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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What do I need to do to start a business?
A. Starting a business can be deceptively simple. Many businesses can be started without a charter from the government, a license, or a tax ID number. However, the riskiness of starting any business and legal & financial liability concerns make it wise to take a more sophisticated approach to starting a business. In roughly chronological order, the basic steps to starting most businesses are:

  • Determine appropriate corporate format
  • Charter company/register tradename with Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation
  • Research and pursue licensing requirements from Maryland Business License Information System and the Clerk of the Circuit Court (301-600-1961)
  • Obtain an Employer Indentification Number from the Internal Revenue Service and, if necessary, establish sales & use tax and employer tax accounts with the Maryland Comptroller's Office
  • Select a location, confirm appropriate zoning, and research required permits for the site
  • Develop a solid business plan
  • Obtain funding
  • Establish a business checking account
  • Begin hiring, if necessary, and pre-opening marketing

Click here to find weblinks to many of the agencies listed here. The Small Business Development Center's SmartStart-Introduction to Starting Your Own Business seminar presents all of these topics, and more, into one information-packed session. Click here to see a schedule of upcoming seminars. Remember that it far easier to get into business than it is to stay in business. Proper pre-start research and a well-thought, well-researched business plan are crucial to early and long-term success. [Back to top]

Answered by: Small Business Development Center, 301-600-1967

Q. How can I get a grant to start my business?
A. The quick answer is probably "you can't." Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about free money from the government for businesses. In most cases, these suspected grants do not exist. (Read more about the faliacy of grants here.) In other cases, grants are made to non-profit organizations and government agencies such as those in the Frederck Entrepreneur Support Network to finance their efforts to support small business.

On the rare occasion when grants do exist directly for businesses, they are primarily available to existing companies who are developing novel technologies, especially those technologies that stand to benefit government agencies (Click here to learn about SBIR funding and funding from TEDCO). Funding is also avaiable to certain qualifying companies for reimbursement of employee training (Click here to learn more about Maryland Business Works and Partnership for Workforce Quality). [Back to top]

Answered by: Small Business Development Center, 301-600-1967

Q. What kind of license does my business need?
A. The answer depends on the type business you own. There is no single generic one-size-fits-all business license for businesses in Frederick County. Different business activities require different licenses. Many service businesses require no licenses at all. Nearly all business licenses that are required are issued by either the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation or the Clerk of the Circuit court. You should be able to identify any licensing requirements that will apply to you by visiting the Business License Information System website and by contacting the Frederick County Clerk of the Circuit Court at 301-600-1961. Be sure to check both sources.

Answered by: SCORE

Q. How can I get a government loan for my company?
A. In many cases, the easiest, most appropriate, and most affordable loans come not from government agencies but from traditional banks. The Frederick County Small Business Development Center can help you assess the options available to you.

Loans are available to Frederick County businesses from a number of government agencies. While the terms of the loans are often less attractive than those available from banks and other traditional lenders, these government loans can be extremely helpful for businesses who do not qualify for the funding they need from private-sector lenders. In Frederick County, government loans are available from the Frederick County Small Business Loan Fund, the Maryland Department of Econonomic Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Maryland Department of Disabilities, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO).

Ironically, the most common government-affiliated loan program is not a government loan at all. The SBA Guaranteed Loan program enables small businesses to obtain loans from SBA-affiliated lenders in circumstances that would otherwise be too risky for the lenders. Click here to learn more about the SBA 7(a) and 504 loan programs.

Loan programs are continuously being introduced and revised. Contact the Small Business Development Center to learn about programs that might be appropriate for your business. [Back to top]

Answered by: Small Business Development Center, 301-600-1967

Q. What kinds of awards are available for Frederick County businesses?
A. A number of local organizations recognized worthy local businesses for their many accomplishments. Awards include Entrepreneur of the Year (Entrepreneur Council of Frederick County), Family Friendly Business Award (& Frederick County Office of Economic Development), SUMMIT Awards, XXXX awards, and xxxxx awards (Frederick County Chamber of Commerce). In most cases, anyone (including the business itself) can nominate a business. [Back to top]

Answered by: Entrepreneur Council of Frederick County

Q. Where can I meet with my peers to discuss ideas and concerns about my business?
A. Business roundtables are presented by a number of organization in the Frederick area. The Entrepreneur Council of Frederick County's Executive Roundtable features a monthly meeting of owners and CEOs of large local companies. The Frederick County Chamber of Commerce hosts the The Small Business Connections roundtable for owners and managers of small businesses. The Frederick County Office of Economic Development helps facilitate the Frederick County Manufacturer's Round Table. Other organizations, such as the Technology Council of Maryland, Frederick County Builders Association, the Women's Business Network, and xxxx present networking events where you can interact with colleagues in your industry in a less formal setting. For one-on-one mentoring opportunities, The Frederick Entrepreneur Support Network, itself, hopes to soon introduce a business mentor matching service. [Back to top]

