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If you have heard enough negative news about the economy to last a lifetime, you are not alone. While not completely out of harm’s way, there are areas of promise if you can find them. You may not be able to singlehandedly change the Gross Domestic Product or get national credit flowing better, but you can make decisions that will help you run a better business in 2012. Get the information the PROS use and stay ahead of your competitors. Educate yourself on this key economic forecasting data. This is the most up to date and regionally specific information available. What does it mean for you? The speaker, Dr. Mason, will outline where we are headed locally.

When: Thursday, March 8, 2012 Time: 8 a.m. Registration and Networking 8:30 a.m. Presentation Begins 9:30 - 10 a.m. Q & A and Discussion Where: University of North Florida University Center 12000 Alumni Drive Jacksonville, FL 32224 Cost: $25 Register: www.advantagebizmag.com/events

Topics to be presented include:

• Current unemployment rates and the expected trend • Inflation expectations • Presidential election implications • Strength of the US dollar • Europe in turmoil and why you should care • Hidden problems and opportunities with historically low interest rates • Are we in danger of losing the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency? • The certain “uncertainty” • The flow of money locally Speaker Sponsor:

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About Dr. Paul Mason, Ph.D.

Dr. Paul Mason, Ph.D. is the professor of economics in the department of economics and geography at the University of North Florida. He completed his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Texas in 1984 while teaching economics at Southwest Texas State for four years. He taught finance at Clemson University for one year before he began his employment at the University of North Florida in 1985. Dr. Mason progressed through the academic ranks and became a full professor in 1994 and an endowed professor in 2009. Dr. Mason became chairman of the department in May 2002 and has continued in that capacity until June 2011. Dr. Mason is a co-author of the book “The Economic Consequences of State Lotteries” and more than 40 articles regarding numerous topics in economics including casino gaming, banking structure economics education, the economics profession, and gasoline pricing. Dr. Mason is also very active in the community with consulting involving statistics, and as expert witness in litigation involving economic damages. About LEIP Dr. Mason in the faculty director of the Local Economic Indicator Project (LEIP) program that provides a local consumer price index, leading indicators, stock price index and seasonality adjustments to local unemployment rates. The team consists of eight former and curent college students from UNF.

Location Sponsor:

Re gis te r o n l i n e at w ww.ad v ant ag ebiz mag.com/events or by phone at 904- 222- 8140


Contents

In Every Issue 4 16 32 34 35

p. 6

p. 1

8

Vol 4, Issue 2

From the Publisher New Businesses Jax Business Briefs Small Biz News On the Street

PROFILE

18

From the ground up

6

Would you like to play a game?

9

Team up with technology

12

Mass media for small businesses

14

Aiming for the future

The growth-through-acquisition strategy of Krystal Klean and what you can learn

DOWN TO BUSINESS

How “gameification” can accelerate learning in business training

Improve your productivity and profits by using managed technology services Tips on how to get your videos and commercials accomplished

Three strategic technology investments all SMBs should consider

p. 2

5

Industry Insider Advantage 22

Prepare domestically and grow globally

25

Stepping into social media

28

Take some initiative!

30

Know before you grow

Consider branching into international markets to increase your bottom line Being savvy in social media can enhance your business’ success

What being proactive can mean to your small business Key resources for learning about your customers and competitors

In Our Next Issue Health reform and your company Lending through a new technology How to “grow” your own talent

Can’t wait for the next issue? Get a sneak preview. Subscribe to RSS feeds on our website, www.advantagebizmag.com, and visit us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Volume 4, Issue 2

3


from the publisher

The Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) By nature, business owners are optimistic and I think that’s why I enjoy being around them so much. Whenever I get the opportunity to meet a new entrepreneur, I usually jump at the chance. On every occasion, I come away feeling energized and positive. It’s good for the soul. I had one such experience recently when I met Scott Nelowet, owner and founder of French Fry Heaven. On a recent trip to Europe, he noticed there were many independent stores that only sold French fries, and it made him wonder, “Why not in the states?” After conversing with family and friends, he made a decision to try to create a similar concept with an American flare. Not content with simple ketchup or mayo, he started experimenting and getting creative with such flavors as “Darrinn’s Canadian Angels” (brown gravy and cheese) and “Island Angel” (a coconut and curry blend of flavors). It’s relatively simple with just a large kiosk with one main ingredient on the menu—French fries. You can then choose from more than a dozen toppings to personalize to your taste. His plan is to franchise the concept. I sat with him on a bench outside of his location at St. John’s Town Center. When I asked my standard question, “where do you see your business in three to five years?” Without blinking, he confidently answered “500+ stores.” I must admit, it sounds pretty ambitious considering his first location has only been open three months—there is still a whole lot of

4

learning that needs to go on. I was encouraged, however, by his answer because he has the right attitude. It may sound crazy to an outsider, but it makes perfect sense to him—he has a plan, believes in it, and has the energy to execute. After all, if you are going to make a goal, why not a Big Audacious Hairy Goal (BHAG)? So will it work? Time will tell, but in the hour I spent with him, I saw lots of customers ordering his tasty snacks. So what is your BHAG? Your company name on an NFL stadium or being recognized as a “Top place to work?” Or is it to surpass the sales of your industries titan? Let’s hear them! Post your BHAG on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/advantage.bizmag. Maybe we can get some ideas from each other. Until next time,

Brian Barquilla, founder and publisher brian@advantagebizmag.com 904-222-8140

www.AdvantageBizMag.com


FROM OUR READERS

What our readers tell us SMALL BUSINESS

Publisher Brian Barquilla

brian@advantagebizmag.com Business Development George Biastre Jr.

george@advantagebizmag.com Marketing Assistant Dixie Baker dixie@advantagebizmag.com Editor Wendy Bautista wendy@advantagebizmag.com Art Director Jen Hankey jen@jenhankey.com

Editorial

Advisory

Board

Sandy Bartow Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce

Tim Blin Premier Garage

Nelson Bradshaw BBVA Compass

Kimberly Deppe, APR Community First Credit Union

Janice Donaldson Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida

Clint Drawdy Hire Methods Inc. Wilfredo J. Gonzalez U.S. Small Business Administration Aaron Marston HIT Center Jackie Perry Beaver Street Enterprise Center Myron Pincomb MWP Investments, LLC

cover photography Michael LeGrand

www.michaellegrand.com

Jacksonville Advantage: The Resource for Small Business is published 12 times per year. Reprints are available. Content of contributing advertisers does not reflect the opinions of the publisher. Advertisers have proofed respective articles, and content is assumed true and correct. Jacksonville Advantage is not responsible for the business dealings of its advertisers. Jacksonville Advantage is for information purposes only.  ©2012 Jacksonville Advantage. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication, including articles, may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.  Address changes should be submitted via e-mail to subscriptions@advantagebizmag.com. Send story ideas and requests for article reprints to brian@advantagebizmag.com or call 904-222-8140.

Volume 4, Issue 2

ADVANTAGE readers occasionally write to us or make comments online about our website, print magazine, Knowledge is Power workshops, and e-edition. Here are the latest things they have to say: “ Thanks for an outstanding job on the January issue (Vol. 4, Issue 1). I know it took a lot of time to create, proof and print the issue. The secrecy involved made it like playing poker in the dark: high stakes, no room for errors and big winnings if the strategy worked. It worked. The end result was worthwhile, both for the members at the annual meeting and for the SBLYs. That issue is part of their legacy now. I vote to do it again next year, if you can stand another round of poker in the dark!” —John C. Bryan, director, Beaches Division and Chamber Councils, JAX Chamber “Outstanding job on your magazine this month (Vol. 4, Issue 1). I think it was so cool that you held up your printing just to get the new SBLY on the cover. I know that had some challenges and I just wanted to let you know your efforts didn’t go unnoticed! Kudos to you and your team for a job well done! Thanks so much and I am proud to have you as our partner!” —Carolyn Ward, senior marketing manager, AT&T Advertising Solutions Thank you for placing the overall Small Business Leader of the Year winner on your January cover. The magazine looks great, and I love the feature article on Chad! Your letter featuring things to love about JAX is also wonderful! We really appreciate all your support of the Small Business Leader of the Year award, the #ilovejax campaign and all you do as an active Chamber member!” —Lisa Daniel, director, communications/public relations, JAX Chamber

Are you a weekend warrior? Do you volunteer, help your community, or do something fun and exciting on your off hours? Then we want to hear from you! Our After Hours section is always looking to feature small business owners and what they do for fun! Let us know! 5


down to Business

education

Would you like to play a game? How “gameification” can accelerate learning in business training

A

nyone who has been around children and young adults for a while knows they are attracted to video games. And while older adults may think they are being lazy or using their time idly when they’re connected to their Wii or Xbox using a Kinect, in reality they are paving the way for business training and education. How? It’s part of a future trend first identified in the 1980s that is now being called “gameification.” Today, that growing trend is reaching a tipping point. In fact, many of the greatest technological advances in business have come from the world of children and games.

Paving the way To see the migration of how a concept goes from children and games to adults and business, just look at the evolution of social media. At first, young people were the predominant ones on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Adults simply didn’t see the value of social media—after all, who really cared what you had for lunch or what outfit someone wore to the dance?

6

By Daniel Burrus

As adults eventually took more and more interest in social media, many companies made formal policies forbidding employees from using Twitter and Facebook at work. But now that the business world has seen the relevancy of social media and how it can be a brand management, marketing, and collaboration tool, they’re embracing it, some even going so far as creating their own internal versions of Twitter and Facebook. Granted, video games and social media are different technologies, but the concept migration pattern is still the same. And with game controllers like the Wii and Xbox Kinect giving people new ways of interacting with technology, the business world is currently on the threshold of being game-ified. Thanks to Microsoft releasing a software development kit for the Kinect that allows programmers to create new applications, university students started taking this gaming concept and writing software that allows users to control business software using only hand motions— no keyboard or mouse. An early example would be if you want to go to the next page, you do a sweep of your hand across the screen without

www.AdvantageBizMag.com


touching anything. You can sweep to the left, sweep to the right, scroll up, scroll down, and many other things.

