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Busy as a Beaver: Incubator giving spark to small business

bsec buildingBusinesses are born from great ideas and expertise. However, excelling at your craft is not enough for success because there are many facets to running a business. Human resources. Legal. Marketing. Operations. You cannot do it all by yourself and it will impede your growth if you try.

As an entrepreneur, you must access the complementary skills and knowledge of others to succeed. Obtaining perspective from people who can help is crucial for your small business, according to tenants and advisors at Beaver Street Enterprise Center, a 25,000-square-foot core-city business incubator that provides space, services, and support for member companies.

“It’s a shock to recognize ‘wow, there are these different elements to running a business,’” executive director Jackie Perry said. Perry likened it to light bulbs going off when entrepreneurs start comprehending what it truly takes to run a business. “Recognizing how much they don’t know is eye opening.”

Tenants can learn much about all facets of operating a business—from creating a business plan to winning government contracts—thanks to staff, volunteers, and support from partnering organizations like the Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s SCORE program.

Beaver Street tenants appreciate the competitive advantage that membership provides. “When you are small and you have rapid growth, they have the tools there that can help you,” said former tenant Andy Harold, president and managing member of A. Harold & Associates, LLC, a Jacksonville-based provider of technology, education, engineering, training, and management services.

Harold moved his then fledgling business from his home into the center in 2008. A military veteran, he knew about working for the government, but he was not experienced in running a business. His company grew rapidly, though, with the help, resources, and opportunities that he accessed through the incubator, a Fresh Ministries initiative.

“Beaver Street Enterprise Center allowed me to completely focus on my business. I didn’t have to worry about utilities. I didn’t have to worry about restrooms. I didn’t have to worry about parking,” Harold said. If he had a problem, he went to in-house experts for help. “I was able to approach the board because they’re a ready-made advisory team.”

When he needed financing to grow, a BSEC advisor connected him to a local banker. “Even though I had been in business, I didn’t have access to that level of banking. The Beaver Street Enterprise Center extends your reach to the places you don’t have access,” he said. Harold’s company grew so quickly—going from “me, myself, and I” to 25 employees within a year—that he had to move from his 800-square-foot space at the center to the 10,000-square-foot facility that 120 employees now occupy in St. Johns Industrial Park.

Harold has continued to support BSEC and its tenants since moving. He became the first tenant appointed to the board of directors about a year ago, and recently was named chairman. “I know where the tenants sit. I know where they’re at and understand their struggles,” Harold said.

pegine groupGrasping financials may be the most common challenge, noted Perry, who has been the center’s executive director since it opened ten years ago with three tenants. The incubator has addressed this by training tenants to use QuickBooks accounting software and requiring all companies to regularly submit financials. “Tenants eventually come to say, ‘I get to manage my business better now that I understand what these numbers mean,’” Perry said.

But the incubator is more than a series of workshops and lessons. “We look holistically at the client’s business and determine the best intervention,” Perry said. “We try to look at what the entrepreneur is experiencing as a pain point.

A board member for eight years, Fred Blum assists tenants largely with funding, investment analysis, and accessing capital. “They always have the ability to get coaching advice in any and all areas,” he said. Blum has found marketing to be the second biggest challenge for companies, next to bookkeeping and finance. “They have a good concept, a great idea, and they’re excited about it, but they don’t know how to get the word out there,” said Blum, an investment advisor for Augustine Asset Management.

“Successful companies learn how to do that,” Blum said. “Tenants learn from advisors and from one another. We are a support group for them and they are there for each other, and we encourage that,” Blum said. “If one business can help another, they do.”

Perry added, “They look for ways to partner. They look for ways to team.”

And entrepreneurs keep helping after they “graduate” by obtaining pre-determined goals like hitting target revenue or accumulating 6 to 12 months of working capital. “You take what you need. You give what you need, and you reach back and help pull other people out,” said Harold, whose company has earned numerous local and national accolades for its growth since graduating from the center. “You’re trying to make something go from zero and you’re pretty intense about what you’re doing. But there’s also plenty of opportunity to coordinate and get together.”

