Congrats to our Florida SBDC Network Performance Excellence Award Winners!

Performance Awards image-2016Every year the Florida SBDC Network presents it’s Performance Excellence Awards.  This is an opportunity to recognize and demonstrate appreciation to network personnel, students, volunteers, partners, centers, and legislators who contribute to the success of the FSBDC mission—to help Florida businesses succeed and create positive impact for our economy.  Here are the winners of the Northeast Florida Region.

 

 

To learn more about the Florida SBDC Network visit http://floridasbdc.org/.

 

From Military Service to Government Business

VetsFirstlogo

If you are a veteran or service-disabled veteran entrepreneur, you will want to understand the programs available to help you succeed in government contracting. There are many preferred small business certifications available to veterans through various local, state, and federal agencies.

Within the federal government, there are two distinct programs – the government-wide Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern (SDVOSBC) Program and the VA’s Veterans First Contracting Program – each offering unique opportunities and benefits.

The SDVOSBC Program is a self-certifying preferred small business designation that provides government agencies the ability to set acquisitions aside for exclusive competition among SDVOSB concerns, as well as the authority to make sole source awards to SDVOSB concerns, if certain conditions are met.

The Veterans First Contracting Program is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) through the Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE). This is the only program that gives first priority to veterans and the only program that provides a preference for veteran business owners who are not service-disabled. The VA is one of the largest federal procurement organizations, awarding over $3 billion to veteran-owned small businesses. To qualify for this program, businesses must submit an application and be found eligible through the VA’s Verification process.

Take a few minutes to learn about these programs (click here for more info), and then contact your local FSBDC Government Contracting Services Specialist to determine how your business can best take advantage of the opportunities these programs offer to veterans.

Keys to Selling a Business

Buy-Sell-BusinessA recent survey of top business brokers inquired about the reasons some businesses sell and others do not, the reasons some businesses sit on the market for years, and others do not. Here are the main reasons that businesses do not sell successfully or quickly:

Reason 1: The business is overpriced. This accounts for over 60% of the reason a business does not sell. The best way to avoid being overpriced is to have your business valued by an expert in valuation of a business, one who is also very familiar with current market trends. Studies have shown that businesses that do not use a business broker and a mergers and acquisitions service have about a ten percent chance of selling. Further, businesses that choose to use a valuation expert are more likely to sell at a higher price.

Additionally, a business that has had a proper valuation usually takes less time to sell. This is important because the longer it sits on the market, the less appealing it may look to potential buyers. They may begin to wonder why the business has not sold.

Bottom line: Price the business objectively and correctly, and the chances of it selling increase.

Reason 2: The equipment and facilities need work. Buyers who look at your business are assessing the business’ equipment, fixtures, and facility. Because of this, they expect all of these items to be in good working order and may seek proof of routine maintenance on the larger equipment. In order to prepare for this, make a list of all equipment and fixtures, including model number and serial number.

Bottom line: Keep all fixtures, equipment, and the building properly maintained and document that maintenance.

Reason 3: The owner cannot identify why he or she is selling. Buyers almost always ask why an owner has decided to put the business up for sale. If the seller cannot offer a good explanation for the sale, then buyers may think the worst. Some buyers may worry about some secret reason the seller is selling, for example, competition, a declining industry, or otherwise

Bottom line: Be able to verbalize the reason for the sale of the business.

Reason 4: The seller has no team. In order to make the sale of your business a successful process, you need experts to offer guidance, knowledge, and support. Selling a business is a very specialized service, and so a qualified business broker is vital to predicting the outcome of the sale. This business broker will handle the valuation, marketing, structuring of the deal, and finalizing the sale. In addition, a licensed business broker can handle any emotional issues that may come during the course of the sale.

In a survey of leading business brokers, these experts revealed why some businesses sell quickly while others remain on the market for years.

Bottom line: Hire a business broker for his or her valuable expertise. It will pay off in the end.

