When John Sheehan was starting out as a business owner of his software and data processing company, he did not have a mentor to guide him in financing and other aspects of running a business.
“I could have used one,” said Sheehan, of Newtown. “I thought I knew everything. I launched the company. When you’re alone, you’re the chief. You’re everything all at once.”
Entrepreneurs still wear many (and sometimes all) hats. But, unlike when Sheehan was venturing out several decades ago, small business owners in Bucks County have had him to turn to for mentoring support, especially as it relates to startup businesses, constructing a business plan, initial public offering (IPO) preparation, acquisitions/mergers and exit strategies.
Sheehan, one of the longest-standing SCORE Bucks County mentors, has served the chapter for more than 20 years. In that time, he estimates that he has mentored between 1,000 and 1,200 clients.
“I love business. I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole life,” he said. “People when they want to get started with a business, don’t know the business of doing business.”
That’s where Sheehan comes in. The former president and CEO of Princeton, New Jersey-based National Computer Analysts, Sheehan led the company merger with Mtech Corporation, serving as president of Mtech Northeast until its acquisition by Electronic Data Systems. Although he does not like to use the word “retired,” he did just that at age 55. Afterward, he and his wife spent the next two or three years traveling to Europe and South America and purchasing a winter home in Boca Raton, Florida.
In January 2003, Sheehan officially joined SCORE Bucks County as a mentor. He brings a keen ear for listening, coupled with vast real-world experience to his clients’ mentoring sessions.
“This is my job. It’s what I do. It’s my way of giving back,” Sheehan said. “I like the challenge of meeting someone with stars in their eyes and they want to do the business. I say, ‘I’m going to advise you and tell you how to do it.’ I never discourage them. I encourage them very much. If they don’t want to proceed any further, they’ll be the ones to decide.”
Sheehan has guided countless entrepreneurs over the years, including two former New York Yankees players.
“They wanted to start a batting cage operation,” Sheehan recalled. “They knew everything about baseball, but not enough about business.”
After Sheehan helped them with a business plan, the venture took off and became successful.
Like other SCORE mentors, Sheehan provides mentoring for as long as his clients seek it, for the life of their business. But, even after the mentoring concludes, he still makes himself available.
“I will check back in six months or a year to see how they’re doing,” he said. “I take an interest in what they’re doing.”
Learn more about Sheenan’s long and influential career at SCORE Bucks County.