Five North Pinellas entrepreneurs to give one small business a free makeover

Five Pinellas County entrepreneurs are hoping to give a boost to a local small business with their business makeover contest. Members of the “Fab Five,” from left, Donnie Hathaway, Mathew Bert, Jess Veguez, Maggie R. Butler, and Kaylin Ingram, will each use their particular set to skills to help a business in need.

DUNEDIN — Are you ready for your free makeover?

Your small business makeover, that is.

That’s the offer of five Pinellas County entrepreneurs — the self-named “Fab Five” — who will give a complete business makeover to one Pinellas County area business chosen as the ideal candidate.

Fab Five members will provide the chosen small business winner a wide range of entrepreneurial skills to help it relaunch with a fresh and distinctive new image.

“We know and understand what it’s like to run a small business during a challenging time and want to assist a business that may be in the market for an overall makeover,” said Maggie R. Butler, co-founder of Local Union Consulting & Coaching, a firm that helps area small businesses reach their full potential.

But exactly what will this makeover provide?

Drawing on each member’s specialized skills, group members will provide business consulting and coaching; marketing exposure; web development; and new logos, photos, and branding.

To do so, the entrepreneurial five will spend one week with the small business operator to provide business coaching and consulting, take new photos, and give podcast insight, web design, and graphic design.

The aim is to give the selected area business an image boost, said Kaylin Ingram, owner of Kay Coastal Designs, a graphic designer and freelancer who will oversee creating a new look and vibe for that business.

“We’re trying to give a business not necessarily a total overhaul, but a boost,” Ingram said. “Businesses that already have an established brand, we can come in and work around and re-boost that.”

As part of the makeover prize, the small business winner will get a crash course in business planning, Butler said.

“I’ll be helping them forming a business plan — doing short-term and long-term business strategies, hopefully to get them to a really good revenue point, and to outline business coaching,” Butler said.

Another makeover benefit: the chosen business will now be officially connected to the Pinellas County business community.

“The small business person that we are helping, we are going to be able to introduce them to the business members of the community,” said Jess Veguez, owner of Dunedin-based Jess Veguez Photography. “Our goal is that they are never going to feel alone again.”

Fab Five members say they simply want to give back to the county’s small business community they each work in.

“All of us being small business owners too, we just wanted to find a way to give back and support the community that we are part of,” said Donnie Hathaway, a Palm Harbor-based real estate agent and podcast creator.

“We are passionate about the small business community, so to be able to give back to the place we call home is something special,” Hathaway said.

To qualify for the makeover, prospective candidates must be a small Pinellas County-based business that has been started the past two years, or has been impacted by COVID-19.

Forming the Five

Formed in January, the Fab Five members connected through the internet or the small business networking grapevine.

“Basically, all of us are either new to the Pinellas County area, or we have connected online from our business,” Butler said. “We just connected together — we all kind of clicked and became a little business community here. We all kind of felt like we needed a community, so we found each other.”

Meeting monthly to talk, the group somewhere along the line came up with its small business makeover contest in February.

“Initially, we were all attracted to each other maybe because we each serve different aspects of business, and we could also help ourselves because we fit niches that were not overlapping,” Butler said.

“We all have unique skill sets that can help each other in business,” Butler added. “That’s kind of the idea where helping another business was born.”

Fab Five members say the idea to give a business facelift was born in part by the current challenging economic climate that COVID-19 has brought to the area’s small business community.

“It was one of the first things we brought up when we started working on this idea,” said Matthew Bert, owner of Matthew Bert Web, a Dunedin-based firm that creates and rebuilds websites.

“The makeover is not specifically for a business that was affected by COVID-19, but we know that it’s affected a lot of newer businesses that have opened up,” Bert added. “It’s a perfect opportunity to use our skills to actually help a fellow business in the area.”

The project likely could also serve as a lifeline to one ailing area small business operator.

“What we want to contribute to someone is to give them like a second chance,” Veguez said. “We are really excited to meet and to help them.”

April 23 is the deadline for filing small business makeover candidate applications. A winner will be chosen on April 30.

The makeover contest winner will be selected by Florida Business Incubators, which will serve as the third party to go through all the applications and select the winner, Butler said.

The week of May 10, the Fab Five will provide approximately 12 hours of makeover instruction.

“We will then work with them for the next month on skills, and on projects that we determined,” Butler said. “We hope to record it along the way and then share their story with people through a podcast.”

Second- and third-place runner-up candidates will be awarded a scholarship certificate to attend an entrepreneurial course offered by the Florida Business Incubator.

The Fab Five may make its makeover contest a periodic event.

“If it’s successful, we would definitely do this again,” Butler said.

“We’ve already received multiple applications.”

Prospective small business candidates can either submit their candidacy themselves, or be nominated by another small business that considers it a viable makeover candidate.

Business makeover nominations can be made at www.BusinessMakeoverPinellas.com. The applicants can follow the selection process on Instagram @businessmakeoverpinellas.