Floridian Medical Group

Floridian Medical Group

Small business owners and entrepreneurs in the healthcare and aesthetics industries have faced extraordinary adversity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients and clients were adhering to C.D.C. guidelines and avoiding office visits. Faced with these trials and more, Yina Frasure, the owner and operator of two personal care company’s – Floridian Medical Group and Monissima Med Spa – turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) located at the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce for assistance.

Floridian Medical Group specializes in treating individuals injured in automobile accidents, providing evaluation and treatment of spine-related conditions and acute or chronic pain. Floridian Medical uses the most current diagnostics, therapies, and procedures available, offering appropriate injectable medications, physical therapy, chiropractic care, and massage therapy. Monissima Med Spa practices the art of aesthetic enhancement, addressing the entire range of skin conditions by providing sophisticated treatments and technologies to rejuvenate, revitalize, sculpture, and restore the face and body.

Both Floridian Medical Group and Monissima Med Spa are built on the strength of dedicated healthcare professionals who provide personal, individualized treatments tailored to the unique needs of each patient or client. Like any small business, finding ways to continue growing was a challenge only made worse by the COVID-19 shutdown and ensuing slowdown.

“When the pandemic came, I was in a panic,” recalls Frasure. “I was even thinking of closing the business until I had an email and phone call from Elly Membreno, my consultant at the FSBDC. The FSBDC put together a recovery team to help me through the crisis and that was the best thing that could have happened.”

Expanding upon the traditional services offered by the FSBDC, including its no cost-consulting, seminars and training, and access to extensive market research resources, a team of expert consultants was assembled to help Frasure cope with and recover from damage done by the pandemic, but also to build the company’s resilience and ability to grow. “The FSBDC team looked at every single part of the business I needed help with: administrative, management, marketing, sales, accounting,” Frasure says. Their recommendations and answers “gave me all the confidence and help I could ask for. I started to feel like ‘I got this’ and that’s what I really needed, more than even money.”

“My goal was to have the same profits as I had in 2019,” Frasure continues. “And today, over the past three months, I have had better results and better profits than in 2019. I have restructures one of my businesses and have it operating fully independently. And I have opened another Floridian Medical Group location in another city. So, this year has been great for me after all the support from the FSBDC and I am very happy with that.”

“The FSBDC gave me the help and tools to be successful,” Frasure concludes. “I refer everyone to the FSBDC. They make it so easy for entrepreneurs to be successful.”

For information about Floridian Medical Group, please visit https://www.floridianmedicalgroup.com/. For information about Monissima Med Spa, please visit https://monissimamedspa.com/.

Von Bru Design

Von Bru Design

Three years after starting her own business, Jamie Dickerson was excited about her success.  She had extremely satisfied clients, revenues were coming in and growing, and the future looked bright. Then the COVID-19 pandemic quickly stopped everything in its tracks. It was a dark time for Dickerson and her company, VonBru Design, until she connected with the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF).

VonBru Design is a graphic design and marketing firm specializing in logo and print design, website creation, and digital marketing solutions for small-to-medium sized businesses. Dickerson’s vision for the firm is to provide small businesses with access to the same polish and elegance in graphic design and marketing communications that she experienced as an inhouse designer for a major corporation. She was succeeding in doing just that until the pandemic shut down nearly everything for her almost overnight.

“Like everyone else, I have a Covid story,” Dickerson recalls. “For me, Covid hit and I found that the business I had spent three years building completely bottomed out in three days. I went from a full client roster with a waiting list to zero open projects. As a business owner, it was terrifying. I wasn’t really sure what to do and it took me a moment to adjust.”

“Thank goodness, along came the FSBDC and I was able to use their resources, their sales experts, their government contracting specialists to help me,” Dickerson continues. “We went through my finances, did financial forecasting, did a complete redesign of my business plan. It was a whole turnaround. They really helped support me through that change into what we are today.”

