Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Take the Risks You Need to Grow Global

What makes an SME work?  Katya Puyraud, co-owner of Euro Start Entreprises, helps people with company formation in France and the UK so she has firsthand knowledge of the rules of business to succeed.  Since 2007 Euro Start Entreprises has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs and expats open their companies in over 30 countries worldwide.

Below she shares her top five tips to make sure your SME becomes one of the ones that grows and succeeds.  And yes, it does require that you take the risks you need to grow global.

Read more here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Does Your Team Have a Global Reach?

With technology and access to the Internet, you can do business anywhere in the world, anytime, and oftentimes without ever meeting your client or customer in person.  You might be using Skype, Slack, Google Docs, or Trello to manage your projects.

As Craig Wilson, managing director of digital agency Sticky says:
Being found in search and on social networks, plus a healthy stream of referrals, can deliver a world of business to your company.
He's right.  Read more here.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Today in Global Small Business: How to Accommodate Online Customers Worldwide

What's affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Make Pancakes

©2017 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
"When I get the chance to make my favorite breakfast on the weekend, I often choose to make pancakes." -  Marcus Samuelsson

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Small Business Guidebook for South African Entrepreneurs

Before Nokwazi Mzobe started her consulting agency Matoyana, she spent eight years at two Fortune 500 multinational companies operating throughout Africa and the Middle East, where she developed and honed her business skills.

She is now sharing her wealth of international experience with the new crop of ambitious South African entrepreneurs in her new book, The Small Business Handbook.
Mzobe says her book is far from being a typical business publication. It is more of a guide, covering 17 critical business-related topics. These include the role of social media in business as well as finance and best practices. She says the book is easy to understand and can be referenced on a daily basis to provide inspiration and practical advice.
Read more here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Hidden Danger of Cross-Border E-Commerce

E-commerce is growing, particularly in China, but with it comes risks from cyber attacks.  The Asia-Pacific region is facing unprecedented threats in terms of complex cybercrime and fraud attacks.  China was revealed as the most-attacked country in the region, with the findings showing that cross-border transactions are fueling the high attack rates.
One issue is the ever-increasing amount of sophisticated spear phishing attacks, in which fraudulent e-mails mimicking those from trusted sources are sent to people to get them to reveal information.
Read more here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Living on a Container Ship With Music by Enya

What an amazing portrayal of merchant vessels cruising the world.  I could not help but tune out the decent accommodations and only focus on what it takes to move products from one country to another.  Fascinating!  Worth a watch.

Here's what one crewman said:
Personally I think life is too easy and too safe.  I think a good storm would make me feel alive personally.  Family is most likely never going to happen for me. So that doesn't matter, but like you [other commenters on the site) said.  Every job has ups and downs, nothing is ever perfect.  But if you can find something that feels right, you are doing ok. :)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Today in Global Small Business: Challenges to Running an E-Commerce Business

What's affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

There Is No Place in a City That Can't Be Better

©2017 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
"There is no place in a city that can't be better. There is no toad that can't be a princess, no frog that can't become a prince." -- Jaime Lerner

Friday, April 14, 2017

Small Businesses That Go Global Are Poised for Growth

A new analysis from London-based research consultancy BDRC Continental said small businesses that go global will be especially poised for growth.
According to the data, more than a third of SMEs surveyed in the first quarter of 2017 reported growth over the past year, and nearly half said they were planning to grow. The businesses with a global view, though, are even more likely to see success, researchers found, with 52 percent of exporting SMEs planning to grow — up from 41 percent in Q4 2016. The figure is even higher — 67 percent — for businesses that both import and export.
Even with Brexit, there is little change in levels of concern among international SMEs with regards to the economy and political uncertainty.

Read more here.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Is the U.S. Still the Center of the Universe?

According to American cyclist and small business owner Jonathan Vaughters for Business Insider, President Trump needs to clean up his act if small businesses are going to thrive -- at home and abroad.

So how are Americans perceived abroad?
Ideally, the answer to this question is given by all Americans individually, but the president of the United States, for better or worse, defines how Americans are perceived. The president is the leader looked to for direction by the West. Like it or not, how the president is perceived is how we are perceived, and that can make life easier or harder for Americans doing business abroad — most notably small businesses.
Learn more about what Jonathan has to say here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How Women Can Easily Serve Up Global Growth For Their Businesses

There’s no question that exporting presents difficulties for men and women business owners alike — from finding customers and getting paid to shipping products to unfamiliar locations thousands of miles away.
But what if I [Laurel Delaney] told you that I have the secret sauce that women entrepreneurs can use to foster global growth for their businesses in a simple, engaging and affordable manner?
I won't keep you waiting any longer.  Read more here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Global Mobile Studio

In a global mobilized economy, Facebook aims to help small businesses become large and local businesses become global. We are investing to create simple solutions to help small businesses grow in today’s mobile economy.

