Alenka - Your Learning Kids Academy

Alenka Your Learning Kids Academy

“Mayak” is a Russian word which translates to “House of Light” in English. It is the one word that Alenka Zviarovich and husband Roman Katrychenko say they would use to describe the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (Florida SBDC at UCF) and the assistance it provided them with starting and growing their business.

Zviarovich and Katrychenko are the founders and owners of Alenka Your Learning Kids Academy. It is the first Russian-speaking daycare center in Orlando. The Academy uses the Russian language exclusively at the school and offers a setting where infants and children up to age 5 are exposed to the Russian food, curriculum and culture their parents grew up with.

“When we had our first child,” recalls Roman Katrychenko, “we searched for a daycare built around our language and traditions. When we couldn’t find one, we started our own, home-based daycare center. Word got around among the Russian émigré community in Central Florida that there was a Russian-speaking daycare center. We started getting calls right away but didn’t have the space and were turning people away.”

It was then that Zviarovich and Katrychenko turned to the Florida SBDC at UCF and its consultant Elly Membreno. They started attending classes to learn how to start a business. They took advantage of the FSBDC’s no-cost consulting from Membreno who guided them through preparing a business plan, doing their financial planning and budgeting and who answered their many questions.

“My English is not so good,” says Alenka Zviarovich. “I have trouble understanding sometimes. But I could understand everything my consultant Elly said to me. She explained everything, word for word. I would come home with lists after every meeting. Roman and I would then do every step that Elly told us. We filed every form, passed every test, passed every inspection. And we opened our doors, thanks to Elly.”

Since starting their work with the Florida SBDC, Zviarovich and Katrychenko have had a lot of successes. They have moved to a new location and into their own building; they completely renovated that building to house their daycare center; they have grown from caring for three children to more than 20 today, and are expecting as many as 35 in the fall; they have increased in size to 5 employees; and financially they have reached break-even and see profitability on the horizon. All in the 6 short months since Alenka Your Leaning Kids Academy opened in January 2019.

“Working with the FSBDC opened our eyes wide,” says Roman Katrychenko “It’s a very big difference from where I was born. You help regular people at no-cost open their business.”

“When I found Elly and the FSBDC, I was so excited,” continued Alenka Zviarovich, “because I learned so much and saw so much opportunity. Elly is like sunshine. She showed me the light and the way to go. The FSBDC is a “Mayak” for us. It shone light on our path, told us what we needed to do and how best to do it. Thank you, Elly and the FSBDC.”

For information about Alenka Your Leaning Kids Academy, please visit https://alenkakidsacademy.com/home/.

Family First Firm

Family First Firm

“Transformative.” When an entrepreneur uses that word to describe the assistance he has received from your organization, and then goes on to say participation in one of your programs was “truly a life and business changing experience,” you take note. Especially when that entrepreneur is a practicing lawyer leading a highly successful law firm.

Geoff Hoatson, attorney, founder and owner of the Family First Firm, a leading elder law firm, used exactly those words to describe the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (Florida SBDC at UCF) and its award-winning Advisory Board Council (ABC) program.

The Family First Firm is unique in many ways. First, it prides itself in being “Your Elder Law Expert,” specializing in all aspects of legal services for seniors including guardianship, probate, estate planning, Medicaid and more. It also charges flat fees for its work. None of that hourly billing that is the legal community’s industry standard. “I don’t like giving anyone a blank check,” says Hoatson. “Why would I ask that of our clients? We’re here to help them.”

Hoatson came to the FSBDC after working with a business coach specializing in law firms. “I felt like I’d outgrown what they could do for me,” he recalls. “The issues I was running into were more corporate and not typical of a small law firm. I had always wanted to focus on the firm as a business, but I just didn’t have the tools necessary to do it. So, I applied to the FSBDC’s Advisory Board Council program by contacting its program manager Jill Kaufman.”

An Advisory Board Council is a customized, no-cost board of experts providing advice and counsel to help businesses grow.  The FSBDC acts as a matchmaker between established local businesses like the Family First Firm and area professionals who volunteer their expertise as members of an advisory board, with the volunteers selected to address the specific needs of the FSBDC client.

