Edna Hall-Whitehead

Scott Whitehead

Faith Funeral Home, Inc. has served families in Havana and surrounding communities for the past 19 years. Owners Edna and Scott Whitehead have been working with their business consultants at the Florida Small Business Development Center at FAMU (FSBDC at FAMU) to find ways to expand and better accommodate families in their time of need.

Edna said that although her husband developed an interest in becoming a Funeral Director at the 13, he did not pursue the career until later in life. When the company he was working for relocated, Scott had the opportunity to pursue a career he felt passionate about. He became an associate with a funeral home in Bainbridge and began his education in Mortuary Science at Gupton-Jones College in Atlanta.

Scott worked hard to complete his degree program, driving back and forth from his home in Bainbridge to Atlanta three days a week and returning to work the night shift at the funeral home. Edna said she remembers telling Scott she wouldn’t marry him until after he received his degree as a means to encourage him. Once he completed his degree program, Edna said they got to work building their funeral home from the ground up.

“We began with a 3500-square-foot building. We didn’t have a chapel until three years later,” Edna said. “When built a chapel, we made it nondenominational. It supplies the needs of every group no matter what their belief is, no matter what their culture is. We serve every family.”

After a time, Edna sold her flower shop and came to work at Faith Funeral Home full time. She participated in the Jim Moran Institutes Entrepreneur Program and has received professional and educational training in the funeral industry, earning her Pre-Need Funeral License. While at the Jim Moran Institute, she met Keith Bowers, Regional Director of the FSBDC at FAMU.

When the couple first came to the FSBDC at FAMU, their funeral home was already doing well. The financial analysis performed by the FSBDC at FAMU confirmed this fact and gave them detailed information about their business’s financial health. In addition to that confirmation,  they benefitted from the marketing and sales expertise their Business Consultant, Emery Parker, provided. This advice resulted in them moving in a positive direction for Pre-Need advertising and possibly adding another component to the firm.

“I’ve read the report many times, and every one of the funeral homes that we were compared to, none of them started the way we did,” Edna said. “We started at zero. We founded this with no help. We are a first-generation funeral home with a first-generation funeral director. Others in Tallahassee have either been purchased, inherited, or a part of a large corporation or had family members supporting them financially and educating them. There is no one like us in our industry or service area.”

Despite having overall success with their business, they did face several challenges getting to where they are now. These obstacles include educating the community that they exist, developing a relationship and trust with the community, and overcoming the last stronghold on tradition. The FSBDC at FAMU was able to offer some insight and help establish connections in the communities they serve.

 With help from the FSBDC at FAMU, Edna and Scott produced a TV commercial for their business, the only funeral home in the area to have one. The FSBDC at FAMU also provided a detailed report on their business, showing them where and how they can improve and their goals for growing and expanding the business. Edna says they have reached every goal and dream and hopes the FSBDC at FAMU will help them continue to find ways to serve families in the community.

“We don’t have a playbook on how individuals grieve and, every individual has something that is truly is important to them and, we hope that we never miss that step and complete that and give them what they need to make the worst day of their life a little better,” Edna said. “We can only do so much to prepare for whichever service that family chooses but the nucleus of that family that is left. They need guidance in navigating living without them. We want those memories to be good, we want it to be special, and we want it to be about them.”

What sets Faith Funeral Home and Crematory stand out from other businesses is the staff’s outgoing personality and willingness to explore different ideas and opportunities that will add to the quality of their services. The owners are dedicated to reinvesting in their business for growth and success to continue working with their clients to provide the best care.

 “The value, the overview, the tools, and their willingness to assist me and my business cannot be measured,” Hall-Whitehead said. “Their expert advice, encouragement, and desire to see my business become what my vision is, is something you owe yourselves as a business owner to seek out. You will find that working with the FSBDC at FAMU.”


Jabaree Allen

In the early stages of the development of his company, Business Automation Pros, Jabaree Allen was determined to bring his services to all different types of businesses in Tallahassee and help them transition to a paperless system.

 A friend of Allen introduced him to Keith Bowers, Regional Director of the Florida Small Business Development Center at Florida A&M University (FSBDC at FAMU), who gave him a piece of advice that was instrumental in the overall success of his business. Bowers told him, “In trying to serve everybody, he may not reach anybody.”

