Connecting Small and Diverse Businesses to Opportunities at UF

With an annual spend that can easily reach nearly a billion dollars and an economic reach that is felt locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, the University of Florida is an entrepreneurial hub on the move! Everywhere you look there’s a new building or a new development which means opportunity. The division leading the charge to ensure small and diverse businesses have help connecting to opportunities at UF is the division of Small Business & Vendor Diversity Relations (SBVDR).

Although small businesses are the backbone of our economic landscape and key drivers of job creation and growth, it can be a challenge for small and diverse businesses to successfully compete for business opportunities to help them grow and become sustainable. The SBVDR draws together a diverse community of small businesses – the innovators and doers who power our economic engine.

The program recently held its 27th Annual Small Business Opportunity Fair + Summit. Since its inception, this event has grown to become one of the most anticipated events for small and diverse business professionals in the north central Florida region, hosting representatives from small, minority and women-owned businesses, corporations, UF departments and members of state agencies and higher education institutions. This is not only significant from a longevity perspective, but is reflective of UF’s longstanding commitment to helping small and diverse businesses in this community.

Getting Started

The process of one business selling to another, or business-to-business, can be a game-changer for small businesses. In fact, developing a business-to-business strategy can be critical for any business looking to scale and grow. Unfortunately, for many small businesses, the thought of doing business with a large customer can be intimidating, sometimes leading them to think, “We don’t want to get too big.” However, the truth is, you often can stay as small as you’re comfortable with—or grow as large as you want—with the right strategy.

One of the tools small and diverse businesses can use to develop this strategy is supplier diversity programs. Within a larger organization, the mission of these programs is to increase the pool of small and diverse businesses available to do work with. This is achieved by finding small and minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses that can supply many of the goods and services needed to operate. Today, most corporations, higher-education institutions and, of course, the federal government, have programs specifically designed to increase their utilization of and spend with small and diverse businesses. Many of these organizations want to ensure their business partners are reflective of the communities in which they operate. These organizations understand that it is no longer just a “nice thing to do” but a business imperative and integral to their own competitive advantage.

The University of Florida’s program has a three-pronged approach to help businesses utilize its program and put them on the path to successfully doing business with UF – CONNECT, ENGAGE, and BUY!


Gainesville enjoys numerous resources to help entrepreneurs reach their full potential and UF Small Business & Vendor Diversity Relations can be counted amongst this dynamic ecosystem.

When businesses connect with the program, they are then connected to our the group’s vast resources to advocate and get them on the path to a contract opportunity as quickly as possible. Whether it is connecting firms to opportunities with the various departments across campus or other business development resources. SBVDR partners with the State of Florida Office of Supplier Diversity to assist firms in getting certified and learn about doing business with the state of Florida, other agencies within the state and other higher education institutions. They also work with agencies such as the Small Business Administration to connect businesses to programs and contract opportunities with the federal government.


Most supplier diversity programs offer numerous opportunities to connect and engage with key people within the organization. Organizations do business with those that they know, like and trust. In order to build relationships, small businesses should actively engage in the programs, attend events and use available resources. Often, this will provide your firm with opportunities to get valuable one-on-one time to communicate the full breadth and expertise of your business, making it easier for them to advocate on your behalf. The UF program offers numerous opportunities for small businesses to sharpen skill sets and build business acumen through workshops and networking events.


With any potential customer, in order to service them effectively, you should understand what they buy, how they buy and who the correct people are to engage. Depending on the complexity of the organization, there can be several touchpoints for entry, including subcontract or second-tier opportunities, where you contract to perform work for another company, or prime contractor, that has a direct contract with the organization. These are great stepping stones and provide an excellent (and faster) opening to build capacity, absorb how to do business with a large organization and get a contract.

Doing business with institutions or agencies does not happen overnight. Truthfully, it may take significant time and investment of resources to build relationships and demonstrate you can fulfill the terms of a contract. If you think you are ready to make UF your customer, the first step is to research carefully to fully understand if the risk (outlay of resources, time, etc.) for your business is, indeed, worth the potential reward. SBVDR stands ready to help firms every step of the way.

The UF Small Business and Vendor Diversity Relations group offers multiple programs and events to engage and promote with local businesses. Here is a sampling.

