Beyond the pandemic: How Florida businesses have survived
It is hard to ignore the enormous impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the world of small business owners and the public at large.
The virus caused economic damage to Florida businesses and put thousands of people out of work.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce discovered that small businesses employing fewer than 100 people account for 60% of the new jobs in Florida.
Recent research has shown that small business optimism is increasing and numbers are rising.
There are many theories that explain why some small businesses thrive and some don't.
More than 18 months since Florida’s initial statewide shutdown, there is optimism.
Many small businesses in Central Florida are finding that they are not only surviving but also thriving.
Kelly Seidl can be found at the back of Kelly's Homemade Ice Cream on Corrine Street, scooping new flavors into buckets.
She rotates 200 flavors in her homemade ice cream shops, including the caramel-vanilla mix.
Seidl stated, "It was a hobby that became a passion that turned into business."
Her sweet treats were first sold at local farmer's markets before she purchased a food truck in January 2015. Kelly's Homemade Ice Cream was founded in July 2015, National Ice Cream Day.
Seidl acknowledges that there were times during the pandemic when business was slow. But the appeal of ice cream kept the people coming back.
She said that she now has four scoop shops and one Kelly's Counter in FoxTail Winter Park. Another shop and two counters are planned for the future.
Many businesses in the hospitality and restaurant industry struggle to find workers and create a rebound. Seidl is one of those who are trying to keep up with demand.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce collaborated for a Summer 2020 Survey of Small Businesses. It found that 60% of all new jobs in Florida have been created by small businesses with less than 100 employees. This shows the importance of small businesses for state and local economies, experts say.
A more recent survey of small business owners from America's SBDC FL found that small businesses are slowly but surely making progress.
Small business owners have discussed the delicate issues of keeping safe while remaining open.
Experts agree that there is no single reason why certain businesses are succeeding while others fail.
Numerous economists suggest that a range of factors could be used to attract workers and customers, such as industry, wages, and benefits.
FoxTail Coffee's success is partly due to the pent-up demand.
Iain Yeakle stated, "We've been busier in the past year, absolutely. Not so much at the beginning of the year but becoming busier and busier."
Yeakle, who is also the co-founder and CEO of FoxTail believes that setting up shops in a way that allows people to meet and work has filled a need where many have long been unable to escape from quarantine and get out of their house.
Yeakle and Alex Tchekmeian opened FoxTail Coffee together in 2016. They have been friends since kindergarten.
Yeakle stated that FoxTail was originally started as a hobby for roasting coffee at home. The company now has 28 locations in Central Florida and sources coffee from all over the globe.
Thomas Ward, who works down the street at Pig Floyd’s BBQ, said that business is also picking up despite increased costs due to the pandemic.
Ward stated that he is now spending more on food, paper products and other supplies, which he has had to pass along to his customers. He said that business is still up in comparison to 2019.
He said that he believed there was a high demand for the checks and that money was running on the streets. "That was great because it was needed." It just changed with the business that was going on last fiscal year and it was all to go. People are now actually enjoying going out and having fun.
Ward, who is a fan of dining out, is renovating the outdoor seating area at his restaurant due to increased business.
He said, "One of our things is evolving the concept and trying out covering outside so that we can have more outdoor seating."
There are more opportunities to grow your business with more seating, both under shade and rain cover.
Ward is growing up. Siedl is also building up. Siedl has high hopes for future growth.
Small business owners such as Ward, Siedl and Yeakle want to continue their success by ensuring that customers keep coming back.