Small Biz Bulletin, Governor's Office of Small Minority & Women Business Affairs

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Small Biz Bulletin

July 1, 2020

Special Secretary Jimmy Rhee

Message from Special Secretary Rhee

Rethink Your Competitive Analysis

As you continue to rethink your current business model, now is the right time to conduct a competitive analysis that aligns with the current paradigm. Having an insightful understanding of the other players in your market puts you at a distinct advantage. Begin with the most important question all entrepreneurs must ask: Why should a customer buy from you? The answer is likely different today than it was six months ago. As you perform your competitive analysis, determine how you are responding to the pandemic. Are you doing things that differentiate you from the competition?  Are you addressing and meeting emerging customer needs? Are there things you can do to make your products and services more accessible? Then think about your competitors. How are they responding to the pandemic? What strengths do they have that you currently lack? How are they acquiring new customers? You must be able to critically evaluate who is winning and who is losing as it is imperative information, without which your chances of success decrease significantly. Information is readily accessible in today's world. Use search engines, industry resources, and websites to learn all your can about your competition. Determine who else is addressing the same pain point you are, who else is targeting your audience, and who else is promising the same value proposition as you. This will allow you to develop a thoughtful and strategic business plan with one goal in mind - to beat the competition. 

Jimmy Rhee
Special Secretary

For Your Business


New COVID-19 Funding Allocated to Small Businesses

Yesterday Governor Hogan announced additional funding for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Two programs will receive a total of $50 million of federal funding from the CARES Act. The bulk of the funds, $45 million, will be allocated to expand the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund. This program, which awards grants of up to $10,000 to businesses of 50 or fewer employees, has provided more than $40 million in funds to 4,073 applicants. The additional funding will become available on July 20th and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis based on the applications already received by the Maryland Department of Commerce. No new applications will be accepted. An additional $5 million will be allocated to the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (MSBDFA) to provide financing to businesses owned by economically and socially disadvantaged entrepreneurs. Funding awarded by MSBDFA must be used for working capital, supplies and materials, machinery and equipment acquisition, land acquisition, or real estate improvements. Use the link provided to learn more about MSBDFA.

Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (MSBDFA)


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2020 Business Filings Due 7/15

Annual Reports and/or Personal Property Tax Returns for 2020 must be filed for all domestic and foreign business entities with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) by Wednesday, July 15. The original deadline was extended by Governor Larry Hogan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. SDAT will not be granting any further deadline extensions for annual business filings this year. Entities that fail to meet this deadline will forfeit their "good standing" status. In order to maintain good standing status, all business entities formed, qualified or registered to do business in Maryland must file an Annual Report every year. If your business owns, leases, or uses personal property in Maryland and/or maintains a trader’s license with a local unit of government in Maryland, you must also file a Personal Property Tax Return. The quickest and easiest way to submit these filings is online. Use the link below to access SDAT’s award-winning web page - Maryland Business Express. 

Maryland Business Express

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VSBE Program

Veteran business owners are invited and encouraged to participate in Maryland's Veteran-Owned Small Business Enterprise (VSBE) Program. It provides contracting opportunities on state-funded procurements for certified veteran-owned small businesses. The business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more veterans, and must meet the size standards established by the US Small Business Administration. There is no cost to participate. Certification in the VSBE Program is a 3-step process which takes place through the state's vendor registration tool, eMaryland Marketplace Advantage. Use the link below to learn more about the program and the details on completing the certification process.

VSBE Program

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Benefits of Writing by Hand

Can you imagine getting your job done without technology? Computers have changed the way we do just about everything, including participating in meetings, training programs, and networking events. In the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, as you sit in front of your computer, be sure to have pen and paper at the ready. Taking notes by hand offers some brain-friendly advantages. It connects you to the words and allows your brain to focus on them, understand them, and learn from them. Check out this great article with nine benefits of writing by hand.

9 Incredible Ways Writing by Hand Benefits Our Bodies and Brains

Nichelle Johnson

Open for Business and Working from Home

Introducing Nichelle Johnson

I am a wife, mother of three, an entrepreneur, an avid volunteer, and I love the work I do. While Maryland progresses through the Governor’s Roadmap to Recovery, I have the pleasure of helping ensure diversity and inclusion remain in state procurement. As the MBE Compliance Manager for the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs, I am in the unique position of working with internal program liaisons dedicated to the utilization of minority, women, and veteran businesses.The switch to telework at the onset of the Coronavirus Pandemic meant that both the liaisons and I had to figure out how to successfully carry on our mission from our kitchen counters, dining room tables, or basements. I am sure many entrepreneurs experienced the same challenges. As our economy recovers, it is important that all businesses can compete for state procurements on a level playing field. Although we have transitioned to teleworking at home, we have worked collaboratively to make sure that minority, women, and veteran businesses do not lose more ground than they already have due to the Pandemic. We have continued to make ourselves available to business owners for advocacy, advice, resources, and to listen and answer any questions about state procurement. I encourage business owners to reach out to agency liaisons and to our office because we are here and willing to help. The road to recovery may appear difficult, but I believe it can be made easier if we all DO WHAT WE CAN!


Mark Your Calendar

In this new environment of social distancing, everyone is adapting. Today's seminars are webinars, Zoom meetings, Facebook Live events, Google Meets, and more. If you have a smart phone or a computer, you have what you need to tap into these valuable training and information sessions. Capacity can fill quickly, so sign up early when required to do so.

07/02/2020 - How to Protect and Grow the Value of Your Business During a Pandemic
07/07/2020 - MBE Application Assistance Workshop
07/09/2020 - Productize - Steps for Turning Your Service Into a Product
07/14/2020 - Introduction to Entrepreneurship
07/16/2020 - Connect with Customers and Manage Your Business Remotely
07/21/2020 - Prepare to Persevere - The Future of Technology & Business
07/21/2020 - Women's Leadership Conference

Check out our full listing of small business events
online at

COVID-19 Business Resources