For example, Facebook’s Mobile Studio ...
is a new way to show businesses how easy it is to create great ads using only a mobile device. All businesses can improve their creative, and ultimately, the efficacy of their ads with mobile apps and tools—and with Mobile Studio, they’ll learn to do them in minutes. 
These tips should help bring small businesses to life without eating up time, energy or resources.

Read more here.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Today in Global Small Business: How to Succeed by Yourself and Become a Digital Nomad

What's affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:
  • Young entrepreneurs at Southern Methodist University emphasize international connections.
  • Looking for a better U.S. economy and better global economy -- find it here.
  • How to set up your first online store.
  • Tips for breaking into the Asian market.
  • Stay aware -- you never know where your next breakthrough idea will come from.
  • How to succeed by yourself and travel the world as a digital nomad -- someone actually did it.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

To Laugh Often and Much

©2017 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
"To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Five Myths about Gospel Music in Chicago

A contribution by Bob Marovich, global gospel announcer and music historian.

Given that much of the world considers Chicago the font of traditional gospel music, we need to clear up some persistent myths about the music’s early history.  Though long ago dispelled, the following five myths are still articulated as if they were the words of God:

1.  Pilgrim Baptist Church is the birthplace of gospel music.

This is the most tenaciously held myth because the Father of Gospel Music, Thomas A. Dorsey, was Pilgrim Baptist Church’s music minister for many decades.  But actually, Ebenezer Baptist Church at 45th and Vincennes is the rightful holder of the title of Birthplace of Gospel Music.  It was at Ebenezer in late 1931 that Dorsey and Theodore R. Frye organized the first modern gospel chorus.  It was only after the Ebenezer choir generated local attention that Pilgrim’s pastor, the Reverend Junius Austin, hired Dorsey to organize a gospel choir for his church.

2. Albertina Walker organized the Caravans.

One of the most popular gospel groups of all time, the Caravans started out as the Good Shepherd Singers, a group of female background vocalists that gospel singer Robert Anderson organized in the late 1940s to support him on programs and records.  At some point, Anderson changed the group’s name to the Gospel Caravan.  In April 1952, with Albertina Walker as its newest acquisition, the Gospel Caravan split with Anderson to become the Caravans.

As the Caravans’ popularity soared, so too did the amount of travel.  Because they were raising families, the original members could not commit that much time away from home.  One by one they departed the group.  Walker, later to be crowned the Queen of Gospel, became the Caravans’ manager and set out to rebuild the ensemble.  The replacements, including Shirley Caesar, Inez Andrews, Dorothy Norwood, Dolores Washington, and James Cleveland, turned the Caravans into national sensations and popular recording artists.

3. No gospel choirs existed before Dorsey’s first gospel chorus.

In late 1931, Dorsey and Frye organized a group of Ebenezer Baptist Church members to sing in the effervescent style we now associate with the gospel choir.  But according to Dorsey biographer Michael Harris, “gospel choruses” existed in Chicago as early as 1910.  These groups were typically comprised of a handful of singers from a church’s large senior choir whose responsibility was to render gospel hymns and spirituals for special occasions, such as funerals. These groups did not sound like the Ebenezer chorus.  They sang in the more classical-influenced senior choir style typical of the early twentieth century.

4. Thomas A. Dorsey stopped writing and performing blues after his initial success in gospel music.

In 1932, Dorsey was dizzyingly busy directing the Pilgrim Gospel Chorus, organizing other gospel choirs, writing new gospel songs, and developing the Chicago Gospel Choral Union.  Despite this work, he still kept one foot in secular music.  It was understandable: Dorsey had the carpet ripped out from under him numerous times in his pursuit of sacred music success.  Blues was the one sure thing in his life.  Even after he recorded two of his gospel songs for Vocalion as “Thomas A. Dorsey, the Gospel Singer,” he performed blues.  It was not until fall1932, after the death of his wife Nettie and day-old son Thomas Jr., that Dorsey forsook secular music forever.

5. First Church of Deliverance was the first African American church in Chicago to broadcast its worship services on radio.

This is a myth even First Church of Deliverance does not reiterate.  In early 1933, two years before First Church began airing its services over radio station WSBC, Elder Lucy Smith and her All Nations Pentecostal Church on Langley Avenue were broadcasting their lively worship and healing services on WIND.

