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DU student entrepreneurs turn to micro-businesses

On April 16, 2021

NEW ORLEANS (April 16, 2021) – Braids. Apparel. Hair products. Lashes. These are some of the micro-businesses DU student entrepreneurs are into.

Bailey Patterson, a sophomore public health major from Cleveland, Ohio, said she started Bebe Braidz during quarantine.

“I was always good at braiding, but I never took it seriously. But when I started practicing more, I found out I really liked it.”

Courtney Walker, a physics junior from Dallas, started Co & Breaux, a company that produces a rice-water hair product after she noticed how the product helped her own hair grow and others took notice.

 “When I was growing my hair out, I came across rice water…I let mine sit for over 24 hours to get the fermented rice, so that’s what I’ve been using to grow my hair. And people have noticed that over the last three years,” said Walker.

She added that when she went home last spring for the COVID break, she still told people when they asked about the rice water, but many couldn’t get the hang of making it properly. That’s where the business idea came in.

Deauan McClain, a junior film major from Kansas City, Missouri, started Forever Films, a film and apparel business, before the pandemic – two years ago. He said he saw the need to have “something for black filmmakers…I just wanted to fill that void.”

An entrepreneurship webinar offered to DU students Feb. 23 homed in on the entrepreneurial trend when Shawn Prez, founder of Power Makers, discussed tips with students along with panelists Dia Simms, CEO of Hands, LLC, and Josh Taekman, CEO of Eboost.

Simms advised sticking to the motto, “Hire hard and manage easy”; he explained that means you hire with high and particular standards so the employee is easier to manage in the long run.

Small businesses took a major hit during the pandemic, with the Federal Reserve Bank reporting that three of every 10 small businesses saying they likely won’t survive. Since 99 percent of American businesses are deemed small businesses (at fewer than 500 employees), that means 9 million companies are at risk.

Some 89 percent of small businesses have fewer than 20 employees, and a micro-enterprise – the most common kind of private-sector business in the nation – employs nine people are fewer. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said you can launch these and thrive in the pandemic if they focus on the needs of the consumer.

Here are some interesting statistics:

  • Half of all small businesses are operated from home.
  • About a fourth begin with no financing whatsoever.
  • Micro-businesses can get off the ground with as little as $3,000 in capital.
  • Only 40 percent are profitable.
  • One in five small-business owners work more than 60 hours a week.
  • Eighty-two percent fail because of inconsistent or insufficient cash flow.
  • Women-owned businesses have increased by 58 percent since 2007.
  • Nearly half of black-owned businesses have one employee, and 41 percent have two to five employees.

To learn more about small businesses, go to https://www.smallbizgenius.net/by-the-numbers/small-business-statistics/#gref .

(Ucari Morris contributed to this report.)

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