“I love new and interesting and challenging situations, which force me as well as my clients to go out and learn new stuff, and to become more skilled in all the things that are part of a business journey.” - Kevin Pratt, SCORE mentor
Today is Thank Your Mentor Day! We have a special surprise - we're going live at 6 pm ET with our own business mentor, Kevin Pratt from SCORE.
Here's more about Kevin in his own words:
After a career as a commercial trial lawyer, at age 50 he switched to a career as a data scientist consulting with Fortune 500 companies. Along the way he authored books, remodeled 15 homes and developed an office building. Since 2021, he has mentored over 50 startups and small businesses as a volunteer with SCORE.org.
Starting and building a business is a doubt-filled journey into the unknown for every entrepreneur. The most common challenges for small businesses are marketing and organizing.
Kevin sees mentoring as mostly sketching helpful pieces of a roadmap and cheering along whatever journey the business owner may choose.
Join us as we talk about mentorships, SCORE, and how every business owner can benefit from having a strong mentor, no matter what their stage of business growth and development!
Jennifer Wenzel 0:01
Good afternoon, this is Jennifer Wenzel and Landy Miyake with Root Cause Marketing and we are here to celebrate and honor mentors - because it is National Mentoring Month. And today is Thank Your Mentor Day! So Landy and I are here with Kevin Pratt, who is a SCORE mentor. And if you haven't heard of SCORE, it's the Service Corps of Retired Executives, meaning that everyone who volunteers their time with SCORE is a person who is retired from an executive career or sometimes a high level position in a trade kind of company who has built up lots and lots of business and business expertise throughout their lives. And these SCORE mentors are provided to businesses 100%. Free. So we have been using Kevin's expertise and that of the SCORE organization for what would you say, Landy? About a year now, right?
Landy Miyake 1:06
Yeah, maybe closer to a year and a half, because we started working with him very, very early on. So I would say we're probably getting closer to a year and a half. Yeah. So we wanted to invite Kevin on with us today, to say thank you, and to talk about mentorship and SCORE mentoring in general. Hi, Kevin, how are you today?
Kevin Pratt 1:39
I'm doing well. And to correct one common misperception, which you just stated, that everybody's retired, it turns out that about a third of the SCORE mentors are actually running businesses full time, even now, even though they're called retired from something. But everybody is pretty active in the range of these ages on SCORE mentors, is everywhere from you know, early, or I should say late 20s, when some people retire, too.
Old people like me, have several businesses and in between, so yeah, it's fun to be a mentor. It's fun to see all the different kinds of businesses that I get a chance to talk to the entrepreneurs for. Because I have all kinds of different challenges, ones that I've seen, and ones I have not seen. And part of my role, you know, SCORE is to find resources, when is it something outside my skill set, so that we still get goods and services and good consultation done for the SCORE clients?
Jennifer Wenzel 2:39
Well, thank you so much for the hard work that you put in with us and I know all of your other clients too, Kevin, we greatly have appreciated your guidance and your expertise as we've moved along in our business. So tell us a little bit. What did you do in your own career before you joined SCORE? And how did you decide to become a SCORE Mentor?
