Members of SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives), an organization created and supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration, offer in-person and online counseling for both for-profit and nonprofit organizations on Martha’s Vineyard.
In this monthly column, The Times has invited SCORE members to discuss business issues familiar to Vineyard business owners and managers. SCORE members will also answer questions from readers, posted at mvtimes.com.
SCORE volunteers donate their time and expertise for many reasons. On Martha’s Vineyard there are eight team members including seven mentor/counselors.
I became a SCORE counselor in 2011 while still working part-time as a communication and marketing consultant. I remember when I started my own micro-small consulting company and did not have a clue about how to run a business. You learn a lot — too often the hard way — over the course of decades of growing a business.
I also know firsthand the unique challenges and advantages that women business owners face. I thought I had a lot of knowledge that might just help others avoid some of the errors I made and get to “success” that much faster.
Harvey Beth recently returned to the Island SCORE team. “Having spent 45 years as a CPA, a financial and systems consultant, an entrepreneur and a governmental and not-for-profit official, I felt that I had experiences that I could share that could provide some guidance and thoughts that could assist Islanders in need,” Mr. Beth said.
Perhaps the most senior of the volunteers is Margot Weston, the team’s administrative assistant. Ms. Weston has been keeping records, getting out meeting notices, reminding clients of meetings and answering the SCORE phone line for a decade.
“My husband’s stepfather was active with SCORE in Miami in the 1960s…'” she said. “I saw a small notice in a local newspaper here on Martha’s Vineyard asking for help with paper work. I applied for the job and got it. There was a lot of paper work and faxing and maintaining of files. I’m still here ten years later… I enjoy facilitating client relationships with the counselors.”
Norman Werthwein is also a retired CPA and brings experience as a financial executive with small and large organizations to his SCORE service as a counselor.
“I became aware of SCORE while spending time on the Vineyard after I retired,” Mr. Werthwein said. “I decided that participating in SCORE would be a good transition to retirement and enable me to employ my experience to those organizations in need of assistance. The fact that the program was volunteer and at no cost to the participants was also appealing to me. My background…enabled me to bring information and assistance to a number of Island clients over the past seven years.”
Andrew Engelman began his business career in Indonesia in 1970. He has been a SCORE counselor/mentor on Martha’s Vineyard for seven years. “I was helped by various mentors who gave me advice and counsel on all manner of business and personal issues,” he said. “As I advanced in my career I was able to do the same for others until I finally retired from professional service. Now I can advise others in improving their businesses or assist in their starting a business.
“The old saying ‘ there is nothing new under the sun’ applies, and most of us who have worked for 40 years have seen all the successes and pitfalls of business live and are in a unique position to give counsel.”
Bill Skinner retired in 2001. “I became involved in the startup of a small business incubator and as the volunteer executive director I worked with a number of fledgling companies,” he said. “Upon moving to the Vineyard in 2005 I located the SCORE team and just continued to be a resource for small companies.”
Michael Adell served as a SCORE counselor/mentor in Chicago for five years and donated his expertise on the Island for more than two years. Prior to retirement he held a number of high-level management jobs, including heading up the domestic and international marketing and sales divisions for Apple, US Robotics, and Kodak.
Why did Mr. Adell join SCORE? “I saw a distinct need among the Island’s nonprofits and small business owners for counseling in developing business and marketing plans, doing a cash flow analysis and sales projections, as well as identifying their market differentiation,” he said. “Nonprofits need counseling in the areas of development and fundraising.”
Clark Rattet is a brand-new SCORE counselor and is a semi-retired CPA. Many of Mr. Rattet’s clients were small businesses, including light manufacturers, insurance brokers and auto repair shops.
“When Mike Adell, who is a friend, mentioned SCORE and suggested I become a counselor, I thought it would be a good fit in my retirement,” Mr. Rattet said.
SCORE on the Island needs your help. If you are a retired or semi-retired business executive become a counselor. If you don’t have much free time but are able to provide resource expertise in the areas of law, accounting or technology and you could offer as little as ten hours of time annually let us know. Please contact SCORE at 508-696-9687 to get involved.
Seeking counseling service? Go to www.score.org and complete a brief application.
Susan Silk is a semi-retired communication consultant. Prior to moving to the Island full-time, she was the founder and president of a communication consulting and training firm in Chicago.