In today’s competitive marketplace, getting your foot in the door when it comes to starting a business – or taking your business to the next level if you’re already established – can be a difficult undertaking without a seasoned professional there to mentor you. Enter SCORE Long Island, a local chapter of a successful nationwide volunteer organization dedicated to helping aspiring entrepreneurs and businesspeople get their dreams off the ground.
SCORE is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization that has been around for 53 years, spanning 400 chapters across the United States. The Long Island chapter itself, based in Hauppauge, has been in existence for over 40 years, and the success of SCORE’s approach to business development is hard to deny. After all, in 2018 alone they helped start 301 new businesses and create 405 new jobs, according to Long Island chairman Leonard Buchholtz.
“We’re attracting people who want to start businesses on Long Island and people who have small businesses that want to grow them. And we can help people in several different ways,” he said. “Primarily, we have a one-on-one meetings with clients and we run about 100 workshops around Long Island at about 30 libraries where we talk about things such as how to start a business, how to write a business plan, and how to market your business.”
Every member of the SCORE team is a volunteer in their field; there are over 11,000 volunteers nationwide, with 47 on Long Island alone. Buchholtz, who himself is a retiree who previously helmed a $100 million computer company, said that he got involved with SCORE due to a desire to help his fellow Long Islanders.
“I’m a retired executive…I’ve had my career, and now I want to give back,” he said. “Now we’re helping companies that are just starting, or established companies that are struggling and not getting a head. They can come to SCORE and get advice from 47 different experts…people in manufacturing, people in finance, marketing. We’re all giving back, and we get a lot of self-satisfaction from it.”
Ron Greenstone is another SCORE volunteer; a very successful Long Island “marketing guru,” he ran an agency that employed over 150 people with offices in Melville and Florida, and boasted of a bevy of high-profile clients that included Nikon, Avis, TwinLab, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, to name just a few. Greenstone retired in 2000 and has been working with SCORE for the past four years, passing down his considerable business knowledge to a new generation.
“I had a long, successful career and I have all this experience and expertise, and I wanted to give back,” he said. “It’s a pleasure for me talking to people and helping them start and grow their business.”
“We get energized when we talk to the young people and get new ideas…it keep us going and helps us to remain relevant,” Buchholtz added. “We also have a lot of young people in the organization as well, so we help people with talent and experience.”
SCORE is always seeking to grow, expand, and evolve within the confines of an ever-changing business marketplace, Buchholtz said, which is vital to ensure that they are giving the very best guidance to the next batch of young up-and-coming Long Island entrepreneurs.
“Each chapter tries to grow ten percent every year and we’re not complacent in any regard,” he said. “Nationwide, SCORE is responsible for starting 32,000 new businesses, so this is a really sizable and important endeavor.”
Face-to-face mentoring sessions are held at SCORE’s Hauppauge office five days a week; in addition, they also host workshops at numerous libraries throughout Long Island up to two days a week. If you’re interested in finding out more about SCORE and how they can help you start, grow, and improve your business – in addition to viewing a schedule of upcoming events and workshops – you can visit their website at longisland.score.org.