October is National Women's Small Business Month. To celebrate, the Florida SBDC Network is spotlighting women-owned and women-led businesses from across the state who are making an impact in their communities.
Jing Zhou, Interventions Unlimited
It was December 2012 and Jing Zhou, founder and owner of Interventions Unlimited, was facing a challenge: what was the best strategy for expanding her business? She had made many right decisions in building her company up until this point but this was one decision that she wanted some help with. She turned to the Florida SBDC at UCF for assistance.
Home-based care grows
For over 20 years, Zhou has been dedicated to making a positive impact on the lives of special needs children. In 2000, Interventions Unlimited was established to provide Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services to children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities. Driven by the philosophy that all children can learn with the right instructional approach, Interventions Unlimited teaches special needs children cognitive, social, academic, adaptive, communication and motor skills.
Starting as a part-time, home-based business, providing one-to-one ABA therapy with only two therapists, Interventions Unlimited now has a team of approximately 70 behavior therapists, educators, paraprofessionals and administrative staff serving special needs children and their families. In 2007, Zhou expanded Interventions Unlimited services to include a full-time school, now known as Alpine Academy, to provide an educational alternative to children with special needs. By teaching them adaptive skills and behaviors, these children are now able to achieve maximum potential in their homes, schools, and communities. The quality of life for the child and his/her entire family is very often greatly improved as a result of these services.
FSBDC growth services double capacity
With an unwavering passion to expand services for special needs children and with the demand for these services on the rise, it was in December of 2012 that Zhou sought out the assistance of the Florida SBDC’s Growth Acceleration Services to assist her in planning for this strategic expansion. FSBDC at UCF Growth Acceleration Consultant Jill McLaughlin conducted an in-depth analysis of the business and identified key performance indicators to monitor operations and company finances. In addition, McLaughlin recommended strategies and tactics to achieve growth goals. Once the business analysis was completed and presented to Zhou, McLaughlin worked with her to implement the report’s recommendations. In May of 2013, Interventions Unlimited was able to acquire the building next door, allowing it to double the capacity of the school and behavioral therapy services.
"I'm very appreciative of the consulting I received from the Growth Acceleration services at the Florida SBDC at UCF," said Zhou. "My consultant, Jill McLaughlin, was attentive and thoroughly understood my business. She prepared a detailed financial analysis, providing great insights on the company and key performance indicators to successfully manage our growth. Her recommendations have given me the tools to plan more strategically. Since then, we have improved our operations and business management. We are now in a much better position for growth."
In recognition for her business success and contributions to the community, the U.S. SBA named Jing Zhou the 2014 Woman-Owned Small Business Person of the Year award for the State of Florida.