BY STEVE FISHER
SMALL;BUSINESS owners don’t always
have access to the knowledge and wisdom
that come from experience. That’s where
score.org), formerly the Service
Corps of Retired Executives, comes in.
“SCORE was founded in ;;;; by a group
of former executives who wanted to give
back to their communities and pass on their
years of business experience,” says Ken
Yancey, CEO of SCORE. “As an official
resource partner of the U.S. Small Business
Administration, SCORE has helped an estimated ;; million entrepreneurs by providing free mentoring services and general
The Connection spoke with several
Costco member SCORE mentors and clients
and asked them to share their stories.
Back business backup
Suby Thomas owns Holistic Chiropractic in Northville, Michigan (ourholis
ticchiropractic.com). A chiropractor for ;;
years, she has run her own business since
When Thomas decided she wanted to
be in business for herself, she wasn’t sure
what was needed. A friend told her about
SCORE. After signing up for the free service, she was paired with Steve Feinman, a
small-business consultant and a SCORE
mentor since ;;;;.
“She was interested in setting up her
own office. And she had some issues with
doing that,” recalls Feinman.
“He asked me, what are my weaknesses,”
Thomas says. “And I said I’m not a good
marketer. That’s where it started.”
“I gave her some suggestions,” says
Feinman. “She went and followed through
with it, and she’s been back a number of
times. It’s very gratifying to see her success
come to fruition.”
In ;;;;, Mel Ettenson, a SCORE mentor
for more than ;; years, was paired with
Adam Lepczak, who was looking to start a
computer-repair business, Computer Fix
computerfix.org) in Ferndale, Michigan.
“I’d been searching for whatever help
was out there, in terms of starting a busi-
ness,” recalls Lepczak. “I decided to give
[SCORE] a shot. When I walked in the door,
I definitely knew that the person on the
other side was qualified. He had done his
homework about me, so he was able to start
asking good questions right away. I was
immediately drawn into quality advice and
a genuine desire to help.”
“I knew, generally, what his business
interest was,” says Ettenson. “But once we
got into that, and he told me what he was
going to do, I asked him how many employ-
ees he hoped to employ, and talked about
managing a business, and employees.
“We talked a little bit about organiza-
tional structure, and then most of it was
Lepczak did not want to spend too
much money on marketing. He wanted to
simplify the business, and he didn’t have a
lot of money to invest. “So we immediately
talked about what I call practical market-
ing,” says Ettenson, “which is word of
mouth and referrals.”
Discussions also centered on separate
pricing models for businesses and individ-
Building a furniture business
Cynthia Heathcoe rose from homelessness to find a niche in the furniture business, but her sales skills were holding her
back from advancing. When an opportunity
to start her own business came up, Penny
Pompei, a client who happened to be a
SCORE mentor, convinced her to give the
group a try.
“I kind of had an idea, I knew the direc-
tion I wanted to go and Penny helped me,”
says Heathcoe. “She didn’t do it for me; she
didn’t tell me specifically what to do. She
did an amazing job at educating and steering
me, without me really knowing what she was
doing, which I give her a lot of credit for ...
because she knows I’m kind of a take-charge
kind of person.”
Heathcoe was able to get her business,
Contemporary Living (contemporary
livingpbg.com) in Palm Beach Gardens,
Florida, up and running and has been thriv-
ing for the past three years.
“SCORE is available to anybody,” says
Heathcoe. “You don’t have to fit into a certain box to be eligible for a conversation with
them and that relationship of mentorship.
You don’t have to really have all your ducks
in a row. All you really have to do is just have
a desire to want to be in business. And they
can help cultivate that and guide you on the
path that’s going to be best for you.” C
HOW TO CONTACT SCORE
score.org and enter your ZIP code
in the “Get Local Advice” search box to
find the nearest SCORE chapter.
score.org and click “Find a
Mentor” to search by specialty for a
mentor who can provide online advice.
3. Call 1-800-634-0245 and ask for the
phone number of your nearest chapter.
firstname.lastname@example.org with your
location or ZIP code, and SCORE will
reply with local contact information.—SF
SCORE mentors help small businesses
SCORE mentor Steve Feinman
meets with client Suby Thomas.