Florida Small Business Leadership Conference

After a year off for COVID-19, the best state conference for small businesses and entrepreneurs came roaring back last week in Orlando at the J. W. Marriott Grande Lakes resort.  Sponsored by the Jim Moran Institute (JMI) and the Florida SBDCs (Small Business Development Centers),  it always provides the most useful information.  This year was no exception with topics like Cyber Risk in a Small Business World, 5 Key Elements in Marketing, Agility in a Time of Pandemic, Communications in a Virtual Environment, Data Analytics for Business Leaders, Post-COVID-19 Marketing Survival, Design Thinking, Business Resiliency, Digital Marketing for a Changing World, Marketing to the Government, Profit Mastery, Access to Capital, Mitigating Risk, Five C’s of Storytelling, Nonprofit Consultation, and two sessions on the BMC, business model canvas.  One of the latter taught by Dr. Randy Blass, chair of the JIM, Jim Moran Institute, was titled “Model Mash” and blew the lid off your editor.  It combines the well worn SWOT with the BMC in the sense each component of the BMC is broken into threats, opportunities, strengths and opportunities.  This combination technique is super powerful, increasing the innovation of each model component.  Case in point, under VP or Value Proposition, threats include analysis of substitute product or services available in the market, do competitors offer better prices or value; under the VP opportunity, are recurring revenues possible by converting products into services?  Using SWOT inside the BMC adds a dynamic dimension to improve the design of a needed product or solve a problem more effectively.

Besides powerful breakout sessions, the stage provided keynotes from the likes of Amanda Brinkman from the Hulu smash hit “Small Business Revolution” (left) whose show illustrates the importance of communicating with your customers.  Scott Price, founder of A-LIGN, a cybersecurity and privacy expert, provided insights from 2,500 clients across the globe for  SME’s (small to medium sized enterprises) to avoid or mitigate risk. Wayan Vota, a Digital Development Entrepreneur helped explain the importance of failure in eventual success. He espouses failure as a mark of leadership and innovation in pushing the boundaries of what is possible and profitable.  There is value in examining our mistakes and learning from failure.

The Jim Moran Institute in itself is a wonderful story.  Jim Moran, now deceased, was a successful auto dealer who started in Chicago with a Hudson dealership.  After growing into the largest Ford dealer in the U. S., he retired in the 60’s and opened a dealership in South Florida.   An old friend from Chicago told him Toyota Motors was looking for a way to break into U. S. and needed a network of dealerships in the Southeast using Jacksonville Port.  They arranged a territory including five S. E. states, and he sold twenty percent of all Toyotas in the U.S. his first year.  About 1984 Jim began philanthropic pursuits beginning with a Heart and Vascular Center, and then, using his passion for entrepreneurship in 1995, he gave Florida State University a gift to provide free services to entrepreneurs.  It was a such a successful concept that he solidified it in 2015 with the largest gift in FSU history ($100 million).  The gift included the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship and a degree-granting school of entrepreneurship.

Jim Moran’s vision to help small businesses grow lives on through the JMI, and the annual JMI-SBDC Leadership Conference is just one benefactor.  I would encourage out-of-state small businesses to attend as well.  We are indeed fortunate to have this activity in Florida, another strong reason to base startups in the Sunshine State!

by Editor Clint Day, who tries to attend each year.

(Last photo includes three authors from NACCE’s new bookImpact ED.  Closest is the CEO of the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, Dr. Becky Corbin, and two professors from the successful entrepreneurship program at the InLab, Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Professors Beth Kerly and Dr. Andy Gold.)





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