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Meet Grant Bullock, chairman of the Decatur SCORE chapter

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Hometown:  Byron

Family: Married almost 50 years. We have three sons and four grandchildren. Our oldest son, Chris, lives and works in Decatur as the manager for the Cromwell Radio Group. Our middle son, Paul, lives in Indianapolis and is the VP for an actuarial firm. Jason, our youngest lives in Chicago and is a specialist for Microsoft.

Occupation: Retired as a partner/administrator for a rehab facility in Byron for 30 years.

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, master’s degree from Northern Illinois University and further certification as a senior professional in human resources.

My “I’d rather be …” bumper sticker would read: “I’d rather be a psychologist” because people are so very interesting. I enjoy getting to know a wide variety of people and helping to understand others.

Hobbies/interests:  Golf. I'm also a private pilot. I love to fly

My first job: I began my professional career as a music teacher in Leland, Ill., teaching instrumental and voice to students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Why I do what I do: I became involved with economic development as a member of the Byron Chamber of Commerce. After holding the position as president, I worked with the Ogle County Economic Development Board. It was during that time I found helping others to develop their business was an enjoyable experience. I was able to use my real life work experience (including mistakes) to help guide others. It was also during this time that I had some influential mentors helping me to shape my world of work. Now I am retired and greatly enjoy sharing my knowledge with new and existing businesses.

Personal approaches to challenges:  With challenges that need long-term planning, I will seek the thoughts and opinions of others before making a decision. In my professional life, I always surrounded myself with supervisory staff that had greater knowledge of their area of expertise to help to keep our business on track.

Community involvement: My primary involvement is with the business community. On behalf of SCORE I am involved with both the Decatur and Mount Zion Chambers of Commerce. We belong to the Mount Zion Presbyterian Church and participate in many of the local events.

What is SCORE? SCORE is a national organization that provides free mentoring to new and existing businesses. Our members are a great variety of volunteers who have expertise in most areas of business.

You recently became chairman of the local chapter. What changes have you made?  As SCORE’s new chairman, I have begun to learn more about areas of business that both our mentors and the business community as a whole need more information to help facilitate growth. We are beginning to provide more current information to our mentors at our monthly meetings and we are working on an educational project that will help our local business community identify areas they may develop for their own expansion. I believe continual learning is the necessity for success.

Tell us about your valuable partnership with Millikin University and the Center for Entrepreneurship. Millikin University and the Center for Entrepreneurship have been the ingredient that helps our SCORE chapter succeed. The professors at Millikin are up to date on current business practices locally, nationally and internationally. Their presence and help to students and our mentors allows us to keep knowledgeable about new and differing ways to conduct business. Sharon Alpi, the Center for Entrepreneurship leader, continually works with the community and Millikin to further develop economic feasibility for many community programs and she ties the work of SCORE to these programs.

During the last year, Sharon has helped to implement the Micro Business Network (MBN). This program fosters the learning of young companies by providing workshops and round tables to its members on a monthly basis. The membership is composed of business owners, with a smaller group of these owners deciding on workshops that will benefit the group.

Sharon is currently working on a program that will help business owners to expand what they have to offer A pilot program will be implemented this spring to selected participants.

What is the biggest challenge confronting new business owners? The biggest challenges facing a new owner is time and realizing the many aspects it takes to be successful. Let's say you want to start a business making pies. That means getting up at 4 a.m. to make pies, spending the day selling the pies and ending the day reconciling the books before going to bed at 10 p.m. Are you prepared to work 18 hours a day, seven days per week? At a $24,000 profit you would earn $4 per hour. Is that what you want? You need to consider all this before starting a new business.

What is First Step Fast Track? The First Step Fast Track 12 week program teaches individuals the necessary steps to develop a feasibility plan for their business. At the end of the class a participant can easily determine if it is a go or no go. Many local businesses have started and become more successful from this program. Examples include University Dogs and Decatur Computers.

How can someone get invovled in SCORE as a mentor? SCORE can always use new volunteers. Some may want to become a mentor, others may be helpful in setting up workshops. Simply call us at (217) 424-6296.

How can aspiring business owner take advantage of SCORE's services? Go to www.score.org and enter your zip code where indicated and click submit. A form will appear for you to complete and when done again click submit. This form will then automatically be sent to our local SCORE office for assignment to a mentor.

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