 “A dear friend of mine, Darryl Jones, Deputy Director of the Office of Economic Vitality, introduced me to Keith and said that the FSBDC at FAMU would be a great resource,” Allen said. “From day one, Keith was very open to helping me out in any way he could. From there, the relationship grew. He asked me what he could do to help, and I put all the things I knew I was having a tough time with on the table. He did what he could and introduced me to people who could solve those problems.”

 Allen did have prior knowledge of navigating the technology industry, having graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Entrepreneurship and afterward working for a company that focused on the same software that Business Automation Pros now uses, but for local municipalities instead of healthcare. He picked up on this software rather quickly and was able to use it to create a company of his own.

 “When I graduated and learned about the technology, I found it interesting, and I have a degree in Entrepreneurship from Florida State, so I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart,” Allen said. “I decided to leave that company, and Business Automation Pros was born.”

 At the onset of COVID 19, Jabaree noticed healthcare facilities needed his services since they could no longer have people crowd waiting rooms to fill out paperwork. With its newfound niche, Business Automation Pros was able to grow tremendously over the last few years. According to Allen, the projected growth for the tech industry is $23 billion over the next three years.

 Now in the seventh year of his business, Allen said that during his time at school, he didn’t have many mentors that looked like him and hoped that with his success, he could open the door for those coming behind him and inspire more young black men to pursue careers in technology. He said growing up; he did not receive much support when he showed interest in technology and had to make the conscious decision to overcome stereotypes surrounding black men in tech and have the confidence to stand out and choose his path.

 “It is super important for me to mentor and be a leader in this space,” Allen said. “To teach young men in the community that we have this avenue. The goal is to pull young men in through internships and mentors, teach them about the technology world and show them this is how you do this type of business, and this is what the research looks like.”

 Although initially, Jabaree did not have many mentors who could relate to him, he says he finds motivation in talking with his business consultant at the FSBDC at FAMU. He understands the importance of not giving up and inspiring others who may come into the industry after him.

“Keith has always been awesome,” Allen said. “He’s been accommodating with more than just the business side. He’s been motivational and like a mentor, telling me, ‘Jabaree, you can’t give up. There will be challenges, and you are the first Black man starting a tech business like this, don’t give up.’ That’s the most important piece of support that he gave me.”

 What sets Business Automation Pros apart from similar companies is Allen’s humility in the business. He said a big issue in the technology industry is that companies will sell you a product but won’t teach you how to use it. Allen, however, brings face-to-face, hands-on learning when working with each client.

“That’s a big problem I see in the technology industry is we’ll buy technology and invest in it, but we won’t invest in learning how to use it, or the people who sold it to us aren’t willing to teach us how to use it,” Allen said. “That’s the big difference between my company compared to others.”

Allen takes pride in creating strong bonds with his clients and taking the time to understand their needs. In helping them transition to a paperless data entry system, Allen is creating more efficient and safer work environments for healthcare facilities that have been greatly affected by the COVID 19 pandemic.

 Pairing the resources and guidance offered by the FSBDC at FAMU with his education at FSU and prior knowledge about the software used at Business Automation Pros, he has been able to grow his presence within the local healthcare industry. From learning to build a great business model to utilizing the variety of marketing resources available, the FSBDC at FAMU was pivotal in his business surviving the first few years.

 “God led me to this, and that is the most important thing! That helped me to pray about it, and God was giving me a vision,” Allen said. “That’s why I was able to come to the FSBDC and meet Keith Bowers and a few of the people at the FSBDC who helped me put things together that I was having challenges with.”

Kanut Khosla

Kanut Khosla was ready to fulfill his lifelong desire of being an entrepreneur but was looking for affirmation that he was making sound decisions supported by data.  He found all the support he needed and more when he discovered the Florida Small Business Development Center at FAMU (FSBDC at FAMU).

Khosla had enjoyed a 23-year career at the state of Florida where he gained experience with contract and project management, while also managing multiple work units. Khosla also served in the United States Army Reserve, working in the military postal service. He felt his background would help him be successful in business but wasn’t sure how to get started.

