This quarter we are celebrating a trio of volunteers in our Spotlight! The over-and-above efforts of Charlie Espenlaub, Jerry Francis, and Kent McCune as they reimagine the SCORE “Simple Steps” workshop series is worthy of the recognition. Charlie, who first joined the chapter over 17 years ago after retiring from an international, high-performance plastics company where he served as Managing Director for Asia, was one of the principal developers of the earliest version of the business planning series. When asked to represent Chester County SCORE with colleagues from Lancaster and York Chapters and Kutztown SBDC, Charlie worked with the team to develop the framework and content for a workshop series that would help clients ultimately prepare a business plan they could share with a bank. SCORE National took notice and adopted and refined the series into the business startup program that is still offered today.

Simple Steps for Starting Your Business is National’s series of five courses that include titles, Startup Basics, Business Concept, Marketing Plan, Financial Projections, and Funding Sources and Next Steps. It is expected that attendees complete assignments throughout the course to draft a business plan. New clients were encouraged to participate in the series on their journey to begin a new business.

When Jerry joined the chapter over 15 years ago, he was still working at IBM sales and marketing with an emphasis on channel sales. He came on board helping Charlie present the Simple Steps workshops to potential clients. It was the in-person experience and discussions with the audience that led them on the path to revitalize the program for today’s marketplace.

Kent, having joined SCORE Chester & Delaware Counties seven years ago after a career in project and product management, was required to attend several workshops of the business startup series. He found the information valuable and readily joined the team to review the series content for relevance to our newest clients.

The team of three agreed that five consecutive, two and a half hour workshops plus homework was considered too onerous and not necessary in the post-COVID small business environment. Simplifying the material and encouraging attendees to think through all the components of running a company was most important. As participants progress through some or all the new stand-alone workshops, they are encouraged to request a mentor to help them with the next stage of their business.

Looking forward, the plan is to have in-person sessions in Chester County and Delaware County locations a few times per year. The sessions provide an overview of each concept and use a Q&A format, incorporating the best information from the SCORE and SBA programs and updating with relevant new content to meet client needs.

Audience feedback is used to refine the material. The five new workshops can be attended individually or as a series, and include: Entrepreneurship: Is it for You?, How to Start and Operate a Small Business, The Business Canvas, Marketing Basics for New Entrepreneurs, and Financial Resources for your Start-up. Over the 2022 Summer months, the first in-person sessions have an energy and interaction that results in great dialog between the presenter and attendees alike. Recognizing the diversity of business ideas that are being considered, attendees are strongly encouraged to seek SCORE mentors or Subject Matter Experts to take a deeper dive into the specific needs of their business model.

Kent believes Charlie’s extensive history with the earliest version of the business series was important to their success and compliments Jerry's ability to push the effort forward holding the team accountable to schedule the beta tests to get this new program off the ground.
Keep up the good work gentlemen! With the support of chapter leadership, the team is encouraged to keep going. As in the past, these workshops are useful to new mentors who refer them to their clients.

Meet Charlie Espenlaub, Jerry Francis, and Kent McCune: The Driving Force Behind the Reimagined Business Series Workshops