The core of gameification The heart of the gameification trend is using interactive gaming as a tool to transform training and education. Based on 25 years of research, there are five core elements that when applied together can dramatically accelerate learning. When you model your company’s training to include these five elements, your employees will learn more in less time and have better results. The five core elements are: Self-diagnostic. In the world of gaming, as you accomplish new feats and your character gets better, the game gives you greater challenges. When you power down, it remembers where you left off. When you return, you don’t have to start over from ground zero. In the case of business training, if you learn something, there’s no need for a trainer to re-teach it to you. A better idea is for business training to have a self-diagnostic component. The interactive, competitive, and immersed module can know your skill or knowledge level and progress accordingly. It can know where you left off and give you next steps from that point when you log back in. This is the best way to allow for individual training and learning. Interactivity. For centuries, education and training have been, for the most part, passive experiences. Someone stands in front of a group and talks and the people being educated or trained sit and listen—taking a few notes here and there. As technology evolved, the trainer or teacher showed a movie or two to keep people involved, but in the end, the people learning just sat and watched. Regardless of someone’s inherent learning style, learning is much more effective when you’re interacting with the material, not passively sitting there. When you learn by gaming, you’re interacting with the information and concepts. You’re moving things around, you’re manipulating items, and you’re actually doing things. It’s no longer passive training. Now you are much more engaged and immersed. Immersion. In the recent past to the present, video games use interspatial 3-D, where you go into worlds. So instead of images popping out at you, you go inside to them. This sort of technology gives an immersed effect, which engages people more. To apply this to business, if you’re training salespeople on a particular manufacturing tool they need to sell, why not have them see the tool in 3-D and actually get to virtually manipulate the tool rather than have them read spec sheets about it? The former will give them more insight to the tool, which will make selling it easier. Competition. Humans are naturally competitive beings—we want to sell more, be more productive, innovate faster, and be smarter than the next person. When you’re sitting in class learning, there’s little competitive value. You’re all there for the entire timeframe whether Volume 4, Issue 2

When it comes to marketing mix, we bring a lot to the table. The net result — we help companies catch more customers. Since 1989, Mary Fisher Design has been delivering an array of comprehensive marketing solutions, including strategic planning, corporate branding and logo design, print, radio, television and Internet advertisements, brochures, websites, press releases, community outreach, media placement, and more. Call to schedule a no-cost consultation and let us help you improve the net result of your marketing efforts.

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down to Business

education you’ve learned the materials in one hour or three. No one advances until the class is over. When you’re competing, however, as in a game, there’s an adrenaline rush that keeps you engaged and focused on the task at hand. In an effort to “win,” people master concepts faster so they can be first. Focus. When you’re playing a game, you’re forced to focus. You have to do A in order for B to occur. If you don’t do A, then you won’t get far in the game. Focus is the result of interactivity, competition, immersion, and self-diagnosis. When you can focus, you can learn virtually anything…fast.

Accelerate learning Using all five core elements is a key to accelerating learning. With more and more to learn, it will be increasingly important to gameify both business and education to create better results faster. Those companies that adopt early will be the long-term winners. So here’s your homework assignment: Get together with a child and play one of their games. While you’re playing, think Wii or Kinect for business. Think of the five core elements and how you could reinvent learning with tools like these. Since businesses spend large sums of money on training and education, any tool that can accelerate or enhance learning will save both time and dollars. n Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and business strategists, and is the founder and CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology-driven trends to help clients better understand how technological, social and business forces are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. He is the author of six books, including “Flash Foresight: How To See the Invisible and Do the Impossible” (www.flashforesight.com) and “Technotrends.” He can reached through www.burrus.com.

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down to Business

technology

Team up with technology Improve your productivity and profits by using managed technology services By Ted Werth

A

s a small business owner, you landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, and new capabilities will continue to depend on reliable access to In your small alter the way you operate for the foreseeable technology to run your business future. and generate revenue. A business, it’s not a For example, in years past, a startup technology outage—due to service, network, company would have to configure and stand up cloud or device issues—can bring productivity matter of “if” you its technical environment, patching together to a painful halt, leaving sales, operations and hosting, email, servers, mobile and desktop customer-facing personnel without the tools will experience devices, routers, printers and more, while they need to do their jobs. typically bootstrapping support resources. To ensure business continuity while also data loss, it’s This need for service prevented companies, containing technical support costs, you should especially small companies, from focusing consider teaming up with a technology services a question of the maximum number of resources and partner. investments on profit-generating activities. Cost-effective access to a proven “when.” Today, however, the availability of remote technology services provider maximizes your managed services enables startups to get up ability to keep vital business technology up and running quickly. This allows companies to and running and enhances your ability to immediately focus on generating revenue and achieving operational satisfy customers. A dedicated technology services partner enables excellence. Similarly, the availability of expert mobile and Web services you to focus on your core business, improving productivity in a way that drives profits. support can improve your small business by ensuring you have access to vital data and productivity tools wherever and whenever you do business. IT support services

deliver new opportunities

The rapidly evolving world of business technology provides you new opportunities to gain a competitive edge—and technology services play an important part in that. The technology services Volume 4, Issue 2

The backup plan Another mission-critical need that can be filled via remote technical support is disaster recovery through backup services that 9


down to Business

technology protect business-critical data. This is a key component of a sound technology strategy for any startup or established enterprise. In your small business, it’s not a matter of “if ” you will experience data loss, it’s a question of “when.” And given that a very high percentage of smaller enterprises that lose vital data go out of business within two years of the data loss, it’s crucial to make sure you have the backup and recovery capabilities to ensure that your company thrives. Technology services companies can deliver offsite and cloud-based data backup services that ensure recovery in case of a major technology issue. This type of service can also help you comply with regulatory guidelines that mandate retention of key data. Many small business owners assume their critical intellectual property is protected, but the issue is too important to leave to chance. It’s a great idea to have a data backup professional conduct a thorough review to ensure you have the resources in place to recover from disaster, whether caused by user error, hacker activities, a technology issue, severe weather impact or fire. This will not only provide the peace of mind that comes with knowing your business is ready to meet the challenges associated with an unexpected technology disruption, it also provides your customers with the assurance that your business will be there when needed, protecting important data and delivering the services they expect.

For you and your customers As a small business owner, you may be able to significantly increase your company’s efficiency and productivity with a managed technology services contract, which reaches beyond your basic IT or help desk support. In addition to reliable access to the technology tools you depend on to run your business and serve your customers, managed technology services can expand your team’s capabilities. For example: The ability to securely upload business data from the field can eliminate the need for sales or service teams to capture customer information and manually enter data later. Up to 95% of technical problems can be resolved via remotely delivered support, which can drastically reduce productivity lost due to waiting for onsite assistance. But the benefits of receiving managed technology services from a technical services specialist extend even further to include proactive maintenance to anticipate needs and address issues before they become problems. By taking a proactive rather than strictly reactive break-fix approach, you can gain a competitive advantage.

Do a lot with a little The benefits of having 24/7 access to technology services solutions are clear: • Higher productivity and efficiency; 10

www.AdvantageBizMag.com


I

• Reliable access to vital business tools; • A sound backup and business continuity strategy; and • Greater customer satisfaction. However, you may be concerned about the costs associated with a managed technical support contract. Generally, the cost ranges from $20-$40 per computer and approximately $299 per server supported. To put that cost into context, think about the loss of profits that would result from a technical failure that brings all business activities to a standstill—even for a single day. If you’re ready to position your business for continued growth and success with a proactive approach to technology services and support that allows your team to focus on core competencies, it’s time to think about forming a partnership with a company that specializes in managed technology services for small and medium businesses. As you consider your options, evaluate potential partners’ experience and credibility. Make sure you find a partner with a strong history in the industry and accounts that will provide references. Ensure your potential technology services vendor can be trusted with your vital business data and has the resources needed to respond immediately with reliable service when you need it. Above all, make sure your potential partner is committed to providing an excellent customer service experience. By taking these steps, you can do a lot with a little. n

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PROTECT THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE.

Ted Werth is founder, chairman and CEO of PlumChoice, a provider of 24x7 online repair and assistance and managed technical support to SMBs and consumers directly and through telecommunications, cable company and retail partnerships. He can be reached through www.plumchoice.com.

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Volume 4, Issue 2

11


down to Business

marketing

Mass media for small businesses Tips on how to get your videos and commercials accomplished By Katrina Diamond

Y

ou’ve launched your website and the new office furniture is being delivered tomorrow, but before you kick up your heels on the new mahogany desk, ask yourself one question: Does your small business have a video? If you answered no, then you should keep reading. The average website user session is 30 seconds, but when the website has a video, the session can last 5 minutes, 50 seconds. Most users that make a Google search are more tempted to click a website that has a video. Correctly optimized, websites with video are 53 times more likely to appear on the first page of Google—not to mention that in the last three years, cell phone video traffic increased 5,000% (Facts about Online Video, the YouOn Group, Sept. 2011). In addition to all the print, online, experiential and PR/marketing you have prepared, you must have videos to engage users, explain why your business exists and how you can help. You must consider each viewer a potential client. Whether it’s an intro from the CEO, an animated how-to video, a public service announcement (PSA), or a full-blown commercial, you need a video to introduce your business. The sooner you realize that, the better you can position your company and start owning your space in the market.

