All posts by Julia Stone

Breakout Session with Phil Gafka, LEAP Associates

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Phil Gafka, Certified Business Coach and Founder of LEAP Associates, Inc. (Leadership for Entrepreneurs And Professionals), will be presenting “Vision, Culture, People — the Three Foundational Elements of a Successful Company” at SBAC Empower’s Chicago Entrepreneur Expo on April 18.

Learn more about the Chicago Entrepreneur Expo here.



Phil Gafka has extensive experience in executive development, strategic planning, financial management, sales development, developing customer loyalty, team building and employee development.

In 2008, he founded LEAP Associates, Inc., (Leadership for Entrepreneurs And Professionals), a personal and professional growth firm specializing in coaching programs and development processes.

At LEAP Associates, Phil translates his strong business experience into strategic support and effective leadership development for executives and entrepreneurs. His coaching certification provides access to a wide variety of diagnostic tools, ensuring that clients receive targeted coaching and concrete strategies to develop their potential and succeed in business.

Learn more at


Breakout Session with Scott Herbst, SixFlex Training

By: 1233


Scott Herbst, Founder and Owner of SixFlex Training & Consulting, will be presenting “The Physics of Management: Leveraging Three Laws of Behavior to Drive Performance and Upgrade Culture” at SBAC Empower’s Chicago Entrepreneur Expo on April 18.

Learn more about the Chicago Entrepreneur Expo here.



Scott Herbst earned his Ph.D. in Behavior Analysis from the University of Nevada-Reno where he researched organizational design, organizational systems, values, language development and incentive pay systems.

He founded SixFlex Training & Consulting in 2015. SixFlex helps leaders create and maintain effective work environments where people are productive, engaged and happy.

Based on research in behavioral psychology and organizational systems, SixFlex provides executive coaching and leadership development training and consultation.

Learn more at


How launching a Chicago home-based business just got easier

By: 1233

REBOOT ILLINOIS – How launching a Chicago home-based business just got easier

Small business advocates have fought to ease restrictions that make it difficult to launch a home-based business in Chicago.  On February 22, the City Council passed an ordinance that eliminated several rules hampering the ability of entrepreneurs to launch and grow a business from their home.

Read full article here.

Article written by SBAC Co-Founder & CEO Elliot Richardson and Advocacy Director Ryan Tolley

SBAC members receive 33% discount off Reboot Illinois subscription price!

Debunk fake news and stay informed! Reboot Illinois features trusted, veteran journalists providing fair, reliable news, views, fact checks and infographics you won’t find anywhere else.

Discount URL:

Discount Code:

Use the discount code: SBAC (all caps)

Member Spotlight: Michele Rubin, SBAC Empower

By: 1233

Executive Director of SBAC Empower, Michele Rubin, is passionate about helping people fulfill their dreams.

With Michele’s experience in small business, education and nonprofits, she has the unique combination of skills to make SBAC Empower a success.

SBAC Empower is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on providing the education and support aspiring entrepreneurs need to start a small business. It was formed to further the SBAC’s mission and help people in career transitions successfully pursue their dream of owning a small business.

Michele has been a strong supporter of the SBAC since its inception. Growing up in a family that owned a small business, Michele is familiar with the challenges and rewards that come with owning a business.

She began her career as a middle school teacher in Chicago Public Schools in Humboldt Park, and then in Waukegan. After leaving teaching to raise her children, she became an active volunteer. Michele was immersed in the non-profit world through volunteer administrator roles. She also earned a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from University of Illinois-Chicago.

Michele is thrilled and honored to kick-start SBAC Empower. “While I am excited for our Chicago Entrepreneur Expo, I am most looking forward to our seminar series.” If you are interested in learning more about the Empowering Small Business Seminar Series, please click here.

SBAC Empower’s Chicago Entrepreneur Expo is taking place on April 18 at DePaul University Center. It is the perfect event for those in a career transition considering starting their own business or those looking to expand their current micro-business. For more information and to register, please click here.

Michele believes in supporting other entrepreneurs through rough times. “Believe in what you’re doing and persevere through the bumps in the road,” she says.

To learn more about SBAC Empower, you can visit their website here.


SBAC Empower: Alternative Funding Panel

By: 1233

The Alternate Funding Panel breakout session at SBAC Empower’s Chicago Entrepreneur Expo will focus on crowdfunding, microloans and SBA loans. You can learn more about the Chicago Entrepreneur Expo here.


About the Panelists:

Howard Orloff, Vestlo

Howard is the Co-Founder of Vestlo, a FinTech company that operates an Illinois investment based crowdfunding platform.



