Seven out of 10 new jobs in the United States are created by small business, according to the SBA (Small Business Administration). However, 50% of those businesses will die within the first five years. Anything that can improve either number helps America and helps our economy.
This is the mission of SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives), a mission you could join in your retirement. SCORE has more than 10,000 volunteers in 300 chapters nationwide. In 2016, SCORE mentors helped start 54,072 new businesses and create 78,691 new jobs. And their help is absolutely free.
Each local SCORE chapter needs a wide variety of expertise. In ours, we have experts in non-profits, B2B, B2C, internet & social media marketing, production & operations, and finance. And our mentors come from construction, government contractors, hospitality, direct response, academia and many other industries.
SCORE made a huge difference for me when I was 24
I had an idea for a magazine about women’s sports when I was a 24-year-old living in Los Angeles. But I was stumped on how to handle subscriptions. Each subscriber was entitled to six issues per year, and all I could see was expanding complexity as each month brought in new subscribers, all with different expiration dates. (In fact, today, subscriptions are best handled by very robust, very specific software programs.)
I’ve forgotten how I heard about SCORE, but a call to them brought me exactly the “mentor” I needed — a man who had published his own magazine. It only took him a couple of hours to show me the (low-tech) method he had used and how I could adapt it to something even easier and lower tech (and next-to-no cost). Without that help, I might not have launched Sportswoman magazine. Instead, I published it for three years and sold it for enough to spend four months in Europe.
Launching that magazine not only paid for my wonderful months in Europe, it also brought me knowledge/skills that resulted in ABC, Inc. hiring me for its publishing division. That led to a long career publishing magazines and later newsletters. So you could argue that I owe SCORE for launching not only my magazine but also my career.
What’s in it for volunteers?
Besides a chance to help your country and help create jobs, there are many other benefits of becoming a SCORE mentor.
- You can help people launch their dreams! (Or help them keep their dreams, if their company has run into trouble.)
- You’ll join a social group of people with business backgrounds like yours, and people with many similar interests. This larger social network will increase your quality of life.
- Each local chapter needs officers and people with vision for new workshops, so you can use those business skills you spent so long developing!
- You can hold back some of the effects of ageism. You can again be viewed as the intelligent, contributing member of society you actually are. You won’t be invisible!
How do you become a SCORE mentor?
Here’s the link on SCORE’s website where you apply to join: https://www.score.org/volunteer. They’ll sign you up and put you in touch with your local chapter.
You can give as many (or as few) hours as you want to this organization. You can also mentor in person or via electronic means.
And… if you are a woman and/or a person of color, SCORE is extra eager to have you join. Today, 23% of SCORE volunteers are women and 9% are minorities — numbers they would like to raise. So many new businesses are being launched by women and by people of color, all of whom would appreciate someone who looks like them on the mentor team. You know you would.
Give it a try! I’ve just joined, and have worked with three clients thus far. It’s been interesting, challenging, emotionally rewarding — and just plain fun!
Marlene Jensen is a 71-year-old full-time marketing professor. Previously she was a VP at CBS and ABC and spent decades as an entrepreneur and pricing author/consultant. Sadly, none of these prepared her for the onslaught of marketers who now think her daily interests/needs consist solely of hearing aids, wheel chairs, adult diapers, medi-alert buttons, medications, and bath tubs you walk into.