For Michele Daniele, CEO of AllStar Property Services, it was a time to rebuild her business. From its founding in 1999, AllStar had been a successful, full-service commercial property maintenance company serving Central Florida. Its services included power sweeping, porter services, pressure washing and window cleaning – all of the services a commercial property owner needs to keep their buildings and grounds in top shape.
In 2006, however, Michele was mobilized and served her country in the military until 2012. When her deployment was over, she returned home a service-disabled veteran, only to find that her company had suffered during her tour of duty. Between her absence and the downturn in the economy, the business had withered. Her time away left her feeling an immense disconnect from it. Michele knew she had to do something and she knew she needed help.
And so she went to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs looking for assistance. They referred her to the U.S. Small Business Administration who in turn referred her to the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (SBDC at UCF). There she found the help she was looking for.
“The FSBDC helped me tremendously. They helped me make a fresh start. I went back to the basics and enrolled in their New Venture (now Business Fundamentals) Seminar Series which gave me a new perspective on my business,” said Daniele. “And they opened my eyes to important steps I needed to take to get AllStar growing again, especially the value in writing a business plan.”
After producing a draft of her plan, Daniele began working with FSBDC consultant Pauline Davis to bring it to completion. “With Pauline’s assistance, I was able to understand how to grow my business,” commented Daniele. “The business plan allowed me to see the future of my company.”
The work with the FSBDC has paid off. Since beginning with them, AllStar has grown significantly. It now has 12 employees, more than 130 contacts and sales have tripled. “I wasn’t sure if I could succeed or not when I restarted my business,” Michele says today. “But the FSBDC guided me and influenced me, and helped me find the way forward. I can truly say ‘Thank You” to them for giving me the advice I needed to build my business to where it is today and the encouragement to take my business where I want to go.”
As Michele looks ahead, she is excited about the opportunities she sees in diversifying her customer base to include selling the company’s services to the government, another place the FSBDC can help. “I have come to understand the value of government certifications from the FSBDC and the programs and seminars they offer to help me find and win government contracts,” said Michele.
“Don’t hesitate. Go for it,” Michele said when asked what advice she’d give entrepreneurs about the FSBDC. “They have the ability to grow your business to your highest expectations.”