Kevin Pratt 2:57
Okay, well, I'm actually on probably my third career, which is common for a lot of entrepreneurs and a lot of SCORE members for that matter. My first career was as a commercial lawyer, I worked doing trial work and appellate work on business matters, and real estate matters and natural resource matters. And I did that for 22 years. And then I skipped out and went back to school and got a degree in computer science and focus on artificial intelligence, and went off to do data analytics and artificial intelligence with the intelligence community and Fortune 500 companies as a consultant, writing everything from ordinary computer code to consulting with CEOs on how they can improve their their client retention, or bring out new products or deal with all kinds of communication issues. So it was fun. So that was career number two. And then career number three is actually what I'm doing now, which is part time core consulting and part time writing software in connection with artificial intelligence and the financial community. And that that company is in this birthing process right now. And hopefully, we'll be out in a couple, three months. So that's where I have come from. You asked about how I got into SCORE well, about 12 or 15 years ago, I came across SCORE when I was starting one of my companies, and I said, you know, I don't know anything at all about this area. I'm going into, let me see if there's somebody out there who would be willing to talk to me, and I called up at that time SCORE, and said, hey, you know, anybody that's in the financial field that I could talk to him with a few questions, and they said sure, and they hooked me up with somebody and I was a one and done consultation. I just had A bunch of basic questions of, you know, where should I go look for stuff where, you know, where can I find resources, what's a good place to start? And I got those answers. And then I went off on my own, like many SCORE clients and, you know, researched and got started. And so, a couple years ago, I had some time, and I wasn't, one of the things that happens when you retire, is that you kind of lose contact with all those people you used to work with, and all the friends that were a part of your prior businesses, and you get kind of lonely. And so SCORE is a good way to go meet the movers and shakers in your community, right now. People doing interesting things, exciting things, and everything from social activity, or social, social good kinds of activities to ordinary profit for profit businesses. And so I thought, Well, okay, I'll, I'll sign up and hopefully meet some interesting people like Landy and Jennifer, and many others. Now, in two years, I've probably talked with 50 different business owners, about their businesses, both startups, everything from the very beginning ideas to, you know, companies that are midlife, maybe haven't been in business for 10 or 20 years have new challenges. For example, I've got one company that actually has offshore employees in India that were subjected to discrimination, and they needed to move the entire staff to a different country, in order to protect the workers and continue to serve as the clients in the United States. Now, that was a challenge that I had not come across before. And it was exciting to do that, and to help out there. And there have been many other interesting situations that have come up. And I love new and interesting and challenging situations, which force me as well as my clients to go out and learn new stuff, and to become more skilled in all the things that are part of a business journey.
Jennifer Wenzel 7:08
Wow, that is really interesting. I actually was wondering what the most challenging problem is that you've helped with in your SCORE mentoring, career is that that certainly must be close to the top of the list.
Kevin Pratt 7:23
It is the most common one, which is challenging for almost every little business is marketing. Yeah, how do you get to the customers that you'd like to serve, so they know you're out there, and that you're competent? And so they need to be able to find you and learn about, you know, how you can serve them. And that's, that's a challenge. So many people starting out in business think, well, if I just have a website, they'll do it? And the answer is, no, that doesn't do it. You have to bring people to the website. And it's the same thing with you know, social media, if you have an Instagram account, and you're promoting your business on Instagram, well, people have got to find out, you know how to find you on Instagram. Or if you've got a bricks and mortar location, you know, people got to know how to find you on Google, when they do, you know, X business near me search on Google. And, you know, your site has got to be set up to handle those kinds of things. So they're all kinds of marketing is not what it was, even 10 years ago, marketing is a whole new field, you know, with people doing TikToks, with Instagrams, with Meta, with virtual reality services, with all kinds of wonderful, interesting new approaches to bringing people in, as well as all things like billboards. People use billboards very effectively. And, and all kinds of other media. So marketing is interesting and your hand in hand with marketing is the need to build a process so that you're repetitive in your marketing. And you keep up with those people who are not yet ready to buy but have some interest. And so having a calendar or a process that gets you back to those people on a regular basis so that you're in their face when they want to say something is so important.
Landy Miyake 9:24
Yeah, that's interesting that you mentioned that because I think it's good, good, great segue into my question is that you do see in many of the small businesses that you are working with that you are seeing that marketing for them is the biggest challenge. So my question for you is, is there a theme that you see, repetitively when you meet with these, you know, businesses, whether it is small startups like we are, you know, to the very well seasoned is there, sort of A common theme that you do see with these businesses that you are mentoring?
Jennifer Wenzel 10:05
Or some common advice that you can offer them for that matter that might apply across the board.
