Small Business Owners Get a Taste of the Big Time with SCORE
“Is this real life?” I thought as I boarded the plane to Reno to meet my business partner for an all-expense-paid trip to the SCORE Small Business Champion conference. As small business owners at Pip & Grow, we don’t have a company card and we certainly don’t pay for travel out of the company coffers. I was getting a taste of what it feels like to be a “bigtime” businesswoman.
Setting the Scene
This spring, we applied for the American Small Business Championship hosted by SCORE and Sam’s Club. The application included a one-minute video, answering a few questions and getting at least 100 votes online. We received nearly 4,000 votes, and in March, we won! SCORE selected two winners from every state, from then 1000+ applicants. We were honored to be named an American Small Business Champions.
Concrete Advice for Small Business
As champions, SCORE invited us to a training event in Reno. I had no idea what to expect, but most conferences I’ve attended have a smattering of good sessions surrounded by a lot of fluff, not SCORE. This conference was jam packed from morning until night with world-class speakers like Ron Cates, Hal Shelton and Rieva Lesonsky. We learned about marketing, common legal pitfalls, HR considerations, mentorship, social media, media relations, and the list goes on.
The speakers gave concrete and actionable advice on how we can grow our business. It seems that everyone I speak with has an opinion on how to run the business, but very few people offer reasonable advice. We left every session with a list of ideas and actions we could take immediately to improve our business that were also reasonable considering our budget and size. That’s a tall order!
Summer Camp for Entrepreneurs
The speakers were not even the best part… It was heavenly to be surrounded by more than 100 fellow entrepreneurs who were facing similar challenges as Pip & Grow. Most small business owners aren’t in it for the money – especially in the beginning. Being a small business owner is hard, and expensive initially. Most small business owners start their companies because they have a passion for the product or service they’re providing.
The conference was basically summer camp for entrepreneurs. Two days felt like two weeks, and we met friends who we plan on keeping in touch with and cheering on for years to come. Because everyone had a different service or product, there was a wealth of knowledge and experience at the conference.
Businesses to Watch
By far, the biggest highlight of the conference was learning about all of the amazing products and people in attendance. Here is a list of some interesting companies we came across:
- Breezy Quarters – an artisan cosmetics company that handcrafts all of their products from scratch using natural oils. Try their body scrubs!
- CEOMOM – an empowerment platform for women who are mothers and entrepreneurs. We provide empire building assistance, kid friendly meet ups, and opportunities to connect with other moms.
- Cowboy Cricket Farms – a sustainable alternative to animal products such as beef and chicken at a fraction of the environmental cost. Run by a rockstar veteran.
- Dental Lace – Eco-friendly dental floss
- Five Monkeys Inc – Sells art of local artists and artisans.
- The Grindhouse Radio – a multi-media broadcasting platform that utilizes traditional radio, podcasting, internet radio, video and social media to reach a broad fan base around the world.
- Health Care Solutions of Delaware Valley – HCS is a full service health and wellness consulting firm. We work with individuals and companies to help them improve health and decrease healthcare costs.
- K9 Salute – wholesome dog treats with ingredients sourced in the USA and from local veteran-owned farms. A portion of the proceeds go to help service dogs, and veteran and police K-9 dogs. Also run by a rockstar veteran.
- Lifestyle Screen Printing – specializes in custom screen printed shirts, hoodies, and all other apparel.
- The Makers Market and Workshops – DIY workshop with farmhouse feel. It’s like “Paint ‘n Pour” with power tools.
- Noodle Nirvana – Live in Kentucky? Noodle Nirvana is a fast casual, build-your-own noodle bowl shop committed to creating quality, fresh local foods, and to uplifting communities run by a dynamo.
- Ruth’s Mustard – a family owned and operated company that makes mustard from family recipes. YUM.
- The Safari Collective – A shop of fair trade and handmade goods, supporting the hard work and dreams of American artisans by bringing ethically-made home goods, jewelry, clothing and apothecary to the public.
- Sans Skincare – a natural, plant-based skincare brand. Artisan products are handcrafted in small batches for freshness, and use ingredients that harmonize with the protective flora of the skin.
- Sola Wood Flowers beautiful wood flowers that look deceivingly real.
- Taking Tea InStyle – A tea boutique that is passionate about bringing civility and humanity back into society. They use tea as a means to bring individuals together to celebrate and learn from each other.
Pip & Grow was named a winner of the 2018 American Small Business Championship by SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors. The Championship awarded this title to 102 entrepreneurs across the country for their dedication to the success of their small businesses. In addition to being named a Small Business Champion, Pip & Grow was awarded an all-expense-paid trip to a training and networking event, SCORE mentoring and publicity throughout the year, and a chance to win one of three $15,000 grand prizes, made possible with the support of Sam’s Club. To learn more about The American Small Business Championship and to view the complete list of Champions, visit www.championship.score.org.