Central Virginia Business Plan
Business Plan FY 2014
209 5th Street NE
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Web Site: www.centralvirginia.score.org
Table of Contents
Executive Summary...................................................Page 3
Current Situation………………………........................Page 5
Membership .............................................................Page 9
Information Technology…………...............................Page 10
Congressional Contacts……………………….……….Page 11
Success Stories…………………………………………Page 11
Satisfy the needs of our clients by providing the best business advice possible so they can make informed decisions on their business issues and providing quality workshops for entrepreneurs, small business owners and non-profit organizations on the fundamentals of starting and running a successful business.
SCORE-Central Virginia, Chapter 494 faces some challenges as it moves into FY 2014. Our membership is down and we face competition from several other organizations within the areas we serve. To meet these challenges, we will be diligently concentrating our efforts on the identification and implementation of creative ways to better serve our clients.
Our goals and objectives for FY 2014 are as follows:
- 196 New Client Counseling Sessions
- 272 Follow-on Counseling Sessions
- 19 Workshops
- 150 Workshop Attendees
- A net increase of 3 new members
- 2 Congressional contacts
- 1 Success story
Our marketing efforts will be directed toward determining the most effective ways to reach first-time clients. This will be done through personal representations of SCORE at various entrepreneurial events, advertisements in local media, use of social media, etc. As important as counseling first-time clients, we want to encourage those clients to stay with us through the life of their business. Marketing will play an especially important role in assisting us in reaching both of these audiences. Among these approaches we will be using social media to inform the community of upcoming events and workshops.
We will continue to utilize the Simple Steps material in conducting workshops this year and offering more variety; seminars, roundtables, etc. Although this program got a late start this past year, we will be working diligently to achieve our goal of 150 workshop attendees by the end of September 2014.
Within the past couple of years our membership has declined both in actual numbers and in some critical skills and experience needed. We will be making a concerted effort to identify and recruit talented members who have the motivation to work with our clients in one or several capacities; counseling, teaching workshops, speaking at local organizations, etc. Included in this effort will be a focus on increasing the percentage of women and minorities within the chapter.
The Chapter Chair, with the assistance of other members, will actively solicit support from our local, state and federal representatives. More specifically, thought is being given to ways in which we can recognize them as supporters of SCORE-Central Virginia. It is our belief that, by getting them to publicly show their support, it will help us in all facets of the chapter’s work. An extension of this concept is to include them as “honored guests” at special events; e.g., annual awards, etc.
It is important that we recognize and present those individuals and businesses which have had substantial success as a result of their relationship with SCORE. We will do that this year by having chapter members submit, “Success Stories” to SCORE National.
Because of budget issues at the federal level and the uncertainty of the funds that will be made available to SCORE, we do not know if we will have sufficient funds to accomplish all of the things we have planned. To mitigate this, we will be seeking sponsors for our workshops and other events, as well as funds for capital purchases, where needed.
Our progress against these goals and objectives will be tracked and reported to both the Executive Staff and members at their regular scheduled monthly meetings. Appropriate adjustments will be made in a timely manner in or order to keep us on track and to insure us of meeting the individual targets.
There has been considerable change in the Chapter over the last couple of years to include the departure and addition of Mentors. The size of the Chapter is now 18 including two new Mentors in the beginning of FY2014. We are now in the process of reinventing the Chapter with a look at committees and workshop programs. It is expected that a new series of workshops will be implemented in mid-year 2014, and that a clear set of committee goals that will result in a strong year ahead.
In developing the 2014 Business Plan, a SWOT analysis was conducted to identify our Strengths and Weaknesses as well as Opportunities and Threats. The overwhelming consensus of the members was that we bring to the market a good base of real world experience with a committed group of mentors. This adds to the good reputation that SCORE 494 has developed in Central Virginia. We did, however; feel that there was a lack of experience in the internet world and especially the use of social marketing in business. This has led to a strategy to increase the experience base diversity of the Chapter with new member having those skills. It has also translated into the need for internal training of current Mentors to provide a base knowledge in the use of the internet. We will also be replacing the workshop series that we have been using with the Simple Steps Workshop program that should strengthen our position in the market and further differentiate ourselves from the many new and existing services offered by both learning institutions and other non-profit organizations. It should go without saying that we need to remain client service focused in spite of the many difficulties with the website and email revisions we have experienced.