Kevin Pratt 10:09
Yeah, well, marketing is part of the journey of starting and running a business. And one of the things that's really cool about SCORE is that it has some super kind of business 101 startup classes, for businesses, you know, everything from well, I've got an idea how might I move forward from here? Through, you know, what's the basic business plan, you know, not getting into a whole lot of numbers, but conceptually, what, what's gonna make up this business? And as a part of that, the marketing of who my customer is going to be, and why they want to buy something from me, and what's unique about me, that makes me different from my competition. So you know, that kind of information in that kind of thinking is so important that you start out, and then finding the resources that allow you to learn more, because, you know, when you start a business, you're probably not an expert on, you know, how Google optimizes search, you're probably not an expert on how to, you know, sign up for a billboard contract, you're probably not an expert on, you know, how to find a mailing list. And so there's a whole lot of learning that goes into, you know, almost everybody who starts a business, and well, how am I going to reach out to those people that I want to serve. And it's, there's a whole lot of little different skills there. And, you know, it's not something you have to learn all in one huge goal, you can learn bits and pieces at a time when you need them, and move forward. And so we talk a lot about, you know, clients who come in and say, Well, you know, I've got, I'm starting my business, and my to do list is now 55 items long. And we say, let's back up, let's pick the top three, and let's work on those today or this week. And when you check those off, then you can move on to the next three, but you have to prioritize, you have to figure out what's important, what you're best at, what you need to do next, and then move through that process. And it all comes together, you know, step by step, and sometimes those steps go very fast. And sometimes they go very slow, because of, you know, personal issues or family problems, or just the need to back up for a lot of small businesses and say, you know, I gotta have enough cash flow to live on. So you know, I gotta go do something that will generate cash flow, well, I will bring my business up to full operating status.
Jennifer Wenzel 12:52
That's a tough one, you know, it's, it does take a while to get the business, not only profitable, that might be your two, but just even bringing in any income at all that you can use to continue to invest into your business and, and build it, that's, that's got to be something that you see a lot of across the board with your clients and other clients throughout SCORE.
Kevin Pratt 13:15
Absolutelyn, you know, funding for starting a business, ideally, you know, you are a relative is a fluid enough to pay for, you know, getting things up and rolling. And you know, the basic startup costs that happen, well, I gotta buy an insurance policy, and I need to have an accountant. And, you know, I need a little bookkeeping system. And, you know, I need to have some fliers, at least I can post on doors, you know, if that's the way I'm going to mark it, and all those things do add up. So, you know, they're a little costly like that. On the other hand, there are a lot of businesses that need serious funding in terms of, well, I got, you know, I want to start a custom car garage, and I gotta get a location, and I gotta get equipment. And I got to finance that somehow, you know, and so, you know, finding the financing to do that can be very, very challenging, and can lead to a bunch of a bunch of delays in your business plan. Because sometimes you just can't find that money from banks, or from community lenders, or from angels or friends who are willing to invest in you. And, you know, it's very common for small businesses to have the hope that, well, gosh, you know, I'm gonna have this up and running in three months. And the reality is, it might be more like three years, but you'll get there, you'll get there. But it takes a long time.
Jennifer Wenzel 14:44
And now the SBA has clearly a lot of small business loans and grants. Does SCORE offer grants or loans or do they help people you know, secure funding or find funding at all - is that one of the services SCORE offers?
