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Aspiring entrepreneurs go for the big SCORE
by Jessica Mosebach
Feb 15, 2008 | 1514 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<a href= mailto:tonyc@dailysparkstribune.com>Tribune/Tony Contini</a> Sparks resident Lori Teakle just joined the team at Re-Bath in Reno but she hopes to help new business owners through the SCORE program.
Tribune/Tony Contini Sparks resident Lori Teakle just joined the team at Re-Bath in Reno but she hopes to help new business owners through the SCORE program.
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Lori Teakle is fascinated by up-and-coming small business owners who dream of offering something unique or who are ready to be their own boss.

In the past, she worked as a corporate executive assistant for various organizations and was just hired on with Re-Bath, a bathroom remodeling company at 5580 Mill St. She is not planning to her own business yet, but she is educating herself on how to help others learn the ropes of starting one.

“The absolute core of anything we do successfully is the passion, and that we take our passion and when it meets the world’s need, we have a home run,” Teakle said.

Teakle, a Sparks resident, was one of several current and potential business owners to attend an orientation workshop class Tuesday night on the basics of starting a small business. The workshop is part of an educational training program offered by the northern Nevada chapter of Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). Recently, the name was changed to Counselors to America’s Small Business because there are more members who are not retired joining the organization, although many people still refer to it as SCORE.

Some class participants were there to find out what they need to do start up a gas station, a bed and breakfast or even a non-profit in. One veteran student had already taken a series of classes on developing her business plan and attended Tuesday as a refresher course. In any instance, the heart of the class was preparation and encouragement.

Instructors Steve Raas and Gary Rosenbloom, SCORE counselors, talked class members through the resources needed to explore entrepreneurship. Together, they covered what it takes to start a business, how to develop a business plan, legal and tax issues involved with structuring the business, marketing and funding.

Raas, who owned a business in Watsonville, Calif., that specializes in geotechnical engineering, began the class by encouraging people to think about why they want to start a small business and to understand what it would take, both financially and emotionally.

“You need to look carefully at your family needs, what kind of energy you have,” Raas said. “It’ll be years before you start making income. This is a big reason almost all businesses that fail, fail.”

Raas said his experience taught him about promoting his idea for which there was a real need in the community and to cater to customers accordingly. Raas’ niche, which involved studying earthquakes, was useful for major public works, university and commercial projects.

“I offered the best quality and the best customer service, and people were willing to pay for that – in fact, they liked paying for it,” Raas said. “You have to solve their problems and you have to care about solving their problems.”

Rosenbloom, a former test engineer, founded a staffing company in 1981 that provided temporary technical employees to power plants. He shared how he experienced much more difficulty than Raas in selling his idea to banks to obtain a business loan, but remained persistent until he finally received the financial backing.

He instructed the class about online resources. On SCORE’s national Web site, www.score.org, he showed how potential business owners can ask questions of SCORE counselors around the country. If they become serious about starting up, they are paired with a mentor who has similar experience or knowledge in the particular industry. The mentor is required to answer any questions from the mentee in 48 hours and can cover everything from assessing the business plan to guiding the person through the bank loan process.

“You establish a rapport,” Rosenbloom. “It’s a client relationship that can last for years.”

Rosenbloom also dived into the concepts of testing an idea, doing the research into the industry and the location of the potential business and developing a plan that encompasses marketing, goals, achievability and benchmarks for progress.

“You should be able to sum up your business in three sentences,” Rosenbloom said. “It means you understand clearly what it is.”

After the class, Raas said people who attendees are very motivated to get into business for themselves.

“It’s amazing – they come from all walks of life,” he said.

He has found the average age of new entrepreneurs are between the ages of 30 and 35. But it depends on their own readiness, he added.

“The truth is, not all of them are ready to open up,” he said. “We try to make them understand what it takes to do it. They have to go through the school of hard knocks. ... But the ones who do (start successfully) have done their research. They’re ready because they worked for it.”

Often, devoting the time to the education of starting a business is demanding. But for people like Teakle, who plans to pass on her knowledge to her new colleagues, it’s a worthy investment.

Teakle took notes during the class, including ideas on developing a mission statement, a vision and business philosophy.

“Do you want to be the best, the fastest, the lowest-priced or have the best customer service?” she pondered. “And … what will you do to generate that success?"

She said she’s very empathetic for people who have that kind of zeal for small businesses because it’s a way for them to serve others around them.

“People love to give themselves,” Teakle said. “It’s heart to heart in every aspect of life, and they understand that it plants something that grows, that it’s positive and edifying to the receiver. People really understand that this isn’t just a one-shot thing; it grows and then the next person gives that away.”

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