Mentor Protégé Program – annual, year-long training program that partners an emerging business with a larger, established business to help answer questions, provide support and help them become comfortable with the processes at UF

Monthly Business Development Workshops – monthly workshop featuring various departments across campus to discuss how to do business with them and community resources that provide support to small businesses

Annual Small Business Opportunity Fair + Summit – annual networking, business development and awards event that connects attendees with various corporations, UF departments and partners, members of state agencies and higher education institutions and recognizes outstanding community partners and stakeholders

Personal Meetings – Connects key personnel from various UF departments including Shands, Athletics, Procurement, Facilities Services, etc. to discuss upcoming contract opportunities

Bus Tour – Tour of upcoming and current construction projects with active contract opportunities (open to mentor protégé participants only).

By Kathey Porter, MBA, CPSD

6 Keys to Develop a Successful Small Business

Steve Jobs dropped out of college to start a little computer company in his garage. Mark Zuckerberg launched the first iteration of Facebook from his dorm room at Harvard. While every successful entrepreneur’s career path looks a bit different, there are universal signposts that can help steer everyone with small businesses in the right direction. Here are six things to keep in mind when you have a small business.

  1. Success requires courage.

It takes courage to start and persevere in your own business. In some ways, starting is often the most difficult part of the whole journey. Remember that courage is really 50 percent fear. Being courageous means having a goal that you believe in. The more deeply you believe in that goal, the more fear you are willing to overcome.

Your goal should be more than financial profit. Having your own business is usually a very long — even lifelong — project. With the inevitable obstacles and setbacks that will arise, doing something you really believe in is essential to finding the courage to continue.

  1. Well begun is half done.

The fearful may think that they are never quite at the point where they are ready to get started.  As a result, many never start. It’s easy to justify fear: “The time isn’t right,” “I need to collect more data first,” “I can’t find the right talented people,” “It doesn’t feel quite right,” “I need to reflect on it some more,” and so on. By justifying fear, such rationalizations become the entrepreneur’s Achilles heel.

I’ve worked with many people who go through their entire business career unable to get past that first step. They may generate charts, graphs, software, projections, schedules, on and on to the point where they can’t see the forest for the trees, and as a result, they never actually get started.

Of course, it’s possible to be too impulsive and get started without sufficient planning. But that’s not very common. For most people, it’s just hard to get the ball rolling. You can always do more planning. The art, however, is knowing when enough is enough — and it’s time to get started. No formula can answer that for you. It’s more of a feeling within your gut.

  1. Find the right mentor.

Getting over that fear hump may require a good support group or mentor. It’s a lot easier for another person to identify your excessive fear than it is for you. If you are really identified with your rationalizations, even the best mentor can’t help. You will just ignore them, using your rationalizations to prove that the mentor is wrong.

You need to think and be open. You also need to be careful in selecting your advisors. Otherwise, you will just listen to people who collude with your current fears. They will simply feed your procrastination instead of helping you move past procrastination.

This creates an obvious double-bind. How do you trust a mentor you disagree with? That has more to do with you than it has to do with the mentor. You have to be willing to question your viewpoint and listen to other viewpoints, but you don’t blindly listen to those viewpoints. You do, though, give yourself time to reflect on those viewpoints in an attempt to discover what you might be missing. If you spend time with your mentors, you can get a feeling for them and cultivate the ability to sense whether or not they are coming from a place of wisdom.

  1.  Keep the overhead down.

The Donald Trumps of the world might start big, but generally speaking, individuals launching businesses start small. Keep your overhead down. Lack of cash flow is probably the biggest cause of failure in small businesses. It’s a lot easier to expand than it is to cut back. When I started my school, my whole accounting system was on an 11”x17” pad of paper.

If you’re not careful, renting an office space, hiring your first employees, buying the requisite technology and all the other startup costs can be enough to bring a fledgling business to a screeching halt. As the business progresses, it tends to accumulate costly baggage. You will do well to review your checkbook and cut unnecessary expenses. Maximize your chances of profitability by taking a minimalist approach to overhead costs.

  1. Carefully guard the keys to the courthouse.

We live in an incredibly litigious time. Conflicts can easily result in litigation which consumes a tremendous amount of time, energy and money. When you enter a partnership, you are giving that partner a lot of power that they could, through litigation or not, wield against you if things go awry. The effects can be devastating.

You need to be very careful when it comes to selecting partners. It’s important that their goals support your goals. Also carefully assess their integrity. Otherwise, if they see an opportunity to maximize their profits at your expense, they may well do that.

Consider too their temperament. Otherwise, when obstacles arise, they may succumb to fear, or they may attack you or undermine the business out of fear, mistrust, control issues, impulsiveness or personal life issues. Fair weather partners are easy to find. However, you need to assess what a partner will be like when the going gets rough.

