CEO of SCORE on Making the Most Out of Mentorship

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Summary of Episode

#63: On this episode of Startup Savant Podcast Bridget Weston, CEO of SCORE, shares her insights on business mentorship. SCORE is a nationwide network of over 10,000 volunteers that offers free one-to-one mentorship, workshops, and assistance with business plans to small business owners across the US. Weston discusses the importance of goal-setting, clear communication, and having skin in the game for success. She also explains how SCORE is using AI to better connect small business owners with mentors who meet their needs. The episode highlights SCORE’s track record of success in helping start over 30,000 new businesses and add over 82,000 jobs last year. 

About the guest: 

Bridget Weston is an expert in helping entrepreneurs navigate the challenges of small business ownership. As a leader at SCORE, she works to connect business owners with the resources and advice they need to thrive. Bridget recognizes that many entrepreneurs are passionate and talented but lack some of the business acumen needed for success. She helps them work on their business, not in it, to achieve their goals. Bridget understands that each business is unique, and she tailors her approach to meet each client’s specific needs. With her guidance, entrepreneurs can access capital, attract customers, and manage their finances to maximize their impact in their communities and achieve success.

Podcast Episode Notes

What is SCORE? [1:32]

What problem is SCORE solving for entrepreneurs? [2:07]

What has SCORE’s evolution been over the decades? [3:44]

Are SCORE’s services primarily online or in-person? [6:17]

What types of businesses use SCORE’s services most frequently? [00:08:18]

Does SCORE also help support founders of fast-scaling businesses? [00:11:01]

Do the services differ between small businesses and startups? [00:12:03]

Do you have a favorite success story? [00:13:01]

Is having several mentors common?  [00:14:11]

What makes founders hesitant to pursue mentorship?  [00:15:34]

What else is included in SCORE’s mentorship guidelines?  [00:18:09]

How will AI impact SCORE and mentorship generally? [00:20:05]

How important is mentorship for founders?  [00:23:32]

What are some common mentorship mistakes founders make? [00:27:28]

Does SCORE’s free model ever have a negative impact?  [00:29:55]

What steps can founders take to ensure they find the right mentor for them?  [00:32:40]

What questions should founders ask themselves when looking for the right mentor?  [00:34:53]

Do industry-specific mentors work better for founders?  [00:36:13]

How can I maximize the time spent with a mentor?  [00:37:24]

How can listeners become a mentor?  [00:38:57]

What is your #1 piece of advice for early-stage entrepreneurs? [00:41:32]

How can listeners find a mentor?  [00:42:55]

Ethan Peyton: Hey, everybody, and welcome to the Startup Savant podcast. I’m your host, Ethan, and this show is about the stories, challenges, and triumphs of fast scaling startups and the founders who run them. Our show today is going to be a little bit different. I’m going to be chatting with Bridget Weston, CEO of Score. Score is an organization that was founded in 1964 to provide small business and local businesses support all across the country. And that support can come in the form of one to one mentorship, local and online workshops, assistance with business plans, just tons of stuff. Bridget has been with Score for more than 13 years and took the CEO role in June of 2020, which was quite a tumultuous time. She oversees more than 10,000 volunteers throughout their network of branches. There’s more than 300 branches all across this country, so you’re going to be close to one. And she is most definitely an expert when it comes to business mentorship. So we’re going to go deep on that today, and I’m super stoked on what we’re going to learn. Before we jump in, though, I want to remind you all that we are making our way towards our goal of 100 reviews by episode number 100. So if you want to help us out, check out Apple podcast or Spotify to leave us a rating. We’ve got links to both of those on our show page podcast. And now that we’ve got the bills paid, let’s jump in with Bridget Weston. Bridget, how’s it going today?

Bridget Weston: Ethan, it’s great to be here with you. Thank you so much.

Ethan Peyton: Well, thanks for joining us. All right, let’s get straight to business. Can you tell us what is Score?

Bridget Weston: Score is a nationwide network of volunteer business mentors who provide their been there, done that expertise to anyone looking to start or grow a business. The volunteers in our organization provide guidance, advice, counseling, and help you gain access to the right resources that you need to help you succeed and thrive in your business, whatever stage you’re at.