“My Advisory Board really helped me identify what I needed to be doing in order to take the next step in my business,” says Hoatson. “It was made up of experts from my industry, with experience in operations, marketing and communications, and finance. With their guidance, and help from my FSBDC consultant Pauline Davis, for the first time in the 10 years I’ve been in business, I’ve been able to look ahead and strategize about our growth and know how we want to get where we want to go.”

“My Advisory Board Council really changed the way I looked at my business. It allowed me to transform what we’ve been doing into what we’re becoming,” Hoatson continued. “And our business results tell the tale. Over the 18 months we worked with our ABC board, our revenues increased almost 190%; we more than doubled in size in terms of employees; and we have expanded beyond our original location to a second building and are now looking at a third.”

“I can’t think of a reason not to participate in the Advisory Board Council program,’ Hoatson concluded. “It’s all upside, no downside.”

For information about FAMILY FIRST FIRM, please visit www.familyfirstfirm.com.

Jasmarie Rosa and Brenda Rosa

El Coquí Bakery

Comprar una pequeña empresa siempre es un desafío. Llegar a un acuerdo con un precio justo con el vendedor, negociar los términos, acceder al financiamiento y luego abrir sus puertas con el signo “Bajo Nueva Administración” son solo algunos de los obstáculos que superar. Y, cuando uno se está trasladando de Puerto Rico, fluyente en el idioma español, pero no en el inglés, el nivel de dificultad se magnifica.

El Coqui BakeryLas hermanas Jasmarie Rosa y Brenda Rosa, ambas recién emigradas a Florida después de la destrucción y la devastación en Puerto Rico, causada por el huracán Maria, categoría 5, no se dejaron intimidar por la elevada complicación que tenían frente de ellas, de adquirir un negocio. Panaderos expertos con historial familiar de exitosas panaderías en Puerto Rico, tanto en los Estados Unidos como en la Isla, vieron una oportunidad cuando encontraron una panadería y una tienda de sándwiches que estaba en venta en Deltona, Florida. Con determinación y pasión, las hermanas aprovecharon la oportunidad.

Su primer paso fue localizar alguna asistencia, que encontraron en el Florida SBDC en Daytona State College (FSBDC en DSC), un sub-centro del FSBDC en la Universidad de Florida Central (FSBDC en UCF), gracias a un referido por la Cámara de Comercio de Volusia. El programa FSBDC respondió rápidamente a su solicitud de consulta,  reuniéndose  Jim Deering,  Director del Sub-Centro con Rosa y Hernández, al día siguiente. Rápidamente evaluó sus necesidades y las conectó con  la consultora de FSBDC en DSC Margaret “Maggie” Incandela y la asistente de programa Tracy Martin.

“A pesar de la barrera del idioma y de que no entendemos muy bien el inglés”, recuerda Jasmarie Rosa, “Maggie y Tracy nos ayudaron a ir paso a paso y nos hicieron parte del proceso. Utilizamos la consultoría, talleres e investigación de mercado sin costo por parte del programa FSBDC. Nos ayudaron con todo: nuestro plan de negocios, previsiones financieras, licencias, permisos y más”.

Quizás el servicio de mayor valor para las hermanas fue la asistencia que el programa FSBDC brindó para obtener un préstamo bancario. El programa FSBDC presentó a Rosa y Hernández a prestamistas prospectos; les mostró cómo crear su paquete para préstamo; las guió a trabajar con su banco, incluso reuniéndose con analistas de préstamos para explicar la valoración de negocios requerida por el banco.

La asistencia del programa FSBDC hizo una diferencia. Las hermanas comenzaron el proceso de compra del negocio en Enero de 2019, cerraron exitosamente su préstamo en Abril, y abrieron El Coquí Bakery una semana antes de la Pascua, con una línea de clientes esperando en la puerta y a lo largo de la calle. Sus fantásticos y auténticos panes y productos puertorriqueños, incluyendo Pan de Agua, Pan Sobado, Pan Mallorca y fabulosos sándwiches, han ayudado a que El Coquí Bakery tenga un “muy buen comienzo”, según Brenda Hernández. Con planes para ampliar sus días de operación y agregar productos al menú, como el famoso sándwich puertorriqueño “Tripleta”, su futuro es brillante.

“El programa FSBDC hizo todo esto posible para nosotros”, concluyó Rosa. “Trabajamos duro. Trabajaron duro. Frente a todo el estrés, ellos fueron un apoyo y se aseguraron de que todo lo hiciéramos bien”. Al final, el programa FSBDC nos ayudó a tener éxito e hizo realidad nuestro sueño de abrir un negocio”.

