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Refining the vision

The hula hoop, the disposable pen and chewing gum were all great ideas. Unfortunately, Don Rudy, chief lending officer at Frontier Community Bank, hears a lot of great business ideas that lack a plan. He said he has to turn many people down for loans simply because they weren’t prepared, and he never hears from them again.

That’s why he’s helping Scott Lyon, with the Salt Lake chapter of SCORE, to hold a seminar in Park City on Sept. 17, to teach people what it takes to start a business.

SCORE is a national non-profit group that connects local volunteer business experts with people who have questions about entrepreneurship.

Lyon ran a successful software company for 30 years before selling it two years ago. He remembers what it was like to have questions about important aspects of running a business and having no idea how to get unbiased, helpful information.

"When I started, there was no one to go to to find out what to do to start a business and run it professionally," he said.

Lyon participates in the monthly seminars and counseling sessions held in Salt Lake City. As a Park City resident, he finds it ironic that he often drives to Salt Lake in order to meet with people from Summit and Wasatch counties.

That’s why he’s holding a meeting in Park City. If the seminar is successful, he’d like to organize a SCORE chapter here to do regular seminars and offer the same, free, one-on-one counseling with all local residents.

Frontier Community Bank has lined up expert presenters for the Sept. 17 seminar all of whom live in Park City and understand the marketplace here.

"(The seminar will) educate people that are starting new businesses to become more aware of what it takes to make sure they’re successful," Rudy explained.

The all-day seminar will feature six sessions on vital aspects of running a business: Business Plans 101, choosing the best legal organization for a business, financing, recordkeeping and taxes, insurance and marketing and advertising.

A $49 fee is charged but no one makes any money off the seminar, and none of the presenters are allowed to pitch their own services to participants, Lyon said.

SCORE chapters are often sponsored by banks, the Small Business Administration and other lenders, but organization rules ensure a risk-free environment for participants.

The goal of everything SCORE does is to decrease the intimidation factor people with a business idea experience, Lyon said.

"I made my money in life," Lyon explained. "SCORE is run by people who have already done it."

Counselors like himself get a thrill from sharing the excitement of self-employment, he said. He sees people doing everything from opening restaurants, to photography studios to software companies. As the economy slows, many people start their own business after losing a day job. He also gets referrals from Workers Compensation Fund to help injured people find ways to work from home.

Rudy said people often want to start something as simple as a lawn-care or house-keeping business, but aren’t aware of all the things they need to know before requesting a loan.

SCORE answers questions about choosing the right insurance, filing employment forms, how to know when it’s right to hire a subcontractor and setting up the right legal organization, Lyon said.

"If you just call up Geico and say you need a business loan, you’re going to run into trouble," he said.

He sees a lot of potential in the Park City area, not only for a SCORE chapter with the large number of people working from home, but for new businesses.

"There are some very smart people in Park City who were ski bums for a few years, and now want to start a business," he said jokingly.

There are also many people doing jobs that they don’t need bosses for, but have never been an entrepreneur before, he added.

No business idea is too small to get help from SCORE, he said. About 90 percent don’t need a loan to get started.

The seminars often have less than 10 people at them, allowing ample time for presenters to go over specific questions and concerns from attendees, he said.

Jim Johnston has been involved with the Ogden SCORE for 26 years and said he’s seen numerous success stories. He got involved after managing K-Mart stores in Utah during the 1970s.

The Ogden chapter has Spanish-speaking counselors expanding the number of people they can help by about 15 to 20 percent, he said.

To volunteer to be a counselor or to inquire more about establishing a Park City chapter, email Lyon at scottalyon@gmail.com .

To register for the seminar, contact

Michelle Allen at 801-746-2269 or email mallen@saltlakescore.com .


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