So there you have it—five myths dispelled.

One point that cannot be dismissed is that Chicago is the rightful birth home of gospel music.  It was in Bronzeville where transplanted Southern migrants first melded the sounds of the black church with the beat of the city to create gospel music, now heard and loved around the world.

Robert M. Marovich is producer and host of “Gospel Memories” on WLUW-FM, host of “Conversations with the Gospel Legends” on the PCC Network, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Gospel Music, and author of A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music (University of Illinois Press, 2015).

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Check This Box If You're Interested in Overseas Study

On college applications, every so often there is a box to check to determine whether a student is interested in overseas study.  The school may offer a program and it's a good way to test a student's global aspirations  How does one know if they want to study abroad?

This article is a good start.  It's a valuable resource for finding and comparing international degree programs.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

How to Get Your Small Business Booming Globally

Amine KhechfĂ©, co-founder of Endicia, is Chief Strategy Officer for the family of companies, including Endicia. In this role, Amine is responsible for directing strategy and identifying opportunities for innovation.  Disclosure:  Endicia was a Bronze Sponsor at the Global Small Business Forum in 2015 (we hope they return :-) in 2017).

Amine understands the importance of networking and developing relationships.  That said, he knows more than a thing or two about taking a product global, especially when it comes to shipping.  He says:
Selling your products to international customers is one thing, but you have to have a solid plan in place for how you’re going to get them their purchases.
In the following article, Amine gives advice on nurturing international partnerships, optimizing shipping and services, and connecting with local resources in order for small businesses to successfully expand their global footprint.

Read more here.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Today in Global Small Business: 10 Lessons I learned From Peter Drucker

What's affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Success Makes So Many People Hate You

©2017 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
"Success makes so many people hate you.  I wish it wasn't that way.  It would be wonderful to enjoy success without seeing envy in the eyes of those around you." -- Marilyn Monroe

Friday, March 31, 2017

SME Accounting Goes Global

Accounting software company Xero recently surpassed one million subscribers worldwide on its global cloud accounting platform.
The company has doubled subscriber numbers in less than two years and has quickly grown to become a global accounting platform leader, adding nearly 300,000 subscribers in the last year alone. 
What's the future hold for Xero?  Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the next wave of innovation not just for accounting, but for all aspects of running a business.
In the last 12 months, Xero has processed more than $1.2 trillion of global economic activity, giving it a unique and high-value dataset to drive insights and machine learning. Xero’s machine learning system can now code invoices for small businesses, categorize expenses and recommend accounting practices to a potential client, automating the busy work of accounting, freeing advisors up to focus on providing clients with expert advice. 
Xero seems to be reinventing and changing the way small businesses work in a digitally connected world.  Read more here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

13 Cities Offering World Domination

The world is your oyster.  So where do you plant yourself to be in the best position to thrive?  I am based in Chicago but is that the most vibrant city for conducting global business? How can I choose a city with the right conditions that will provide ample opportunities for success?

To spread your global wings, here are 13 international cities every entrepreneur should consider expanding to or even living in. (Note:  Chicago is not one of them.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

One Million Monthly Advertisers and Counting: Instagram

Instagram was developed in 2010, and was acquired by Facebook in 2012. It’s available in 25 languages.
Mr. [James] Quarles [VP for Business at Instagram] sees the big business potential, with their 600 million active users and their more than one million advertisers monthly. eMarketer, a forecasting company, projects that Instagram is capable of generating $3.64 billion in global advertising revenues this year, which is so much higher than what Facebook can generate. 
Read more here.

Anything new on the horizon for Instagram?  Soon it will launch another tool that will be available to its global users.
It is a booking tool that will help users set up appointments and reservations with service companies via their business profiles.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Today in Global Small Business: Small Table Maker Vintage Industrial Takes on Alibaba's Fakes

What's affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:

Friday, March 24, 2017

Congrats to SBA's National Small Business Week Awardees!

The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon, announced the 2017 National Small Business Week awardees for 16 different categories ranging from exporting, outreach, contracting, lending, disaster recovery to manufacturing and research and development.  Small Business Week is set as the first week in May.

The National Exporter of the Year 2017 award goes to:

Rose Morris, President
Dba The Safety Sleeper
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Rose's story goes like this:
I am a loving mother of three children the middle of which is Abram who is on the autism spectrum. Like many other families who have a loved one with special needs, I struggled with finding a good solution to protecting my son at night.  There was no product on the market that could support my son's sleeping issues, night wanderings, temper melt-downs and give us the freedom to be a typical family.

