Mentoring is one of the most critical and beneficial assets that a small or startup business could have; however, they usually come with a cost and hourly fees. For a short-duration assignment that may not be much of a problem. But what of a longer-term need, especially for startups? Paying for long-term mentoring is probably not feasible, especially for startups or very early stage businesses.

There is an answer and unfortunately it not widely known in many places, and that is SCORE. SCORE is a resource partner of SBA and stands for Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE is a national volunteer nonprofit organization founded in 1964 consisting of mostly retired and semi-retired business people with 30 to 40 years of business experience who offer mentoring services to small businesses, both startup and existing, at no cost and with no limit on the length of engagement.

Since SCORE’s founding, more than 11 million clients have been served. There are SCORE mentors who have worked with their clients for three and four years, all at no cost to the client. Because SBA provides partial funding for SCORE, its services can continue to be free. There are approximately 13,000 volunteer mentors around the country in over 300 chapters. SCORE volunteers range from high-level corporate executives to long-time successful small business owners. The list of skills is almost endless.

The national consulting firm, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, audits SCORE chapters every year. In the data for the latest fiscal year, SCORE is credited with over 300,000 mentoring sessions around the country. For the level of expertise of SCORE counselors, imagine what those 300,000 hours of time would have cost.

Join the 11 million happy clients of SCORE and start your mentorship by contacting the Richmond SCORE chapter.