SCORE uses volunteer business experts to advise local entrepreneurs

There are people who come up with new ideas for businesses all the time. Sometimes they actually get one off the ground. But then what? Do they have a solid business plan, a bookkeeping system and a way to pay for it all?

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs don’t, and the business withers on the vine. That’s where SCORE could have helped.

“So many of them have great ideas, have sold, fixed or invented something, but don’t know how to apply basic business principles such as accounting and finance,” explained John Darnell, chair of the Lexington Chapter of SCORE. “We spend a great deal of time teaching them how to approach bankers, what materials they’ll need to apply for a loan, how to put the numbers on the page and what to say.”

SCORE is a nonprofit association of business-savvy volunteers and mentors. It used to be called the Service Corp of Retired Executives, but today it is simply known as SCORE.

SCORE provides its expertise and confidential business counseling in-person or by email across 62 industries. It offers business tools, templates and tips online, along with inexpensive or free local business workshops and webinars. There are 364 chapters nationwide, with five in Kentucky. SCORE is headquartered in Herndon, Va.

Carmen Davis, owner of a Nicholasville-based taxi service launched in July called Go Green Taxi, was a pupil of Darnell’s.

“There was so much he contributed to us being able to open. He strongly encouraged us to attend SCORE’s Open for Business seminar, which was useful and covered everything from marketing, business plans and capital procurement to business loans,” said Davis.

Darnell was also Davis’ one-on-one mentor.

“He was instrumental in helping me design our car logo,” Davis said. “Since he used to be a business owner [Caudill’s ClimateMaster Heating and Air Conditioning] with a fleet of vehicles on the road that met customers, he helped us learn how to cover the area efficiently with our taxis.”

“When my wife and I owned our own business, we made plenty of mistakes. We tried to learn from them and now try to impart that to our clients,” said Darnell.

Years ago, a SCORE volunteer brought an entrepreneur to see Caudill about a loan.

“I thought to myself, ‘What a great organization and group of volunteers. I’m going to do this someday to try and pay back,’” he said. “We help a lot of people and enjoy it tremendously.”

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