Reason 5: The business is not packaged the properly. Sellers who are unprepared for the sale of their business will most likely not sell. This is why only 20% of businesses sell and 80% do not. Often a business owner tries to sell the business themselves and they do not know how to package a business properly. With a competitive market and being in the age of information, buyers are savvy. This means that the price is based on a proper business valuation.

Bottom line: A well trained broker can properly package the business beforehand to help the sale complete quickly.

Reason 6: No strategy to Target buyers. A seasoned business broker will design a marketing strategy to attract the best buyers for your business. For example, will a private buyer purchase the business? Or will an investment buyer seek it? Then the broker can package the business for that type of buyer.

Bottom line: Make sure your brokers knows the market, identifies the type of buyer that fits your business

Reason 7: The seller does not understand how to negotiate. A qualified, experienced business broker can help with this stage. Buyers should avoid becoming emotionally involved in the sale of the business that they may have spent a lifetime building. Questions about the value of their business, for example, are not personal, but rather a sign that the buyer is doing his or her homework. A business broker can help prevent this emotional involvement by remaining focused on the end objective: selling the business.

Bottom line: Let your broker negotiate so you remain objective throughout the sale process.

Reason 8: The period between offer and closing is too long. As soon as a buyer agrees to purchase the business, your broker will request an offer in writing that includes a substantial, non-refundable earnest money deposit. A business broker will take care of this paperwork and may sure the process is completed as quickly as possible. Buyers may change their mind as time passes, so complete the paperwork expeditiously and respond quickly to all requests in due diligence.

Bottom line: Respond quickly to all requests from the buyer in due diligence to prevent buyer fatigue.

By: Kimberly Deas, Murphy Business & Financial Services and Small Business Resource Network Member

Fostering America’s Small Employers

SBAThe economy added 211,000 jobs in November, 2015, marking the strongest three years of job creation since 2000 with 8.1 million jobs added. Our businesses have now added 13.7 million jobs over 69 straight months, extending the longest streak on record.

These records are possible thanks to America’s small businesses. Small businesses create nearly two out of three net, new jobs and account for almost half of America’s private nonfarm GDP. Besides being the force behind our economy, they are the unique fabric of our communities.

Recently, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation published a Main Street Entrepreneurship Index. It compares entrepreneurship rates among different demographic groups in all 50 states and America’s 40 largest metro hubs. If we want Main Street small businesses to flourish, we need to know where they stand. The Kauffman Index allows us to see which cities and states have fostered the right conditions for growth.

According to the Kauffman Index, small business activity is on the rise in 49 of the 50 U.S. states and 38 of the top 40 largest metropolitan areas this year. Efforts like the Kauffman Index provide a roadmap for state and local officials seeking to foster a climate for small business growth. I find this information extremely useful for our Southeastern small business communities.

Other valuable takeaways in the report:

  • In 2015, the index experienced the second-largest year-over-year growth in more than two decades;
  • Businesses owned by women, minorities, and immigrants are increasing;
  • The number of small business owners with college degrees is increasing, from 34% in 1997 to 39% today;
  • Despite the dynamic leadership potential of our Millennials and veterans, young entrepreneurs (ages 20-34) and veteran-owned firms are actually declining.

Several specific SBA initiatives target areas of concern identified by the Kauffman Index. SBA launched the My Brother’s Keeper Millennials Initiative to promote youth entrepreneurship in the nation’s underserved communities. We are partnering with community colleges to expose young people to innovative pathways to start a business, and we’re promoting a Business Smart toolkit to train nonprofits and faith-based organizations to teach financial literacy.

SBA’s Boots to Business initiative gives post-9/11 transitioning service members a tutorial on the basics of business ownership. The program is now active at more than 180 military installations worldwide and has introduced 32,000 service members and spouses to potential careers in entrepreneurship as they rejoin the civilian workforce. We also launched Boots to Business: Reboot to open up this innovative curriculum to veterans of every era.

SBA is partnering with cities on Startup in a Day to create an easy-to-use online tool that allows entrepreneurs to apply for all licenses and permits needed to start a business in less than a day.

