Whether your New Year’s resolution is starting a new business or you want to grow your existing one in 2017, you’re smart to seek expert guidance and resources that can help you. That’s exactly where SCORE , a national non-profit offering free, confidential mentoring and business education comes in.
For more than 50 years, SCORE has helped entrepreneurs like you navigate the challenges of launching and building their businesses.
As a local chapter, we at SCORE Portland Maine find that not all small business owners in our community are aware of how we can help fuel their success. You might say one of our New Year’s resolutions is to change that!
SCORE Portland Maine’s services include:
FREE mentoring – That’s right. For absolutely no charge, you can consult our mentors for as many sessions and for as long as you feel you need to. Our volunteers come from diverse professional backgrounds and collectively have knowledge and expertise in every aspect of starting and managing a business. You can meet with mentors in person, by phone, by video call or receive counciling via email.
FREE Workshops – We offer several workshops to guide you through the steps of starting a business and help you learn how to more effectively run a business. From digital marketing to financial projections, our workshops offer something for everyone.
How can SCORE services help your small business succeed in 2017?
You can share your business concept with a trustworthy, objective third party who can help you see if your idea is viable.
You can learn how to develop a business plan to guide your efforts.
You can get valuable input and feedback to help you make smarter business decisions.
You can learn about best and worst entrepreneurial practices, which can help set you on the right path and avoid disaster.
You can access small business resources recommended to you by your mentor.
You can gain an understanding of how financial reports work and how they measure the health of your business.
You can learn about tried-and-true and cutting-edge marketing and advertising tools and tactics to generate leads and boost sales.
You can learn management and leadership skills from experienced professionals.
You can count on getting a realistic picture of the benefits and challenges of entrepreneurship. SCORE mentors are honest and won’t sugarcoat the hard work it requires to build a sustainable business.
Ready to get your New Year off to a stellar start?
Starting October 1, 2015, all businesses, regardless of size, will be required to have systems in place to accept credit cards equipped with EMV (Europay, Mastercard, and Visa) smart chip technology. EMV cards offer increased safety and convenience for users. Cards with EMV smart chip technology contain a cryptogram, making it extremely difficult for others to copy or use cards fraudulently.
The new requirements put pressure on business owners to get up to speed with the technology. A recent Intuit survey found that over half of business owners with fewer than five employees have heard of EMV cards.
Why are businesses adopting this technology?
EMV smart chip technology provides greater protection to consumers rightfully concerned about the security of their data. Credit and debit cards with the chips are far less likely to be compromised than cards with the traditional magnetic strip.
How do I make the switch to EMV smart chip cards?
If you accept debit and credit card payments, contact your point of sale system provider for more information. If you want to know more about the EMV chip technology from the standpoint of a payment card user, contact your bank or credit card company. You can also get additional details on the topic in this SCORE.org blog post.
What happens if my business isn’t ready to accept EMV cards?
You (rather than the cardholder or credit card company) might be held responsible for the cost of any unauthorized purchases made via your point of sale system.
According to the Payment Security Taskforce, more than 575 million U.S. cards will feature EMV chips by the end of 2015, so you can expect that many of your customers will be using them. If you don’t want to be on the hook for fraudulent transactions made at your point of sale, you’ll want to explore what you need to do to upgrade your equipment and software so you can process purchases as EMV chip transactions.
Take the time to think about your goals for the new year. Identifying and implementing something new requires focus. When tackling a long list of nonessential, tedious tasks, focus is mission critical. Whether the bull’s-eye on your back is a hefty goal or a bunch of minutiae, adopt these tips to sharpen your focus.
Start by defining you what you want to get done. Goals are the big chunks of stuff you want to get accomplished, like find a new job, train for a race, or hire a new employee. Now cull that list of goals into what is most important right now. It doesn’t mean you are abandoning the other goals. It means you are making a choice. Too many goals sap your energy and dilute your resolve to achieve anything. Simplify! Pick one goal and identify it as the #1 priority. You will now have laser-like focus on what you plan to accomplish. Goals without action steps are just words.
You are ready to launch your business in a growing niche market. Out of the blue a friend sends you a link to a similar new product or service. After your initial shock, head over and evaluate the competition. Move into discovery mode and look under the hood of the competitor’s engine. That knowledge may add a creative spark to your thinking. Or it serves to confirm that you’re bringing an authentic solution for a customer want or need at precisely the right time.
Take a short drive and see what makes them tick. Scope out their website and metatags. Appraise how they tell their story. Are they solving the pain point in a novel way? If you compete in a new market segment with low barriers to entry, understand the incremental features and benefits promised. How does that compare to the “must have” features you learned in your customer discovery? Tap into their social networks and get a feel for their buzz.
If you have a job, you might not be thinking about your career. Having a good job today doesn’t guarantee you will have one tomorrow. You might transition to a new role or jump into a new field or industry. Perhaps you are moving on to unfamiliar territory. Whatever your current path, consider these steps to invest in your career:
Learn how to be indispensable to your employer. An intrapreneur figures out how to turn an idea into a profitable product or service When there is no rule book, can you figure out the problem and suggest a constructive solution? Become the solution provider. You add value to your team and co-workers when you are seen as a problem solver. Common sense is not negotiable. Be uncommon.