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Discount Duo found value in collaborative partnerships and resources

Co-owners of Discount Duo are Brian Bowers and Rob Beckman. Bowers and Beckman were awarded grand prize in the 2018 Power of Possibilities Business Plan Competition for their business concept, Discount Duo.

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,” stated 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 explained.

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 (SBDC),” stated Beckman. “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,” explained Bowers. “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, Brian and Rob 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,” said Beckman.

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,” noted Bowers. “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 ten 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,” said Beckman. “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 jodi.mcclintock@garrettcollege.edu.