Blue Heron CPAs

Blue Heron CPAs

Smart, savvy, and experienced entrepreneurs understand that going it alone is a losing proposition. Finding no cost or low-cost mentors, advisors, partners, and resources is the strategy that can make the difference between success and failure when starting a new business. Nathan Gauger, founder and managing partner of Blue Heron CPAs based in The Villages, FL, fully appreciated this fact and turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) in Sumter County for help.

Blue Heron CPAs provides personal and small business tax services, as well as bookkeeping and general business accounting services. With an office in The Villages and full-service satellite offices in Leesburg (Lake County) and Ocala (Marion County), Blue Heron was built to serve the needs of its local communities. “We truly intend to provide a consultative component to all the services we provide,” Gauger says. “We sit down with you, talk you through your situation. Our goal is to inform you on what is truly happening in your business or your personal finances associated with your taxes and your financial information.”

Opened in 2021, Blue Heron CPAs sought assistance from the FSBDC when Gauger observed new opportunities for his business and his clients’ businesses. “Everybody likes to take advantage of government assistance when it’s available,” Gauger claims. “We found that opportunity with the FSBDC.” Working with Jamie Mead, consultant in the FSBDC at UCF’s Sumter County Office; Phil Geist,  consultant from the FSBDC at the University of North Florida; and Jairo Batista, consultant at the FSBDC at UCF’s Orlando Office, Gauger received the support he needed in multiple ways.

“With the FSBDC, we have been really fortunate to use Jairo for all our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) needs,” Gauger shares. “Jamie was extremely informative with all the demographic data that she offered. We also utilized the FSBDC at UNF for some of our clients in Marion County that were having trouble getting financing. Working with the FSBDC has been extremely pleasant. It’s insane how helpful they can be in all of the different facets of a business,” recalls Gauger.

“Working with the FSBDC, I have seen my business grow,” Gauger continued. “The SEO work that Jairo did means my websites now place high in the Google rankings. Jamie’s demographic databases allow me to target the right customers with positive messaging and bring them to our business. We also recommend the FSBDC to a good majority of our business clients, telling them to reach out because there is great opportunity and great resources to be had from them, and it’s at zero cost.”

“If you’re a new entrepreneur, if you’re someone looking to grow a business and you have not done this before, I advise you to get help,” Gauger concludes. “I would always start with the SBDC and fully utilize their services to grow your business. The one word I would use to describe the SBDC is ‘Passionate’; I don’t know one of their advisors – and I have now worked with four – that doesn’t have a love for actually helping people. That takes passion and that is an absolutely beautiful thing to have on your side.”

For information about Blue Heron CPAs, please visit https://blueheroncpas.com/.

Fabiola Mistelske Bridal Beauty

Fabiola Mistelske Beauty

Finding your inner entrepreneur and using that passion to start your own business is a momentous undertaking, especially if you have never done it before. Fabiola Mistelske had the drive to make her dream business – Fabiola Mistelske Beauty – come true and become a success, she just didn’t know where to start. Fabiola decided to turn to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for assistance and is happy she did.

Fabiola Mistelske Beauty is comprised of a team of beauty professionals who specialize in bridal beauty – meaning they focus solely on providing brides and their bridal parties with hair and makeup services. “What makes us unique is our company is all about the details,” says Mistelske. “Especially when it comes to bridal work, every single detail matters because we customize every single look for every single bride every single time. I train my artists to pay attention to every detail because doing so encompasses everything you are looking for in your bridal look.”

Mistelske came to entrepreneurship with limited business experience but with a clear vision for her company and a wealth of energy to make it happen. “In my journey with the SBDC, I have discovered myself within my business,” she believes. “I started from zero but all the steps and all the information I have received working with my FSBDC consultant Sharon Smith has been amazing. She has been there since the beginning, holding my hand since I started the business. I couldn’t be more grateful for this help, for this opportunity.”

Mistelske’s journey with the FSBDC included taking advantage of its no-cost, expert consulting; its business training and workshops; and its access to extensive market research and databases. “Today, 11 months later, I have seven stylists with me. We do weddings pretty much every single weekend and, for the past three months, we have been able to double book our weekends, and we’re already booking for 2023 and 2024,” Fabiola proudly remarked. “This is where Sharon has been so amazing, guiding me through everything I needed in order for me to get to where I am today.”

