A lot has changed in how small business owners’ access information in the 50 years since SCORE started helping small business owners create business plans and apply for financing. Since 1964, their roughly 11,000 volunteers (both retired and active business professionals) have connected with a little over 10 million small businesses the good old-fashioned way, one-on-one.
In an interview with the Washington Post’s J.D. Harrison, David R. Bobbit, SCORE Foundation president and vice president of development for the foundation’s parent non-profit association, believes their mentorship model isn’t something they plan to abandon any time soon.
When asked about the challenges facing small business, Bobbit identified the biggest challenge as financing. “Number one is financing, and how do we get them [the small business owners mentored by SCORE volunteers] the loans or the investments they need to get started and grow,” said Bobbit.
“The first business I started was a real estate company in the ‘90s, and I went to a bank and basically financed it with a home equity line of credit,” he said. That has become harder to do, and many entrepreneurs don’t have those traditional financing options right now.”
Although there are many online options available for small business owners looking for advice and tips to build their businesses, the face-to-face relationships they build with SCORE mentors is still valuable. “What we’ve learned is that engaged mentoring still works best, and what’s important for us is to emphasize those long-term relationships,” he said, “…our real strength is building that long-term relationship over many years, where your mentor truly knows your business and can be a helpful resource on a variety of matters.”