Garrett County Government - Department of Business Development

Business Credits Power of Possibilities Competition for Successful Startup

Last Updated on Feb 22, 2019 at 9:53am | Business Resources

Article courtesy of NCWV Media - The Republican. Reporter: Stacy Holler, Garrett College. Submitted photo.
Five years ago, the Power of Possibilities series emerged as a means to engage entrepreneurs, business owners and like-minded individuals in the region with a clear goal in mind — to support and enable small business formation and growth.
Over the years, perhaps the most significant result of the series has been the creation of new businesses through the business plan competition. Discount Duo, a retail store in Oakland, is the latest to join the list of up-and-coming businesses that have originated as a result of the competition.
“Our involvement in the Power of Possibilities competition reassured us that we had a good business idea and plan,” said Brian Bowers, co-owner of Discount Duo. “It gave us the confidence to follow our dream and become entrepreneurs in our start-up venture.”
Even though Bowers, along with joint business partner Rob Beckman, already had a business concept at the time of sign-up, they quickly found the competition itself would provide essential support and added value.
“Guidance and feedback from Jodi McClintock at Garrett College and colleagues from the Garrett County Economic Development office were extremely important as we developed our business plan,” Bowers said.
Direction would transpire in many ways for the team, including awareness of various resources that are available for aspiring entrepreneurs and future business owners.
“We utilized online tools provided by the Small Business Development Centers,” Beckman said. “The knowledge gained and resources we were provided with aided in the formation of crafting our business plan from start to finish.”
Both co-owners were able to experience first-hand how vital it is to conduct the right research at the right time, devote whatever time is necessary to develop a plan properly and be conservative with assumptions and projections.
“Research is so imperative in understanding the current state of one’s industry, including the local demographics and economic climate the business will operate in,” Bowers said. “Identifying opportunities and threats within the industry is just as important as recognizing strengths and weakness of a potential business concept.”
In addition to building a solid foundation for the business plan, Bowers and Beckman received key support and mentoring throughout the competition which proved to be the most vital asset.
“Even though we entered a competition, all members of the group — both participants and mentors — were very supportive and eager for each business idea to not only become a reality, but also one that would succeed,” Beckman said.
As the end of the competition came to a close, the team walked away with an unforeseen benefit.
“The experience bonded us together with other participants, mentors, and those we met through networking,” Bowers said. “As a result, friendships developed — we were definitely not expecting this from a competition.”
Offering a variety of new quality merchandise at discount prices, Discount Duo offers brand name items in an assortment of categories, including housewares, family clothing and shoes, sporting goods, lawn and garden, pet and domestic products. Shipments of new merchandise are generally received each week.
Over the past 10 months, the owners stated the gross sales for the company are approximately 23 percent above the financial projections indicated in the business plan.
“In January, we introduced snack food, cleaning and paper products, available without a club membership,” Beckman said. “We hope our latest strategic move will continue to boost sales for the first quarter of 2019.”
Registration is currently open for participants for the upcoming Power of Possibilities All In Business Plan and Competition series. For more information on the competition, contact Jodi McClintock, director of business solutions at Garrett College, at 301-387-3084 or