Working with our resource partners in communities across this nation, SBA manages the world’s largest network of free small business advisers. We’ve also eliminated borrower and bank fees on small-dollar loans, so more Main Street entrepreneurs can get the working capital they need to hire and grow. Last year, SBA achieved record lending of $23.5 billion under our flagship 7(a) loan program, with loans up 18% for women, 23% for minorities, and 101% for veterans.

The North Florida District experienced an almost 40% increase in the number of loans 7(a) loans in FY2014 from 627 loans worth $344 million to 877 loans worth $420 million FY2015. The district increased lending for Veterans from FY2014 to FY2015 by 122%, from $16 million to $37 million. The increase is attributed to the Veterans Advantage Initiative, which reduced all upfront fees to zero for veterans on loans up to $350,000 in FY2015. The initiative will continue in FY2016 for loans under $150,000 and will be reduced by 50% for loans greater than that.

Helping more Americans start and grow Main Street businesses is a core mission of the SBA. We hope you reach out to jumpstart and scale up your small business. Check out sba.gov/local for your nearest SBA local office.

By Cassius F. Butts, Regional Administrator

U.S. Small Business Administration

 

The Business Within…

Matryoshkas dollsSymbiosis can be defined for business purposes as “any interdependent or mutually beneficial relationship between two persons, groups, etc.” [www.dictionary.com] Symbiotic businesses exist as a “business within a business.” There are several forms that a “business within a business” may take.  The two businesses may each be visible to customers as separate entities.  Or, like matryoshkas, the nesting Russian dolls, the symbiont business may be hidden inside the host business and not readily noticeable to the customer.

The consumer deals with “businesses within a business” every day without thinking about them or, in the case of ‘invisible’ businesses, noticing them.  Some common examples of visible ones are:

 

 

  • Food business in a convenience store.
  • Computer repair service in electronics retailer.
  • Massage therapist at day spa or hair salon.
  • Nail tech in a hair salon.
  • Investment service firm located within a bank.

‘Invisible’ businesses are those where the consumer does not see a prominent business name and may in fact be billed by the host business for services received.  Some examples of these include:

  • The isles in the supermarket that are leased to bakeries, soft drink, and cereal companies who are responsible for design, layout, and stocking of the products.
  • The jewelry, appliance, or shoe areas in a department store that are leased to individual entrepreneurs.
  • The optical, hearing, or watch repair departments in a superstore.
  • The window tint or detailing services at a car wash or oil-change facility.
  • Bicycle repair service located in a sporting goods store.

Locating a business within a business has advantages for both companies if they share the same target customer while providing non-competing products or services.  Each business attracts customers that are also potential customers for the other company.  Ultimately, each business should have a larger sales volume than it would if it were located in a separate stand-alone location.

Businesses within a business that maintain their visibility generally have sales that are independent of each other.  For example, the consumer may purchase gasoline at the convenience store, but not a sandwich, purchase the sandwich only, or purchase both gasoline and the sandwich.  The symbiotic relationship brings the other business a potential customer, but not a related sale.

Businesses within a business which ‘invisible’ usually have products or services that are integral to those sold by the other business.  Examples are installation services (appliances, cabinets, wallpaper), assembly and delivery services (furniture), or repair services (bicycles, computers).

There are many advantages for both the host and symbiont businesses when a businesses within a business is established.  The host entrepreneur is able to:

  • Attract new potential customers without additional marketing expenses.
  • Share the facility cost (offset rent).
  • Share advertising costs with co-operative promotions.
  • Have ready access to another business owner with whom to discuss common management issues.

The symbiont business’s entrepreneur:

  • Realizes lower facility cost by renting space needed, not an entire store.
  • Has access to the host business’s customers.
  • Can share advertising costs with co-operative promotions.
  • Also is not operating “alone” by having the host entrepreneur to network with.

