Relationships. That’s what Darlene Breck, entrepreneur and owner of the Southern Maryland Business Center, says ignited her business and ignited her success. Those relationships built over 32 years owning businesses in Charles County are a benefit to her clients, many of whom are startup businesses and entrepreneurs themselves.
Over 70 small and large companies have been located at the Southern Maryland Business Center since it opened in 2003. The company, located at Stanhaven Place in White Plains, offers large offices, single suites and virtual office space to various types of businesses. Included is reception, mail delivery, and use of various conference rooms for meetings. Business owners also have an opportunity to network with each other and share ideas or solve problems. Breck is always willing to offer them advice and the benefit of her own business expertise.
“Today, you can Google where a business is located and know if they’re working out of their home or an office,” said Breck. “An office location gives our businesses a more professional appearance. Also, people don’t always want clients coming in and out of their home.”
Prior to starting the Southern Maryland Business Center in 2003, Breck owned a moving and storage company with 50 employees and had several business connections in the county. With family and friends here, she knew Charles County was where she wanted to both live and work.
Getting involved in the community has also been important. Breck is a past president of the Charles County Chamber of Commerce and past Chair of the Board for the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation. She has served on the Maryland Commission for Women and is the current Chief Judge of the Orphans Court for Charles County.
Changing with the Times
Southern Maryland Business Center has been in business for over 14 years. Six years ago, they moved from their first location (a former real estate office in Waldorf) to their current location, a Class A building at the White Plain Corporate Center office park. “We found that clients want the things that come with a Class A building—security, elevators, and lobbies,” said Breck. With that change the business grew from 26 to 36 tenants and won a contract to house the Transportation Security Administration processing for Homeland Security badges
According to Breck there are many factors that help make a startup successful. Of course you have to watch your cash flow, understand your markets, keep your eye on your competition, and push to excel in your products and customer relations. An entrepreneur must stay on top of all these things to have a chance at success and be willing to put in the effort to be the first in and last out of the office any day of the week, she advises.
It Comes Back to Relationships
But, the running theme when you talk to Darlene Breck is the importance of relationships. “The network of people I’ve connected with is very valuable to me as a businesswoman and to my clients,” said Breck. Being involved in the community, participating in various organization meetings, volunteering to support non-profit events, and working within community support organizations such as Life Styles, Spring Dell, schools and churches are all part of being both a good citizen and a key component of being a successful business owner. Simply showing up at various community events and talking with people is the best way to start building relationships and expanding them. Business networking opportunities in Charles County abound. They include such organizations as the Charles County Chamber of Commerce, the Charles County Military Alliance Council, SMIT (Southern Maryland Innovation and Technology) Meetups, and the Economic Development Department’s own Quarterly Business Roundtables.