The mission of the Marketing Committee is to promote SCORE as the most effective resource for counseling and mentoring to the business community and to the public at large.
The purpose of a proactive, result-oriented, marketing program for SCORE Chapter 494 is to:
Increase the awareness of SCORE and its services to the community in its designated territory
Measure and evaluate client satisfaction, through feed back from counseling sessions, as well as evaluations collected at workshops. We believe this information will help us to maximize our efforts and improve client referrals
- Increase the number of clients served by SCORE-494. This will be accomplished through Face-to Face Mentoring and Workshops and related programs
A Chapter website is a key element of the marketing effort. Internet marketing now starts at the landing page where first impressions are made.
To be confident that the Chapter website is a superior marketing tool, the Marketing Committee will solicit expert assistance in all aspects to insure our site is customer focused, as:
Best possible marketing message
Clarity, ease of use, navigation and friendliness
Search engine analysis
Best possible positioning
- On-going assessment
During the last year the website was reviewed by professionals but the assignment was limited to copy improvements. New marketing messages and graphics are necessary to enhance SCORE-494's image and to improve the first impression we present to potential clients.
Our activities in social network and blogging will continue. The participation of our members will be vital to make it succeed. Input on news and client information from our Mentors will keep our sites timely and current. New members have brought expertise and experience of social media with them and their contributions will help enhance the SCORE brand in our territory.
Back-to Basics Promotion
The Business License division of Albemarle County has agreed to distribute SCORE business cards to all applicants for a business license. The city of Charlottesville is also participating in this program, and the outlying counties in our territory are being contacted.
ASK SCORE business articles will run in the Daily Progress in their special business section
News Blasts & Newsletters
Regular releases of news blasts, newsletters, and announcements about
SCORE-494 to our large database will continue, Articles featuring SCORE clients' success stories and information on current SCORE workshop schedules and topics will continue to be the mainstays of this initiative.
All operations of Constant Contact are now managed by the Marketing Committee to facilitate their efforts to maximize the use of this software.
Since the re-introduction of this nation-wide program several Chapter-494 mentors have volunteered to participate in this program. This commitment will add valuable hours to the Chapter's statistics.
Bank Officers Contact Program
The continuation of a program that was initiated last year of bringing together Chapter mentors and bank officers after business hours for beverages and snacks.
We have found this to be an excellent introduction for new chapter mentors into the local banking community.
SCORE-494 remains very active in this endeavor and plans for the year will include:
Continued participation in the Greater Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce, twice each year, sponsored Business Exposition
Continued close cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce including SCORE's attendance at several of their events.
The Chamber's Business After Hours is a program sponsored by the Chamber that is extremely valuable to our Chapter. This is a roster of mentors will be organized that will designate several members to attend these programs to lift the visibility of SCORE and introduce our members to the business community.
Participate in and co-sponsor events with SBDC and SBA
Continued cooperation with VDBA( Virginia Department of Business Assistance) and their Entrepeneur's Express program. This program and other events have been greatly improved through discussions between SCORE and representatives of VDBA.
- SCORE Chapter-494 will continue to communicate the six regional and county Chambers' of Commerce in our territory. Quarterly face-to-face meetings with the directors of these Chambers will be encouraged.
It is the intent of the Workshop Committee to deliver a variety of Workshops to our base audience. In addition to our traditional workshops covering the development of Business Plans we will also present workshops dealing with Social Media, Legal questions revolving around starting your business and Accounting problems for an early stage business. The traditional Business Plan Workshops will move to the Simple Steps format as provided by the Score National Headquarters. We have had the material reviewed by one of our members who has a long history of writing and delivering the type of Workshop involved and he has given the concept a hearty thumbs up.
The instructors for the Business Plan Workshops will be members from SCORE; all of whom have experience and background in the material to be covered. In addition we are changing the last meeting of the series. Traditionally we have had a class on writing a Business Plan for a fictitious business. We plan now to arrange for the class participants to meet with a mentor so that they can immediately begin to develop a business plan for their particular business. We feel that this will make the session more relevant to the participant and reduce the number of absences we have experienced in the past.
In the case of the other workshops that will be offered we will enlist the aid of people with experience in the field involved. We have made arrangements with an Attorney, CPA and Marketing Consultant to present these programs.
