There is a lot to consider when starting and running a small business. Luckily, business owners don’t have to go at it alone. For decades, businesses across the country have relied on SCORE for business advice of all kinds, at little to no charge.

David Maaske, Wisconsin and Metro Chicago District Director explains that SCORE, a national organization, was founded in 1964 as a resource partner of the United States Small Business Association. The organization provides free business consulting, mentoring and resources for small businesses.

Maaske will be one of the mentors at a SCORE event Feb. 25 at the Brookfield Public Library.

Network of mentors 

“The bench strength is awesome,” Area SCORE mentor Nancy Horwath said of the organization’s network of mentors.

SCORE has 11,000 mentors nationwide who work with folks thinking of starting their own business, current business owners and employees who are looking to bring knowledge back to their organization. Businesses are paired with mentors with experience in their business’ field. Guidance is given in nearly every area of business, from strategic planning to discussing whether a business idea is a viable one. If a mentor isn’t available locally, one is found among the network.

Horwath said the organization is not a consulting service. Rather, they help small businesses get over hurdles, but the client has to do the work in implementing the guidance they're given.

There are 220 SCORE mentors in Wisconsin, with around 70 in southeastern Wisconsin who collectively serve about 1,000 clients. Maaske explains that, on average, each mentor will help start around three small businesses and be responsible for approximately four new jobs each year.

Workshops offered

SCORE also holds workshops which are hosted by either mentors or business personnel from other outlets. Non-mentors are welcome to host workshops in their areas of expertise, or even to share a presentation that they made for work that may appeal to others. A small fee is asked for those attending workshops. Additionally, SCORE will offer to speak at workplace events to teach employees about the organization.

Horwath said that SCORE is "a wonderful way to give back to the community and share the skills that you've honed." Even people new to the business world can benefit by practicing and learning skills. Mentors can volunteer in a few hour chunks of time. Of course, it's also a great way to network with other business professionals.

“The primary motivation (for mentors) is to give back to their communities” and to continue to be active in their profession, said Maaske. It allows them to continue to learn new things, regardless of whether they're still working.

“It’s really a good organization for both the mentor and the clients,” Maaske said.

Around 80 percent of mentors are retired, while 20 percent are still working.

SCORE is currently looking for more mentors.

"There is a ton of opportunity to make a difference in the community and hone skills that you want to focus on," Horwath said.

For Horwath, being a SCORE mentor means being able to share something that she loves — business — with others.

"This lets me give back to the community by doing things that I enjoy and that make a difference."

SCORE event at the Brookfield Public Library 

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25

WHERE: Brookfield Public Library, 1900 N. Calhoun Road

WHAT: Five SCORE mentors will be on hand, each with four time slots, to chat with folks about their current business, business idea or anything else business-related.

RESERVATIONS: Visit www.scoresewisconsin.org and click on “Additional Upcoming Events” to find the counseling event at the Brookfield Library, or contact SCORE at 414-297-3942.

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