Editor's Notebook

Photography by Rebecca Baxter By Susan Burns May 31, 2010

It hasn’t been easy to run a business the last two years. But you know that. Consumer caution, changing markets, lack of capital and credit continue to wear down a lot of small business owners. Some have given up and closed their doors; others have gone into a holding pattern, just hoping they can hang on long enough until the economy improves. And then there are the companies you’ll read about in this issue.

These are small businesses run by entrepreneurs who have followed their interests and instincts to carve out niches as disparate as producing nanotechnology coatings to prevent the spread of disease to making beautiful, custom surfboards that can be collected as art.

Even when the economy shifts, abruptly ending a stream of revenue—as hurricanes and the real estate downturn did for the exotic plant business of Tropiflora founder Dennis Cathcart (page 28)—these entrepreneurs have found ways to flourish. That often came down to the willingness to wake up every day, take care of what they had to and then find the energy to look for new opportunities. As Cathcart, whose business found a new market in supplying plants to Singapore’s colossal Gardens by the Bay, says, “We’re entrepreneurial. We’re in this for the long haul.”

The writer of this story, Nancy Wollin Cook, has her own small business success story. Her husband, Scott Cook, a musician with retail experience in a variety of industries, opened Sarasota Guitar Company last winter. With consumer pocketbooks squeezed, he saw a need for affordable guitars, and developed a creative business plan of selling new and mint-condition factory second guitars. He also developed smart pricing strategies, a social marketing campaign and cool events that tie in with causes that his customers care about. His business is thriving, so much so that he is doubling his space this month.

And then there’s Dan Denton, the owner of our company, Gulfshore Media LLC. Dan founded us in 1979, sold us in 2004 and then repurchased us in April. He tells his story on page 5. I’ve worked for Dan before, so I know his passion for our magazines and how he wakes up every morning—seven days a week—eager to take care of business and scout out new ways to inspire readers and help advertisers succeed. I’m more excited than I can say to have him back, and I predict he’ll help cook up all sorts of new ways that this magazine can help you run your business more successfully.

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