Ethan Peyton: So what’s the specific problem that Score is solving for entrepreneurs?

Bridget Weston: What Score is doing is helping entrepreneurs maximize their opportunity and impact in the communities they serve. A lot of small business owners face a myriad of challenges. Some of the most common that we hear are how do I get access to the right kind of capital to help my business either start or to take it to the next level to add a new product line or a second location? Others are asking, how do I attract and retain customers? These days, we’re hearing questions more and more about inflation and cash flow and how do I manage that? In today’s economic climate, there are a ton of things that small business owners face. And many entrepreneurs who own their own small business have a ton of talent, passion, enthusiasm, resilience, but may not necessarily have all of the business acumen needed to be successful. And that’s where Score comes in. We can be that sounding board, that advisor, that guide to help you work on your business, not in your business, to get you to whatever your goal is. And we know not every startup or business owner wants to be the next Facebook, although some of you do. And that’s fantastic. We want to understand your goals so that we can help you get there in the best way that makes sense for you. So the answers aren’t the same for everyone. It’s really about your needs and what’s.

Ethan Peyton: Best for you that makes total sense. And you mentioned specifically kind of the evolution of the questions as current events happen and different things take place. And as I mentioned in the opening, Score was started in 1964. And I’m curious what the kind of evolution has looked like over the decades.

Bridget Weston: Score has definitely continued to evolve to proactively meet the needs of the communities and the clients that we serve. So grateful that Score was founded in 1964 by a group of volunteers in Delaware who said, we have time on our hands, let’s give back. Let’s see what we can do with this business knowledge that we have. And then Score was established as a resource partner of the Small Business Administration and we have been able to grow and thrive from there. Some of the major milestones that we’ve seen is embracing technology. When it first came out, I was reading something where we created our first website and had an online presence and being able to expand the reach of Score. The Pandemic is another huge example of how Score has been able to adapt and meet the needs of clients. One of the things we had already seen is that small business owners are busy and it’s not always easy to go and meet a mentor downtown or step away from your business. So we were embracing and leveraging the use of technology like Zoom and Skype and Google Chat to make sure that we can meet the clients how and when they want to be served. So because we had that in our repertoire, we were able to continue to serve people when the Pandemic shut everything down without missing a day of service. And even now we’re seeing that one of the benefits of Score is that we are a true nationwide network. So yes, we have hundreds of locations across the country and you can meet with someone in your local community. However, there may be a particular subject matter expert in an area that isn’t in your community. The great thing about Score is your local Score location can help you identify and bring in those experts to co mentor alongside and be a part of your journey. And our goal is really to make sure that the small business owner has the best resources they need, regardless of where it comes from, because our success is their success.

Ethan Peyton: So you mentioned the Pandemic specifically and how things kind of transitioned from in person to more online. That happened obviously across the board. Tons and tons of businesses that were able to do that made that change, and lots of them that were able to adapt quickly saw that success. But now that we’re kind of moving into a time where it’s more normalized to do things in person again, are you seeing things move back to in person mostly, or have things continued to be more of an over the over zoom, over, Skype online experience?

Bridget Weston: It really depends on what the person is looking to get out of the situation. So I do believe that we are in what many have called the new normal, that things are never going to be exactly the same as they were before the Pandemic. One of the trends we’re seeing, not only does Score provide mentoring, we provide a ton of educational resources, local workshops, online workshops, and other events that are in your communities. So one of the things we’re seeing is that if people are looking for a very specific how to do something, and they can get that at a workshop and ask their question and go back and use that to be successful in their business, they’d prefer to do that online. It’s a lot easier. It doesn’t take a lot of time. However, as I believe, and I think many of the small business owners we serve believe it is easier to network in person. And so there are still things that Score is providing where it’s not just a workshop, but an opportunity to interact with like minded peers and entrepreneurs, learn from other mentors in the communities, be a part of the community that are still attracting people to be in person. So there are different benefits to each and the beauty of Scores that we provide both, and you can take advantage of whatever meets your needs in that moment, and your mentor can help you identify what those are.