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Buying a small business is always a challenge. Agreeing on a fair price with the seller, negotiating terms, accessing financing and then opening your doors with an “Under New Management” sign are just a few of the obstacles that must be overcome. And, when you are also relocating from Puerto Rico, fluent in Spanish but not English, the level of difficulty is magnified.

El Coqui BakerySisters Jasmarie Rosa and Brenda Rosa, both recent emigres to Florida following the destruction and devastation to Puerto Rico caused by Category 5 Hurricane Maria, were undeterred by the steep climb to business ownership in front of them. Expert bakers with a family history of owning successful Puerto Rican bakeries in both the US and on the Island, they saw an opportunity when they found a bakery and sandwich shop for sale in Deltona, FL. With determination and passion, the sisters jumped at the chance.

Their first step was to locate some assistance, which they found at the Florida Small Business Development Center at Daytona State College (FSBDC at DSC), a sub-center of the FSBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF), thanks to a referral by the Volusia Chamber of Commerce. The FSBDC was quick to respond to their request for consulting, with Sub-Center Director Jim Deering meeting with Rosa and Hernandez the next day. He quickly assessed their needs and connected them with FSBDC at DSC consultant Margaret “Maggie” Incandela and Program Assistant Tracy Martin.

“Despite the language barrier and our not understanding English very well,” recalls Jasmarie Rosa, “Maggie and Tracy helped us go step-by-step and made us a part of the process. We used the FSBDC’s no-cost consulting, training and market research. They helped us with everything: our business plan, financial forecasts, licenses and permits and more.”

Perhaps the service of greatest value to the sisters was the assistance that the FSBDC provided in obtaining a bank loan. The FSBDC introduced the Rosa sisters to prospective lenders; showed them how to put together their loan package; guided them in working with their bank, even meeting with loan underwriters to explain the business valuation required by the bank.

The FSBDC’s assistance made a difference. The sisters started the process of buying the business in January 2019, successfully closed their loan in April and opened El Coqui Bakery the week before Easter, with a line of customers out the door and down the street. Their fantastic and authentic Puerto Rican breads and baked goods, including Pan de Agua, Pan Sobao, Pan de Queso, and fabulous sandwiches have helped El Coqui Bakery get off to a “very good start,” according to Brenda Rosa. With plans to expand their days of operation and add menu items, like the famous Puerto Rican “Tripleta” sandwich, their future is bright.

“The FSBDC made all of this possible for us,” concluded Rosa. “We worked hard. They worked hard. In the face of all the stress, they were reassuring and made sure we got it right. In the end, the FSBDC helped us be successful and made our dream of opening a business come true.”

Kelani Kleaning

Kalani Kleaning

When you own and run a small business, you are a “CEO” as in “Chief Everything Officer.” After all, you are responsible for all of the functional areas of the business including sales, marketing, finance and accounting, customer service, human resources, research and development, production, and distribution. And you need to be competent in at least the majority of them to be successful. Often that last part is a tall order however. It’s why many small business owners turn to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for assistance.

FSBDC at UCF with Kalani Kleaning

John Doramus, Danylle Almas, Rosie Heim (L-R)

Danylle Almas and Rosie Heim are the owners and operators of Kalani Kleaning Services, a residential and commercial cleaning company in Lake County, Florida. They deliver a superior service because, as Heim says “we care for our clients’ homes the way we care for our own.” As a result, they’ve been running their business for seven years and have built a satisfied and loyal customer base. But, as good as they are at making their customers happy, they were not very good at managing their finances.

“We’re really good at cleaning, customer service and all the front end work,” says Almas. “But we’re not numbers people. We call ourselves ‘Not-business women.’ We’d gotten to the point where we were desperate. We were in a financial mess. When we suddenly found ourselves over-drafting our checking account, that was our sign. We needed help.”

Almas and Heim tried everything they could think of to straighten out the business. They read books. They hired a private, for-fee business consultant. They went online for webinars and blogs. It all helped a little, but not enough; Kalani Kleaning’s financial picture was still deteriorating.

It was then that they turned to the FSBDC at UCF – Lake County and its consultant John Doramus for no-cost, expert business consulting and seminars. “We basically cried when we found out what the FSBDC could do for us and that it was free,” Heim remembers. “We had an experienced and knowledgeable consultant who could really see our business for what it was and lead us, and all at no cost to us.”

