Local groups give aid to small businesses

In the United States, small businesses have a major impact on the overall economy. In fact, the Florida First Capital Finance Corporation reports that small businesses account for 99.7 percent of all employer firms nationally. However, despite these statistics, starting a small business still can be a daunting task.

For those who do not have any knowledge on how to start a business, there are a few establishments across Tallahassee that can provide some aide. One is the Small Business Development Center at Florida A& M University. Chris Workman, a business analyst for the small business development center, said that the center is an excellent place to start for potential first-time business owners in need of help.

“We provide workshops at little to no cost, a research library, computer lab, and one-on-one counseling,” Workman said. Workman said that the workshops offered are quite beneficial, and cover a wide variety of topics, the most popular being the one titled “Getting Started”. In this workshop, everything is covered from the positive aspects of starting your own business to conducting research so that a person can have a strong knowledge of their particular industry.

Two other workshops that Workman recommends deal with marketing and financing. The marketing workshop’s goal is to familiarize people with how to predict marketing trends, price their products and how to develop a marketing plan. The intent of the financing workshop is to provide its attendees with information on how to select the most appropriate lending source to start your business.

“Handling the marketing and financials is probably what small business owners have the most trouble with,” Workman said.

Workman said that as an analyst he encounters many people without a clear business plans. He said that many people come into his office saying that they have a wonderful idea, but do not have a target market.

According to Workman, there are five basic topics that need to be covered in a sound business plan. A statement pertaining to what the idea for the business is; detail on what products and services will be offered; description of how you plan on marketing to customers; information on how your background will be a positive for the business; and three years of projected financials.

Besides the many programs offered by the small business development center, there is another establishment located in Tallahassee designed to aide individuals in starting a business, specifically for black minorities, the Florida Black Business Investment Board, Inc.

“FBBIB was designed to curve the gap that has existed between black and white business owners,” Hilmon Sorey, president of FBBIB said.

The FBBIB provides loans, loan guarantees, limited partnerships and joint ventures to qualified black residents of Florida.

“I think black businesses are greatly needed in the black community and blacks need to support those businesses,” said Lauren Peavy, a third year marketing student from Houston, TX.

Sorey said that out of the approximate 14 percent of blacks that live in the state of Florida, black residents account for less than one-half of 1 percent of the total revenue produced in Florida.

Despite these discouraging numbers, there has been overall improvement in the amount of small businesses located in Florida. The FFCFC reports that the number of small businesses has made a 5.4 percent increase since 2003.

Contact Ryan Haynes at famuanbusiness@yahoo.com