SCORE provides expert guidance and assistance to thousands of start-up and existing businesses, just like you. Our goal is for you to receive the help you seek and be successful in your business.

Below you will find a few points that we believe may be helpful as you engage with your mentor.

What is SCORE?

SCORE, America’s premier source of free and confidential small business advice for entrepreneurs and small businesses, is a nonprofit resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). We have over 300 SCORE offices across the country offering free business mentoring and low- or no-cost workshops.

For over 50 years, SCORE’s thousands of working and retired business professionals have volunteered to support the success of small business nationwide. SCORE business mentoring is free and confidential.

How does your mentoring service work?

SCORE provides free business advice through our network of volunteer business experts. You can meet with a mentor online or face-to-face in a chapter near you. To request a mentor, visit www.score.org/find-mentor and search for a mentor by keyword, industry, location or expertise. If you prefer, we can also make a match for you based on your business question.

SCORE’s experienced business mentors provide general business advice on every aspect of business planning, start-up, management and growth.

What can I expect from SCORE?

  • SCORE will attempt to contact you at least 3 times via email or phone, or both, over the next 2 weeks. If you have not connected with a mentor at the end of this time, please contact mentoring@score.org.
  • SCORE mentoring services are provided at no cost to you, regardless of the number of times you visit a SCORE mentor.
  • The discussion with your SCORE mentor is strictly confidential. Our mentors sign a Code of Ethics and Conduct that addresses the protection of your information and business idea.
  • Your mentor will employ the SLATE methodology in your mentoring session, which stands for:
    • Stop and Suspend Judgment
    • Listen and Learn
    • Assess and Analyze
    • Test Ideas and Teach with Tools
    • Expectation Setting and Encouraging the Dream

Your mentor’s goal is to use their expertise to help you make sound decisions for your business.

  • At the conclusion of your session, your mentor should ask “Did I help you today?” If you did not feel that you received valuable advice or assistance, please discuss this with your mentor. Our #1 goal is to provide you with a positive experience and help you with your business needs. 
  • SCORE will work to assign you to the perfect mentor, based on your need, industry, and location. If your initial mentor is not a good “fit” for you, we will work with you to locate another mentor. We have thousands of mentors across the country and no doubt do have the perfect person just for you. In this case, you may contact your local SCORE office or mentoring@score.org to request a new mentor.

How can I maximize my experience with SCORE?

  • Your mentor will likely recommend different services to better meet your needs, including a small group workshop or on-line materials, to accentuate mentoring. Take advantage as they are supplemental to the advice you are receiving.
  • SCORE does not provide grants, business loans, CPA services, or legal services, but your mentor may be able to suggest outside resources to assist you in those areas. Keep an open mind about what you think you may need initially, and work with your mentor to try to find a solution.
  • Your business is not built in a day. Similarly, you benefit most from SCORE by meeting with a mentor for more than a one-hour appointment. Before the conclusion of your initial session, your mentor (or someone from the local SCORE office) will schedule another appointment for you or assist you in finding the correct resource. You should meet with your mentor regularly to maximize your chances of success.

What do you expect from me?

  • Our mentors are volunteers. Their time is given freely to help you and others achieve your goals and dreams with a small business venture. Out of respect of your time and our mentors’ time, we ask that you follow through on any scheduled appointments or provide notice of a change.
  • Both you and your mentor will work together to identify key areas to focus on to build to your business success. While your mentor will always be there to help you, they will not do the work for you. You are responsible for moving your business forward.
  • After you first meet with your mentor, you will receive an electronic survey from SCORE office about our service. The survey will take you about 1 minute to complete. We ask for your feedback in order to continue to improve our service. Our Client Satisfaction Survey results are reviewed continuously at all levels in SCORE.

How do I become a mentor?

If interested in becoming one of our volunteer business mentors, visit www.score.org/volunteer and complete an application. Your application will be sent to the local SCORE leader for review. The SCORE leader will contact you for an interview and if volunteering seems a good fit for you and SCORE, you’ll be asked to complete our training and onboarding process. This process includes a 3-month probationary period where you’ll complete 2-3 online training modules, review and agree to our standard operating manual and code of ethics, shadow experienced mentors, and participate in team mentoring. In addition to mentoring, there are other roles for which you may volunteer, including workshop facilitator, community outreach, marketing and administrative roles. Each role requires an application, onboarding & training, and code of ethics agreement. Contact services@score.org for more information.

What qualifies SCORE volunteers to give business advice?

The key qualification SCORE mentors bring is real-world business experience. They are working and retired business owners, executives and managers who have been through the same challenges and decisions that many entrepreneurs are facing today.

In addition, SCORE teamed up with Deluxe Corporation to develop the Mentoring Methodology Training program for the orientation and certification of volunteer mentors. Designed by SCORE mentors and a panel of industry experts, the program gives new and experienced mentors access to proven tools and methods of success. It is these mentor tools and process that have resulted in the success of more than 56,000 new businesses and over 47,000 jobs created in 2014.

The Mentoring Methodology Training program is based on 5 key components represented by the acronym SLATE:

  • Stop and Suspend Judgment
  • Listen and Learn
  • Assess and Analyze
  • Test Ideas and Teach with Tools
  • Expectation Setting and Encouraging the Dream

Working with a SCORE-certified mentor means personalized guidance and support from those who have “been there” and are equipped with the optimal tools to help others succeed too.

What if I’m not interested in being a mentor? Are there other ways I can help?

Absolutely! Contact your local chapter to discover what additional volunteer opportunities exist in your community. You may be able to help present a local workshop, participate on a marketing or fundraising committee, complete administrative tasks, or assist with community relations. Are you a college student looking for internships or volunteer hours? Contact your local chapter today and see how we can work together.

What resources are available on SCORE.org?

Since 1997, SCORE has offered a leading online business resource for entrepreneurs – www.score.org. This site is a comprehensive small business resource that includes SCORE’s mentoring service. Entrepreneurs visit www.score.org/find-mentor to search a database of SCORE mentors or request a mentor match. SCORE’s website also offers “how-to” guides, small business quizzes, online workshops, LIVE Webinars, and the SCORE Small Business Blog with info on current trends in entrepreneurship.

Are your workshops free?

All SCORE online workshops (available at www.score.org/take-workshop) are free of charge. You can register for a live webinar presented by a business expert, view a recorded webinar, or take an elearning course on a business topic. We also offer instructor-led workshops, roundtables, and events in your community. These are available for free or for a nominal fee. All funds received from the local workshops go back to supporting the chapter and development of new workshops, handouts, materials and other business resources.

If you have additional questions, email support@score.org.