“I found that working with the FSBDC gave me such incredible accountability,” Dickerson says today. “I met once a week with an entire team and worked at my finances, my sales & marketing plans, my goals for my business. I cannot stress how beneficial it was to have this team surrounding me, encouraging me, and wanting me to succeed.”

“When I started VonBru, I think I was thinking too small. When I started working with the FSBDC, they helped me dream big because they took away some of the intimidation. Starting a business is scary, and it’s kind of lonely and isolating. It can feel like it’s too big for you. The FSBDC took that fear off my plate, walked me through the steps of growth and helped me see what my potential was,” says Dickerson.

“The FSBDC helped me reframe the structure of my business, my business plan, my growth model. In so doing, it helped me build a team of freelance designers, freed me to be a project manager and get closer to my clients, enabling me to better guide them through the creative process,” Dickerson states. “I was able to take on larger clients, win larger contracts and actually grow my business about 285% over the last year since I started working with the FSBDC.”

“I tell everyone: Run, don’t walk, to the FSBDC,” Dickerson concludes. “It was such a game changer for my life, my career, my company and I want other people to feel that support.”

For more information about VonBru Design, please visit https://vonbru.com/.

Von Bru Design

VonBru Design Achieves Turnaround with FSBDC at UCF Assistance

VonBru Design Achieves Turnaround. Beats COVID-19 Business Challenges.

June 29, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

                 John Finnegan, Consultant, FSBDC at UCF, 407.579.2111 or John.Finnegan@ucf.edu 

Orlando, FL – Three years after starting her own business, Jamie Dickerson was excited about her success.  She had extremely satisfied clients, revenues were coming in and growing, and the future looked bright. Then the COVID-19 pandemic quickly stopped everything in its tracks. It was a dark time for Dickerson and her company, VonBru Design, until she connected with the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF).

VonBru Design is a graphic design and marketing firm specializing in logo and print design, website creation, and digital marketing solutions for small-to-medium sized businesses. Dickerson’s vision for the firm is to provide small businesses with access to the same polish and elegance in graphic design and marketing communications that she experienced as an inhouse designer for a major corporation. She was succeeding in doing just that until the pandemic shut down nearly everything for her almost overnight.

“Like everyone else, I have a Covid story,” Dickerson recalls. “For me, Covid hit and I found that the business I had spent three years building completely bottomed out in three days. I went from a full client roster with a waiting list to zero open projects. As a business owner, it was terrifying. I wasn’t really sure what to do and it took me a moment to adjust.”

“Thank goodness, along came the FSBDC and I was able to use their resources, their sales experts, their government contracting specialists to help me,” Dickerson continues. “We went through my finances, did financial forecasting, did a complete redesign of my business plan. It was a whole turnaround. They really helped support me through that change into what we are today.”

“I found that working with the FSBDC gave me such incredible accountability,” Dickerson says today. “I met once a week with an entire team and worked at my finances, my sales & marketing plans, my goals for my business. I cannot stress how beneficial it was to have this team surrounding me, encouraging me, and wanting me to succeed.”

“When I started VonBru, I think I was thinking too small. When I started working with the FSBDC, they helped me dream big because they took away some of the intimidation. Starting a business is scary, and it’s kind of lonely and isolating. It can feel like it’s too big for you. The FSBDC took that fear off my plate, walked me through the steps of growth and helped me see what my potential was,” says Dickerson.

“The FSBDC helped me reframe the structure of my business, my business plan, my growth model. In so doing, it helped me build a team of freelance designers, freed me to be a project manager and get closer to my clients, enabling me to better guide them through the creative process,” Dickerson states. “I was able to take on larger clients, win larger contracts and actually grow my business about 285% over the last year since I started working with the FSBDC.”

“I tell everyone: Run, don’t walk, to the FSBDC,” Dickerson concludes. “It was such a game changer for my life, my career, my company and I want other people to feel that support.”

For more information about VonBru Design, please visit https://vonbru.com/.