  1. Maintain control.

These days, control seems to have quite a negative connotation. The truth is, many aspects of control are positive and important attributes. Maintaining proper control means staying true to your vision and honoring your instincts on what is right for your business. After all, you understand your business better than anyone — probably better than even the best consultant on the planet. It’s easy to defer decisions to such people — and it’s such a big mistake. If they are right, they have to convince you. There is no room for blind faith.

No one ever said having a small business would be easy. These six points are essential to having a prosperous business while avoiding unnecessary challenges. These points are not just cold hard facts. There is an artistry to their implementation. To be successful in business means to practice and develop that artistry over time. It starts with some thoughtful reflection and research. Then find the courage to wisely and artfully take that first step and every step thereafter, day after day, month after month, year after year.

Michael Mamas
Founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality



Are You Poised for Excellence? This New Leadership Book Removes Guesswork

International Professional Development Expert Talks Leadership In Boardroom and Beyond
By Kathey Porter, MBA, CPSD

Karima Mariama-Arthur is founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport™, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development and strategic corporate advisory services. An internationally recognized expert in cutting-edge adult education and complex consulting, she brings more than two decades of comprehensive, blue chip experience in law, business, and academia to the field of professional development and human capital asset growth. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies, as well as leading corporate, government, academic and non-profit entities in every continent around the globe. She is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and her work is regularly featured by the Human Capital Institute, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Success, Black Enterprise and Speaker magazines.

Her new book Poised For Excellence: Fundamental Principles of Effective Leadership in the Boardroom and Beyond is one of the hottest new releases in leadership. I had a chance to catch up with Karima and learn more about her take on leadership and what readers, and leaders, can expect to gain from her book.

There are a million books on leadership. What makes your new book ‘Poised For Excellence’ different? How will reading it help someone become a more effective leader?

Leadership is an evolutionary process that can be learned, developed and perfected over time with practice. The book provides insight into leadership effectiveness using 40 different principles that can be leveraged to increase effectiveness, regardless of industry or expertise. It examines developing leadership excellence through four core areas: 1) Focused introspection; 2) Disruptive paradigm shifts; 3) Benevolence, collaboration and value-based service to others and 4) Fundamental calls to action.

Anyone who desires to become a more effective leader and maximize their influence, can use the book as a guide to navigate the performance challenges associated with leadership and transform their thinking and behavior at a high level. Achieving that, however, will take more than merely reading this book, or any other book for that matter. Putting what is read into practice—into action—is what distinguishes extraordinary leaders from just average or mediocre leaders.  Introducing principle-based leadership as an introspective and didactic methodology, empowers readers to take ownership of the leadership development process.

Is there one principle in particular that is common among leaders that you encounter and/or coach?

Yes…Principle 34—Say No and Own It. Most people have a lot on their plates because, well, they put it there! Most people struggle with saying no, which ultimately results in regret, as well as other priorities suffering.  I always encourage leaders to exercise the courage to walk away when others try to commit them to their agendas.

How did your background and experiences segue into opportunities to advise others on leadership?

I began my career as an advisor, but on legal matters, as a corporate attorney. I realized, though, that effective leadership was always at issue, especially where corporate governance was involved. In my current role, I am able to leverage my skills and experience as a legal advisor, along with other key professional experiences amassed in my wheelhouse over time to bring value to my clients that represent industry leaders around the globe.

What was your motivation for writing the book?

I wanted to create a body of work that could provide value to professionals, even if they were not clients. Leadership is really the foundation for everything we do in professional development and is one critical area where professionals usually need the most support.

What is the one thing you want readers to know about the premise of the book?

Leaders are made, not born. With learning and practice, you can exceed internal and extraneous expectations about what you are capable of achieving. The book is a powerful testament to this sentiment.

Poised for Excellence is available on Amazon.com and wherever business books are sold.

Office of Supplier Diversity Presents the Inaugural Gainesville Supplier Diversity Exchange

~ Free event helps small businesses connect with state and local government buyers ~

Gainesville, FL – The Florida Office of Supplier Diversity (OSD), in collaboration with the University of Florida’s (UF) Division of Small Business & Vendor Diversity Relations, announces the inaugural Gainesville Supplier Diversity Exchange on March 8 at the Reitz Union. This free event aims to help area small business owners better understand and secure state and local government procurement opportunities. The Supplier Diversity Exchange includes presentations from government buyers and MyFloridaMarketPlace and also provides an opportunity for small businesses to network. During the event’s Business Exchange, small business owners can market their goods and services directly to local and state buyers during scheduled one-on-one interviews.

