Have You Got What It Takes


Typically the term ”entrepreneur” conjures up a vision of someone who is making a lot of money being in business for themselves. Quite often that is true. Statistically speaking, seven out of ten ventures survive at least two years and 51% survive at least five years [1] – remarkable, given the economic conditions over the past few years. So what makes someone take that leap from dream into reality and hopefully financial success?  Successful entrepreneurs have certain character traits that help stack the odds in their favor. If you seek to follow in their entrepreneurial footsteps, ask yourself if you honestly have what it takes to start your own business.


According to Oprah Winfrey, one of, if not the most successful business woman in America,  “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” Your business should be driven by your passion for your product or service as well as for your dreams of success. The goal is to make money, but running even a small business is too much work not to do something you love. Many successful entrepreneurs have turned a beloved hobby or specialized skill into a successful business. Read about three who did just that: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/3-entrepreneurs-turn-hobbies-into-business-success/)


As an entrepreneur, you must have the ability to spot an opportunity or imagine something someone else did not. Have a clear picture of what direction you want your business to go in. Use your imagination. Think outside that proverbial box, but at the same time, be realistic. There may be a good reason why you have no competition in your market. But then again, perhaps others lack vision of the opportunities out there! Even as far back as 17th century writer and satirist Jonathan Swift said, “Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”


Hard work opens doors and shows the world that you are serious about being one of those rare – and special – human beings who use the fullness of their talents to do their very best. (Robin S SharmaYou have to be willing to get your hands dirty. Do every part of the job if you have to, and do whatever it takes to accomplish your goal. Of course there’s no guarantee of success, but you have to be willing to fully invest your time and talent, often at the expense of other interests. Make sure you have family buy-in before you begin.


There will be some hard times before and during the process of starting and running your own business, and you will have to deal with lots of obstacles. But you have to think of obstacles and even failures as opportunities to learn from your mistakes. When you may fall, figure out what you did wrong, then get back up and try again. As Thomas Edison quipped, I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”


Celebrated business leader, John C Maxwell defines a leader as “one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.” Possessing a clear understanding of the mission and  strong communication skills, a true leader inspires the confidence of others as investors, customers and employees. Successful corporate leaders also have the ability to assemble a team of people to work toward achieving the company’s goals. Great leaders not only motivate their teams, they get out of the way and let their people work without micromanaging. You cannot scale your business without employees and others who are motivated to help you succeed.

When you decide to start your own business, making money and working for yourself are good things to want as an entrepreneur, but lots of hard work will be necessary to reach your goals.

[1] http://www.businessknowhow.com/startup/business-failure.htm


Jamie Shepard
Consultant, Business Innovation Center

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Leasing Lessons Learned


Whether it’s time for your business to upgrade its facilities or move out of your home office into a commercial space, there are important lessons to be learned about commercial leases. Case in point: the recent dispute between the City of Parker, Liberty Baptist Church and the commercial property owner. Liberty Baptist Church had to relocate from its previous location in Callaway.
Desiring to remain in the local area, it signed a lease in a small commercial strip in nearby Parker. What could possibly go awry with that? Unfortunately, the City of Parker has an ordinance preventing bars and other such establishments from being located within 500’ of a church or school. Usually these ordinances serve to limit bars from corrupting innocent youth or presenting temptations too close to places of worship. Turns out their new location is also home to Sharks’ Bar, a tenant there for twenty years. Heavenly days! The City of Parker refused a variance to its ordinance to allow the Church to remain. The landlord will rightly bear the cost of helping Liberty Baptist find a new church home but the disruption to the pastor and congregation cannot be so easily recouped. 

This lesson will not specifically apply to 99% of entrepreneurs but certainly warrants consideration. What obligation does the landlord have as regards a prospective tenant’s ability to set up shop there? Is there a duty on their part to tell you, the potential tenant, of ordinances and restrictions on a specific business operating there? One would think so, but it pays to do a little legwork yourself on retail/ commercial ordinances before you sign the lease. The time you spend on a phone call to the City or County Clerk’s office will be time well spent. 

Also think about your business requirements. Does your potential location come with any limitations that might adversely impact your operations? Will you have truck deliveries after business hours or on weekends that might rile residential neighbors? Will the foot or car traffic your venture generates affect your business neighbors in the complex? It’s never a bad idea to introduce yourself to the other businesses in the complex. If there are going to be problems, better to know beforehand. Plus, these conversations will give you much needed insight into how responsive the landlord has been to their tenants’ concerns. If getting the plumbing fixed has been a headache for others, you might want to look elsewhere. 


Jamie Shepard
Consultant, Business Innovation Center

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January 1 heralded not only the beginning of a New Year but an economic boost for a considerable percentage of Florida’s workforce. In 2004, Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment increasing the state’s minimum wage based on the federal Consumer Price Index (CPI) which tracks cost of living and inflation rates. Base wages paid hourly increased from $7.93, which has been in place since 2009, to $8.05 per hour, making Florida’s minimum wage the highest in the Southeast, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The pay for a full time non-exempt employee working forty (40) hours per week year-round goes from $317.20 to $322 per week or $16,494 to $16,744 annually.