Ethan Peyton: So I know Score is meant to help lots of different types of businesses, but is there not necessarily which business is it best set up for, but what are the types of businesses? And I know that’s a very umbrella word, the word types, but what are the types of businesses that you see coming to Score and utilizing the resources most often?

Bridget Weston: Yes. Score is here to serve any small business, which the Department of labor defines as less than 500 employees.

Ethan Peyton: Okay.

Bridget Weston: Score serves what we identify as the true main street entrepreneurs. So our average client has less than ten employees, about less than a million in revenue. They do cover all industries. When you look at those Macy codes, everyone is checked off in terms of the people that we serve and then the geographies we serve. One of the beautiful things I believe about Score is that our mentoring is always free. And people think there may be a catch or what’s the gotcha? There’s not. We believe that small businesses are the engine of our economy. Our volunteers do dedicate and donate their time because they believe in the power of small businesses and how important they are to our economy. And so we are able to do this with very limited government dollars to help these small businesses succeed. What that means in terms of the businesses we serve is that we really are serving those underserved entrepreneurs that don’t necessarily have access to the venture capitalists, those who have the ability to get that loan or pay that consultant hundreds of dollars to understand what their next step is. And because of that, we’re able to help more of those underserved entrepreneurs like minority business owners, rural business owners, people with disability veterans. In fact, 64% of the people Score serves are women, and 46% are minorities. And we know that there are different needs that each group of entrepreneurs have, and we really strive to identify those needs and provide those opportunities that are unique to those entrepreneur groups. So, again, our focus is Main Street. Those who might not have access to the resources that the larger, more shiny entrepreneurs and the small businesses may have, we see success. Last year, Score helped to start over 30,000 new businesses, and we helped to add over 82,000 new jobs. So seems to be working for the entrepreneurs.

Ethan Peyton: That’s awesome. So the general audience of this show is kind of the more scale, like, fast growth focused types of founders. Is there a place within Score for those types of founders?

Bridget Weston: Absolutely. Our volunteers have, again, had that experience understand how to scale, figure out the best ways to gain that capital, whether it is through loans, grants, venture capital, getting investors. They can help you figure out how to pitch your business idea to those right groups and introduce you to those groups and then how to scale effectively without getting too overwhelmed. So, we’ve seen big successes like the Raising Canes franchise operation as a Score client. We’ve had Vera Bradley as a client. I mean, there are some bigger organizations that have used Score from the start, and we are willing and able and capable of helping those businesses.

Ethan Peyton: So, without going into the specifics of each of those particular partnerships or mentorships, does Score work with those types of companies in the same capacity as they would work with Bob the Plumbers business down the street? Or is there a different structure in those cases?

Bridget Weston: The mentoring really is customized to what is best for that business. So while mentoring itself is the same broad product, the needs are really personalized to what Bob the Plumber would need versus the fast scaling startup. So that would bring in more experts more quickly, have a more quick cadence of meeting based on the availability of the entrepreneur, and make sure that we’re holding each other accountable every step of the way. So that those milestones are being met and we can keep you on the right track to success.

Ethan Peyton: Do you have a success story that you’d like to share from the mentorship of Score?

Bridget Weston: One of my favorites I have tons. One of my favorites is a woman, Kristen. She was in Massachusetts and she had seen that there weren’t a lot of women in Stem. And one of the things she wanted to do was start a doll or toy company dolls that focused on women in Stem to attract girls to that industry or those industries. And she reached out to Score and she had this idea. She got four mentors, some of whom were in the big box retail industry, others were in access to capital to get her funding and then others were in accounting to help her set up her accounting. And then the pandemic hit and she had to pivot. But she succeeded and persevered with the help of her mentors. And her dolls are now in stores like Target that she can be selling and reaching these girls and helping them see these opportunities available for them.

Ethan Peyton: So you mentioned that she had four mentors. Is that common to have multiple mentors or up to where I have to use both hands to count? Or do people normally just do one on one?

