Serving the greater Williamsburg area of Virginia including:
Frequently Asked Questions
SCORE is a mentoring organization. We give counsel and advice to people who are in business or want to start a business.
No. All SCORE counseling and mentoring is free and confidential.
Starting a new business requires a passion to succeed and also requires study and research before you begin. An experienced SCORE Business Counselor can help you through the process. To schedule an appointment with a SCORE counselor or, to ask a question via e-mail, just click here or call 757-229-6511. A SCORE counselor will get back to you within 24 hours to schedule an appointment or to answer your questions.
Williamsburg SCORE has compiled a helpful guide to assist you with the process. The Guide is in PDF format. Click here to download the guide.
Here are some key elements of entrepreneurship developed by Flori Roberts. Flori is the creative advisor to The Roberts Group, a cosmetics sales and marketing company. Roberts co-founded Flori Roberts Cosmetics and Dermablend Corrective Cosmetics. As an entrepreneur, Flori launched and grew two businesses to multi-million dollar proportions. Here are Roberts Rules of Entrepreneurship which she developed:
Starting a business requires discipline and discipline requires rules. You may want to follow Flori's "rules of entrepreneurship" or create your own set of rules. But you must clearly identify your personal goals and formulate a plan. Use them as a road map to your success.
In Williamsburg, you can schedule an appointment with a SCORE counselor or, ask a question via e-mail. Just click here or call 757-229-6511. A SCORE counselor will get back to you within 24 hours to schedule an appointment or to answer your questions.
The SCORE office is located in the Chamber & Tourism Alliance Building, 421 N. Boundary St. in Williamsburg. Counselors can also meet with small business owners at your business location as well.
You can also access the national SCORE Web site at www.score.org for a wide variety of small business articles, tutorials and tools, all free!
SCORE counselors will continue to be interested in your progress, so follow-on sessions are encouraged. Each session will last about one hour. In addition to being free, all SCORE counseling is confidential.
The Virginia State Corporation Commission has a chart of the process which can be found in the Business Registration Guide. Remember, a SCORE Counselor can assist you through the process. Here is a link to the Guide: www.scc.virginia.gov/clk/files/brg.pdf.
Yes. Local SCORE Chapters provide a variety of business education workshops geared to both start-ups and established businesses. There is usually a nominal charge for workshops. Check the Chapter Web Site for course schedules and availability. There are also more than 309 tutorials available on line for free on the SCORE Web Site.
SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the SBA. The U.S. Congress, through the SBA, provides SCORE with a grant to help operate SCORE chapters, so SCORE can advise entrepreneurs. SCORE and the SBA have partnered since 1964. SCORE also raises funds in the community to help cover the expense of running a local office.
No. SCORE volunteers have had successful careers in business (large and small) and want to "give back" to the business community. SCORE's mission is to provide a public service, a community service that helps small businesses grow and prosper. SCORE's counselors believe in this and want entrepreneurs to succeed, that's why the counselors volunteer their time free of charge.
Yes. The main SCORE website, www.score.org has a wealth of business tools and on-line tutorials all available free of charge. There is also a facility for on-line counseling available on the home page. You can also sign up for newsletters and articles that provide helpful tips and ideas.
Compare your skills and expertise with those who are successful in similar business pursuits. Analyze what particular attributes and operational capabilities made other businesses profitable and viable in the marketplace. Can you duplicate or acquire and surpass the capabilities that other successful businesses possess? What unique skills or edge do you possess to obtain a sufficient share of the total market in the area you plan to serve?
Review business journals and other comparative studies that identify the requirements necessary to operate such a business. Based on your findings, develop a strategy for what should be incorporated into business operations.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) does not provide funding for direct loans nor does it provide grants/low interest rate loans for business start-up or expansion. The SBA does, however, enable its lending partners to provide financing to small businesses (when funding is otherwise unavailable on reasonable terms) by guaranteeing major portions of loans made to small businesses.
The eligibility requirements and credit criteria of the program are very broad in order to accommodate a wide range of financing needs. When a small business applies to a lending partner for a loan, the lender reviews the application and decides if it merits a loan on its own or if it requires the additional support of an SBA guaranty. SBA backing on the loan is then requested by the lender.
In guaranteeing a loan, the SBA assures the lender that, in the event the borrower does not repay the loan, the government will reimburse the lending partner for a portion of its loss. By providing this guaranty, the SBA is able to help tens of thousands of small businesses every year to get financing they would not otherwise obtain.
To qualify for an SBA guaranty, a small business must meet the SBA’s criteria. For additional information, visit the SBA’s web site www.sba.gov/services/financialassistance.
Initially, the lender will want to know: How will you use the loan? How much do you need to borrow? How will you repay the loan? When you apply for the loan, you must provide projected financial statements and a cohesive, clear business plan. Additionally, you will need to provide a clear description of your experience and management capabilities, as well as personal financial statements for yourself and all other owners of the business.
A business plan precisely defines the business, identifies goals and serves as the company's resume. It illustrates the operational and financial aspects of a business. It is a roadmap to help you achieve your goals. Because it provides specific and organized information about your business and how borrowed money will be repaid, a good business plan is a crucial part of any loan package. Additionally, it tells personnel, suppliers and others about company operations and goals. SCORE provides comprehensive business plan templates for new and established businesses in the Template Gallery of the Business Tools section, on the national SCORE Web site.
It is impossible to produce a realistic marketing plan and business plan without knowing your competition. Very few businesses operate in an environment where there is no competition. Direct and indirect competitors are trying to convince customers to buy their product rather than yours. It is in your best interest to learn more about the companies that are trying to reduce your take-home pay. Knowing the competition enables you to get a competitive advantage.
List the strengths and weaknesses of each of your competitors. Talk with friends, visit your competition, call for information about their products and analyze how they advertise. Next, take a sheet of paper and list each of the major competitors and give each a rating on a scale of 1 to 10, for product quality, process, advertising and customer satisfaction. You can add other ratings that you feel are important.
You can now use the competitive analysis to make decisions relevant to your strategic marketing plan (an integral part of your business plan). After analyzing your competition, you will need to decide what your competitive priories (cost, quality, time and flexibility) will be. That is why the customer is going to come to you instead of the competition. Will I be faster, have higher quality, more features, or lower cost? These will help guide your marketing plan. [Your marketing plan will guide you toward the right decisions in the areas of pricing and advertising.] It will also help you to increase your company's customer satisfaction rate (which usually shows up as a weakness in many firms). Finally, it can help you make the right decisions on customer and product segmentation (target marketing).
You can set up your own Web site, if you are adept at using a computer and are familiar with how the Internet works. Most of the major Internet service providers (ISPs) and software companies have basic build-your-own Web site tools. If you want an interactive Web site, you may want to hire a professional Web site designer. Also consider obtaining your own domain name (the address of your Web site or URL). Many cities and counties in Virginia have matching grant programs to support small business e-commerce and web site development. In the Tidewater area, these include the City of Williamsburg, York County, the City of Newport News, the City of Hampton, and the City of Virginia Beach. If your business is located in any of these cities or counties, you may want to contact the Economic Development Department Managers in the above city/county municipal offices for more information.
You may want to become a SCORE volunteer or, perhaps make a cash donation to help. SCORE is a non-profit 501 ( c) 3 organization so your cash contributions are tax deductible.