A business mentoring organization has expanded its reach in Forsyth County.
SCORE, a national nonprofit that pairs established business people with those just starting or struggling, has been working with the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce for about eight years.
Jason Mock, director of the chamber’s Small Business Services Center, said SCORE has been a valuable resource to many entrepreneurs in the county.
“We had a partnership with a couple of SCORE mentors, but they didn’t have the dedicated time to meet with folks on a weekly basis,” Mock said.
That all changed recently when mentor Lewis Carlyn, who had been working with participants in Alpharetta for about a year, asked SCORE officials to help him open an office here.
“I knew this was a booming area, so I encouraged them to have an office … here in Forsyth County,” Carlyn said.
Last week, SCORE officially opened that office in The Collection shopping mall in south Forsyth.
The office, located within the Regus office suites, will be available by appointment for business owners wishing to receive free mentoring services through SCORE.
Mock said Regus had an existing partnership with SCORE to allow mentors to use available space in their facilities.
“The new office will be available by appointment only based on the times Lewis is available to meet with people,” he said. “In the last three weeks, he’s seen about five businesses.”
Mock will assist by pointing entrepreneurs seeking advice toward Carlyn as needed.
“Anybody that is looking to own their own business or even somebody who’s maybe owned a business for five or 10 years, it’s an opportunity for a small business to learn some new tools, sharpen their tools and help grow their business,” he said.
Carlyn noted that he plans to offer some evening time slots.
“That’s really important because if they have a job currently, we don’t want to being forced to take time away from that job,” he said. “For example, I just met with a young lady that has an idea about pet furniture, and she had to take the time off from her job to meet with me. I don’t want people risking their current job to pursue their dreams.”
That’s something Mock is excited about since it opens many options for business people.
“They may not always be able to see somebody during a normal 8 to 5 timeframe, so that’s really great,” Mock said.
Another nice aspect of SCORE is its wide reach.
Even if Carlyn, a retired food service executive, can’t help with a specific problem, there are dozens of other SCORE mentors he can reach out to.
“If he doesn’t know the specific topic that you’re talking about, there’s tons of resources SCORE has in its toolbox that he can pull from,” Mock said.
“It’s just a great opportunity for our business owners to take their businesses to the next level.”
The national SCORE organization is celebrating its 50thyear of helping American entrepreneurs, while SCORE Atlanta has offered free business counseling since 1964.
Since its inception, SCORE has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs and each year it provides small business mentoring and workshops to more than 375,000 new and growing businesses.
More than 11,000 business experts volunteer as mentors in more than 340 chapters serving local communities with business ownership education.