Every small business owner has a moment where they realize they could use the guidance of someone with more experience who can be a trusted advisor and confidant. But how do you find an honest sounding board?
Many small business professionals turn to the non-profit SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives). With more than 12,000 volunteer mentors in 340 chapters across the United States, SCORE has experience in more than 60 industries. Just last year, as the resource partner of the Small Business Administration they helped their entrepreneur clients launch 38,000 new businesses, which helped spur approximately 82,000 jobs.
SCORE matches experts with small businesses and entrepreneurs. By going to their website, www.score.org, a user can request a consultation with a volunteer to discuss plans and goals. In today’s mobile age, face-to-face meetings often take a back seat to email communications.
“This is a ‘got to have it now’ world,” says Bert Shlensky, an expert in Internet and mobile marketing from the Fairfield County, Conn., chapter of SCORE. “The beauty of working mobile is we can answer requests at any time. We can send documents, business plan templates and tips without an in-person meeting. A high percentage of the businesspeople we talk to are already plugged in the mobile world, so it’s their preferred method too.”
Shlensky says an area that many businesses overlook is mobile marketing. He offered the following tips to business owners.
- Optimize your website for smartphones and tablets. Eight out of 10 small business sites fail to do this, which could cause a prospective customer to have a negative experience.
- Think visually. A mobile device is a great tool to take pictures and videos to share with customers on your website, Twitter or other social media sites.
Mobile technology can give a company instant intelligence on what its competitors are doing. “You always have to be aware of what your rivals are up to. Read their websites, check out their news and offers and adjust. Be nimble,” said Shlensky.
Before approaching an organization like SCORE for assistance, it’s important for the entrepreneur to have a clear-cut idea of what he or she hopes to accomplish, says Phil Greene, another mentor from the Fairfield County SCORE group who specializes in start-ups and buying and selling businesses.
“Our passion is to get people over the hump and be successful with a lot of trust and support,” says Greene. “Right off the bat, we help our entrepreneurs develop an elevator pitch. It’s probably the hardest thing they have ever done, but it’s worth all the effort and refinement. The only thing we don’t do is give legal and tax advice.”
A final takeaway from Shlensky and Greene is to remember the mantra of the “Five P’s: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.”