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of the UCF Office of Partnership & Innovation and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2020, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,800 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,000 jobs created, retained or saved; $1.2 billion in sales growth; $92.4 million in capital formation; $92.7 million in government contract awards; and 86 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com .

About the Florida SBDC Network

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2020, Florida SBDCs provided 162,476 hours of professional business consulting to almost 23,900 client businesses, resulting in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $335 million in government contracts acquired; and $385.8 million in capital accessed.

A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

Worldwide Sportswear Logo

Worldwide Sportswear

For many businesses serving the hospitality, travel, or food and beverage industries, the COVID-19 pandemic proved disastrous. Many did not survive. Fortunately for Nanu Manek, president and owner of Worldwide Sportswear, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF), and its CARES Act-funded Business Recovery Team (BRT) program was there to assist him.

Based in Port Orange, FL, Worldwide Sportswear provides screen-printed and embroidered products such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and tote bags to the hospitality and tourism industries, including resorts, restaurants, state parks, and other vacation destinations. Worldwide Sportswear is known for capturing the latest trends and operating as a fashion company, producing Fall and Spring product lines every year. Its clients praise the company for its high-quality products and fantastic customer service.

Worldwide Sportswear grew rapidly until COVID-19 struck. “The pandemic brought us to a complete halt,” Manek recalls. Fortuitously, he was already in discussion with the FSBDC at UCF, seeking to join its award-winning Advisory Board Council (ABC) program. Designed for established, second-stage companies, the ABC program provides no-cost, customized teams of volunteer professionals who offer advice and counsel to help small businesses grow.

“Establishing a board for our company interested me a lot because we were growing by leaps and bounds at the time,” Manek says. “But when the COVID-19 shutdown hit, the FSBDC contacted me and shifted me to their Business Recovery Team (BRT) program. And it was phenomenally helpful to us, getting us through the pandemic and back to where we needed to be to start growing again.”

Launched to assist Central Florida businesses in overcoming the economic disruption caused by COVID-19, the FSBDC’s BRT program assembled its expert consultants on teams that were ‘custom-fit’ for the participating business to conduct in-depth strategic and business planning focused on financial, marketing, and operational issues aimed at returning the company to health and growth. Led by FSBDC consultant Jose Molfino, Worldwide Sportswear’s BRT team included experts in sales, marketing, and finance.

“The BRT Team has been fantastic,” says Manek. “Everyone is knowledgeable and really knows what they are doing. They guided us in a straight line, keeping us focused and doing a great job of it,” Manek declares. The BRT’s contributions at the company included a financial review that helped reduce costs, build budgets, and create a 12-month cash flow forecast to monitor progress. It put in place a customer relationship management (CRM) system that has added new clients and industries as revenue sources. And it guided the company in building a robust and highly effective social media and digital marketing campaign.

“While the business is currently still below pre-pandemic levels, the good news is that it’s trending positively. Business is up 100% more than it was during the pandemic, and sometimes 200% to 300%. The projections are definitely good and, once tourism really opens up, we feel that our business is going to thrive, and we’ll be above pre-pandemic levels by a lot,” Manek reports.

“For me, and for Worldwide Sportswear, the FSBDC has been indispensable,” Manek concludes. “Without it, we wouldn’t have had the guidance we needed to survive the pandemic. With the Business Recovery Team, we were able to stop the bleeding, set up a plan for the reopening and be positioned for a bright future.”

For information about Worldwide Sportwear, please visit https://wwspwear.shop/.

USO Biomedical Services Logo

USO Biomedical Services

Making the move from home school mom to day-to-day management of the family business is a major transition, especially if you don’t have experience running a small company. Cindy Brammer was willing to learn and accept that challenge when she took over as president of USO Biomedical Services (USO Biomed). She was also smart enough to know what she didn’t know and turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida – Lake County (FSBDC at UCF – Lake County) for assistance.