Kevin Pratt 14:57
Good question - SCORE does not offer funding itself. But we do help find funding from, from lenders or from community organizations, or sometimes even from angels. So, Angel is the word for a fun individuals who like to invest in small businesses. And every community has a few of those people that are interested in doing something like that they're hard to reach. But they're oftentimes very supportive once you get connected to them, and, and can make that connection. There are many special programs of funds for women in businesses and people of color businesses and Native American businesses and veteran businesses. And businesses for particular subject matter like housing or, you know, addiction care or health care, you know, so they're, they're, they're sort of amazing. And I continue to learn about a lot of funding opportunities that I never even imagined were out there. And some are for micro enterprises, where it might be a loan of $500, or $2,000. And others will have, you know, the ability to go up to 50,000, or 100,000. And then there are some SBA type loans that will go up to several million dollars. And what SBA does, the Small Business Administration doesn't actually give out the money. They go through a regular bank, like Washington federal, or a credit union or whatnot. And so you go to one of those banks that do commercial lending and say, I'm interested in a small an SBA loan, and what they will tell you is okay, the SBA has requirements that you have to meet, you know, maybe in terms of your experience, or your credit rating, or how long you've been in business. And then in addition, the bank itself may have its own additional requirements that you have to meet. And of course, you have to go through an application process and write out your, you know, your credit history and your business plan and, and the details of your business in order to get those kinds of loans. The smaller the loan, the easier it is to get them. But sometimes there's a long line waiting for funding from a particular community source.
Jennifer Wenzel 17:27
So you mentioned loans, have you worked with helping people find grants at all or not needing to pay back sources of income or having to, you know, sell a piece of their company, for example, instead of like an investment more of a grant or a cash infusion? Do you find any of those,
Kevin Pratt 17:45
there are some there, they come and go. During the pandemic, there were several programs that the government offered that were originally called loans, but in fact, they turned into grants, if you met certain conditions. Now those have expired. But for nonprofits that are getting started, there are still a bunch of grants that are available. And there are also grants for particular industries, for example, in the defense industry, there are small business investment loans, or investment grants that are available to small businesses. And they're set aside a certain number of dollars for that purpose with a lot of different, you know, particular projects that the defense industry or the intelligence community is interested in funding. And likewise, the environmental area has some, some funding like that. The National Science Foundation has some grants that they will give out. Universities are oftentimes willing to kind of CO fund or CO grant certain kinds of businesses, for example. There's one client that I'm aware of, with SCORE, you know, who's building a particular kind of antenna for satellites. And the defense industry was interested in that. But as well, the commercial telecommunications companies were interested in giving grants for some of that, and the University of Arizona or Arizona State, were interested in giving some grants and some free space and some free assistance. So there are a lot of you know, when you dig into what the company is wanting to do in their startup, there are sometimes grants that are available.
Jennifer Wenzel 19:47
Well, I think they all need marketing. So if you happen to hear of any grants for marketing for you, just keep us in mind, okay. So what has been in your SCORE work? What has been the most gratifying or, you know, the thing that's really felt the best that you've experienced in the last couple years as a SCORE mentor, what has really fueled your tank and kind of gets you excited to talk about or think about?
Kevin Pratt 20:22
What I love is when someone who really has never been in business before, comes along and says, you know, it's time for me to start a business. And, you know, I've got an idea, and the idea sounds like a good one. And the person who's behind that is willing to move forward and really, you know, seriously take the steps to start the business. And you watch them start to do things. I've got a woman client in Salt Lake, who's a specialist in mushrooms. And they're not magic mushrooms, they're food, mushrooms, and their soil rehabilitation, remediation mushrooms. And she is, you know, going through the marketing to build both selling mushroom kinds of education and growing kits, and also beginning to build a consulting practice. And she's gone basically, from zero to, you know, 50 miles an hour in the direction of 200 miles an hour. And she's gonna do some fabulous things. And you just see it happening. Every time you talk with her, you know, she's taken some additional steps. The last time I talked with her, she said, You'll be glad to hear, Kevin, that I've now got a marketing calendar for the next year. And I know what I'm going to be doing each month to add excitement to my marketing and my company and where I want to go. And that is just super to hear about that kind of stuff.
Jennifer Wenzel 22:17
That's huge. That's honestly something that we try to get our clients to work on to obviously, we help them with the process, but it's not easy to do it all. So that's a huge step for her.
