It’s not Shark Tank — it’s better. Only a select few entrepreneurs might have a chance to receive help on their business ideas from the popular TV show, but in India-napolis, entrepreneurs have access to advice from successful business executives through a very active chapter of SCORE, a national non-profit that provides free business mentoring services to potential and current entrepreneurs. SCORE
is a resource partner of the Small Business Administration (SBA).
“Three different types of clients come to SCORE,” says Bill Petro-vic, Chapter Chair, SCORE In-dianapolis. “People who are in the early stage of planning to go into business make up a large segment of our clients. The second group is entrepreneurs who started their business less than a year ago. The third group of people who seek our services are small business owners who have been in business for a while.” SCORE can help them all. “SCORE provides services small business owners cannot get easily anywhere else,” said Petrovic. He explained the alternative would be costly consultants.
Through a network of volunteers, SCORE offers one-on-one business mentoring as well as a variety of workshops ranging from tax tips to how to start a business. The na-tional website, www.score.org, also features a blog with helpful ar-ticles for business owners. Accord-ing to a report by the Kauffman Foundation, “Indianapolis/Carmel metropolitan area represents an attractive place for business in its unique way, and small business is growing.” During the 2015 holiday shopping season, over 200 small retail businesses participated in Small Business Saturday in an effort coordinated by Be Indypen-dent and the Indianapolis Arts Council. Central Indiana is also be-coming a hub for small businesses in the technology, manufacturing and brewing in-dustries, in addi-tion to retail.
At a recent SCORE event, Erika White and Meredith Fleming — who started the floral shop Posh Petals in 2004 — commented, “Thanks to SCORE’s mentoring, we went from an idea to a very successful busi-ness with more than 10 employees serving the Indianapolis area.”
Petrovic explained that in addi-tion to seeking people looking for mentoring, SCORE is eager to add more mentors. He didn’t hesitate when asked what type of person is an ideal candidate to volunteer. “We are looking for people com-mitted to a life of learning and improvement,” said Petrovic. Other criteria include 1) having owned a business or a consulting firm
or held an executive position in a corporation; 2) possessing the time and desire to use these skills to assist SCORE clients; 3) being will-ing to do any or all of the following: to mentor clients, assist at work-shops or provide unique skills and talents to the benefit of the chapter and its clients. Petrovic says that currently, the organization is espe-cially interested in adding women and minority mentors. Visit www. score.org/volunteer.
Petrovic retired after a 31-year finance career with Roche Diagnos-tics and, like many early-retirees, he was trying to decide what to do next. “I started by teaching busi-ness classes at the Kelley School at IU Bloomington. Through prepar-ing for my classes I learned about SCORE and became a volunteer. After just a few mentoring sessions I was hooked.”