Bridget Weston: It is up to the small business owner. However, what we know is that not every one person can know everything. So it’s great to have what we call a lead mentor who can make sure that you are staying on the right track. Following up with you regularly understands the different facets of your business, but that person will regularly bring in what we call co mentors. So, for example, with Kristen, she got to a point with her first mentor where she was ready to start talking to big box retailers. That first mentor knew they didn’t necessarily have that specific expertise, but knew others in the Score Network that could help her, so brought them in to help her through that part of her journey. But it didn’t mean that the original mentor left her or was unavailable. It’s a program that adapts with you along your journey and make sure that we pull in mentors of different background and expertise to make sure that not only do you stay on the right path, but that you get the best answer to your questions at any point in time.

Ethan Peyton: Do you see that there are any more common fears or hesitations when it comes to founders who think that they might want to set up some sort of mentorship with Score but are afraid to pull the trigger and do that?

Bridget Weston: One of the things we hear most commonly is it takes time. It is hard to step away from the business because many of these founders are doing it all by themselves and it’s their passion, it’s their baby. It’s something that they’ve put their blood, sweat and tears into. And so not only just taking the time, but building that trust and learning that this person is really here and in your corner and wanting to support you. And that’s something that Score really focuses on. We have our mentoring methodology and all of our mentors must take this before they are allowed to mentor our small business clients. And it really is focused on building that trust. So the first key is to stop and suspend judgment. There is no idea too big or too small, no idea too far fetched. And then as we listen and learn, we can start to analyze and assess the situation. And over time, it might be that it’s not the exact idea this person came out with, but between the person’s personality, the resources available, the market and the competition, we can get to what makes sense for that person in this point in time. And that’s how we build trust. And the other thing I would say is time and trust are the two things that we would hear are people’s hesitation. With 10,000 mentors, there is someone for you, so you might be matched up with someone, and it’s not necessarily the right fit. Or maybe their schedule isn’t available. That’s okay. We can find you the right person for you because it’s important that you build that trust and you have that connection and you feel comfortable sharing because this is so important, and we would want nothing more than for you to feel comfortable. And like that mentor for you is your partner in all of this and is with you for the life of your business. And that Scores tagline we have people that have worked with their mentors for ten and 20 years and continue to see success. And they’re now inviting their mentors to their kids weddings and bringing them to Christmas parties.

Ethan Peyton: I love that.

Bridget Weston: It’s pretty cool to see that.

Ethan Peyton: That’s awesome. Without giving away the secret sauce. What other things are in those mentorship guidelines?

Bridget Weston: It’s a lot about the things that we’ve learned over the years that have led to success. So we know that if you spend at least 3 hours with a mentor, and this is done by the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, you are five times more likely to increase your revenue and stay in business. So one of the things we want to do is to again build that comfort and to help people to feel it’s worth their time and valuable to keep coming back to a mentor within Score, because our goal is to help you be successful, whether it is to increase your revenue, add a job, solve a problem. So what we do is after we understand what the goals are of the client and we’ll use the analogy of peeling the onion with the client so someone would come to us with a question and it could be as simple as I need money to start my business. Okay, great. Let’s start to understand what your business is, what’s underneath that, what your background is, what are your strengths? And you start to peel that onion. And the question isn’t necessarily, I need money to start my business, how do I get it? It’s maybe, what is the best business idea given my skills and talent or given the market? And then we identify that and maybe five sessions later, we’re talking about what capital opportunities make sense for you. So when I say stop and suspend judgment and listen and learn, it’s really about that and asking a lot of questions, because it’s not up to us to define what success is for the small business owner. We want you to define success. We just want to help you see different perspectives and make sure that you see the whole picture so that you have the best opportunity to succeed.

Ethan Peyton: So I’m going to take a little bit of a left turn here. Actually, it’s going to be a big left turn. We are seeing AI being very all over the place. Everything seems to be all about AI. Right now, what do you think that the effects on score and mentorship, but mostly score, are going to be over the next few months and possibly years? I don’t even know if we can do years. It’s all coming so fast.

