By Kristin Boza
Invaluable business advice is available right in the neighborhood, thanks to SCORE mentor Kevin Scanlan and BAPA. SCORE, or Service Corp of Retired Executives, is a national group of retired business executives in a variety of industries who volunteer their time to help others get started. Scanlan holds office hours at BAPA, and is available to meet with current and potential small business owners.
In 2019, Scanlan mentored 185 clients, and his office at BAPA was the second busiest in SCORE’s entire Chicago district. Before retirement, Scanlan spent 40 years in health care administration, making him a unique mentor who is sought after from SCORE clients across the nation who seek health care related advice. Overall, SCORE focuses on three services: Mentoring, educational programming, and onsite consulting for established businesses.
“I help clients get a business started, or grow an established business. SCORE’s downtown location offers in–person and online educational programming, and the onsite consulting is specific to businesses that have been operating for a minimum of three years and have a minimum $3 million in annual revenue,” Scanlan said. “The in-person educational programs are fee-based, but SCORE offers hundreds of pre-recorded workshops for free at ChicagoScore.org.”
To get help from a SCORE mentor, business owners are asked what they are specifically looking for, and then paired with a mentor who has experience in that field. Chicago SCORE is one of 30 districts nationally, and there are more than 350 mentors nationwide.
Creating a business plan is the most common assistance Scanlan provides to business owners. “We talk about the business plan, what should be in it, and I provide several resources to help them write it,” he said. “Business plans are really individual; between the resources SCORE provides and what can be found at the Chicago Public Library Small Business Resource Center, I feel confident that people have enough information on how to write a strong business plan.”
Once a business plan is written and in action, Scanlan recommends that owners revisit the plan often to account for the changes in their business.
“This means they will always have a viable business plan that recognizes the positive and negative things that could impact their business,” he said. “When I wrote my own business plan in 1987, it was still viable in 2017 because I made the necessary changes. If you don’t have the right plan, you’ll be chasing your tail.”
Scanlan also offers advice through his monthly column in The Villager and welcomes people to email him to get officially registered with SCORE. Scanlan can be reached at Kevin.Scanlan@ScoreVolunteer.org.