USO Biomed services and repairs medical equipment, and they know that properly functioning medical equipment can be the difference between life and death. The company offers the best in medical equipment calibration, repair, and preventive maintenance in Florida, serving doctors’ offices, research facilities and urgent care clinics, as well as dental and veterinary offices.

What sets USO Biomed apart is that deploys certified biomedical equipment technicians (CBET) who calibrate to national and international standards, and is qualifying for ISO 17205 certification, internationally recognized as the highest standard for testing and calibration. USO Biomed prides itself in providing the quality service their clients deserve so they can give their patients the quality care they need.

Cindy Brammer joined her husband Wes, an expert in medical equipment repair, after he had successfully started the business and had it growing. Having left her position with a medial surgical organization to be a home school mother and now to be managing the family business, she was taking on very different responsibilities including sales and marketing, bookkeeping and many other duties. Unfortunately, not all of that work was familiar to her. That’s when she turned to the FSBDC at UCF in Lake County and Eddie Hill, its Area Manager and lead consultant.

“The reason I tried to find help and found it absolutely with the FSBDC is that I realized that I didn’t know all that I needed to know in order to make the company successful,” recalls Brammer. “I needed help, and I needed it quickly and that’s exactly what I found with the FSBDC.”

Brammer took advantage of the FSBDC’s no-cost, expert consulting, business seminars and workshops, and access to market research.  “The FSBDC has been a fantastic resource.  I was able to sit down for one-on-one consultation with Eddie Hill and, from Day One, it has been awesome,” Brammer continued. “He’s always there and he’s been able to give me the direction I needed. The seminars that I attended were incredibly useful. Eddie was also able to get me market information that was invaluable. And he put me in touch with a marketing firm that has been absolutely wonderful for us.”

On the strength of the Brammer’s hard work and with the FSBDC’s assistance, USO Biomed has prospered. “From when we started with the FSBDC, we have been able to double our client base and our gross revenues have increased 200% or more,” Cindy Brammer states proudly. “The FSBDC has been what I needed when I needed it.  They were there anytime I had a question, if I needed one of their seminars, if I needed information. They were there and it’s been fantastic.”

For more information about USO Biomedical Services, please visit https://usobiomed.com/.

ecoPreserve Logo

ecoPreserve

From the start, Alexa Stone wanted to help organizations achieve their sustainability and resiliency objectives. That meant knowing the organization and its environmental needs at the depth necessary to target any capital investment and process improvement for greatest impact. It also meant documenting relevant energy use, waste management, and workplace wellness strategies. Consultants must be catalysts for valuable change. So was born ecoPreserve, the strategic consulting firm that Stone founded.

Aiming high and considering global impact as a small business requires more than a bit of strength and stamina. Ask any business owner or startup participant. The burden is easier with the right team members and state-of-the-art business development resources. With those, the team’s strengths can be applied to the right places.

The Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida has helped in mapping ecoPreserve’s future and advising on day-to-day improvements. This has been a productive partnership.

As company president, Stone and her team of sustainability professionals champion and enable building wellness and operational efficiency. Leading regional and national organizations – commercial and governmental alike – trust ecoPreserve to bring about long-term cultural change through data-driven planning, policy development, and implementation. “Our end goal is the benefit that people, organizations, and the planet gain from carbon neutrality” says Stone, “Nothing is more gratifying then when our clients share their progress toward Net Zero, and have recognized the balance sheet benefits that sustain the sustainability. As they do that, they become more resilient to business challenges as well as environmental challenges.”

In the midst of a successful corporate career as a lighting and energy management executive, Stone decided she wanted to do more for the planet. “I wanted to do comprehensive sustainability and that meant I had to start my own business. That’s why I went to the FSBDC,” she recalls. “I’ve now been working with the FSBDC for twelve years and, to this day, it has been an invaluable resource.”