He took an early retirement and gave himself three months to figure out what kind of business he wanted.  His plan was to explore the communities between Tallahassee and Jacksonville hoping to find a business that was successful but under-represented in Tallahassee.  He soon developed an interest in the shipping industry and looked at popular franchises such as the UPS Store and the FedEx Office. There were also several independent shipping stores which Khosla found more appealing because he could offer the strengths of UPS, FedEx, USPS, and DHL all in one store.

He then found an existing store for sale that had already developed a good customer base.  Since this was cheaper to purchase than a new franchise, Khosla wanted to proceed with acquisition but did not feel comfortable relying solely on the business broker and seller.  That’s where the FSBDC at FAMU came in.

“I met with Keith Bowers and Aundra’ McGlockton, and I’ll tell you, I don’t think I would have been able to purchase the business without them,” Khosla said. “The shipping business looked like it was going to be decent around here, so that was a plus.  Then Aundra’ looked at the numbers and said it looked like a good purchase and helped me determine its value.  Everything that I could have asked for, had I been able to hire a giant staff of people, I got at no cost to me through the FSBDC at FAMU.”

After he bought the business, Kanut experienced the “now what” moment that many business owners experience and the FSBDC at FAMU came through for him again, sending him three MBA candidates to help with social media outreach and marketing efforts.  He went from worrying that he would run a 14-year-old business into the ground in record time to experiencing growth each of the first three years.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20% of U.S. small businesses fail within the first year.  By the end of their fifth year, roughly 50% have faltered.  After ten years, only around a third of businesses have survived.

As Khosla and his family celebrate ten years in business, the couple credits much of their success to the FSBDC at FAMU, who they still turn to for guidance.  With their daughter now working alongside them, Khosla and his wife are happy that they have a business to leave to her once they retire.

“Ten years from now, we may not want to work anymore, and she’ll have years and years of experience here,” Khosla said.  “I would love to set her up to be self-employed so she can direct her own life.  We know where to get all the support we need for it now, so we can just send her to the SBDC.”

Elijah Rutland

When Elijah Rutland began customizing shoes, he never thought his hobby would lead to bigger opportunities such as designing his own “Beats by Dre” or having his art featured at the Superbowl.

From a young age Rutland loved creating art. In elementary school he recalls not being able to get the popular sneakers he wanted and instead drawing them and showing them to his friends and family. As a sophomore in high school, he saw someone paint on a pair of shoes for the first time and that pushed his passion for shoes and art to the next level.

“That was my way of having shoes without actually physically having them and then that continued to the tenth grade when I actually saw someone paint a pair of shoes for the first time and I thought that was the coolest thing,” Rutland said. “I went to Good Will to buy some shoes and to Walmart and bought some paint and started there and overtime it just evolved.”

Following the creation of his brand Fix My Sole, he decided that in addition to customizing sneakers, he also wanted to do commissioned illustrations and paintings, create his own apparel, and even sell a curated selection of vintage FAMU pieces.

Since he officially started Fix My Sole at the age of 15, Rutland had no prior work experience and was unsure if he would really be able to turn his hobby into a business. However, having two entrepreneur parents, they helped him learn how he can make his passion a career.

Rutland had to go through a lot of steppingstones to build his brand to where it is today. He remembers the first custom pair of sneakers he painted sold for only $35, at a loss. After making his first sale he realized the potential in painting shoes and how he could make it profitable.

“Overall, it feels good that people want to buy my work and that people are actually interested in it,” Rutland said. “I think when I started, that was something that I struggled with. I didn’t know whether people would be interested in the work that I did or my voice that I use through my art, but it definitely feels good. At times it can be overwhelming dealing with school and still trying to keep everything on the business side intact but it’s definitely a great feeling.”

Rutland came early to FAMU to begin practicing for the Marching 100 and one day he got a call from his dad saying he wanted to take him to the Florida Small Business Development Center at FAMU to speak with a business consultant. There he met with Emery Parker and discussed what stage he was at with his business and some of the struggles he was facing.

“I think Mrs. Emery was the first person I talked to, and you know my dad is a great salesman, so he was just explaining to her my business and everything I was doing at the time,” Rutland said. “I didn’t even have a website actually so that was the first thing I got from the SBDC. I just explained what I was looking for and wanted and either that same week or the next week we set up a meeting with a web developer and got started on everything to get the website going.”