Bridget Weston: It really is. And it’s something we were just talking about on our leadership call last week. So there’s a couple of different points I’d like to make referring to AI. One is we are leveraging it in our business in a number of different ways. For instance, by asking some questions of the people that come to the score website. What industry are you in? What is your business topic or question? How do you prefer to communicate, text, email, in person? We can better connect you with a mentor that meets your needs, as opposed to filling out a generic form and having someone pair you with the next person on the list. So that’s one way that it’s really helped our business, because we’re getting the person to the right mentor or service for them faster. And that’s something that’s helped, and we’re seeing better results as a matter of that. The other one, and the biggest one in the news now is Chat GPT. So how is that impacting our business? Well, we have some mentors sitting down with the small business owners and using that to figure out how to create their business plan or their marketing plan. And it is a helpful tool, and there always has to be that advisory, that this is one tool. And the reason you do this with a mentor or with an advisor, with someone who has that been there, done that expertise is it’s not 100% accurate all the time. So you need to make sure that it makes sense for you and your business and that it’s not missing anything. So it’s wonderful. And it still needs to have that just check and making sure that it makes sense for that business owner.

Ethan Peyton: I’m glad that you all are seeing this and being proactive and getting on board the kind of AI revolution as opposed to being hit with it. And I think that’s something that folks that are in business and folks that are looking to start businesses here in the next few months and especially in the next few years really need to take this seriously. And look at it and see what benefits there are going to be, what other impacts there are going to be. And see how not only this is going to affect your business, but how these types of tools. And again, there might be some brand new tool that no one even thought was possible that comes out next week and by two weeks from now it’ll be old news because the next big thing will have come out. I mean, this is moving so fast. I think people really should pay attention to this if they’re going to be in business.

Bridget Weston: I totally agree. Yeah.

Ethan Peyton: So let’s move away from score a little bit and talk about just mentorship in general. This may be like asking a barber if you need a haircut, but how important do you think mentorship is for early stage startup founders?

Bridget Weston: Well, yes, it is like a barber. I think it is critical. And it’s not just me saying that because this is my passion and my lifeblood. But I see the data, I see how it works. I know that there are founders who are so passionate about their business and trying so hard to make it work. And they might not be great at let’s pick technology. They don’t understand what systems can support their business in order to make it more effective and efficient. And then unfortunately, they start to fail because they just didn’t understand something that could really help them. That’s where someone outside of your business who understands the business world, who brings that acumen to the conversation, can help shine a light on these potential pitfalls and potential areas of opportunity so that you can be more successful. And it’s not I know that people have problems asking for help sometimes. It doesn’t mean that you’re not good at the business. It doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed. It’s just using a tool to help you be the best you can be in your business. And I would recommend finding someone who you can really trust and who is in it for you and not has any ulterior motive. Which is why I think our organization in particular is so great.

Ethan Peyton: I want to echo something you said there, and that is that asking for help is not a weakness. And actually that’s something that we’ve had multiple founders come onto this show and give as advice that if there is something that you don’t know that’s not in your wheelhouse. It is not a weakness to go and ask somebody how to help, to help them solve this problem. And we don’t, as founders, need to always figure everything out on our own. I think that’s one major benefit of situations or corporations like Score in that there’s someone there and there’s someone there who and maybe they don’t fully know the answer to that question as well, but they probably have the experience and possibly the network to help navigate you towards that answer. And it could save you a lot of time and in some cases, it can save or make your business. So, yes, thank you for bringing that up. I really appreciate that.

Bridget Weston: No problem. And I will say, even for me, I work in a mentoring organization. I stepped into this CEO role, as you said, almost three years ago, and I didn’t have all of the answers. I mean, I was with Score for 13 years, I knew a lot, but I certainly don’t know everything. And I’ve embraced that. The ability and the willingness to ask for help has actually made me a stronger leader and better for it because I’ve learned things and seen things from a different perspective and I’ve challenged my own biases. One of the things I see because I’ve been with Score for 13 years is that sometimes I can think. We’ve tried that before, it didn’t work. And I can shut an idea down. But if I challenge these biases and talk to someone else who knows and has that expertise and can help me see a different perspective, I become more willing to try. And it’s worked out and we continue to be successful. And it’s helped me a great deal too.

