Tag Archives: mentoring

Cincinnati Entrepreneurial Support

Small business owners who receive three or more hours of mentoring report higher revenues and increased growth, and SCORE is America’s premier source of free, confidential business advice. In addition to the one-on-one mentoring and coaching the SCORE organization offers, and team/group counseling sessions for local entrepreneurs in the Tristate area, SCORE partners with numerous organizations in the community to provide additional resources which impact entrepreneurial growth.

Small Business

This blog will focus on three SCORE partners that help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. These additional resources include organizations, such as, (1) Bad Girl Ventures (2) Mortar, and (3) University of Cincinnati. First, the Bad Girls Ventures nonprofit organization supports female entrepreneurs in the area, by way of, providing business education services, office space and capital funding to launch their businesses through an intense nine-week Launch! Program. Second, Mortar is a local nonprofit organization with a premier nine-week entrepreneurship program that is designed to help low-income entrepreneurs with tools needed to grow their businesses successfully within the surrounding neighborhoods. Lastly, the University of Cincinnati (UC) has developed a StartupUC Incubator program where mentors assist UC students throughout the duration of an extensive entrepreneurial experiential-learning business program.

As an entrepreneur, partnering with these local resources, in addition to, taking advantage of SCORE services, gives clients immediate access to specialized mentoring and coaching from certified business professionals, opportunities to win capital funding to launch their businesses even further into the marketplace, and numerous additional support services, such as, office space, business education and training, and peer rapport building.


Contributed by Luci Parmer, Ph.D.

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Mentoring with SLATE

Slate MentoringThe idea behind SCORE is simple: the expertise and passion of thousands of successful entrepreneurs positively affecting the success of millions of individuals. But the process takes time and relies on the right mentors with the right clients. Your focus and efforts will help America’s small businesses flourish.

SCORE believes that SLATE is the perfect acronym for a mentoring methodology. When you begin each mentoring session, remember SLATE and how you should start each session with a clean SLATE. Be open to new possibilities. Be ready to consider new ideas. Start with a fresh, clean SLATE.

Applying the SLATE Mentoring Process

The hardest part of any assignment might be getting it started. For this reason, we know the first mentoring sessions can be the toughest. The SLATE process will help ensure that your initial meeting with a client becomes the first of many meetings with this particular client.

Step 1 – When you receive new client assignment, click client’s email address and send them an introductory email asking for an initial phone interview session or email them or call them and schedule an initial Face to Face Meeting.

  • Offer an introductory greeting, and then seize the time.
  • Ask the entrepreneur to tell you about his or her dream and also share his or her background information.
  • Ask the entrepreneur to share why he or she has come to SCORE for help.
  • Offer brief background information about SCORE.
  • Offer background information about yourself.
  • Briefly discuss the SCORE mentoring process.
  • Do your homework to prepare for your first meeting with this client
  • Use SCORE’s SLATE mentoring methodology.

Stop and Suspend Judgment!

Step 2 – Conduct introductory phone interview with the idea of clarifying needs, finding out about client’s background (married, children, etc), work experience, experience in the business they want to start, etc. or this could be done at your first F2F meeting. At the end of this session set up your first or next F2F meeting. Depending on what you find out in initial phone interview or F2F meeting, you might decide to give them an initial reading assignment or ask them to complete a pre- session questionnaire and forward it to you several days prior to your first or next meeting.

  •  Ensure you appear knowledgeable about this client from the get-go.
  •  Set up the meeting by stating the purpose and/or goals.
  •  Focus your complete attention on the client.
  •  Engage the client in your initial meeting.
  •  Suspend judgment while the client speaks. Listen and Learn!

Step 3 – Prepare for first F2F or next F2F by gathering needed materials, reading answers to pre-session questionnaire, reviewing notes and lining up a Co-Mentor if necessary with the subject matter background you feel your client might need.

Step 4 – Meet with client and either ask them questions on Pre-Session Questionnaire or review and clarify the answers to questions they sent you. Be sure to make assignments (next steps) and set up follow-up F2F session to review assignments. Be sure to ask them to send them to you 2 days prior to session.

  •  Exhibit active listening
  •  Ask questions that made the client think deeply.
  •  Ask questions that began with how, what, and why.
  •  Learn more about the client’s needs and objectives as time goes on.
  •  Keep the session on track during this phase.

Assess and Analyze! Test ideas and Teach with Tools!

Step 5 – Send confirming email to client summarizing assignments and stating next scheduled F2F, i.e., date, time and place and attach any applicable briefs. Cut and paste email into a word document, add to 641 session notes in front of email you sent to client, spell check and then copy and paste report into 641 session report for client.

  •  Use exploratory dialogue, including questions to help the client assess the issues.
  •  Ask questions (which is desirable) rather than tell (which is less desirable).
  •  Help the client analyze the issues logically and methodically so that he or she could determine the best course of action?

Test ideas and Teach with Tools! Expectation Setting and Encouraging the Dream!

Step 6 – Send reminder email to client 3 or 4 days prior to session copying original session follow-up email.

Doing this will result in greatly improved and more productive follow-up F2F sessions.

Step 7 – Meet with client to review, assess and analyze their completed assignments and begin to set expectations.

  • Suggest ideas for testing to discover the best idea or to refine an idea.
  • Expand the client’s knowledge by suggesting appropriate tools for him or her to use.
  • Help the client learn more about his or her idea as the session went along.

Expectation Setting and Encouraging the Dream! Step 8 – Repeat Steps 3 through 7.

  • Set clear expectations as to who would do what by when.
  • End the session with a plan of action and include appropriate steps forward based on the mentoring session.
  • Provide an ample dose of encouragement.
  • Talk specifically about when a next meeting will be.
  • Follow-Up Mentoring Sessions: A Checklist

Once your client is actively working on homework assignments and you are beginning to move through the mentoring process, making the most of follow-up meetings is crucial to continued success for you and the client. Every follow-up session will be different because of your mentoring style, your relationship with your client, and the status of the challenges and issues you are facing. The following is a framework to keep follow-up sessions on track and highly productive.

    • Offer an enthusiastic greeting.
    • Ask what has changed since the last time you met.
    • Review the homework/Use SCORE’s SLATE mentoring methodology.
    • Summarize the meeting and identify the next steps.
    • Set up the next meeting.

We are Mentors, Not Consultants

To better understand the SCORE mentor role, let’s compare mentoring and consulting. Although it might seem slight, the difference between mentoring and consulting is significant. As a SCORE volunteer, your mission is to mentor entrepreneurs, not consult.

Consultants are typically responsible for completing some or all of the required work for their clients. Mentors, on the other hand, help their clients think through situations, help them discover answers to their most pressing questions, and help their clients to do the work themselves.

It is extremely important that you consider this difference while working with your clients. They are coming to you for advice, council, and help. They shouldn’t come to you to get their work done for them, and in no way should they seek your efforts for a price.

In addition to understanding your role as a mentor, it is important to understand your role with the client. As you begin meeting with clients, keep four important questions in mind:

  1. Who am I to this client?2. What is this client expecting of me?
  2. How can I provide the best service to this client?
  3. What are this client’s unique needs?

Thank you for becoming a certified SCORE mentor. We hope you consciously use what you’ve learned in this program each time you meet and mentor clients. Your unique talents and experience are the best assets to enable you to help SCORE clients be successful. Your expertise is the secret ingredient that brings the SCORE Mentoring program to life. Thank you again for all that you do.

Becoming a mentor is easy you can join us in supporting small business in our community, learn more here.