Tuesday, April 21, 2015

SBDC Success Story: Jacksonville Cake Supplies- Learn How To Bake With the Right Tools!

They say if you can't find something you want, maybe YOU should make it available. So it was with Evette Lemoine - Fernandez, our client who had a brainstorm!

Where did you get the idea for this business?

I have been cake decorating for several years. When I moved to Jacksonville Florida I was constantly traveling to Orlando Florida for my cake supplies. I became frustrated not having accessibility to good supplies in Jacksonville. I thought other home-based bakers must feel just as frustrated as I do. This frustration was the turning point that birth the desire to start my own cake supply store.

What made you fall in love with baking?

As a young girl I started baking with my first Easy Bake Oven. In my teens I was baking cookies, pies, cakes and nutmeg donuts for my neighbors and friends.  Years later I took my first cake decorating class as a hobby. Once I saw all the beautiful and amazing art I could make in sugar, I was in love. Art you can get; yummy!

How would you best describe your customers?

My customers vary in age and gender, adults and teens. Some customers are looking to take classes as a hobby and others are looking for advance skills. Our customers look for accessibility to cake decorating supplies locally, instead of traveling to Orlando.

What can people who sign up for your classes expect?

Our classroom is set up for small groups so everyone can have individual attention. Everyone will have hands-on experience while having fun in a relaxed atmosphere. We will have classes in various skill level for beginners and advanced. We have classes to make gumpaste flowers, purses, tier cake and more.

What makes you different compared to similar businesses.

Jacksonville cake decorating supplies will have a variety of products that other businesses do not carry. Our goal is to focus on our customers need and provide good products at a reasonable prices.

How do you sign up for classes?
Customers can sign up for classes on our website www.jacksonvillecakesupplies.com using our contact form or call (904) 513-4865.

5547 Fort Caroline Rd Jacksonville, FL 32277
Evette Lemoine-Fernandez

Friday, April 10, 2015

Is Your Accounting System DCAA Compliant?

When it comes to government contracting, are you sure you have all of the information and systems in place to ensure you are ready  to compete for opportunities? Are you ready to provide proposals?  

On April 23, Sherry Kobus, Small Business Program Manager Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) will present "Is Your Accounting System DCAA Compliant? Accounting Requirements and Price Proposals" workshop at the UNF Herbert University Center in Jacksonville. See below for full descriptions:

DCAA  Workshop Pt. 1: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Accounting System Requirements for Government Contractors
This is a brand new workshop for the Jacksonville FSBDC.  A representative from the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) will discuss the criteria for establishing an adequate accounting system in support of government contracts.  Having an adequate accounting system prepared in advance will greatly increase your likelihood of a successful outcome and seamless support of your government contract. If you are planning on or currently supporting a federal government contract, you don't want to miss this opportunity to learn from the experts.

DCAA Workshop Pt. 2: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Elements of an Adequate Price Proposal for Government Contracts

This second part of our day-long workshop offers the opportunity for you to understand what you need to provide the government in your price proposal.  Delivered by the experts from the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), this workshop will discuss all aspects of pricing proposals including: direct labor rates, materials, subcontracts, other direct costs, indirect rates, and much more.  Whether you're a seasoned professional or just getting started, don't miss this opportunity to ask questions and learn what you need to succeed in government contracting.

Pre-registration is required and the cost to attend is $40.  To learn more or to register, go to www.sbdc.unf.edu

Thursday, March 26, 2015

SBDC at UNF Client Among Select Businesses Nationwide Recognized in Washington

Jacksonville, FL: On March 16, America's Small Business Development Center Network (America's SBDC), the national association of SBDCs, held a special 35th anniversary legislative reception to showcase a sampling of SBDC clients from across the country. Among the 11 SBDC clients from eight states invited to the reception was Kathryn Murphy, owner of Jacksonville-based Comfort Keepers and client of the Florida SBDC at the University of North Florida (UNF).

