There are champions among us –champions who have known the highest levels of success in the world of business as well as the painful lessons of failure. They know the frustration of trying to remain relevant in an ever-changing world and now have the wisdom that comes from those valuable experiences.

They belong to a group who focuses on “paying it forward” by teaching the next generation of business owners how to find success. The name of that group is SCORE, a nonprofit organization funded by the Small Business Administration (SBA).  There are 11,000 SCORE mentors across the country who volunteer their time as mentors.

One of the champions at the Austin SCORE chapter is Celia Bell, the former COO of BusinesSuites. As part equity owner of BusinesSuites, Celia grew the company from one to five centers in Austin before expanding to Houston, Dallas, Baltimore and Las Vegas.

In the process, she learned the nuances of the real estate industry and developed relationships with respected business leaders. This experience, combined with the impressive marketing and social media skills she developed along the way, evolved into a treasure trove of wisdom.

Celia retired 12 years ago and almost immediately began her second career as a SCORE mentor. In the last two years she helped 41 entrepreneurs turn their dreams of starting a business into reality.

Donna Balser, Owner of College Nannies + Tutors says this about her mentor: “Celia has been my SCORE mentor for 9 years and has helped me at all stages of my business growth, from inception to the expansion into 4 offices. Her wisdom, experience, and selflessness are truly an inspiration.”

What’s even more inspiring is that Celia doesn’t let anything—not even cancer—get in the way of her mission to help small businesses succeed. Diagnosed 6 months ago with lymphoma, Celia continues to work with 4-6 existing clients and 2-4 new clients per week. Her areas of expertise include marketing, social media, strategic planning and real estate. This is quite a schedule for a volunteer. She is, indeed, one tough cookie!

Celia’s favorite quote is by Artistotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit.”

A perfect example of Celia’s “habit of excellence” is a program that she helped develop over 4 years ago. She worked with Google and some of the best and brightest marketing experts from around the country to build a high-quality, full-day event called LocalU that teaches local business owners how to master the complicated art of local marketing.

The next LocalU in Austin is Monday, October, 24th, 2016 from 8:00am-4:15pm at The Blanton Museum of Art. All proceeds after expenses will be used to create a Small Business Scholarship in honor of Celia Bell. Learn more and register at 

One Tough Cookie: Austin SCORE volunteer is champion for small businesses