Arecent issue of Fortune magazine ranked Baltimore as the fifth best city in the nation for business. Maryland as well continues to be among those states providing a positive climate for small business development. A large part of this success is due to the many programs offering technical and financial assistance to entrepreneurs.
Directors of these programs welcome anyone needing assistance with business development to use their services. And while they provide one-on-one counseling, they all stress that they are there to assist the clients, not do the work for them. They also agree that entrepreneurship is not for everyone. There are certain characteristics that promote success.
The aspiring entrepreneur must have the drive to keep going when friends and family advise against it. Moreover, the successful business person will have studied his product and identified a market niche for his product or service.
For those who aspire to start their own businesses, or who need technical assistance to aid the growth of an established business, there are many services available in the region. Many are free.
Whatever your entrepreneurial needs or stage of business development, there is a service available to you. Here are some of them:
Baltimore Minority Business
2901 Druid Park Drive Suite 201
The Baltimore Minority Business Development Center is one of the 100 centers funded by the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. By law, it only provides assistance to socially or economically disadvantaged individuals who own or wish to start a business. Located in the Park Circle Business Center, the Baltimore MBDC offers a wide range of business services, from business planning and marketing to financial planning and loan packaging. The agency has no authority to make grants, loans or loan guarantees, but can, when the client is ready, identify sources of financing and assist in the negotiation of financing agreements.
The Baltimore MBDC provides management and technical assistance in four major areas: marketing and advertising, financial services, construction assistance and management services. It has computer access to specialized data bases that businesses can use to identify direct and subcontracting opportunities, as well as to develop marketing, sales and advertising campaigns.
The Baltimore MBDC is operated by Boone, Young & Associates (BYA), a full-service management consulting firm in existence since 1968. A staff of four is headed by executive director Jerry Parker. The MBDC staff tests the applicant's desire to become an entrepreneur. This is done through a psychological analysis, a series of questions posed to see if the client has the nerve to take the risk.
Once this is done, the MBDC will assist the client with research on population analysis and help with identifying a market niche, marketing the product and preparing a business plan.
"The timing is perfect for the creative, innovative and technically competent business," says Mr. Parker.
Small Business Development Center
of Central Maryland
123 W. 24th St.
The Small Business Development Center of Central Maryland (SBDC) is a non-profit partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development (DEED) and other public and private entities. It provides free professional management consulting and low-cost training programs for the small business community.
The SBDC will provide up to 15 hours of free counseling to both aspiring entrepreneurs and small firms experiencing trouble.
In addition to counseling, the SBDC sponsors a wide variety of monthly seminars throughout the state available to anyone wanting to attend. Fees range anywhere from $10 to $200.
The SBDC has been in existence for about three years and serves Baltimore city and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Harford and Howard counties. To arrange an appointment for counseling, or to get a schedule for seminars, call the SBDC at 889-5772.
Small Business Administration
10 N. Calvert St., Third Floor
Robert Nicholls, assistant director for Minority Small Business and Capital Ownership Development (MSB/COD) of the Small Business Administration, says that the SBA has "anything and everything a small business person needs." The services are free.
The SBA was created by Congress in 1953 to help people get into and stay in business. It acts as an advocate for small business by providing programs that offer financial assistance, management counseling and training. Special programs have been developed to assist women, minorities, the handicapped and veteran entrepreneurs.