By Ali Nicole

The Eastern Shore Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a branch of the Maryland SBDC, exists to support and fortify small businesses with the goal of economic growth on the larger community scale. An outreach program hosted through the Perdue School of Business within Salisbury University, the Eastern Shore SBDC provides a variety of services to potential businesses and small businesses to aid in their progress.

Tim Sherman, Regional Director and Consultant, explains, “our role is to provide support for new and existing businesses.” This includes providing consulting, training, and resources. All services are provided at no cost for the small business enterprises they aid.

Consulting is the most direct and tailored service provided. “Our clients, we work one-on-one with. It’s very private, very confidential,” Sherman describes. Through this process they will help start a business from the very beginning by drawing up a plan and refining goals until its ready to be put into action.

“It’s their roadmap for who they are and what they’re going to do,” Sherman emphasizes.

They, then, can help the future business owner utilize their plan to locate funding by projecting financials and providing the needed documentation for why their plan is feasible. Problem-solving and developing solutions to strengthen or expand existing businesses are some other ways the Eastern Shore SBDC supports local businesses.

Hosting trainings is one more major service offered by this organization. “We provide trainings throughout the year. Right now, we do them remotely,” Sherman shares. Topics covered are vast—from social media marketing to going green—and are taught by experts in the field. Sometimes that expert is an SBDC consultant and other times it is a guest expert who can speak to the specific content.

The times trainings are offered are variable—day, evening, lunchtime—and generally kept to one to two hours in length to make them accessible to all who have interest in attending. Being offered in a virtual format also makes classes more accessible due to no travel time and no limit on attendance.

In addition to one-on-one guidance and expert training, the resources this organization offers businesses is vast. The resource library called SBDCNET is an information clearinghouse. Beyond this, the Eastern Shore branch of SBDC also collaborates with the business school they’re hosted within.

The Eastern Shore region for SBDC encompasses eight counties; Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester. Across these counties, there are currently two full-time and two part-time consultants available to meet face to face, on the phone, via video chat, or even correspond through email to meet the needs of the communities they serve. Within the region, SBDC consultants are spread out amongst host institutions such as Salisbury University, Chesapeake College, and Cambridge Economic Development Office to be present across the area.

Federally funded through the small business association and the state of Maryland, and in existence more than forty years, the Eastern Shore SBDC stays connected with national, state, and local economic trends and knowledge. Sherman states, “we’re pretty successful with businesses. We try to position businesses so that when they take that next step, their chances of success are the greatest they can be.”

It isn’t all business at Eastern Shore SBDC; Tim Sherman is also adamant about how much enjoyment can come from the work that he does. “I don’t think many people realized how much fun it is to sit down and work with the variety of businesses we get to sit with every day. We see a lot of businesses start as hobbies. It’s a lot of fun to watch these ideas blossom and to work with existing businesses who are looking at their next steps. It’s an enjoyable job.”