Whether it’s due to a lack of funding, mentorship, or general opportunities, businesswomen often face serious handicaps in business. Female entrepreneurs, for example, receive less venture capital dollars for their startups.
Despite obstacles, women are launching companies at a higher rate than ever before, with the total number of women-owned businesses in the United States topping over 11.6 million with combined revenue of over $1.6 trillion a year.
One of the reasons female entrepreneurs are able to thrive is because of the abundance of businesswomen resources dedicated to filling in the support vacuums that previously held them back. If you want to succeed in business, it’s important to know your resources and exactly how to make them work for you.
What Is SCORE?
In an effort to create opportunities for women, the U.S. government offers a diverse set of resources to women business owners through various programs and agencies. One such resource is SCORE, a non-profit organization and a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA).
At its core, SCORE is a network of expert business mentors who give no-cost counseling to female entrepreneurs — but that is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of SCORE’s service offerings regarding businesswomen resources.
SCORE was founded in 1964 with the goal of enhancing small business success across America. According to SCORE, volunteers serve as “Counselors to America’s Small Business” and volunteer members are “dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth, and success of small business nationwide.”
Today, there are over 389 SCORE chapters across the country with over 10,000 contracted business executives familiar in all areas of business management volunteering as mentors. The website states that in the decades since it was created, SCORE has helped more than 11 million entrepreneurs through its expert advisors and other ancillary services.
Obviously mentoring is SCORE’s key service. For no cost, you can sit down with a business expert ready to advise you on any stage of business development on a one-time or ongoing basis. While it can be helpful to meet with a mentor face-to-face, SCORE also offers the option to connect remotely via email, phone, or video. Furthermore, arranging an appointment is extremely straightforward.
To figure out what type of mentorship you’d benefit from, you can take a quick online quiz that will recommend three mentors matching your small business needs. Then, you submit a mentoring request to share your business question(s) with an expert. SCORE will take it from there, setting up an appointment based on your specific needs and wants. If you have not connected with a mentor within some time, please contact email@example.com.
These sessions can be extremely helpful for women entrepreneurs engaged with complicated processes like applying for loans, grants, or women-owned business certification. You can either use the session to get a break-down of the application process or to have someone make sure your application is the best it can be.
One of the unique things about SCORE’s services is that they can be ongoing. If you met with your business mentor and found the session really useful, you can continue to work with that person throughout the life of your business.
SCORE also has a wide range of services outside of its flagship mentorship program. If you have general business questions, educational materials like SCORE’s free webinars and online courses can be of use. You can access all of SCORE’s past webinars online — ranging in topic from networking to developing a market strategy to tax advice for small business — or keep an eye on upcoming live webinars that provide new tips and strategies every week.
The online courses are all on-demand so you can walk through the modules at your own pace. Example business courses include “The Startup Roadmap: Your Guide to Successfully Starting a Business,” “Pricing Products and Services,” and “Protect Your Property WIth Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights,” to name a few.
On the SCORE website, you can also find an in-depth library of online businesswomen resources, including blogs, videos, infographics, checklists, e-guides, and templates. These can help you tackle fundamental stages of business planning, like creating a budget template, or provide general information about entrepreneurship and business trends. The online library is expansive so it helps that you are able to narrow your search by business stage, topic, format, entrepreneur type, and industry.
Another great resource for female entrepreneurs is SCORE’s wealth of local events, hosted by chapters across the country for free or low-cost. The events range from specific business workshops to women networking sessions. For example, there are frequent SEO workshops and an entire series dedicated to writing a business plan. Again, you can narrow your SCORE event search by business stage, topic, industry, etc. in order to find an event fitting your specific business need.
SCORE also hosts online events like the National Small Business Week Virtual Conference, a two-day online event offering webinars, mentoring sessions, networking chat rooms, prizes, and more. Many of the events are designed specifically for female entrepreneurs and offer rare opportunities for women to build communities of other female professionals or find mentors/sponsors.
How Can SCORE Help Your Business?
The services offered by SCORE allow women access and support that they otherwise struggle to find. Mentorship, in particular, is often denied to women in business simply because there aren’t many women in high-level positions within numerous key industries. As a result, it is hard to find businesswomen role models or supporters. Taking advantage of SCORE’s mentorship services puts women in contact with experienced counselors that they otherwise wouldn’t connect with — at zero cost.
The best way to make the most of these businesswomen resources is by coming to each meeting prepared with questions and any necessary documents. Try and make your goals for the meeting as narrow as possible as it will improve efficiency. In the same vein, SCORE’s local, in-person events foster success by helping female entrepreneurs find a community. At the events, you can network with other women business owners in similar stages of business development.
Many women attest to the benefits of SCORE’s businesswomen resources, including Kiddy Crawler founder and CEO Stacey Kohler.
“I attended the SCORE workshops in 1993 when I invented the Sandbagger,” she says in a testimonial published on the website. “They were very helpful with getting me a business loan. My current mentor has been helpful in every aspect from the early on stages of research all the way to getting on the retail shelf.”
Kohler is just one of many who reports working with the same mentor for many years: “My best advice to someone thinking about starting a small business is to get a SCORE mentor.”
If you want to reach out to SCORE for more information, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1(800) 634-9245. Alternatively, you can use the online contact form to send a message directly to the SCORE team.