I feared for Abram’s safety and out of that fear, The Safety Sleeper™ was developed.
To learn more about the other awardees, visit here. Congratulations to everyone!  We are proud of your accomplishments.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

When Was Globalization Discovered?

Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492 with a quest to sail west until he reached Asia (the Indies) where the riches of gold, pearls and spice awaited.  One could say that is when globalization occurred.

Regardless of the exact point in time, Andrew Sheng, for The China Post, says:
Globalization had lifted billions from poverty and the logic of free trade and capital flows was accepted from Beijing to Zanzibar. But in 2007, when the North Atlantic financial crisis revealed the flaws of excessive financialization, doubts about globalization began to creep in.
The reality is that globalization cannot be stopped; rather, it must be managed better as Sheng adds. Read more here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Europe is Where Most UK SMEs Go First on Exports

Europe is the market most UK small business exporters go to first. Over half say it’s easier to trade with versus elsewhere.  The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) reveals through its research a trade deal with Europe is top of the list for UK small businesses post Brexit.
Nine out of 10 (92%) exporting small businesses and 85% of importers trade with the EU. It is also the first foreign market many small firms go to: exporters are twice as likely to have exported to the EU for the first time, than another market. 
Read more here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Saudi Arabians Have a Cultural Affinity Toward Entrepreneurial Activity

The 2016/17 GEM Saudi Arabia Entrepreneurship Monitor report -- an initiative of the Babson Global Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (BGCEL) at Prince Muhammad Bin Salman College of Business and Entrepreneurship (MBSC), with BGCEL supported by a grant from Lockheed Martin -- shows that Saudi Arabia is a fertile ground for entrepreneurs.
The report shows a strong cultural affinity in Saudi Arabia toward entrepreneurial activity. More than two thirds of the working-age population believe starting a business to be a good career choice and 25.8 percent are considering starting up a new business within the next five years. 
The report also shows a noticeable increase in female entrepreneurship: 38.6 percent of entrepreneurs in the Kingdom are women, a proportion that has increased rapidly in recent years.

Saudi entrepreneurs are poised for success.

Learn more here.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Today in Global Small Business: Trump Organization Kisses International Markets Goodbye

What's affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Every Woman is a Rebel

©2017 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
"Every woman is a rebel, and usually in wild revolt against herself." - Oscar Wilde

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day, My Favorite Day of the Year

Top of the morning to you!  Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day -- my favorite day of the year.  These are scenes in Chicago along the river front (Wacker Drive).  You can find out why they dye the river green in Chicago here.

Photos courtesy:  ©2017 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

How Many Steps Does It Take to Go Global?

Successful international expansion means meeting, and overcoming a range of new challenges - and involves careful, effective planning. To help your business prepare for its journey, to any corner of the world, David Warrender put together a guide to some of the most important first steps.  And if you want to take a couple more, pay a visit here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Explore Global Markets

To obtain sustainable growth, you must pursue challenges and one of them is going global.  The good news is there are benefits. All it takes is perseverance and a determination and commitment to break the market barriers.
Razzak Dawood [former commerce minister of Lahore, Pakistan] said it was only after exploring the global markets that one learned how to be internationally competitive. It is only after rubbing shoulders with competitors from various regions that one learns the secret of success by achieving efficiency.
Read more here.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Today in Global Small Business: Think Bigger (Global)

What's affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:
  • Small business?  Think you can't go global?  Guess again. Here it from a pro.  N/C webinar on 4/5.
  • For goodness sakes, think BIGGER (global)!
  • Intuit rolls out its goods and services tax (GST)-ready software product with focus on India, Malaysia and Australia.
  • Guess how many people there are in the world who are in the process of starting or running their own business?
  • Why Chinese startups are pushing into foreign markets.
  • How the simplest mistakes can have an extremely negative impact on an international expansion project.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Irish Blessings You Need Most

©2015 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
"May the blessings of each day be the blessings you need most" - Irish Saying

Friday, March 10, 2017

Supporting Small Businesses in the U.S. Economy

LIVE STREAM:  Senate Confirmation hearing for Linda McMahon for U.S. Small Business Administration.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

How to Be the King or Queen of Accessibility

In the article below, I talk about twelve (12) ways to position a business for global success.  One of them is this:
11. Be the king or queen of accessibility.
Positioning for success worldwide means making sure when your employees, customers, suppliers and colleagues need you, they get you. Nothing gets accomplished without constant communication. That means going back to your website or blog and eliminating an info@email address and adding a real person’s email address to address questions, concerns or raves about your company’s products or services.
Read all the takeaways here.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Get Flexible Chatting With Microsoft Teams

Look out Slack for here comes the new grown-up on the block: Microsoft with Microsoft Teams and they ain't staying local, no way.  Global is the target.  And MT claims that with their new offering you can see content and chat history anytime, including team chats with Skype that are visible to the whole team. Private group chats are available for smaller group conversations too.

