THE VILLAGES — Something about empowering prospective entrepreneurs, especially Villagers with good business ideas, inspires Ed Walsh and Barry Black.
The devotion of these Villagers to helping fledgling entrepreneurs explains the continuing growth of two local volunteer groups of the Service Corps of Retired Executives, a U.S. Small Business Administration program that provides free small-business counseling services.
Now in his 11th year asa volunteer, Walsh, of the Village of Santiago, coordinates a group of about 20 volunteers as chairman of SCORE’s Lake-Sumter Chapter. Around half of them live in The Villages.
Recruited by Walsh four years ago, Black, of the Village of Bonita, coordinates a group of about 17 volunteers as manager of SCORE’s Ocala/The Villages Branch. All of them live in The Villages.
Each of these Villagers expressed satisfaction about the enrichment they reap from either pointing enthusiastic entrepreneurs in the right direction or simply helping an existing small-business owner solve a problem.
“It’s just fun,” said Walsh, a former IBM senior manufacturing superintendent who recently embarked on his third term as a chapter chairman. “Working with clients motivates me, because they’re talented and motivated. So, it’s fun that way.”
Considerable reward comes from watching these prospective entrepreneurs apply the advice that SCORE volunteers offer, Black said.
“Oh, I do enjoy it,” said Black, a former data communications industry product manager and portfolio strategist. “There’s so many facets to volunteering, as well. There’s the social aspect of meeting and talking with the other counselors. But, more importantly, is meeting with these entrepreneurs that we’re trying to get going, and learning about their challenges. We’re a resource that on entrepreneur can use to bounce their ideas off of, to test their thinking.”
New volunteers are always welcome, Walsh and Black said.
“What we’re looking for is someone with a business background, preferably in management,” Walsh said. “However, not to discourage anyone, we will bring people in to train them.”
David R. Corder is a senior writer with The Villages Daily Sun. He can be reached at 753-1119, ext. 9066, or email@example.com.