“We don’t feel like we can take credit for where our company is now,” continued Almas. “John and the FSBDC came in and gave us a road map at a time when we were ready to call it quits.  He showed us light at the end of the tunnel. We didn’t know what step to take next, but he did. He built us a growth plan and we’ve stuck to it by meeting with him, monitoring our progress and managing our goals.”

“Since we started working with the FSBDC, we’re not bouncing checks anymore,” Danylle Almas says with a laugh. “Far from it. We’ve increased our client base by 30%, our revenues are up 80% and we’re preparing to hire our first employee. We’ve purchased a business model and rebranded, both of which will help us expand and scale the business. The FSBDC’s help has been like a miracle for us,” concluded Almas.

For information about Kalani Kleaning Services, please visit www.kalanikleaning.com.

Twisted Minds Escape Rooms in Palm Coast Florida

Twisted Minds

Building a business, particularly one that offers a unique, new, unfamiliar product or service, is the definition of a challenge, if not impossible. For a business concept that is completely novel with no precedents in place, the government regulations, permits, licenses and approvals alone can be too high a hurdle for many.

Ray Peter of the FSBDC at UCF - Palm Coast with Twisted Minds

Ray Peter of the FSBDC at UCF – Palm Coast with Twisted Minds’ Steve and Jessica Sherman

Fortunately for Palm Coast and Flagler County, Jessica and Steve Sherman are pioneers who saw an opportunity in bringing a new form of entertainment to the area, something beyond the existing movie theatre and bowling alley, that had a family development and team building element to it. But, after doing their initial market research, they realized they couldn’t do it without some help. And so they turned to the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) office in Palm Coast and its area manager and consultant, Ray Peter.

With the help of the FSBDC, the Sherman’s set about to launch Twisted Minds Escape Rooms, an indoor entertainment facility featuring mental and physical adventure-based “escape games” in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints, and strategy to unveil the secret plot which is hidden within the rooms. It’s a fun and exciting way to bring people together, a place “Where Friends become Family, and Family Become Friends” as the Twisted Minds Escape Rooms tag line goes.

The City of Palm Coast had never seen anything like it, and there was no playbook for what regulations, permits, licenses, etc. might apply. But the City does have the Palm Coast Business Assistance Center (BAC), a partner in the FSBDC at UCF and a new program called Business Navigation Services. Designed to guide new and existing businesses through the process of securing development project approvals, such as federal, state and local permitting and licensing requirements. As implemented by the FSBDC, the navigation services were exactly what the Sherman’s and Twisted Minds Escape Rooms needed.

“When we started, it seemed like it wasn’t going to work,” recalls Steve Sherman. “Then we met with Ray Peter at the FSBDC. Ray was able to coordinate with the decision makers anytime we had an issue. He was able to get the right meetings set up with the right City departments. And we worked with those folks to get the thumbs up we needed.”

“Working with the FSBDC was great. Having them there as the focal point to guide us made it so much easier,” says Jessica Sherman. “They were able to give us direction, guidance, take us through the process step-by-step. It made a huge difference for us to have someone in town who had our backs. We would absolutely recommend working with the FSBDC. It was probably the best resource we had and the best decision we made.”

“Today Twisted Minds Escape Rooms is open for business. We have two games available, one opening soon and six more planned,” concluded Steve Sherman. “It’s been fantastic since Day One. We’ve been able to double our revenues month after month, and we’re getting 5 Star ratings across the board.”

For information about Twisted Minds Escape Rooms, please visit www.TwistedMinds.com.

Will Wellons of Wellons Communications

Wellons Communications

Will Wellons didn’t start out as a small business owner. He’d distinguished himself as a newspaper journalist, then as an advertising and public relations executive for a prominent Orlando agency. Somewhere along the line, however, he got the entrepreneurial bug and decided to launch his own communications firm; Wellons Communications.

Wellons Communications is a 13-year-old marketing and social media firm, specializing in public relations. “We’re here to help you tell your story,” Will Wellons states proudly. “Our vision is that every business, no matter the size, needs great communications. We are committed to making that happen, and have done it for startups all the way to international corporations. That mix allows us to do some very, very unique things for our clients, including keeping our rates reasonable.”

