National Entrepreneur Center: Empowering Small Businesses for Long-Term Success
In Central Florida, a nonprofit organization is making strides to support small businesses and combat the high rate of failures within the first three years of operation. The National Entrepreneur Center (NEC) has become a vital resource for entrepreneurs seeking guidance, connections, and tools to navigate the complexities of running a business.
Local business owner Stacey Cook, founder of S Cook Productions, attests to the importance of the NEC’s free resources. When she started her production company in 2003, Cook realized she needed assistance with fundamental business aspects. Questions such as obtaining an employee identification number and incorporating a legitimate company prompted her to seek guidance from the NEC.
The NEC became a valuable partner for Cook, answering her questions and facilitating connections with their extensive network of partners. Through these relationships, Cook found guidance, support, and personal connections that propelled her business forward. Reflecting on her experience, Cook acknowledges that she would have been years behind if it weren’t for the NEC’s assistance.
The NEC offers a range of services, including free one-on-one coaching, networking opportunities, and affordable seminars. Belinda Ortiz Kirkegard, the president of the National Entrepreneur Center, emphasizes the significant impact small businesses have on the local economy, stating that 80% of the economy is driven by small businesses. With this in mind, the NEC is committed to ensuring the thriving success of small businesses through comprehensive support.
Kirkegard aims to take the NEC’s support to the next level by introducing a 360-diagnostic for entrepreneurs. This diagnostic will provide on-site, specialized coaching to help businesses overcome specific hurdles. The goal is to develop actionable plans tailored to each business’s unique needs and leverage the NEC’s vast resources to drive growth and success.
For entrepreneurs like Cook, the resources provided by the NEC are invaluable. Cook’s company has grown to 96 employees, and she attributes much of that success to the assistance she received from the NEC. The NEC serves as a trusted and reliable friend, always ready to provide support without expecting anything in return or pushing sales pitches.
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the NEC is hosting a special event where entrepreneurs can receive a 360-diagnostic for their businesses. The event will bring together business owners, professionals, and industry experts, providing an opportunity for valuable networking, learning, and growth.
The NEC’s commitment to empowering small businesses and reducing the failure rate within the critical early years is commendable. Through their comprehensive support and guidance, they are fostering a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in Central Florida. With the NEC as a reliable partner, small business owners can access the resources they need to thrive, strengthen the local economy, and build successful enterprises that stand the test of time.