Kids Zone Academy of Pinellas County
In 2017, preschool teacher Karen Scheeley was given the opportunity of a lifetime – to fulfill her dream of opening a children’s learning and daycare center with her husband, Aaron Scheeley, St. Petersburg.
“I worked in early childhood education for a couple of years,” Karen said. “Ever since I started, I knew I wanted to open my own center. I got all of my certifications and accreditations, and then a big opportunity knocked on my door. That’s when we decided to go live with Kids Zone Academy 1.”
In working with the SBA, the Scheeleys were referred to the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida, as they were searching for some help with their financial projections. Since getting in contact with the Florida SBDC at USF, particularly with consultant Brad Mix, the Scheeleys have seen substantial growth within their business.
“Our business has grown a lot,” Aaron said. “From about 60 kids, to now serving close to 100 children, Kids Zone Academy now has two locations. Thanks to the Florida SBDC at USF, we just continue to keep growing.”
Like many other business owners, the Scheeleys’ family-owned business hasn’t gone without its trials. The impact of COVID-19 in 2020 took a toll on the business overall.
“Due to COVID-19, when it first hit back in 2020, it was rough,” Aaron said. “We went from 80 children enrolled, down to 20 children in one week. We barely survived. Thankfully, we made a full recovery. We are now back to normal, and we are even growing thanks to the Florida SBDC at USF.”
With the success that the Scheeleys have experienced thus far in working with the Florida SBDC at USF, they are ecstatic to see what comes next for them and their business.
“We actually just got an offer for a third location,” Aaron said. “But we are currently holding off of that right now, considering we just opened our second location. Once the two locations are full, we’re definitely going to be using Florida SBDC at USF to help us purchase that third location.”
In hopes that other small businesses can experience the growth that they have, the couple recommends reaching out to the Florida SBDC as soon as possible.
“I would recommend the Florida SBDC at USF to all business owners,” Karen said. “They’re amazing. From all of the support helping us with the projections, to helping us get listed on google, I would highly recommend them. We couldn’t have done it without them.”