K-9 Detectives of Pinellas County
Owning and operating your own business is like jumping on an emotional rollercoaster with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Many people set out to do what they love; believing that if they just work at it enough someone will come along and pay them for it. They think that because they are good at what they do, customers will aimlessly follow and the money will magically appear.
Christine Barsema, owner of K-9 Detectives, LLC, understood that her passion alone would not build a business. She sought out the expertise of the Florida SBDC at Pinellas County Economic Development to keep her company strong and moving in the right direction.
Barsema’s company specializes in bed bug inspection services with highly trained dogs.
“I was trying to find another avenue to enhance my business,” Barsema said. “I thought maybe I should do something through woman-owned business certification and did a little research and found the SBDC.”
Barsema met with certified business consultant, Yolanda Cowart, and they immediately hit it off. “It was like I knew her most of my life. She helped me out and told me everything I had to do to get certified. Even if I only had a couple of questions, she was always willing to help me fill out the paperwork that was about an inch thick.”
Barsema did receive her woman-owned business certification. In addition, she met with certified business consultant Charlene Bostic, who specialized in government contracting. “She helped me with Bid Match and she did send me a contract opportunity. I decided not to apply for it because it’s a five year commitment.”
Barsema added that the contract would’ve required additional employees and replacement of her dogs near the end of the contract. Those added expenses also deterred her from applying for the contract.
In addition to meeting with consultants one-on-one, Barsema was selected to be a member of the Women-Owned Business Enterprise Focus Group at the FSBDC at PCED. The group was created by Cowart to assist woman-owned businesses interested in doing work with government agencies.
“The program was created to help accelerate the growth of Pinellas County’s emerging women-owned businesses with the Florida SBDC Network’s no-cost growth acceleration services,” Dr. Cynthia Johnson, Director for the FSBDC at PCED, said.
Women in the group share strategies and expertise that women business executives need to succeed in the government contracting market. The group exposes participants to a variety of FSBDC at PCED programs, such as advance job creation, business growth and expansion, financial assistance, certification programs, and business innovation.
In March, Christine received a business opportunity to provide her services to the City of Clearwater in a brand new therapy dog program launched by the police department. Barsema’s two therapy dogs, Kinsey, a 4-year-old Norwich terrier, and Caleb, 6, a Bouvier des Flandres dog unofficially started working with the department about a year ago, as part of Christine’s charity work in the Department’s Victims Advocacy Program.
She has three additional dogs as well, one of which will start its detection training soon.
While business is booming to the point where she can’t take on any more, Barsema is pleased with the opportunities and services offered by the FSBDC at PCED.
“You have more than enough opportunities to succeed,” she said. “Frankly, I can’t believe we have such a program here in Pinellas County. You just have to take the time or put in the effort to do it.”