Becoming an entrepreneur has been wonderful in other ways for Mistelske. When her nine-year-old daughter Agatha and her class were asked in school if anyone knew what an entrepreneur is, Agatha drew a blank. However, when her teacher explained the meaning and asked if anyone knew one, at that moment Agatha recognized that her mom was an entrepreneur and hers was the only hand to shoot up. “My Mom is an entrepreneur,” Agatha declared with pleasure. When Fabiola heard the story later, she was overwhelmed. “She was so proud of me,” Fabiola recalls, “It was a great moment and I realized that all my efforts had been summarized in it.”

“For anyone thinking of working with the FSBDC, it should be a no-brainer,” Mistelske concludes. “The help is endless. The opportunities are endless. The help is right there for you to grab it. I’m growing my business, I’m growing my team, and it’s all because of the FSBDC.”

For information about Fabiola Mistelske Beauty, please visit https://www.fabiolambeauty.com/.

Blezoo marketing solutions

Blezoo

Exhilaration, accomplishment, and financial success are some of the rewards enjoyed by entrepreneurs and small business owners as they chart their course and navigate their companies from pre-venture to start-up and on to becoming an established, growing, and profitable second-stage company. The downside is that this process is often a solitary and lonely quest without the benefit of other perspectives and experiences to call upon. It’s true when they say ‘It’s lonely at the top,’ after all. Dean Caravelis, founder and CEO of Orlando marketing promotions innovator Blezoo, solved this problem when he discovered the community of business leaders and peers found at the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida’s (FSBDC at UCF) CEO XChange executive roundtable program.

Founded in 2008, Blezoo distinguishes itself through imagination, innovation, and the ability to deliver on its promises. The firm proudly states, “We exist to inspire meaningful connections through fun & creativity. We help busy professionals create remarkable promotions so they can save time & look good.” “We’re a marketing company that produces branded products that turn into experiences in the real world,” Caravelis says, ”so brands can connect with people and other brands authentically. Blezoo is really obsessed with process that delivers things as expected; with creativity so that we can create unexpected and delightful experiences; and with progress as we work to be a little bit better every day – all so we can surpass client expectations,” Caravelis explains.

When it comes to starting and running his business, Caravelis is honest. “Being a founder can be a very lonely experience,” he shares. “Sometimes it feels like you’re alone on an island. Working with the Florida SBDC, it takes you off that island and puts you in a community. I originally reached out to the FSBDC and the CEO XChange because I heard it was an opportunity for me to interact with other CEOs, perhaps shine a light on things I don’t know and really have a kinship with peers. The CEO XChange has surpassed all those expectations and that’s why I have been a member for so many years.”

CEO XChange is an executive roundtable program serving progressive chief executives and business owners in Central Florida. Facilitated by FSBDC consultant Hal Thayer, it is designed specifically for second-stage companies and offers a confidential setting for top executives to discuss vital business issues, opportunities, and trends with a group of peers. CEO XChange presents top executives with the opportunity to broaden their business perspectives and gain new knowledge by engaging in collaborative thinking and problem-solving – giving them the ability to lead their companies more effectively.

“In the last six years, we’ve averaged about 20 – 30% growth every year at Blezoo which has been great. The CEO XChange has really helped me in a lot of areas such as thinking in the future, preparing myself for the unexpected, and given me the confidence to take the business in a new direction,” Caravelis concludes. “It’s helped me propel my growth but also sustained my thirst to lean more. It’s an experience that helps you understand what it takes to get to the next level but also validates and challenges some of your ideas.” And, as a member of the CEO XChange, you don’t have to do it alone.

For information about Blezoo,  please visit https://blezoo.com/.

3D Tire Company Logo

3D Tire Company, Inc.

For a successful family business, management succession from one generation to the next can become much more complicated than initially anticipated, especially when opportunities for revenue growth and operational efficiency also present themselves. When the father and sons who founded and own 3D Tire Company encountered this exact situation, they turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for assistance, and they are happy they did.

With locations in the historic town of Eatonville, FL as well as Apopka, FL, 3D Tire Company has offered quality tires, preventative maintenance, and repair services to the Central Florida area for almost 35 years. Founded by Ernest Williams, who brought sons Darrell, Donavan, and Dexter into the business (the “3 D’s”), 3D Tire Company has built its reputation and large customer base on family values, faith, and the founding principles for which it has become known: quality, dedication, and a commitment to service. “We’ve thrived on our ability to provide a quality level of service,” says Darrell Williams, “and we stand on that: Service First”

Known for being an honest, reliable, and friendly tire and auto repair shop, 3D Tire was contemplating major changes when it approached the FSBDC. “We recognized that we were a business in transition,” recalls Darrell Williams. “We were transitioning from the leadership that had been in place for 30 plus years into a second generation. There were certain aspects of the business that were important to revisit, things that were consistent but had grown obsolete. It was time for us to introduce change to the way we were conducting business.”

