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Business start-up help comes to Forsyth

Entrepreneurs can get free mentoring with SCORE

From left: Jason Mock, director of small business services at the Cumming Forsyth-County Chamber of Commerce; Lewis Carlyn, mentor with SCORE, and Luis Hernandez, general manager at Regus in Cumming. (click for larger version)
February 05, 2014
FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — For an entrepreneur, knowing where the landmines are when they are starting off a new business venture will save them time, money and allow their business to be more successful in the long run.

A nonprofit that helps small businesses get off the ground running with free mentoring services, counseling and workshops has opened their Forsyth County chapter this month.

Service Corporation of Retired Executives, or SCORE, is now located in the Regus office, 410 Peachtree Parkway, Building 400 Suite 4245 at the Collection at Forsyth.

"We all are volunteers," said Lewis Carlyn, a SCORE mentor. "Most of the people are of various backgrounds, some are engineers, some are lawyers some are business people, so that's the big advantage of SCORE, if I couldn't help them in marketing, sales and profitability — and they needed legal advice — I could use our referral system with SCORE."

The nonprofit was founded in 1964 and has 389 offices throughout the U.S. and a network of 11,000 volunteers with about 75 business mentors in the Atlanta area.

SCORE's work is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and all services are at no charge or at a low cost.

"I want to start night mentoring," Carlyn said. "There's a whole group of people out there who can't take time off that would be available in the evening."

Luis Hernandez, general manager of Regus in Cumming, said SCORE's mission aligns with his shared office space environment.

"SCORE, just like Regus, recognizes that Forsyth County is a fast-growing county and therefore there's a large business need; for assisting businesses as well as growing new businesses," Hernandez said.

Regus offers virtual offices, including 40 locations in the Atlanta area and 1,600 worldwide, outfitted with work spaces, conference rooms and phone answering services. So, if an entrepreneur is ready to take the leap into owning their own business, or just want to test the waters, they can get started right away at a low start-up cost, Hernandez said.

"We're the business model of an easy way to start your business," Hernandez said. "We can provide low cost entry into having a professional business image."

But they don't have to have an office with Regus to take part in SCORE's workshops and mentoring services.

Carlyn said that he's already helped mentor people with getting started with their lawn service, clothing fashion business, printing business and someone who wants to launch a dog furniture business.

"It's very diverse," said Carlyn. "The thinking and the dreams are abundant, the problem with people who are dreaming is their dreams sometimes have no basis with validity and they would just be spinning their wheels."

A lot of unemployed people have been making their way into SCORE with dreams of starting their own venture, but Carlyn gives advice based on reality.

"They are looking to do something and after they are desperate and can't find a job, they think that by going into their own business that's the answer to it," Carlyn said. "What I always tell them is 'to take care of their family, pump gas, do what you have to do to survive,' and this will come when you get back on your feet a little."

Since its inception, SCORE has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs. Each year, it provides small business mentoring and workshops to more than 375,000 new and growing small businesses.

"Having more resources to give to our business community is a blessing," said Jason Mock, director of small business services at the Cumming Forsyth-County Chamber of Commerce. "It allows our business community to grow and be successful and learn from entrepreneurs who have walked the walk before and have owned their own businesses and are accomplished."

For more information about starting or operating a small business, visit www.atlanta.score.org or email Carlyn at no1carlyn@aol.com.

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