Since then, Fix My Sole has experienced exponential growth and been recognized nationally and internationally in the art and entertainment industry. Elijah also had his art displayed at the 2021 NBA All-Star Game festivities as well as an exhibit at the 2020 Super Bowl LV Experience.

In addition to these accomplishments, Elijah has been featured in several media outlets such as Complex,,, Buzzfeed News, to name a few. He has also collaborated with celebrities and public figures including R&B singer, K. Michelle, Chance the Rapper, and social media influencer, Demetrious Harmon.

One of Rutland’s proudest moments was the opportunity to design the “2021 Black History Month Beats by Dre”. Rutland said he recalled clicking through Instagram stories one day and he happened to stop on American sports pundit and former professional football player Shannon Sharpe’s story where he was unboxing the headphones that he had designed.

Elijah attributes much of his success to the consulting services he received from the FSBDC at FAMU.

“I was very satisfied with the services I received from the SBDC, it was really the start of the professional side of my business,” Rutland said. “I would recommend them to other business owners because I think one of the best parts of the center is that they met me where I was at the time because before I had never had a consultation with a business development center like this or even with a web developer and everybody they brought in, all the staff and everybody I met, they’re really genuine and passionate with how they helped and it felt like they were personally invested in making sure I got the best service and the best help possible.”

Now preparing to graduate, Rutland has several options lined up to choose from. After interning with Warner Brothers and working with Netflix on the show, “Green Eggs and Ham”, he has charted a path to success and is looking for more opportunities to create art to be shared with the world.

Rutland encourages others who aren’t sure if they want to pursue their hobbies as a career to take the chance and to use the services the Florida SBDC at FAMU offers for small business owners at no cost.

“I would definitely recommend any FAMU students, the younger the better because you have more time, but I think a lot of people don’t know that these services are available,” Rutland said. “Especially now in our current generation people are aspiring to be entrepreneurs but this is a good way to set yourself apart with services that are readily available with the people that are here to help you and make those things happen.”

Kaye Crawford

When the COVID 19 pandemic hit and public schools transitioned to virtual classrooms, K-12 students in underserved communities were impacted the most when it came to educational loss. Kaye Crawford, founder of the non-profit organization STEMS4GIRLS, has been working to fill the void with additional learning opportunities for those students.

“We know that the research tells us that children and youth of color were impacted more by COVID-19, and we have a great opportunity to provide additional supplemental educational support for them,” Crawford said. “STEMS4GIRLS has an amazing tutoring program, and we provide our services for free. They can do it in person or virtual and our goal is to help them improve their performance or help them maintain. We have some students whose parents want their child to maintain that A or that B. So, we also provide services for them as well.”

STEMS4GIRLS provides a wide range of resources for girls of different age groups that will assist them in developing critical thinking skills and the ability to collaborate to enhance their math and social skills with lessons that are designed around Florida educational standards.

The collegiate group provides volunteer services and gains transferable skills by getting an inside look at how to operate a nonprofit organization. The high school and middle school groups investigate social issues that they care about and create a project that will solve the problem by the end of the semester. Finally, the youth group is provided after school Saturday enrichment activities that will give them the opportunity to explore their interests and develop their STEM literacy in order to engage and participate in classroom discussions.

Crawford has always had a passion to work with young kids and after working within several industries from corporate America to government to education, she decided to bring her passion to life by developing an early childhood development program after retiring in 2017.

Crawford got in touch with the Florida Small Business Development Center at FAMU in the early stages of STEMS4GIRLS and because of their guidance, she was able to launch in 2018. 

According to Crawford, the most impactful skill she learned from the FSBDC at FAMU was how to negotiate. Through the advice from her consultant Aundra’ McGlockton, she was able to circumvent situations that could have prevented STEMS4GIRLS from moving forward.

“They have provided their expertise in marketing the program, how to negotiate which has been huge, as well as making their space and resources available when I did not have access to some of the technology and programs and software that I needed to produce material for the organization, so they were there with an open door,” Crawford said. “They are an integral part of the STEMS4GIRLS success.”

When she first came to the FSBDC at FAMU, McGlockton said she came with just an idea and they were able to work together to create a business plan, acquire funding, and turn her idea into a reality.