But isn't this all what Slack does?  Sorta.  Slack is an instant messaging and collaboration system that a lot of small business owners like and use.  To counter MT's release, Slack upped its game by launching a service for large corporation called Enterprise Grid, which allows companies to connect multiple workspaces under a single network. It also provides more security than before, and allows companies to adjust data security features across workspaces.

Put up your dukes [fists] and let's get fighting.  Love the global competitive spirit!

Learn more here.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Women Do Wonders for Entrepreneurship Worldwide

International Women's Day is right around the corner: Wednesday, March 8.  What better time than now to highlight the successes and challenges faced by women around the world and the need to support them, reinforce their confidence, and encourage their abilities so that they can become strong leaders.

The International Business Times, India spoke to multiple successful female entrepreneurs who have become torchbearers in their field and can lead the way for other women.

Read more here.

And what better time than now to also mention Women Entrepreneurs GROW Global, a nonprofit I [Laurel Delaney] started June, 2015, with a mission to educate women business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide on how to go global so they can run healthier businesses and create a new future for themselves, their families and their community.

Our vision is a world where every woman business owner has the opportunity and ability to take their business global wherever they may be located.

Learn about our educational programs here.  Our next N/C webinar is 3/8.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Today in Global Small Business: Didi Chuxing Ascends to the Global Stage

What's affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:
  1. Should you protect your trademarks?  Attend trade shows? Go direct or indirect on global sales?  Find out by attending an upcoming N/C webinar on 3/8 and hosted by nonprofit WEGG.
  2. If we view technology as an enabler of business growth, how do we make the most of it?  Say hello to NextTECHnow.
  3. According to McKinsey, digital trade is taking over; see how you can get involved (access report here).
  4. What's of concern on global e-commerce these days besides cybersecurity?
  5. How to go from a global star to a normal life?
  6. See how Chinese ride hailer Didi Chuxing is taking steps to ascend to the global stage.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Being Irish Is Very Much a Part of Who I am

©2017 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
"Being Irish is very much a part of who I am.  I take it everywhere with me." - Colin Farrell

Friday, March 03, 2017

Is There Such a Thing as the Ugly American?

Ugly American?  What's that you ask?  That surely isn't me! According to Maya Hu-Chan:
We all have a mental picture of the “Ugly American” — brash and arrogant, with an ethnocentric belief in America's singular greatness. When ugly Americans travel, they tout Big Macs over local cuisine and offer firm handshakes no matter the local greeting customs.
Is that you?  I hope not.  But as Maya goes on to say, "When working across cultures, sometimes it's less important to be “right” and more important to be aware of the impression you create."

I could not agree more.  Read the entire article here.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Idiot-Proof Website Builder By Global GoDaddy

Global GoDaddy, an Internet domain registrar and web hosting company, is passionate about empowering SMBs to manage their business needs. They should be because small businesses see a website as a crucial tool for driving awareness for a brand, not just locally but globally.

With their new Website Builder, you can create a new website in lickety-split time and have it be mobile-friendly and integrated with your social pages so it can be viewed anywhere, anytime.

Read more here.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

The Mother of all Mixups: The Global Oscars 2017

In case you missed the global Oscar ceremony 2017, here's BBC's take on it and Time magazine's.
"Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty presented "La La Land" as the winner of the best picture award, and the celebration began on stage but was quickly ended when one of the "La La Land" winners pointed out that in fact "Moonlight" had won the award." Source: CNN

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Gator Guard Makes Huge Splash Into Global Markets

Small businesses are the key to keeping local communities afloat and also for driving a healthy number of American exports.  Take Farmington, Illinois based Gator Guard.  They are a USA-maker of premier marine protection products.  Sue Smith, President and CEO, stands at the helm of the business.
She [Sue] knew there had to be a better way. None of the products on the market at the time provided the quality she thought was necessary in order to protect her boat. So since Day One of Gator Guards inception, Sue and her team have worked tirelessly to research, develop and bring the best protective technologies and products to the marine industry.
Gator Guards has done so well internationally that it earned the Governor's New Exporter Award for Manufacturing in 2016.  Since Smith began focusing on exporting in 2013, she has seen international sales grow annually -- to the point that they could meet or exceed Gator Guard's domestic sales in the next 5 years.

Learn more here.  Go Gator Guards!  And congrats on your award.