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SCORE values that earn client trust
by Sheila Simpson
December 21, 2021
Photo of mentor greeting client

SCORE is a free, nonprofit national organization of trained mentors and expert resources available to those seeking to start a business, grow their business, or deal successfully with challenges within their business. All client interactions are confidential.

As SCORE mentors, the most important reward for us begins upon first meeting a client. In that initial phone call, ZOOM or in-person meeting, we are given the gift of trust by a stranger, or perhaps someone we might know in our community. This person has the courage to share with us his or her ideas, goals, and sometimes business struggles. Clients may not even have shared their precious dream or business concerns with family members or friends; however they carefully place them with us.

Trust is currently lacking on so many levels in our world. Yet SCORE mentors receive, and deeply value, the trust that clients place with us to listen, suggest, and guide them to helpful resources so they can succeed. Sometimes success means the reality of starting their new business, or increased growth of their current business, or resolution of a business problem. Sometimes success means putting a hold on a goal until timing is better to implement it. Sometimes success means the goal may need to change because of personal, financial, local concerns or because a new and better idea emerges. SCORE mentors can assist in traveling that journey with clients.

Our training prioritizes client confidentiality and the acronym SLATE:

S — Stop and Suspend judgment: Our role is not to judge client ideas, appearance, or insert our personal opinions without respect to the client.

L — Listen and Learn: By active listening, we can learn from the client what and who might be most helpful. What real or potential barriers need to be addressed?

A — Assess and Analyze: We can discuss important considerations the client may not have yet thought about, or that we, as a mentor, may not have considered. Perhaps introducing an additional mentor, who has specific experience similar to the client, can be of assistance.

T — Test ideas and Teach with tools: We can offer each client suggestions, weigh the pros and cons of action steps, and extend SCORE resources of webinars and templates at In future meetings, we can mutually decide what further steps can assist the client’s focus to achieve priorities.

E — Expectation setting and Encouraging the dream: We encourage clients to have patience and perseverance while pursuing goals. There is no magic wand to make things happen quickly. Success takes time and well thought out planning, including contingency plans for the unexpected wrinkle that may occur to affect those plans.

The SLATE values can also be carried into our own interpersonal relationships. The challenges of the last two years of COVID-19 have deeply affected our lives and our communities. We could easily fall into a pattern of judging, distrusting, assuming, having unrealistic expectations, and getting frustrated and impatient. Hopefully, though, we have learned new perspectives, new creative pathways of thinking and implementing change instead of tunnel thinking that ‘we always did it this way’.

“Always” is a word that can be replaced with “possible,” “what if ” or “picture this” ... there are so many other words and ways of thinking that can bring us to new horizons, and trusted new relationships.

To those who wish to share their visions as SCORE clients, and to those who wish to share their experience and become a SCORE mentor, you are invited and welcomed to visit We will honor your trust that SCORE can assist to make success happen in whatever form that takes.

About the author
Sheila Simpson
As an effective listener and sounding board for ideas, Sheila Simpson's expertise is in Human Resources, Marketing, Public Relations & Sales and Non-Profit Organizations. She is a SCORE mentor.
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401 E Mitchell St.
Petoskey, MI 49770
(231) 347-4150

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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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