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Businesses We Love: Lion’s Den Karate School

Jose Leno is a 25 year veteran of martial arts and has studied under several world renowned masters. He is proud to have served in the US Army and completed Airborne and Air Assault School while in the armed forces.  After the armed services, Jose had a number of jobs in restaurants but always thought something was missing in his life.  It was his passion to help children build self-confidence, create leaders and bring families closer together which led him to open the Lion’s Den Karate School in 2006.

Like any business, Lion’s Den Karate School has had its ups and downs over the years.  It was very common for people to see Jose’s car at the business at 9 a.m. knowing that he teaches until 9 p.m. Jose was always getting asked what he is doing all that time. Being the owner of a small business Jose has to teach, train and market as well as anything else that comes up in a normal business day.

In 2009, Jose decided to go to the FSBDC and talk with consultant Marge Cirillo on all aspects of business assistance. Over the years they have discussed and implemented marketing and social media ideas as well as budgeting and financial information to free up some of his time for his own family.  Jose has said that he has learned he is not alone in this venture and there is assistance for business owners in St Johns’ County through the SBDC.  The school has grown to 125 students and nine employees and now has an after school program run by Barbara Bennett who has a degree in Childhood Education. The program has a waiting list and after martial arts training Barbara and assistants work with students to complete homework and computer assignments.

When asked about starting his own school Jose stated, “You better love it because it is not always easy. But with the help of the SBDC, I am making it.”
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