Just by walking into her SCORE Chicago mentoring appointment at Warren Newport Public Library (WNPL), Katrina Davis-Salazar took a difficult but important step toward improving the fortunes of her small business.

"I had many concerns about going into mentoring," said Davis-Salazar, a Gurnee resident and painter and muralist. Her mixed-media mural "los espacios creados en la biblioteca" is proudly displayed in the WNPL lobby for all visitors to enjoy.

"I felt that I didn't have a solid enough start on my business plan to be able to discuss it with experienced business mentors," she recalled. "My biggest concern was 'Would there be any common ground between us?'"

Somehow, Paul Rosenstrock, SCORE Chicago's lead mentor, sensed Katrina's reluctance to attend her first mentoring session. "She was looking like 'a no-show' for her 7 p.m. appointment," Rosenstrock, a Highwood resident, recalled. He reached Katrina on her cell phone, assured her "there will be no pressure or judgment about your business, just come on in and let's talk." Within minutes, an anxious but enthusiastic Davis-Salazar appeared in WNPL's Study Room 1.

"Paul and Alan Blitz, my SCORE Chicago co-mentors, immediately put me at ease," Davis-Salazar recalled. "They were warm and very excited about my business and truly want to see me succeed. I have definitely found common ground with them and see how they enjoy helping others by taking on their business challenges."

Mentoring sessions are available at no charge as long as the client needs them. Visit: http://scorechicago.org/request-meeting/

In the short-term, what Davis-Salazar needed was a step-by-step plan to start selling her artwork on a consistent basis and "feel more a part of the art world," she said.

Working with her SCORE Chicago mentors, Davis-Salazar identified five key building blocks to moving her business forward: accountability (to herself and mentors), "a huge motivation for me"; learning business basics; creating a business "to-do" list and execution plan; "sounding board" support with her mentors to "verbalize concerns, ideas and receive immediate feedback"; and all important confidence building.

Building upon that core plan, WNPL has proven to be another vital resource discovered by both Davis-Salazar and Courtney Brobst of Gurnee, who also mentors with the SCORE Chicago team.

According to Jessica Stalker, WNPL Adult Services librarian, comprehensive resources for business owners include a wide range of services: copiers, scanners, free Wi-Fi, and public computers; reserved study rooms for small meetings; databases for creating mailing lists and researching your business competition; and computer classes to brush up your skills.