Ethan Peyton: I’m glad. I’m glad that the person at the top of this organization really walks the walk. That’s awesome to hear. So let’s get into some of the most common mentorship mistakes that founders make. Do you see any common mistakes?

Bridget Weston: A lot of times when people are engaging with a mentor, they’ll have these great discussions. They’ll agree on the next step and then whatever that next step is, sits unread in the inbox or sits on the to do list and doesn’t get done because there are understandably problems of the day. Fires to put out more urgent things that the founder feels need to be dealt with and do need to be dealt with. So one of the things that our mentors would encourage the founders to do is look at what’s important and what’s urgent. And if you want to be a sustainable business for the future, you can’t keep operating just putting out fires and just in the day to day. You have to spend time taking a step back and working towards the future. So it is something that we see pretty common of, yeah, that was a great plan, but then I got back to work and I had to do this thing today. So making time to actually invest in your future and working on the future of the business is a common thing that we see. We also know that there is so much noise out there and so much uncertainty. And so it can be hard or challenging to make decisions or to understand what the next resource is. And then what I see, it’s not so much a mistake as inaction. There’s so much out there, I don’t know what to do. I’m just not going to do anything. And those are two things that the mentor might say, just do this. Let’s do this next thing. Let’s do your competitive analysis, or let’s look at how we can adjust your accounts receivables to help your bottom line in the next six months. Or, yeah, supply chain is really messed up. Let’s find an alternative product, because you really can continue to have these delays, and because it’s what the founders know. They can get stuck in that, and it can be hard to change, but it’s worth trying. It because the evidence shows it generally works out.

Ethan Peyton: So you mentioned people letting things sit in their inbox, and that makes me wonder. Score is free, the mentorship is free, and then there are other mentors out there that you could pay hundreds of dollars an hour for or give a part of your equity stake to essentially pay for their time and pay for their expertise. But I’m wondering if there’s any difference in the kind of follow through on a paid versus a free model. Whereas maybe if it’s a free model, I think, well, I’m not really losing anything by leaving this unread. Whereas if I’m paying thousands of dollars an hour, I might say, hey, I need to open this email because it’s darn expensive if I don’t. Have you ever seen anything like that where the free model kind of hurts the output?

Bridget Weston: I wouldn’t say in that way specifically. We see that, although I understand what you’re saying, and I can see that being a factor in terms of what I’ll call the skin in the game. Right? If you’re not paying for something, how much skin in the game do you feel that you have? And what I know about the people that come to score, at least, is they came because they’re looking for help. They have this idea, they have a passion, and they want it to succeed. And at the end of the day, score isn’t going to do the work for you, right? I mean, you can go pay people thousands of dollars and they can write your own business plan. They can write your business plan for you. They can put your pitch deck together, and that’s a valid way to go. For many founders, however, it’s your reputation, it’s your brand, and you are the owner. So owning every step of that helps to make that successful because it’s about you, the owner. So sure, there are some. People that either get too busy or distracted or decide that it’s not for them. And that’s okay. Sometimes we help people avoid disaster by going down the wrong path. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t another path. It just means that this one in particular might not have been worth it. But when people do engage with Score and do the work and let Score be their accountability partner again, their revenue grows, they’re adding jobs, and they’re making their dream come true.

Ethan Peyton: Yeah. As you said, it only takes 3 hours to get five X the results.

Bridget Weston: Yeah.

Ethan Peyton: If that’s not reward enough, then we should really start asking ourselves some questions. So there’s a couple of things that get brought up on this show quite a bit. One of those is Product Market Fit and something else very similar to Product Market Fit that is brought up is problem founder Fit. But I think that there’s something when we’re talking about mentorship specifically that is very important and that is mentor mentee fit. If I’m a founder, what are the steps that I need to take in order to make sure that I don’t just get a mentor, but I get the correct mentor? For me, Fit is critical to the.

