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Sound advice can help you SCORE in business

Organization assists entrepreneurs in getting their operations up and running

Stephen Sawyer, a SCORE Southern Nevada counselor, advises a Henderson man interested in starting his own business at the local SCORE office located at 112 S. Water St. in downtown Henderson.—— Courtesy of Gary J. Johnson
January 14, 2013
The dream of business ownership may seem more difficult with the current economic climate. However, there is hope and help available.

SCORE, which stands for Service Core of Retired Executives, has been around since 1964 to help those who want to take their idea and turn it into their very own business. The organization's sole purpose is to help potential entrepreneurs get their businesses up and running.

At one time, the Small Business Administration loaned money directly to those embarking on a new business venture.

Unfortunately, people who are attempting to start businesses and need these loans do not always have business plans or know how to put one together. Because of this, the SBA formed an organization of retired business professionals to help up-and-coming business owners. This is how SCORE was born.

If you're interested in getting help from SCORE, you can contact the local office in Henderson located at 112 S. Water St., which is in the Wells Fargo bank building.

First, you'll speak with a SCORE representative about your business idea, and you will be matched with a counselor who is best suited to help you based on their area of expertise.

One local SCORE counselor, Gary J. Johnson, actively has been working in management since the mid-1960s. Even though he is officially retired, Johnson is involved with the Henderson Rotary Club, Henderson Chamber of Commerce and, of course, he works to help potential business owners.

An analogy that Johnson likes to use is comparing a business to a yacht. Ideally, when a person has a yacht, they think about sailing, throwing parties and hanging out on the promenade. However, the one thing the owner of the yacht also has to think about is what is going on in the engine room, because the action taking place in the engine room sustains the yacht.

When a person has a business, they may be proud to own and operate a business but, again, as the owner you need to be worried about what's going on in the back office, which is basically your business' engine room.

Johnson pointed out that people really need to consider all the costs of opening and running a business. Rent, utilities and payroll, along with other expenses, must be accounted for. After all, according to Johnson, "You have to think about how to keep the lights on and the doors open."

According to Johnson, it's imperative for business owner to keep updating their business plans. Most people develop a good business plan and then either get a loan or get the business up and running; once things seem to be working properly, they forget to update their plan.

Another bit of advice that Johnson has to share is short but to the point: "Trust but verify." When business owners get comfortable or burnt out, employee laziness and theft can start to come into play. An example of this might be a general manager and an alcohol supplier colluding against the owner of a restaurant for their own gain, which is worse than not getting enough customers.

While growing up, Stephen Sawyer, a certified business mentor with SCORE Southern Nevada, had his own lawn service, paper route and other jobs. After graduating from college, he went into the Army and afterward, he spent much of his professional life working in corporate America.

When it comes to starting a business, Sawyer said, "Don't spend any of your money, until you've gone through your thought process and done your research."

He mentioned an instance in which a new business owner took out a long-term lease on what was thought to be the perfect location for the business, only to find later that, because of zoning laws, the business would not be able to be opened within that particular building.

Sawyer's final word of advice to those wanting to start their own business: "Don't be afraid to ask for help or advice."

SCORE is a national not-for-profit organization that runs regular monthly business start-up workshops. The main topics covered in these workshops include writing a business plan; marketing and sales; and managing your business' cash flow.

For more information, visit the local chapter's website at scorelv.org or call 388-6104.

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