We have all heard the old saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Small business owners certainly have a lot of lemons right now, but not everyone automatically knows how to turn that into lemonade. We are all facing a lot of change, uncertainty and turmoil. There are words being thrown at us: pivot, resilience, normalization. Not to mention new technologies, adaptable work environments and mobile productivity.

However, some of you out there are always making lemonade, you have learned through your career and your life experiences how to change with the tide and how to use turmoil to propel yourself and your businesses into new directions. Many small business owners feel alone during this crisis, and they are not certain whom to ask for help or how to begin the tasks at hand. Good mentoring can be a beacon, helping to create a sense of community and direction. Just knowing there is someone to ask can mean all the difference. Using your knowledge and business experience in combination with the vast resources available at the Auburn chapter of SCORE National could make a major impact on our community and its small business owners who need support now more than ever.

SCORE, “Mentors to America’s Small Business,” is a nonprofit association that provides free small business advice and training to America’s small-business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. Under the guidance of SCORE, clients get the assistance they need to transform their lives, build financial wealth, and enhance their communities. There are local resources available to be adaptable and resilient in the face COVID-19 and learn skills that will last long after the pandemic is over. Auburn SCORE helps our entrepreneurs and small businesses achieve their dreams by building strong, life-long relationships through mentoring, workshops, and expert resources.

We’re currently looking for volunteers who would like to be involved in community outreach, workshops, resource partnering, and one-on-one mentoring. To be a mentor, you must have experience owning or operating a business. However, there are other ways to volunteer for SCORE, such as subject matter expert or workshop presenter. Auburn SCORE 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.  Mentors may not know every answer, but through the chapter’s network of resources, they can find the answers.

Once you become a SCORE Volunteer, training is available, as well as large resource library and supportive co-mentor environment. There is flexibility in the amount of time you spend mentoring, as well as the number of clients you choose to take on. Currently, clients can be met virtually, mentored over the phone or in person, practicing safe social distancing.

In our current time of isolation, an outstretched hand can mean more than anything. Being a small business mentor not only enriches our community and our economy, but can bring personal fulfillment knowing that you could help a person start a dream, build a future or even or save a farm. When you’re ready to start, we’ll give you the tools you need. Between our orientation and mentoring certification program, you’ll learn about SCORE’s mission and services, plus get tips on what makes a good volunteer.

Reach out to CEDA’s Business Development Specialist, Meg Goloub, who is also a SCORE Mentor. Our team is ready to find the perfect role for you. Contact the Auburn SCORE Chapter at 315-252-7291, or visit www.auburn.score.org.

Meg Goloub is Business Development Specialist for the Cayuga Economic Development Agency (CEDA) and a SCORE Mentor. Contact her at (315) 252-3500 or mgoloub@cayugaeda.org
Published in the December 17, 2020, edition of The Citizen.