Carlos Pena, Accion

Carlos is a Senior Loan Officer at Accion Chicago, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing affordable micro-finance solutions to small business owners.


Kate Drane, IndieGoGo

Kate is the Director of Tech & Hardwear Outreach at IndieGoGo, a launchpad for entrepreneurial ideas. They help at every step from concept to market.


Eric Spokas, SomerCor 504, Inc.

Eric is President and Executive Director at Somercor, a non-profit development company certified by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to originate SBA 504 loans in Illinois.


About the Moderator:

Michael Cavanaugh, Neurensic

Michael is a Board Member of SBAC Empower. He is also the Chief Revenue Officer at Neurensic, an artificial intelligence company that is committed to helping the financial industry evolve.

SBAC Launches “Stand Tall, Illinois” Campaign

By: 1233

Stand tall with small business.

The SBAC is launching Stand Tall Illinois, a campaign meant to unite and strengthen the small business community. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy. Now is the time to stand tall together to mend Illinois’ ‘backbone.’

We urge small business owners to ‘stand tall’ to achieve a collective voice in government policy. Together, we hope to improve the economic environment for small businesses in Illinois.

Visit our campaign website to learn more! #ILstandtall

Our new campaign website includes testimonials from our members.

“I joined the SBAC because privately held businesses are my life and have been for 24 years,” says Stephen Ball, SVP Head of Business Banking at MB Financial Bank.

“We all are very busy with our jobs and family, but staying involved with the SBAC is one of my most important ‘to-do’s.’ I stay involved because I want to help make a difference. I don’t want to just ride the coattails of pioneers like Elliot and the SBAC team. I want to help them affect change.

The SBAC at its heart is built up of people of character who share a mission. If you are looking to network with a great group of people while truly helping businesses have a voice in Illinois, I would highly recommend becoming a part of the SBAC.”

See more testimonials at


SBAC Empower’s Chicago Entrepreneur Expo

By: 1233




SBAC Empower is a non-profit created to help individuals determine whether starting a small business is the right choice for them. They provide the education and support you need to start your own small business.

Affiliated with the Small Business Advocacy Council (SBAC), SBAC Empower is committed to advancing the SBAC’s initiatives.


Join SBAC Empower at their first annual Chicago Entrepreneur Expo for a great opportunity to meet new people and build your network. Connect with other potential small business owners, established businesses looking to broaden their connections, speakers and other Chicago area business professionals.


Depaul University Center
1 E Jackson Blvd
Chicago, IL 60604

Who Should Attend

  • Anyone thinking of starting their own small business
  • Small business owners who want to grow their existing business

Breakout Speakers

  • Elliot Richardson – “How Entrepreneurs Can Navigate Illinois’ Political Landscape”

  • Phil Gafka – “Vision, Culture, People — the Three Foundational Elements of a Successful Company”

  • Scott Herbst – “The Physics of Management: Leveraging Three Laws of Behavior to Drive Performance and Upgrade Culture”

  • Carlos Pena & Howard Orloff – “Alternative Funding Panel”


SBAC Empower has invited a carefully culled group of organizations and companies that serve as resources to small businesses: the SBAC, Better Business Planning Inc., What A Great Website, Korey Richardson LLC, Human Elements and more.

Event Price

Registration fee is $20 per person. Includes light refreshments. Register here:

Discounted Parking

328 S Wabash Ave Parking

Tickets should be validated at the 1st floor security desk, 1 E Jackson Blvd.




Big Win For Chicago Home-Based Businesses

By: 1233

Many incredibly successful businesses, including Google, Yankee Candle Company and Harley Davidson were launched in their founders’ home or garage.  Through their success, these businesses have created a tremendous number of jobs and sparked local economies.

On Wednesday, February 22, the Chicago City Council based an ordinance making it easier for entrepreneurs to start and grow a home based business.  Here are some of the important reforms included in the ordinance:


Business Owners Can Sell Products Made in the Home in Retail Stores

Products made by entrepreneurs at their home can now be sold at retail stores.


Hiring Additional Employees

Business owners can now hire more than one employee as long as they do not spend more than three consecutive hours at the home-based business per day.


Reduction in Inspection by multiple departments 

City inspections have been consolidated for home-based businesses.


Use of Garage and Storage Units

Home-based businesses can now use portions of their garages and accessory buildings to store “incidental, non-hazardous” materials.

Easing the burden of owning and operating a home-based business in a safe and responsible manner is a step forward for the Chicago business community.  The SBAC will continue pushing for more reforms to empower Chicago’s small business community.

Please contact Advocacy Director Ryan Tolley at with any additional questions about the ordinance.