As much success as Wellons Communications has had, it wasn’t always easy. It’s a big jump from agency executive to business owner. “There’s an old saying: You don’t know what you don’t know,” recalls Wellons. “While I know my stuff on the PR and marketing fronts, and had a strong management background, nothing prepares you for running your own business, putting your own money in the game, and making the final decisions.”

“So I listened when another small business owner raved about the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF), how good their services are and the wide variety of assistance available to someone like me who was looking to build my business, and take it to the next level.”

Wellons took advantage of a variety of the services offered by the FSBDC, including its expert, no-cost business consulting; seminars and workshops; and special programs for second stage companies. “Our business has thrived thanks to the FSBDC,” says Wellons. “The consulting has been extremely important; its brought focus, and a new and different look at our business with ways to improve and do things better. The seminars and workshops are outstanding; they’re bite-size energy pills of information that refresh and then add to what we know. And their special programs like CEO XChange and the Advisory Board Council, whether in my role as a client or a volunteer advisor, give you the chance to benefit from the expertise and different perspectives of other small business owners and professionals.”

“Owning a business is difficult,” Wellons remarked. “And there are always ups and downs. Thanks to the consistency of the FSBDC and their help putting a foundation of processes and procedures in place, we’ve been able to weather the bad times and now are moving ahead with very strong growth, seeing a 25% increase in revenues in just the last 12 months.”

“If I had to use one word to describe the FSBDC, it would be ‘Outstanding’,” concluded Wellons. “The business impact from their assistance is probably immeasurable. They are always there for you and ready to help propel the growth of your business. Every small business owner should take advantage of what they have to offer.”

For information about Wellons Communications, please visit www.wellonscommunications.com.

KeyCom Technologies

KeyCom Technologies

Owning and running a small business isn’t easy. Certainly there are perks: you are your own boss, you reap the rewards of your work directly, you chart the course for your business and your future. But offsetting those benefits is the responsibility on your shoulders for your business, your customers, your employees and more. You have to make decisions, often with limited information and no one to advise you. It’s no wonder they say “it’s lonely at the top.”

Finding a solution to the feeling of isolation that can come with being a small business owner was the challenge that Phil Medina, President and owner of KeyCom Technologies, needed to pursue. It was within the Florida SBDC at UCF (FSBDC at UCF) and its CEO XChange program that he found the answers and support he had been seeking. CEO XChange is an executive roundtable program that offers a confidential setting for business leaders to discuss vital issues, opportunities and trends with a group of peers.

CEO XChange Program Manager Hal Thayer with KeyCom's Phil Medina

CEO XChange Program Manager Hal Thayer with KeyCom’s Phil Medina

KeyCom Technologies is a full-service design, installation, and support organization for a wide spectrum of technologies tied to carrier services, phone systems, access control, surveillance, data networks, Wi-Fi, and infrastructure utilizing fiber optics in the ground and data cables in the walls. They have been particularly strong outfitting assisted living facilities, schools, and auto dealerships, but have worked in almost all environments. At the helm of a 35 year old, fast-moving technology firm having served 5,000+ business customers, Medina has a lot on his plate.

“Originally we were a pure telecom company, doing old-fashioned phone systems,” recalls Medina. “Over the years we began casting a much wider technology net, but back in 2008-9 when the world was falling apart economically, there were different decisions to be made that required more than just tech innovation.”

“I tried other CEO groups, names you’d recognize, but they were expensive and didn’t have what I wanted,” continued Medina. “Then I discovered the FSBDC’s CEO XChange. It’s a group of business leaders who’ve been there, done that. They provide feedback loops and insight into all kinds of skin-your-knee experiences without you having to go through them yourself.”

“Since we started with the CEO XChange almost 9 years ago, KeyCom is much healthier, much happier, and seeing consistent annual growth in the areas pursued,” Medina went on. “But that almost misses the point. Although we’ve seen solid top-line growth, the really big change is our business model. We’ve transitioned from a transactional sales model to a recurring revenue model. That required a full commitment to the long-game we feared undertaking, but we gained considerable courage by bouncing the plan off of my peer group at CEO XChange.”

“The CEO XChange is a safe environment with smart people who listen to your issues, offer you feedback, and leave you with action items you can execute,” concluded Medina. “It’s been a very, very good return on my investment in terms of time, money, and outcomes. Without the CEO XChange, it probably would have taken twice as long to implement this transition that has opened the door to a much brighter future for my company.”

