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SCORE Corpus Christi offers free, local small-business advice

Posted at 4:20 PM, Apr 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-25 01:28:33-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Business owners all over the country are hurting during the COVID 19 pandemic.

The ones hit the hardest are small businesses, like local restaurant Atomic Omelette.

Owner Mike VanSyckle said his new location on the Corpus Christi's south side opened the day the pandemic caused local businesses to close.

"No one has gotten to sit inside the dining room yet," said VanSyckle, with a laugh. "Well, except me."

Eight years ago, VanSyckle and his late business partner James Greer, were hoping to open a restaurant. But, they felt they needed some guidance. VanSyckle said he saw an ad in a newspaper about a free webinar from SCORE Corpus Christi.

"They taught me -- they taught us both -- how to write a business plan, and that was the most important thing," he said.

SCORE Corpus Christi is a volunteer-run organization that helps people run a successful small business, and its services are free of cost.

For this reason, VanSyckle knew SCORE was the group to speak to when he wanted to open a new location.

"I went to a continuing education class, with them to figure out how to open up a bigger location," he said. "And all the thought process that went behind it, because I had to rewrite my business plan all over again."

VanSyckle said he wanted to be prepared for every step involved in opening a new location, "cause you have to get your projections in there correctly."

"All your marketing values have to be in there correctly, you know, so you look smart in front of the banks," he said.

Businesses can be resilient if they find a new way to move inventory during a pandemic. Right when grocery stores were selling out of necessary food items, VanSyckle found a way to help the community, and his new business, to stay afloat.

"Seeing how much it cost and how hard it was to get those products, we just decided right away -- we'll do whatever we can to help people out," he said.

He set up a system at his new location to help people bypass grocery-store crowds.

"They can come right here and shop from their car," he said.

Despite having to forego the large grand opening, Atomic Omelette still is open for curbside and to-go orders.

VanSyckle said it is good for business owners to reach out to organizations like SCORE Corpus Christi.

"What they're able to bring us and the knowledge that they have, just made it so easy to do," he said.

SCORE Corpus Christi doesn't just help businesses open, it's also helping them withstand the current crisis in which many find their businesses.

"Now, of course, the focus is, the economic downturn," said SCORE Corpus Christi Chairman Debbie Fernandez. "And adversity back to our small businesses: They're closing, they're losing sales, they've had to lay off employees."

SCORE helps small business owners by partnering them with a "mentor." All mentors are former business owners that choose to help each other succeed, and Fernandez said all information between a mentor and a business owner is confidential.

"They've either been in retail sales; the local refineries -- they've owned their own service-type industries, so they're your neighbors," she said.

SCORE Corpus Christi said it also is looking for volunteers to be mentors. For information on that, click here.

It is currently holding meetinsg via email, phone, and online.

To look for a SCORE Corpus Christi mentor, you can find that here.