SBDC connects woman-owned business with local resources to reach growth goals

The Elevating Group of Pasco County

The Elevating Group of Pasco CountyAfter helping a family member with the financials for his construction company, Carter Contracting Group, Nicole Carter realized she had a knack for bookkeeping. As more and more people began to reach out to her for help, Carter decided to use her skills to start something new – a business that provides bookkeeping and insurance planning services for entrepreneurs and construction industry professionals.

Although Carter was ready to utilize her skills to help people, she knew that she needed a business plan and strategy to ensure that she could do just that.

“Initially, I reached out to the Florida SBDC at USF simply because I started my business at the beginning of COVID, and I didn’t have a structured plan of action,” she said. “I knew how to do the job, but I didn’t know how to run a business at all.” That’s when Carter found Christine Jaros, a business consultant with the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida.

Jaros was able to help Carter put together a business plan from start to finish, along with financial projections and got her involved in the Profit Mastery program.

“My business has grown since working with Florida SBDC and Christine by allowing more customers to come in because she actually got me a Spectrum commercial which brought in a lot more attention to my website,” Carter said. “She also connected me with the Pasco Smartstart program through which I was able to obtain a microloan.”

The Pasco Smartstart microloan enabled Carter to market her business further and reach new clientele.

While The Elevating Group is a relatively new business, COVID-19 has still had an effect. “Due to COVID, some investors that I had that were initially going to give me seed money, weren’t able to invest in my business,” Carter said. “So, that kind of took me back a little bit because I wasn’t sure what to do from there.”

Jaros assisted by introducing Carter to the Paycheck Protection Program and other U.S. Small Business Administration programs that may be available to her. “She helped make sure that I qualified and how to actually pursue it,” Carter said. Carter did receive a PPP loan.

Moving forward, Carter plans on continuing to utilize the no-cost consulting services from the Florida SBDC at USF to ensure that her business is successful for years to come. “They have people who have had their own businesses, and they’ve been in business for a long time,” she said. “They know the ups, they know the downs, and they’ll definitely get you through your hurdles.”