And…action! Set your goals and follow through. In the same way you would prepare your kitchen and recipes before cooking a big feast, you should always be prepared going into a production contract. Know the clear goals of your video and grab as many examples as possible of what you like and don’t like before getting quotes from vendors. 12

When you are ready, find and hire the appropriate media company or freelance provider and be sure to: Check out their reels. You want to be able to compare one company’s reel to others in their specialty. Do the skills measure up in the work showcased? Pay attention to third-party recommendations. Look at who their other clients are. Do they have an impressive client list of legitimate testimonials? Ask for references. Make sure to get some that you can call. While online recommendations are great, nothing beats having a client reference you can call and hear about experience for yourself. Inspect specific project experience. Know what they offer and if they can do the job you are looking to have done. Do the clients, reels or credits give you assurance the vendor can handle your type of project, i.e. a “reality show webisode” versus a traditional corporate training video?

Rolling! The next step is knowing where to look and what to look for. Begin by researching appropriate pricing bids. You will want to compare apples to apples to ensure you aren’t getting taken advantage of during the process. Keep an open mind that it may take two different companies to get the job done as not all companies can help from concept to completion. For example, you may need to hire a freelance scriptwriter first, and then go with a production company to bring your script to life. Once you are ready, begin locating the professionals you need. You may find what you are looking for by simply performing a Google search, i.e., “Production Houses in NYC” or “Animators in Florida,” www.AdvantageBizMag.com


but know there are also production companies that can match you to qualified, available vendors within minutes.

Script changes When it comes to your production, there are a few things in the fine print to watch for. Make sure they are insured. Protect your production—better to be on the safe side early on than regret it later. Don’t pay in full upfront. Paying half at the start of project and half upon completion or by one-thirds (1/3 at start, 1/3 mid-project, 1/3 upon completion) is standard. Have a deadline. Ensure it is mutually agreed upon, in writing and clearly outlined so everyone is on the same page. Make sure to add an addendum any time something is removed, added on or changed that may affect the cost of the production. Secure all the pertinent text, verbiage, artwork, etc. You want to have all photos, b-roll, design elements, logos, updated contact info, etc. prior to starting so no one is waiting on you at any point in the production. Set expectations early on. You get what you pay for—don’t expect a Super Bowl commercial when you go with “Discount Dave.” Take your work seriously—not yourself. Everybody has their weaknesses. If yours is being camera ready, then plan ahead to select a spokesperson or PR representative for your company that may do a better job. Request raw files. Whether or not you plan on updating this video later on, make sure you request the raw files along with the final deliverable of the finished product. You may want to add elements to your site or future promotional materials down the line. Own the rights. Make sure you own the rights to your video and that the vendor isn’t selling the content to other takers. There should be verbiage in your contract stating this, but it’s always good to highlight this as a line item and make sure they only use the footage in their own promotional reels, not for other projects. This should go without saying, but nonetheless, make sure you feel comfortable with the vendor and don’t settle for the first quote you see. You may be torn between two vendors with comparable fees, recommendations and work, so choose who you like best and wouldn’t mind speaking to on a regular basis for production meetings and updates.

Links. At the end of the video, make sure the video links to your website and has your email and phone number. You also want to link to your video in relevant brochures and marketing materials. Social media. You will want to post it to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Consider using a social media dashboard like Hootsuite to track and schedule your social media messages. You can use predefined keyword streams to respond to customer feedback or use it to find new clients and respond to them directly. Networking. Are you involved in a niche online community for your industry? Link the video from your professional online networks. Staying active and becoming an influencer in one or two of these niche sites is always better than having empty profiles in all of them. Prepared clients usually end up being the happiest clients. Give yourself and your small business the gift of a video. Happy shooting! n

Katrina Diamond is the marketing/PR manager for ProductionHUB Inc., the search engine for media and entertainment that connects film, television, video, live event and digital media production with those seeking industry services, equipment and professionals. She can be reached at 877-629-4122, at kdiamond@productionhub.com or through www.productionhub.com.

That’s a wrap! Your video is complete and you are ready to…now what? Some ways to maximize your video is to use it for: SEO. Optimize your video content for search engine optimization (SEO)—use search-friendly URLs, no Flash, video descriptions and tags. Volume 4, Issue 2

13


down to Business

technology

Aiming for the future Three strategic technology investments all SMBs should consider By Diana Tibbs

I

t seems that new business technologies hit the market nearly every day, most claiming to be silver-bullet solutions for business success. For small and medium-sized business (SMB) decision makers, wading through this sea of new innovations and trying to determine which tools really will make a difference for their businesses—and which aren’t what they claim to be—can be difficult, if not downright impossible. Moreover, with affordability an ever-present concern, many SMB decision makers hesitate to invest in new technologies, instead holding true to the adage, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” Yet, there is still something to be said for careful, strategic technology investments, because they really can make a critical difference in how an SMB performs. What follows is a brief overview of several key technology solutions that all SMB decision makers should consider implementing, keeping in mind that, while their current technology tools may not be broken, now may be the time to start investing in technologies that will chart the course of their business’ future:

Server virtualization Server virtualization is a computing technique that harnesses unused computing power, often by consolidating physical server hardware. Virtualization creates tremendous efficiencies within a business. 14

Frequently an SMB will be running numerous servers that each may only use 10% of available computing power. However, when that business adopts a virtualization strategy, it can create one, highly efficient server, thereby reducing power management costs and environmental impact, as well as hardware and associated maintenance costs. Additionally, eliminating “server sprawl” helps SMBs reclaim valuable physical space and alleviate the time needed to manage IT infrastructure. Creating new servers using virtualization is quicker, easier and less expensive than adding new physical servers, which is a process that involves purchasing new hardware, installing it and configuring the server software. One tool can manage physical and virtual machines, which allows for greater agility and time savings. Virtualized machines also lead to greater business continuity, since they compartmentalize workloads and can be backed up while running, features that make it simpler to recover from system or application failures. In its infancy, virtualization was expensive and primarily a computing technique used by larger organizations. Now, though, it’s become more widespread, affordable and scalable to fit the specific needs of SMBs.

www.AdvantageBizMag.com


Cloud-based services Cloud-based services have grown in popularity over the past year or so, and for good reason. The best cloud computing solutions deliver enterprise-class IT capabilities at prices smaller organizations can afford—leveling the playing field and making it easier for SMBs to compete and succeed. For those new to cloud computing, it can be helpful to think of using a cloud-based service as similar to joining a gym. Gym members enjoy all the equipment and services of a workout facility, but they don’t bear the added responsibility of equipment maintenance or shoulder the upfront costs of purchasing the machines, the building, etc. Additionally, gym members can cancel their memberships anytime and often add or reduce supplemental membership benefits if desired. Similarly, SMBs that use cloud-based software solutions gain affordable access to advanced IT capabilities without having to buy additional hardware or employ someone with the IT skills to manage the software. Subscription-based payment models mean users can scale services up or down, depending on the business’ needs at the time, and costs remain low because businesses are only paying for the services they actually use. Additional benefits of cloud-based services include mobility (programs are available anywhere employees have access to the Internet) and business continuity (in the event of an outage or disaster, data remains safely stored in an offsite location and easily accessible). Frequently used cloud-based services include communication and collaboration software and office productivity tools.

Smart phones Many SMB employees might already use smart phones in their personal lives, enjoying the convenience of quick access to such commonly used computer programs as e-mail and Internet browsing. Still, many employers hesitate to make smart phones standard company technology tools, even though equipping employees with smart phones for business use provides numerous benefits. Smart phones can increase employee productivity, enhance work/life balance and help an SMB support or create a remote workforce. With a smart phone in hand, employees can open and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations while out of the office, as well as access e-mail, calendars, contacts and the Web. With all of these capabilities at their fingertips, employees can provide enhanced customer service and quicker response times, since they always have access to pertinent business information. Smart phones also enable employees to collaborate and communicate better with colleagues working in the office, as well as make it easier to complete unfinished work tasks and respond to urgent requests after hours or while out of the office. Volume 4, Issue 2

Most suited to smart phone investments are SMBs that employ field workers or simply wish to provide more remote-working capabilities to their employees. In an increasingly mobile marketplace, the majority of SMBs will find that enabling employees to do their jobs anywhere, anytime results in greater business success and happier, more satisfied employees. It’s all too easy for an SMB to get stuck in a technology comfort zone that might be meeting the immediate needs of the business but not advancing any future goals or helping the business compete, operate efficiently or even grow. All SMB decision makers should consider how technology is helping their businesses succeed and grow and what, if anything, should change when it comes to their IT infrastructure. n Diana Tibbs is Microsoft’s general manager of the Central Region with responsibility for the U.S. Small and Medium Business and Distribution segment (SMB&D). Tibbs and her team align Microsoft’s resources across customer and partner engagement to drive success in serving the millions of small and medium-sized businesses in the Central Region, helping them start, grow, and thrive by leveraging today’s powerful and affordable technologies. For more guidance on smart SMB technology investment strategies and solutions, visit www.microsoftbusinesshub.com. More ways technology can aid your business. advantagebizmag.com/archives/category/down-tobusiness/technology

15


new businesses

Welcome new businesses! Advantage Magazine would like to extend a warm welcome to the following new small businesses opening in and around the Jacksonville area: Adrienne Michelle’s Salon & Spa Inc.

Dream World

Kimson Co.

9889 San Jose Blvd., Jacksonville 32257 Adrienne Michelle Hartley

2630 Hidden Village Dr., Jacksonville 32216 Murat Y. Ozyalcin

11701 San Jose Blvd., Jacksonville 32223 Tri M. Bui

Arc One Welding & Fabrication Inc.

East Coast Worldwide

Launch904international LLC

6303 S. Terry Parker Dr., Jacksonville 32211 Shawn R. Rector

524 Upper 3rd St. S., Jacksonville Beach 32250 SCG Jax LLC

PO Box 24261, Jacksonville 32241 Elena Roxana Seminario

BDJ Enterprises LLC

FDS Consultants LLC

Little Closets

17 N. Ocean St., Jacksonville 32202 Jason K. Hunnicutt

8861 Brookshire Ct., Jacksonville 32257 Kenneth W. Greene

1104 Pheasant Dr., Jacksonville 32218 Allison J. Sluder

Big City Detailing Unlimited Inc.

