Berks Schuylkill SCORE Local Resources

Starting a new business is a large undertaking. Fortunately, there are numerous excellent resources online and at your finger tips. Berks Schuylkill SCORE has compiled the following resources that we think will be valuable for anyone running or starting a business.

Small Business Tools and Resources

Take advantage of the many local and national resources, most available to you at no cost. Following is a partial list of resources available through the internet:

Business Manager?

Plan to Take Care of Yourself

Business Manager ranks number seven on the list of the top ten most stressful jobs compiled by CNBC. Taking care of your health with regular checkups plus a sensible diet and exercise program is important for you, your family and your business. Think you are fit? Here is a quick way to check. Numbers are for age 45. You can see complete details from the Mayo Clinic here:

Can you jog 1.5 miles in 12 minutes for men, 14 minutes for women.

Do as many pushups where your chin touches the floor as you can without stopping 16 for men, 14 for women.

Do as many sit-ups with your arms crossed over your chest and your knees bent without stopping. 35 for men and 25 for women.

Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9 for men and women. An on-line BMI calculator is available here:

Blood pressure is another item you should monitor. About half the adults in the US have high blood pressure and 20 % of them are not aware of it. More than 1000 deaths per day included high blood pressure as the primary or a contributing factor.

In 2017 the American Heart Association published new guidelines for blood pressure. All pressures are in mm of Hg. Normal: Less than 120 over 80 (120/80).

Elevated: 120-129/ less than 80.

Stage 1 high blood pressure: 130-139/80-89.

Stage 2 high blood pressure: 140 and above/90 and above.

Hypertension crisis: Higher than 180/120. See a doctor immediately.

It is important for you to know your blood pressure numbers and discuss them with your doctor. It is recommended to monitor your blood pressure regularly between normal checkups with your doctor. Automatic electronic blood pressure cuffs for home use are readily available for less the $100.

Medications can help control blood pressure. In addition, lifestyle changes can address many of the causes of high blood pressure including:

Smoking. If you smoke, get some help and stop.

Overweight. Eat a healthy diet and lose the extra pounds. You can expect a drop of about 1 mm Hg for every 2 pounds you lose.

Lack of physical activity. Develop and follow a plan to exercise at a moderate level for 150 minutes per week or a vigorous level 75 minutes per week. In addition, you should do muscle-strengthening exercises at least twice per week.

Too much salt. Am. Heart Assoc. suggests a maximum of 2300 mg of sodium per day.

Too much alcohol. Some studies have shown 1 or 2 drinks per day are beneficial but more than that is detrimental.

Stress: Mindfulness meditation and relaxation breathing can reduce blood pressure. More information is here:

Isometric hand grip exercise training: Using a spring-loaded hand grip exerciser, squeeze and hold the device at 30 % of your maximum grip for two minutes. Then then switch hands and repeat twice for a total of four minutes for each hand. Do this three days per week.

SCORE, “Mentors to America’s Small Business” is a part of the US Small Business Administration. It is an organization of volunteers who provide free unlimited confidential counseling to existing business owners and entrepreneurs considering a startup. If you would like a confidential review of your situation, you can schedule a meeting at or you may call 610-376-3497 in Reading, 570-205-3985 in Pottsville, 610-327-2673 in Pottstown or 717-397-3092 in Lancaster to speak to a volunteer.

Prepared For A 100 Year Life?

Your Children Should Be.

One of the ongoing challenges of managing a business is to be aware of various trends and the long-term implications they have for your business. One trend that is not very visible is increasing life expectancy. How long are you or your children likely to live? The Social Security Administration has a basic calculator here: This only shows the statistical average life expectancy....

A deeper investigation of the numbers provided in The 100 Year Life by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott shows that since 1840 life expectancy has been increasing three months every year. This means that a child born in the US in 2007 has a 50% chance of living to be 104. If you were born in 1987 you have a 50% chance of reaching 98 to 100 and if born in 1967 you have a 50% chance of reaching 92 to 96.

This has some serious consequences for financing your retirement. Social Security (SS) in the US is a pay as you go plan where the payments into SS made by those working today are paid out tomorrow to those who have already retired. Due to increasing life expectancy, there will be only about three people paying for every person retired in 2025, and by 2050 the ratio will be 2:1.

This path is unsustainable and by 2020 SS benefit payments will exceed the taxes paid in by the those still working and by 2035 the $2.9 trillion SS reserve fund will run out unless significant changes are made. If no changes are made, SS will not disappear. SS could continue to pay out what is being collected, but benefits would have to be reduced 20 or 30 %. With elderly Americans getting, on average, 60% of their retirement income from SS and one-third getting 90%, this kind of cut would be disastrous for many.