Kevin Pratt 22:27
Yeah, it's, you know, it's so important. And one of the things that is so important in business is persistence, and organized persistence, because it's all too easy to just jump on the next, you know, a hot topic. And that's not really good enough, you've got to have a process and a commitment to plan out where you're gonna go with your marketing, with your hiring, or with your product development, with your service development, all of those things are just a part of getting a good progress and your business building.
Jennifer Wenzel 23:05
So a lot of those take processes do you get supplied with, you know, various forms or processes or procedures that you from SCORE that you can then use to pass along to your clients, you get sort of their toolkit to be
Kevin Pratt 23:21
there are a few, but most of the time, it's a matter of customizing that to your particular business. And all things considered if I go out to Google and do searches for that kind of process oriented templates are the like. And of course, there are many, many little companies that have started for the purpose of providing templates and processes. And the like, you know, for example, if you're doing Instagram marketing, there's a company called Planoly, which allows you to sit down for a couple of hours at the beginning of the month and plan out all of your Instagram posts, so that they are automatically posted for you and you don't have to spend all your brainwaves thinking about that every other day throughout the month is super effective. And you know that that is the kind of software templates that are available on lots and lots of different things now.
Jennifer Wenzel 24:21
Well, let's talk a little bit more about those kinds of tools and tips that you can pass along to people. That's a fantastic resource. What else kind of do you keep at your fingertips to be able to pass along to people like that that'll be helpful to anyone listening? Not to put you on the spot.
Kevin Pratt 24:39
The fun of working through all the different companies that I'm working with, is learning about their different needs and going out and researching and finding that stuff. And so, you know, when I started with SCORE, it was sort of like well, you know, I know from my experience, here are some here's some things that are out there. And as the company companies come along and ask me questions, you know, I go out and do research. And so now I've got, you know, all of a sudden a huge directory on my computer with sets of resources on, you know, all kinds of different subjects from, you know, who can do 3d calves for manufacturing? Now? What are the steps for, you know, contracting with employees, or gig workers? What's the process to go through to just get started in Tucson, for example, with the business, you get all the licenses you need? What do you need, if you want to be a contractor, if you want, if you want to work in landscaping, or house construction, or commercial construction, you know, what are the steps you've got to go through, there's just an awful lot of that kind of background and research that I've been able to accumulate and hand over to people when they come along. So that's, you know, in terms of other software templates, you know, there are tools, there there, there are many different I mean, and many people who have come out of larger companies are already aware of slack or, or the Google Business sets of products. They're aware of Salesforce, they're aware of, you know, constant comment, Constant Contact, and MailChimp and Mailgun, and all the things that help you do what you need to do efficiently, because certainly, you can sit down and write yourself up, do your research, and make yourself a list of people to contact and send out individual emails to those people. But that's not a good use of your time. In most instances, you know, there are much more efficient ways to do it, and it will cost you something. And if you don't have any money, that's a problem. But if you have a little bit of money, you can get a long way with those kinds of resources and just knowing about them and checking them out. And you know, there's no absolute hiring an expert to do that kind of work for you. There's nothing you can do except go learn yourself, and figure out how to do it, you know, it may not be the thing that you want to do long term, but initially just learning enough to know, you know, how do you do some of these things will help you evaluate where you get the bang for the buck? And what's the best use of your time?
Landy Miyake 27:38
What that makes me think of the example that you just talked about with our mushroom lady. And so I wanted to ask you, if sticking with my theme of themes, the themes that maybe just, you know, mindset wise, or work ethic wise that you see people in terms of growing into successful businesses are there characteristics, or personality traits that you see as a common thread with those businesses that come to you in those startup phases. And then as they grow, we would love to hear if there's a theme there.
