The recession was not on the minds of the small group of people who gathered at the Arundel Center on Saturday afternoon to learn how to start their own business.
One woman wanted to franchise a rotisserie-chicken restaurant in downtown Annapolis. Another woman wanted to sell leather bags. Still others wanted to form companies to help teach people about computers.
It was a sight that gratified the sponsors of the Minority Business Workshop, who are trying to encourage people with ideas to become small-business owners.
FOR THE RECORD - A story in Monday's Anne Arundel County Sun about a minority business workshop conducted this weekend in Annapolis omitted some sponsors.
The workshop also was sponsored by SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), an organization that helps people start small businesses, the Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce and the Anne Arundel County Office of Purchasing.
The Anne Arundel County Sun regrets the errors.
"We want to see small businesses grow in Anne Arundel County," said Matthew Thomas, president of the Black Political Forum, one of the workshop's sponsors. "There is room. There is a lot to be gained. The business climate is going to get better. Even in a recession, this will be accomplished."
The workshop, sponsored by the county Office of Economic Development, was mainly an introduction to the finer points of starting a business, from the differences between a private partnership and a corporation to how to apply for the necessary paperwork without enlisting the help of lawyers.
Allen Carter, a counselor and administrator with Service Corps of Retire Executives (SCORE), an organization that helps people start businesses, told members of the audience to make sure they know the intricacies of starting a corporation before launch.
"If you say you want to go into the computer business, I don't worry," he said. "I know you can do the computer business. It's managing the business where it can all fall apart."
Carter also advised people to form a corporation, instead of relying on a private partnership, where one person can be responsible for the liability of the entire company. "It is difficult for two or more people to have the same desires and same ideas at the same time," he said. "You need to get it all in a contract in writing. Love you today, sue you tomorrow when there is $1 million in the bank."
Carter also said it is not necessary to hire a lawyer for every move. He said law firms can sometimes charge more than $1,000 for filing corporation papers, when all it takes is to fill out a form and send it to the state with $40. "And you don't have to be a Ph.D. to do it."
He said paperwork and dealing with the many bureaucracies may be a pain, but it must be done. He said banks won't give loans if applicants either haven't done their homework or don't know what they are doing.
"Reputable people want to deal with reputable people," he said. "So many people get an idea and tomorrow they're out marketing. They won't last 10 seconds."
And bankers, Carter stressed, are the most important people to a small-business owner. "Cultivate a banker. You've got to make friends with your banker. They are good people once you get to know them. Every time they see someone, that someone asks for money. Very few people go in and say, 'I've got an idea, will you help me?' "Sit down and work them to death. Send them roses. That bank will make or break what you are going to do."