By Michael Sudhalter
The question seemed like a fair one considering the workshop was being conducted in a library.
Dick Hall, a volunteer for Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE-Houston), spoke to a packed room of more than 100 entrepreneurs and soon-to-be entrepreneurs last Saturday at the Fort Bend County Library’s Sienna Plantation Branch.
“Would you put your business plan in the fiction or non-fiction section?” Hall asked the audience before going through a series of worksheets that the attendees could use to answer questions about their businesses or proposed businesses.
SCORE is an all-volunteer organization that’s celebrating 50 years of providing free small business seminars as well as free advice, mentoring and guidance to small business owners or individuals looking to start one.
The seminar drew an audience to Sienna Plantation from throughout the Houston area and had interest from people interested in traditional businesses and non-profits.
Renata McPhail, who’s working on her doctorate in Education from Texas A&M, recently started PreK-to-PhD, which helps students succeed academically at all levels and provides tutoring services.
She found out about the program online and learned a great deal from it.
“I thought of hiring a business consultant, but I didn’t have the capital,” McPhail said. “I feel like I can write my business plan now. It was great how (Hall) emphasized different components of what you need to know.” Theresa Abell is an office manager in Galveston County who would like to start a jewelry and crafts business soon.
Abell said she attended similar seminars but none of them were as helpful as the SCORE event.
“I’m giving myself a year to get the program going,” Abell said. Houston residents Branella Piero and Stefano Milici also discovered the information about the workshop online. Both men are from Italy and have spent the past year planning to bring an Italian bakery to the metropolitan area.
“We found a few good tips and direction,” Milici said. “If you want to start a small business, you have to do your homework.”
Hall said potential business owners can share their business plan with SCORE volunteers for free, before putting it before a loan officer. He emphasized the importance of researching the competition but noted that such information isn’t always so readily available.
“The less money it costs to start a business, the more competition there will be at that level,” Hall said.
Most small businesses will have at least a few employees, and hiring will become a crucial component of the process.
“Employees can destroy or help a business,” Hall said.
The most important element was something Hall emphasized during the seminar.
“The financial model – it’s where the rubber meets the road,” Hall said.