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April 20, 2010

By Susan Fronk, St. Paul, Minnesota  SCORE

Recently, I joined SCORE, the premier source for small business advice and mentoring. I never would have considered joining SCORE, even though I am a “card carrying”  advocate of small business, because I thought you had to be retired. And, since my retirement plan probably won’t be fully funded until 2080, volunteering never crossed my mind. But, a few months ago, after losing my job, a friend of mine told me that the face of SCORE was changing and they were actively recruiting volunteers, including those who are still working or between jobs.

So, I joined the ranks of business owners, corporate executives, consultants, and professionals who are helping to grow successful small businesses, one business at a time. It is turning out to be one of the most surprising and exhilarating experiences in my career. In contrast to the perception held by some of SCORE being a bunch of stodgy, washed up, worn out executives, I am working along side some of the brightest, most creative, and savvy professionals I have ever met. And, while there is no monetary reward for my investment, the payoff is huge in terms of professional development, networking, and satisfaction.

This week, SCORE is honoring National Volunteer Week, April 18-24 with the theme, “Celebrating People in Action”. Our purpose is to express our appreciation for the valuable contributions of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to improve communities, the American economy, and our way of life.

Established on October 5, 1964, SCORE has served 8.5 million entrepreneurs over the last 45 years. During that time, dramatic changes in technology, business process, and the marketplace have permanently altered the way America does business. In response, SCORE is changing.

Originally, SCORE was an acronym for “Service Corp of Retired Executives”. However, the face of SCORE is changing. While some of our 12,500 volunteers are retired, many are business owners, corporate executives, consultants, and professionals who are still working or between jobs. The beneficiaries of SCORE’s wealth of business skills, management experience, and local market knowledge are America’s small business owners and entrepreneurs. Today, SCORE continues to be the premier source for small businesses to access free sage business advice and leading edge best practices.

Each year, SCORE volunteers donated more than 1 million hours to provide small business mentoring and workshop training. SCORE offers small business mentoring through 364 chapters and 800 branch locations nationally. SCORE chapters conduct thousands of workshops each year on a wide range of business topics. In addition, SCORE offers email advice 24/7 through the SCORE Small Business Website.

SCORE Minnesota has six SCORE chapters, ten branch offices, and over 400 volunteers. They serve more than 5,000 new clients per year.

“National Volunteer Week is the perfect time to raise awareness of the role volunteers have in our community,” says Loren Herbst, Director for the Minnesota District. “Our volunteer mentors have extensive experience in starting, managing and growing a business. SCORE thanks them for donating their time and expertise to support the local community.”

SCORE CEO Ken Yancey says, “SCORE celebrates volunteer service to the small business community. National Volunteer Week focuses on the valuable contribution that volunteers make to local entrepreneurs with mentoring and advice that meets their business needs.” Yancey adds, “SCORE volunteers help create and save jobs by helping start new businesses and keeping current ones successful.”

Nationally, SCORE provides free and confidential business counseling to more than 375,000 small business clients each year. There are 29.6 million small businesses in America. In 2008, 627,200 new businesses opened. Yes, small business is a pretty big deal, representing 99.7 percent of U.S. employers and 75 percent of the new jobs created each year.

If you think supporting job growth is a good idea, why don’t you consider becoming a SCORE volunteer? Or, if you know someone who does, why not share this article with them? By sharing your time, knowledge, skills, experience, and wisdom you can create a legacy of community service and make a profound contribution to the American Economy. It doesn’t matter if you are working, retired, or between jobs, you can play a key role in this worthy effort. By volunteering, you receive personal benefits, including:

  • Enjoy the satisfaction of contributing to the success of others
  • Provide leadership in the local community
  • Share in a great experience with other volunteers
  • Grow personally and professionally
  • Participate in lifelong learning

SCORE offers a broad range of options that allow people to contribute at different times and at different levels of commitment. These options can include one-time or occasional responsibilities. Many volunteers find tutoring, teaching and mentoring satisfying, while others find value in fund raising, office support, marketing, leadership, and operations.

Whatever your personal interest, the future holds new opportunities for you to support your local community. By volunteering with SCORE, you can help keep our nation strong. To learn more about becoming a SCORE volunteer, click on the Volunteer tab above to learn more.

To learn more about how to start, operate, and grow your small business contact SCORE Lancaster at

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