Entrepreneurs Get Inspired, Informed At “Mind Your Business”
Shernay Delice | 10/11/2019, 6 a.m.
Karen Orange and her daughter Mia poured over their notes at an open table inside a large auxiliary room in Coppin State University’s Physical Education Complex. They were two of more than 100 entrepreneurs to attend the “Mind Your Business” event hosted by PNC Bank, Times Community Services, Inc, foundation of The Baltimore Times, on October 5, 2019. The unified energy in the room signified everyone’s clear goal: uncover resources to take their businesses to the next level.
Orange has been planning events for churches, nonprofits, and schools—at little charge—for 20 years, but now she is ready to monetize her zeal for affairs.
“It’s all about the fun of seeing an empty space transformed into something beautiful,” Orange said with a smile. “And to see how the customer is just in awe of how it all turned out—that’s why we do it… But it is a cost to us, and it’s time to turn it into a full-profit business that brings in income.”
Last year, her daughter Mia helped her create the business name, Orange Dream Events, and she has been on the hunt for resources to scale the business.
“We learned a lot to today, so we are going to go home and digest it,” Mia Orange said. “It’s good to hear about new opportunities. For instance, I didn’t know about the Opportunity Zones or websites that were mentioned in the panel today.”
She is referring to websites, such as Baltimore SourceLink, a free database that itemizes the resources required to launch and maintain a business in Baltimore. The site includes everything from what permit you need by profession to tips on how to hire employees.
In addition to a panel discussion featuring leaders from various business groups, including the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Development and the Small Business Administration, the “Mind Your Business” event also included six breakout sessions that dove deeper into topics that typically impede business owners, such as financing, social media marketing, accounting, and legal issues.
Michelle Walker, a baker, attended the CPA and social media breakout sessions. “They touched on every question I had, from what I can write off to building websites and seeking assistance from an accountant,” she said.
Walker, along with her mother and sister drove an hour and a half from Delaware to attend the “Mind Your Business” event. “It was well worth it. This was a good place to start learning things I didn’t know, and it turns out, there’s a lot I don’t know,” she said with a laugh. Walker is looking to grow her word-of-mouth cookie side hustle into a brand that ships baked goods nationwide.
Some presenters, such as Everett Sands from Lendistry, were brutally honest about the demands of starting a business. As an underwriter, Sands said he throws out hundreds of business plans a year except the ones that prove the entrepreneurs know how to handle debt, like student loans, and if they have the capacity to repay.