Ms. Alicia Boyd, owner of Humble Hearts Catering & Events, exemplifies the resilience and adaptability every small business owner aspires to. When faced with transition, leaving her the sole business owner, Alicia could have let the setback deter her. Instead, she contacted the Maryland Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to help chart a path forward. Alicia's challenge was maintaining a forward momentum for her business, which employs 8 team members, and refining her business strategy. She now focuses on catering events for a more intimate and mid-sized clientele, a niche that perfectly matches the strengths and capabilities of her team.
"I think what SBDC offers is amazing and super supportive for the local small business owner. Greg Bartoo (SBDC consultant) really helped me build upon my strengths and come up with solutions to help me learn how to handle new responsibilities of the business during restructuring. Having access to great advice from business students at Salisbury University was a rewarding experience and greatly contributed to my plans."
The SBDC collaborated with senior business students from Salisbury University's Purdue Business School. This partnership resulted in comprehensive market research and the creation of a strategic marketing plan designed to ensure Alicia's vision came to life.
Heather Lamb, the visionary entrepreneur behind BluZone LLC, has achieved a remarkable success story by overcoming significant hurdles in launching their business with the invaluable assistance of Dr. Candace Pruett from the Maryland Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and a VOLT loan through Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation (AAEDC). When Heather reached out to the SBDC, they faced a series of challenges that threatened to impede the realization of their entrepreneurial dreams. Determined to transform their vision into reality, Heather sought out the expertise and guidance of the SBDC through a referral by Anita Dewling at the AAEDC. The primary issue Heather confronted was the need for funding and permitting assistance, critical components for any successful business launch.
"My unique business was challenged with county permits. I lost 3 months of anticipated [revenue] and feared my business was going to have to close before opening doors. The SBDC offered funding resources, ie VOLT loan and assisted with a realistic business plan. After defeating my county challenges, I was able to open my doors for business. Upon opening doors I was prepared mentally and financially to be successful. At this time, I have been open for less than a month and have a client waiting list and a network of supporters. SBDC support continues after opening doors with offering resources to help me be successful."
Dr. Candace Pruett meticulously reviewed Heather's business plan and worked collaboratively to craft comprehensive cash flow projections. These projections played a pivotal role in successfully acquiring a business loan from VOLT. Additionally, Candace and Anita demonstrated their unparalleled dedication by offering valuable guidance through the complex process of obtaining permits at the county level. Thanks to Candace and Anita's unwavering support and expertise, Heather has triumphed over the challenges an successfully launched her business in Annapolis.
Following the second Main Street flood in 2018, owner Jason Barnes faced business and life decisions after losing his entire store for the second time within two years. Jason had earned great success by building a successful store using his knowledge of the toy industry and its customers and timely SBDC assistance. SBDC business consultants were able to assist him with Locating a new store location, lease negotiation, merchandising schemes, and more. All Time Toys has quickly established itself as an essential retail factor in its new community location, with sales increasing online and in-store each month.
"The greatest gift that the Maryland SBDC has given me is a true passion for business which now outweighs my love of toys, games & collectible. This love of business has truly driven me after multiple disasters, and I am consoled knowing that the SBDC will always be there to help with recovery and growth moving forward. I have talked about that fateful day in August 2016 when I first started working with the SBDC. But that's not the one day that stands out most in my mind.
The one most memorable day came the morning after the devastating May 2018 flood, my store Manager and I were going to pick up our new ID's for access to survey what was left of our business on Main Street. When we pulled up, we saw two familiar faces. Both Garrett and Craig were standing there, and I knew from this point on they were in it with us for the long haul — and so they have been. To say my business wouldn't be standing today without the Maryland SBDC is an understatement. With their help I am no longer just surviving disaster. I am looking to a brighter future where long-term success is possible."
Guided by the expert advice of Maryland SBDC consultants Craig Panos and Garrett Glover, Barnes was able to rebuild and recover, utilizing his knowledge of the toy industry and its customers. All Time Toys' owner secured a new storefront, negotiated a new lease, and more. The store reopened in 2018 and quickly established itself as a key retailer in its new community location in Eldersburg, MD. All Time Toys has quickly established itself as an essential retail factor in its new community location, with sales increasing online and in-store each month.
In 2019, Jason Barnes was honored by Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, when All Time Toys was named "Senate Small Business of the Week". Barnes has been vocal about his appreciation for the Maryland SBDC and its work, stating that "the SBDC did more than just help me find financing and put things back together to recover. They taught me how to analyze and improve every aspect of my business so that I didn't just survive but, more importantly, I could thrive moving forward."Barnes' business continues to persevere in the face of adversity; despite state-mandated closures, All Time Toys' sales remain strong, with March 2020 figures exceeding the previous year's, thanks to a newly optimized eCommerce site. Through disaster assistance grants and Small Business Administration COVID-19 relief funds, the business could retain all its employees and reopen to the public.