Q: As I look into starting my own business, I am overwhelmed by all the things I will have to know to be successful. What kind of training does SCORE suggest and what is available locally?
A: First, there is no substitute for getting your own practical experience in the kind of business you hope to start. Knowing your marketing and tax issues, technology, finances, human resources management and many other aspects of small business will help you be successful in your own business.
Most entrepreneurs don’t have expertise in all those areas. That’s why individuals interested in starting or expanding a business have been tapping in to programs at a record pace. During one recent 12-month period, a record 2.5 million people sought help from one of many U.S. Small Business Administration training and assistance programs, including your local SCORE chapter.
In Hagerstown, you have access to free one-on-one mentoring by SCORE volunteers, free small-business roundtable discussions semimonthly, and low-cost seminar/workshop series for beginning and/or growing an existing business. Here are some upcoming opportunities:
• Thursday, Sept. 22, at noon, Bulls & Bears, downtown in the Arts and Entertainment District. Join this free SCORE roundtable discussion, which will continue the July session on Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, or SWOT, analysis. We will discuss the steps to take to create a sound strategic plan that forms the basis of a business plan, then experiment with writing strategic goals and objectives for a business plan. Don’t worry if you missed the July session; the program will begin with a brief SWOT refresher. Lunch is available for purchase. This also is a great networking opportunity.
• A low-cost seminar series, “How to Really Start Your Own Business,” runs Thursdays, Oct. 6, 13, 20 and 27, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the third-floor classroom in the Technical Innovation Center at Hagerstown Community College. This series is especially helpful to those who are thinking about starting their own business or those who have recently started a business of their own. For more information, go to the current HCC Continuing Education catalog or the SCORE Hagerstown chapter website at www.scorehagerstown.org.
For details about these events, call Robert A. “Bob” Poor at 301-991-3126.
There are a number of other training courses, many of them available on the Web at no cost. Start your search at www.sba.gov under “training” and register for free help from a small-business mentor by calling SCORE Hagerstown at 301-766-2043.
• Robert A. “Bob” Poor is a local small-business owner/operator. He is a small-business counselor and a regular contributor to the Ask SCORE column. Questions may be emailed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or sent by mail in care of The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741, ATTN: Ask SCORE column.