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:

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:


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:

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

Alphabet Soup: “W”

The Speaking of Business blog is running a bit behind this month due to my taking some vacation time. This is the first blog of the month, and that means time for Alphabet Soup, the series that takes a letter of the alphabet in turn each month and examines some business concepts, topics, and words that begin with that month’s letter. This month the letter is “W.” As readers have suggested, instead of lightly describing a plethora of words in summary, I will take one and examine it in more detail. I found it difficult to find a single “W” word that would cover a number of business aspects, so have chosen a basic word. The “W” word for the month is “Why?”

“Why” in this case is the adverb, meaning for what? for what reason, cause, or purpose? “Why” is the word many three year old children ask as they try to understand cause and effect. “Why is it dark at night?” is a good example of that. “Why” is the word that adults fail to ask often enough as they become frustrated or repeat bad behaviors. Psychologists and Psychiatrists try to get patients to strengthen their cognitive self-examination skills by asking, “Why do you think that is? Why do you think that happens? and just “Why?” in response to patients describing a problem or issue.  Read more here:

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

The Best Time to Sell A Business

Yearly there are nearly three quarter of a million small to medium sized businesses that change ownership. They are owner-operated businesses like retail shops, restaurants, gas station, print shops, landscapers, bookkeeping or accounting services or any number of local types of franchises.

Regardless of the type of business that you own, when the business is priced right and properly packaged, there is a buyer. Finding the right buyer and selling the business for the right price and terms takes time, work and lots of planning.  Read more here:

By Kimberly Deas, Murphy Business Brokers & SBRN Member

Employees… Pay, and Benefits

As the economy improves, a number of small businesses have reported not only having employees leave, but that they are having difficulty attracting a replacement. They have asked, “How much do I need to pay to get a good employee?” The glib answer is, “As much as it takes to hire and retain one.” The precise answer is considerably more involved…

The Bureau of Labor Statistics [] states that in 2015 there was a 25.8% average voluntary turnover in employees. They projected that to rise by three to four percent in 2016, and higher in 2017 if the economy continued to improve. Employees will move to another company for a variety of reasons: the job offers better pay or benefits than similar jobs in the area; they are attracted by the corporate culture of the company and want to be part of it; the job offers benefits like a flexible work schedule or an easy commute, that offset pay considerations; or any number of other factors.

Employers must look at the local job market and determine what the competitive factors are. If their company is the only one of its type in the area that requires specific job skills, employees may need to commute elsewhere if they don’t work for you. They will take the cost of that commute in dollars and time into consideration when considering your job offer or determining whether to move on to another company. If, however, other companies in your area employ people with the same skills, you will have to be competitive with pay and benefits in order to attract and retain quality employees. This is especially true if new, larger employers are moving into the area, and offer higher pay and greater benefits.  Read more here:

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

Meet Heather Borders, Registered Dietician and Owner of Kailo Nutrition

With a background in engineering and business, what motivated you to go back to school and change careers to become a Registered Dietitian?  My husband’s cholesterol! It was always very high but several years ago, his total cholesterol finally reached 311 and his triglycerides were 305. He didn’t want to take medicine, so we changed our diet.  His numbers plummeted, revealing how diet can prevent and even reverse conditions that are thought to be primarily due to our genetics, or even fate.

What services does Kailo Nutrition provide?  Kailo Nutrition offers a wide array of nutrition and culinary programs that are engaging and interactive, demonstrating how to make healthy food taste great. As a Registered Dietitian, I offer traditional nutrition counseling for common health issues and weight management. Guided tours of grocery stores, farmers markets, and monthly meal/recipe planning services round out other services clients find helpful as they continue on their health journey.   Partnered with Chef Lisa Franzino, we also offer culinary wellness classes with cooking demonstrations that anyone can do any day of the week. End with a meal tasting of the dishes prepared during the class, exploring new flavors and foods that will move everyone closer to their individual health goals.

What exciting events does Kailo Nutrition have scheduled for the spring?  Spring is already very busy and we are excited to launch some new culinary wellness programs.  Our next culinary wellness class will be the Northeast Florida Plant-Based Culinary Nutrition Course held at High Tide Yoga at Jacksonville Beach every Monday in March!

We are thrilled to launch our Culinary Wellness for Health & Performance Women’s Retreat at the exclusive Stafford House Residence on Cumberland Island to be held May 4-7, 2017. This women’s retreat is an opportunity to relax with island yoga, participate in chef-led culinary workshops, and learn how to fuel your body for optimal health and performance. Disconnect and enjoy delicious, local cuisine over this four-day, three-night island adventure while staying in this exclusive, private residence. The deadline to register is March 17 and attendance is limited to 10 people.  Visit for more information.

Why is there a need for your services?  There is a high prevalence of chronic disease, cancer, and obesity in America, and through a healthier diet and lifestyle changes, these conditions can be prevented, managed or even reversed without medications. Many people are initially hesitant to experiment in the kitchen, but become incredibly creative and adventurous once given the basic tools and know-how. Kailo Nutrition’s mission is to Make Healthy Happen.

How has the SBDC helped you in starting your business?  Cathy has been instrumental in helping me focus on the most pressing needs of starting a business. There are many exciting opportunities and she has helped me choose which ones are best to pursue and which ones are best to table for the moment. The SBDC has connected me with a variety of resources to help my company grow and ensure continued success.

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