Leadership conference for small businesses focuses on resiliency after pandemic

Emcee Ramon Ray

Emcee Ramon Ray welcomed attendees to the 10th annual Small Business Leadership Conference hosted by the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTOS


The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, part of the Florida State University College of Business, hosted its 10th annual Small Business Leadership Conference June 9-11 at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes.

This year’s conference focused on business resiliency and sustainability in the aftermath of the pandemic. Attendees learned about innovative strategies and techniques that will help them resume operations and adapt their business models in the event of future crises or business interruptions.

“Challenges arise when you’re a small business owner, but resources and insights always spring up in response,” said Melissa Roberts, managing director of the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship. “We’re proud to provide one of the first in-person opportunities since the COVID-19 pandemic began for small business owners to gather and network with each other and our expert speakers.

“With 2020 reinforcing the need for strategic planning and collaboration among entrepreneurs, our conference was the ideal opportunity to help our attendees re-focus on long-term, sustainable development,” she continued.

Matthew Griffin, co-founder and CEO of Combat Flip Flops, opened the conference with a session on values-based leadership. His presentation highlighted how to simplify the managerial and leadership process.

Amanda Brinkman

Amanda Brinkman, creator, producer and host of Small Business Revolution, stressed how important it is to communicate with customers.

Thursday’s first keynote session featured a presentation by Scott Price, founder and CEO of A-LIGN, a cybersecurity and compliance solution provider based in Tampa. Price shared how small businesses can take a proactive approach to improve their cybersecurity strategy through risk avoidance, risk mitigation and accepted risk with a breach incident response plan.

Scott was followed by Amanda Brinkman, the creator, producer and host of Small Business Revolution, which streams on Hulu and Prime Video and was named among Inc. magazine’s top shows for entrepreneurs. Brinkman offered advice on best practices in marketing and communication while sharing insights on the most important areas of a company’s brand and digital footprint.

The day concluded with a Fail Festival — a panel discussion celebrating failure as a mark of leadership and innovation in pushing the boundaries of what is possible and profitable. The session was led by Wayan Vota, a digital development entrepreneur, who worked through each participant’s past business fails, encouraged them to share how they overcame those failures and helped them explain why their failures shaped them for future success.

The panelists included Lennise Germany, CEO of Livy O’s Catering Co.; David Moshier, founder of Oasis Creative Resources; Jeff O’Hara, owner of PRA Business Events New Orleans; and Bob Thornton, partner at O’Donnell Impact Windows & Storm Protection.

The conference concluded with a panel session on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Panelists shared expertise on how to create a welcoming environment for employees from varying demographics and took questions from the audience on how to establish business practices that promote inclusion and marketplace diversity.

The panelists included Ralph Campbell, CEO of Learning Optimized; Cynthia Johnson, director of the Florida Small Business Development Center of Pinellas County; Robert Kaiser, director of people and culture at KnowBe4; and Margaret Delmont Sanchez, CEO of MagnifyFund.

diversity panel

The conference’s closing presentation on diversity and inclusion was presented by, left to right, Ralph Campbell, Cynthia Johnson, Robert Kaiser and Margaret Delmont Sanchez.

The conference’s premium sponsor was Florida Small Business Development Network. Its sponsorship helped to fund the business resiliency workshop track that was created to address the needs of small business owners that arose during the pandemic. These sessions included presentations covering growth and sustainability, risk mitigation, strategic planning, cybersecurity and more.

podcast Small Biz Florida team

Team members, left to right, Herbert Ricardo, Linda Gonzalez, Tom Kindred and Katie Muldoon from Indian River State College produced the statewide podcast Small Biz Florida during the conference.

The Florida SBDC at Indian River State College also attended and participated by taping and producing segments of the center’s statewide podcast, Small Biz Florida, during the conference. Featuring entrepreneurs and Florida business leaders, Small Biz Florida is designed and produced to highlight and promote business assistance resources. These Small Biz Florida conference episodes can be accessed through Spotify, podbean.com or Apple podcasts.

Additional sponsors included the Better Business Bureau serving Southeast Florida and the Caribbean, the Better Business Bureau serving West Florida, Florida Power & Light, the National Development Council, Coach My Strengths, Florida Capital Bank, Regions Bank, Veterans Florida and Florida Trend.

Visit sblconference.com for more information about the Small Business Leadership Conference.

Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship
The institute cultivates, trains and inspires entrepreneurial leaders through world-class executive education, applied training, public recognition and leading-edge research.
Jim Moran was an automotive pioneer and an entrepreneur at heart who, at the age of 7, sold soda pop at sandlot baseball games in Chicago. With a career that spanned more than six decades, he built an amazing chronicle of achievements in the automobile industry.
His vision for the Jim Moran Institute was to provide opportunities that would help others become more successful business owners. A 1995 contribution from Jim and Jan Moran and JM Family Enterprises established the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at the Florida State University College of Business. Since 2011, further enhancements to the Jim Moran Institute and its outreach have been made possible by Jan Moran and The Jim Moran Foundation.

Visit jimmoraninstitute.fsu.edu for more information.

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