Murphy was the only client honored from the Florida SBDC Network, representing the thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners who receive business assistance each year.

"Words can't express the honor I feel in representing the small business community for our State," said Murphy. "Successful small business owners 'burn the midnight oil,' are constant decision makers and problem solvers, and make many personal sacrifices-all to make a difference in the lives of the clients they serve. Staying on top of regulations, treating employees fairly, providing services or products with the highest integrity while making sure there is a profit at the end of the day is no easy task, and thousands of business owners in Florida do this on a daily basis. I am extremely proud and excited to be selected as the representative of Florida's small business community at the Federal level during this special reception highlighting the successes of the American Small Business Development Center."

Comfort Keepers specializes in providing in-home care for older adults needing assistance with daily activities. Thanks to the assistance of the Florida SBDC at UNF and consultant Cathy Hagan, Murphy opened the franchise's first Jacksonville location in 2002 and the second in 2007. Most recently, Murphy worked with the FSBDC to purchase her third location. Under her leadership, the company has grown from two employees to more than 75. In 2011, Murphy was selected as the U.S. Small Business Administration's Woman Business Champion of the Year for both North Florida and the state. In 2013, Murphy was one of nine women to receive the Florida Achievement Award by the Florida Commission on the Status of Women. Last year, she received the Governor's Business Advocate Award presented by Florida Governor Rick Scott.

The America's SBDC 35th Anniversary Reception was held in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Congressman Ander Crenshaw, Chairman of the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, and Congressman Steve Chabot of Ohio, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business, addressed reception guests. The mission of America's SBDC and SBDCs nationwide is to help entrepreneurs realize their dream of business ownership and to help existing businesses grow and succeed.

"We are very proud of Kathryn and thrilled that she could be a part of this special ceremony," said Michael Myhre, CEO and Network State Director for the Florida SBDC. "She has devoted her life to helping others and is well-deserving of this recognition. We feel honored to be a part of her success." 

About The SBDC at UNF:  Since 1976, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida has helped over 35,000 small businesses in an 18-county area. With offices in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Palatka, Homosassa, Yulee, Gainesville, Live Oak and Ocala, the FSBDC at UNF provides assistance through management advice and technical training with little to no-cost to the potential, fledgling and/or well-established small business owners. The SBDC at UNF is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration and is a proud member of the Florida SBDC Network and part of the national Association of Small Business Development Centers. For additional information, visit www.sbdc.unf.edu or call 1.800.450.4624.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Client of the Month: Myers Seth Pump

In the industrial pump manufacturing industry, you might not expect to find a petite, soft-spoken Vietnamese woman at the helm.  That is, until you meet Teresa Myers, CEO of Myers Seth Pumps.  Her husband, Doug, started the company in 1991 and Teresa joined him in 1997 after serving as CFO for another manufacturing-based company in Jacksonville.

Myers Seth Pumps (MSP) manufactures and distributes pumps and de-watering equipment throughout the US and abroad. MSP’s international customers have primarily come to them through distributors they have met at US trade shows. Teresa wanted to know more about how to grow and expand the companies export sales.  That’s when she first discovered the services of the Florida SBDC at UNF.  In January 2008, she attended the SBDC’s inaugural International Trade Certificate Program. Over a six-week time period, Teresa was introduced to the tricks of trade and countless resources to help grow MSPs export sales.  In 2009, she returned to the FSBDC to explore opportunities to sell to the government. SBDC Government Contracting Specialist Paul Arrington worked with her to get set up on a GSA schedule and register for appropriate certifications. They continue to work together on and off since then as contracting opportunities arise. 

In 2011, Teresa began working with Cathy Hagan, SBDC at UNF business consultant to explore opportunities for growth and challenges that might get in the way. A detailed financial analysis was prepared using Optimist, software that demonstrates how managing price, cost of goods, and volume could impact MSP’s bottom line. Additionally, Cathy worked with Teresa and Doug to assess processes and address personnel needs as the company pursued growth.

