The South Florida Entrepreneurship spirit is picking up and more resources are becoming available and facilitating the jump to full business ownership. Our local Sun Sentinel recently reported some truly inspiring case studies.

Sheree Blum was a special education teacher in Palm Beach County before founding her artistic glass business, Kicking Glass by Sheree. She was thrilled when the retail chain Anthropologie recently bought her vintage-looking lacey plates.

Fort Lauderdale construction worker Bernard Jackson worked briefly in auto detailing and found he enjoyed the work. With the help of the Urban League and Broward’s small business agency, he now has his own business, S Squad Auto Detail and Pressure Cleaner.

Both South Florida residents turned to the Small Business Development Centers in Palm Beach and Broward counties for help with their business plans to build a solid foundation for their companies.

“With the economy the way it is, everybody needs an alternate source of income,” said Sharon Geltner, a certified business analyst with the SBDC at Palm Beach State College in Boca Raton. Starting a business on the side of a full-time job is often recommended by business counselors.

For some, what they start as a part-time income producer becomes their full-time work. But they often need help with marketing, e-commerce and financial resources to succeed, Geltner said.

Creativity develops into business

After teaching for 20 years, Blum said she was ready to do something else.

“I worked with kids who were bright, they just had problems,” said Blum, 56, who had taught emotionally handicapped children in Pahokee, troubled teen-aged boys at Department of Juvenile Justice, and at Eagle Academy and Crossroads Academy in Belle Glade. She’s also the mother of four, now adults.

Blum’s business started with a curiosity about the art of Venetian glass. She attended a summer-long program in Winter Harbor, Maine, to learn a technique developed by Bill Sydenstricker of Cape Cod and Wayne Taylor from Lee Art Glass, which has locations in Maine and Mount Dora.

“I had a knack for it,” she said. “It just seemed to fit my personality well.”

She began making plates and showing them at art and craft shows in South Florida, in North Carolina and Georgia.

At the green market in Wellington, a buyer for Anthropologie came by and bought $100 worth of glass. She was excited about that. Then she got a phone call and an order for 2,400 plates from the store.

She makes as many as 40 plates a day in her kiln. “I watch them like babies,” Blum said, referring to the delicate process of changing temperatures in making glass.

Thanks to help from SBDC counselor Gelter, Blum said her business is set up properly. Gelter also connected her with an e-commerce expert. Now Blum is seeing a small profit.

Construction worker starts auto detail business

Former construction worker Bernard Jackson, 32, was going through a transition after divorce and looking for a new way to support himself. Through a program with the Urban League of Broward County, he saved $500 toward a business, took classes about starting a business, and created a business plan. The Urban League then referred him to Broward’s SBDC for additional help.

Armed with information, he realized: “I can own my own business if I just apply myself.”

From the SBDC, he learned “it’s important to get all the details of your business out on the table. The best way to do it is to do it right.” The small-business counselors helped him improve his plan for the auto detail business.

With the help of his brother, Cedric, he’s working primarily in Broward County, but plans to expand throughout South Florida.

“Once I do that one person’s car in a building, the next week we’ve got the whole building,” Jackson said.

The business was more expensive to set up than he expected. He raised about $15,000 from friends and family to invest in car-cleaning equipment.

Jackson said he is optimistic about his business’ success.

“There are a million cars coming off the assembly line. How can you not make money? Even if they transfer to spaceships, you’re still going to need detailing,” he jokes.

With business ownership comes many great responsibilities. Budget control is one of them and maintaining a low overhead is a priority. An office suite can provide several of the benefits of a large company feel at a fraction of the cost.