Small business owners looking to scale up and grow in 2016 will soon have the opportunity to do just that. ScaleUp North Florida will accept applications for its 2016 program year from August 15 – October 31, 2015. This will be the second year of the program, which is designed to create local economic impact by helping small business owners create jobs, increase sales and access capital for business development.
ScaleUp North Florida is one of eight programs in the country under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s ScaleUp America umbrella, and it is based at the University of North Florida. To qualify for the year-long program, companies must have been in business for at least two years; generate between $150,000 and $750,000 in annual sales; be located in Duval, St. Johns, Nassau, Baker or Clay counties and have the desire to grow. Up to 50 small business owners will be selected to participate in the 2016 program year. There is no cost to participate.
Many of the 37 participants in the 2015 program year have already seen the results of their commitment, according to ScaleUp North Florida Program Director Jennifer Marko. “In the inaugural year of ScaleUp North Florida, we had a dynamic group that was ready to dig deep and achieve goals,” she said. “Although there is no cost to participate in the program, a substantial time investment is required. It takes real work, and the final reward is a stronger business.” In addition to the education and training opportunities, each participant is paired with a small business consultant from the Florida Small Business Development Center at UNF for ongoing guidance and support.
Dr. Patti Peeples, CEO of HealthEconomics.com, a top-ranked resource portal that serves as the global CONNECTED COMMUNITY™ for individuals involved in healthcare value, credits what she learned from ScaleUp North Florida as creating tangible, income-producing changes to the company and for improving her leadership skills. “As a result of the training, we launched a new line of business within a few months and secured two new clients, one of whom we had been targeting for three years,” Peeples said. “We also instituted weekly planning meetings, which have improved our intra-company communications, reduced redundancy and enhanced employee efficiency. I highly recommend ScaleUp North Florida to other entrepreneurs at a nexus of growth.”
For Eric Summers, ScaleUp North Florida provided an education on how to structure his marine construction business, Underwater Mechanix Services, for anticipated growth. He was also able to access a line of credit for his business, which he expects to grow by 200% in 2015. “The program taught me the importance of working on the business, rather than just working in the business,” Summers said. “This has helped me to focus on the company’s vision and direction, instead of just being consumed by the day-to-day activities. I also received help securing a line of credit from Community First Credit Union, which will serve as working capital as we undertake our largest project to-date. With this guidance and education, I am creating a firmer foundation for the business as it grows.”
The 2016 ScaleUp North Florida application will be available online at www.scaleupnorthflorida.com beginning August 15th. ScaleUp participants will benefit from 26 hours of entrepreneurial training on topics geared toward small business growth. They will receive an in-depth business assessment, and then an action plan will be developed to help them achieve their growth goals. In addition, a Meet the Lender event will showcase the available types of small business lending, and access to CEO Xchange groups for peer-to-peer support is available after the classes have ended. The 2016 selection process will take place in November and December 2015, and the new program year will begin in January 2016.
ScaleUp North Florida is funded through a contract with the U.S. Small Business Administration. The program is based at the University of North Florida and works in partnership with the Florida Small Business Development Center at UNF.