Public libraries and SCORE are teaming up to give entrepreneurs and small-business people two vital things: information on how to be successful and a little handholding.
Through November, volunteers from SCORE, a nonprofit that offers education, encouragement, counseling and workshops to entrepreneurs, will give advice on starting and operating a small business during sessions at library branches in Wake and Durham counties.
The sessions are two hours, held at branches throughout the counties and free after registration.
Some session topics include:
• How to Start and Stay in Business.
• Preparing a Winning Business Plan.
• Legal Aspects of Starting a New Business.
• Marketing for Small Business.
Along with the classes, SCORE is scheduling one-on-one meetings in library branches. In these sessions, entrepreneurs can ask specific questions about their businesses and ask to be matched with a mentor.
SCORE is made up of a group of retired business people and industry experts, and focuses on helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve goals. It provides education and matches entrepreneurs with SCORE volunteer mentors with years of experience in a related field.
Saundra Cropps, manager of the Olivia Raney Local History and Research Library in Raleigh, wishes more small business people knew how much the libraries can help them.
“Most people don’t even realize these resources are available to them with a library card and four-digit PIN,” Cropps said. “It’s hard to connect with people who need this information.”
Cropps’ branch has a Business Center that caters to the needs of entrepreneurs and individuals, offers free access to business databases, company and investment resources and information on local and global business and economies.
“I’ve been seeing more people coming in looking for ways to start their own business,” said Cropps.
“Unfortunately, the capital is not there for some businesses, so that makes it harder for them. … For them and for the people who have been laid off or are job seeking, just having these things available to them is important.”
This is where the handholding comes in.
Librarians can help a small business owner figure out marketing, Cropps said. She would recommend the “Build a List” feature of the Hoover’s corporate and industry database to identify potential clients. Also, SimplyMap, a demographic mapping tool, can create quality maps and reports using business and marketing data.
“It’s a very powerful tool,” Cropps said. “It will help you find creative ways to use funds. I really recommend this to people who are just getting started and have no way of knowing how to target clients.”
The library has resources for thriving businesses or even weekend entrepreneurs.
“I hope more people will go to their local library and talk to their friendly local librarian,” Cropps said.
Sheon Wilson is a writer and personal stylist in Durham. Follow her on Twitter @SheonWilson.