Bridget Weston: Success of that mentor mentee relationship. And what is important that the founder does is to the best of their ability, understand what their problem is that they’re looking to solve and what success means to them. The mentor can then help you identify what is it that you’re willing to do and what is it that you’re not willing to do. Honestly, sometimes our mentors are more life coaches looking at who are you as a person? Does this business fit you? Does this the work that you’re going to put in Fit? Are you willing to do this in order to turn your life upside down to make this dream come true? And the clearer the mentee can be and what they’re looking to get out of the relationship, the better footing we start off with from the get go and the more successful it can be. Unfortunately, Score sometimes does get people that say, well, I wanted you to get me a loan or get me money. And that’s not something we can do. We don’t give out loans, we don’t have money. We have relationships with plenty of lenders that we can help you connect to and help set you up to be successful to get that loan or grant or funding, whatever it is. But that’s not going to be a successful mentor mentee relationship. But if the mentee comes in and says, in five years I’d like to be open on Main Street, or if in ten years I’d like to sell it for this profit, like, great, we know where we’re heading. We’re with you on this journey. We can help you get there.

Ethan Peyton: If I’m a person looking for a mentor and I want to make sure that I again get the correct mentor. Do you think that there are any questions that I should be asking myself in finding the answers to those questions that’s going to help me to find the correct mentor?

Bridget Weston: That’s a great question. I think that some of the things you should ask is what makes you comfortable in sharing secrets and vulnerabilities with a person? Do you need someone who will really be more strict and hold you accountable or more of a cheerleader? What motivates you to get things done? Because people are different. Some people need a softer touch and some people really need a tougher, harder edged kind of drive. So knowing what motivates you will help you identify that mentor. And that would be a great question to ask and know, hey, I’m really timid, I don’t deal well with being a taskmaster. I really need you to be more of a cheerleader. Great, we can find that person or you know what, I’m going to be a problem with deadlines and I need you to hold me accountable and tell me I need to do this and not let up. Great. We have those mentors too. So I think that would be a big factor in helping understand what can make you successful as the mentee and making that match effective.

Ethan Peyton: So motivation is a huge factor. Do you find that industry specific mentors generally work better? Or do you feel as though if a person who is a mentor doesn’t necessarily have an exact match of industry knowledge or technology knowledge or anything like that, that those types of mentor mentee relationships can still work just as well?

Bridget Weston: They can, and I’ve seen that happen. I would say that if you know the exact industry you want to go in and there’s a good match for you based on personality and how you choose to communicate and the experience that the mentor has, go with that. But remember, one of the great things is we can bring in other people that can help in other areas. The other thing might be you might want someone who has experience in what I’ll call a business topic. So you need help with planning or you need help with accounting. You don’t necessarily need someone who is in your specific industry because the tenets of those things are still the same and they can point you to the resources to get the specific industry data to help make those decisions.

Ethan Peyton: All right, so I need your advice. I’m a founder. I’m looking for a mentor. I want to maximize the relationship. I want to maximize all the time that I spend with this founder and yield the most results possible. What do I need to do as.

Bridget Weston: The mentor or the founder?

Ethan Peyton: As the founder.

Bridget Weston: Great. Come prepared, do your homework, know your goals. So when I mean come prepared, it’s know who the mentor is and their background and what you think they can bring to the table. Come prepared with what you want your business to be. Not just, it’s okay if you come with back of the napkin, back of the cocktail napkin idea, but know where you want to go with that and be willing to ask questions, how do I get from A to Q? What do I need to do? What will this take? And I think the next best thing that helps is to ask the mentor how this is going to work and be clear on what the expectations are. So before you leave that first meeting, you should know when your second meeting is going to be and what that cadence is. You should know what work you’re going to be doing and what work the mentor is going to be doing to bring to that second meeting. And there should be something that is getting done or being looked at or having a conversation with after each meeting so that you’re continuing to see that progress.

Ethan Peyton: All right, I’m going to switch it up just a little bit, and we’re going to talk about the mentor side, and we’re not going to spend a whole lot of time here, but there are definitely some people out there listening to this show that have that business experience that want to be a mentor. What do you recommend for them?

