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SCORE News You Can Use

Take a look at the sidebar on the right side of this page (or scroll down on your phone). Look for NEWS BY CATEGORY. You can select a category in the pull down menu or in the category cloud. If you’re looking for something more specific, there’s a search box above the cloud. If you still can’t find what you need, scroll up in the sidebar and CONTACT US by phone or email. Of course, you can always request a face-to-face meeting with a mentor. We’re here to help.


Here’s what you need to choose a business structure.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has a very helpful resource for those struggling to decide if they should have a sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited liability company (LLC), corporation, nonprofit or cooperative.

They say that “the business structure you choose influences everything from day-to-day operations, to taxes and how much of your personal assets are at risk. You should choose a business structure that gives you the right balance of legal protections and benefits.”

Here is a link to the resource page on their website.

Is it time to turn your side hustle into a business?

These days, lots of people have a side hustle to help them earn extra income, develop new skills, become a small business owner and quit their day job. Lots of them connect with a SCORE mentor to help them transition their side hustle into a full time business. Here are some of the steps they often need to take. 

Adopt the right mindset 

First, you’ll need to adopt a growth mindset. A growth mindset says that people constantly change, develop, and learn as they work through obstacles. 

When you become a business owner, you will face many challenges… with customers, employees, contractors and suppliers. You will have to handle marketing, sales, financial, taxes, and more. 

A growth mindset will help you navigate these challenges and focus on reaching your goals. 

Make sure your portfolio is strong 

Building a solid portfolio will help you attract new clients or customers. You will need to register a website domain, create a website with a professional theme, and add 2-5 portfolio pieces. For each piece, include a short description explaining the processes and skills you used. 

When choosing portfolio pieces to feature, be sure to select work that demonstrates your strengths and the diversity of your skills. 

Take steps to scale 

As you scale your side hustle into a business, your workload will increase. To manage your work efficiently, you should invest in tools to automate repetitive tasks. For example:

  • Scheduling apps like Trello, AirTable, ClickUp, or Asana
  • Accounting software like Quicken or Wave
  • Payment processing software like PayPal, Payoneer, or TransferWise
  • Grammar-checking apps like Writer.com and Grammarly.com

You could also use business plan software to create a long-term plan to guide your side hustle’s growth. Effective business plans include a financial plan, competitive analysis, market analysis, goals, sales and marketing plans.

Seek financing

If you are hiring employees, investing in software, starting a retail location, or buying inventory for your business, you may have to seek financing. 

Financing gives you the cash you need to invest in solutions that will increase your income long-term. 

There are many ways to seek financing, including:

  • Seeking investment from friends, family, and coworkers
  • Applying for a Small Business Administration loan
  • Starting an online crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo or GoFundMe
  • Acquiring a bridge loan
  • Applying for local, state, or federal government grants

Establish your business. 

You will need to establish an official presence for your company by:

  • Open a business bank account 
  • Register your business with your city, state and Feds.
  • Filing for a Tax ID Number (TIN)

You must establish an official presence online. Research shows that 68% of American consumers research a business on search engines before purchasing anything. To establish your digital presence, be sure to:

  • Add your business to Google My Business
  • Optimize your website with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), so it ranks well in search engines 
  • Start Yelp and Yellow Pages accounts 
  • Start a Business Facebook page 

Start actively marketing your business

As investing in digital marketing for your business can provide a return-on-investment (ROI) between 10% and 43% according to Statista.com, it’s a great way to increase your revenue. There are many ways to market your business, including:

  • Start a blog 
  • Run a social media ad campaign 
  • Invest in Google advertising 
  • Set up Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn profiles for your business
  • Create a podcast 
  • Invest in email marketing 
  • Host webinars 

You don’t have to do all of these things at once. Just pick the ones that make the most sense and add them to your to-do list. To get the most out of your marketing, you can monitor your success with Google Analytics. 

Focus on your customers 

Making sure that your customers are happy is a great way to scale your business. 

To learn what your people want or need, be sure to have discussions with customers or potential customers. Find out what benefits your products or services provide from their perspective. 

Work hard to create a customer-centric culture. 

Get the help you need

As you’re developing your new business, reach out to SCORE to connect with a mentor. SCORE mentors can guide you and provide feedback. With expertise in all aspects of starting and growing a small business, SCORE mentoring is a valuable (and free) resource that can help you succeed.

Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency Issues Urgent Shields Up Advisory

Due to the events underway in Ukraine, the US Government’s CISA has issued an urgent Shields Up advisory to every American company, nonprofit, or organization, large and small, across all sectors of the economy to maximize resilience in the face of a potentially destructive cyber incident .

The notice provides steps that organizations can take to ensure that:

  • Reduce the likelihood of a cyber intrusion to your online services
  • Quickly detect potential intrusions
  • You are better prepared to respond if an intrusion is detected

The CISA entire advisory can be viewed at https://www.cisa.gov/shields-up

Ask SCORE: How can I improve my website visitor’s experience?

Creating a new website for your business is a big undertaking. It can take months to design, code, write and launch a professional site. And, that’s not to mention the maintenance of your website once it’s launched and the ongoing SEO, or search engine optimization, that must be in play to make your website discoverable online. 

After working hard to bring your website to life, the last thing your business can afford to do is frustrate your visitors and drive them away due to a poor user experience.

“Good design, usability, and user experience are more important than ever in website development,” says SCORE mentor and technology professional, Matthew Krieger. “It’s a constant fight for visitors’ attention—any delay, complexity, or friction whatsoever could prompt users to leave your site. I often see companies put too many barriers in front of customers—overly complex signup processes, excessively strict forms, surveys with too many questions, etc. These things hurt the engagement process and can result in a lost sale.”

There are two simple steps you can take to provide your website visitors with a positive user experience.

Pay attention to the loading speed of your pages.


Today, consumers expect an instantaneous response when navigating through a website. As a result, Google wants to see fast load times and takes page load speed into account when determining a website’s rank in a search result. 

As of late 2019, Google considered a page load speed up to two seconds as acceptable, though prefers speeds under a half-second. You can check the page load speed of your website by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. 

According to a May 2020 article published by Nielsen Norman Group, page load delays of just one second are enough to interrupt a person’s consciousness and delays of just a few seconds are enough to seriously hurt the user experience of a website. 

By working with a web developer to improve your website’s page load speed, you’ll create a better user experience and, over time, increase your site’s ranking in organic search results. 

Create quality content that’s clear and direct.


Once you get your visitors to your website and, thanks to a fast page load speed, they don’t bounce right off of your site, a new challenge emerges – keeping the visitor on your website. 

The average time spent on a website by a visitor typically ranges from a few seconds to a couple of minutes. That means you have a very limited window of time to capture a visitor’s attention and provide them with information about your company, product and services. 

Create content that gets right to the point of what you do and why you do it. Visitors won’t spend time sifting through lots of content to find what they need. Make it easy for people to find your site, get the information they need and get in touch with you to learn more. 

Learn more about how to create clear, direct and effective web content by reading this SCORE article, How to Create Great Web Content. And here is a quote from its author, Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media. 

Use your website to enhance your web content.

“Your website supports your content, like the frame to a picture. Make sure your website is mobile friendly and easy to navigate. Mobile phones now account for almost half the time people spend online, so chances are good customers are viewing your web content on a tiny screen. Simple text with lots of breaks will help make it readable. Use mobile-first design to create a site that’s easy to use on any device. Finally, since users won’t stick around for a slow website to load, make sure your site is optimized for speed.”

A positive user experience is critical to the performance of your website. Employ an experienced web designer and developer with a strong grasp on the latest best practices for web design, page load speed and optimized content. 

Finding the right digital marketing partner is easier when you have an experienced professional mentor, like a SCORE mentor, by your side. A SCORE mentor will help you select the best digital marketing firm or consultant out there to support your business. With your mentor’s help, you will put your website in a position to be successful as you compete for the attention of online customers. 

COVID Relief Flex Fund secures additional funding.


The Small Business Flex Fund provides access to working capital to those that need it most – smaller, local business and nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees and annual revenue of less than $3 million.

The fund recently announced a new $40 Million funding round of low interest loans up to $150,000 for:
– Payroll
– Utilities & rent
– Marketing & advertising
– Building improvements or repairs

More info from Dept of Commerce

Ask SCORE: How can I build a strong brand for my business?

By Ken Sethney, Kitsap SCORE 

If you do a Google search for “what is a brand,” you will find endless opinions from a wide variety of sources trying to nail down the definition. 

The truth is, a brand is an elusive, visceral concept, not a tangible asset. Its value is measured through the emotional connections between a businesses and its customers, not with hard numbers on a spreadsheet. And this is precisely why building a strong business brand can be one of the most challenging tasks for any business owner.

Strong business brands aren’t built overnight. 