“From my perspective we need to have people who are not only in these big organizations doing all these wonderful things, but also small organizations where people come in with nothing and build their organization into something” McGlockton said. “She went from doing everything herself to now having 35 volunteers and 6 people who are on contract that she employs through the grants she receives. She went from virtually having no money to getting about $30,000 to $40,000 in grants a year that help her sustain her organization and help her accomplish her mission.”

“In general, most of our volunteers talk about their desire to give back and help us go forward with our mission,” Crawford said. “Our mission is to increase the representation of girls and especially girls of color living in underserved communities after school learning opportunities. These opportunities and enrichment programs we offer, we hope will stimulate their interest to pursue science technology engineering and math careers throughout their education.”

Several challenges arose while working to get the program up-and-running such as finding an organization that would allow her to operate her after school program, having a huge turnover of volunteers each year as they graduated, and getting funding for administrative support.

“She was trying to negotiate an equitable arrangement with another organization she was working with,” McGlockton said. “So, my conversation was to basically help her focus on her objective and develop a strategy to negotiate with that organization so she could get what she wants. She was able to do that.”

After reaching out to the Oasis Center for Women and Girls and obtaining space for her program, she was able to get the ball rolling and with the assistance from the FSBDC at FAMU she was able to start tackling these challenges.

“I’m proud of Kaye,” McGlockton said. She took our advice, she implemented it and she didn’t give up and she was able to accomplish her goals. That’s what business and really life is all about. Deciding where you want to go and putting in the energy, taking good advice and implementing that good advice to help you get where you want to go. That’s what she did.”

Now, Crawford is making an impactful difference within the community by teaching the youth in a fun and enjoyable way while simultaneously building their confidence in order to engage in conversations in the classroom.

“The impact that STEMS4GIRLS is having in the Tallahassee Leon County community cannot be overstated particularly when we hear parents and our youth giving testimonies about the impact that having a tutor or mentor helped them succeed as well as open their eyes to other career opportunities and education in science and technology is what stems4girls mission is all about. To hear those testimonies is like an affirmation that there is a need for more afterschool stem related programs.”

While she is still working to build up the organization, Crawford has more confidence in her ability to overcome challenges with the assistance and guidance from the FSBDC at FAMU.

“I am extremely satisfied with the service and the advice that I have gotten,” Crawford said. “They were there when I needed advice and services the most. I would recommend the SBDC services because of the expertise that they provide and even if an organization is young or mature, I believe iron sharpens iron.”

Summer Griffith

Growing up in New York City, Summer Griffith was exposed to the eclectic range of fitness services her hometown offered. Once moving to Tallahassee for school, she longed to find a fitness center that would satisfy her thirst for fun movement instead of restricting her body to weightlifting and the traditional forms of exercise.

Upon realizing that Tallahassee was missing the vibrant environment she desired, she decided that it was up to her to create a facility that would offer unique dance cardio classes that no other facility in the city offered. With help from the FSBDC at FAMU, she was able to bring that vision to life.

“I really just wanted a place where I could look forward to going but I couldn’t find it and for some reason I decided, I should be the one to make that place for Tallahassee because there has got to be other people that feel the same way I do and there is a correlation between exercising and dreading it,” Griffith said. “My thought was if you can change that mindset from dreading it to enjoying it, you are naturally then going to make more time for it and do it more in your life which then can benefit your entire life. Not only physically but mentally too.”

When she first started Drip Drop Fitness, she ran into several challenges as a new business owner with no prior experience in the fitness industry.

After hearing about the Florida Small Business Development Center at FAMU through the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce and speaking with the Director of the Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality, Christina Paredes, she decided to seek their services to expand her business and promote brand awareness.

“We had developed a website as well, but the SBDC was able to give us an audit on that and I was struggling with exposure and brand awareness because Drip Drop is not a franchise and it’s not a well-known name,” Griffith said. “It’s actually the first and only Drip Drop Fitness and with that you really have to work on brand awareness, and I really needed help with making our name known in Tallahassee and what that would entail.”

Some of the resources and services the FSBDC at FAMU provided Griffith were analytical tools to compare Drip Drop Fitness to the local and national market. Drip Drop Fitness also had the opportunity to be a business that MBA candidates at FAMU could study and give projections and recommendations for things she could do to enhance her business.

