Aspiring Business Owners Find Success with County Guidance, Support
New business owner Brandon Gallman has a big taste for success. The Good Life Beverage Company owner has spent years testing and perfecting his lemonade, juice, and tea recipes.
After finally getting the flavor just right, he was ready to take a leap.
"All I had was the recipe. I didn't know where to go from there," Gallman said.
Gallman learned about Hillsborough County's Self-Employment Workshop Program and immediately signed up. He, along with 10 others, recently graduated from the spring workshop and feels prepared and empowered for the future.
"The level of knowledge I have now compared to where I started is leaps and bounds. It means a lot to me that the County is not only willing but putting forth the effort to have programs like this," Gallman said.
This innovative approach to helping residents start a business began in 2021, during the height of the pandemic, when many people were losing work or ready to make a career change.
The no-cost program provides in-depth business training to lower-income individuals who want to be self-employed. Small-business consultants work closely with students throughout the program.
"It's huge, because it really does give you a great deal of tools and they have the business consulting as well. There's so much value in the program," recent graduate Shannon Winchester said.
The program focuses on practical skills and general concepts such as thinking like an entrepreneur, choosing a business that's a good fit, and bracing for inevitable challenges.
Students also learn about important business practices such as marketing and bookkeeping.
Participants attend 39 hours of training. Attendance is required and missed workshops must be made up to remain eligible for a monetary stipend provided at the end of the program by Hillsborough County community partners, such as Suncoast Credit Union and the Tampa Hillsborough Action Plan (THAP).
Applications for the fall Self-Employment Workshop Program will open mid-July. The program targets low-income entrepreneurs, and applicants must show their income is no more than double the federal poverty level.
The Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County, operating as part of Hillsborough County Economic Development, serves entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout the County and across all industries through confidential no-cost consulting and professional training.