Preparing Your eCommerce Strategy for the Holiday Season

This year in particular, many consumers are opting for e-commerce solutions as COVID-19 restrictions continue to cause uncertainty in our everyday lives. Online shopping is anticipated to increase by 35% this holiday season. In fact, Forbes found that online sales this quarter may surpass $182 billion — and may total upwards of nearly $200 billion over the holidays. As we enter what might be the biggest digital holiday season yet, your brand needs to prepare in advance to capitalize on what might become the future of retail shopping during the country’s first stay-at-home holidays. Here are ways you can fortify your e-commerce strategy to increase sales and decrease headaches during the upcoming season. Optimize digital campaigns It’s easy to gain new customers with quick discounts or coupons, but to foster a growing profit margin, you need to establish an ongoing relationship with your customers. Take the initiative to expand your…

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The Importance of Financial Readiness During COVID-19

“Financial readiness” for businesses is more important than ever during COVID-19. As we continue to provide pandemic assistance, we notice that some business owners have been unable to apply for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) or the Paycheck Protection Loan because their financial records and books are not in order. Shelly Gross Wade, the President & CEO of FSC, first a Prince George’s County financial services corporation and now an SBA Funds Administrator, states, “Business owners need to take the time to devise a turnaround plan for sustainability. Re-evaluate their customers’ needs, update their corporate documents, automate their financial records, and by all means maintain a good credit score. How business is done in the future will be dramatically different. After Covid-19, everything must change!” To prepare, here are financial readiness tips for current business owners and anyone considering starting a business: Build a relationship with a reputable…

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Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month-Interview with Nestor Gavidia

From September 15 through October 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month highlights the histories, cultures, and contributions of Americans whose ancestors come from the Spanish-speaking world. In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we interviewed one of Maryland Women’s Business Center’s newest team members, Nestor Gavidia, about his role at MWBC. When did you join Maryland Women’s Business Center (MWBC) and why? I joined the MWBC in September 2020 with a goal of supporting entrepreneurs and businesses, especially in the childcare industry.  I have expertise in CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) B2B sales and marketing in the U.S. and internationally. I have worked with retail chains, distributors/wholesalers, importers/exporters, brokers and e-commerce businesses in the food industry. I conducted market research and product sourcing domestically and internationally, including Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Panama.   My professional goals are aligned with MWBC’s mission to help start, sustain, and grow women-owned enterprises. What is your…

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Mid-Year Business Assessment & SBA Certification Processes

Mid-Year Business Assessment & SBA Certification Processes The year is halfway over! It’s time to think about ways you can reflect, assess and finish the remainder of the year prepared and strong, including a new SBA certification process for small businesses. The certification process for Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) and Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs (EDWOSBs) will begin to change as SBA implements Congress’ changes to the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program (WOSB Federal Contracting Program), as put forth in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Why is this important?  These new regulations make it easier for qualified small businesses to participate in the WOSB Federal Contracting Program by improving your customer experience. At the same time, the SBA is strengthening oversight and maintaining the integrity of the certification process. Once the new WOSB Federal Contracting Program, here are a few regulations that will go into effect: SBA will provide…

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7 Tips for Winning Government Contracts

7 Tips for Winning Government Contracts Businesses that become an approved government contractor can create financial sustainability and potentially recoup losses from COVID-19. We’ve taken inventory of simple mistakes made by many government contractors – and compiled a few solutions. If you are currently contracting or looking to become a government contractor, follow these tips for a successful start! 1. Have a lean and tight corporate structure. Check our “New Business Start-up Guide” before taking the plunge to become a contractor. 2. Don’t put all of your eggs (opportunities) in one basket! Instead, diversify your government contracting portfolio by obtaining contracting opportunities with federal, state, county, and city governments. 3. Leverage your business’ past performance. In order to do this, you need at least 2-3 years of experience that align with the government opportunities you are seeking.  4. Think critically. Know what government agencies purchase; not what you think they…

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How to Start and Grow a Childcare Business in Montgomery County

Establishing Your Childcare Business in Montgomery County You’re no novice to caring for kids. Healthy snacks, educational games and nap time routines — you’ve got them all down. But now you’re ready to take the next step. You want to open a childcare business and the timing finally feels right. Maryland Women’s Business Center (MWBC) supports childcare businesses in the Capital Region (Montgomery County, Frederick County and Prince George’s County) by providing tools, information and business-related classes. In addition, MWBC provides direct support to programs through the Montgomery County Child Care Resources & Referral Center. To help you get started, we sat down with Martha Jimenez, a Business Counselor at Maryland Women’s Business Center, to answer questions on how to open a childcare business in Montgomery County.  What steps should I take to start a childcare business in Montgomery County? You’ll need to connect with Montgomery County Childcare Resource Center…

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What To Look Out For When Trading Internationally

By Nandini Choudhary, REDI Intern You are an American entrepreneur looking to trade internationally. There are many considerations that come into play when deciding upon which countries and markets to enter, including the culture and consumer habits of that nation, the laws and regulations, as well as the currency risk, to name a few. And then there is the big one that can make or break your ability to penetrate the market of the foreign country. Trade barriers. International trade faces the biggest risk on account of trade barriers imposed against imports. Every country, including the United States, has its own specific trade barriers that are put in place to encourage citizens to buy domestic over foreign. This method protects national producers from foreign competition, effectively shielding them from losing too much business. So what exactly are these trade barriers, and how can you identify the forms in which they…

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Four Social Media Secrets to Marketing Success

By Rita Cordero, REDI Intern What’s the first thing you do as soon as you wake up? Most likely you answered check your phone. From the moment we hop out of bed to the time we lay back down, we are constantly refreshing our social media pages and bombarded with an overwhelming amount of information from every angle. Pictures of smiling faces, trendy clothes, and news fill our screens. So how do brands grab our attention? What makes them stand out from the herd of companies trying to get you to buy their products? That’s what I’m here to answer. As a frequent social media user, I have come to learn what works and what doesn’t. Below, I will share four tips and tricks to catch the eye of a millennial or anyone for that matter, and hold their attention for longer than 10 seconds! 1. Have a cause!  As a woman, I’m attracted to brands that go beyond the standards of marketing, and connect to something…

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How to be a Leader Others Want to Follow

By Alison Greenfield, MWBC Intern If you’re an entrepreneur who wants to improve your leadership skills, check out The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner This summer, I am taking a class on leadership. In this course, I learned a concept that caught my attention. My teacher said that when you are in a leadership role (or working in a group), one of the best ways to assure your success is to NOT watch over every group member to make sure every step is done perfectly. He explained that when you do this, people believe it is because you are not confident they can complete the task. When they feel you, their leader, don’t believe in them, they become insecure about their own skills and are less likely to succeed. This made sense in theory, but as I started to reflect on my own history with group work, I…

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Three Tips to Overcome the Fear of Networking

Guest Post by Lori Saitz of The Quiet Girl’s Guide There you are, standing at the doorway of the event, looking around nervously. Should you go in? Run away? Everyone looks like they’re already involved in a conversation, and you don’t want to intrude. Maybe you’ll go call your dentist and schedule a root canal; it’ll be more fun than this! If attending networking events is painful for you, understand that NOT developing connections can be even MORE excruciating.  It’s easy to think (or hope) you can skip in-person events and simply build your business through online relationships. But in reality, you live in a world with other humans. And humans are still wired to connect interpersonally. Which means your business success depends on you managing your fear of networking, going out and having face-to-face conversations as you develop relationships with those other humans. Here are three tips to make…

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