For information about KeyCom Technologies, please visit www.keycom.net.

Enviro USA Manufacturing's Jennifer and Luis Vargas

Enviro-USA American Manufacturer

“You don’t know what you don’t know.” That’s the mantra of many of the smart and successful small business clients that seek assistance from Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF). And all credit goes to those business owners; recognizing that they don’t have all the answers and that they can benefit from the FSBDC’s services, including its programs for established, second stage companies as well as its expert, confidential, no-cost consulting.

Jennifer Vargas, President, and Luis Vargas, Vice President, lead and are co-owners of Enviro-USA American Manufacturer LLC, the producer of environmental protection apparatus. It makes containment booms for the oil industry, silt or turbidity curtains for the marine construction industry, and seaweed barriers for the tourism industry. They had grown the business to more than $1 million in sales by 2016 but had hit a rough patch.

“We were at a point where we felt like we needed assistance,” recalls Jennifer Vargas. “Challenges were presenting themselves. Unfamiliar issues and problems were arising, daily it seemed. We knew we didn’t have all the answers and needed guidance. We needed professionals to help us move forward. That’s why we signed up with the FSBDC.”

Enviro-USA Facility

Enviro-USA American Manufacturer’s Facility

Enviro-USA and the Vargases accessed multiple of the FSBDC’s services. They received in-depth marketing and financial analysis consulting from the FSBDC’s Eastern Florida State College sub-center. The local Procurement Specialist from the FSBDC’s Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at UCF (Florida PTAC at UCF) assisted with government contracting opportunities. And the FSBDC at UCF’s International Trade Program Manager Jill McLaughlin led in developing an export marketing plan for the company.

“The FSBDC is amazing to work with,” says Luis Vargas. “They dived deep into our issues. In the export marketing plan, we learned what countries to target and so much more. With our financials, they opened our eyes and pointed out where we needed to focus. On the marketing side, they got is down into the nitty-gritty to grow our revenues.”

If that wasn’t enough, the Vargases also joined the FSBDC’s Advisory Board Council (ABC), a no-cost board of volunteer experts, selected to address the specific needs of the FSBDC client providing advice and counsel to help businesses grow.  “Working with the ABC advisors was so important and so valuable. They shared so much knowledge; about production, sales, human resources, business-to-business marketing. It enabled us to make so many better decisions at the company. And ABC Program Manager Jill Kaufman was instrumental in making it happen,” stated Luis Vargas.

The Vargas’s work with the FSBDC has paid rich rewards. Enviro-USA has achieved remarkable results since starting with the FSBDC: the company has been able to double its factory space, its work force and its manufacturing capacity. Revenues have increased more than 90% and profits have grown by 1,000%.

“You can’t go wrong working with the FSBDC,” concluded Jennifer Vargas. “You can only improve your business. You get experts to help you with every aspect of your business and it’s at no cost. They are there for you, to help you every way that they can.”

For information about Enviro-USA American Manufacturer  please visit www.enviro-usa.com.

PurgARTory Makeup

PurgARTory

The intersection of creativity and commerce can be hard to find for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Transforming an idea into a business, then imbuing that idea with the passion and desire of an artist, takes energy and resilience and courage. Professional artist Lynne Schaffer had those qualities and more when she came to the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for assistance with launching and building her art, makeup and fashion brand, the House of PurgARTory, beginning with PurgARTory Makeup by Lynne Schaffer.

Schaffer’s vision for her company and her brand is clear. “We celebrate edgy sophistication, confidence and individuality, glamour and affordable extravagance.  We’re about being vintage, classy, dark, and fun! It’s for strong, independent, creative, bad-ass dames!” says Schaffer. While fashion and art are in the future, Schaffer launched with PurgARTory cosmetics that she says “brings you back to basics with the Classics, the Essentials. We are the affordable luxury, high-quality, richly pigmented, versatile, universal, skin care infused makeup for all skin colors and types.”

Schaffer came to PurgARTory with a visual arts background and more than 15 years as a professional makeup artist representing luxury brands like Dior. “My experience was all on the creative side of the world, with some sales and marketing thrown in,” recalls Schaffer. “But I had some concerns about starting and running a business without guidance about the technical and regulatory issues, as well as wanting to learn everything I need to know about marketing, finance, accounting and the like. That’s why I came to the FSBDC.”

