Category Archives: Reinventing Small Business

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Chamber Hosts Small Business Week Celebration May 13

SBW Proclamation (1) 

Lakeland, FL – On Tuesday, May 13 at 8 a.m., small business owners are invited to participate in a special event showcasing the resources available to assist entrepreneurs in starting and growing their businesses.

This year’s Keynote Speaker is Todd Baylis, President and founder of Qgiv, a Lakeland based online giving platform which enables organizations throughout the country to quickly, securely and easily receive online, contextual and peer to peer donations, as well as to effectively accept event registrations. Additionally, he is President of Cipher, a managed network services and software development provider based in Central Florida. Cipher Integrations was also the recipient of the 2013 Scott Linder Small Business of the Year.

Following Todd’s presentation, our popular “Ask-the-Experts” session returns. Small business owners and entrepreneurs are invited to attend the free event where a unique “speed counseling” activity will give attendees 10-minute sessions with experts in legal, insurance, human resources, health care, and more. The Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida counselor will be on hand for questions and a “Social Media” discussion will also take place.

The event will be held on Tuesday, May 13 from 8 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. in the Honeyman Pavilion at Florida Southern College (111 Lake Hollingsworth Drive). Pre-registration is encouraged by visiting

National Small Business week is proclaimed by the President of the United States to recognize the critical contributions of America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs. This year marks the 51st anniversary of the Small Business Administration’s signature event, with events held in multiple cities from coast-to-coast May 12-16.Facebook Event-01-01





Get Your Business Online: Google is Coming to Town

Florida_GABO_Google_logo_vert If there is one thing you do today, Get Your Business Online. March 25-27, the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its first-ever Google webinars. Get Your Business Online week, or GYBO, utilizes virtual workshops that provide the tools for local businesses to grow through an online presence. GYBO has reached over 40 states, and success stories from business owners who have experienced it are numerous; see for yourself at

The week will kick off on Tuesday, March 25, where viewers will learn about website best practices and how to build their own free website quickly and easily through March 26 is titled “Get online. Get on the map. Get help for your business.”  This day will be dedicated to ensuring that businesses can be found online, in Search and Maps, with a free business listing on Google. On Thursday, local businesses can expect to expand their online presence. Not only will guests be provided with free tools that will help monitor their business online, but they will also have access to AdWords, an advertising platform that is guaranteed to boost website traffic and sales.

With the rapid pace at which technology is advancing, local businesses must do all they can to keep up. Google has an abundance of knowledge that they wish to share with their community; you won’t want to miss the opportunity of a lifetime to be mentored by one of the top leaders of the online world. Each workshop will begin at 1 p.m. and end at 3 p.m.

If there’s two things you do today, register online at, and remember to mark your calendars with this incredible event!


Small Business Development Center Announces November Seminars

Business Start-Up Series: Three-Week Course  

After working with thousands of business owners each year, we’ve put together six courses that make up the critical business foundation all entrepreneurs need to know before starting a business.

The series will take you through:

* determining feasibility and legal structures

* developing financial projections

* obtaining a loan

* accounting and bookkeeping processes

* attracting customers

Courses include:

* Starting Your Business – Tues., Nov. 12

* Marketing Your Business – Thurs., Nov. 14

* Financing Your Business in Today’s Economy – Tues., Nov. 19 * Basic Business Taxes – Thurs., Nov. 21

* Business Plan – Mon., Nov. 25

* Basic Bookkeeping – Tues., Nov. 26

All courses begin at 5:30 p.m. Cost $185.

Contracts and Legal Strategies for Managing Your Business

Ever signed a contract you couldn’t get out of? Negotiating leases, insurance, and supplier contracts can get you in the legal hot seat really quick! By attending this three-part series, you’ll receive nine hours of legal guidance plus, you’ll have Q&A time during each session. This course will teach you about the legal issues you’ll run across in managing insurance, suppliers, banking, accounting and intellectual property. You’ll also learn how to navigate basic contract structures terms, conditions and provisions as well as avoiding troubles of double taxation, hidden liabilities and unwanted assets. Course led by attorney Joe Russo of Donnelly & Russo, PA. Russo is a business law attorney who’s practiced in the Tampa Bay area for over 14 years.

Modules run Wednesday, November 6, 13, and 20 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Series price is all-inclusive $375. Save $75 by taking the entire series.

Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., 3 sessions


Navigating Business Contracts           

Negotiating leases, insurance, and supplier contracts can get you in the legal hot seat really quick. That’s why you need to understand how to navigate business contracts before you work out that next deal. Offered as a single course or as the first session of a three-part series, Navigating Business Contracts introduces you to what you need to know when it comes to basic contract structures and their terms, conditions and provisions. After you learn how to navigate the legal system, you’ll learn what to do if you or the other party(ies) need to terminate, dispute or transfer a contract. Course led by attorney Joe Russo of Donnelly & Russo, PA. Russo is a business law attorney who’s practiced in the Tampa Bay area for over 14 years. Cost: $150 individual course.

Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Starting Your Business 

You’ve got the idea. Now you need to know the steps to get on your way. Starting Your Business is a class that teaches just that. From how to determine feasibility and legal structure to the type of license you will need, this class covers all the essentials that will help you get started.

Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.


Women, Minority & Veteran Certification

It’s no myth… a women, minority or veteran  certification could present opportunities for your business, but there is a process to becoming certified. In this class, you will learn how to complete the State of Florida Certification application and discover how you can use this certification to seek business with the private sector and government.

Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 10 a.m. to Noon


Legal Considerations and Basic Business Organizations      

How you set up your business determines your liability, responsibilities and your amount of annual documentation. Offered as a single course or as the second session of a three-part series, it will teach you about the legal issues you’ll run across in managing insurance, suppliers, banking, accounting and intellectual property. Whether starting or expanding your business, knowing your general liability could save you from the legal hot seat. Know what you’re dealing with! Course led by attorney Joe Russo of Donnelly & Russo, PA. Russo is a business law attorney who’s practiced in the Tampa Bay area for over 14 years. Cost: $150.

Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Going Global: International Trade Basics   

International firms are more stable than strictly domestic companies. It could benefit you to expand your market beyond the border. Find a starting point and learn the fundamentals of international trade. By getting a broad overview of the trade arena, you’ll be able to formulate a strategy, understand how to develop a viable trade plan and support your effort through readily accessible resources. Get ready to go global!

Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.


Marketing Your Business

You know why your business rocks. Does anyone else? Take this class to uncover the characteristics that make up your business’ DNA. Soon, you’ll be able to boost consumer loyalty and company profits. After answering the two most important questions in all of marketing, you’ll be ready to skillfully implement customer-winning strategies and face the competition.

Thursday,Nov. 14, 2013 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


SEO: 15 Steps to Improve Your Google Rankings

A major component of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is On-Site Optimization. This seminar will teach you how to develop a SEO strategy based on methods of the Amazon best-selling book, “The Small Business Owners Handbook to Just 15 Steps,” by industry expert, Stephen Woessner. You’ll learn how to select keywords that are proven performers, combine the keywords into site content, & boost site popularity. More specifically, attendees will master:

* Basic SEO terms

* Why Google is the only search engine that matters!

* How to use several free SEO tools when selecting the best keywords

* How to implement a practical 15-step process for optimizing site content & building popularity

* How to measure results using free tools, like Google Analytics

All attendees get a copy of Woessner’s, “The Small Business Owners Handbook to SEO in Just 15 Steps.”

Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Financing Your Business in Today’s Economy  

Are you looking for money for your business? Are you considering a SBA loan? This seminar will help you zero in on the right funding. You’ll explore:

  • SBA loans: when, where and how to apply
  • How to plan your financing request to banks
  • Which banks are making loans
  • Angel investors and venture capitalists
  • Six Cs of credit and how credit scores affect your business
  • The fundamentals of royalties, licensing & supplier credit.

Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.


Managing Your Business: Succession Planning, Buying and Selling      

Buyouts, mergers and closures are proof that no business lasts in its current state forever. If you want to avoid future troubles of double taxation, hidden liabilities and purchasing unwanted assets you need to know the strategies behind succession planning, buying and selling. Offered as a single course or the third session of a three-part series, the course will teach you the intricacies of:

* Small business acquisitions

* Getting your business ready to sell

* Payment and non-compete issues

* Resignations and elections of board and officers

* How to hire an attorney

Course led by attorney Joe Russo of Donnelly & Russo, PA. Russo is a business law attorney who’s practiced in the Tampa Bay area for over 14 years. Cost: $150.

Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Basic Business Taxes   

There’s no way to get around it — every business must report taxes. But how you pay your taxes all depends on the type of business you have. This class will explore the taxation process and filing requirements for sole proprietorships, partnerships and corporations.

Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Building the Ultimate Business Plan

Business planning is the foundation to starting a new venture, raising funds or growing your business. Receive all the tools necessary to complete a practical business plan, including a copy of the Ultimate Business Planner software. Our expert advice simplifies conducting necessary research to make decisions and develop financial projections. Don’t be intimidated, take the first step.

Monday, Nov. 25, 2013 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Bookkeeping Basics

Proper bookkeeping is essential to managing your business. Learn how to classify and record basic business transactions, enter data into an account, chart accounts, and many basic accounting terms. You’ll also learn what you must hold on to for tax compliance and find out what accounting software might be useful to help make your bookkeeping easier.

Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Member of the FL & National Association of SBDC Networks

State Designated as Florida’s Principal Provider of Business Assistance, the Florida Small Business Development Center Network has more than 30 locations from Pensacola to Key West. The SBDC at USF region spans a 10-county area providing no-cost consulting and offering more than 450 entrepreneurial programs each year. Its Certified Business Analysts are specialized in industry-specific sectors to help small businesses make sound decisions in a complex and ever-changing marketplace.


Small Business Development Center

1101 Channelside Dr, Ste 210

Tampa, FL 33602

(813) 905-5800




Digital Marketing Terminology Seminar April 26

With so many options for marketing your business, it’s easy to get lost in the terminology. Print media, radio, digital… each option has a language all its own. Join the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce and our partners at for an introductory course with simple explanations of digital marketing lingo.

$25 includes lunch – Pre-registration required – seating is limited!

Register in advance here.


Reinventing Small Business – Small Business Spotlight

The percentage of sales made and researched online is growing every day! Through the Lakeland Chamber’s partnership with, your business can be a part of the Internet Economy!

From 2009 to 2010 there was a 14.8% increase in consumer spending online and from 2010 to 2011, another 16.1% increase. As more and more people are using the Internet to find products and services, it is important for Lakeland Chamber Members to use the tools to fully participate in the Internet economy.

Burton’s Lawn & Landscape, Inc. has embraced the capability of the Ocoos platform completely! This month, they’ve started blogging to add even more information and search engine optimization to their online presence!

“For someone like me who is not tech savvy, Ocoos is very user-friendly. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Ocoos!”

– Andy Burton, Owner, Burton’s Lawn & Landscape has created an online platform that is easy to use, yet powerful enough to redefine the way that small businesses operate.  View these slides to learn more about reinventing your small business on!

Questions? Need Help?

On Friday, April 26 at 1130 a.m., join us for an installment in our Reinventing Small Business Seminar Series. This Digital Marketing Terminology workshop is ideal for small business owners  who need help differentiating SEO from CRM and cloud computing from e-mail marketing! RSVP today – seating is limited!