Not everyone will be the beneficiary of this constitutional largesse. In fact, a wide range of employees are exempt, according to the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) including executives, professionals, certain administrative employees, outside salesmen and several areas within the IT computer/software fields, to name a few. Add to this list babysitters on a casual basis, companions for the elderly, workers with disabilities, fishing workers, limited circulation newspaper employees as well as delivery workers, seamen on foreign vessels, farm workers employed on small farms, and employees of certain seasonal amusement and recreational establishments. This list is by no means comprehensive. The US Department of Labor provides specific direction on wage requirements according to industry.

Service Sector/Tipped Employees Will Benefit Too

Florida’s tipped minimum wage increases from $4.91 up to $5.03 in 2015. Service employees like waitresses, waiters, bartenders, and valets who earn more than $30 a month in tips may be paid a lower hourly wage, but must earn at least the prevailing minimum wage including tips every hour, per FLSA. If a Florida employee does not earn $8.05 including tips in any given hour of work, the employer must make up the difference in cash.

Students and Younger Workers Also Get A Bump

By law, high school and full-time college students who work part-time may be paid 85% of the Florida minimum wage for up to twenty (20) work hours at certain employers. They too will see an increase in hourly wage rates from $6.74 up to $6.84 in 2015. Technically, under federal guidelines, a new employee under 20 years of age may be paid a training wage of $4.25 per hour for the first ninety (90) days of employment. In all likelihood, however, employers will be compelled by market factors to pay minimum wages from the outset just to get younger applicants in the door.

Wage Lines Drawn in the Legislative Sand

During the spring legislative sessions in Tallahassee, political wrangling is the norm. Any bills proposing further increases to the minimum wage escalate rapidly into a partisan firestorm. 2014 Florida gubernatorial race watchers may recall Democratic candidate Charlie Crist’s call for $10.10 per hour minimum wage. He cited federal Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stats that $10.10 for America’s 16.5M minimum wage workers would generate $31B in additional wages, which most economists believed would translate into a retail sales tax and revenue boom — especially relevant to Florida’s sales tax revenue dependency. Incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s argument, backed by crucial supporters like the Florida Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Business, focused on the same CBO report’s estimates of up to 500,000 jobs lost due to the wage increase. He successfully countered that Florida employers were already struggling to regain lost revenue ground from the recession. Forcing them to pay more in wages and employment taxes could adversely impact workforce growth.


Mandatory minimum wage payroll requirements depend upon your particular industry. However, the reality is that you are competing with every other business out there for good workers. Of course, you want to contain payroll expenses and pay as little as you can, but minimum wage workers are notorious for jumping ship for an additional 25 cents an hour. Needless turnover ultimately costs you money, taking into account the time to recruit, rehire and train, plus productivity losses while a position is vacant. In fact, a recent Center for American Progress study revealed that for all jobs earning less than $50,000 per year, which is more than 40% of the American workforce, the average cost of replacing an employee amounts to fully 20% of the person’s annual salary. So it makes good business sense to focus on fair employment practices and competitive wages to attract and retain good people from the get-go. After all, your company and its bottom line rely on your staff’s ability to help you attract and retain customers.


Jamie Shepard
Consultant, Business Innovation Center

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Starting a Business


When starting out, a small business considers many different issues. It’s important to plan correctly and avoid common mistakes.  Here are some do’s and don’ts to consider when starting your own business.
1.         Do test your business model. Market research will come in handy. Figure out whether your product or service is needed by testing it with potential clients. Testing gives an idea if it will sell or not, and testing can help establish the product pri[G1] ce.[G2]

Don’t quit your day job. Unless you have financial backing or loads of family support, having reliable employment until you have proven your business model  is the smart choice.

 2.         You do want to have the right people helping you in your company. Look for people with experience, who are self-motivated, dependable, and team players. Also, explore the different options for employing people, like recruiting permanent staff on full or part-time.

Don’t hire for convenience. Having the right employees is a significant part of your business. Just because your brother or your best friend thinks your idea is great, think before you act.

3.         Do choose the right business for you. To see what might work best, do a self-assessment of your talents. When you understand what you’re getting into, you increase your chance for long-term success, and you become an expert in your field.

Consider your knowledge base before getting into a business that you know nothing about. Chances are; you won’t get rich overnight; it takes a lot of time and hard work to become successful.

4.         Do the research on your competitors to find their strengths and weaknesses. Research allows you to create marketing strategies to improve your own business and to be more practical about how successful you can be.

Don’t underestimate the competition. Thinking that your product or service is better or cheaper may hurt your business. You will have lots of companies competing for your potential customers.


Christina Davis
Intern, Business Innovation Center