Early on, Stone took advantage of the FSBDC’s business training and workshops. From there, she moved on to its expert, no-cost, and confidential consulting services which helped her with registrations, certifications, and the initial marketing for her company. Since then, she has participated in an FSBDC Advisory Board Council (ABC) (a no-cost, customized team of volunteer professionals acting as a quasi-board of directors); is currently a member of its CEO XChange program (a confidential, peer-to-peer executive roundtable learning, sharing and mentoring program); and is working with the FSBDC’s government contracting affiliate, the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at UCF (Florida PTAC at UCF). Most recently, Stone and her team has participated in the FSBDC’s Business Recovery Team program which has helped the company pivot to meet the unexpected challenges of the COVID-19 epidemic.

“In the last year, the approach the FSBDC provided was very business oriented, growth minded, financially focused and very useful to ecoPreserve because that was our weakness,” states Stone. “We are all about our mission, but the truth is to be sustainable as an organization you have to stay in business, you have to make money, you have to be focused on the bottom line. The FSBDC helped us transition and be resilient during these very tough economic times.”

“I started working with the FSBDC when I first founded EcoPreserve,” concludes Stone. “It’s now 12 year later, and we’ve grown significantly. We have an amazing team of people; we’re over 20 sustainability and resiliency professionals; and we’re doing over a $1 million in revenues. If you’re an entrepreneur or a business owner considering working with the FSBDC, I highly recommend it. Don’t let anyone get in your way.”

For more information about ecoPreserve, please visit https://www.ecopreserve.net/.

Integrass Logo

Integrass

Taking a business to the next level of success is often a daunting task. With the start-up phase behind them, how can an entrepreneur best scale up their company from simple profitability to the second stage of significant revenues and a meaningful return on investment? COO & President Arathi Rajagopalan and CEO Vijay Krishnan, founders and principal owners of Integrass – an IT services, products, and solutions company –   found themselves asking that very question and discovered answers at the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) in its Advisory Board Council (ABC) program.

Since its founding in 2011, Integrass has grown from an IT services company into much more. Today the firm creates competitive advantage for organizations around the world by implementing customized, end-to-end IT solutions that help achieve business success, leveraging leading technology platforms in a global delivery model.

The Integrass company story is a good one. “We stumbled through the initial startup stages,” Krishnan recalls humbly. “By 2013 we had hit our first $1 million in revenue. But in a startup’s lifecycle, a million dollars is kind of just a starter. You can either become non-existent or you can grow and navigate the small business no man’s land to get yourself to the next milestone which is predominantly the $5 million revenue target.”

“What Integrass lacked at that time was the expertise, knowledge and guidance about how to build a company from $1 million to $5 million in revenues,” Krishnan explains. “And that’s why we got introduced to the Advisory Board Council at the FSBDC.”

Designed for established, second-stage companies, the Advisory Board Council provides no-cost, customized teams of volunteer professionals who offer advice and counsel to help small businesses grow. The program acts as a matchmaker between established local small businesses and area professionals who donate their expertise as members of an advisory board, with each of the volunteers purposefully selected to address the specific needs of the FSBDC client.

“The FSBDC meticulously crafted a Board which gave us expertise in the areas where we were lacking – financial management, strategic planning, marketing & sales management – and then actually guided us through the whole journey to where we could navigate ourselves and reach that $5 million target,” Krishnan states.

“The Advisory Board was a great forum to bring in our business challenges, big or small,” Rajagopalan remarks. “Then they helped me understand that I needed to be more focused on strategy and let go of operational tasks. It really helped bring out the better leader in me.”

In fact, since starting with the FSBDC’s ABC, Integrass has enjoyed impressive growth. “When we joined the Advisory Board Council, we were a $1 million-dollar company and looking for direction” Krishnan recalls. “Since then, from a metrics perspective, revenues have grown from $1 million to $7 million, the number of employees has grown from 25 to 105 and we have moved from a rental office to four locations around the world. Most important, we have built growth accelerators and created new products, growing from zero in the beginning to six today with plans for more in the future,” he concludes.

For more information about Integrass, please visit https://www.integrass.com.

