FSBDC at UNF Success Stories – Emergency Bridge Loans

Interview with Marco Tran, I-Tech Personnel Services in Jacksonville

In the latter part of this year, Hurricane Irma brought quite the impact to Florida’s First Coast, but there is a silver lining – the Florida SBDC was able to assist local small businesses, like I-Tech Personnel Services, in obtaining Emergency Bridge Loans to help “bridge the gap” between the disaster and long-term recovery resources.

Please provide a brief description of your business:  A full-service staffing company established in 1998.

What type of damage occurred?  Roof was destroyed by Hurricane Irma

How helpful was the Bridge Loan?  Very much, it helped us to maintain pay for our employees

How helpful was the SBDC?  Very helpful, we got help very fast!

Click Here for a look at some stories from around the state!

Why Your Team Is Failing

Today’s educational system, from Kindergarten through college, puts a focus on team work. However, while you may learn who gets their work done versus who is counting on everyone else to get an “A” grade, your scholastic team experience probably did little to prepare you for business teamwork.

When you think about it, every business relies on the performance of teams, yet few companies ensure their employees have the tools necessary to be cohesive and successful. Many leaders have trouble identifying how effective their teams are, especially when they are meeting goals. However, just because your group is achieving desired results doesn’t mean they are as productive as they could be.

Take the pulse of your team by answering a few questions, True or False:

  • Team members receive a great deal of feedback regarding their performance
  • Morale is high and there are few complaints
  • Team members communicate openly, dealing with conflict professionally and productively
  • Communication occurs regularly, not just during meetings
  • Everyone on the team recognizes and appreciates what we do and why
  • Team members feel valued, and value each other

Continue reading here.

by Karen Nutter, CBK Coaching & SBRN Member

Ups and Downs, and Keeping Your Balance

Ideas for blogs can come from interesting associations. I was wondering what I should write my next blog about while bicycling this weekend as the weather in Florida has finally become cooler and less humid. After discarding several ideas, I associated bicycling with cycles and decided to write about the various cycles that affect business. Cycles in general are like positive sine waves; they rise to a peak and then return to their starting point. Most have a shape resembling a bell curve, some are sharper, more erratic, and rise and fall quickly like an EKG signal. Although their behavior may vary, they all follow the principle of rising, peaking, and falling. Among the many cycles that have an impact on your business are the following: continue reading here.


Speaking of Business Blog by Dr. Philip R. Geist, Florida SBDC at UNF

Falling Leaves; Rising Sales…

Fall is in the air; it’s a bit cooler and the humidity is lower. Fall is also the time that sales increase as holiday gift buying begins, vacationers escaping cool weather come to Florida, and the “Snowbirds” return. For both retail and service businesses fall is the beginning of the “money making season.” Several factors boost sales in fall: Halloween activities, Thanksgiving, the busiest travel holiday of the year… and we are one of the destinations for visitors with money to spend! This year, as a result of hurricanes, spending will increase across many business sectors as properties are rebuilt, furnishings are replaced, and new vehicles are purchased to replace those damaged by the storms.

Service businesses in particular need to know the demographics of their customers, especially if they are snowbirds. Snowbirds tend to be retirees in a 50-80+ year old market segment with a larger concentration around the higher ages. While it is dangerous to make generalized assumptions, snowbirds are less likely to respond to social media, use apps on their smart phone (the 70+ segment may not have them), and are more likely to rely on print media and direct mail. Those with hearing loss will need your sales staff to speak slowly and clearly, and spend more time explaining the scope of your service and the expected outcomes. Continue reading here.


Speaking of Business Blog by Dr. Philip R. Geist, Florida SBDC at UNF

Dotting the “I’s” and Crossing the “T’s”

Hurricane Irma has come and gone in Florida, and the recovery is underway. While physical and economic damages vary widely from county to county, all 67 counties in Florida have been impacted in some way by the storm. For most, the damage has ended, but some that have rivers are still flooding as water works its way downstream. Some businesses had no losses, many had an economic loss from being closed before, during, and after the storm until power was restored, roads opened, and customers returned. In the harder hit counties, businesses suffered physical as well as economic losses and will have a longer recovery period.

Unfortunately, Florida’s location and geography mean that other storms will affect the state in the future. There are some lessons learned from Hurricane Irma that businesses can apply to be more resilient and have a shorter recovery time when the next storm hits. Here are some items to consider: Continue reading here.

Speaking of Business Blog by Dr. Philip R. Geist, Florida SBDC at UNF

How to Respond to a Data Breach

You may have read that hackers broke into the Equifax database and stole personal information tied to 143 million people.  The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people.  There is no reason to think that data is not for sale to criminals who can use it to open new lines of credit or file phony tax refund requests in peoples’ names.  Click here to read more: http://www.retirementstrategies.net/blog/how-respond-data-breach.

by Bill Hart, Retirement Strategies, Inc. & SBRN Member


Jane Jordan to Present “Making the Ask” at Our 7th Annual Conference October 6th!

Founder and Principal

It’s that Time again. The 7th Annual FSBDC at UNF Nonprofit Conference will run from 7:45 a.m to 1: 30 p.m. on Friday the 6th of October. As always, we like to let all attendees know what they are getting!

