"What I was hoping to do was expand on my business. I am the business. I'm an independent contractor as a tattooer," Murray said. "That's one thing for sure; a majority of artists are not business people."
So this spring Murray went through a business loan program and then was eventually directed to even more help through a program called SCORE, or
Murray started participating in workshops and was introduced to a mentor, which is the very purpose of SCORE. Murray said the experience focused his vision for his participation in the business world.
"They helped me get myself organized and gave me some ideas of what I need to do to get organized and execute my business plan properly," Murray said. "I think a lot of people, when it comes to opening a business, they try to reinvent the wheel. But there are people who have already done it."
Murray said he now uses that SCORE experience to help manage his business dealings, and he's already a contractor at Sunday Tattoo in Riverside where he inks many customers. But he also is selling his paintings and drawings on the side.
It's that type of link from business idea to actualization that SCORE seeks to provide with a cadre of experienced professionals from a variety of backgrounds. SCORE nationally is celebrating its 50th year of operations in
"I would say it's going rather well," Turner said. "We have been a very stable organization here in
Turner said there are 40 to 45 volunteers in
Usually, SCORE mentors and advisers are helping people who may want to go into business for themselves or are looking for an alternative to the traditional workplace. In the past decade, the term "startup" business has grown in use, and Turner said that's played a big role in the success of SCORE in recent years.
"Immediately, during the recession and the economic downtown, we definitely saw a huge increase in people scheduling counseling with us to start new businesses from people who were laid off or retired," Turner said. "That's tapered off a bit. ... But now, things have stabilized."
The forte of SCORE counseling is small business and Turner said the prototypical client seeking advice is narrowed down to about three different types: those who want to start their own business, those who already are running their own business but are struggling and those who are looking to find information and support for an idea they haven't completely committed to.
SCORE volunteers usually have decades of experience. Turner, for example, spent about 25 years in internal auditing, commercial banking and credit management before he retired.
Not all SCORE volunteers are completely retired.
Bagni said he relishes the chance to mentor those seeking business advice.
"I've done so much and I've brought experience and I still have the fire in the belly," Bagni said. "I've been very actively involved in startups as a private investor and as an adviser to a whole bunch of smaller companies. ... This is the stuff that I know, and I wanted to give back."
While SCORE is providing advice, Bagni said one of the most important aspects of serving as a mentor is to know when to tell those considering a new business when to either abandon the idea or shift concepts. Bagni said most seeking advice from him are on the right path, but not everyone is cut out to start a new business.
"The first thing people have to deal with is how they are going to be structured. Are they going to incorporate? Are they going to create an LLC? Or are they going to be a sole proprietor?" Bagni said, adding that he advises potential startup entrepreneurs to get a banker, lawyer, accountant and an insurance agent.
But even with those elements, some people need to know their limits, Bagni said.
"Other people will come in, frankly, and I don't want to use this expression, but they don't have a clue," Bagni said.
And telling people when they need to give up is just about as valuable as helping those entrepreneurs who know what they're doing because Bagni said there's nothing more miserable than starting a business that's destined to fail. The money invested simply can't be retrieved.
It's that type of balance and advice that makes SCORE so valuable to the
"It's very critical," Gonzalez said. "SCORE is used for someone who is at the very, very beginning of their thought process."
SBA usually deals with existing businesses by providing support programs designed to enhance shops, stores and offices that have already been developed. Gonzalez said SCORE bridges the gap from beginning to established businesses.
"This is really the first step," Gonzalez said. "They get them to face reality.
ONE ON ONE
"The biggest problem for SCORE and even our staff is the person that walks in and says, 'Well, what do you think I should do?' That's a clear signal that this person is not ready," Gonzalez said. "That's the advantage of having this one-on-one consultation."
While those wanting to start a new business have to have passion, Gonzalez said it also takes passion from the volunteers in SCORE to properly guide new entrepreneurs.
"They're very talented [mentors]. We don't overuse them, and that's why we have high numbers of volunteers because they may come in maybe every two weeks for a day or they may come in once a month," Gonzalez said.
That's exactly the mold Bagni said he fits, and he wants to keep the passion going.
"I'm not doing it for money. I get immense satisfaction out of being able to share my knowledge and experience. I get immense satisfaction in just dialoguing with these really bright people, many of whom have great ideas but don't know how to quite get there," Bagni said. "It keeps me young, and it's a very energizing process for me."
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