Buying a small business is always a challenge. Agreeing on a fair price with the seller, negotiating terms, accessing financing and then opening your doors with an “Under New Management” sign are just a few of the obstacles that must be overcome. And, when you are also relocating from Puerto Rico, fluent in Spanish but not English, the level of difficulty is magnified.
Sisters Jasmarie Rosa and Brenda Rosa, both recent emigres to Florida following the destruction and devastation to Puerto Rico caused by Category 5 Hurricane Maria, were undeterred by the steep climb to business ownership in front of them. Expert bakers with a family history of owning successful Puerto Rican bakeries in both the US and on the Island, they saw an opportunity when they found a bakery and sandwich shop for sale in Deltona, FL. With determination and passion, the sisters jumped at the chance.
Their first step was to locate some assistance, which they found at the Florida Small Business Development Center at Daytona State College (FSBDC at DSC), a sub-center of the FSBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF), thanks to a referral by the Volusia Chamber of Commerce. The FSBDC was quick to respond to their request for consulting, with Sub-Center Director Jim Deering meeting with Rosa and Hernandez the next day. He quickly assessed their needs and connected them with FSBDC at DSC consultant Margaret “Maggie” Incandela and Program Assistant Tracy Martin.
“Despite the language barrier and our not understanding English very well,” recalls Jasmarie Rosa, “Maggie and Tracy helped us go step-by-step and made us a part of the process. We used the FSBDC’s no-cost consulting, training and market research. They helped us with everything: our business plan, financial forecasts, licenses and permits and more.”
Perhaps the service of greatest value to the sisters was the assistance that the FSBDC provided in obtaining a bank loan. The FSBDC introduced the Rosa sisters to prospective lenders; showed them how to put together their loan package; guided them in working with their bank, even meeting with loan underwriters to explain the business valuation required by the bank.
The FSBDC’s assistance made a difference. The sisters started the process of buying the business in January 2019, successfully closed their loan in April and opened El Coqui Bakery the week before Easter, with a line of customers out the door and down the street. Their fantastic and authentic Puerto Rican breads and baked goods, including Pan de Agua, Pan Sobao, Pan de Queso, and fabulous sandwiches have helped El Coqui Bakery get off to a “very good start,” according to Brenda Rosa. With plans to expand their days of operation and add menu items, like the famous Puerto Rican “Tripleta” sandwich, their future is bright.
“The FSBDC made all of this possible for us,” concluded Rosa. “We worked hard. They worked hard. In the face of all the stress, they were reassuring and made sure we got it right. In the end, the FSBDC helped us be successful and made our dream of opening a business come true.”
“Thanks to the CEO XChange and my colleagues there, we have seen our profitability grow to the industry standard,” Walsh continued. “More importantly, our margins have increased 30 – 40%. Revenues have been growing while at the same time expenses have been managed down. It can all be credited to the FSBDC and CEO XChange.”
“I’d say to any business owner considering the CEO XChange: ‘It takes some guts to participate but it’s worth it. Managing yourself is one thing. But being held accountable to 12 – 13 other business owners – all who are in the same boat you are – holds you to a different level, to a higher standard. I encourage anyone who’s interested in improving their business to join the CEO XChange.”
Learn about Florida SBDC at Daytona State College and Client Delicia M Haynes, MD from Family First Health Center (www.familyfirsthealthcenter.com):
1. In 2009, Delicia launched the first Direct Primary Care Clinic in Volusia and Flagler Counties. Unlike traditional insurance based primary care clinics, Family First Health Center members enjoy same or next day appointments, longer unrushed time with the doctor, convenient virtual visits and basic labs for a monthly membership fee. The idea for his company came after Delicia realized she couldn’t find another practice that matched her vision, so she set about creating her own. She chose Volusia County because she completed her residency in Family Medicine here and knew it would be easier starting a practice in an area where she already had established relationships.
2. The FSBDC has helped Delicia by introducing her to other entrepreneurs who she has learned from and been able to find unique solutions to her business challenges. Delicia believes the time she takes to work with the FSBDC has been instrumental in helping her work ON her business instead of just IN it. Since becoming more active in the FSBDC, Delicia has benefited from customized workshops like the Business Model Canvas, Key Performance Indicators and Goal Setting. Delicia wholeheartedly recommends business owners use the FSBDC because she witnessed firsthand the opportunities it has provided her company.
3. Delicia’s entrepreneur advice is “don’t wait until you feel like you have it all together to start making connections and talking about your aspirations, even if you’re an introvert. Take time to get to know other connectors and entrepreneurs because they really do cross pollinate each other.”
Learn about Florida SBDC at Daytona State College (www.sbdcdaytona.com) and Client Todd Stebleton from Universal Pest Control (www.BugandTermiteControl.com):
1. Todd Stebleton became involved in Universal Pest Control in 1995 when he transitioned from his municipal government position to join his parents in what became their family business. In 2006, Todd and his wife Natalie took full ownership of the company when they bought the business from his parents. Universal Pest Control offers general pest control programs, termite treatment programs and fumigation services for your home, business, boat or RV. The company is known in the community as being honest and reliable with the competitive advantage of being able to solve pest control problems for your family safely and with high regard for the environment.
2. Universal Pest Control has been working with the FSBDC thanks to another business owner recommending to Todd that he utilize the FSBDC’s no-cost programs and services. In just a few short months, Todd has realized the benefit of having certified business counselors analyze his business using an outside perspective. The FSBDC helped by running customized workshops including the business model canvas and key performance indicators to identify business gaps and streamline business processes which has led to a more efficient company and better productivity. Todd is now aware of the goals he needs to achieve to grow his business and is confident he can reach them with the help of the FSBDC.
