SCORE Bucks County will host three Running a Business workshops for entrepreneurs this spring
By Samantha Bambino
Joe Lutes understands the stress and constant self-doubt associated with starting a business. He’s been there, and gets how easy it is for new owners to lose that bright-eyed, bushy-tailed sense of excitement. He knows that for the first few years, it gets worse before it gets better. But with a solid game plan, it almost always gets better.
Over the next few weeks, Lutes, along with a slew of other experienced SCORE Bucks County mentors, will host three “Running a Business” workshops, which will be held on April 7 at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown; on April 14 at Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library in Bristol; and on April 25 at Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce in Quakertown.
In the past, SCORE Bucks County has hosted a number of “Start Your Business” workshops. While these are helpful in assisting aspiring entrepreneurs in those confusing early stages, the work doesn’t end there. According to Lutes, the first one to two years following the launch of a business are critical in determining its long-term success, which is why these workshops are geared toward owners in that vital stage.
“It might not hurt somebody past that, but I think they’re going to have their growing pains in the first year or two,” he said. “If the person made it through the first year, something is working.”
During the workshops, Lutes will offer guidance based on his own entrepreneurial experience. In a true “rags to riches” tale, Lutes entered the workforce as a mailroom employee at an investment firm. While taking college classes at night, he diligently worked to expand his knowledge, eventually climbing the ladder to become chief financial officer of Delaware Investments.
Despite his success, Lutes craved a new challenge. He, along with three of his friends, launched an investment company of their own in New York City. Reflecting on the experience, he explained it was by no means easy. Lutes soon found himself having to handle tasks, such as closing out the books, that were previously completed by an assistant. Still, he made it work.
“I understand what startups are like,” he said.
Though Lutes left the business world in 2014 to spend time with his first grandson, he wasn’t ready to put it behind him completely. Three and a half years ago, he joined SCORE Bucks County, a nonprofit business mentoring organization that works to help new entrepreneurs get their projects successfully up and running.
Workshop attendees can expect to hear Lutes share some of his key lessons learned over the years, especially the importance of staying on top of financial management.
“You get so wrapped up in trying to grow the business,” he said. “You say, ‘I’ll close out the books next week.’”
But then “next week” turns into the following one, and before owners realize, it’s the end of the month and they’re unable to tell if they’ve made money or lost it. For Lutes, it’s all about remaining collected and organized in the face of an overwhelming situation. It also helps to be skilled in the realm of time management, which he will go in-depth about at the conclusion of the workshop.
Lutes promises a highly interactive experience for those who feel they could benefit from the workshop. Attendees will have free rein to interject and ask questions throughout his presentation, bring up topics they’re concerned or interested about and share ideas with fellow business owners based on their own struggles and successes. The workshops are limited to approximately 25 people to promote a comfortable space for discussion.
“They get to realize they’re not the only ones with that problem,” he said.
Also present will be SCORE volunteer and mentor Donald Goeltz, an entrepreneur and college professor of entrepreneurship and international business, who will discuss marketing. Several other SCORE mentors will be on hand to offer one-on-one small group discussion and interaction concerning the following topics: recordkeeping, pricing, operations, systems and business planning for both short-term and long-term goals.
Within a 90-minute period, the SCORE mentors will cover a lot of information, and Lutes understands some attendees may have need of extra and more personalized guidance. After the workshop, business owners are invited to schedule a free mentoring session, where they can discuss in-depth their individual goals and concerns. Lutes explained he and the rest of the SCORE mentors work on a purely volunteer basis. There’s no commission, and no hidden agenda. Just a desire to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs. ••
If you go…
SCORE Bucks County’s free “Running a Business” workshops will be held at three Bucks County locations. Attendees may choose the date and location that best suits their needs. Workshops will be held on April 7 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at Delaware Valley University, 700 E. Butler Ave. in Doylestown (Life Science building, room 200); on April 14 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library, 680 Radcliffe St. in Bristol; and on April 25 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce, 21 N. Main St. in Quakertown. For information or to register, visit https://form.jotform.com/80794471111959. For more on SCORE, visit buckscounty.score.org.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org