Texas Rising - April/May 2011

Helping Hands Lead the Way

Volunteers use real-life experience with business hopefuls by Clint Shields

Experience in the business world pays off, especially when prospective business owners have questions about the necessary first steps. The Texas chapters of SCORE, a national organization that assists small businesses, help provide those answers.

“SCORE’s business is delivering experience because the majority of our counselors are retired business people and entrepreneurs,” says Carter Crews, chairman of the San Antonio SCORE chapter.

SCORE mentors do most of their work helping with the basics of a business — developing a business plan, marketing strategies, funding possibilities and, perhaps, the most important question of all.

“We ask them, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’” says Don Schenkel, SCORE’s chapter chair in Lubbock. “When some people realize they don’t just get a check, but have to do some soul searching on why they think they’ll succeed, they change their minds.”

Schenkel sold his California business to retire to Texas. As a SCORE mentor, when the business plans, people and ideas do fall into place, he says, it’s very rewarding.

“It’s almost like a teacher/student relationship,” he says. “It’s very gratifying to know that once the requirements have been stated, the owner took them seriously and satisfied the ones who can actually help them get their business going.”

Ernest Martinez met Schenkel at one of several Lubbock-area workshops he attended. Martinez planned to buy a local transportation business. But even with more than 20 years of experience working in the industry, including several years at the company he now has acquired, Martinez was surprised with some of the things he learned about ownership.

“Don Schenkel and SCORE helped me with my business plan, introduced me to an attorney who helped me with some of the ownership legalities as well as an advisor who gave me some financial perspective on the business.”
— Ernest Martinez, Lubbock small business owner

“Don and SCORE helped me with my business plan, introduced me to an attorney who helped me with some of the ownership legalities as well as an advisor who gave me some financial perspective on the business,” Martinez says. “A lot of it, I’d never even thought about. I’d absolutely recommend contacting SCORE to anyone interested in getting started in a business.” TR

Score some business advice, information about online workshops, or find local SCORE chapters.

Experience Passed Down

Gathering experienced business professionals, pooling their invaluable experience and passing it on to new business owners is at the core of SCORE’s mission.

SCORE OfficePhone Number
Austin(512) 928-2425
Corpus Christi(361) 879-0017 (ext. 22)
Dallas(214) 987-9491
El Paso(915) 534-0585
Fort Worth(817) 871-6002
Harlingen(956) 427-8533
Houston(713) 773-6565
Lubbock(806) 472-7462 (ext. 118)

“The variety of experience that our mentors have really is what we bring to the public,” says Carter Crews, chairman of SCORE’s San Antonio chapter.

Funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, SCORE has recruited more than 13,000 volunteer mentors across the country to counsel prospective business owners. 

At the local level, local SCORE chapters assist business hopefuls by helping with marketing strategies, conducting industry roundtable discussions and one-on-one counseling sessions and even mentoring by email.

Ultimately, matching the entrepreneur with the resources to succeed in business is what it’s about, Crews says.

“It’s up to the individual to do the work and see it through,” he says. “As a mentor, it’s gratifying to see them succeed and to know that you had a hand in helping get someone where they wanted to go.”

Texas SCORE Chapters are located across the state. Many offer online business tools and contact information and can be found through SCORE’s website.