Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects I have found in being a mentor in SCORE is the fact that every individual who comes to us is truly ‘unique’ in terms of both their particular business situation as well as their vision of where they want to go with that business concept. Each SCORE mentee has realized that asking for assistance is not something to be embarrassed about…… just as clients would come to our architectural office realizing that they needed help to turn their program & space needs into a physical reality.
A little over a year ago, two young businesswomen enrolled in our ‘Simple Steps’ business workshop to see if they could get some ideas on how to grow their Spa & Yoga business, which was now in it’s fifth year of operation. As part of that workshop, participants are assigned to a mentor to give them assistance with the technical & philosophical aspects of the homework assignments. So it was my good fortune to be assigned to these two women, who I have now been counseling for over a year.
I remember telling them at our first session, that over 75% of new businesses fail in the first five years, so that fact that they were still viable and feeling the need to grow was a fine testimony to their decision making in those early years. So we set about developing a plan to analyze their current business from both a physical and financial basis to determine strengths to build upon & weaknesses to eliminate if possible.
They updated their financial formats by switching to Quick Books and I recommended that it seemed a good time for them to get the assistance of a part-time bookkeeper, thus allowing them to focus on growth opportunities rather than bogging themselves down with simple data entry tasks. They began to review and analyze their financials on a quarterly basis, rather than just randomly looking at their checkbook to see what their current balance was. And this allowed them to drop services that were not profitable and expand those services that were profitable.
And with a new sense of confidence in their business, they started to develop new marketing ‘partnerships with local wineries and breweries as a means of expanding potential clientele and camaraderie among their existing clients.
With their current lease having only about a year remaining, we began to talk about the need to grow and relocate. And as a result of undertaking a space needs analysis, they are now working with a commercial realtor to renovate an existing vacant space here in Lincoln that will allow them to almost double their current size, increase staff and tap into a new demographic & locale which is currently underserved in terms of spa & yoga service.
Being a small part of this process as their SCORE mentor has been a most rewarding ‘volunteer’ experience. And I would like to encourage any of you who feel the desire to volunteer to share your business expertise with those who are looking for assistance as they start or grow a business here in Lincoln.