“At the outset, it all seemed too huge and overwhelming for me to take on by myself,” Schaffer continued. “I’d heard that the FSBDC offered courses and workshops, so I signed up to get a foundation of knowledge. From the start, working with the FSBDC has been a very good experience that far exceeded my expectations.”

“First and foremost, and by far the most important and beneficial assistance I received from FSBDC, is the one-on-one, confidential, no-cost consulting I have received from Chuck Wheeler, my FSBDC consultant,” says Schaffer. “The quality of his guidance and his professionalism is what struck me. He walked me through every step of the process. It was so reassuring to work with someone who has had personal experience with the challenges I was dealing with.”

From its start more than a year ago, PurgARTory Makeup by Lynne Schaffer has grown into a successful business. Schaffer is collaborating with others in the arts community, scheduling special makeup events at boutiques and hair salons, and was featured at a fashion show in a prominent local art gallery. She is producing “Pop Up” shops where she works directly with clients introducing the advantages of PurgARTory Makeup by Lynne Schaffer.

“It’s such a relief to know you’re not alone in running your business,” concluded Schaffer. “It can be scary. I don’t feel that way anymore, though, thanks to the FSBDC and Chuck. Their main goal is for us to succeed and that’s just what’s happening for me.”

For information about PurgARTory Makeup, please visit www.purgartory.com.

Patriot Government Partners

Orlando, FL – Resolve. If there’s one trait that distinguishes successful entrepreneurs and their small businesses from the rest, it is their determination to accomplish their goals, undeterred by the obstacles they must overcome. Ashley Green, the founder and principal at Patriot Government Partners, a business specializing in government contracting, has proven she has the necessary tenacity and, when assisted by the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at the University of Central Florida (Florida PTAC at UCF), the needed support to be successful.

Major Ashley Green of Patriot Government Partners with PTAC Consultant Steve South

Major Ashley Green of Patriot Government Partners with PTAC Consultant Steve South

Ashley Green has served for almost 20 years, and is a newly promoted Major and Company Commander, in the United States Army Reserve. Patriot Government Partners launched in November 2018 with a mission to leverage the founder’s military background –– and her healthcare experience and knowledge of small business ownership to provide information technology and project management services, centered primarily around healthcare, to government contracting clients.

“I knew I wanted to build a business, but I wasn’t sure how to formulate the plan and the steps I needed to take,“ recalls Green. “So I came to the Florida PTAC at UCF for help. I did everything – from soup to nuts – through PTAC.”

“My Procurement Specialist and the manager of the Florida PTAC at UCF, Steve South, worked with me practically weekly,” Green continued. “First on my project plan, then on pro forma financial statements and marketing plans. He gave me the checklist I needed to become a government contractor. He connected me with Jean Hill, a PTAC Coordinator, who helped set me up in Bid Match – an extensive database of federal, state, local, and international contracting opportunities – and with Kara Vernon, also a PTAC Specialist, who has guided me through utilizing the U.S. Department of Defense’s Wide Area Workflow (WAWF) system, a web-based application that allows DoD Vendors to submit and track their invoices, receipts and acceptance documents electronically.”

Once Patriot Government Partners opened in November, with the help of the Florida PTAC at UCF Green registered her company as a woman-owned and veteran-owned business within the U.S. Government Services Administration’s (GSA) System for Award Management (SAM). She began watching the daily feed of opportunities from the Bid Match system. And she found one!  But time was short.

The Florida Air National Guard had put a contract for bid to project manage a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event where airmen and their families are provided information and services prior to a deployment. It was scheduled for late January. Unfazed by the short time line, Green pursued the contract with assistance from the Florida PTAC at UCF. In just a few short weeks that included two major holidays and a partial government shutdown, and despite being new to government contacting, Green overcame delays, doubts and uncertainty, and Patriot Government Partners won their first contract three months after launching. If that’s not resolve in the face of long odds, then nothing is.

“Excellence is what I found at the PTAC,” concluded Green. “Everyone who works there is more helpful than the next. Their only goal is to help me grow and build my business the right way. The Florida PTAC at UCF has been so beneficial to me and my company.”

For information about Patriot Government Partners, please visit www.patriotpartnersllc.com.