Your company’s brand is represented by more than your logo or tagline. It’s the culmination of your interactions with your customers, your business’ core beliefs, how you present your company and yourself to the world – and every other aspect of how you do business. 

Ask SCORE: How can I get more customers? 

By Ken Sethney, Kitsap SCORE 

For many years, my business efforts were focused on helping client companies market their products and services. I was an advertising agency creative director for five years. On day one, there were just two of us. Five years later, we had a lot of clients and a team of 36. 

Our sales and marketing efforts worked. When the owner closed the agency for medical reasons, I created a virtual ad agency. Six months later I had seven clients, all on the list of the largest companies headquartered in Orange County, CA. That was my goal, and I reached it. 

Working with companies that were large and small, I learned many things. One of the most important was that entrepreneurs need a bullet-point marketing plan. They need to focus some of their energy on finding new customers and the rest on delivering excellent products and services. 

Short answers to the following questions will give you an excellent marketing plan.

Ask SCORE: How can you make writing a business plan less intimidating? 

by Ken Sethney, Kitsap SCORE 

Writing a business plan is one of the important steps an entrepreneur needs to take before launching a new business. There is no shortage of people who feel that writing a business plan is an intimidating task. However, many business owners are likely to agree that their plan played a major role in their ability to launch and grow a profitable business.

A business plan isn’t about the document itself, it’s about the discovery process you use to create it. 

Business plans can be tackled in a number of different ways, but all should go after the same result – to clearly demonstrate the viability of your business to generate revenue and turn a profit. Your plan needs to state the business case for the business itself, discuss marketplace, financials, SWOT analysis, and much more. It’s a lot to think about. 

Too often owners decide to jump right in rather than take the time to properly plan. The benefits of planning – and the investment in the time it takes to write the plan – are invaluable in the end. Thinking through your start-up costs and revenue projections ahead of time, for example, will help you make the types of decisions that could be the difference between your business losing money or generating a profit.

When you’re ready to start your business plan, create manageable goals and hold yourself accountable for meeting deadlines.

The easiest way to get started is to create a task list with manageable goals and deadlines. Here are some tips to make writing a business plan less intimidating and easier to accomplish.

Ask SCORE: What basic financial documents does my business need?

When you own a small business, you have deadlines to meet, customers to serve, orders to fill, and a million other things to do. Finding time to work on your business and manage your financials can feel overwhelming when you are knee-deep in day-to-day operations.

Managing your finances doesn’t mean drowning in spreadsheets.

Taking time to manage your finances is an important part of what it takes to run a profitable business. At a minimum, there are three basic financial documents that you can’t ignore — your balance sheet, profit and loss statement, and cash flow statement. By keeping these three documents up-to-date and within reach, you will always have a strong sense of the financial health of your company.

According to SCORE mentor and retired CPA Frank Curtis, “These financial statements are the keys to understanding any business. In a very precise way, you can determine if your business is growing and succeeding or failing.”

Balance Sheet: Your balance sheet is a snapshot of your business’ financials at any given moment and shows you if you’re in the red or the black. This financial statement lists your business’ assets, liabilities and equity. These elements together give you your company’s net worth.

Profit and Loss Statement: Your profit and loss statement, or P&L, is your income statement. A P&L summarizes your income and expenses during a period of time — usually by fiscal quarter and year. This is the financial statement you will use to understand how your revenues and costs impact your profitability.

Cash Flow Statement: Your cash flow statement shows your sources of incoming and outgoing cash over a period of time. Cash flow documents are helpful when assessing performance trends and other aspects of your business that wouldn’t be as evident if you were evaluating your business only on the basis of the balance sheet or P&L.

Ask SCORE: What’s the best way to communicate with my customers?

by Ken Sethney, Kitsap SCORE

You’ve seen people so absorbed with their smartphones that they appear oblivious to what’s going on around them. True, everyone is entitled to a bit of privacy, and perhaps that message or video is really, really important. However, spending too much time in a “heads-down” mode can be off-putting and, sometimes dangerous.

Many entrepreneurs, particularly those who work from home, operate their small businesses much the same way when they rely too heavily on email to communicate with clients. Email is convenient, particularly for work related issues and updates, but numerous studies have come to the same conclusion — customers want to be treated as people, not as return email addresses. 

When you take a technology-centric approach to communication, you’re missing an opportunity to build a relationship with your customers. Don’t you think they would rather do business with someone they know? Wouldn’t you?