Franklin Irrigation Inc.

Manos Pool Construction LLC

5005 San Jose Blvd., Jacksonville 32207 John Thomas Ellison

3867 Bald Eagle Lane, Jacksonville 32257 Scott A. Franklin

937 N. 5th Ave., Jacksonville Beach 32250 Michael N. Manos

Blue Caribe Aviation LLC

Green Machine Reflective Technologies LLC

Mayport Garden LLC

701 W. Adams St., Suite 2, Jacksonville 32204 Blue Caribe Aviation LLC

2103 Windjammer Lane, St. Augustine 32084 James B. Bishop

701 Mayport Crossing Blvd., Atlantic Beach 32233 Lucena Uson Arguilla

BodyBalanceMD LLC

Gutovitz Physician Services P.A.

Mitchell Bail Bond Depot

4127 Ortega Blvd., Jacksonville 32210 Jennifer Holechek Mobley

7331 San Carlos Rd., Jacksonville 32217 Scott B. Gutovitz

2824 N. Main St., Jacksonville 32206 E Mitchell Biz Inc.

C & J Seafood Express

Handyman Hall Duval Inc.

Naturescape Landscape Services

12354 Dewhurst Cir., Jacksonville 32218 Carla E. Johnson

1215 Ribault River Dr., Jacksonville 32208 Samuel R. Hall Jr.

3576 Sans Pareil St., Jacksonville 32224 Adam M. Jennings

Caketails Cupcake Company

Head Honcho Productions LLC

Neilios Tree Service

214S 3rd Ave., Jacksonville Beach 32250 Noritek International Inc.

5501 University Club Rd., Jacksonville 32277 Keva T. Delancy

5356 Sloan Lane, Jacksonville 32222 Neil Douglas Castleberry

Cars of Jax Inc.

Ho Made By Linda

Pereau Brothers Lawncare Services Inc.

158 Islesbrook Pkwy., St Johns 32259 Ammar Shakhtour

8301 W. Copperfield Cir., Jacksonville 32244 Linda T. Anderson

3861 Eldridge Ave., Orange Park 32073 Kirk E. Pereau

Carvajal Holdings LLC

InspectorPros Florida

PMC Projects Inc.

5875 San Juan Ave., Jacksonville 32210 Mercedes M. Carvajal

9838 Old Baymeadows Rd., Jacksonville 32256 Anthony M. Raso

1031 Lasalle St., Jacksonville 32207 Robert L. Black

Cleaners of Excellance

J D H Drywall Inc.

Pom’s Signature Restaurant LLC

7101 Wilson Blvd., Jacksonville 32210 Jameka Chanelle Williams

2040 State Rd. 13, St Johns 32259 Jason D. Holley

7956 Monterey Bay Dr., Jacksonville 32256 Pom Souvannasoth

Compass Contractors Inc.

Jax Vacs

Power Performance Painting III Inc.

12849 SW 86th Union, Lake Butler 32054 Noah B. Andersen-Davis

3780 Kori Rd., Jacksonville 32257 Richard M. Taylor

PO Box 330606, Atlantic Beach 32233 Steven E. Powers

Cornerstone Kids

JCMINE Solutions LLC

Rs&Gb Contracting Inc.

5285 Shad Rd., Jacksonville 32257 Pamela C. Davis

6128 Verdes Rd., Jacksonville 32244 Lanita Carlene Marshall

1015 Atlantic Blvd., Atlantic Beach 32233 Ronnie J. Sneed

Diaz Renovations LLC

Joseph Vanhoy Electric LLC

Seven Seas Crab House Inc.

7916 Free Ave., Jacksonville 32211 Gustavo I Saenz Jr.

811 Century 21 Dr., Jacksonville 32216 Joseph D. Vanhoy

136 E. Union St., Jacksonville 32202 Omid Sayed

16

www.AdvantageBizMag.com


new businesses Sitelancer Services 1064 W. Willow Cove Ct., Atlantic Beach 32233 Paula R. Steen

Sullivans Garage Doors Inc. 3538 Seafoam Lane, Jacksonville Beach 32250 Michael F. Sullivan

Sun Blossoms LLC 184 Southern Grove Dr., St Johns 32259 Anna S. Ostapenko

Tan Like A Celebrity 2023 W. Las Brisas Way, Jacksonville 32224 Shelley A. Amalberti

The Brothers Trimm LLC 12359 Pulaski Rd., Jacksonville 32218 Jackie L. Wilson

The Little Family Crepes LLC 4172 London Rd., Jacksonville 32207 Lucie V. Dauteur

WH Express 6751 S. Brandemere Rd., Jacksonville 32211 Windee A. Hayslette

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Volume 4, Issue 2

17


From the ground up The growth-through-acquisition strategy of Krystal Klean and what you can learn

W

hen Jeremy, Claire and Tony Morgan began Krystal Klean (www.KrystalKlean.com) window washing in 2001 with nothing but experience from growing up in the service industry, they never imagined it would become what it is today—a multifaceted company with two divisions which provide services on the exterior building envelope as well as services for corrosion control and coating for boats, cranes, buses, heavy equipment and large vehicles.

Getting started “It was exciting in the early days when we would compete with each other to see who had the most success each day,” says Jeremy. “We would pass out close to 200 business cards and consider the day a success if we saw a 2.5% return.” They were working out of Jeremy and Claire’s 800 square-foot home, sharing a car and a cell phone, with the front room acting as the office. “You couldn’t see one inch of wall space because we had notes, cards, charts and jobs all over the wall,” laughs Jeremy. “At that point, every cent we made went into the structure of the business so eventually it would be able to pay for our living.” 18

By Wendy Bautista

That persistence paid off, and within the first year they were able to, one by one, land 400 accounts, including companies such as Solantic, Sticky Fingers and Freebird Café.

Making strides Shortly after their first year, the opportunity arose to buy a company. While Tony was cleaning windows at a Southside eye clinic, he was approached by a gentleman enquiring how much he was charging to clean windows. As Tony was explaining that he could get a price quote by calling the office, the gentleman was more interested in talking about selling his business. “After looking into it, we brokered a deal and it worked,” says Tony. “It was just 14 accounts, but we retained them all.” With that, the acquisition of Busy Bee Window Cleaning was complete in 2002, and Krystal Klean has basically bought one company per year since then. “As part of our buying strategy, we’ve developed a formula using a percentage of gross sales and it has worked very well for us,” says Jeremy. “Busy Bee would be the smallest company we’ve purchased and the largest would be 3,000 customers, resulting in significant gross revenue.” www.AdvantageBizMag.com

photo: Michael LeGrand

profile


Business vitals Owners: Claire, Jeremy and Tony Morgan In business since: 2001 Projected growth: “We have some fantastic key customers like Shands, JEA, St. Vincent’s, Bacardi, Anheuser Busch and RingPower, but our goal this year is to double our key customer count to 100,” says Jeremy.

Some other acquisitions include Hites, Klear View, Vision, and Hobbs Industries, in which 90% of the customers retained Krystal Klean as their service provider.

Handling the sale “Many of the companies we’ve purchased have been, on average, in business for 25 years so properly handling the acquisition has taken some finesse,” says Jeremy. “Handing over the reins is a challenging process for anyone, but especially a small business owner who has developed relationships with their customer base,” adds Tony. “The name of their business becomes a part of that individual so they have difficulty handing over their company without confidence that their customers will be treated in the same manner.” “A few of the companies we have purchased have been distressed sales so walking out this process is challenging as we work our way through a maze of business issues mixed with personal drama,” continues Jeremy. “While helping someone through what might be considered a winter season in their life, you lose if it’s all business. If you can make it a portion of heart and a portion of business, however, you can make your way through the merger.”

The Morgans have achieved success by making the transition process a personal one. Their first step is requiring the seller to write an introduction letter which explains the transition, thanks the customer for their past years of service and introduces Krystal Klean as the new owners. Then a meeting is scheduled with each customer in which the seller introduces the new owners in person. Krystal Klean then shows a presentation demonstrating their diverse value and service packages and begins discussions with the client on how they will honor the existing rates and presents opportunities for improving or adding services. “Each company we’ve purchased has had five to 10 key clients which have been loyal for the life of that company,” says Jeremy. “Some have gone back 20 years and the only way we had an opportunity to serve them was through merging.” “Key to making the merge a success is finding out what the previous company did to meet the clients’ needs, duplicating that process and then asking, ‘What can we do to make it better?’” adds Tony. “Making that owner transition is huge,” says Jeremy. “There is buying the company and settling with the owner, and then there is transitioning with the customers on his list—and those are two completely different interactions, but they are crucial interactions.”

Moving assets One thing in the transition that is essential is forwarding the seller’s phone lines to a Krystal Klean line. “From then on, there will be a steady Volume 4, Issue 2

photo: Michael LeGrand

Making the transition

19


photo: Michael LeGrand

profile

stream of phone calls coming in to our office,” says Jeremy. “We make sure the phone is answered using the old company’s name as well as our name so the customer hears both names. It cuts down on hang-ups or people thinking they have the wrong number and increases continuity.” Krystal Klean also transfers ownership of the previous company’s trade name and uses the name and logo in a joint advertisement for a six-month period. They gradually drop the previous company’s name—making the transition to Krystal Klean complete. “In these transitions, it is amazing the intangible emotional attachment people have,” adds Tony. “After owning a business for 25 years or so, a business owner has thought through his logo, he has thought through what equipment he needed—all the things he gave a lot of thought and energy and emotion to to tie it in with him and the person he is, so using it for six months, gives a little bit of excitement and honor to the seller.” “He gets to show and say he sold it to someone bigger and it provides so much more goodwill,” says Tony.

