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During Jay McChord’s 10 years in the financial services industry, he noticed that the older executives he worked with had trouble managing and motivating the demographic group he belonged to—Generation X. He recognized that generations not only differ in age, they bring to the workplace a distinct approach to doing their jobs. Jay saw an opportunity to serve as a generational bridge-builder.
When Jay’s employer experienced troubled times and he was laid off, he made the decision to start a business focused on breaking down generational barriers and educating different age groups on each other’s different styles and traits. Jay’s Lexington, KY business, Workplace Buzz, was born in the fall of 2000.
Today, Jay is on a mission to see more Gen Xers benefit from SCORE mentoring. He says, “People in my age group aren’t learning what we need to know in our formal education. Generation Xers need and want to be mentored, but he have a lot of pride and don’t always ask for help. We look for mentors who will teach and share experiences.”
Jay explains that while Generation Xers appear to have a skeptical outlook on work and their loyalty centers around individuals rather than organization and companies, they possess entrepreneurial qualities. Gen Xers are flexible, action-oriented, independent, self-directed, technically competent and comfortable with the constantly changing nature of work today. Jay thinks that with long-term guidance and support from SCORE mentors, more Generation Xers can survive and thrive as small business owners.
What's Great About My Mentor?
Excited by the vision of becoming “the spokesperson for Generation X,” Jay went to SCORE for some marketing advice. He met SCORE Mentor Mark Halleck, a former advertising agency business owner. Part instructor, part advocate—Mark turned out to be an ideal coach for Jay. Meeting with Mark each week, Jay has experienced first-hand how two generations can work effectively together.
Jay continues to meet with Mark each week, and Workplace Buzz continues to grow. Jay tours the country speaking to business people on the mindset of Generation Xers and how understanding the viewpoints, desires and motivations of this age group can affect their bottom line. Last December, at the SCORE District Directors Conference in San Diego, CA, Jay spoke to district directors (DDs) on how to attract and form long-term mentoring relationships with Gen X clients.
How SCORE Helped
“The future of small business relies on Gen X entrepreneurs taking up the torch passed on from a retiring generation of small business owners. Older people want to leave a legacy beyond their bank account and building. SCORE allows these folks to leave a legacy by investing in people,” says Jay.
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It just didn’t make sense, thought Laurie Gadbois. Most experts claimed that the best time for trimming babies’ finger- and toenails is when they are sleeping. But seeing the nails of her two-year-old son, Tor, she thought the delicate job of clipping was difficult enough in the daylight, let alone a dimly lit room. She worried about accidentally cutting Tor in the dark, or waking him and facing the difficult ordeal of completing the clipping, then settling him back down.
Laurie soon found many other mothers had the same concerns. Fitting baby nail clippers with a built-in light seemed like a great idea, yet no such product seemed to exist.
“The answer was simple,” Laurie says. “Why not do it myself?”
Enlisting the creativity of her father, Laurie went through the process of developing the idea into manufacturable product that Laurie named Baby Light and Clip. Along the way, she learned some difficult lessons about the scruples of potential business partners and the intricacies of readying a product for the market.
Although Laurie’s determination and her family’s limited financial resources kept the concept Baby Light and Clip moving forward, she still lacked a business plan that would guide her product when it became reality. A chance conversation at a fast food shop led Laurie to Orange County SCORE and volunteer mentor Jim Anderson.
Four years after being inspired to create Baby Light and Clip, Laurie finally completed the arduous product development process. With the assistance of a Florida-based outsourcing company and a foreign manufacturer, she received a container load of products and began demonstrating the product at various trade shows.
At Anderson’s suggestion, Laurie also marketed the product directly to retailers to maximize profit. A public relations agency also has generated valuable publicity for Baby Light and Clip in parenting magazines and on the Internet.
Within 11 weeks after Laurie launched her marketing campaign, Baby Light and Clip could be found in 114 stores nationwide with the promise of more to come, thanks to the sales expertise of Laurie’s husband.
What's Great About My Mentor?
“I thought about everything we were trying to do, and generated a business plan for Jim to review,” Laurie says. “He helped me feel confident that I was on the right path, but said we had to pay closer attention to the financial aspects.”
Anderson created a spreadsheet that Laurie could use to monitor and analyze her company’s financial position. “I can send him the numbers anytime and make sure I’m still on the right track,” she says. “And he’s always ready to provide guidance and encouragement.”
“Jim makes sure I’ve considered everything, which is so important because there are many unknowns to starting a small business,” Laurie says. “He is a true source of strength.”
How SCORE Helped
While the experience of becoming an entrepreneur has been both exhilarating and sometimes frustrating, Laurie confesses to having only one regret. “I wish I’d known about Jim Anderson and SCORE earlier,” she says. “It would have made things go so much faster. Jim could have helped me focus on the right path rather than sometimes being all over the place.”
As Baby Light and Clip grows in step with son Tor, now six years old, Laurie is counting on SCORE to help keep her company on the right path.
Starting a business or non-profit organization is not a trivial undertaking. The following steps should only be undertaken after you have completed your business plan and obtained sufficient funding.
Starting a business or non-profit organization is not a trivial undertaking. The following steps should only be undertaken after you have completed your business plan and obtained sufficient funding. Help in developing a business plan is available from local SCORE mentors, Online mentors, face-to-face workshops and