Kevin Pratt 28:23
I've said for a long time that there are two things that will make anyone successful, and that's enthusiasm and persistence. And persistence in an organized way is what drives really good results in business. You know, I've talked about using calendars and processes and the like, and those become just very, very important to move you forward. And so and so people who can buckle down and do the preparation work that's needed, for example, in sales, you know, sure, you can take someone who's brand new and say, you know, go go find a client, go talk to somebody and get them to sign up for your services. The reality is that good salespeople have learned an awful lot of techniques and a lot of processes in order to do a good job. They know what questions to ask, they know how to guide the conversation. They know how to handle objections, they know how to move forward towards the close. And those processes that you have to learn you're not born knowing that stuff. It doesn't matter how enthusiastic you are. Once you have good processes supporting you, sales become much much easier. It always takes a lot of persistence, always. But good skills make the difference and who sells a lot of stuff and who does. And, you know, I worked with salespeople when I worked for Teradata, which is a big company similar to Oracle, and we were selling things for $100,000 to $2 million price tags. And the salespeople were extraordinarily skilled in working with, you know, not just one person who's going to make the buying decision, but a whole group of people at a big company who had to make that decision and navigating through all of that, and tracking in paper or on a whiteboard, you know, who reports to whom? Who makes which decision, who's the gatekeeper?
Jennifer Wenzel 30:36
Who has the hidden influence?
Kevin Pratt 30:40
Yeah, it's a lot of work and the persistence and the enthusiasm for, you know, well, we got a super product, or we got a super service, you know, we got really good people. And now we're able to really help you out solve the problem that you've got. And, you know, I like to say, you know, when it comes to sales, the thing that drives the most closings is an immediate burning problem that needs to be solved right now. Because then the buyer wants to get the problem taken care of, it's not just something that's on the backburner. It's something that's on the front burner. And so you have to watch for those opportunities. And, you know, if you're in sales, whatever your topic is, you know, it's when some new development occurs, or some problem occurs at a company. And you can say, hey, you know, I hear you, you know, I hear your, your ex employee who was key just left, you know, let's talk about what, what we might be able to help you out with, you know, stepping in to be the problem solver, at the right time, makes a huge difference. And, and that's a part of, again, being organized and being committed to working on your business every day, or at least every week. And you know, sometimes it is every week, and sometimes it's, well, I got to set aside, you know, an hour in the morning to make the calls, I don't really enjoy it. Or, you know, I've got to sit down at night after the kids go to bed at 10 o'clock, and work on the, you know, the social media planning for the coming month, even though I'd rather go to sleep, you know, there are times when you just have to do what it's got to be done.
Jennifer Wenzel 32:27
Absolutely. So what advice would you give to people who are listening to this, who may be, you know, newer in their functional medicine business, or honestly, any business or of course, our market, or the people that we've talked to, and work with our functional medicine providers. But obviously, this advice for National Mentoring Month and think of vendor day, applies to people across the board. So no matter what business someone is in, and of course, as we always hear, if you're in business, you're in the business of sales, right? Just kind of looping back to what you just said, whether you want to be or not, um, what kind of advice can you give people as far as how to work with SCORE? Are there any requirements as far as where you are in business? Or how much you're making? Or how much you know, or don't know, what do people do if they want to get this mentorship?