Answered by: Entrepreneur Council of Frederick County

Q. How can I get access to angel investors?
A. Since angel investors are usually individualistic in nature and have numerous pursuits in addition to their investing activities, they are often difficult to find. Often, the best (and only) approach is good old-fashioned networking. Join business and industry associations and be sure to attend their networking events. Get to know the players in the local industry and, when the time comes, ask them if they suggest a potential angel investor for you. The Entrepreneur Council of Frederick County also hosts periodic venture forums where business owners can pitch their investment opportunities to an audience of venture capitalists, angel investors, and traditional lenders. [Back to top]

Answered by: Entrepreneur Council of Frederick County

Q. What funding programs does Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development (DBED) have to assist emerging technology and life sciences industries?
A. DBED has two programs through the Maryland Venture Fund. The Challenge Investment Program and the Enterprise Investment Program make direct investments in technology and life science companies and indirect investments in venture capital funds. The Challenge Investment Program is for start-up companies with patented or proprietary technology that are seeking funding to cover initial costs associated with bringing the product to market. The amount of investment is $50,000 to $150,000 with a minimum of 1:1 co-investment match. The Enterprise Investment Fund provides direct equity investment into emerging technology companies seeking their first round of institutional funding. The amount of the investment ranges from $150,000 to $500,000 with a required 3:1 co-investor match by a sophisticated investment firm. For more information and eligibility requirements on these various programs, please visit www.choosemaryland.org

Answered by: The Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development

Q. What programs provide training assistance to existing or expanding companies?
A. Yes, Maryland has three training programs, the Maryland Industrial Training Program (MITP), the Partnership for Workforce Quality (PWQ) Program, and the Maryland Business Works (MBW) Program that is administered by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation (DLLR). These programs provide grants to train new employees or to advance the skills of existing workers. Companies can receive up to $25,000 in matching funds for the PWQ Program. MITP funds are granted based on job growth and capital investment. The Maryland Business Works funds are designed for small businesses and are intended for incumbent training. For more information and eligibility requirements on these various programs, please visit www.choosemaryland.org

Answered by: The Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development

Q. Where can I get help exporting my products?
The Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development’s International Operations team and foreign office representatives offer hands-on assistance to Maryland companies as they seek to identify and capitalize on international business opportunities. Our export assistance programs, developed by knowledgeable trade specialists, are designed to reduce the obstacles to doing business internationally, for first-time and experienced exporters alike.

Answered by: The Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development

Q. Does the State of Maryland have any type of Tax Credit Program designed to stimulate economic development?
A. The Department of Business and Economic Development administers several tax programs designed to stimulate economic development. The Job Creation Tax Credit (JCTC) provides income tax credits to businesses that create new jobs to encourage them to expand or relocate in Maryland. The Research & Development Tax Credit is awarded to businesses that incur qualified research and development expenses in Maryland. For a business to be eligible, it must apply to and be certified by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED). The Department also offers the Biotechnology Investment Tax Credit program, which provides income tax credits for individuals, corporations and qualified Maryland venture capital firms that invest in qualified Maryland biotechnology companies. This tax credit program was passed to offer incentives for investment in seed and early stage, privately held biotech companies. And, businesses can also take advantage of the Brownfields Revitalization Incentive Program (BRIP), which offers real property tax credits to businesses that redevelop properties previously used for commercial or industrial purposes. The site must be located in a jurisdiction that has elected to participate in the BRIP, must be owned by an inculpable person, and participate in the Maryland Department of the Environment's Voluntary Cleanup Program. Frederick County is among the state's 11 counties that participate in the program. For more information and eligibility requirements on these various tax credit programs, please visit www.choosemaryland.org

Answered by: The Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development

Q. How can I find space for my business in Frederick County?
A.
The Frederick County Office of Economic Development (OED) subscribes to the CoStar Commercial Database, which allows staff to search all commercial listings for office, flex, and warehouse buildings, as well as available land sites. Searches may be customized for each company based on size requirements, zoning requirements, desired location, etc. and reports are prepared for each request. The City of Frederick Department of Economic Development and Small Business Development Center can also request CoStar reports on behalf of business owners.

Answered by: The Frederick County Office of Economic Development


Q. What kind of assistance can the Frederick County Office of Econmic Development provide to my company?
A.
In addition to site selection services, OED can also: coordinate services with the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development; assist companies with the regulatory/permitting process; provide gap financing for existing and aspiring small businesses through the Frederick County Small Business Loan Fund; refer companies to other resources providing specific assistance, such as the Fort Detrick Business Development Office, the Frederick Innovative Technology Center, Inc. (FITCI), and the Small Business Development Center; and assist with publicity for grand openings, ribbon-cuttings, and other newsworthy events. Guaranteed customer-friendly, responsive service is available to existing business customers, as well as businesses considering relocation to Frederick County

Answered by: The Frederick County Office of Economic Development

Q. How can I find the employees I need in Frederick County?
A. Frederick County Workforce Services (FCWS) () can assist employers to develop a talent pool by attracting applicants for vacant positions. Although not a placement agency, FCWS can significantly increase the chances of finding qualified applicants by: posting positions through a FCWS e-mail distribution to potential job seekers; Maryland Workforce Exchange, a state/nationwide data bank of job seekers; Job postings at the Business & Employment Center and all regional college career centers; Active recruitment and pre-screening process; Job Fairs; mass media ads (radio, cable TV) and recruitment to the Tri-State region to reach qualified candidates in West Virginia, Pennsylvania & Maryland.

