Monday, September 14, 2015

Ask Debbie DeChambeau: Q & A with Maryland Women Business Center’s Frederick County Business Counselor

What is the Maryland Women’s Business Center?
The Maryland Women’s Business Center (MWBC) helps women and men start and grow successful women-owned enterprises positioned for long-term growth through training, resources, access to funding, and individual assistance.

One of our special initiatives is the StartRight! Business Plan Competition, which is an annual program where cash awards are provided.  The biggest bonus of the competition is the feedback that participants can receive on their business plan from the experienced judges that review them.

What are some of the training programs provided?
Our core programs include the ABCs of Starting a Business and Writing a Successful Business Plan.  In these programs we provide a thorough overview of what individuals need to consider when venturing into entrepreneurship, and a roadmap for creating their business plan.

During the ABCs of Starting a Business program, we try to have a business attorney available to discuss the different entity structures, and to answer questions on the next steps for establishing the business. Each month, we offer a variety of other topics including marketing, bookkeeping, funding, and government contracting.

Do you offer counseling?
MWBC offers both individual and group counseling.  The one-hour, individual sessions are free for participants.  We generally start with a review of the business plan to use as a guide for further discussions.  Depending on the business owner’s needs, we can provide guidance on a broad range of topics, and refer to our partners when needed.

Our group counseling program is held once a month, and is designed to be a business roundtable format for up to five participants to discuss their business challenges and receive valuable feedback. This two-hour, group session is free for participants.

What types of resources do you have available?
Our website is our best resource.  You’ll find a listing of our programs, recommended readings, and links to different resources in the region.  You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for real-time updates. Our business start-up-guide not only provides a step-by-step guide to getting a business started, it also provides links to the different organizations and resources needed.

Every quarter we offer a Certifications Workshop, which is one of our premier programs.  We feature the local, state, and federal certifications available to small, minority, and women-owned businesses, and have speakers from each of the programs providing specific details on how to get started.

How do you differ from SBDC and SCORE?
In many ways, we offer similar services, however, our focus is on women-owned businesses.  We are able to address the unique issues women face in business, which include family issues and funding obstacles in an environment that is comfortable, supportive, and non-threatening.

To make an appointment for free counseling, please contact Business Counselor Debbie DeChambeau in Frederick County via email at or phone 301-315-8091.