Teresa participated in the SBDC at UNF’s CEO XChange program, a peer-to-peer roundtable group of CEO’s for two years. In March 2012, the SBDC made it possible for her to attend LEAN training offered by the Lean Consortium, which gave her tips and tricks on how to be make her processes more efficient.

While busy in the domestic market, Teresa did not want to miss out on opportunities to sell her products globally.  In June 2012, SBDC international trade specialist Stacy Roussel developed a detailed export marketing plan for Myers Seth Pumps, identifying top markets for the company’s products.

In June 2014, Teresa began working with SBDC at UNF consultant Diane Denslow.  Over a two month time period, Diane facilitated strategic planning sessions with Teresa and other key players in the business with a focus on defining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Rapid Research from the USF SBDC provided numerous industry and market reports.  Teresa and key employees took the BOSI assessment, a tool that uncovers the entrepreneurial DNA of key employees to determine what drives them.  The SBDC at UNF graduate student intern used Profit Cents, a financial analysis software that measures how a company compares to industry averages. One of the purposes of the strategic plan was to help Teresa define an exit strategy as she hopes to transition out of the business in the next five years.  Diane provided great insight on issues related to family business succession planning.  Cathy helped Teresa understand other exit strategies and how to maximize the value of the company.  Josh Hay, SBDC at UNF grad student, prepared an analysis of the business to understand how to measure its value.

Teresa and Doug recognize that to grow their business, they must continually innovate to meet the needs of their customers and stay ahead of the competition.  To kick off 2015, they introduced a new pump into the construction market, the DD-6 Double Diaphragm pump.  Doug’s design addresses the needs of the customer for a more versatile pump.  The demand has been exciting, so Myers-Seth is gearing up to hire more employees to support sales and production and are considering the purchase of capital equipment that will automate some of the production process to increase efficiency.
Teresa will continue to be a lifelong learner and work with the SBDC at UNF to grow the business and prepare for the future.

“For most business owners, their ultimate goal is to someday sell their business and have enough financially to retire comfortably. However, without planning properly, most small businesses won't make it past three to five years. We found SBDC to be one of the best places to seek help.  In the last five years, SBDC has provided MSP with guidance, resources, and training through all different stages of our business. Our company has truly enjoyed working and learning from their professional team," says Teresa.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Kids Are Building Robots in Jacksonville FL

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Mark McCombs, Executive Director of Renaissance Jax, recently and wanted to hear more about the close to 50 FIRST lego robotics teams that he is overlooking on the First Coast.

Tell us a little about your program

Renaissance Jax is a nonprofit dedicated to providing resources to FIRST robotics teams. Our goal is to build Jacksonville’s cognitive capital by helping to grow close to 300 competitive (and sustainable!) robot teams in the next 5-7 years which would have potentially over 6500 student participants per year. We want to get local and regional businesses to sponsor the robotics teams directly, mentor the students, and take stock in our region by creating the workforce that has the potential to attract engineering, design, manufacturing, and other firms that before might not have considered our city as a reasonable site for relocation of their business.

What makes your program so enticing to the students?

If you didn’t already know, kids LOVE robots. Machines that move and perform tasks are so exciting, and building them to compete with other machines is even more so. FIRST is a 25 year old program that has close to 400,000 participants annually, and the competitions are insane whether it is at the local, state, or world level. Put 10 kids on a FIRST Lego League (age 9-14)  team, give them a research project topic and tell them to make a skit that covers a creative solution to that problem, and they will blow you away at how cool their solution will be. The kids are solving real world problems that are new each year, and learning that hard work and learning to use their brains is more fun than they could have ever imagined. The high school students get to travel all over the state and country for competition, and get to build machines that are as large as 5ft tall and 120lbs. The competitions are set up like a professional sports event and its truly a spectacle. Spiked, colored hair, thumping music from the PA, outta-control announcers, and even at a regional event, up to 75 teams decked out in custom team apparel trying to make a massive machine do really complicated stuff. Did I mention $20 Million dollars in available scholarship money offered through FIRST???

