Fifteen years ago Jim Wittenburg was new in town from Silicon Valley and he wanted to start a business in Colorado Springs.
“Everyone I went to was willing to talk to me,” he said.
Now, he’s retired. And, he’s willing to talk to any entrepreneur in need of help. Wittenburg is a volunteer at Service Corps of Retired Executives, SCORE.
The Colorado Springs chapter of SCORE is on a mission to recruit volunteers, step up its marketing and double the number of clients its serves in 2012.
The all-volunteer organization exists to help budding entrepreneurs jump into the small business world and help small business owners grow their business. Last year, the Colorado Springs SCORE counselors met with about 800 clients and hosted workshops for 1,400 people interested in starting their own business.
“SCORE puts the rudder on the business to give them direction,” said Jerry Musselman, chair of the local SCORE chapter.
SCORE is sponsored by the Small Business Administration and works in tandem with the Small Business Development Center.
The group recruits volunteers from a variety of business backgrounds from administration, to marketing to finance. And, Musselman said, its volunteer experts are not just retired business executives but people still in the work force. The idea is to provide expert knowledge to local entrepreneurs and grow small business in Colorado Springs.
The group offers counseling to the up and coming small business owner and to the experienced owners too in a program the call SCOREplus. SCORE volunteers will assemble a team to review a business plan and brainstorm new business strategies, Musselman said. Many small businesses are using the SCORE team and business plan review as a “health check” – to see if they are on track, he said.
The organization hosts 15 Business Basics workshops, including workshops on area military installations. It also has follow-up seminars on business research, market strategies, accounting, financial projections and financing.
In order to expand its offerings and add more workshops, the group needs to double its volunteer corps. On average, the group is asking for about a two to three hour commitment.
Wittenburg said the organization will start tracking the number of businesses that are launched or expand because of SCOREs help.
“We will have more extensive surveys of the business to ask them if they reached their goals,” he said.