Not without its problems “Mostly when we purchase a company we buy a customer list and the goodwill, which is the phone number and trade name,” says Tony. “One instance when we didn’t, someone else picked up the name, hired the old secretary, and started doing business under that trade name. In that case, we lost four key accounts—three of which we were able to acquire through organic growth.” 20

“There are lots of stories we can tell on different problems because buying a business isn’t a problem-free adventure—every single time it takes your breath away,” says Jeremy. “There is so much to learn and so much to experience each time. Tony, Claire and I sometimes just look at each other and say, ‘What did we do?’ but then the next month the phone rings and you do it again.” “We’ve encountered challenges with each purchase,” adds Claire. “Each company has had problems which were not discovered until after the sale, but it all comes with good, and of course, some have been better than others.” “We’ve made mistakes, but shouldered through them and recognized what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again,” says Jeremy.

Adding services They are quickly approaching 50 key customers, which produce roughly 80% of their income, and handle a master list of 10,000 customers—with 2,500 of them being recurring active customers and others on an “as needed” basis. “We don’t discount the small the jobs,” adds Tony. “The amount of activity makes us highly visible and gets our name out there.” In Oct. 2008, the Morgans expanded their services and added a second division, and just recently restructured. “Krystal Companies is the name of our company with Krystal Klean as a division,” says Claire. www.AdvantageBizMag.com


How you can do it “Window cleaning was always going to be just a stepping stone for us,” says Jeremy. “It wasn’t going to be the end goal, but because we were involved and active in it, it naturally grew—and grew larger than we ever expected.”

“Krystal Klean is the building services division consisting mostly of work for the exterior envelope of the building, which includes window washing, pressure washing, painting, restoration, caulking, waterproofing, all and everything to do with the outside exterior façade of the building,” continues Jeremy. “Krystal Companies is the transportation services division, which is everything from boats to cranes to heavy equipment to cars to buses—anything in that arena.”

“It came from hard work, having a goal in mind and knowing that if we got out there and hustled the opportunities would come,” says Jeremy. “I always wondered what it would be like to have a million dollar company and once I reached that goal, I wondered what it would be like to have a multi-million dollar company. Once you achieve a set goal, ask yourself, ‘What goal am I chasing now?’ You have to set a goal to chase.”

Gaining ground In the first two weeks of operation, Krystal Companies landed a military contract for paint and body work on 30 vans with a two week deadline.“After that was accomplished well, it essentially turned our paint and body work division into a huge and successful business overnight,” says Jeremy. “And two years later, the military is 1/3 of our business.” “We had an 11 boat contract with the U.S. Navy which lasted eight months and consisted of sand blasting, aluminum fabrication, five-step coating system, redoing the electronics, upholstery and many other items. This job led us into many exciting opportunities that have the potential to revolutionize our entire company,” adds Jeremy. “By demonstrating our ability to make it happen in a small way the doors have opened for much larger jobs.”

“Success can be confining,” says Tony. “Understand what it means before you get into it. Knowing where you are going makes the road a lot easier to navigate. Project what the end result will be and make sure it is what you want.” “You need to think long term and make sure you really want it. For some, they think they want to be a small business owner, but don’t look far enough out to see what it really means,” adds Tony. “My father, Dennis Morgan, currently works for us in sales and quality control/papa and a quote you will often hear him say is ‘Pray as if it is up to God and work as if it is up to you.’’’

Taking on challenges

Wendy Bautista is the editor of Advantage Small Business Magazine. She can be reached at Wendy@advantagebizmag.com or 904-222-8140.

Volume 4, Issue 2

A day in the life See Krystal Klean in action! Anchor Bruce Hamilton of News4Jax experiences one aspect of what Krystal Klean does on a daily basis at www. news4jax.com/news/Bruce-Window-Washing-2//475880/8583582/-/2sn5vnz/-/index.html.

photo: Michael LeGrand

The Morgans are constantly finding ways to better describe what they do and admit they may have possibly gotten too diverse at times, “but we’re not afraid to take on challenges,” says Tony. “We have Florida contractor’s licenses which increase our understanding of how our services relate to the other construction trades,” adds Jeremy. “We have an understanding of what it takes and how construction works so if a business approaches us to buy them, and it compliments or adds to what we do, we consider it.” “Another industry challenge we face is working with heights. We have dedicated teams for all of the buildings above three stories. They are certified and trained with rope descension systems, swing stage scaffolding and manlifts,” adds Jeremy. “We maintain the most stringent safety policies due to our family and friends hanging from these ropes. With that in mind, the protection provided for our customers is of the highest quality.” “We own the systems and the equipment that can access all exterior buildings of any height giving us the competitive advantage,” continues Jeremy. n

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Prepare domestically and grow globally Consider branching into international markets to increase your bottom line

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eed an antidote for shrinking domestic markets? Consider international markets. They offer unparalleled opportunity for growth, increased sales, diversified markets and increased profit for successful businesses. Unfortunately, many U.S. companies gaze with trepidation at the process and surrender to fear before making an earnest effort. The main problem is simply a mindset, which contributes to a lack of experience, talent and confidence on behalf of U.S. business people to navigate emerging global markets. Smaller countries around the world, however, have operated globally with success for generations.

Are you ready to go global? Unlike smaller countries that think globally from the beginning of a product’s life cycle, U.S. companies typically consider global expansion only after achieving domestic success. In this scenario, a well marketed product or service already exists, but new markets are needed to continue upward profitability. Before starting the new market search, however, businesses must administer an honest self-assessment to include commitments, budgets, human capital, international expertise, and global objectives. Given the assessment results, the precise time may not be right; but, being aware of the risks as well as the opportunities is important. 22

By Mona Pearl

In today’s economic climate, no rock can be left unturned in the search for new opportunities. The million dollar question is the same: “What markets will generate the greatest success for my company?” While there is no “one size fits all” solution, in-depth research and expert advice can attempt to answer this critical question. Too often, the lack of adequate market knowledge leads to failure. Secondary market research consists of information collected from published sources such as books, newspapers, market reports, studies and the Internet. Primary market research fills in any gaps through direct personal contact with local industry experts, customers, trade commissioners and other local persons with the requisite knowledge to assist. It’s also important for businesses to tap into resources such as local trade associations, lawyers, experts in the field of global expansion, accountants and potential partners. While in-depth research may seem tedious, it ultimately saves time, money and other valued resources. Without a solid base of research, businesses will be unable to anticipate issues and answer difficult questions such as: • Where in the world should I go? • What is the best global direction for my business / specific products? • What paths lead to sustainable growth? www.AdvantageBizMag.com


• How can ROI projections be fully realized? Effective research allows these difficult decisions to be driven by evidence-based data.

Selecting a market Choosing a target market(s) starts with knowing the product/ service and what range of functionality it can offer the global community. Then, scan the markets suitable for that product. Another excellent starting point in evaluating potential countries/regions is gauging the U.S. government’s attitude toward them. For example: Does the U.S. government maintain a line of credit with the country? Are there export controls? How is the country ranked internationally? These broad questions will narrow down the list of potential target countries to consider. The next step of research involves a more detailed analysis of risks and opportunities for those markets that emerged as potentially good targets given the product/service under consideration. You will want to look at these key issues: • Legal environment • Ethics • Attitude towards foreign investment and R&D • Economic/political stability After a country/region is selected, it’s important to further identify their strengths and weaknesses relative to your product and business. This process will prepare you to anticipate potential surprises and be equipped with a carefully planned response instead of a hasty reaction when, not if, they occur.

decide whether to enter the market alone or seek alliances with existing local businesses. Secondly, choose an appropriate distribution channel. In both of these, there are tradeoffs in terms of financial commitment and control over the product as it reaches the end customer, as well as general cultural and other integration issues. Due diligence is important as the perception of any foreign organization is filtered through whom they partner with locally—team up with the wrong partner and failure can strike before any business is conducted. A local partner can also provide insight, contacts and expertise. A strategic alliance also provides more effective market access, resulting in higher foreign sales in less time. Not surprisingly, as the pressure to rapidly exploit new technology and products has increased, so have the options for businesses interested in franchising, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions or other strategic alliances. While the flip-side is less control, it forces cooperation with local business which can be a recipe for success. Secondly, distribution is one of the most crucial decisions in a global expansion strategy. It represents a significant overhead cost and lies at the heart of the connection between what the market wants and what the market gets. Ultimately, both decisions will be guided by the international business community, the type of market for the product (mass market

Product adaptation: “know” the target audience Various international audiences have different needs, unique preferences and diverse ways/nuances of conducting business. This includes, but is not limited to, learning their culture, traditions, practices, philosophy, preferences and their way of conducting both life and business. Only with a thorough understanding of the target market can you make wise and sustainable economic decisions about product adaptation and, ultimately, success. Each product, in every respect, needs to be tailored to suit the local tastes, customs and preferences. This includes packaging, branding, pricing and after-sale servicing. Become thoroughly familiar with the local people; it may avert an expensive, and potentially embarrassing, mistake.

Market entry: a “dynamic” actionable plan

Building Brands since 1998.

While there are many important decisions to make when launching into a new international market, two are particularly critical. First, Volume 4, Issue 2

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Industry Insider Advantage

MORE WAYS TO SEARCH. MORE WAYS TO FIND.

Finance

or limited), available capital, sales volume and access to information technology.

Access to talent—a limiting factor One emerging trend to watch is a shrinking pool of talent. This promises to be a major obstacle for organizations looking to expand globally. In fact, several companies report “the only thing limiting growth abroad is that we cannot find enough people—engineers, sales staff, and marketing—who are bilingual, globally orientated and willing to live abroad.” The U.S., more than ever before, lacks professionals with the global experience necessary to bridge cross-border operations.