What are your plans for the upcoming One Spark event?

Renaissance Jax is going to showcase the different levels of FIRST to the general public and let people know about the huge momentum that our region has gained over the last 3 years in terms of team and event growth. I want to get 50-100 people at least signed up for summer training workshops, and will be seeking sponsorships for rookie and returning team grants that I hope to offer this fall. We got a huge response last year and it was a ton of fun letting people know what we are up to. One Spark launched our name into the minds of thousands of people and this year we are going to tell them about all the progress that we’ve made.

Who do you look to for inspiration in your business endeavors?

The man who started FIRST is named Dean Kamen. If you don’t already know who he is – Google him. He started FIRST with the idea that if we as a country can get kids to focus on things like designing, building, and programming as opposed to passing, dribbling, and shooting, then we as a society can have a much better future. There are countless examples of students who have come through the program and proven him right. There are tons of companies who give preference to students who come through FIRST because they know what it can do for a young mind. Dean Kamen has over 440 patents, but his greatest gift to mankind, he believes, is FIRST because of what it can do for millions of people.

Elon Musk is also one of my great inspirations. He is truly the real life equivalent of Tony Stark from Iron Man. My original goal upon graduation was to go work for one of his companies, SpaceX. It became clear that I would have at least had a really good shot at being able to move to California and build rockets and aid in the coolest privately funded outer space firm in human history, but if I went – who else would follow from Jacksonville. I believe that what Renaissance Jax means for Jacksonville is that more companies like SpaceX, Tesla, Solar City, and others will be able to come to fruition as a result of having many thousands of highly skilled, capable, and motivated individuals as a result of FIRST.

Jacksonville’s resources are ripe for a quantum shift over the next few years regarding the amount of high-tech manufacturing and engineering that could happen here. Every company I talk to about these programs echoes the same sentiment that there are not enough skilled individuals out there to fill their current needs let alone help them push new ideas onto the books. I look to people like Dean Kamen and Elon Musk for trends in what they are working on, using that as inspiration to build the workforce that can make their dreams and others come to life here in North Florida.

If someone is interested in helping or hearing more about what you are doing, how can they keep in touch?

COME TO ONE SPARK!!!!! We will be in Hemming Plaza for the festival. You can also check out our website renaissancejax.org or send an email to renaissancejax@gmail.com

Mark McCombs
President and Founder 
Renaissance Jax Inc. 


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Jacksonville Small Business Community Poised to set Guinness World Record.

It certainly got our attention when we found out the Brian Barquilla and a host of others were attempting to set a world record in speed networking. This is quite an opportunity for Jacksonville to "Put one in the books". The best part is that all of us can get in on this! The event will be held Wednesday, April 1st at the Morocco Shrine Auditorium from 2:30p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Brian stopped long enough to answer a few questions about this historic attempt.
How did you come up with this idea? 
It started as a personal goal of being a Guinness World Record Holder. No real reason, just because... and to make conversation at cocktail parties. I wanted that plaque on my wall and didn't care much of what it was for. Over the years I started to think more about it, and at the same time, I realized that I wanted to do something more significant than setting a record for growing out my fingernails or how many t-shirts I can wear at the same time.  After some research, I found the world record for the largest business speed networking event. The current record was 487 people and it sounded beatable to me.  So I started chatting about it with some of my business contacts and was encouraged by the support. At that point, it stopped being about me and started being about our whole business community.
Sponsors started to sign on like the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Logo Nation, Florida Times Union, Astadia, Predictive Results, Freedom Boat Club, LogoNation . Axia Public Relations, Interchanges, Jacksonville Chapter of the American Marketing Association. and of course, my company Advantage Business Magazine.   Its been very cool to see these companies get involved and see value in this one time only event.  Our goal now is to make "Jacksonville the most business friendly city in the world." Setting this record will go a long way to prove it
 How does a record like that become certified?

