With new businesses started every minute in the US, many entrepreneurs and individuals initially turn to the Internet for advice. But nothing can replace learning firsthand from seasoned business executives, who know the steps to success. SCORE, an affiliate of the Small Business Administration (SBA), taps into the valuable human resource of retired business professionals, who are willing to share their knowledge free of charge with budding entrepreneurs.
Two of Chicago’s 120 SCORE mentors are available on alternate Wednesdays at the Northbrook Chamber office to meet with individuals who are thinking of starting or need advice on growing their business. Retired executives Bob Davis and Boyd Harman each bring a wealth of experience to the table and are prepared to help individuals analyze their business concept and map the steps to get the business up and running.
With a combined 40 years of experience in the areas of procurement merchandising and operations, Davis served over 16 years as the Director of Purchasing for Canteen Corporation, a vending company. For 17 years he served as Director of Grocery for Topco Associates, a $13 billion company where he was responsible for over $200 million a year in private label manufactured food products for the retail supermarket trade.
Harman has 45 years experience in business working for four different companies; 28 years in corporate financial analysis, including extensive international experience. Harman worked for Bell & Howell for 25 years before moving over to a career in banking. He worked for Societe Generale for 15 years, where he had numerous overseas assignments living in England, Canada, Japan, Brazil and Australia.
Both Davis and Harman agree that it’s important for their clients to understand how to go from conceptualizing a business idea to evaluating whether or not it has value, particularly if they need funding. Harman advises all clients to have a written, flexible business plan. “A Business Plan helps most clients dig down to the basics and makes them realize what they don’t know,” comments Davis. Tapping into their own extensive experience and the wealth of SCORE resources, they guide individuals through the process of developing a business plan.
Both counselors help their clients “flesh out” their ideas and point them in the right direction, or in some cases allow them to come to the conclusion that perhaps their idea is not a sound one at the time. “In addition, we can direct them to additional information on websites as well as SCORE resources that may help them” comments Davis. Through workshops and meetings offered by SCORE, the mentors keep themselves up to date on best business practices as well as the latest in technology.
“We have a broad knowledge of many different areas,” comments Davis. “However, business problems are business problems and are not really all that unique.” The counselors provide a sounding board and always encourage their clients to make appointments for follow up.
For more information on SCORE, or to read more about many of their success stories, visit www.scorechicago.org