Lets start with the legendary Jane Jordan, who brings us a wealth of experience in fundraising…especially in “making the ask.”  The emphasis of this class will be on the “rights” of a successful solicitation, the steps leading to “the ask”, and why we sometimes get no for an answer. Learn how the follow-up after the gift begins the process of securing a next gift!
Jane Jordan, founding principal of PartnersWithNonprofits.Org, has extensive experience in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, providing her with a unique perspective on the process of asking for and receiving charitable contributions.  Jane has been providing fund development, capital campaign, board and organization development, strategic planning and executive search consulting services to nonprofit organizations for 22 years.  Before establishing PartnersWithNonprofits.Org, as Vice President of Baptist Medical Center Foundation in Jacksonville, FL, Jane directed the organization through critical years of strategic growth and development.  Prior to that, she served as Vice President, Community Affairs for Barnett Bank of Jacksonville (now Bank of America), over a ten-year period developing the bank’s charitable giving and community outreach programs to the point where Barnett Bank of Jacksonville and its leadership received national recognition for its community initiatives and charitable giving.
Click here to register

Alphabet Soup: “X”

When I began the Alphabet Soup series in 2015, the concept seemed easy: take a letter of the alphabet in turn each month and examine business topics, concepts, and words that began with that month’s letter. With this month’s letter, “X,” I have hit a roadblock. So, following that analogy, I shall take a detour this month. Instead of considering “X” to be a letter, I will define it as a symbol. As a symbol, “X” can indicate a crossing point (as in a railroad crossing warning sign) or a crossroads (as in a highway sign). From that perspective, I will examine a crossing point and some crossroads that business owners encounter.

Break-even Point – This is an example of a crossing point. The break-even point is the level of sales (which can be expressed in dollars or units) at which revenue crosses fixed and variable costs. Profit at the break-even point is zero. Sales levels below the break-even point result in a loss, while profits above the break-even point yield a profit. Obviously, the goal of all businesses is to operate above break-even, and the further they are from the break-even point, the larger the profit is. I will not explain how to calculate the break-even point as there are multiple websites and textbooks that explain the process.

While it is important for business owners to know their break-even point, the critical activity is to have a strategy to manage it. In a business with a single product or service, one break-even point can be calculated. However, as businesses are complex and some cost components may only relate to one aspect of the business, multiple break-even points may need to be considered in order to manage the business efficiently. In an auto dealership, sales, service, parts, and the body shop all have different cost components which will result in unique break-even points. Using a single break-even point for the overall business would not provide management with useful information. A standby generator company that makes sales, performs installation, provides service, and has a parts department will have multiple break-even points. Consider the detailed activities of your business when determining what break-even points to calculate.

In order to develop a strategy to manage break-even, in which the object is to lower the break-even point so you can achieve higher profits at any given level beyond it, you need to examine each of the cost components. Any way you can lower fixed or variable costs will increase profitability. Variable costs might be lowered by sourcing items from a different supplier (a closer one would have lower shipping costs), or by performing an analysis of labor to find ways to streamline the process. Building contractors have perfected this approach, making sure for example that all wires are in a frame before wall board is installed. If that were not the case, extra labor time would be needed to “fish” wires through the wall spaces. Fixed costs can also be considered, especially when planning a new business or an expansion. Many restaurants purchase used kitchen equipment, which the customer does not see, to save costs while focusing on the dining area.  Continue reading: http://pgeist.blogs.ocala.com/11613/alphabet-soup-x/.


Speaking of Business Blog by Dr. Philip R. Geist, Florida SBDC at UNF


In Nonprofits, it Feels Like Everything Has to Be Done at Once!

That’s certainly the reaction we get when working with executive directors of early stage nonprofits. A mission statement, incorporating, IRS 1023, by-laws, forming the board, marketing, networking, fundraising. All of them seem to have to run concurrently to create the beginnings of stability for the organization.

Of course it is not so different with well established nonprofits. There is always some sort of compliance to maintain certification, and board recruitment is continuous, and fundraising NEVER stops.

But, of course it goes much further than that…

I recently read a blog post by John MacIntosh, Partner and board member of SeaChange Capital Partners. His company had released a study some time ago called Risk Management for Nonprofits.

So what about the big picture? The study does a great job of pointing out what needs to be done to keep your organization from the edge, and this message is not just for staff. In fact, it is frequently noted that the board that needs to be more appreciative of the difficult environment nonprofits engage in, and perhaps be more attentive to what is going on in between board meetings.  I recommend this study to any nonprofit client of ours.

The study had a lot of feedback with some saying financial health was paramount, while others embraced programmatic impact as the priority. Additional comments emphasized passion, motivation and mission orientation as essential.

SeaChange maintains that there is no single issue that is most important. Running a nonprofit requires you solving the three items below simultaneously:

  • Viability: Revenues are greater than expenses
  • Effectiveness: Programs are making an impact
  • Worth: Things are being done the right way

We highly recommend you read both the study as well as John’s recent follow-up post, which can be found here. It could very well change your day.

Finding Love at work…

No, I’m not usurping the role of the “other Dr. Phil” and discussing personal relationships in the workplace. LOVE is an acronym for Leadership, Organization, Value, and Experiential Learning. If you create LOVE in your business, your employees will enjoy working for you, your customers will appreciate the interaction they have with your business, and the greater community will recognize the contribution your business makes to their neighborhood. Let’s examine each of the components of LOVE; Leadership, Organization, Value, and Experiential Learning in detail and see how they can work in your business.

Leadership can be defined in numerous ways, but most definitions include aspects of being a visionary, decision maker, coach, and supervisor. Leadership can be focused both internally and externally to the business or organization. Internal leadership comprises the activities that make the day-to-day operation of the business function. As a visionary, the leader creates the mission that drives what the business will do. Being decisive prevents the business from floundering and assures customers, employees, and vendors that issues will be dealt with as they occur. The right mix of coaching and supervising will train employees and build their skills and confidence in handling new situations. Collectively, these activities will create a business that has a sense of purpose, knows what direction it is headed in, and functions effectively and efficiently.  Continue reading: http://pgeist.blogs.ocala.com/11607/finding-love-at-work/.

Speaking of Business Blog by Dr. Philip R. Geist, Florida SBDC at UNF

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