Since the pandemic, a record number of Philadelphia-based employees have turned their remote roles into entrepreneurship, prompting the Philadelphia chapter of SCORE, a nonprofit partner of the US Small Business Administration and the City of Philadelphia’s Commerce Department, to seek more volunteers. to handle the 100 percent increase in mentoring requests received over the past two years.
Philadelphia SCORE Chapter co-chair Jack Musgrove said the chapter’s requests for business mentors have skyrocketed since the pandemic began, increasing to a whopping 150 to 200 each month, from 50 to 75 monthly requests initially. This summer alone, the department welcomed 148 new clients in July, 166 in August and 144 in September through its free mentoring services and workshops.
Meanwhile, the chapter, which is run by about 54 volunteers, has only added seven new mentors in 2022 and is struggling to keep up with the remarkable demand from clients. The need for help in starting a business gives entrepreneurs, managers, business leaders and retired businessmen and women a chance to help the local business community. “Score” with SCORE Philadelphia, the name of the current volunteer recruitment campaign, is now seeking active participants to become volunteer mentors with the Philadelphia chapter.
“We have plenty of opportunities to serve our customers,” Musgrove said. “It is gratifying for our mentors to help them.”
Although many of SCORE’s clients have great business ideas, they seek guidance in bringing those ideas to life. Mentors offer insight into developing a business plan, identifying your customers, financial planning, marketing, staffing and more.
Women make up more than half of the department’s client base. Of those, most are women of color.
“A mentor has to start from scratch to help clients who are likely starting from scratch,” Musgrove said of the types of business leaders the chapter seeks. “[Our chapter needs] volunteers who understand credit, banking and are familiar with the Philadelphia business landscape; We need people who really understand the startup world.”
When the national SCORE organization started in 1964, it focused primarily on recruiting retired executives and former business owners as mentors. That mindset has changed dramatically in recent years with some mentors holding down jobs or running a business. Engagement is an integral part of mentoring, as is understanding a client’s needs and helping them achieve business success. SCORE’s focus these days is “Counseling America’s Small Businesses.”
In addition to living in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia Chapter SCORE volunteer mentors come from New Jersey, Main Line and Bucks and Montgomery counties. Many have business or hometown roots in Philadelphia, but this is not required; plus most mentorships and workshops are held virtually and can take place almost anywhere with Internet access.
“Score” with SCORE Philadelphia, by mentoring the next generation of business leaders and offering invaluable opportunities to impact your local business.
CEO Rich Neal, of Bala Cynwyd-based Advanced Behavior Treatment, sought help in forming a business partnership through the SCORE Philadelphia Chapter. Neal, whose business provides direct support to people with disabilities, worked with two Philadelphia SCORE mentors.
“Each [mentor] expanded our thought process by identifying problems we would never have thought of on our own,” Neal said. “The experience each mentor has in their own personal business career has proven invaluable to us by saving us hours of research time and probably thousands of dollars in consulting fees.”
Engage and “Score” with SCORE Philadelphia!
If you are interested in becoming a Philadelphia SCORE mentor, go to https://philadelphia.score.org/volunteer or call 215-231-9880.
Since 1964, the SCORE organization as a whole has helped more than 11 million aspiring entrepreneurs. Each year, SCORE provides mentoring and small business workshops to more than 375,000 new and growing small businesses.