Score Austin is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and small businesses either start or grow a business. The organization has been around since 1964 and was founded as a resource partner of the Small Business Administration. Today Score boasts more than 320 chapters and 10,000 volunteers nationwide.
Charlyn Daugherty is in charge of recruiting new members for the Score Austin chapter. The main office is in West Lake Hills, but Daugherty said SCORE covers small businesses in Austin and all of its surrounding communities.
Daugherty describes SCORE as an organization that provides clients with mentors, typically with many years of experience in all elements of running a business. That includes operations, strategy, technology and marketing.
One of SCORE’s most recent successes is Austin-based Antonelli’s Cheese Shop. Daugherty said that is a great example of who Score represents.
“In Austin there are a lot of young people moving here all the time, so many of them are perhaps interested in starting their own business,” Daugherty said. “So I think there is a greater need here than there might be in some other cities around the United States.”
Another critical aspect of what SCORE does involves workshops centered on the different elements of running a business, from digital marketing made easy to writing a successful business plan.
“Most of them, they’re either free or they’re very low-cost; around $25,” she said. “So, it’s not just a matter of mentoring one-on-one. It’s also lots of education.”
Even though SCORE serves a needed function and clients are benefiting from the organization, Daugherty said there are pitfalls to being in a thriving business environment. One of the biggest problems Daugherty said she is facing lately is finding enough mentors to serve her clients.
On top of having extensive business experience, Daugherty said, a qualified mentor is a good listener, offers positive suggestions to clients and has an open mind. A good mentor should be able to facilitate positive outcomes for clients and ultimately help set them on the path toward success.
“We really need mentors in Round Rock, Georgetown, Kyle and Buda. All of these areas are part of our district,” she said, adding that the need for mentors extends beyond the cities she mentioned.
Another benefit to having mentors based all over the Greater Austin area is that satellite meeting locations can be implemented so clients living far from the West Lake Hills office will not have to drive long distances for a meeting. One example of a satellite meeting place Daugherty mentioned is at the Round Rock Public Library, with which SCORE has an arrangement. The more mentors Score tallies in outlying areas, the more meeting arrangements Score can make similar to the one it has with the Round Rock Public Library.
“I usually find that it is important to help the client set a plan,” she said. “They usually don’t have the specifics of a plan, and many of them need to have you help them be more accountable. … What do you need to do to get to where you want to go?”