There are many articles available on how to create a new symbiotic business, as well as how to expand your existing business by creating symbiotic relationships. Two quick articles to read are:

  • A Business Lesson from the Hippo – how you can use symbiotic relationships to succeed, published by New Hampshire Strategic Marketing [http://nhstrategicmarketing.com/a-business-lesson-from-the-hippo-how-you-can-use-symbiotic-relationships-to-succeed]
  • To overcome your company’s limits, look to symbiosis, published by Harvard Business Review [https://hbr.org/2013/06/to-overcome-your-companys-limits-look-to]

By: Dr. Philip R. Geist, FSBDC at UNF Area Director

The Government Could be Your Next Best Customer

Uncle_Sam_(pointing_finger)The U.S. government is the world’s largest buyer of products and services. Purchases by federal, state, and local government agencies exceed $550 billion a year, and include everything from weapons systems to janitorial services and transportation support. In short, the government buys just about every imaginable service and product.

By law, federal agencies are required to establish small business contracting goals. For example, federal executive agencies are expected to set-aside 23% of prime contracts for small businesses. In addition, contract goals are established for women-owned businesses, small disadvantaged businesses, firms located in historically underutilized business zones, and service disabled veteran-owned businesses. These government-wide goals are 5%, 5%, 3% and 3%, respectively. While some agencies struggle to meet these requirements, many exceed these minimum goals. Small business owners who do work with the government keep a close eye on the government marketplace, because federal agencies have a responsibility to reach-out and consider small businesses when they need to buy services or supplies. Experienced small business owners know it is up to them to market and match their products and services to the buying needs of government customers.

If you would like to learn more about how your business can do business with the government, please contact the FSBDC at the University of North Florida and schedule a no-cost confidential meeting and work with a team that can help you succeed. You can also visit our website at www.sbdc.unf.edu to find an upcoming workshop or training event that is right for you.

By: Don Zavesky, FSBDC at UNF Government Contracting Specialist

The 5-C Strategy to Building High Performance Teams

partnerships5Building high performing teams is easy to talk about and can be difficult to accomplish. To accelerate your team’s productivity we will focus on the 5-C Strategy to Building High Performing Teams: 1. Clarity of Individual Strengths; 2. Communication; 3. Common Goals; 4. Clarity of Roles & Tasks; 5. Collaboration.

Challenges of Building a High Performance Team

Assembling a group of people in a room and calling them a team does not make them one. Requiring a group of people to work together does not guarantee collaboration. The coalescing of a team can take time and using the right strategy can accelerate this process.

Teams are very much like a volunteer organization. You cannot force someone to cooperate; you can’t mandate teamwork. To increase the possibility of facilitating and creating teamwork starts with honoring and respecting each member as an individual first and then they can form a team.

As a team leader you are like a talent scout for a sports team. As a talent scout you would search of key players that have unique talents and skills for the each specific position/role. In baseball a pitcher has very different skills from a catcher; a first-baseman will have different skills from an outfielder.

However, when we start to build work teams we seem to forget that we need to use the same strategy when selecting our team players. Whether you are recruiting new players or you want to maximize your current team, you can implement the 5-C Strategy to increase team performance.

The 5-C Strategy to Build a High Performance Team

 

  • Clarity of Individual Strengths

 

It is important to clarifying the strengths each person brings to the team. This will honor the knowledge, skills and experience each person brings to the team. Understanding the diversity of each team member’s strengths helps to divide tasks effectively. This diversity also increases the team collective intelligence.

 

  • Communication

 

Effective communication is critical to team effectiveness. Each team has talkers and listeners. Use a facilitation methodology that levels the playing field so each team member has the opportunity to contribute. Understanding and appreciating each team members’ communication style improves the opportunity for success. Establish a team communication strategy and create a Communication Agreement Checklist.

 

  • Common goal

 

Each team member needs to have clear understanding of the goal. When everyone sees the same picture of the jigsaw puzzle on the box top each team member holds the shared vision of the goal they are all working to accomplish.

 

  • Clarity of roles and tasks

 

Once the big picture is clear and you know the strengths of the team members you can assign the roles and tasks to the individuals that have strengths in those areas. Isn’t it better to give the analytical tasks to a person that loves Excel and the role of giving the presentation to the management team to the person that loves to talk and is good presenter? I know this sounds like a no-brainer but for some reason some team leaders like to challenge a team member to work on and in their weakness. This strategy impedes the progress of the team.