Assisted first by FSBDC consultant Pauline Davis, and now by consultants Jose Molfino and John Finnegan, 3D Tire and the FSBDC analyzed the company’s operations, finances and marketing efforts. “Our time with the FSBDC has been very rewarding,” remarks Darrell. “The input and guidance they afforded our company, the direction that they offered, the consulting and different suggestions they made have been instrumental in turning this company around, in reshaping our direction and re-channeling our focus. It pulled a small business such as ours out of our comfort zone and forced us to think and excel beyond the norm.”

“Since our involvement with the FSBDC, certainly from our end as a company, we’ve seen tremendous growth and expansion on various fronts,” continues Darrell. “We’ve been able to see the amount of accounts grow and secured additional business that has helped the bottom line and to increase our footprint in Central Florida.”

“For any business owner that’s thinking about working with the FSBDC, I would use two words: Do It!” Darrel Williams concludes. “The information you gain is invaluable. The experience is certainly worthwhile. And you will be able to take something away from it that will be useful for your business going forward.”

For information about 3D Tire Company, please visit https://3dtirecompany.com/.

Flower shop, Palm Coast, Small Business

Blooming Flowers & Gifts

Success as an entrepreneur requires many personal qualities, none more important than perseverance. When combined with determination, resilience, and a strong work ethic, what might seem to be unremitting obstacles can be overcome. For Stephanie Caddy and her quest to buy a business in Palm Coast, there were times when a purchase seemed next to impossible. Fortunately, she turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for guidance and achieved her dream of becoming a business owner.

Blooming Flowers & Gifts is a local florist that has been in business for 17 years at European Village, a one-stop-destination for all things dining, shopping, and entertainment, featuring seven eateries, multiple salons and boutique shops, six bars, and a few real estate offices. Blooming Flowers and Gifts offers a variety of flower arrangements, European dish gardens, gifts, and much more. Blooming Flowers was, in Stephanie’s opinion, a diamond in the rough with significant promise for growth, and the then owner was ready to entertain offers. Even so, Stephanie had a myriad of critical questions that needed to be addressed. What’s the market opportunity for a florist in Palm Coast and Flagler County? What’s the right price for the existing business? What kind of changes in marketing and operations would be required to realize the business’s full potential? And where could she find a bank loan to finance the acquisition? For those answers and more, Stephanie connected with the FSBDC at UCF.

“I sought out assistance from the FSBDC on the recommendation of a local banker,” as she recalls. “She told me that Palm Coast-based FSBDC consultant Michael Oppenheim was the one to contact and that he could give me guidance and help me through the process of purchasing the business.” With Oppenheim’s assistance and support, Stephanie set to work. “The services I received from the SBDC ranged from conducting a financial analysis and valuation of the current business, to developing a marketing approach, establishing myself within the community and receiving support in obtaining a loan,” Stephanie says today.

Of all the hurdles, finding a bank and moving through the application process to a successful conclusion was the most challenging. But with Oppenheim and the FSBDC by her side, after 13 months and working with five different lenders, Stephanie finally received the loan she needed. “Navigating the loan process was arduous and complex,” she states, “given that most of the banks have different requirements and paperwork submissions to qualify for their loans. The FSBDC was very helpful in getting me to the point where I was able to succeed at obtaining my loan.”

“My experience working with the FSBDC and Mike Oppenheim was amazing,” Stephanie concludes. “I would recommend to anybody looking to purchase a business to work with the FSBDC, to help them get the reports, do the analysis, find ways to build the business, to guide them through the financing. I am grateful to the FSBDC because going through the loan process was very difficult and without their assistance, I would probably have given up.” Stephanie did not back down however, and, thanks to her own and the FSBDC’s perseverance, she became the business owner she aspired to be, and now looks forward to a successful future.

For information about Blooming Flowers & Gifts, please visit https://www.bloomingflowersandgifts.com/.

river street sweets savannah's candy kitchen logo-01

River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen

Starting a small business in a new state can be daunting, even if it that business is one of the fastest growing franchise opportunities in the country. Although you can expect support from the franchise company, the franchisor is not always the best choice when grappling with the many challenges associated with opening a new business in a new market – challenges like local permitting, employee recruitment and more. When Lucia and Keith Lubbock, owners of River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen Orlando, were starting their business and facing all those questions, Lucia turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at  the University of Central Florida’s (FSBDC at UCF) Kissimmee office for assistance.