“Among many other things, one thing that also helped Drip Drop was being able to sit down with somebody, go through our financials line by line, really think about projections for the business and what we could be, where we are going, and really looking at where we have come,” Griffith said.

Griffith said that as a business owner, it can be challenging to find time to go through the finances of everything when focusing on trying to keep the business going. Having the partnership with the FSBDC at FAMU and receiving guidance on how to read statistical reports and get financial advice, as well as gain access to local resources, helped her navigate through challenges.

Just a few months shy of the fifth anniversary of Drip Drop Fitness, Griffith credits the FSBDC at FAMU for being an enormous part of her business’ success.

“I would recommend the SBDC to any other business,” Griffith said. “It has been so helpful to me. Just knowing that they exist and there are people that want to help you and can provide resources to your business that you might not have access to without them; is just super helpful and very comforting as you navigate an unknown territory when you start a business.”

As Griffith continues to grow Drip Drop Fitness, she is doing what she can to get more involved in the community and bring her services to those looking for a different way to exercise.

“We have gone through a lot in five years with a pandemic and moving,” Griffith said. “A lot more that I think I would have expected only five years to hold, but I am super grateful for where we are right now. We have moved to this new facility. We just won Best of Tallahassee. We are just constantly hiring local people and looking at how to get involved in the community, and I am just thankful that we are here after five years, and I am thankful that the SBDC was a part of that.”

Florida Autism 1

The Florida Autism Center (FAC) was founded in Central Florida in 2005 and relocated its headquarters to Tallahassee in 2011. FAC began working with the FSBDC at Florida A&M University (FAMU) in June of 2012. The company at that time had two locations in Central Florida and one in Tallahassee with a reported sales level of approximately $780,000. The company came to the FSBDC looking to strategically expand its operations while improving its operating efficiencies. Since that time, with the guidance and support of the FSBDC at FAMU, the company has achieved exceptional growth in sales, in profits, and in the number of employees it employs. FAC now has four locations and a 2014 sales level of nearly 3 million dollars. Continue reading

Dr. Martine Charles is the American Dream in action.  She is a true example of how hard work and determination can pay off.  Allied Health & Rehabilitation is now fully operational at 842 E. Park Avenue in Tallahassee (  Dr. Charles not only specializes in excellent chiropractic care for accident related injuries, but also wellness chiropractic care.  Being a savvy business woman and technically able; she also has diversified her business by preforming pre-employment physicals and drug screening.  Along the way to opening her own clinic, she found helpful guidance from her SBDC Certified Business Analyst, Christine Urban. 

Dr. Charles was born on the Island of Haiti and came to the United States at the age of fourteen. She and her parents settled in the east section of Brooklyn, New York. They instilled in her the values of hard work and determination. She excelled in school despite language and cultural barriers, but suffered many setbacks. Determined to overcome adversities, she eventually fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a practicing chiropractic doctor.  She then worked in several clinics in Florida and became well known for excellent patient care.  She was able to learn the ups and downs of the business, one of the best ways to prepare yourself for owning your own business.  When the time was right, after some encouragement, she was ready to fly on her own.    

Although Dr. Charles is exceptionally skilled with her technical ability to treat patients, she realized she needed some help around proper business management.  Christine Urban of the FAMU SBDC not only provided her with sound business advice but gave her the last little push she needed in validating her readiness to go off on her own.  Dr. Charles has taken advantage of the no cost one to one appointments as well as workshops and networking opportunities.  As well as learning new skills in business administration, through events at the SBDC Dr. Charles has connected and inspired other entrepreneurs.

Dr. Charles says the best thing about owning her own practice is being able to implement steps to make her vision a reality.  Due to her efforts she has been awarded the 2013 Startup Business of the Year during Small Business Week which is sponsored by the FAMU Small Business Development Center in partnership with the Leon County Minority Women and Small Business Enterprise Division and the City of Tallahassee Minority Business Enterprise Office.  