“We are thrilled to bring this event to Gainesville as it provides an excellent opportunity for small businesses to gain insight on how to do business with government entities and become actively engaged in government buying,” said OSD Executive Director Hue Reynolds.

“We are excited to partner with the Florida Office of Supplier Diversity to present this event in Gainesville and expose small businesses to the multitude of opportunities that exist throughout Florida,” said Kathey Porter, Director of UF’s Division of Small Business and Vendor Diversity Relations.

March 8, 2018
8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
University of Florida – Reitz Union
655 Reitz Union Drive
Gainesville, FL 32611

More information is available on the event’s website.

The Office of Supplier Diversity certifies and assists Florida-based woman, veteran, and minority small business owners in better understanding and securing state government procurement opportunities. For more information about OSD, visit www.dms.myflorida.com/osd.


The Cost of Managing People

Can your business survive three, six or nine months with one or two key employees absent? What about a lawsuit? Can your organization handle the expense and emotionally exhaustive, time-consuming process of an employment investigation into your organization’s workplace practices? If you are like most small businesses, the answer is no. For small to medium-sized organizations, such events can potentially devastate the business. Now, with multiple generations in the workforce, the likelihood of such challenges occurring is nearly triple what it has been in previous years.

Rather than focusing on accomplishing the organization’s goals and objectives, leaders are spending more time responding to employee disputes and complaints — and it is costing organizations big dollars. According to a recent study on Workplace Conflict by PP INC (publishers of the Myers-Briggs Assessment and the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument), U.S. employers spend nearly three hours per week dealing with conflict in the workplace, which equates to two weeks per year of lost productivity. For US companies, this translates to a loss of $385 million and $359 million in working days and paid hours, respectively.

The study further indicates that 70% of employees identify managing conflict as one of the most crucial skills a leader must have, but only 46% feel their leaders effectively address such challenges. Respondents also indicate that they do not feel that their leaders effectively manage their multi-generational workforce, often avoiding addressing issues when they surface. Many managers admit to being ill-equipped to handle such conflict or feel they are too close to the employee to resolve the matter in an objective manner. Some leaders admit to delaying taking action until the last minute, which is often too late for corrective action, resulting in voluntary or forced employment separation.

Conservative numbers indicate that it costs $20,000 to replace a millennial employee and as much as $70,000 to replace a mid-level employee. These expenses include not just recruiting costs but training the new hire, the investment lost from the previous hire including their organizational knowledge, as well as the wages of other employees involved in the training and hiring process. Other experts estimate replacing one employee can cost an organization 150% to 200% more than the employee’s benefits and salary. If you are a small to medium-sized business, this expense (and loss) can be even greater as employees are often tasked with performing multiple functions.

Also, let us not underestimate the role and power social media plays in managing personnel. A decline in customer service standards, employee morale, or the reputation of the company due to employees sharing problems on social media sites such as Facebook or Glassdoor, can negatively impact sales or damage recruitment efforts, thus causing irreparable harm.

Employees are the lifeblood of any organization, but managing them is an inherent entrepreneurial challenge. Regardless of size, businesses should not wait until a problem arises to utilize subject matter experts in managing a multi-generational workforce and resolving conflict in the workplace. Below are tactics that small businesses can implement to effectively develop and manage their people. If engaged early enough, these small steps can yield a substantial return on the “human capital investment” for your organization and go a long way to increase employee morale, keep staff motivated and increase confidence of managers and leaders, saving the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run.

  • Be proactive. Hire an expert to train your leaders. If you are unable to hire an HR professional full-time, consider a contract HR professional or consultant.
  • Develop a process. Have a process and operation procedures for dealing with employee issues. Do not wait until issues arise to develop a plan of action.
  • Invest in E.I. – Emotional Intelligence. Adding this component to an employee’s overall development plan can potentially sustain them much longer than just training in their specific job function.


Kathey Porter, MBA, CPSD is the Director of Small Business and Vendor Diversity Relations for the University of Florida. She was recently appointed to the Florida Advisory Council on Small and Minority Business Development by the State of Florida Department of Management Services.

Krishna Powell is CEO of HR 4 Your Small Biz, LLC and is a subject matter expert on multi-generational workforce talent management.  She provides human resources consulting, has mediated numerous employment related cases for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and works extensively with leaders and their employees in universities, corporations, job placement and career development programs. She has managed the HR and talent management function for various Fortune 500 companies throughout the United States, France, China and Singapore.