Focus on opportunities, not obstacles The Real Yellow Pages, YP.com and YP.com on your mobile. Only from AT&T. © 2011 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T, AT&T logo and all AT&T related marks are trademarks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. All other marks are the property of their respective owners. 11-19387 PNT_10/28/2011

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As international leaders in innovation, it is important for U.S. businesses to look at the world from a fresh angle with a new perspective.“A global mindset is the opposite of economic isolationism. We are part of the globe, and should stop looking inward, but look out,” commented Carlos Gutierrez, former Secretary of Commerce. It’s time for U.S. businesses to take the next step internationally through the development of a winning expansion strategy—a practical approach that eliminates surprises and gets it right the first time. After all, there is no challenge too great for a country that has proven itself over and over again. So, let’s start the journey. n Includes excerpts from “Grow Globally: Opportunities for Your Middle-Market Company Around the World.” Copyright (c) 2011 by Mona Pearl. Reprinted with permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Mona Pearl is an author, a global strategic business development expert as well as the founder and COO of Beyond A Strategy Inc., a company providing expertise to plan and implement cost-effective and sustainable global growth that improves a company’s bottom line and helps realize seamless international operations. She can be reached through www.monapearl.com.

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Industry Insider Advantage

social media

Stepping into social media Being savvy in social media can enhance your business’ success By Steve Ennen

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o the uninitiated small business owner, social media may seem like an intimidating prospect. Even if you already have a personal Facebook profile or Twitter account, creating one for your business—and, more importantly, making it successful—is a different thing entirely. If you feel this way, you’re not alone. According to an OfficeArrow survey on the state of social media for small business,* only about 30% of small businesses are planning on increasing their investment in social media in 2012. That’s mostly due to the fact they don’t know how to do so effectively. Only 4% of small businesses use social media management services to monitor their status on social networks. And 90% of small businesses primarily use their company website to distribute information to customers—more than double the amount that use social networks to do so. If you’re running a small business, it means that an effective social media presence will put you leagues ahead of most other small businesses in the country. Small businesses are the fuel of the American economy, and it is important that they get the most out of powerful tools using social media.

Volume 4, Issue 2

What is social media? Before you start using social media for your small business, however, you have to educate yourself on what social media encompasses and how it can be used for business purposes. Social media empowers the consumer, connects your business to that consumer, and allows you to listen to the consumer—all in real-time. It’s far more powerful than traditional media choices. Most businesses just think of social media as a way to push more content to customers. While this is certainly a use for social media, it is not the most effective approach for businesses…by itself. Instead, businesses can get the most value out of social media by active listening.

Social media done right: the case of 8th Continent Soymilk The best way to understand what this means is through an example: 8th Continent, a soy milk company, used Twitter and other social channels to monitor what soy milk consumers were saying— not only about the brand, but about competitors, too. They developed a novel approach; whenever they came across a negative post or comment about one of their competitors, they 25


Industry Insider Advantage

SOCIAL MEDIA

Once you have identified your customers’ location, needs, and expectations… create a strategy to engage with them.

responded to each user with a comment and a link to a coupon for one of their products. The result was a whopping 37% return rate on those coupons— significantly higher than the typical 0.7% rate for hard copy coupons. That, along with the positive publicity that followed their move, means that 8th Continent saw a real boost to its business because of social media.

How to build and execute your social media strategy in five steps So how can you apply this example to your business? To begin, it outlines an effective process that you can use to develop a social media strategy in a few easy steps: Listen. The key to using social media is to listen to your customer-base and potential customers. It’s a daunting task unless you employ social media monitoring services. Companies should first search for their brand on social networks. If there are discussions, and they’re positive, then you have a great start. If you have only negative feedback, then pay attention to those 26

comments just as much as if they made those complaints directly to you. If there isn’t much discussion, then find someone to help spark that conversation. It’s also helpful to follow 8th Continent’s lead and research what consumers are saying about your competitors. You’ll be able to see what they’re doing, right and wrong, and adjust your own social media strategy to take advantage. Go where your customers are. It’s important to find out where exactly your customers are discussing your business. If you run a restaurant, for example, you may want to look at Yelp, which features a thriving restaurant review community. Depending on what you find on various sites, consider connecting with your customers. Sometimes you will find frequent mentions of your small business in Facebook groups organized around a different topic. Look at what else they are discussing; it could provide valuable insight into potential new services they are looking for or general consumer expectations. Craft your social media strategy. Once you have identified your customers’ location, needs, and expectations, you should use that www.AdvantageBizMag.com


information to create a strategy to engage with them. Often, this may simply involve connecting with users online. If you find a negative comment from a customer on a social network, respond to them directly and try to alleviate their concerns. This could mean sending them a coupon, but it should focus more on engaging in true communication and making your customer feel like they are valued. The key to building a strategy is setting goals for your social media presence. Do you want to promote brand awareness? Improve your business’s reputation? Bring in more revenue and new customers? By setting benchmarks, you will position your small business for future success. Engage. Customer engagement through social media can take a myriad of forms. Promotions through Facebook integrated with email addresses you acquired via social networks is an easy way to start. Or you may employ videos or podcasts to educate your customers. But the key is to listen to your customers, not simply talk to them. Social media is a two-way street, and users are quick to distrust organizations that don’t take that truth to heart. Fine-tune your process. There are also many tools out there that can help you fine-tune your social media presence. EmailDirect or MailChimp are examples of email newsletter services that can help you reach your customers directly. There are many different social network monitoring tools, which can greatly reduce the amount of time needed to stay abreast of all the real-time developments. There are also social media tools being developed with small businesses specifically in mind. Once you have a handle on social media, you can use these tools to further streamline your strategy.

BU I L D I N G B E T T E R E M P L OY E E S

Endless possibilities Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg, but that’s what makes social media for small business so exciting. It is such a young medium that the possibilities are endless. The best thing you can do for your business is to focus on learning, listening, and interacting with your customers, and hopefully picking up some new ones in the process. By getting started now, you’ll be far ahead of the pack and have your own social media strategy set in place before most of your competitors have even started considering theirs. n * www.officearrow.com/small-business-management/small-business-stuckneutral-social-media-infographic-oaiur-15517/view.html

Steve Ennen is president and Chief Intelligence Officer for the Ponte Vedra startup Social Strategy1, a company that helps businesses use the social Web for business growth and intelligence and develops tools with small businesses in mind, such as its Beam Social. He can be reached at steve@socialstrategy1.com or through www. socialstrategy1.com

Volume 4, Issue 2

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Industry Insider Advantage

motivation

Take some initiative! What being proactive can mean to your small business By Christy Crump

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hink of a friend’s family pet. When you enter the home, you may find him lying in the corner of the living room. What is the likelihood of you walking across the room to pet him if he took no initiative to be noticed and seemingly was comfortable right where he was? If he got up, however, waddled over and looked up at you, whined a little, and then rolled over next to your foot with his belly and all four paws in the air, what would you most likely do then? Most likely you would lean over and scratch his belly.

ultimately be successful. While most small business owners make that effort, can they say the same for the employees? There are those employees that sit at their desk, do what their job description says and simply exist—never making an effort to get up and get noticed. If they do choose to simply exist, they will get an equal return—a paycheck with no advancement, no raise, and no extra benefits, which is of no real benefit to you or your business. So, how can you get your employees on the same page as you?

Make an effort

It will take a little motivation and letting them know upfront what you expect. Let them know that if they make an effort to get noticed and do more than required, you can reward them. It may not be monetary or even instantaneous, but they will be rewarded for their hard work and effort.

When it comes to your business, you have these same options. As the owner, you can choose to merely do just what it takes to maintain your business or you can make an effort to go above and beyond and give 10% more than is requested, required, or expected of you to 28

Motivate!

www.AdvantageBizMag.com


Far too often employers hear, “I don’t want to be promoted or move ahead. I want to do my job, get paid, and go home.” That attitude may have been viewed as job security in times past, but in today’s business world, you must stand out from the crowd in order to even be retained. Years ago, loyalty and longevity with a company equaled guaranteed retention during staff cuts, but in this day and age above and beyond is the only way to stand a chance of sticking around.

Proactive vs. reactive As being proactive and taking initiative are the best and fastest ways for employees to get noticed and are often leading factors in being considered for retention and career advancement, you as the employer need to hire those that already are proactive or train them to be. The definition of proactive is doing things before they need to be done, rather than after the need is identified. When you are proactive, you are looking ahead. You make a conscious effort to pinpoint what you have coming up and begin preparing now for what lays ahead. Initiative is the power or ability to begin and to follow through energetically with a plan or task. First, you are proactive. You look ahead at what needs to be done. Then, you take the initiative to do it. The opposite of proactive is reactive. When you are faced with a situation you aren’t expecting, you go into reactive mode. When you kick into reactive mode, or emergency mode, your physical body tenses up, your blood pressure rises, your heart rate increases, and your mental state is both clouded and crowded. You are far too anxious to even think clearly. Reactive mode causes detriment to your health, compromises the success of your work product, and stifles, or even ruins, your reputation. It is much more beneficial to everyone involved to stay in proactive mode as often as possible.

