Small businesses can find guidance and hope even in tough economic times through SCORE, a non-profit organization in northwest New Jersey providing mentorship and counseling for small businesses of any kind.

SCORE’s team of 40-plus volunteers include former business personnel from a wide range of industries, including Sid Schwartz, a former small business owner in the manufacturing industry.

“One of the things I enjoyed most when I was in business was mentoring, both sales people and other people in the business to allow them grow,” he said. “SCORE gave me that vehicle to allow me to do that counseling and mentoring.”

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SCORE offers cyber and face-to-face one-on-one counseling, local workshops and seminars for small businesses. They can also help a business plan get off the ground by finding funding and other services, according to Schwartz. Most of their services are completely free, but they do charge small fees for some seminars to cover costs for venues or speakers from organizations outside of SCORE.

“We are signed to confidentialities,” he said. “We are sworn to and sign agreements that we can’t disclose specific mentoring.”

Those who sign up for counseling and state what there needs are will be provided with mentors who can meet their needs and concerns free of charge, according to Schwartz. Other services include seminars dealing with how to start a business, importance of a business plan, and various other topics.

There are four locations for SCORE Chapter 24 in Morris, Sussex and Warren counties. They include the County College of Morris in Randolph and Morristown, the Morris County Chamber of Commerce in Florham Park and Sussex County Community College in Newton. The average volunteer at SCORE spends 25 to 30 hours a month committed to the organization.

“Mentoring and getting businesses off the ground - it’s our reason for being,” he said.

For more information about Chapter 24 of SCORE or to learn how to get involved, please visit To find a chapter near you, please visit