Achieving Financial Empowerment through Entrepreneurship
There are over 30 million small businesses in the United States that employ nearly half of the country’s workforce. As of May 2020, almost 30 percent of Americans are classified as self-employed. While every year sees a handful of so-called “unicorns” (startups that hit the elusive $1 billion valuation mark, like Pinterest or Uber), most small businesses operate on a significantly smaller scale.
Starting a business is an appealing option for people who are facing financial uncertainty, especially during an economic downturn, because it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to do so. For the price of registration (usually around $100), anyone can register a business and start earning money.
By starting a business, individuals have an opportunity to gain financial security and positively impact their lives and the communities they live in.
Misconceptions about Entrepreneurship
When people think of business owners, they often think of wealthy, high-level entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates. Many people also believe that you need to have a college degree to become an entrepreneur.
The truth is, anyone can become a business owner by taking the right steps, regardless of their history. There are no degree requirements to become a business owner, and many businesses require little to no startup money. The amount of education or training you need will depend on the type of company you want to start. A lawn care business, for example, will require experience mowing and caring for lawns.
A lot of businesses only require an initial investment in equipment costs. Once you have the right tools, you can register your business and start offering your products or services. Read our blog on how to start a business in Oklahoma.
Here are some of the least expensive businesses to start:
Pet sitting or walking
Babysitting / Nanny services
Delivery or courier business
Internet services (creating websites, writing content, etc.)
Of course, you’re not limited to this list though. If you have a service to offer or a product to sell, you have the potential to start a business! Identifying what you will be offering is the first step to establishing yourself as a business owner.
Challenges to Entrepreneurship
Although it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to start a business, entrepreneurship does come with some challenges. It’s important to take a thoughtful approach to starting a business to minimize risks and have a higher chance of success.
Research has shown that, on average, about 20 percent of small businesses fail within the first year, and 50 percent of small businesses fail within the first five years. These numbers stay consistent, even through economic uncertainty.
Some of the reasons why businesses fail include the following:
Lack of cash
Pricing and cost issues
Lack of a business model
Ignoring customers’ needs
Lack of a market need for their products or services
Understanding how your business is going to make money is crucial. Before you get too far, you will need to identify what products or services you will offer, who you will target to buy them, and how you will reach that target audience. Read our blog on how to validate your business idea.
Getting access to financing, whether by drawing on personal savings or turning to local resources, can help your business thrive. Below, we’ll offer some links to local resources that can help you find funding.
Local Leaders Believe Entrepreneurship Can Lead to Financial Security
Tulsa is quickly becoming known as a center for new business operations. Over the last decade, Tulsans have seen exciting new growth and development across the city. We spoke with several local business owners and leaders to get their views on how entrepreneurship can lead to financial security.
Building Wealth vs. Making an Income through Entrepreneurship
Lindsay Jordan is the Founder of Write on Fundraising, a nonprofit dedicated to helping other nonprofit organizations develop winning fundraising campaigns. She notes that there is a difference between making an income and building wealth through entrepreneurship. While many nonprofit organizations have the goal of bringing income to families, those that help people to build wealth have the potential to make a more lasting impact on their communities.
Lindsay cites Tulsa Girls Art School as an example of a nonprofit organization that is helping girls lift themselves out of poverty and create a future career trajectory. For the past four years, 100 percent of the girls who were seniors in high school and attended the Tulsa Girls Art School went on to graduate from high school and enroll in college. Armed with essential tools and skills, the girls who graduate from the program are better equipped to face the challenges that come from high school and beyond, giving them significant opportunities to build wealth now and in the future.
Building Dreams through Entrepreneurship
Bruno Teles has similar advice as Lindsay for those looking to help people break out of poverty through entrepreneurship, and he stresses that a key to financial stability is having the right tools and mindset to dream big.
For the last six years, Bruno has taught Global Entrepreneurship at Oral Roberts University and the University of Oklahoma. His students have helped entrepreneurs at a business incubator in Zambia learn how to start and manage a business. The project is part of Bruno’s passionate belief that entrepreneurship is more effective than charity at providing the tools and resources necessary to help people find financial stability.
As Bruno says, “Poverty is not an economic condition, it’s a mindset. You don’t take people out of poverty, you take poverty out of people.” Through his experiences, Bruno has found that by showing people how to be part of the solution through entrepreneurship, he and his team have helped distressed communities build businesses that will lead to wealth for their entire community.
For those facing economic uncertainty, learning how to establish and operate a business is fundamental for understanding how to gain financial stability through entrepreneurship. Finding a mentor through a local organization (listed below) can be beneficial for anyone who would like more guidance as they build and grow their business.
Building Communities through Entrepreneurship
Charity Marcus knows a lot about the mindset of an entrepreneur. She has founded several companies and organizations, including co-founding Black Women Business Owners of America (BWBOA). Her work with BWBOA is focused on helping black women get access to the resources and connections they need to be successful business owners.
For Charity, entrepreneurship is about resiliency and community. “Small businesses have the power to build their communities up, and they’re likely to have community support,” she says. “Having someone in your corner can make all the difference as a small business owner.”
Building a small business that employs others from the area can have a dramatic impact on a community. Jeff Burdge, Capital Access Manager for KIVA Tulsa, says, “Local businesses are the heart and soul of communities. It is so important to support your locally owned businesses as they are great incubators for future employment and growth.”
When it comes to building businesses in under-served areas, Jeff adds that “Local businesses will be the ones to go into empty commercial locations and revitalize once-prosperous locations.” With the support of their communities, local businesses have the potential to raise the economic status of their entire community by bringing jobs and money into the local economy.
Resources for New Business Owners
It is absolutely possible to start a business without any outside funding or guidance. However, it can always be helpful to have help setting up your company and figuring out your funding options.
Here are some local organizations that can help you start and grow your business.
Chambers of Commerce
Local traditional banks
CDFI lenders (Community Development Financial Institutions)
North Tulsa Complex (youth entrepreneurs)
You don’t need a lot of money to start a business; you just need a good idea and a plan to make it happen. By building a business that serves a market need, entrepreneurs can become financially stable and empower others in their communities to build wealth that will benefit them and their families for generations to come.
If you’d like some support building a website for your new business or developing a marketing strategy, we can help! Contact us today to see how Websites4Good can help your new business succeed.