Training opportunities are also available through Frederick Community College. All FCC Customized Training programs are designed to help businesses ensure continuous productivity for better bottom-line results

Answered by: The Frederick County Office of Economic Development


Q. Do you have to be retired to be a SCORE counselor?
A. Volunteers are working or retired business owners, executives and corporate leaders who share their wisdom and lessons learned in business. SCORE’s volunteer counselors have a variety of business skills and are just people who want to give back to the business community.

Answered by: SCORE


Q. I am a small business and I think I need help. Can SCORE help me?
A. You never know unless you ask. And the first step is to contact us. Visit our website or call. We respond within 48 hours – generally sooner.

Answered by: SCORE


Q.I would like to get involved but really don’t want to be a counselor, is there anything else I can do?
A. Definitely! We need people to handle fundraising events, teach seminars, coordinate cases, and manage the office. The success of the Chapter depends on the skills of so many people! And we need YOU!

Answered by: SCORE


Q. My business is unique, is there a Frederick SCORE counselor with the background to help me?
A. The counselors who make up the Frederick Chapter are also very unique. Most have advance degrees or certifications (MBA, CPA, CFP etc). They have worked in fields that include but not limited to: aviation, restaurants, retail, government, nonprofit, IT, engineering, pharmaceuticals, automotive…. the list goes on and on.

Answered by: SCORE

Q. Why should I collaborate with the National Cancer Institute?
A. Collaborators of the NCI gain access to the expertise of NCI basic, translational, and clinical researchers in the areas of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer and HIV/AIDS. The exchange of data and research materials may result in publications and in new technologies or further development of existing technologies. Data can also be acquired to support regulator filings.

Answered by: The National Cancer Institute's Technology Transfer Center

Q. How can I collaborate with NCI researchers?
A. Collaborations are often initiated through discussions between NCI and company scientists. Technology-specific collaboration and licensing opportunities are also posted on NIH (http://ott.od.nih.gov/ ) and NCI (http://ttc.nci.nih.gov/opportunities/ ) websites as well as in several publications.

Answered by: The National Cancer Institute's Technology Transfer Center

Q. Can my company receive money from NCI?
A. There are several NCI & NIH funding programs designed to enable commercialization of innovative high impact technologies.

Answered by: The National Cancer Institute's Technology Transfer Center

Q. I want to be an entrepreneur, but where can I find a technology to start my company?
A.
You can search multiple websites of various federal and university research institutions for intellectual property that can be licensed.  Finding these web sites will require a computer search, or you can use your network of contacts to determine what may be available to you. Hiring an “expert” to work the issue may also be a solution. On the other hand the web site “invenioIP” www.invenioip.org may be of assistance. This is a Maryland created website (partially funded by TEDCO) where one can find, in one place, technology available for licensing from multiple research institutions. You can compare one technology to the other to determine what is most appropriate, or perhaps the best technology solution requires “bundling” two or more technologies. Check out “invenioIP” and see what is available.

 Answered by: Maryland Technology Development Corporation, Inc. (TEDCO)

Q. How can a small high tech business get the facilities, equipment, and expertise needed to get started?
A.
Lack of access to a Biological Science Level 3 lab, super computer, and /or a PhD can be a significant barrier to moving technology forward. A possible solution exists in contacting the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO). TEDCO can help Maryland small businesses foster collaborations between academic or federal labs that may have the resources their business needs.  

  Answered by: Maryland Technology Development Corporation, Inc. (TEDCO)

Q. Where can a high tech start-up company find financial backing?
A.
The Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) has funding programs for seed stage high tech start up companies. Detailed information concerning these programs can be obtained by attending TEDCO Funding Briefings on the second Friday of each month from 2:00 to 3:30 PM at the TEDCO offices in Columbia, Maryland. There is no cost for the briefings but registration is encouraged. Registration can be made by visiting the TEDCO web site at  www.marylandtedco.org . Under the “calendar” link on the left side; choose the briefing date and scroll down to the registration information. Registration is not mandatory but it helps us to know how many handouts to prepare. For directions please see http://www.marylandtedco.org/contactus/directions.cfm . The funding programs of TEDCO have the potential to make available to a high tech Maryland start-up company over $1,000,000.00.

  Answered by: Maryland Technology Development Corporation, Inc. (TEDCO)