When Becky Willard left what she describes as a toxic corporate environment, she wasn’t sure what to do next. “After much prayer and reflection, I moved to a neighboring state and decided to start a company doing what I love,” she says. Willard launched Beacon Grace, a technology and consulting firm specializing in supply chain operations to help business grow.
She started her firm with limited financial resources, which meant instead of hiring a salesperson or other skilled professionals right away, she had to do it all herself.
Willard turned to SCORE for help writing a business plan and preparing to apply for a loan. She met volunteer mentor Bob Jones, who reviewed her plan and helped her use a financial planning tool. Beyond advising on business-building strategies, Willard says Jones also listens and provides ongoing, encouraging support.
“I am probably luckier than most in that the SCORE office is located a few offices down the hall from mine,” Willard says. “Although Bob is only in two or three days a week, I find it convenient that I can stop by for both simple and more complex talks.” Instead of scheduling a meeting every couple of weeks and worrying that she’ll forget a topic she needs to discuss, Willard has appreciated having her mentor nearby for frequent conversations.
Willard recalls a time when she asked Jones a business question for which he didn’t have experience. Jones didn’t have an answer, but reached out to other SCORE volunteers for insight. “It is great to know I can tap into other expertise held by other members based on special needs or questions, Willard says.
Although Willard was approved for an SBA-backed small-business loan, it was for a smaller amount than she had requested. Through SCORE workshops and guidance from Jones, Willard was able to determine how she could work with less capital to grow her new business.
Willard has also spoken at two SCORE workshops. “I realized how much I enjoyed sharing lessons learned with those who are very early in the startup process,” she says. “I was also surprised how appreciative attendees were of the information I helped provide.”