 Beaver Street Enterprise Center Tenants as of 7/9/13.

Management Consulting Services
Owner: William Almas
Phone: 904-695-4241
B3 Solutions delivers innovative services that make government and industry work better. They specialize in developing on-target solutions for seemingly intractable issues. Whether it’s acquisition management and contract administration, information technology and security, program management, supply chain management and logistics, or systems engineering, they offer optimal performance and deliver results.

BixIm Coaching
Consulting & Technical Assistance
Owner: Birgit Im
Phone: 904-265-4749
Bix helps people and companies from around the world exceed their own dreams and visions of success. Her internationally honed coaching and life transformational skills help clients achieve greater self-confidence and personal triumphs. Bix provides her clients with actionable accomplishments, working closely with them to ensure they achieve their desired goals.

Braintech Environmental & Contract Services Group, LLC *
Owner: Jason Mount
Phone: 904-265-4714

ER&S/StaffTime *
Human Resource & Staffing Agency
Owner: Kelley Moore
Phone: 904- 265-2947
ER&S is a leader in productive and enterprising ideas in human resource development. They are an expert source for staffing, training, and managing people, allowing an organization to perform at maximum capability.

Fish for Life *
Food Service/Vocational Program
Owner: Mark E. Singleton
Phone: 904-265-1910

Huxtable Education Group, LLC
Supplemental Educational Services
Owner: Grace Huxtable-Mount
Phone: 904-265-2938
Huxtable Education Group specializes in providing high quality supplemental educational services to students in grades K-8. Its ultimate objectives are to diagnose student learning needs by using formal and informal assessments and provide individualized instruction that closes student achievement gaps through proven, research-based intervention methods. The company was established to serve Title I schools in Duval County Public Schools that have not met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements according to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

I Believe Corporation *
Food & Beverage Management
Owner: Camille Lee
Phone: 904-265-4700 Ext. 4069

Facility Cleaning Services
District Mgr. III: Rene Bartlett
Phone: 904-265-1926

Jacksonville Hospitality Institute (Life Point Career Institute)
Hospitality Training & Job Placement
Director: Michelle Hughes
Phone: 904-265-4750
Jacksonville Hospitality Institute (JHI) offers a free, ten-week, job-training program to unemployed or under-employed adults allowing them to begin careers in the hospitality industry. The program utilizes curriculum written by the American Hotel and Motel Association, complemented with hands-on and classroom instruction in hospitality skills. Training includes wait staff, front desk services, and housekeeping.

Lee Wesley Restaurants, LLC
Food Service Industry
Owner: Arthur Lee
Phone: 904-265-0337
Lee Wesley provides award-winning food service to millions of customers at major sporting events. These events include the NBA Finals, National College Bowl games, and critically acclaimed Broadway shows and concerts.

Legal Rescue
Legal Services
Owner: Theresa Richardson
Phone: 904-265-4713
Legal Rescue offers everyday legal documents at affordable prices: wills, trusts, divorces, adoptions, bankruptcy, civil lawsuits, child support modifications, landlord/tenant disputes, tax professionals.

Leneer Data Assurance Solutions, Inc
IT Security Consulting Company
Owner: Robert Lester
Phone: 904-265-4715
LDAS is an information assurance consulting firm. Their consulting professionals are highly experienced, hold security professional certifications, as well as security clearances, and are experts in the science of information security and privacy.

Lionel Smith & Associates
Distribution of Financial Services and Products
Owner: Lionel Smith
Phone: 904-265-2934
Primerica is a leading provider of term life insurance, working to help families become financially independent. Primerica is a Main Street company for Main Street families

Lumbee Resource Management Group *
Technology Hardware, Software And Staffing Company
Owner: Johnny R. Helms
Phone: 904-265-5416
Lumbee Resource Management Group, LLC consulting provides state, federal, and local governments, educational systems, and small to large corporations with trustworthy, reliable, and professional consulting services. Whether a company is looking to increase infrastructure reliability, optimize their network, or simply redesign their website, Lumbee Group provides valuable solutions for any IT need.

macpc techMac+PC Tech Pro, Inc.
Computer Repair and Service Industry
Owners: Daren & Shay Knight – Dillinger
Phone: 904-387-5370
Repair shop and on-site IT support for Apple and Windows. (Home and Business.)