3. Todd’s entrepreneur advice is to make sure you maximize all the resources available to help you start and grow your company. Organizations like the FSBDC will challenge you as an owner and will help your business reach its full potential. All you need to do is be willing to put yourself out there and engage with these resources and you and your business will begin seeing results immediately.
Bill launched Solar-Fit in 1975 in Holly Hill, Florida after having attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach Campus where he studied aviation. His passion for the environment along with his background in engineering lead him to be an early solar energy user and advocate. Believe it or not, solar energy was very popular in the 1980’s due to a 40% tax credit offered to consumers by the government. Back then, Solar-Fit actually manufactured the solar systems on-site to fit each customers’ needs. Solar-Fit has been in business for 41 years, has 25 full time employees and is the oldest active solar contractor in the state of Florida.
Solar-Fit has been working with the FSBDC at Daytona State College thanks to Nick Conte from the City of Holly Hill recommending the FSBDC’s services to Bill. The FSBDC Daytona has helped Bill by providing an outsider’s perspective on his business and this has resulted in constructive feedback and recommendations to improve processes and grow profitability. Bill highly recommends FSBDC because every business needs someone from the outside to come in and bring fresh perspective and new ideas.
Bill’s entrepreneur advice is to make sure you have a game plan in mind before going into business. There’s a lot of surprises along the journey that are interesting and your plan will help you to navigate them while staying focused.
Learn about Florida SBDC and Client Bill Payne from Drive Group, LLC (www.DriveGroupLLC.com):
1. Drive Group LLC was started in 2005 by Bill Payne with a focus on providing web design, search engine optimization and online advertising services to companies large and small. Today, the company works with clients from all over the country from their office in Ormond Beach. Drive Group’s goal is to help you succeed in business through your website using measurable results.
2. Drive Group has been working with the FSBDC at Daytona State College since 2013. The FSBDC has provided Bill with the push he needed to expand his business and clarified what he needed to do to make it happen. This included helping Bill secure an intern from Daytona State College who still works for the company today. Bill highly recommends FSBDC Daytona because the assistance helped him recognize the areas where he actually needed help.
3. Bill encourages other entrepreneurs to fully understand the number of different hats you’ll be wearing when you get started. He recommends the book “Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager” to help with bench-marking and identifying triggers for when things might be going south in your business.
Learn about Florida SBDC and Clients Branden and Stephanie Calnan from Oceans Dance Studio (www.oceansdancestudio.com):
1. Branden began teaching dance in the area in 2012 and Oceans Dance Studio was founded in 2013. Inspiration, combined with Branden’s back-ground in entrepreneurship having run a family farm and his own brewery and carpentry businesses led them to open the studio in downtown Daytona Beach. The reason they chose downtown Daytona is because of the significant foot traffic Branden realized while attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach Campus as a student. The company has 2 full-time and 2 part-time employees.
2. Oceans Dance Studio has been working with the FSBDC at Daytona State College since May 2016 after Stephanie did a Google search for “business assistance.” The FSBDC Daytona has helped Branden and Stephanie manage through a significant internal challenge, re-brand the company, pivot the business model and determine growth opportunities. Both Branden and Stephanie are very happy that George Tewari has been able to help point things out that they couldn’t see. They recommend other entrepreneurs contact FSBDC Daytona because you get to leverage someone who has already been there and done it.
3. Branden and Stephanie’s encouragement for other business owners is to design your business model around the activities that fulfill you and make a profit. Don’t let the customers completely drive your business otherwise you’ll always do that instead of what is really meaningful to you. In addition, be willing to give back because you’ll always receive more than you can imagine in return.
Learn about Florida SBDC and client Shailesh Patel from Dredging & Marine Consultants (www.DMCES.com):
1. DMC has been in business for 14 years, has 4 offices in Florida with its headquarters in Port Orange and employs 10 people. DMC is a civil engineering and environmental consulting company with a focus on navigation and restoration dredging projects, water front development and structures such as boardwalks, docks, piers, marinas, ramps, shoreline protection and wave breaks. Some local projects they’ve worked on include 1,100 linear feet seawall at the Daytona Speedway, Riverside Park in Port Orange and the fishing pier structure under the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge on Orange Avenue.
2. Shailesh has been working with the FSBDC at Daytona State College through the CEO Xchange program. He has also received assistance on how to better understand the implications of financial decisions, corporate culture and how to implement and bench-marking against competitors. Shailesh highly recommends other businesses to meet with the FSBDC because you get to share information with like-minded individuals who provide a safe environment but hold you accountable.
3. Shailesh’s entrepreneur advice is to never be shy. Always ask questions if you don’t know how to do something or what it means. Also, have a good understanding of your numbers in your business and how to manage them. It’s important to know the difference between cash flow, sales, profits, payroll expenses, etc.
Learn about FSBDC Client Brazilian Stylish Waxing (www.brazilianstylishwaxing.com):
1. Silas Santos and Vanuzia Santana are the company owners and they relocated from Atlanta to Port Orange in 2015 with the desire to build a business for themselves while having a beach lifestyle. Their company specializes in Professional Brazilian Wax body and facial hair removal using high quality natural products while offering the best price in town. Their goal is to wow their clients and they’ve received 100% positive feedback.
2. FSBDC at Daytona State College has been assisting Silas and Vanuzia for eight months on the development and execution of their Strategic, Business and Marketing Plans. They discovered the FSBDC Daytona through the City of Port Orange website and both highly recommend other business owners to get engaged with the programs and services offered. Their insight is that the FSBDC at Daytona State College is a good resource for guidance, ideas, feedback and instructions.
3. Silas and Vanuzia believe that being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. Many people prefer to go to work and not have to worry all the time. Living the entrepreneur life means you are always thinking about your business and working hard at it.