SCORE: Start planning for next season right now

Published 8:42 am Saturday, August 31, 2019

Business is great this season on the Outer Banks. We are set to break records again this year; and, if the traffic on the by-pass is any indication, more and more people are coming here to enjoy the magic and hospitality of our area. Hopefully the bounty is being spread around to all our businesses — both large and small — and we have many happy visitors that will return next year.

A great season, like the one we are experiencing so far, is especially encouraging for start-up businesses that have done their homework and are following a solid business plan that includes setting aside sufficient resources to reinvest in their venture. And, of course, having a solid business plan and keeping it current is important for established businesses as well.

Whether you’re a startup business owner or have been operating an existing business for years, there are always skills to sharpen and new things to learn. Everyone probably needs to take a break after the tourist season winds down, but don’t rest on your laurels. Take inventory of how your business performed based on your expectations and your current business plan and start thinking about how you want to position your business for next year.

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One way to become a more knowledgeable and adept entrepreneur is to have a trusted business mentor you can ask for advice, guidance and feedback. Mentors, like those available through SCORE, can help you navigate the sometimes tumultuous road to business success and encourage you through challenging times. They can also be a sounding board and advisor as you deal with success and build and expand your business.

What are the advantages of having a SCORE business mentor?

  1. (1) You can get advice from someone who has walked the walk. With a SCORE mentor who has had experience in your particular type of business, you can gain valuable insight as you approach problems and challenges. Mentors have a firm understanding of the steps involved in starting and growing a business, so they can provide direction and feedback to help you get on the right path and stay there.
  2. (2) You get an impartial perspective on your ideas and business practices. As an entrepreneur, you naturally will be emotionally invested in your business. This can serve to help you achieve your goals, but it could also work against you. Feelings can get in the way of recognizing weaknesses that you need to address and your ability to assess situations objectively. A SCORE mentor will bring an objective viewpoint and third-party perspective focused on facts and best business practices.
  3. (3) A SCORE mentor can help you develop skills necessary to manage your company successfully. Through a mentor’s advice and feedback, you can gain a better understanding of business financials, hone your leadership skills, increase your marketing know-how and fine-tune other essential elements related to business acumen. A mentor can also help you tap into the multitude of free resources on the SCORE website.
  4. (4) You are not alone in your business journey. When you face difficult days or disappointing downturns, a SCORE mentor can provide the encouragement you need to get through tough times. You can look to your mentor for help in seeing past the negatives and purposefully focusing on doing what’s necessary to overcome whatever adversity you face.
  5. (5) You have extended access to expertise of a nationwide network of free business mentors. With thousands of SCORE mentors and more than 300 local chapters across the United States, you have a vast network of small business experts to tap into for expertise relative to your business and its challenges. Depending on your needs, you might even work with a team of mentors comprised of individuals with specialized experience in different areas of business. Mentoring is available in person, through email, Skype, Google Hangouts and by phone; so you can select to consult with mentors however it best suits your schedule and preferences.
  6. (6) You have zero risk. Hiring a business consultant can get pricey, but mentoring from SCORE costs nothing. The free support from SCORE’s entrepreneurial experts can make a big difference on your business’s bottom line. Also, on the SCORE website there are many free tools, templates, workshops and webinars that you can access at your leisure.

How can you get started with a SCORE mentor? Via the website, you can get assigned to a mentor right here on the Outer Banks and even search for a mentor with the specific industry or business expertise you need.  Outer Banks SCORE has an office located on the second floor of the Chamber of Commerce in Kill Devil Hills with office hours from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Tuesday. Or you can ask for a mentor and set up a time that is mutually agreed on by you and the mentor. If you have questions about SCORE’s free mentoring services call Marty Hamed, chapter chair, at 252-489-9202 or email her at

SCORE is affiliated with the US Small Business Administration. Services are free and confidential. Visit SCORE at



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