LAFAYETTE-For business executive Leonard “Len” Sedlin, there are still many challenges ahead for Louisiana small businesses and the volunteer executive mentors of the state’s SCORE district. With the strains of unemployment and high overhead costs, starting and operating a business have voluminous hurtles that Sedlin says SCORE mentors can help owners maneuver through. That is if the owners know about their local SCORE chapter.
“If we will be relevant in economic development for Louisiana we have to work harder at strengthening small businesses and marketing what we do,” said Sedlin, SCORE Louisiana District 0679 president. “Every chapter has to examine organization structure to be efficient in providing service to our clients.”
Utilizing new technology, best practice management tools, and email marketing, SCORE’s all-volunteer team can now enhance the way chapters reach out for new clients while maintaining a national network to help existing clients. These tools will also enhance the consultation services and trainings the organization provides to more than 600 small and emerging businesses annually.
These tools as well as the new score brand-SCORE: For the Life of Your Business-will be the foci of this weekend’s district meeting in Lafayette, Friday and Saturday at the Marriot Fairfield Inn and Suites, 1606 W. Pinhook Road in Lafayette.
According to Sedlin, SCORE mentors and volunteers from La. chapters will learn best practices and how to use the new tools-including an online mentor certification course. They will also meet with representatives from Louisiana Economic Development office and the Small and Emerging Business Development program.
The chapters will then be expected to establish updated strategic plans that address local issues and increase the number of new or existing business owners or “clients” who SCORE empowers.
Nationwide 13,000 men and women donate their time and expertise to assist entrepreneurs. In Louisiana, there are nearly 200, and Sedlin said the organization needs to increase the number of mentors and volunteers to better serve the state. “These volunteers make zero dollars per hour,” he said, “it’s a huge amount of work” but the reward is establishing successful small businesses that impact Louisiana’s economy.
His message this weekend to chapter leaders is very clear: “Recruit. You have to bring in new clients.”
“SCORE’s gotta change its business or it will become irrelevant and we know we can do it,” he said. This goal fits within the national strategic plan where SCORE has set a goal to create one million new small businesses by 2017. “We can do this by restructuring how we do business,” he said.
Starting next year, SCORE will certify all mentors through an online certification course and ongoing mentor trainings to better serve clients.
The new website ( www.score.org ) provides mentors, volunteers and clients with more information and access to a national pool of business executives with small business expertise.
“Now mentors can taping to resources across the country that can help local clients,” Sedlin said.
Local persons interested in starting businesses or who may need assistance with their business are invited to participate in a reception Friday, Nov. 18, 5:30pm at the Fairfield Inn. This reception will provide entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn about the service SCORE offers and to meet Acadiana chapter director, Donovan Hudson, and mentors.
SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration, funded inpart by federal appropriations, and has been mentoring small business owners for more than 40 years.