RTW Photography

RTW Photography

Three friends came together, each with different backgrounds, to start RTW Photography. One was an engineer, another a CPA, the third an educator. None had owned a business before, but they had goals and aspirations to become entrepreneurs and photography was their calling.

The company enjoyed early success but the partners – Derrious Robinson, Founder & Director of Business Operations; Lavell Monger, Director of Marketing & Communications; and Walter Tre Idlette, Director of Finances – wanted more, and sought ways to grow and expand. It was then that they turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its affiliate, the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at UCF (FPTAC at UCF), for guidance.

RTW Photography is a full-service photography and videography company serving individual, commercial, and government clients. “What separates us from our competitors is that we offer so many services within the camera photography world,” says Monger. “Videography, photography, photo booth, live screens – we capture anything and everything that can be captured in front of a camera, and we do it with style and professionalism.” There are many satisfied customers who will testify to their high-quality work.

Seeing opportunities to grow is one thing, knowing how to implement is another. For that reason, the team at RTW approached the FSBDC for its no-cost, expert consulting, business training, and access to market research. In addition, they called upon FPTAC to assist with obtaining government contracts.

“The main reason we reached out to the FSBDC was for guidance and mentorship,” recalls Monger. “In fact, the FSBDC has been instrumental in helping us grow our business,” adds Idlette. “They have helped us with organizing our finances, pursuing government contracts as well as marketing our company.” Further, says Robinson, “we realized that, in order to be really successful, we needed to figure out a long-term plan for how we could grow our business. Working with the FSBDC has been a real partnership doing that. They have been there guiding us on how to chase government contracts, grow our commercial client base, redesign our website, budget and forecast our finances. We’re very grateful to the FSBDC for that assistance,” he concludes.

With the assistance of the FSBDC and FPATC, RTW has achieved significant results. “We’re blessed. Our business is growing,” says Idlette. “With the Pandemic, we had a slow start but the FSBDC and team really helped us focus and prioritize on what to do next.” With the assistance of Kara Vernon, PTAC Specialist, RTW bid on and won a 10-year contract for school photography with Hillsborough County Public Schools and is positioned to bid on other government contracts. Thanks to assistance from an FSBDC Business Recovery Team of five consultants led by Pauline Davis, an Assistant Director and consultant herself, the company pivoted to focus on commercial and corporate clients and was able to grow revenues by 40% in 2020.

“It’s been a great partnership with the FSBDC,” founder Robinson said in closing. “We look forward to continuing to work with them as the years go by.”

For more information about RTW Photography, please visit https://ridethewave.co/.

Karina Lakefront Maintenance

Karina Lakefront Maintenance

Finding assistance, especially the right kind of assistance, can sometimes become challenging for a small business owner. There are numerous organizations offering help and resources, but some can be more effective than others. Ana Gabriela Roosen, co-owner and the business development leader at Karina Lake Front Maintenance and Renovation, was looking for help with growing her business and called on the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for guidance.

Karina Lakefront Maintenance and Renovation manages aquatic environments. This includes conducting lakefront restorations, ongoing maintenance, and providing aqua scaping and erosion control services for residential, commercial, and government clients. Karina Lakefront also happens to be one of the very few companies doing this type of business while certified as an Economically Disadvantaged Woman Owned Small Business (ED/WOSB).

“What differentiates Karina Lakefront is our artisanal approach,” says Roosen. “We do our work by hand, promote native plantings, and use the least amount of chemicals and machinery as possible so as not to harm a lake’s ecology. We do all we can to improve the shoreline, the quality of the water and the overall environment.”

“We’re good at everything we do out in the field,” Roosen continued. “But when it comes to the marketing, the online world and social media and entering new markets, we needed some help and that’s why we came to the FSBDC. Before I found the FSBDC, I felt like I was reaching for help at places where I wasn’t getting results and I felt kind of lonely and alone. It’s hard to be an owner of a company without having that upper management guidance I was used to. After I had the FSBDC, it was like I had a guardian angel on my shoulder. Everything I needed; they were always there for me.”