River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen is one of America’s finest and most renowned candy brands, a southern tradition from the heart of Savannah, Georgia. Featuring its World Famous Pralines®, saltwater taffy, hand stretched peanut brittle, homemade pecan pies and made-from scratch southern delicacies, the folks at River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen proudly say they are “in the business of enriching the lives of our Guests by providing fresh, handmade Southern candies served with good, old-fashioned hospitality in a clean, fun environment.” It’s no wonder they were ranked the #2 Top Candy Franchise by Entrepreneur Magazine in 2021.

“What make us unique and special is that we make everything here, inhouse,” says Lucia Lubbock. “Every single treat that we can make and have here for sale is made with a lot of love and that makes a big difference.” Contributing to River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen’s family atmosphere is the shop’s location: the Promenade at Sunset Walk inside the Margaritaville Resort Orlando, one of Central Florida’s newest and most exciting resort destinations.

“When we first moved to Florida, we wanted to start a business,” recalls Lubbock, “and I found the FSBDC. I went there for a seminar that I found very helpful. After the seminar, I found my FSBDC consultant Elly Membreno and since then they have been helping me with everything. It was about the time of the COVID shut down and she kept on helping me via ZOOM. She guided us with the local permits, with the Paycheck Protection Program or any other questions I had about my business and how to start it.”

“Doing business during COVID was challenging,” Lucia Lubbock says today. “With the help of the FSBDC and Elly Membreno, it was easier. Now the business is getting better. Our numbers are up; revenues are higher by about 35%. We have a strong team. It looks like good times for us ahead.”

“My experience with the FSBDC and with Elly Membreno, it has been great,” concluded Lubbock. “For any entrepreneur or small business owner, I would definitely suggest they go to the FSBDC because they are very helpful. Sometimes you don’t know where to start but they will guide you. Even for me as a franchisee, I know the franchisor can help us with a lot of things but, with local issues and other things, the FSBDC knows the way.”

For information about River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen, please visit https://www.ilovepralines.com/.

Night Lite Pediatrics Logo

Night Lite Pediatrics

Managing a growing business effectively is a constantly challenging, uphill battle. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it and every business would be successful. We all know that isn’t the reality. In fact, the wisest business leaders recognize there are always opportunities for improving performance. The three owners of Night Lite Pediatrics Urgent Care – Dr. Vivek Desai, Dr. Ayodeji Otegbeye, and Dr. Oludapo Soremi – asked themselves how they could run their business more efficiently. To do so, they turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for answers. They soon found themselves tapping into the FSBDC’s no-cost, expert consulting services as well as participating in its Advisory Board Council program, leading to extremely positive results.

As the name suggests, Night Lite Pediatrics Urgent Care is dedicated to caring for kids and young adults. With more than 150 employees and 13 offices throughout Florida, they offer a complete spectrum of health services for children, everything from  high acuity medical care to on-site laboratory services, radiology, testing &  COVID vaccinations, and IV Therapy. They understand that a child’s accidents and illnesses don’t always occur during normal business hours, so they are open after-hours every day of the week. Specializing in small child pediatric urgent care is what sets them apart, however. “Although we see everyone, our niche is the fact that we treat and care for children from newborn to 5 years of age,” says Dr. Soremi. “Our competitors are not comfortable seeing children that young and are very happy to send them to us.”

Night Lite Pediatrics has been successful, almost too successful. “As we were growing, we had a lot of challenges that we were struggling with,” recalls Dr. Desai. For guidance, they called upon the FSBDC at UCF. “I distinctly remember meeting with consultant Pauline Davis of the FSBDC for a financial evaluation and she pointed out a lot of areas where we needed work,” Dr. Desai continued. “It was really an eye opener. I thought we were doing really well, and I discovered we were not doing well at all.”

To assist Night Lite in addressing the issues that she had identified, Davis recommended the FSBDC’s Advisory Board Council (ABC) program which provides no-cost, customized boards of volunteer experts specially selected to address the specific needs of the FSBDC client by providing advice and counsel to help the business grow. For Night Lite Pediatrics, Jill Kaufman, ABC program manager, recruited advisory board members whose expertise would be beneficial to the organization and would help the clients streamline operations, enhance productivity, and improve customer satisfaction.

