BEST PRACTICES/SMALL BUSINESS HELP
FLORIDA SMALL BUSINESSES ARE RESILIENT, EVEN
IN FACE OF HURDLES PRESENTED BY PANDEMIC
Small business owners are nothing if not intrepid. They demonstrate
their flexibility no matter what situation arises. Their
resiliency has never been more apparent than in recent months
as they encountered setbacks related to COVID-19.
To determine the specific challenges owners have and continue
to face, the Florida Small Business Development Center Network,
the state’s principal provider of small business assistance, recently
partnered with the Florida Chamber Foundation and the University
of West Florida Haas Center to survey nearly 5,000 business
owners about the effects of the pandemic. The results were telling:
• More than 50% of businesses closed for some period of time
• Sadly, about 40% of businesses closed permanently
• 85% of businesses reported losing revenue
• 45% reported being concerned about operating in the future.
The Florida SBDC Network has worked diligently to help small
businesses rebound and recover during these challenging times.
Conducting all business virtually, the network, which has more
than 40 regional offices from Pensacola to Key West, has and
continues to help businesses secure disaster assistance, re-think
business models and review operations to adjust to turbulent
times. Since March, it has helped small businesses access more
than $208.5 million in state and federal disaster assistance including
the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster
Loan program and the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge
As the state deals with the ongoing ramifications of the
coronavirus, the network will continue to help small businesses
navigate challenges posed by the virus. To that end, it is planning
future research regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s
small businesses. It will include an analysis of business needs
on a regional level, concentrating on those run by traditionally
underserved populations such as minorities, women and people
in rural communities.
Though the virus has caused many businesses to close their
doors resulting in job losses, it has also created the impetus for
those wanting to become entrepreneurs. According to recent
census data, there has been a 26.16% increase in business applications
between 2019 and 2020, as indicated by the number of
Employer Identification Numbers issued. This increase in entrepreneurial
endeavors is significant because since 2006, the average
increase of EIN applications has been a mere 2.5%.
Due to the surge of Floridians pursuing entrepreneurship as an
alternative career path, the Florida SBDC has experienced a 43.3%
increase in consulting hours, representing a 129% increase in the
number of businesses it serves.
Even as it continues to support emerging and established
companies that are making adjustments to their business plans to
thrive in the new normal, it also supports those with a burgeoning
interest in starting their own businesses. The Florida SBDC
has access to robust databases and knowledgeable experts and
consultants who can successfully help navigate the hurdles that
come with innovating, launching, growing, renewing and transi-
Cheryl Kirby is the interim CEO for the
Florida Small Business Development
Center Network, Florida’s largest and
leading provider of assistance for small
and medium-sized businesses. In this
capacity, Kirby oversees the network’s
more than 40 offices and 280 employees,
executes the Florida SBDC’s strategy
and ensures the network continues to
exceed stakeholder expectations while
contributing value to Florida’s bottom line.
tioning a business.
Some of the specific topics a Florida SBDC consultant can address
• Market research
• Market expansion and revenue growth
• Strategic plan development
• Access to capital and loan packaging assistance
• Financial analysis and assessment
• Accounting systems and financial literacy
• Feasibility analysis and start-up assistance.
ACCORDING TO RECENT CENSUS DATA,
THERE HAS BEEN A 26.16% INCREASE
IN BUSINESS APPLICATIONS BETWEEN
2019 AND 2020, AS INDICATED
BY THE NUMBER OF EMPLOYER
IDENTIFICATION NUMBERS ISSUED.
Florida is a big small-business state. There are more than 2.7
million small businesses in Florida, and the number is growing
every day. These businesses are powerhouses for job creation and
employ nearly half of all private sector employees. They also create
three-quarters of net new jobs.
Since 1976, the Florida SBDC Network has bolstered the statewide
ecosystem to foster the success of more than 1.2 million
entrepreneurs and innovators. It will continue to fulfill its mission
of supporting small businesses and the intrepid owners who
make them thrive.
To learn more about the Florida SBDC Network’s services, visit