Guinness Officials (with their British/Irish accents)  will be at the event to be sure that the guidelines are followed. Participants with get a numbered wristband. This is how we know exactly how many people are in the room. When we hit that magic number, we will begin the actual speed networking. Once complete, Guinness will make the official announcement and  take the pictures. That's when the party starts. Come to think of it, I may be late into the office the next the day.
What can people expect?

Expect a whirlwind of activity, It starts as a business expo and there will be booths to visit. Its a light hearted event that is as much about entertainment as it is about business. Above all expect to call yourself a Guinness World Record Holder! How many people can say that!
What should people bring?

Bring lots of business cards. I recommended at least 50. Don't be that person that "just ran out." It might be a good idea to practice that elevator pitch too before the event too.  
Who is involved in helping make this happen?

I have to specifically credit Dolly Penland, Anne Urban, Jason Mudd, Marjorie Comer and Al Emerick for their hard work and resources. This is a FREE community event with just volunteers.
How do you register?

We absolutely need to get people to www.JaxWorldRecord.com and have them "Take the pledge" This is our RSVP system that allows us to begin to satisfy some of the Guinness requirements. From there we will communicate mostly through email to build anticipation an excitement for the magical day.  The best part is that it's FREE!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Save the Date! Small Business Week will be celebrated on May 28

One of the highlights of the year is coming up on May 28 at the Adam Herbert University Center. Show your support for small businesses at the 23rd Annual Small Business Week Celebration. The U.S. Small Business Administration will present its coveted Small Business Week awards spotlighting the outstanding contributions of North Florida business leaders and champions at the district level. The U.S. SBA will also recognize North Florida’s top SBA Lenders with awards for significant participation in the 7(a) and 504 Loan programs.

About the Speaker
Lisa Nicole Bell is the founder and CEO of Inspired Life Media Group, a Los Angeles-based content development and production firm that works with a diverse cross-section of high profile startups and Fortune 500 brands throughout the US and abroad. Lisa has spoken at national and international universities, conferences, and events including TEDx, UCLA, Google, USC, and South by Southwest (SXSW). Her past business ventures include startups in technology and content. After launching her first company at 19 years old, she later started a for-profit social enterprise that reached more than 400,000 girls around the world.  In addition to hearing Bell’s remarks, you will see local entrepreneurs and champions receive the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Week Awards.

This event is sponsored by the SBDC at UNF, TD Bank and SunTrust Bank. To learn more or to register, go to www.sbdc.unf.edu/sbw.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Husband and Wife Bring New Life to Resort with Help of FSBDC at UNF

Crystal Cove Resort and Marina was purchased by Kelly and Whitney Redford in January of 2012. The Redford’s sold their previous business back in Kentucky and decided to relocate to Palatka Florida, living the dream of owning a Marina Facility.

The establishment had 54 hotel rooms, a full service restaurant with over 150 seats, 45 boats slips, 35 dry storage units and was generally considered an eyesore of the community. The Redford’s, with a newborn, a vision, and not being strangers to hard work, began turning the facility around, making many updates and upgrades to the property, investing much time and money, slowly turning it back into a respectable Resort facility. 

In September 2013, they found themselves becoming the operator of the restaurant. They realized, never being restaurateurs,  this was one area that they needed assistance in and reached out to the FSBDC at UNF Putnam County office to obtain some marketing advice from Consultant Cheryl Lynch.

“Not only did we receive guidance on how to market the restaurant, but also how to operate the restaurant more efficiently. This was invaluable because Cheryl also assisted us with finding a restaurateur to take over the operations and it made the transition seamless,” says Kelly.

The Redford’s quickly realized how valuable the services of the FSBDC are, and had Cheryl review the operations of the entire business. “She assisted us in identifying ways to grow our business, obtain financing for a specific project, guided us through a strategic plan, and assisted with getting the Marina Bait and Tackle Store and the Marina Café open.”

