Navigating the ins and outs of starting a business can be a challenging process without guidance along the way. The Frederick County Office of Economic Development (OED) offers several tools to help businesses through that process, and one of them is the Women’s Business Center. Maria McElhenny, Business Counselor and Trainer from the Maryland Women’s Business Center, brings those opportunities to Frederick.
Maria offers one-on-one counseling services as well as a variety of group classes held in the ROOT building at 118 North Market Street. She brings a passion for business and for helping women succeed. McElhenny has an entrepreneurial background, having owned a web design and marketing company for several years. She also started a non-profit dedicated to helping women start and grow their businesses. She has experience in the banking industry and currently owns a small business in downtown Frederick. McElhenny has been able to use that knowledge and experience to guide others through the Women’s Business Center for the past two years.
Counseling services with the Women’s Business Center are free to women who want to start, grow or sell a for-profit business. Individuals can schedule one-on-one sessions with McElhenny or can meet with her through the free group counseling sessions offered. Maria says the biggest thing tackled in these sessions is priority – determining the order of importance for the issues at hand.
The Women’s Business Center also holds small business classes for all stages of running a company. They range from The ABC’s of Starting a Business, to Creating a Successful Business Plan, to topics like Quickbooks, cybersecurity and more. The main areas covered include business clarity, marketing and communications, web design, and search engine optimization for business owners. The Women’s Business Center helps out those who have recently started or are looking to start a company, as well as women who have been in business up to 10 years and feel like they are not where they want to be.
McElhenny’s classes are very interactive and filled with wisdom sharing among the group. The Women’s Business Center instructor says her number one piece of advice to someone starting a company is to focus on business clarity. McElhenny says “It is very competitive out there and it is not good enough to create or have a business and expect that people will buy from you.” She believes the key is in identifying, creating and delivering the particular experience that buyers want.
Check out the Maryland Women’s Business Center’s schedule of classes online at https://marylandwbc.org/events/. You can also stay up-to-date with classes and events throughout Frederick County at http://www.discoverfrederickmd.com/events.