Not every entrepreneur with a good idea will become a small business success. 

About half of all small businesses fail the first year in business, according to the Small Business Administration. But with greater Cincinnati SCORE business mentors who have your back, your chance of success increases.

Jim Stahly of West Chester, outgoing Cincinnati SCORE chair, is focusing on continuing to build mentoring relationships with greater Cincinnati incubator and accelerator organizations to help grow their entrepreneurs’ business acumen.

“Many people already know SCORE does one-on-one and team mentoring for startup and in-business entrepreneurs,” said Stahly. “But we make a greater impact faster by working with entrepreneurship development programs that have several people going through the program at one time. The organization provides the curriculum and SCORE provides the mentoring component. We have the capacity to provide the right number of mentors needed, and we’re consistent in our mentoring methodology and quality. We offer a turnkey solution for an entire mentoring program.” 

SCORE’s approximately 100 volunteers, who are working and retired executives, provide no-cost business mentoring and low-cost small business workshops and seminars for entrepreneurs who are high on passion, but need the practical business guidance and support that only seasoned business owners and executives can provide.

SCORE currently provides mentoring and training for organizations within the region including Bad Girl Ventures, which focuses on developing women-owned businesses; MORTAR, which works with inner-city, often economically-disadvantaged entrepreneurs; Findlay Kitchen, a commercial kitchen incubator for entrepreneurs developing food service concepts; ArtWorks, which supports artistic-oriented businesses; Fly Wheel, which helps entrepreneurs build sustainable social enterprises; First Batch, a business accelerator dedicated to making physical products and manufacturing; and the UC Center for Entrepreneurship and Commercialization.

Stahly, like the majority of SCORE mentors, had a successful corporate career and now wants to share his expertise with entrepreneurs who need help learning how to run a sustainable business. SCORE mentors provide free finance, operations and marketing counseling to entrepreneurs, generously sharing their business and relationship contacts with entrepreneurs when it’s helpful and appropriate.

“Our SCORE mantra for working with entrepreneurs is to suspend judgment; listen and learn; and encourage small business owners,” said Stahly. “We aim to identify and remove their barriers to success.” 

Stahly’s professional profile is not unlike many of SCORE’s volunteer mentors. He worked for 35 years in healthcare distribution, the last 20 years as a president, chief operations officer, or senior vice president with full operational and profit-and-loss responsibility. Companies or divisions he was responsible for ranged in size from startups to more than $2.5 billion in annual revenue. He left corporate America in 2005, but still works as an industry consultant and SCORE volunteer.

Stahly said SCORE is always looking for more mentors, especially women and minorities in order to reflect the composition of SCORE’s clients. “One good thing about being a mentor is that we don’t have to do the actual work,” he said. “We help entrepreneurs set priorities and help them become accountable.”

Greater Cincinnati SCORE offers services or has offices at the Towers of Kenwood in Montgomery; the Huntington Bank building in downtown Cincinnati; the West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance; the Sharonville Chamber of Commerce; and the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. 

For information about SCORE seminars, downloadable briefs, counseling or volunteering, call (513) 684-2812 or visit