Kevin Pratt 33:17
Absolutely no requirements. The way you get into the SCORE system as a client is you go to the SCORE.org website, and there's a spot where it says, you'll find a mentor, or find a webinar or find a resource, or go to find a mentor. And if you want one that's local, you can put in your zip code. If not, you can get one from anywhere in the country. And it's possible, you know, if you have a particular focus, and you want somebody you know, from, let's say, somebody who builds high rise buildings, you know, and that's your focus, or somebody who does, you know, orthopedics, and that's your focus to find somebody who is in that particular field, if you need to talk to, you know, that particular kind of person. So you go to SCORE.org, you click on Find a mentor, use, you know, look through some of the profiles that are online about who the mentors are, and you say, you know, I'd like that one, or just say, you know, I've got this kind of question, you know, assign someone to me, and we'd love to see anybody, particularly somebody who's brand new, who's in business and wants to try to figure stuff out because that we're just there to help and to, you know, to help whether you're starting with, well, I've got an idea. I wonder if that would be a business, too. You know, I've got 50 employees and you know, some people just quit and I don't know what to do, you know, regardless of the size regardless of the profitability regardless Really, whether it's it's for profit or nonprofit, we're glad to try to help out and deal with the challenges that you've got, you know, it's not like we've got a menu that says, You've got to learn these things before we will talk with you. Rather, it is, you know, tell us where you are. Tell us what your challenges are burning your hands right now. And let's see if we can handle some of those things. You know, what do you what are you losing sleep over? What, what's not working? You know, what kind of conflicts are going on in your business? What is it you don't know about? You know? Is it that you don't know how to orders, you know, equipment from offshore? Well, let's find a resource that can work through that with you, whatever it is. And so it's it's really wide open, and the kinds of clients we have reflect that wide openness, because it really, really will be everything from someone who says, Well, you know, I, I just left my job, I just retired, I want to think about starting a business. I've never been in business, do you have just some basic business INFO? Or, you know, I've got a little nonprofit that is running, but we're, you know, we're having terrible time getting people to come to our events, what do we need to do? To, you know, all kinds of different questions that come up? You know, where do I find an accountant? Where are we gonna find an attorney? Where do I find an HR person? Where do you know, how do I find somebody to do gig work for me? What's the tax situation on employees? When do I have to file a TPT tax in Arizona? You know, all those kinds of questions we're glad to work with.
Jennifer Wenzel 36:54
So is there anything? And this will be my last question? Is there anything that SCORE can't help with? Are there any limitations to the help?
Kevin Pratt 37:03
There are the two main limits that we can't help with - anything that's illegal, which includes marijuana at this point and CBD businesses, and we can't help with businesses that are offshore. So if you're, for example, a Mexican citizen in the US, starting a business in Mexico, we can't help you. If you're starting a business from the US we can. So those are really the only two limitations that I've ever run into.
Jennifer Wenzel 37:40
And Landy, any questions or thoughts from you as we get ready to wrap this up?
Landy Miyake 37:46
I did just have one more question as far as how the pairing process goes, because I believe, you know, we obviously filled out the form and we didn't request like us, I don't remember us requesting like a specific person. I just remember putting in our questions.
Jennifer Wenzel 38:09
We just requested to work with a local person in Tucson. So yeah.
Landy Miyake 38:13
So yeah. So then when SCORE receives that information, how do they sort of, you know, sift through those questions, and then with all of these, you know, 30,000 plus SCORE mentors, like, how do they whittle that down? Say, I mean, if I didn't put Tucson, that's the whole United States, right, so how do they sort of filter that for the matching process?
Kevin Pratt 38:35
Well, there's no opportunity to ask for a mentor that has a particular background. But what you did is really the more common situation that someone says, Well, you know, I don't know who I need to talk to, I just need to talk to somebody who's knowledgeable. And what happens is we've got one paid employee, who is kind of our, our intake person, and she looks through what the question is, and says, Well, okay, here in Tucson, we've got, let's say, 30 mentors, and in Phoenix, we've got another 70 that we could call on as well. And, you know, kind of what's the workload of everybody right now? And who would this be potentially a good fit for? And because I've got a legal background, I get a lot of legal questions. And because I've got a technology background, I get a lot of technology questions. You know, if somebody comes in and says, I want to start a restaurant, I will say, I don't know anything about restaurants, you need to find and I'll tell the intake person you need to find someone else to work with this client. And so I can turn down. Sometimes I do turn down clients for a variety of reasons, usually because it's totally out of any experience I've ever had. And that happened with manufacturing. I am a little familiar with patents. But when somebody says, Okay, now I've got my patent, I want to manufacture something, I will say, let's find you a manufacturing mentor, because I'm not it. And, you know, that's kind of the way it goes. So we've got a good intake person who tries to match the question up with the skills of the mentor, and balance loads at the same time. And so it works out. And, you know, we always say, you know, if, if we've got a personality, conflict or bad fit, let's move on to somebody else. You know, let's find somebody you like to work with.
