Written by Nancy Ansteth

Did your favorite shop go out of business? Move its location?

Why are there so many vacant storefronts in our town? These would be ideal locations for small businesses. Right?

Do you realize the answers to these questions may be influenced by YOU?

When you see opportunities in your village, town or city, you could be the one to see them fulfilled. Your valuable insight into services and products wanted, and often needed, in your community could be all someone with the right business idea needs to prosper and fill a gap. As a conscientious community member you have the ability to guide budding entrepreneurs into roles as business owners and contributing members of the local scenery.

How? SCORE. Become a volunteer mentor with your local Auburn SCORE chapter. Share your knowledge and experience to improve your community. When SCORE was established over 50 years ago, it was originally comprised of retirees. This organization now welcomes volunteers from all phases of employment, all ages, with diversity being a prime focus.

Our mentors have a variety of backgrounds offering a variety of experiences from accountants, to attorneys, bankers, marketers, managers, directors, nonprofits, farmers, veterans, engineers, etc. They may have started their own business, acquired a business, failed at a business, or held an important position. What they all have in common is that they share the information they have learned with local entrepreneurs. Our mentors may not know every answer, but through our chapter’s network of resources, they can find the answers.

SCORE is a national organization with hundreds of chapters and thousands of volunteers throughout the United States. They offer education and support to all of their mentors and entrepreneurs, so no one has to go it alone. Auburn SCORE encourages mentors to align themselves with other mentors whose fields of experience or expertise complement their own. The client then benefits from multiple, diverse contributions. In the beginning, most of the new volunteers will “co-mentor” until they are comfortable enough to meet with clients on their own. Entrepreneurs should NEVER have to wander into the realm of business startup without benefit of guidance and support! Our services are FREE and CONFIDENTIAL!

The time commitment of our SCORE mentors depends upon each person. Each mentor can control how many clients they work with and even schedules their own meetings. While some of our mentors only work with a few clients at a time, others enjoy assisting several. The time commitment is up to each mentor.

The local Auburn SCORE Chapter is conveniently located at 2 State St. in downtown Auburn along with a host of other business resources. Their co-location with the Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce and the Cayuga Economic Development Agency provides connections that makes it a one-stop for people starting or growing their business.

Now, do you enjoy making a difference in your community? As a potential SCORE mentor, you have considerable support to contribute to your business community. Outreach becomes every mentor’s opportunity. As a SCORE mentor, when you realize a business in your community has particular needs, you are in a position to lend your expertise.

With a leadership role in the Auburn chapter, you have the opportunity to promote, educate and lead. As a SCORE promoter you will bring SCORE’s services to the community, thus enabling your chapter to grow. You would be developing partnerships with individuals and businesses. SCORE educators go beyond mentoring to plan and present workshops. What an excellent way to share your experiences. Operational skills are critical to all SCORE chapters. As in any organization, good records, detailed reports and outreach to the community ensure your chapter will thrive and maintain visibility. When you are more fully involved with SCORE’s mission and vision, the opportunity exists for you to put your stamp on your chapter’s direction. Leadership takes many forms within the SCORE organization, from a local to a national level. Your talents are valuable to this tremendous community partner — bring yours today! Help everyone SCORE!

For more information about how to join the Auburn SCORE Chapter, contact Maureen Riester at (315) 252-7291 or maureen.riester@scorevolunteer.org.

Nancy Ansteth is a state-certified business advisor for the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a long-time SCORE mentor and the past chair of the Auburn SCORE chapter.

Published in the June 8, 2017, edition of The Citizen.