“Sometimes business owners spend so much time working in the business it is hard for them to work on the business,” says Lynch. “ Enabling the Redford’s to be able to step back, identify problems and implement strategies and solutions are what the FSBDC is here for.”

“If we had only realized sooner what the FSBDC could assist us with, we would have had Cheryl with us from the very first day,” says Whitney. “The confidential, no cost consulting provided by Cheryl and her FSBDC at UNF team, has improved our business in countless ways. I can’t imagine where we would be without her help.”

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Affordable Care Act – A Human Resources Consultant’s Perspective

Quite a few years ago, I was working with a few clients during their annual healthcare coverage negotiations.  These companies paid between 75% and 100% of the premium for single coverage and between 50% and 75% for family coverage for their employees.  They treated them well. 

When the all insurance companies came in with between 30% to 50% increases, it was heartbreaking to see those same business owners stare into space with sticker shock trying to figure out how the company and the employees would be able to afford to have medical insurance.  So, like every business that is questioning costs, my company did an analysis of the employees who signed up for medical coverage.  What we found was that a great majority of the employees under 40 years old opted out of the coverage.  The employees with young families and larger expenses said the cost of medical coverage was too high.  Even though the companies paid a great majority of the premiums, the deductibles and other out of pocket expenses caused employees in this age bracket to do without coverage.

We also found that people who had medical issues signed up for the insurance coverage. They had no choice but to pay a higher price.  Since the healthier employees with little or no claims opted out of the coverage, the resultant claims were higher than the premiums paid – year after year after year.  Insurance companies lost money and had to raise the premiums - causing more people to opt out of coverage - resulting in high loss ratios - resulting in higher premiums – I think you get the drift. 

The downward spiral was out of control. 

It suddenly occurred to me that small businesses – those with between 50 and 150 employees and the lifeblood of the United States economy, would soon be in jeopardy of becoming priced out of the healthcare marketplace.  This inability to provide medical insurance to their employees would place these business people at a disadvantage in recruiting and retaining employees. 
Fast forward to present day, and we now have the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).  It is imperative that small businesses understand the reporting requirements, method of determining the size of their workforce, and tax credits. Additionally, as the ACA is put in to place, the inevitable  changes will occur during implementation. This can be a bit burdensome and difficult to keep up with for smaller businesses. 

It is a concern for many industries. Including lawyers, accountants, benefits brokers, human resources professionals to stay on top of any changes or updates to the ACA.

As it stands now in 2015, only those companies with more than 100 full time equivalent employees have to comply by offering medical coverage to their employees.  Currently, a full time employee is one who works 30 hours or more per week on a regular basis. However, of significant note, is the US House of Representatives just passed a bill increasing this to 40 hours per week.  But keep in mind, we have to wait to see how the Senate votes and whether the President will sign the bill if is passed by the Senate. Employers with 50 or more employees will be required to offer coverage in 2016.  However, that may change. We will just have to wait and see. 

Employers under 50 employees will not have to offer coverage – ever – at least under current regulations.  Aside from the obvious recruitment and retention advantages of offering medical coverage to employees, there may be great tax advantages for a small employer to offer medical benefits to their employees.  On the other hand, it may be less expensive for employers to get coverage through the exchange.  Employees may qualify for tax credits if they obtain medical coverage through the exchange.  Business owners must conduct an analysis to determine their best option. 

At this point, we know what we have to do to comply today.  We don’t know what the future will bring. Stay tuned.

Bob McKenzie

President, McKenzieHR

With over 30 years of human resource management experience, Bob’s background includes a wide range of hands-on HR practices including training and development, Equal Employment Opportunity, Affirmative Action Plan Development, development of performance management and compensation systems, recruitment, employee relations, union avoidance and labor contract negotiations. His working experience encompasses a wide range of industries.