Girish Sud is a retired project management professional with extensive international experience in multi-million dollar projects in the cement and minerals industry. For the past four years he has been the chapter chair and a Certified Business Mentor at SCORE Lehigh Valley.
LVB: For those not familiar with SCORE of the Lehigh Valley, please tell me a little more about what the organization does
Sud: SCORE is the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors who help current and aspiring entrepreneurs, through mentoring, and business educational services. There are over 250 chapters nationwide, operating as a non- profit resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The Lehigh Valley chapter, started in 1965, serves the Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, build, grow and expand a vibrant small business community. Our basic product is individual mentoring delivered by one of our 25 volunteer experts – all at no charge to the client.
In 2020 we worked with over 400 clients, held 2,200 mentoring sessions and 80 workshops on all aspects of starting, operating and even exiting a business.
LVB: Why did you get involved with SCORE?
Sud: I spent my corporate career spanning 43 years in the Lehigh Valley, including extensive worldwide travel for business. Upon retiring, I felt strongly that I had to find a way to share my knowledge and management expertise nearer to home, to help small businesses who do not have the resources of large corporations at their disposal. SCORE was the natural answer.
There is a profound satisfaction in the knowledge that you’ve personally helped others succeed – in knowing that with a little bit of time, encouragement and wisdom you may have changed the course of a life. Being part of an organization that measures its success on our clients’ success, through mentoring, teaching, speaking and participating in community events, is personally enriching.
LVB: What are the areas where you see small businesses and startups needing the most help?
Sud: Entrepreneurs or small business owners often have a concept or idea but find it daunting to implement, don’t know how and where to get started and soon are caught up in a jumble of activities without much progress. Small businesses need help in establishing the viability of their idea, developing market strategies, writing a business plan, making financial projections and ultimately seeking funding. SCORE’s mentors offer a step-by-step plan, a roadmap to success whether starting out anew or managing an existing business.
LVB: Has the pandemic changed the dynamics of what these businesses need?
Sud: Yes. The indefinite and uncertain nature of the pandemic has created its own kind of stress, so it’s more important than ever for every business to reevaluate and redefine itself consistent with the realities of the changing marketplace. History has shown that following catastrophes and downturns there is a business resurgence coupled with incredible feats of creativity and ingenuity.
Understanding what and how customers will seek out, buy and pay for a product is of vital importance. Adjusting and adapting to these new requirements will be the difference between mere survival and successful growth. As an example, every business today must have an online presence to send out clear, brief and accurate messages to consumers. A business today, cannot afford not to be online.
Secondly cash flow is the lifeline – the oxygen of any business – so maintaining a positive cash flow takes away an all too common a stumbling block.
LVB: Heading into 2021, what do you see as the issues with which small businesses will need SCORE’S help?
Sud: The pandemic has not only changed human experiences, outlooks and behaviors but the crisis has brought about shifts in how and what consumers buy. SCORE is now focusing on helping small business owners engage and educate their customers even if it does not hit the bottom line today. Small businesses will need to get to know their customers all over again, overcome loss of revenue and relationships and load up on resources and planning to survive this new low in the future.
SCORE has established a special Resilience Hub to let small business owners connect with a mentor and help them navigate to specific COVID resources, discounts, grants, training materials and guides for industries. We believe that the obstacles being experienced now are an opportunity to grow stronger, more agile and more successful than ever.