Bridget Weston: Sign up. Do it. Check out Score. One of the things I’ve seen, again, just in my career is my mentors have helped me grow and have, I believe, had a ripple effect on the people that I serve, both our volunteers and our clients. And so giving back really does have a tremendous impact on the industry or your community or whatever it is that you’re looking to give back. There can be a variety of ways to be a mentor. Score is certainly one of them. But going looking at the local schools in your area or universities, going to other community clubs, and sharing what you have to offer, it’s about understanding what it is that you have as a skill and a talent and being willing to share that because everyone does have knowledge, capital, and experiences that will help others. And I think that’s really what mentorship is all about, is sharing your experience to help others be more successful and avoid the pitfalls that you saw. So I would say again, check out Score if that’s something you’re interested in. And you can also talk to a mentor with Score and see what they would say. Whenever I talk to our Score mentors, the reason they do it is because they hear those amazing success stories of, wow. Ethan, my mentor, he helped me to get my business going. I couldn’t have fed my family without him. I couldn’t have achieved this dream without his advice. I wouldn’t have known what to do. And that is what motivates our mentors to do what they do every day.

Ethan Peyton: All right, let’s say that there’s a humble, young startup podcast host out there, maybe in specifically Ann Arbor, Michigan. I’m just thinking of off the top of my head.

Bridget Weston: Yeah.

Ethan Peyto: Is there a Score mentor for that person?

Bridget Weston: Absolutely. We have several mentors who have done podcasts, who have been in media, who understand how to make this media in particular successful. So if anyone’s out there and interested, you can contact me and we can figure out who the right mentor for you would be.

Ethan Peyton: All right. I love that answer. We’re going to move to my favorite question, and that is, what is your number one piece of advice for early stage entrepreneurs?

Bridget Weston: Early stage entrepreneurs are some of my favorite people because of their drive and passion and enthusiasm, and we touched on it before. But my piece of advice for those early stage founders is ask for help. You don’t have to go it alone, and I think it’s worth repeating because it can feel really lonely and it can feel really scary and intimidating, but your idea is worth it. And so getting people who are your cheerleaders and your sounding board and the people that will help you stay on the right path, you will be able to do what you want to do and to make that dream come to fruition. So just reach out and ask for help.

Ethan Peyton: That’s awesome. I was thinking about hiring some media training to help me talk more. Good. And I think I’m just going to go to Score instead. I think there’s probably somebody out there who can help me with my words.

Bridget Weston: Well, Ethan, I think you are great with your words and it can help to continue to refine in any area that we’re working on. So that would be wonderful. And we welcome the opportunity to help you, and maybe someday soon you can be a Score mentor, too and help others.

Ethan Peyton: Oh, man. The ends of these shows are getting more and more going straight to my head. My ego is going to be out of control. All right, last question for the listeners out there who’ve heard this and want to find a mentor with Score, what is the best way for them to do that?

Bridget Weston: Our website is You can view the mentor profiles and see who might be a good fit and reach out to them directly. And if you’re not sure, because we do have 10,000 volunteer mentors out there, you can simply reach out to your local Score chapter. They’ll talk with you and help you find the best mentor for you. But get and we’ll help you on that journey.

Ethan Peyton: All right, Score. Bridget, this has been awesome. Thank you very much for coming on. And everyone who’s listening, you can check out everything that you’ve heard today in our show Notes podcast and that’s pretty much going to be it. But Bridget, would you like the last word?

Bridget Weston: I just want to say thank you so much for giving us the opportunity. And for all of you out there who are founders and small business owners, keep it up. Thank you so much for what you’re doing for our country and our economy. We really appreciate you.

Ethan Peyton: All right, that’s going to be it for this week’s episode of The Startup Savant Podcast. Thanks for hanging out. Quick thing before we go, be sure to subscribe to the show. Wherever you’re listening from, whether it’s a podcast app, YouTube or wherever else, subscribing ensures you’ll never miss what these founders have to say and ensures that the channels know you like the show. So as the kids say, smash that subscribe button. Or as I say, gently tap that subscribe button. And thanks for being a listener. We will be back next week, Wednesday morning, to chitchat with another founder. Hope to see you back, and until then, go build something beautiful. 

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