of us have retired from our active businesses but continue to serve.

At SCORE, we celebrate our mission through values such as Volunteers Matter and Lifelong Learning. All new members are trained to fulfill their roles effectively and are expected to reaffirm their commitment to SCORE’s mentoring methodology and code of ethics annually.

I have had the opportunity to serve in a ten-state region (from Minnesota to Alaska and from Iowa to Oregon).  In all of this, I have met and observed many small business CEOs who tell me that they enjoy a variety of personal, local and national rewards as a SCORE Volunteer.  They can:

  • Feel good knowing they helped someone achieve their goals and dreams
  • Give back to their local community by helping small businesses thrive and driving economic growth
  • Become a recognized leader in their local business community
  • Make new friends and network with SCORE volunteers and business leaders in their area
  • Grow professionally and personally with SCORE's Lifelong Learning training programs.

More specifically, these various roles give volunteers a variety of ways to serve.

A SCORE mentor is an advisor who helps individuals and small businesses reach their goals. Mentors provide free business advice and education to aspiring entrepreneurs and existing business owners. As a mentor, they will help clients solve problems, make businesses more efficient, and assist with developing long-term business plans.

Additionally, they may discover new sources of insight and knowledge to help their own business and leadership style. Teaching others how to manage people or projects, along with illustrating ways to succeed in other aspects of business, could inspire a local CEO to continue with their own professional growth—all of this while helping their local community.

The ideal mentor is empathetic, flexible, and loves connecting people to the right resources. Mentors often have significant experience within their field, excellent communication skills, and the ability to dedicate a few hours a week.

As a SCORE subject matter expert (SME), you assist clients with your specific skill set and expertise. In this role, you will co-mentor alongside one of SCORE’s certified mentors. You will provide free business advice and education in your area of experience to clients who want to start, grow or exit their businesses.

As an SME, you’ll have access to an amazing network of SCORE volunteers and many resources for professional growth—while helping small businesses in your community. Subject matter experts should have the ability to dedicate a few hours per month.

Some CEOs have a talent and love to be a Workshop Presenter.  These may be interested in volunteering with SCORE but don’t think mentoring is the best role for them? Consider volunteering as a workshop presenter.

Workshop presenters share their business acumen with their local community.  They:

  • Create and deliver presentations in their community
  • Facilitate roundtable discussions
  • Lead educational seminars, meetups and other networking events
  • Track the statistics on their workshop program

Chapter Support Roles.  If you don't wish to mentor or train entrepreneurs but still want to volunteer, there are many other ways that you can help. 

Every SCORE chapter depends on the talent and time of volunteers to help entrepreneurs achieve their dreams of small business ownership.

SCORE chapters depend on general volunteers to work on specific projects. These volunteers are staffed on tasks based on their unique skills and are welcome to assist with leadership and support tasks—they really are the backbone of the organization. For example, some CEOs might be able to sharpen their email marketing, networking and social media skills while helping the local business community. If you are interested in aiding a local chapter with data and analytics, pulling reports, helping with local events, or serving in other capacities that will make your local chapter more effective, let us know.

Examples of chapter support roles include:

  • Community Ambassador
  • Partnerships & Fundraising
  • Media Contact for National and Local PR
  • Marketing
  • Chapter Administrator
  • IT Administrator
  • And more

SCORE welcomes current or retired CEOs who want to help other business folks make their dreams come true.

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

Business Folks Share Their Expertise