 

  • Collaboration

 

Collaboration is a choice, an attitude and a win-win strategy. When each team member holds the intention that part of their job on the team is to help each team member reach the team’s common goal it creates flow and momentum. Each team member brings their individual strength, knowledge and wisdom to the table for the collective good. Capitalizing on this higher level of intelligence creates a collaborative wisdom and power to the team to create a win-win solution.

 

High performance by a team takes work. It is not always smooth sailing. Implementing the 5-C Strategy can help you increase your team’s performance.

 

By: Clare Dreyer, SPHR

New IRS Resource helps Employers Understand the Health Care Law

IRS-HealthCareLaw-blogThe new ACA Information Center for Applicable Large Employers page on IRS.gov features information and resources for employers of all sizes on how the health care law may affect them if they fit the definition of an applicable large employer.

The web page includes the following sections:

  • What’s Trending for ALEs,
  • How to Determine if You are an ALE,
  • Resources for Applicable Large Employers, and
  • Outreach Materials.

 

Visitors to the new page will find links to:

  • Detailed information about tax provisions including information reporting requirements for employers,
  • Questions and answers, and
  • Forms, instructions, publications, health care tax tips, flyers and videos.

Although the vast majority of employers will not be affected, you should determine if you are an applicable large employer. If you averaged at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, during 2014, you are most likely an ALE for 2015.  If you have fewer than 50 full-time employees, you may be considered an applicable large employer if you share a common ownership with other employers. As an applicable large employer, you should be taking steps now to prepare for the coming filing season.

In 2016, applicable large employers must file an annual information return – and provide a statement to each full-time employee – reporting whether they offered health insurance, and if so, what insurance they offered their employees.

If you will file 250 or more information returns for 2015, you must file the returns electronically through the ACA Information Reports system.  You should review draft Publication 5165, Guide for Electronically Filing Affordable Care Act (ACA) Information Returns, now for information on the communication procedures, transmission formats, business rules and validation procedures for returns that you must transmit in 2016.

Are you a small business owner ready to grow?

ScaleUP classDoes this describe you? A small business owner, in business for at least two years, generating between $150,000 and $750,000 in annual revenue and located in Duval, St. Johns, Nassau, Clay, Baker or Putnam counties? Do you want to grow in 2016? If so, then ScaleUp North Florida could be a great opportunity for you! They are currently accepting applications for the 2016 program year. ScaleUp North Florida is a small business growth program funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and hosted by the University of North Florida. This year-long, no-cost program is designed to help small businesses grow to the next level. The ScaleUp year begins with six sessions of entrepreneurial training. After the training is complete, each participant receives an in-depth business assessment and an action plan to help them achieve their growth goals. In addition, every ScaleUp business owner will work with a FSBDC consultant to ensure their success! Throw in events like Meet the Lender/Investor, CEO Xchange and multiple networking events, and you have one action-packed year that is sure to generate results. The application period for the 2016 program year is from August 15 – October 31, 2015. To see if you qualify and to learn more about ScaleUp, visit www.scaleupnorthflorida.com, or watch this short video to hear from some ScaleUp graduates on what they gained from the program. If you want to grow your small business in 2016, ScaleUp North Florida can help you achieve those goals!

This guest blog post was submitted by Jennifer Marko, program director of ScaleUp North Florida. Jennifer can be reached at jennifer.marko@unf.edu or (904) 265-0750.

8 ways a seasonal business can manage money better

SeasonalBusinessarticle-Tracy-2015By Tracy Nazzaro, FSBDC at UNF Business Consultant and Contributing Writer

A seasonal business can often take advantage of short-term revenue increases and heavy customer traffic.  But in order to maintain long-term success, the company has to have year-round money management strategies.  Proper planning is crucial when it comes to cash flow, expenses, billing and other business bookkeeping.  Read more to find out the eight best practices to make sure that your seasonal business stays on track: http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/growth-strategies/2015/06/8-ways-a-seasonal-business-can-manage-money-better.html.

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