There are many ways to mentor entrepreneurs or small businesses, including through SCORE, which is a volunteer organization that is part of the Small Business Administration (SBA). Over the last 18 months or so I have been volunteering to help people start or grow a business through SCORE. I have encouraged would be entrepreneurs, gave them advice, partnered with them on the launch of their company (if applicable) and helped them get started.

During this process I have learned a lot about other people as well as myself. Through SCORE I have partnered with some individuals who had great ideas, tremendous work ethics, and complete focus as well as dedication on starting or growing their business. As but one example of this, just last week I met with a doctor from MUSC in Charleston South Carolina who created and is launching multiple phone applications targeting a niche that no other app is currently available for. It sounds like it may be an innovative product with some potential, but of course he needs to execute on it.

Some of my SCORE clients were on the other end of the spectrum though in which they will more than likely face future challenges. Some people may not have the best idea, were not prepared, or did not seem to have the ability to focus on their business. I even had a SCORE client who stormed out of the office and called me as well as another mentor “idiots”; he said I had no idea what I was talking about, a failure, and called me (all of 42!) washed up. Another SCORE client did not even have a copy of a property lease agreement for his tenant (as the client was so disorganized he lost it) and refused to try to get another copy of the contract. In general, I have had more positive experiences that negative ones and the process has been rewarding. Find more information on SCORE business counseling.

All sorts of people go to SCORE or other organizations for help. In addition to those few examples, I have also worked with a variety of clients at SCORE ranging from entrepreneurs seeking to start a gym to a hair dresser seeking to bring in new clients as well as Information Technology companies. I think it is a worthwhile experience, and my goal is to increase the amount of time I volunteer this year.

Even yesterday during one of my mentoring “shifts”, I had a client trying to find ways to monetize their musical band…it was an interesting appointment in learning more about the musical industry. I also just learned SCORE and its partner has international volunteering opportunities in which the mentor can travel and immerse themselves for ~2 weeks with a company based overseas…including in Africa, Europe, and other locals. I look forward to learning more about this.

Lessons learned

Through my time volunteering and mentoring at SCORE, I think I have determined there are a few key traits that can help someone be successful. In addition to my own thoughts, I have referenced other sources of data to compile a list of what it may take to start or grow a business. However everyone has their own opinions as to this (there are countless articles on the topic), and each of us has our own strengths, weaknesses, and talents. I firmly believe everyone can be successful in their own way.

  • Hard work – This is always a requirement for anyone seeking to start a business….it is not easy to do, most start-ups (and businesses in general) fail and people need to be committed to do the work and the process. They need to be driven.
  • Resiliency – The ability to get back on track after set-backs, as they are bound to happen when starting a business or running an existing one. I had a SCORE client who failed at their first couple attempts at starting a company, and now they are having some success on their third attempt.
  • Some form of expertise – SCORE reinforced my belief that anyone starting a business should really be an expert at something, and I think it is better to be the best at one or two things vs. being “average” at 50 things. Specialize and focus on some things.
  • Focus – The ability to focus on success and growing the business, setting a vision, and be able to put aside other distractions.
  • Be determined – Over 4,000 entrepreneurs responded to an Inc. magazine survey, and they identified determination as being the number one trait that leads to success.
  • Discipline – Follow a path, get up everyday, set priorities and commit to the task at hand, and have the desire to get the work done.
  • Self-reflective – Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. A business owner needs to be honest with themselves as to what they are, seek assistance for items they are weak at, and learn about themselves to grow.
  • Stress relief, calmness and cool headed – Decisions made with emotion rather than logic/thoughtfulness and without thinking it through are very harmful. Planning is critical to getting off the ground.
  • Entrepreneur magazine reinforces the concept of being open-minded in the business world and I agree. I have learned over the years that no one person has all the answers, and this was absolutely reinforced through my time at SCORE.
  • Other traits that come to mind include competitiveness, ability to be productive, communication, ability to delegate, creativity, and perseverance.

Those are just a few of the traits that I have learned from my time at SCORE or that I have read about over the years. This list also includes feedback from other mentors as well as third party publications, and it incorporates my own personal experiences in starting a business as well as working in the corporate world. I know there are many other traits and characteristics that come into play, and no one list is definitive.

We at have additional resources listed on the site about everything from working at home to job training centers. Whether you are starting your own business (and using a non-profit such as SCORE), looking for information on volunteering/mentoring, or looking for something as simple as making a few dollars working from home, the site may have some of what you need.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *