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SCORE offers big help for small businesses

LAND O'LAKES — Small-business owners, take note: There's somebody out there who wants you to succeed.

SCORE, a nonprofit organization, is made up of volunteers who offer advice and counseling to wanna-be entrepreneurs and business owners.

And although launching a small business can be risky and time-consuming, it certainly has its rewards.

Ellie Hollis, a SCORE counselor and owner of an accounting and tax service, says that small businesses are an important and relevant part of today's economy — if they are successful.

"If a person really has a desire to go into business, and can make a go of it, they should," says Hollis, a business owner in Florida since 1970 and a resident of Hudson since 1978.

Hollis says many business owners struggle to manage money and time, which is one reason she led a seminar in Land O'Lakes on Aug. 25 that focused on an introduction to QuickBooks and record-keeping. Record-keeping can be time-consuming, particularly for the small-business owner, but Hollis stresses its importance.

"You need to keep records to know if you're making money," she says. "Incorrect records equal a loss of money. Some people have lots of money, but no income."

Hollis notes that she tries to keep things simple, touting QuickBooks as the best because it uses "simple language"— perfect for the small-business owner just starting out.

Hollis admits that starting a small business can be risky, but helping people with the associated risks is what SCORE is all about. George Motran, a SCORE counselor and retired accountant, says, "We try to help people to not make mistakes. Someone could potentially lose their savings if they don't know what they're doing."

And that sort of catastrophe is exactly what Motran and the other SCORE counselors want to prevent.

"There are a lot of businesses that fail, but a lot have made money," says Hollis, adding that one reward of small business includes being able to work from home, which enabled Hollis to stay home while raising her three children.

Having a flexible schedule is something that may appeal to many potential small-business owners.

"It's rewarding because I make my own hours," says Chris Hoxie, a Land O'Lakes resident and owner of a cabinet company.

But he echoed Hollis when he said the most difficult thing for him is time management.

"It's difficult to give everyone and everything equal time."

SCORE offers various seminars as well as free counseling for small businesses, both online and in person.

"There are 15 to 20 counselors in the Pasco-Hernando chapter, and everyone has their own specialty," Motran says. There is a SCORE chapter in every state, with over 13,000 counselors.

So if you're thinking about staring your own business, take Hollis's advice: have a backup income, or in other words, don't quit your day job — at least not just yet.

"You'll have less time," she says, "but it sets you up."

To learn more

Contact the Pasco-Hernando chapter of the Service Corps of Retired Executives at (727) 842-4638 or go to www.score439.org.

SCORE offers big help for small businesses 08/31/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 4:20pm]
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