Taking advantage of the FSBDC’s no-cost, expert consulting, as well as working with its government contracting affiliate, the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at UCF (Florida PTAC at UCF), Roosen was able to find the support she was seeking. “Since the first meeting with my FSBDC consultant Jairo Batista, he’s been in communications with me. And he opened doors for me to many SBDC services: digital marketing counseling; SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tutoring; government contracting guidance and help with my capabilities statement for bidding; and support obtaining several Covid-19 disaster relief loans are some examples. You go there and ask them anything and they will have someone who can help you.”

Roosen and her company have enjoyed strong business results since she began working with the FSBDC. “We have seen financial increases of 15% due to how we are managing our social media based on suggestions from the FSBDC. We learned how to bid for government work and won a 3-year, $100,000 contract. And we were able to access those disaster relief loans,” says Roosen.

“If I had to use one word to describe the FSBDC, it would be ‘relief’ because that’s what they give small business owners: peace of mind and make them feel comfortable through the journey of owning a business,” concluded Roosen.

For more information about Karina Lakefront Maintenance & Restoration, please visit https://www.karinalakefront.com/.

Shelley Powell, Owner of Covenant Cleaning Services

Covenant Cleaning Services

Maintaining a growth path can present challenges for a small business in any economy, but even more so during a pandemic. Fortunately, there are resources and support available to help business owners navigate potential obstacles and capitalize on possible opportunities. Over several years, and especially during 2020, Shelley Powell, the founder and President of Covenant Cleaning Services, called upon the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for its no-cost consulting services, business training, and market research support. And it has paid off handsomely for her and her company.

Covenant Cleaning Services – “Where Service is our Pledge” – has been providing honest and dependable residential and commercial cleaning services in the Orlando area since 1999. As its name implies, Powell believes her company makes a promise to her clients: to provide high quality people; top end equipment and supplies; and exceptional service. “We pride ourselves in our clients’ satisfaction,” she says. “Taking care of them and any issue that might arise is where we shine.”

Early on in her venture, Powell quickly recognized that caring for customers is one thing, but running a business is all together another. She notes, “when I first started my company, I realized there was so much more about business that I didn’t know, even though I had a background in bookkeeping and accounting. That’s when I turned to the Florida SBDC at UCF.”

“I have utilized a lot of what the FSBDC has to offer,” Powell recalls. “From initially taking classes, to receiving assistance writing a business plan and then getting help with filing for an SBA loan to purchase the property my business is in, I have gained a tremendous amount through the SBDC. For instance, for my loan, my FSBDC consultant Pauline Davis took my financial data and turned it into something of value that helped me get my loan.”

In addition to benefiting from the FSBDC’s consulting, training, and market research support, Powell has been participating in its Business Recovery Team (BRT) service. Intended to assist with revival after the unexpected disruptions of COVID-19 and to build sustainability thereafter, the program is designed to help companies develop and implement customized business strategies, realign their business models and adapt to a new environment. In the case of Covenant Cleaning Services, a team of six (6) SBDC consultants led by consultant Sharon Smith collaborated with Powell to build a new, 3-year strategic business plan, create a business resiliency plan, conduct new market research, produce a new marketing plan, and develop a 2021 financial forecast and budget.

“Since I began working with the FSBDC, I have had amazing, positive changes in my business,” Powell says today. “Everything from an increase in sales – as high as 45% in one year, to going from 23 employees to 38 today, as well as rebalancing our client base to 60% commercial/40% residential, and at the same time increasing our profitability.” All of those wonderful things have happened as a result of Covenant Cleaning Services working with the FSBDC.”

“If I had to use one word to describe the FSBDC, it would be “success”, concludes Powell. “Because that’s what the FSBDC has brought me: success.”

For more information about Covenant Cleaning Services, please visit https://www.covenantcleaningorlando.com/.