Jennifer Wenzel 40:39
Does every office across the country have one of these coordinators? Mentor people?
Kevin Pratt 40:43
I think so. I think so. I've been there. I think there are maybe 300 chapters across the country. Arizona has three chapters, southern and northern and central. California has gotten those, how many? So Minnesota probably has, you know, two or three or four.
Jennifer Wenzel 41:06
Folks who don't know, Landy and our business are in Tucson, and Kevin is in the Tucson area, but I'm up here in Minnesota. Yes, I've worked with actually a Minnesota SCORE office or two along my own entrepreneurial road. And they've always been wonderful to work with.
Kevin Pratt 41:24
Super super. Yeah, and volunteers, we're always looking for more volunteers to help with mentoring or, or to give webinars on particular technical topics, or legal topics or areas of expertise. Google, for example, has partnered with SCORE and provides a whole bunch of super webinars on how to use Google, with business. And some of the banks do likewise. And some of the HR companies, I believe, do likewise. So, but we're always looking for new mentors, and anyone who's got some experience in business at a, at a senior level, you know, whether they owned it, or ran it, or were department chairman, or whatnot, we'd love to have that person come in and be interviewed to be a mentor, and then start talking to talking to exciting new businesses that are starting up. And I -
Jennifer Wenzel 42:28
Just want to double check all those webinars and resources you were talking about completely free of charge right?
Kevin Pratt 42:34
There, they are almost all free of charge. Occasionally, one will be for 10 bucks, or 20 bucks or 50 bucks, the most expensive one I've ever come across was 50 bucks. And that was, I believe, two full half days. So you know, some of them are an hour long. And some of them are, you know, a couple day sales webinars.
Jennifer Wenzel 42:59
Great. And what if you've mentioned that people are invited to be able to give webinars on certain topics? Must you be a SCORE mentor already in order to give a webinar on a particular area of expertise for SCORE?
Kevin Pratt 43:14
Oh, I don't know the answer to that. Really. I mean, there are people who join SCORE, just so they can give webinars. You know, SCORE is not a place to promote your business, right. It's a place to pass along your knowledge. And so there's, you know, if what you want to do is promote your business through the webinar, you know, beyond obviously saying, Well, you know, I run X business, and we're always looking for customers. But if you go beyond that, that's, that's inappropriate. But outsiders, you know, will come to SCORE and say, for example, one of the one of the banks in town, I believe, has just volunteered to say, We'd like to give some seminars on succession planning for businesses, what happens when you need to get out of your business. And we'll provide speakers and we'll provide a place and we'll even pay SCORE for the promotional expense of letting everybody know about this webinar. And the people giving that webinar will not be a SCORE volunteer, there'll be a bank employee. But they're, you know, it's an appropriate topic that's needed by businesses. And so SCORE will, will say, you know, we're glad to do that. And, and its core partners in Tucson with the Pima County Public Library, and with a number of the Women's Business Center and with startup Tucson, and with a whole bunch of local organizations, so that we have sponsorship by multiple organizations, which gets more people to know about it. have the opportunities and the knowledge that can be passed along and learned.
Jennifer Wenzel 45:04
Wonderful! Such fantastic information and what a wonderful organization that we are very, very glad to be able to work with and receive wisdom and information from we're so happy to work with you, Kevin. And so on National Thank Your Mentor day we thank you very much for being with us and others.
Kevin Pratt 45:23
And I want to thank Root Cause Marketing and both of you for being wonderful clients and lots of fun to work with. So people like you are what makes it fun to be a mentor.
Jennifer Wenzel 45:37
Thank you so much. We're delighted to see you. We're looking forward to our next mentoring session. And thanks for sharing all of the knowledge and wisdom that you've imparted today and all the other days that you do your work. Thank you, Kevin.
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