July 1, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of Bruner’s Computers at its permanent location. After humble beginnings at the flea market, Mary and Bill Bruner have formed a husband and wife team and built a business that supports them from the ground up. Mary started out fixing computers at a corner location at the Tallahassee Flea Market. Due to demand and need for better place to do repairs, as well as unpredictable rainstorms, Mary decided to move to a permanent location at 5113 Capital Circle ( This location has been great for providing better space, security, and opening hours, but has been challenging due to road construction. Mary relies on excellent customer service and referral business to get people through the door. Bruner’s Computers specializes in helping people who feel completely overwhelmed by the rush of technology in our modern world. She is patient and explains to customers what went wrong and how not to do go down the same path. She aims to help customers maintain their computers so they will not have to buy a new one. Mary stays up to date by constantly reading and shopping around for the best deals. She has several computers for sale at her location, and is clearing a place for more inventory.

During the past year, Mary has been attending virtually every training class that the Small Business Development Center offers from marketing, accounting, networking, and social media. She has taken advantage of one to one consulting and on site reviews offered by the Center and her lead counselor Christine S. Urban. Mary says that the classes help her “stay in gear” and moving forward with the business improving its marketing efforts. She has recently embarked on a new social media campaign. One of the most valuable and unexpected outcomes that came from SBDC interaction is the connection to other entrepreneurs. Not only can they help each other when facing the same challenges, but Mary has gone on to do business with some of them. She also finds out about programs and services that are available to advance her business. Over the last year she has seen a 37% increase in sales, and continues to grow with further fine tuning and the help of the Small Business Development Center.

TwinkleToes Shoe Boutique opened its doors in Tallahassee, Florida, November 2006 after I retired from the State of Florida.

TwinkleToes managed very well, although personal funds were used to stock the business, not knowing there were resources available for small businesses. We managed to survive through 2008-09 when newspapers were released that stated we were in a recession. Everyone closed their wallets and began to purchase just what was needed. We fell behind and things just got worst by the day. We made it until 2010 when my lease ended and I closed the business for one year to undergo hand surgery and try to recuperate from the losses. I continued to work via internet and home-based. Just could not bounce back enough to regain most of the loss.

Some customers apprised me of FAMU Small Business Development Center and I contacted Mr. Keith Bowers. We met several times, worked on a Business Plan and I thought I was ready for the application to be processed. Unfortunately, there were a few personal obstacles that kept me from applying at that time. I never gave up the dream that someday TwinkleToes would be fully stocked, expanded and in a store again.

My husband and I utilized personal funds again after an opportunity arose to move into Governor’s Square Mall. Moving in underfunded, we gave it our all-in-all. Finally, the time came to restock merchandise, and we were unable to fully stock the store. I tried private funding sources, although, no one wanted to give me an opportunity. Everyone said the business wouldn’t survive in this economy. I knew better, I knew what God had instilled within me and i was going to pursue it. I could not give up on the dream!

After seeing Mr. Bowers in the Governor’s Square Mall, I knew this was an opportunity to seek funding for the business. Mr. Bowers came in and talked with me about the condition of my business. I explained to him the problems I faced in obtaining working capital. He reviewed my financial statements and told me that he felt that the SBDC could help.

In February 2012, I was referred to K-WAM Financial Solutions to get the funding process started. They were able to assist and referred me to a lender that immediately processed my application and issued me step-by-step instructions what was needed to get approval for funding.

The process was stress-free and today TwinkleToes is funded, fully stocked with two part-time jobs created and on the road to a successful, prosperous business. Many thanks to FAMU Small Business Development Center for their assistance in helping small businesses like TwinkelToes to succeed.

I will always be grateful to my two sons and husband, who have always believed that TwinkleToes is a gift from God and have kept encouraged, even in our most difficult situations.

I am living my dream and my destiny fulfilled, thanks God and FAMU Small Business Development Center for caring!

Client Statement about SBDC:

I would recommend any business owner or anyone thinking about starting a business to apply for funding through SBDC at FAMU. They are people that care about your success and will recommend the right funding process for your business. Apply, even if it is for working capital, It’s available and SBDC at FAMU will do everything to help you in all your business needs.

Business Analyst Statement on Client:

I assisted Mrs. Rollins in preparing projections and identifying marketing resources and developing a marketing strategy. I stressed the importance of preparation and patience involved in obtaining financing. I was inspired by her determination and faith in her ability to get her business back on track.

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