The venue of the Workshops is the Albemarle County office building. The facilities are convenient and provide easily accessible and ample parking for all attendees. We are now offering weekday evening classes. In addition we are considering offering classes at either or both the Monticello and/or Hollymead Fire Stations. Both have community rooms that should be adequate for our needs.
The Executive Committee has determined that the Chapter needs to begin, immediately, a more focused effort to attract new members. The health of the Chapter requires a continuing inflow of new members with counseling skills, teaching skills, marketing skills and, in today’s world, knowledge of information technology tools and techniques. We will also be seeking to improve chapter diversity by increasing the number of female and other minority members.
Our recruiting campaign will exploit all means available but we recognize that, in the past, the vast majority of our new members have come on board because of personal referrals by current members. Current members are in the best position to recognize the experience and skills that will make a successful new member.
In addition to member referrals the Committee will insure that our needs are well advertised on community websites such as the United Way. Whenever SCORE participates in a community marketing event we will insure that recruiting is visible in our displays.
We are looking not only for counseling skills, but also for the skills we need to run an efficient chapter. In no priority order here are just some of the characteristics we are seeking:
- Information technology, database and website management.
- Application of social networking to business/internet sales
- Accounting and financial management
- Food service and restaurants
- Candidates with contacts in the Charlottesville/Albemarle community, UVA, banks, business, government, etc. and with potential for fundraising and joint activities.
- Candidates located in outlying counties.
- Diversity (gender, racial, ethnic).
The Team will continue to learn about and implement the tools which are available to our chapter from SCORE National as well as the coordination of solutions to problems and posting new or revised content on the websites. A guide will be maintained which will provide instructions to our members about how to use the various websites. Additionally, when someone signs up for counseling from the National site, a response email is sent to the client with a link to the calendar asking them to make an appointment.
The following is a list of the various websites and some of the functions that will be performed for each one.
http://centralvirginia.score.org – Local Website
- Change content when required and post new content on to the site.
- Understand and convey to the membership, changes to the site.
- Access performance data and report to the membership.
https://www.edmisscore.org – Webit
- Access performance data and report to the membership.
- Delete obsolete clients not seen from the list on a monthly basis.
- Add new volunteers to database.
- Change classifications of volunteers as required.
- Input workshop totals as required and non-counseling contacts monthly.
- Follow-up emails are sent to those clients who have not signed up for mentoring.
http://score494.scorecast.org/admin.php - Calendar
- Handle site problems when they arise.
- Block dates as required.
- Provide counseling lists which shows who has and has not signed up for counseling as required.
- Add or delete volunteers from data base.
- Add events to the calendar.
The Team will be responsible for the maintenance and management of our Constant Contact account. This software, which is provided free of charge to all SCORE chapters, contains the data base of all of our contacts; counseling, workshops, etc. The database and the tools contained within this software are used to send information to select contacts about upcoming events of our chapter. The Marketing chair is responsible for the content of all media that is distributed through this site. We will be investigating new ways to use the software to more effectively reach our clients and provide much needed support for their businesses.
Primarily, because of a significant reduction in the District Allocation, the Chapter is expected to experience a significant net cash outflow.
During the year, we will be visiting the local offices of our state and federal elected representatives to obtain their support for our chapter. We are most interested in educating them about what SCORE does and the value that it contributes to their constituents. The Chair will be the primary contact, but will invite other members to participate in that effort. In addition to the congressional contacts, we will be visiting the Mayor of the locales we serve, as well as the Director of Economic Development for Albemarle County, the City of Charlottesville, and all surrounding counties; Greene, Madison, Louisa, Orange, Fluvanna, and Nelson. Refer to the following link(s) for more information related to specifics for those contacts. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/VA.
As part of our chapter Goals and Objectives, SCORE National requires us to submit at least one (1) client success story. Should we decide to have the story be considered for publication on the national www.SCORE.org website, we will:
1) Fill out Form 30, making sure all signatures are present.
2) Have the client complete the Success Story Submission form, which will be used by SCORE National to craft a narrative for the website.
If we decide that we just want to obtain credit for the chapter, and do not wish to have the story published to www.SCORE.org, we will simply submit the Form 30 with all signatures present.
The decision about which approach to take for submission to SCORE National will be made by the Executive Committee at the time of the submission by the chapter member