Managing up In addition to being proactive and taking initiative, in today’s world employers need employees who are self-motivated, quick learners, detail-oriented, reliable, and dependable. In other words, employers need employees to master the skill of “managing up.” One component to managing up effectively is to teach your employees to constantly ask themselves: • What can I do to be of more value to my employer? • What is he not getting from me that he needs or that would make his job easier and less stressful? • What needs to be done? • How can I do it or make sure it gets done? Other components of managing up include: Volume 4, Issue 2

Understanding the mission and structure of the organization. Ensure employees read the policy and procedure manual so they can gain insight into how every part of your organization contributes to the whole. Setting goals. When the employee begins, set a goal for them to be successful and decide what that means to you in the overall scheme of the organization. Does it mean they learn a new skill, take on additional responsibility, or overcome a fear? Setting expectations. Let each and every employee know what you expect of them. How can they go above and beyond if they don’t know what you expect? Have open communication with your employees, answer questions, and offer clarification. Developing ideas. Provide employees the training and tools they need so they can develop and implement ideas that benefit you, your colleagues, and your office. When they come to you with an idea, offer them this list to consider: • What is the opportunity for improvement? • Is there a reason to change this task from the way it is currently performed? • Can it be done faster or with less effort? • Can it be done earlier to avoid a last minute emergency? • Can it be done in a way that is easier for someone else involved in the process? • Will changing it save money or enhance job performance? • What roadblocks might I encounter and how can I remove them? Want to get your belly scratched? Then ensure you have employees that get up from the dog blanket and make the effort to get noticed. Hire or train employees to be proactive, take initiative, manage up, problem solve, and implement positive change on behalf of your office or business. You will be rewarded. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~Aristotle n Christy Crump is president of Crump & Associates, a company that enhances human capital through a unique, proven approach to staff education and training that improves performance and increases efficiency and effectiveness. She can be reached at www.crumpandassociatesfl.com.

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Know before you grow Key resources for learning about your customers and competitors

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By Marcy Phelps

hether you’re starting a business, introducing new products or services, or adding locations, it’s always a good idea to first do your research. Informed decisions make the best decisions, and—especially when credit is tight—you often need to show that you have a solid understanding of your target market(s). Unfortunately, neither your customers nor your competitors make up one homogeneous group. What motivates people and businesses can vary—depending on the places where they operate, live, or work. That’s why it’s a good idea to incorporate into your research some business and market information about places, including demographics and the economic, political, social, and other issues that make each market unique. Several key resources will help you drill to the local level and learn about counties, cities, census blocks, and other sub-state areas:

Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA): For insights into a local area’s economic health, head to the BEA’s Regional Economic Accounts web page (www.bea.gov/regional). Here you will find information about Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and local-area personal income and employment. The BEA Regional Fact Sheets (BEARFACTS)—with data compiled into handy tables, graphs, charts, and bulleted lists— make it easy to compare an area’s economy to that of the U.S. as a whole. Bureau of Labor Statistics: This agency is a great resource for data on hours, earnings, and type of employment for workers in a particular geographic area. Also of interest are the links to information about the demographic makeup of the workforce and regional mass layoffs. Discover which products drill to the local level through the Overview of BLS Statistics by Geography page of this agency’s website (www. bls.gov/bls/geography.htm).

U.S. government resources

Regional, state, and local governments frequently provide more detailed geographic-based information than federal sources, but the data won’t necessarily be uniform or consistent across locations—even for locations within the same state. More likely than not, you will have to visit the websites for each jurisdiction separately. What you lose in convenience though, you gain in in-depth and first-hand knowledge. To find official government sites, try entering the keyword government with the name of your location in a general-purpose search engine. You can also link to official sites through: • State and Local Government on the Net (www.statelocalgov.net) • Local Governments: USA.gov (www.usa.gov/Agencies/Local.shtml)

The federal government collects and analyzes massive amounts of data, much of it about local areas. Population and business statistics, economic indicators, regional profiles, and mapped data are made available for free through a variety of publications and databases. Most local-level business information comes from: Census Bureau: One of the best sources for demographics is the American Community Survey (snipurl.com/temfx). This annual survey of three million households collects such information as age, race, income, commute time to work, home value, and veteran status. If you’re looking for statistics on business and industry, try the County Business Patterns website, which actually offers employment and earnings down to the zip-code level (www.census.gov/econ/ cbp/index.html) and the Building Permits database of construction statistics (censtats.census.gov/bldg/bldgprmt.shtml). 30

State and local governments

Local news News reports, either from or about a particular location, are a rich source of local information about public and private companies, www.AdvantageBizMag.com


people, economics, and issues. Local media outlets go into far greater detail than their national counterparts when covering local events and stay with the story long after the national press has moved on. Local news sources also offer something the larger outlets can’t—a local perspective—and knowing what’s important to local residents is a valuable piece of business and market planning. The Google News (news.google.com/news) advanced search page allows for location-based searching, as does Bing News (www. bing.com/news). Also try these resources for print, radio, and TV news stories: • American City Business Journals (www.bizjournals.com) • News and Newspapers Online (library.uncg.edu/news) • Radio-Locator (www.radio-locator.com)

Local experts Even in the age of Google, you won’t find everything on the Web. Perhaps no one’s collected or posted exactly what you’re looking for, or it’s not in plain sight and will take too long to uncover. Then there’s the information you won’t find in any data table or news headline. As competitive-intelligence researcher Ben Gilad puts it, “Only human sources can provide commentary, opinion, feelings, intuition, emotions, and commitment.” (“My Source is Better Than Your Source!—The Argument Over Primary and Secondary Sources,” by Ben Gilad, Competitive Intelligence Review, Vol. 6(3) 58-60, 1995).

Sometimes the best way to find the answers you need is to ask an expert. Journalists, government workers, librarians, university professors, association members or leaders, economists and economic development executives make good targets for your research because they generally keep an eye on the community and will often have subject expertise as well Search the web to find the right people and prepare for your phone calls (yes, calls are much more effective than emails when contacting local experts). Scan the news to identify the people writing the stories and the people about whom they are writing. Try the websites of local governments, libraries, and organizations such as the chamber of commerce or convention and visitors bureau for key personnel. Experts are often willing to talk and want to be helpful, but it’s important to respect their time. Keep interviews short, and do some background research on both your contact and topic to make sure you quickly ask the right questions. Business growth will take you into new and uncharted territory. Minimize the risk by arming yourself with a thorough understanding of your customers and your competitors—and the day-to-day local issues that affect their decisions. n Marcy Phelps is the founder of Phelps Research and author of the book, “Research on Main Street: Using the Web to Find Local Business and Market Information.” For more information, visit www. ResearchOnMainStreet.com and www.MarcyPhelps.com.

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jacksonville B u s i n e s s

B r i e f s

Jacksonville businesses in the news Keep Jacksonville Beautiful accepting award nominations The City of Jacksonville and the Keep Jacksonville Beautiful Commission are now accepting nominations for the 5th Annual Keep Jacksonville Beautiful Awards. The awards showcase individuals, businesses, organizations and schools that are making strides to keep the city clean. Applications for the Keep Jacksonville Beautiful Awards may be downloaded at www.coj.net/Departments/Boards-andCommissions/Keep-Jacksonville-Beautiful(KJB).aspx. Submissions must be received no later than 4 p.m. on Friday, March 30.

Cass Information Systems acquires WRC Harbor View Advisors LLC announces the completion of Cass Information Systems’ (NASDAQ: CASS) acquisition of Waste Reduction Consultants, Inc. (WRC). Harbor View served as exclusive financial advisor to WRC in the transaction. In addition, Harbor View had previously worked with WRC through its Accelerator Program, advising the company on a variety of strategic initiatives to support its rapid growth. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Visit www.harborviewadvisors.com for more information.

Goldshine named president of Finlay Management Multifamily industry veteran Jeffrey A. Goldshine, who has been responsible for the management of over 60,000 units in his 35-year career, has been appointed president of Finlay Management Inc. 32

Goldshine brings a solid, successful track record of multifamily management results and organizational leadership to his new role. Visit www. finlaymanagement.com for more information.

Jacksonville Startup Weekend 2012— a grand success The first Jacksonville Startup Weekend 2012, hosted by iStart Jax Business Accelerator, Indo-US Chamber of Commerce and JAX Chamber, was a great success with more than 50 ideas pitched, 150 people working in 17 Teams tirelessly over 54 hours. And the top five winners are... 1. The Pinstitute Jennifer Chapman and Team 2. TADA Language Isabelle Killian and Team 3. UPEO Analytics Inayat Walli and Team 4. GIZMO Entetrprises Inc (Pay2Pitch) Perry Kaye and Team 5. Armex Industries Eduardo Marquez and Team Email info@iStartJax.com for more information.

Metro Diner to open 3rd location Metro Diner is targeting a Feb. 13 opening for its first-ever location in Jacksonville’s beaches community. The new Metro Diner location takes over 4,000-square feet of space formerly occupied by Rite Spot restaurant and The Spot Bar at 1534 Third Street North in Jacksonville Beach. In April 2011, Metro Diner expanded by opening its second location at 12807 San Jose Boulevard near Julington Creek.

The build-out of the space is also making an impact on the local economy. Using the classic Metro Diner colors and stylish décor, the new location is equipped with all American-made products and is being built with local contractors with products from local vendors. Visit www.metrodiner.com for more information.

Foundation Financial Group announces key tax hire Foundation Financial Group named Joshua S. Barger, an expert tax preparer and a senior financial and tax analyst, as its vice president for its new tax services division. Foundation Financial Group’s tax services division is the company’s third new division launch in 12 months. In January 2011, Foundation Financial Group launched its insurance services, offering property, casualty and life insurance to its customers. Last November, the company added retirement services.

JAX Chamber unveils Downtown’s New Front Door The JAX C h a m b e r unveiled its plans to build D o w n t o w n’s New Front Door at its 127th Annual Meeting. Announced in 2011 as part of the Chamber’s new brand and approach, the redesign includes the renovation of the building’s interior and exterior façade and a complete redesign of the adjacent parks and a new sustainable parking area. With sustainable design as a guiding principle, the Chamber’s vision is to create a welcoming and professional environment www.AdvantageBizMag.com


that honors Downtown’s history and place in the community while improving the facility’s ecological features, energy efficiency and value to its membership. Visit www.downtownsnewfrontdoor.com for more information.