“The Advisory Board members had really diverse skills and areas of expertise,” Dr. Otegbeye remembers. “There were people who worked in S&P 500 companies as CFO, or in their marketing  or HR departments. They held us accountable. They would do the assessment, provide the solutions, and then guide us through to get results.”

The results achieved have been substantial. Since the company started working with the FSBDC, they have seen revenues grow at a rate of 64% and closed a successful sale of the business to a publicly traded company. “Having the FSBDC in our lives for the last two years had a lot of positive impact,” concluded Dr. Desai, “and we are truly grateful. Thank you, FSBDC.”

For information about Night Lite Pediatrics, please visit https://www.nightlitepediatrics.com/

Kelly's Homemade Ice Cream

Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream

For some small business owners, explosive growth – in revenues, employees, locations – can be an exciting yet daunting challenge. No one wants to miss an opportunity, but the fear of overextending and moving too fast can hold you back. Kelly and Scott Seidl, founders and owners of Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream, recognized that ‘they didn’t know what they didn’t know’ as they sought to manage their rapidly growing business. To gain the perspectives and guidance they wanted to confidently push forward and nurture this growth, the Seidl’s turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its award-winning Advisory Board Council (ABC) program.

Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream is a Cinderella story. In 2014, the company started its journey as a simple ice cream truck. Today Kelly’s has five scoop shops and three counters inside a partner’s coffee shops with plans to expand to two new locations shortly. Their success is a testament to the appeal and popularity of their local and handcrafted product. “We make all our ice cream inhouse,” Kelly Seidl states proudly, “using the highest quality ingredients and dairy from Florida. What makes us exceptional is we have uniquely created flavors, with over 100 recipes of seasonal and featured flavors that are rotated throughout the year. We cherish being part of the community, stay involved with the local schools and strive to give back to show our gratitude for the support we have received.”

“We originally sought out assistance from the FSBDC because our business started to grow and we needed mentorship,” Scott Seidl recalls. “Kelly is a registered nurse by trade, and I am an accountant. We had never started or run a business, so we needed help. The Advisory Board Council was the service we used the most at the FSBDC and it’s been extremely helpful.”
The FSBDC at UCF’s Advisory Board Council provides no-cost, customized boards of volunteer experts specially selected to address the specific needs of the FSBDC client by providing advice and counsel to help the business grow. In the case of Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream, Jill Kaufman, ABC program manager, recruited advisory board members whose expertise
would be beneficial to the organization and would help the clients to explore and evaluate new opportunities as well as plan for the infrastructure that would be needed to support those developments.

“It’s a group of advisors that have a lot of different industry experience and they’ve been great mentors,” says Scott Seidl. “For example, our board had a member with a lot of food production experience which was knowledge we didn’t have. We can bounce our ideas off of them and get the feedback we need and know that they will challenge us. It has really helped us step back from the business and work on the business, not just in the business.”

“Since we started with the FSBDC and the Advisory Board Council, our revenues have grown over 100% and our staff has more than doubled. We had 3 locations, now we have 8,” Kelly Seidl concluded. “If I had to use one word to describe the FSBDC’s Advisory Board, it would be ‘Family’. I have trust in them and that they give us confident, knowledgeable answers that have helped us grow and manage that growth successfully.”

For information about Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream, please visit https://www.kellyshomemadeicecream.com/

Global Technology Integrators, GTI

Global Technology Integrators

Small- and medium-sized businesses rarely have enough resources, whether it’s a shortage of people, capital, or even time. Obtaining and nurturing growth typically requires continuous, substantial support, however, so finding these necessary resources is an ongoing challenge for business owners. Such was the case for Tonya Oxford, owner and CEO, and her husband Tony Oxford, President of Global Technology Integrators, LLC (GTI), as they contemplated their company’s future. It is also why they sought assistance from the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF).

Global Technology Integrators is a Woman-Owned Small Business with over 3 decades of experience solving complex problems with simple cost-effective solutions. GTI designs and delivers instrumentation, atmospherics, targetry and special effects products, including environmentally and physically rugged equipment used by the military for training and ingenious and unexpected scents and smells used by the amusement and entertainment industries for special effects.  “This company is really based on the customer and what the customer’s needs are,” explains Tony Oxford. “We always say that knowing our products can save one war fighter’s life or create more smiles on an amusement ride makes it all worthwhile.”