Marty’s Cleaning, Janitorial & Lawn Svc. *
Janitorial Services
Owner: Martha Higgins
Phone: 904-265-0756

ONYX Construction
Owner: Yvonne Thomas
Phone: 904-342-6699
Onyx Construction, Inc. is a minority, woman-owned small business (WOSB) and qualified HUBZone. They specialize in federal contracting for general construction, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing. Their executive team has extensive construction and business expertise with decades of experience in their respective fields.

Quantum Mechanical, LLC
HVAC Services
Owner: Patrick Gordon
Phone: 561-436-0906

SCIF Global Technologies
Provider of Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities
Owners: Jaye Andone & Ed Meskel
Phone: 904-265-1902
SCIF Global Tecnologies’ team of experts creates and designs secure facilities with the latest technology to exact specifications. They are one of the few small businesses in the U.S. able to fulfill the immediate, critical need for truly secure facilities to support rapid mobilization capabilities. SCIF Global Technologies is at the forefront of SCIF or SAPF technology to provide customers with logistical and cost-effective solutions.

Schofield Tax Solutions *
Tax preparation & Bookkeeping
Owner: Margie Schofield
Phone: 904-387-6071

SkyDirect, LLC
Direct TV Distributor
Owner: Andres Visconde

Sunshine Support Services
Case Management Agency
Owner: Sharon Clements
Phone: 904-265-4747
The staff at Sunshine Support Services is dedicated to shining healing light into the lives of their clients, many of whom are elderly, disabled, or injured. The company provides mental health case management to persons, 18 years of age and older, who are eligible for Medicaid benefits.

Team Pegine, Inc.
Professional and Management Development Training
Owner: Pegine Echevarria
Phone: 904-280-8806
Team Pegine defines success for organizations as: increased productivity, savings and employee engagement, enhanced recruitment and retention for a diverse workforce, and expansion to a global community. They accomplish desired outcomes through the following services: management and marketing consulting, coaching and leadership training, event planning and production, diversity and inclusion programs, corporate and military role playing, design and implementation of situational training exercises, and curriculum development.

The Boyer Group, Inc
Business Consulting Services
Owner: Charlene Boyer
Phone: 904-738-0142

The HILL of Northeast Florida, Inc.
Mentoring Latinos to Their Personal Best
Owner: Anna Grogan
Phone: 904-265-4700 Ext. 4091
The Hispanic Institute for Life and Leadership of Northeast Florida offers training and career development for Hispanic job seekers; full-service job placement services for Hispanic job seekers and local employers seeking to hire them; and consulting services for diversity and inclusion practices focused on attracting, recruiting, and retaining Hispanic employees.

UNF/Small Business Development Center
Consulting & Technical Assistance
Analysts: Kevin Monahan/ Paul Arrington
Phone: 904-265-4767
Small Business Development Centers across the country have assisted hundreds of thousands of potential and existing business owners by providing the management advice, training, and information they need to start, grow, and profit. With funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and partners ranging from institutions of higher learning to state agencies to municipalities to private organizations, SBDCs are able to offer management assistance to business owners at little or no cost.

Wealth Watchers, Inc.
Mortgage Counseling Services
CEOs: Carrie Davis and Ed Gaston
Phone: 904-265-4736
The mission of Wealth Watchers Inc. is building viable communities by expanding the knowledge of low-to-moderate income individuals for the purpose of understanding the importance of basic finance and the accumulation of wealth. Wealth Watchers Inc. achieves its mission by providing lending and education, neighborhood stabilization, community revitalization strategies, and small business services.

* Venture Out or Virtual Tenant
Source: Beaver Street Enterprise Center, research

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