Startups

5 key lessons learned from Impact Hub’s convening of entrepreneurial leaders

The Small Business Mini-Summit acted as a meet-and-greet for small businesses trying to connect with the city’s business development organizations. Here’s some of the panelists’ advice.

Panelists and audience at the Small Business Mini- Summit.

(Courtesy photo, taken by Ben Seigel)

Entrepreneurial support organizations in Baltimore are no longer siloed, and the Small Business Mini-Summit at Impact Hub Baltimore offered an opportunity to see how this coalition of business development orgs came together to help the city’s small businesses.

The partner organizations affiliated with this coalition, called The Baltimore BASE (Business Assistance and Support for Equity) Network, gathered on Friday to let small businesses know what programs it has to offer. The coalition also led workshops at the mini-summit, which featured such presenting entities as Made In Baltimore, Innovation Works, The Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) and the Black Arts District.

A panel on inclusive entrepreneurship led off the convening and featured a representative from each presenting partner organization. These representatives broke down their respective organization’s mission while discussing how collaborating with The Baltimore BASE Network increased their impact on the small business ecosystem. The subsequent Empower Baltimore panel showcased insights from microbusiness owners participating in that six-week program, which GoDaddy sponsors and focuses on web presence and digital reach.

The first of these panels highlighted how The Baltimore BASE Network distributed its first round of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, as well as notified the audience that the second round would arrive in the fall. Each of the participants also left the city’s small business community with a word of advice:

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  • The LEDC’s Javier Rivas advised entrepreneurs in attendance to find mentors and reach out to allies in the community.
  • Andy Cook, founder and executive director of Made in Baltimore, told folks not to be afraid of reaching out when they’re in trouble. Business development orgs like Cook’s can’t help or point you to the right resources to stay afloat if the organizations don’t know a company is having issues.
  • Cyndi Stewart, outreach coordinator for the Black Arts District, offered an adage from her grandmother: “It can be always raining, but if your cup is upside down, it’ll never get full. If it’s sideways, it’ll be half full. But when your cup is in the right position, it’ll always be full and overflowing into another cup.” In other words, you have to be prepared for when opportunity knocks. As entrepreneurs, you have to sometimes get out of your comfort zone to put yourself in the right position to achieve.
  • Jay Nwachu, founder of Innovation Works, wanted to make sure you “take time to work on the business instead of in the business.”
  • Something all four organizations’ staffers cosigned was to make sure your business is in good standing with the state of Maryland. Not being in good standing was one of the major hurdles small businesses encountered while seeking grants. The state’s business entity search lets you check if you’re not in good standing and why. Maryland also offers an explainer on how to remain in good standing, which largely involves properly filing business taxes.

You can check out both the inclusive entrepreneurship and Empower Baltimore panels, as well as other livestreamed portions of the mini-summit, in the video below:

 


Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-
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