“We originally looked for help from the FSBDC when our company was going through a transition,” recalls Tonya Oxford. “We had been using the FSBDC for a wide variety of services. I’ve taken training classes with them; they ‘ve done market analyses for us; we have relied on their consulting services, as well – all things that would have been cost prohibitive for us to do on our own but was offered at no cost by the FSBDC. It’s all been worth its weight in gold.”

GTI soon found that it needed additional – and different – assistance, however. Led by FSBDC consultant Sharon Smith, GTI enrolled in the FSBDC’s award winning Advisory Board Council program which provides no-cost, customized boards of volunteer experts specially selected to address the specific needs of the FSBDC client by providing advice and counsel to help the business grow.  Here were the additional resources GTI wanted. “We were lucky enough to start our Board just prior to COVID,” says Tonya Oxford, “and they helped us figure out how to make it in the new world.”

“The Advisory Board is so unique because of the different people that they put in place – for us, a marketing specialist, an attorney, a CFO, small business owners,” Tony Oxford remarks. “Taking and utilizing all of their expertise really helped us move forward. They allowed us to drill down into our marketing and sales, our finances, our HR. We now better understand the risks versus the rewards as we move through our business. It has been a tremendous help and allowed us to have growth in our business that is unheard of.”

“When we started with the FSBDC’s Advisory Board in 2020, we were doing just over $1 million in revenues,’ Tony Oxford states. “Now we have grown to over $4 million – a 282% increase! We have gone from being a small government sub-contractor to now winning our first prime contract. We have gained some patents and expanded into the entertainment industry, and won some big contracts there. That’s the direction we’re going and, with the FSBDC to help us, we know we can continue to grow at an even faster pace.”

For information about Global Technology Integrators, please visit https://www.gtintegrators.com/ .

Mickey Finn's Irish Pub

Mickey Finn’s Irish Pub

Imagine the excitement. You’re a small business owner and restauranteur who has returned to your roots, having bought a bar/restaurant after taking extended R&R in the Florida Keys. Your new place in Clermont, FL – Mickey Finn’s Irish Pub – has been open exactly one week, the customers are coming in, life is good. And then “Wham!” The Pandemic explodes and your business is shut down completely, for weeks. The excitement goes out the door and survival becomes the number one priority. Those were the cards dealt to Micky Finn’s new owners, Ron Greeley and his wife Pat. Fortunately for them, they turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida’s (FSBDC at UCF) in Lake County and FSBDC consultant John Doramus, and that made all the difference.

Mickey Finn’s Irish Pub is the genuine article, right down to the bar itself. All of the furnishings and interior and exterior finishes, including the bar, cabinets, furniture, and décor are authentically Irish, imported from Derry, Ireland itself. The imported beers on tap and the old country menu further showcase the authenticity of the experience. “People come in here and have a real feeling of a pub rather than just a bar,” says Pat Greeley. “We serve the local community as well as international customers, including from the UK and Canada,” continued Ron Greeley. “Our slogan is ‘An Irish Pub with a Key West Attitude.’”

A great concept with a loyal following isn’t enough in the face of a pandemic. “We had first opened the pub in March 2020 and a week later we were shut down because of the COVID virus,” relates Ron Greeley. “They shut us down for six weeks and we lost just about all of our supplies and beer and food. We had to put an extraordinary amount of our own money into the pub just to stay afloat. Our funds were quickly depleted, and we turned to the FSBDC for advice. That’s when we met John Doramus. He is above all the reason we’re still in business.”

After meeting with the Greeley’s and assessing the challenging situation, the FSBDC’s Doramus got to work on finding and connecting them with resources and assistance. After limping through 2020 earning barely 25% of pre-Covid revenues, they started to see slight growth in 2021. Meanwhile, Doramus helped the Greeley’s receive funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and its Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Then he went a step further, showing them the way to receiving Employee Retention Credit funds as well as how to implement a new financial management system.

“If it weren’t for John Doramus and his cohorts at the FSBDC, we would not be where we are today. I cannot thank them enough,” shares Ron Greeley. “John provided us expert advice as to what to do, how to proceed, how to get through the myriad of alphabet agencies that were providing economic disaster funding. John was the one glowing light in this whole dark episode of the Pandemic.” Concluded Pat Greeley: “I wouldn’t hesitate to tell anyone to go ahead and work with the FSBDC. We are successful now because we did.”

For information about Mickey Finn’s Irish Pub, please visit www.mickeyfinnsirishpub.com.