Think Small, during Holiday Season and Throughout the Year
Hillsborough County's small businesses hold their own among big-box retailers and companies that primarily target online customers.
Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24, wedged between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, calls attention to the almost 28 million enterprises that employ about half of the nation's private-sector workers and represent 99.7 percent of all businesses with employees.
More than 90 percent of Hillsborough County's commercial ventures are considered small - businesses such as Doublemint Sitting, recently honored as representative of the genre in a proclamation by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners recognizing Small Business Saturday.
With more than 130 babysitters, nannies, and "mannies" (male nannies), and 500-plus clients, Doublemint is the brainchild of Gabriela Rosello and Synthia Fairman. It provides vetted, trained, high-energy, sitters in Hillsborough and other Florida counties. The sitters work with families who have children with special needs, such as Down syndrome and other behavioral issues.
Rosello and Fairman were working at a group home for foster children, and babysitting on the side, when they came up with the concept. "It got to the point we had so many families, we couldn't accommodate all of them," Rosello says. "It just kind of spiraled from there."
They heard about free programs at the County's Entrepreneur Collaborative Center (ECC), tailored to startup businesses like the one they had in mind. They spent hours with Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County consultants, took advantage of training sessions, and made a presentation at a 1 Million Cups, where the audience consists of business professionals, community leaders, and service providers, all willing to offer feedback and assist with challenges.
"The ECC has been a huge, huge part of our successful business," Fairman says.
The Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative also has free programs and resources for people wishing to start a business. There's information about business innovation and strategy, finance, marketing, and other related topics.
Doublemint Sitting exemplifies a small business that provides services, rather than storefront or internet retail sales. Generally, small, locally owned stores and services help create jobs, boost the economy, and revitalize neighborhoods.