AUBURN — Craig Bailey was a corporate software project manager in 2001 and thinking very hard about striking out on his own.

So he jumped at the chance get some advice from a team at SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives.

“The feedback I got, you could tell they were retired executives,” Bailey said. “I used words I used every day in the office. I pitched my thing to this group, and they were like, ‘What are you talking about? You can’t use words like that.'”

Most of the volunteers who’d signed up to help guide Bailey had stepped down from their high-powered positions early in the dot-com boom and they weren’t familiar with the stresses and rewards the internet economy offered.

Still, they had good advice and business instincts that Bailey would rely upon as he established himself over the next 15 years.

“I didn’t argue with them,” he said. “I kept moving along and used the feedback I needed.”

Today, Bailey brings his own expertise as a project manager and entrepreneur meeting with the biz-curious in Central Maine. He, and his fellow mentors, are up to date and know what it takes to make it today.

It’s a new SCORE in 2016, he said.

“SCORE has changed,” Bailey said. “I’m not retired. I’m still in business and many of my peers in SCORE are progressive, not retired and still in business. They are more up to date, which is great.”

Colleagues may focus on finance or legal issues. Bailey brings a general sense of business, marketing and project management to the people he counsels.

“I won’t say that I’m an expert, but I have seen a lot,” Bailey said. “I can really help people on a broad spectrum of business matters.”

Bailey is one of the 40 or so volunteers who offer their business expertise free of charge to people who sign up with SCORE Portland, the Central Maine branch of the business advisory group. Although based in Portland, the group sends mentors up to Brunswick and Auburn to coach and advise start-ups and entrepreneurs. Bailey said he regularly meets with small-business owners in Portland and out of the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments offices at 125 Manley Road in Auburn.

Success, especially when it comes to going into business, is a mental game, he said. He recommends his clients develop a plan and stick to it.

“The biggest issue most people have starting their own business is not the product of the service they want to offer,” Bailey said. “It’s their own fear of making the move.”

The help they get depends on what they need. Some clients come in for advice one time, then move on. He meets with others multiple times to offer guidance and coaching.

“I won’t know the answer to all the questions, but I have a network of SCORE mentors behind me that if I don’t know, I’ll let you know,” he said. “So far, if I don’t know, I can get you an answer in 24 hours or less.”

His career experience, guiding software development projects, comes in handy. He’s used to advising big companies on what to do.

“If I’m a company and I’m going to take that hill or launch this product, I need these four or five departments or people to be engaged, collaborating and agree with each other,” Bailey said. “I need an unbiased party to lead that group down the path.”

That’s what he does.

“I can help them get there in a way that’s meaningful, and accomplishes the objectives they are all interested in achieving,” he said.

It’s the same kind of advice he brings to his SCORE clients, on a smaller scale.

“Even the smallest dog can look like a big dog on the internet,” he said. “You need to be up to date and relevant because of how technology is moving so fast. When it comes to social media, if you are not on top of that, you are going get run over.”

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