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SCORE San Diego fulfills small business owners' need for peer mentoring

SCORE San Diego's new Business Enhancement Forums provide a venue for entrepreneurs and business owners to both receive and provide peer advice on common issues many small business owners face.

"Forums provide an outlet for business owners to connect with people who have dealt with similar problems and obstacles," said SCORE San Diego's vice president of programs, Sally Broff. "It can be lonely growing a small business and our forums offer attendees a sense of community and support from people who have been in their shoes."

There are two forum programs designed specifically for mature and new businesses:

* CEO Forums are for owners of established companies with at least $1 million in annual revenues and five non-family employees.

* Founder Forums cater to newer businesses with at least $250,000 in annual revenues and three non-family employees. This program is heavily facilitated by SCORE San Diego mentors in hopes that its members will grow enough to move on to CEO Forums.

At each forum, 10 to 12 business owners from non-competing companies offer support and share advice on challenges most small businesses encounter. With help from SCORE San Diego facilitators, forum attendees are offered problem-solving techniques to overcome issues without having to pay exorbitant consultant fees.

The level of moderation provided by SCORE San Diego depends on the experience level of attendees. For CEO Forums, facilitators will encourage attendees – established business owners – to offer sound advice to each other based on their extensive experience growing a business. SCORE San Diego facilitators are present not to teach, but to help the process run smoothly and to provide advice when necessary. At the Founder Forums, SCORE San Diego facilitators provide more feedback and advice to entrepreneurs who need a little more guidance and help them along with ideas and techniques that are current to the business community.

Small business owners who have attended the Business Enhancement Forums value the advice from their peers because only people who have experienced similar complications offer such valuable insights.

"Having trusted peers as an outside resource is invaluable," said Rick Shute with Tribal Knowledge LLC, a Business Enhancement Forum attendee. "Many times, someone outside your organization who isn't in the middle of dealing with an issue on a day-to-day basis can provide options that you haven't thought of before."

The Business Enhancement Forum program is only part of a full range of services SCORE San Diego offers to new and existing small business owners. The services include free, unlimited and confidential one-on-one mentoring, low-cost workshops on 40 subjects, an extensive on-line library, and networking events.
"We hope more small business owners contact us or visit our website to discover how beneficial it is to get advice from peers as they try and build a successful business," said Broff.

For more information about SCORE San Diego, its programs and requirements for attending the Business Enhancement Forums please visit sandiego.score.org or call 619-557-7272.

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