SBA Boots to Business

Are you a Veteran interested in starting or growing your business?
If so, you don’t want to miss out on this “Boots to Business Reboot Training“.

This is a 2 part training program that provides participants an overview of business ownership as a career vocation, an outline and knowledge on the components of a business plan, a practical exercise in opportunity recognition, and an introduction to available public and private sector resources.

Part one is a two-day introduction to Entrepreneurship course eligible to Veterans of all eras, Servicemembers, including members of the National Guard and Reserves, and their spouses. This course is instructed by SBA and its partners who are skilled business advisors.

For additional information about registering for the training, contact Natalie Hall at (904) 443-1902 or natalie.hall@sba.gov.
You must register in order to attend.
Click HERE to register.



Entrepreneurial Diversity Information Technology Program (EDIT)

The EDIT program will focus on supporting community members in launching business endeavors that have social missions. Throughout the program participants will be matched with industry partners who will serve as mentors, as well as computer science graduate students who will support the technical development of products.


For additional information, contact case@cise.ufl.edu or visit www.wedocase.org .

Women’s Business Mastermind Intensive

As a follow up to last year’s Women’s Business + Leadership Conference, we remain committed in our efforts to engage and develop women entrepreneurs. The Women’s Business Mastermind Intensive allows women to convene to identify challenges, evaluate solutions, strengthen networks and collaborate to find opportunities to move business forward with UF and beyond. We help women entrepreneurs win in business!

You must RSVP to attend. There is no cost to attend. Continental Breakfast & Lunch will be provided.

Please email Darlean Manning to RSVP. You may also call 352.392.0380 for additional information.

For small businesses, education and innovation go hand in hand

There used to be a time when creativity and innovation were only associated with artists, musicians, writers, and the like. It didn’t take much for an organization to stand out, as competition wasn’t so intense…as long as it was a little different, it was perceived as innovative, making it easy for someone to dominate the market. But with changing times, came a different mind-set. The need to ideate and innovate is pivotal now more than ever before. For businesses, it has become a game changer!

The 21st century innovation/technological revolution has changed the way we do business, becoming an integral part of every facet and detail of our personal lives and businesses – how we work, how we live, how we interact, how we conduct business, the types of businesses started, and more, making it vital for business owners to constantly learn new tools, skills, and techniques to maintain their competitive edge. But for small businesses who are short on time (and often, cash), how do you jumpstart your business education? Here are some education resources for every small business owner to get the information they need to help their team succeed.

Books and Podcasts
Access to practically anything that we want to know is available at the touch of a button. If you have the time, reading a book or listening to a podcast is a quick and easy way to brush up on a specific business topic.

Degree Programs
If you have the time to commit (and a few thousand dollars to spend), most college programs offer undergraduate and graduate majors in entrepreneurship. This provides the formal business education and training that potential partners, investors, employees, etc. find valuable. Additionally, many programs are incorporating opportunities to develop an actual business as part of the curriculum, combining business principles with applied, real-world experience.

Continuing Education Programs and Workshops
There are a number of free online courses that can be completed in a few hours a week, including those through edX, Coursera, US Small Business Administration, to name a few. If you need face time with instructors and classmates, check local programs for free seminars and guest speaking sessions sponsored by local small-business alliances.

Mastermind Groups
These groups, whether online or in person, allow you to be surrounded by like-minded individuals and trusted advisors who meet regularly with the goal of improving each other’s lives or businesses. The collective brainpower of the group, the “mastermind,” can solve problems and take advantage of opportunities in a way that an individual person may not be able to (think, two or more heads are better than one).

Incubators and Accelerators
Incubators tend to focus on startups and usually work best when focused in a specific field or industry. Accelerators provide that next step for a business to transition from start-up to full-fledge operation. These options tend to provide the close network, collaborative support and access to mentors, which have been proven to be successful elements for long-term business success.

In the hustle and bustle of entrepreneurship, it is not always easy to make time to take a class or do. But if you are to solidify your business’ competitive edge and demonstrate your position as an expert or thought, it is no longer a luxury but an imperative to develop a mindset receptive to new ideas and open to continual learning.

The University of Florida Small Business and Vendor Diversity Relations offers a wide array of learning opportunities for small businesses. For more information on the University of Florida’s program, go to https://sbvdr.admin.ufl.edu/. Follow them on Twitter @UFSmallBusiness and Facebook @UFSmallBusiness.

By Kathey Porter, MBA, CPSD, Director UF Small Business & Vendor Diversity Relations