SCORE Business Counseling, Pt.2

We recently spoke with Josh Umar, Youth and Business Resource Coordinator for The Highland Center, about what SCORE Business Counseling was, and who could benefit from it. For more in depth information, we talked with Jim Martin, Chair for Shenandoah Valley SCORE.

“SCORE, for the uninitiated, is a nationwide non-profit organization. We provide free and confidential mentoring services to small businesses and individuals looking to go into small business, start-up business for themselves. We are a partner with the Small Business Administration, and what makes us unique and is our, kind of, value-added proposition is all of our members, and we have roughly 11,000 nationwide, either are or have been, small business owners themselves, or we’ve been executives with business. So we bring a lot of personal expertise to our mentoring sessions.

“A lot of what we see here are individuals that are thinking about starting businesses. We’ve had several people come to us that were looking for help with B&B’s, with art studios, landscaping businesses. So we help them with “how do you write a business plan.”

“I always talk about what the five most important questions for a small business owner to know about their business, things like: the why of your business; who are your customers; what is it that your customers value; what kind of metrics that you’re tracking, to see if you’re actually accomplishing what you’d hoped to accomplish; and then, what is your plan. A lot of what we do is just along those lines – ask a lot of questions, get them thinking about things that perhaps they hadn’t thought about. Make them realize that it’s not easy to start a business, it’s not easy to keep a business running, and get them thinking along the right tracks, so that they can be successful. Because in the end, that’s what we’re interested in – we want them to succeed.”

He spoke about the area most clients need assistance with, and the prospect of starting a business in the current economy.

“Mostly it’s business plan. And, unfortunately, what happens when you start talking about business plan is you see people’s eyes glaze over, and you realize that they’re thinking “Oh, here’s another thesis, or here’s another paper I have to write. How many words does it have to be, how many pages does it have to be?

“And what I tell them is, a business plan is really just a roadmap of where you’re starting from, and where you want to go, and how you think you’re going to go from Point A to Point B. And you write your business plan towards your audience. If you are looking for investors to give you money to help you build your business, then you write your business plan in a certain way. Essentially, you concentrate on who your management team is, and what your financials are – have you already been selling things, and where have you been selling, and what your margins are. If you are looking for a bank loan, the banks want to know what your projections are, so you look at your financials first, then second, they generally look at your management team. A lot of people don’t understand that if they’re not looking for money from investors or banks, a business plan can be as short as one or two pages. Just something that tells them again where you’re starting from, where you’re going to, and can keep them on the right track.

“There’s never a good time or a bad time to start a business. It’s always on a case-by-case basis. Certainly, some businesses need more money to start than others, but a lot of what we see are folks that have great ideas, don’t need a lot of money – just need to get from the “why and what if” to the “how” questions.”

The next counseling sessions are scheduled for Wednesday, November 16th. For more information, or to make an appointment, contact Josh Umar at 540-468-1922.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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