When starting a business, don't underestimate the value of a good mentor. By taking advantage of those who have done it before and the wealth of experience they have to offer, a business can avoid the pitfalls that await those who choose to learn things the hard way. Finding and building relationships with good mentors can be one of the smartest things a new business owner can do, and ChattySnaps® is no exception. From the start, we have had the good fortune to meet some of the most wonderful mentors, and most of them have been from SCORE.
Looking back at our humble beginnings, we can’t help but give thanks for our SCORE mentors who have been there for us from day one. It all started when we went to our local bank to open our business account. After getting the account, we were about to leave when a representative asked if we would like to sign up for a SCORE mentor session. We could meet with her at the bank once a month for FREE business advice. We thought, “Why not? What did we have to lose?” That was that one of the best decisions we ever made!
We had a plan, some products, and LOTS of great ideas and were eager to get started. We went to the meeting and presented everything to the SCORE mentor. She loved what we had done so far. She pushed us to think about how to actually start selling, who would we be selling to, what was our pitch and so on. We had so many great ideas, but she insisted we rein it in and stay focused on one aspect first. After we conquered that, we could move on. Our heads were spinning when we left that first meeting, but in a good way. She gave us a lot to think about and homework to be ready for our next session.
We attended free and low-cost SCORE workshops and learned so much, but it was the one-on-one mentoring that helped keep us on track. Five years later, we still meet with our mentors regularly to get their advice. We have had MANY wonderful mentors over the years and are so grateful for their wisdom and guidance. Recently we met with two of the best mentors yet (they even answer emails in between sessions when we need quick answers). They are amazing! (Shout out to Mark Lieberman and Joel Shabsin.) They helped us negotiate every aspect of business from licensing, operations and pricing, to accounting and reading financial reports. At times, we wondered what we would do without them!
If you are thinking of starting a business, or have a business, find mentors! If you would appreciate free help and advice from people who have been in your shoes, give SCORE a call. They have over 320 chapters nationwide. Mentoring is always free and has been an invaluable resource for us every step of the way.