JWBC celebrates Financial Matters graduation and first recipient of scholarship The Jacksonville Women’s Business Center ( JWBC), a department of the JAX Chamber Foundation, celebrated 17 new graduates of Financial Matters including Jennifer Jones, the first recipient of the Linda Larkin Smith Scholarship for a woman business owner from the artistic community. Beginning April 1, JWBC will accept applications for Financial Matters. Qualified applicants can apply in April for the Linda Larkin Smith Scholarship. For information, visit www.myjaxchamber.com or contact JWBC Director Pat Blanchard at 904-366-6640 or pat.blanchard@myjaxchamber.com.

Regency Centers announces management changes Regenc y C e n t e r s Corporation announced changes in its executive management team. Bruce Johnson, executive vice president and chief financial officer (CFO), has announced that he will retire at the end of 2012. Effective with his retirement at the end of the year, Lisa Palmer, senior vice president of capital markets, will succeed Bruce as chief financial officer. Visit www.RegencyCenters.com for more information.

JAX Boldest contest to identify best company, non-profit organization and project JAX Boldest, a regional contest, seeks entries and votes on www.jaxboldest.com to identify the best company, non-profit organization and project of 2011. Northeast Florida residents can submit entries until March 31 in the form of a video, picture or written description. Residents can Volume 4, Issue 2

choose the entries they think are the best by voting on the website. A leaderboard will be displayed on the site throughout the duration of the contest, which will provide an overview of the current winning entries. JAXUSA Partnership, a division of the JAX Chamber, is driving the contest and will announce the winners at the Innovate Northeast Florida launch event on April 19. Visit www.jaxboldest.com for more information.

Stellar earns prestigious safety award Stellar has earned the Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) highest national safety designation for 2011-the Safety Training Evaluation Process (STEP) Diamond-level award. Stellar was the only contractor in the Florida First Coast Chapter (with more than 140 member companies), and one of only four in Florida, to earn Diamond status. Visit www.stellar.net for more information.

Sampson promoted to VP of marketing Joe Sampson has been promoted to the position of vice president of marketing for the Sight & Sound Productions family of companies. Sampson has been with the company since 2009 and has been leading the companies’ marketing department since 2010. In addition to his duties as vice president, Sampson is also general manager for Mugwump Productions, Sight & Sound’s event décor services brand. For more information, visit www.ssav.net.

Peak 10 provides secure IT environment for Tim Tebow websites Peak 10 Inc. announced it is providing the secure IT infrastructure needed to host both www.TimTebowFoundation.org and www. TimTebow.com. Peak 10 is supplying both high-traffic Internet sites with its robust cloud platform and various managed services, such as data backup, as a charitable contribution from its Jacksonville campus. Visit www.peak10.com for more information.

Ponte Vedra Chamber announces 2012 Golf Tournament The Ponte Vedra Beach Chamber of Commerce will host its 2012 Golf Tournament on President’s Day, Feb. 20, at Palencia, with chances to win a Lexus, Mercedes or Porsche lease from Brumos Motor Cars and one for a Rolex watch from Underwood Jewelers. There will also be a silent auction followed by a live auction during the cocktail hour and dinner, and the evening will end with the awarding of Waterford Crystal gifts to the 1st-3rd gross and net winners. For more information, call 904-285-2004 or visit www.pontevedrachamber.org/events/ golftournament.

Haskell architect earns ACHA certification Clyde “Ted” Moore III, project design principal in the Healthcare Division of The Haskell Company, has earned his Board Certificate in healthcare architecture from the American College of Healthcare Architects (ACHA). Moore recently passed an accredited examination, which assesses the knowledge and understanding of architects who practice as healthcare specialists. The certification makes Moore one of only 14 architects in Florida and one of 476 in the United States to receive this important architectural credential. Visit www.haskell.com for more information.

TD awards MWKF with $10,000 literacy grant The MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation (MWKF) received a $10,000 grant from the TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank. The grant supports MWKF’s FACTS Program (Financial Activities Cultivated through Tennis & Service), which provides students in grades 3-8 with mathematical and literacy skills through tennis-based activities, both on and off the court. Email Ashley@malwashington.com for more information. 33


Small Biz news Office of Advocacy releases 50-state small business profiles

SBA: North Florida District increases lending for exporters by 169%

The Office of Advocacy released the annual Small Business Profiles for the States and Territories. This is the 16th year Advocacy has published a state-by-state profile of American small business for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. The profiles are an invaluable resource for small businesses, legislators, academics, government officials, and policymakers in each state. The Florida profile uses the most recent data available to provide details about the state’s small business employment; business starts and closings; bank lending; business ownership by minorities, women, and veterans; and firm and employment change by major industry and firm size. For a complete copy of the current profiles, visit www.sba.gov/ advocacy/848/41391.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is placing emphasis on helping small business exporters grow. This emphasis on exporting is consistent with President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which seeks to double the number of firms exporting as well as give Americans a competitive advantage in the global marketplace. SBA recently announced the State Trade and Export Promotion Grant (STEP) Pilot Grant Initiative, which will provide grants to states for small business exporting assistance programs. The STEP grant for Florida is administered through the State’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network and Enterprise Florida, Inc. Information can be found at www.sba.gov/step-grants/by-state/FL. The North Florida District Office expanded opportunities for small businesses by guaranteeing export loans in the amount of $30.4M in Fiscal Year 2011. This is a 169% increase from Fiscal year 2010 export lending, which totaled $11.3M for the district. Certain Counties in the district experienced significant gains in the amount of export lending, as seen below:

IRS extends 2012 deadline to April 17 The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announces that taxpayers have until Tuesday, April 17 to file their tax returns because April 15 falls on a Sunday, and Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, falls this year on Monday, April 16. The IRS encourages taxpayers to e-file as it is the best way to ensure accurate tax returns and get faster refunds.Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Oct. 15 to file their 2011 tax returns.

SBDC program helps bridge small business gap The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) national network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) plays an essential role in the economic development of their states and local communities through their direct, face-to-face counseling for small businesses, according to a report released by the SBA. The report, produced by the National Small Business Development Center Advisory Board, focuses on SBDCs’ impact on small business access to SBA’s programs and services, including access to SBA capital, procurement, disaster and international trade programs. The report confirms that SBA’s SBDC program remains an essential part of the agency’s mission to help small businesses. The report, The SBDC Program: An Indispensable Partner in America’s Economic Development, demonstrates statistically the prolonged impact that SBA-funded SBDCs have on the formation and growth of small businesses. The report can be viewed online at www.sba.gov/sites/ default/files/White%20Paper%20-%20FINAL%20-%2007-15-2011. pdf.

34

2010

2011

DUVAL

5

$3,177,600

DUVAL

5

$5,705,000

LAKE

1

$25,000

LAKE

2

$375,000

NASSAU

2

$12,500

NASSAU

1

$500,000

ORANGE

15

$5,437,500

ORANGE

22

$14,599,500

SEMINOLE

1

$136,000

SEMINOLE

4

$2,128,000

For more information, call 904-443-1900.

SBE Council names top policy developments for small business in 2011 The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) issued “Top Policy Highlights and Lowlights for Small Business in 2011,” a list of significant policy developments this past year for the nation’s small business owners and entrepreneurs. The list includes a range of issues that will impact the economic and business climate for 2012 and beyond. Small business owners and entrepreneurs played a key role in helping to advance constructive policies on the list. The list also includes other developments where the passage, failure to advance, or results of certain policies will continue to affect business conditions and the political debate for the foreseeable future. To see “2011’s Top Policy Highlights and Lowlights for Small Business,” visit www.sbecouncil.org/news/display.cfm?ID=4727.

www.AdvantageBizMag.com


ON THE STREET

Are continuing education and additional certifications important to a small business owner? “I can assure you, if you do not continue your education/ training, your competitors will. Enrolling in finance classes, management classes, supervisor training, new equipment/methods for improvement...all those things are important. Certificates? Not so much unless of course your vocation or profession requires certification. Bottom line—improving yourself, your employees, and your processes help as long as you stay true to your business needs.” —James Beeler, independent consultant “I met Kevin Monahan from SBDC UNF at an event and found out more about the small business programs they have. As a potential business owner, I can see value in the educational programs. An experienced business owner offered that she put her employees through the classes as training to understand the process and as a teaching tool. I already added this to my to-do list.” —Dave Bachansingh, merchandise marketing manager “Today’s consumers are more demanding and most have less money to spend, so continuing your education to ensure you are more knowledgeable about your products and services may sway a customer to do business with you rather than your competitor. Additional certifications may make you more marketable, but you’ve got to have the knowledge and convey this to the consumer.” —Mary Habres, accredited home stager, paint color consultant, and interior redesigner; decorating and staging speaker “Additional certifications are absolutely vital to a small business owner. They give more confidence to the general public who are your customers. Getting the Certified Managerial Account designation is on my to-do list for 2012.” — Keith Johnson, principal, Keith E. Johnson CPA PA Volume 4, Issue 2

“When we stop learning, we stop growing and get stuck in our ruts. We start thinking, “This can’t be done” and so forth. It’s why I believe in being a part and product of the process and hired a coach, even though I am a certified coach. We rarely see our own blind spots. I believe you will always get some nugget from any continuing education or new certification program!” —Kathryn Hatcher, owner, Key Coaching Associates “I think continuing education is critically important. I’ve had many clients who get so involved in day-to-day activities that they forget that if they don’t keep up, they’ll find their business down as people begin to think they are out of date. Besides, any type of class will stir your brain so you find yourself with new ideas for your business. If you learn one new thing out of a class, it was worth the effort. Education is salvation.” —Luann Allen, business and marketing expert, and author

POLL: Is continuing education and additional certifications important to a small business owner?

17% no

83% yes

35


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Advantage Magazine (vol. 4, iss. 2)