SCORE counselors get chance to give back

Fast Start business success seminar

It includes:

• How To Start Your Own Business

• How to Write Your Own Business Plan

• How to Choose the Right Business Organization


• How To Plan For Your Business Accounting and Analyze its Performance

• How Reduce Business Risk with Commercial Insurance

Cost: $95

When: From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 16

Where: The Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce at 220 S. Broadway

For more information, call 288-8103

By Jeff Kiger


While they have made plenty of moves since, Brian and Kimberly Alwin say one of their smartest moves was talking to SCORE about their plan to start a moving business.

The Rochester couple had an idea for a new business that focuses on helping seniors move. But how to best go about it?

"It is a pretty scary thing to dive into a new business," said Kimberly Alwin last week as she cut open boxes for one of A Smooth Move’s clients.

Retired Rochester Realtor Bill Witzig, one of about 50 counselors with real business experience in the local SCORE, discussed their business plan with them back in 2006.

The free counseling ranged from financing to what style of corporation would be best to use.

On marketing and sales, Witzig told them to always make personal contact with a potential customer. And the Alwins believe that has paid off.

"Our conversion rate (the percentage of people who ask for prices and then decide to hire A Smooth Move) is 90 percent," says Brian Alwin.

Witzig also told them to make sure they include their photos on all of their printed materials — ads, brochures, business cards.


"That has been huge," Brian says.

Seniors looking for movers feel more comfortable with them over a generic company, because of the friendly faces, Kimberly says.

The Alwins took that "scary dive" and opened their business in August of 2006. Now, less than two years later, the two-person business has expanded to a move team of 14 staffers, a moving van and a full-time executive assistant.

In 2007, the southeastern Minnesota group offered information and advice to more than 250 people, says Ben Cheney, its current president.

"We work with a broad spectrum, from people who think they might like to start a business up to people in business who may want to expand…or people having a little bit of a hiccup in their business and they want help getting it back on track," said Cheney.

Those counselors are people that have been there.

And they all aren’t retired anymore. The national has dropped that restriction, so experienced business people still working can be members if they’d like.

Beside the popular one-on-one counseling, the group offers a series of low-cost business classes each year through Community Education. The spring series will begin soon.


SCORE recommends people interested in starting a business take six "How to" courses on the basic fundamentals like writing a business plan or financing a new business. Usually that means six different days, but SCORE is offering an all-day six-in-one Fast Start seminar on May 16 at the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce.

The cost of the day is $95. Individually, each seminar usually costs $20.

Why do the SCORE members work to help others, when they already put in years building their businesses?

Cheney says sharing their hard-earned experience is all about giving back.

"We’re just trying to help the community the best way we can," he said. "We want to help it grow."

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