I joined SCORE Fox Cities to help their client base understand Internet marketing. In SCORE we have a good group of really talented individuals from many different business areas. It makes for a very strong team when we can work with clients and tell them we have the resources in-house to be able to help you with every aspect of your business.
Those who come to SCORE for advice could be at the stage where it’s just a concept they want to explore, or they might have a business plan and need somebody to review it. We’re finding now that established businesses also need help. We become problem solvers, trying to get them to that next step. Our services are free. We are the best-kept secret in town. My goal is to create visibility for SCORE.
Businesses that need help fill out a form online (www.ScoreFoxCities.com). The administrator looks at the list of counselors available with that skill set or understanding of the issue that the client needs addressed. Then the counselor gets in touch with that particular client.
Counselors volunteer for many reasons, and one is to give back to the community. It also helps them to build their business and to build their skill sets – and then they become a referral source for the future.
I came to SCORE two years ago; I still counsel business owners in marketing. Often they have other, more implicit problems. In many ways it’s a therapy session. You’re listening to the issues and then, based on what they’re telling you, you can say these are the things you need to put in place first.
My business, InfoSearch, helps small- to mid-sized businesses with market research, competitive intelligence and feasibility studies. There’s a lot going on with the Internet – social media space, e-mail marketing, blogging – and businesses need to understand how to leverage that space; there’s a lot you can do without having to put too much money in it. Your target audience is much wider. It’s more comprehensive, it’s trackable, it’s measurable.
There are many resources for small businesses in our area besides SCORE, including the Small Business Development Corporation, which is part of the SBA (Small Business Association), then we have the technical colleges. It behooves us as a small-business community in the New North to make it very clear to all the folks that are looking for help to define what each of us does.
I am originally from Malaysia. I moved to the U.S. in 1984 at age 19 to attend the University of Iowa. I got married and we moved to Toronto. I got my undergraduate in fine arts at the University of Toronto, where my husband was teaching, and then we moved to Indianapolis. In two and a half years, he passed away. It was tough, not having worked a day in my life, at that point, to suddenly be challenged with two little kids below the age of 5. I decided to pursue a master’s in education at Indiana University. Then I worked for Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company in Indianapolis, as an instructional designer for the sales force, and after 1.5 years got an opportunity to work for Humana in Green Bay; I worked there two years then for KI for two years.
Then I commuted for five months to a job at a major insurance company in Boston, leading a staff of 15 on systems implementation. I realized I was tired of living out of a suitcase. But that job gave me the confidence to start my own business. I think I made the best choice for my family to stay in Appleton.
I’m a very optimistic person. You really have to seize opportunities as a small business owner. And that’s what we’re there for, to help these small businesses get a foot in the door, to get set up and be successful.