One of the most effective changes to SS is for people to work longer. Every additional year of work is one more year of saving and investment growth and one year less of required retirement income.

An example from The 100 Year Life is a person born in 1971 with a life expectancy of 85 years who graduates from college at age 21 and retires after working 44 years at age 65 in 2036.

Assume that SS is still available, and it will provide 10% of his final year’s salary. Further assume that he desires a total pension of only 50% of his final salary and that he does not have a company funded pension plan. This means that he will have to save enough to provide 40% of his final salary for 20 years. If his savings earn 3% more than inflation, he must save 17% of his salary every year, a very difficult if not impossible task for most of us. If he worked until age 70, a 13% savings rate is needed and about 8% if he worked to age 75. If he lived to 100 and retired at 75 the savings rate required would be 20%.

This is a complex topic with many options and possibilities for you and particularly your children, who have a good chance of reaching age 100. I urge you to review this carefully with a professional planner and tax expert to develop a long-term plan that is satisfactory to you and your family.

SCORE, “Mentors to America’s Small Business” is a part of the U.S. Small Business Administration. It is an organization of volunteers who provide free unlimited confidential counseling to business owners and entrepreneurs. They have local members who have broad business experience and are available to help. If you would like a confidential review of your situation, you can schedule a meeting at or you may call 610-376-3497 in Reading, 610-327-2673 in Pottstown or 717-397-3092 in Lancaster to speak to a volunteer.

Want To Be An Entrepreneur? SCORE Can Help!

An Entrepreneur is a person “who organizes, manages and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” Small business is risky. The United States Small Business Administration’s (SBA) records show 20% fail in their first year, 30% fail in two years and 50% fail withing five years. SCORE can help you manage this risk....

SCORE, “Counselors to America’s Small Business” is a part of the SBA with 10,000 volunteers in 300 chapters nationwide that provide confidential, unlimited, free business counseling and mentoring services to entrepreneurs starting or growing a small business. The Berks Schuylkill Chapter in Reading was started in 1965 and has 35 business owners and executives dedicated to helping small business get started and grow. Last year they provided over 400 individual mentoring sessions.

SCORE mentors understand the needs and challenges of managing a business because they have done it themselves. By sharing their “been there, done that” know-how can help you achieve your goals. There is an old saying “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” I am convinced a written business plan is an essential for improved business success. SBA records show that businesses with a written plan grow 30% faster than those that do not have a plan. The following steps will greatly improve your odds for success:

1. Determine your target market and audience and investigate your competition. Your business will not interest everyone. Think through which groups will benefit most from your proposed product and services. A data base like has a huge amount of information that can searched in great detail. All you need is a library card from The Free Library of Philadelphia to gain access.

2. Develop a network of contacts that with people that might help you in your business. The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance can be a big help.

3. Make sure you have the appropriate professional advice. Use the check list BLAIME to make sure you have not overlooked a key area. B is banker, L is lawyer, A is accountant, I is insurance, M is mentor and E is E-commerce. It is essential that you conform to local laws and regulations and keep the required records, particularly for tax purposes.

4. Determine how you will obtain the required capital. Will it be savings, friends and family, other investors, or bank loans.

5. Develop a comprehensive business plan and write it down. There are numerous sites on line to provide templates and guidance including If you need to borrow money or attract investors, a complete plan including financial projections is essential.

If you would like to check on how strong your entrepreneurial ambitions are, here is a link to a short quiz that will give you some insight.

If you would like a confidential review of your situation and some assistance developing a business plan you can schedule a meeting with a local mentor at or you may call SCORE at 610-376-3497 in Reading, 610-327-2673 in Pottstown, or 717-397-3092 in Lancaster to speak with a volunteer. - SCORE The Best Kept Secret Podcast Series - U.S. Small Business Administration,vast amounts of information; detailed information on developing business plans; on-line library, business loans - Internal Revenue Service - Forms, Tax Help - Copyright information - Franchising information and guidance - Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry - Northeast Berks Chamber of Commerce - Greater Berks Development Fund - Entrepreneur's Guide - Starting and Growing a Business in Pennsylvania - PA state forms, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)on business startups - Ben Franklin Technology Partners - Penn State Technical Assistance Program - Business Owners Information Toolkit - Wall Street Journal Center for Entrepreneurs - Incorporation Information - Inc. Magazine Business Information - Commercial site selling legal information;good library for free business information - Templates and samples of business, marketing, and advertising plans - Provides benchmarking to other businesses - Extensive resource starting-up a business - Business plan resources - Listing of business seminars; workshops; books; software - Operational and financial performance data and metrics - Several business plans for personal services, restaurants, distributor, etc. - Samples of business plans, marketing plans, contracts