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VOL. 122 | NO. 65 | Tuesday, April 10, 2007


While business license filings dipped in Q1, people's desire to work for themselves didn't

By Rosalind Guy

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SHOES IN THE NEWS: Peria Shoes in the Belvedere Collection along Union Avenue opened during first quarter 2007. To read more about the new business, see our Feb. 26 Small Business Spotlight at www.memphisdailynews.com. -- Photo By Rosalind Guy

Wardell Seals, president and CEO of Heartbeat-CPR, recently sent an e-mail thanking everyone who helped get his business off the ground.

Seals, a paramedic and firefighter, started the business to teach emergency life-saving techniques, first aid, fire safety training and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training. His clients include local colleges, child care centers and senior service organizations.

"Today marks the 13-year anniversary for HeartBeat-CPR," the e-mail reads. "I want to thank each and every one of you (who) has contributed to this success."

That e-mail represents the fact that small-business owners must depend on many outside resources, as well as their own initiative and hard work, to achieve even a relative amount of success in the market.

And it also shows that though there was a small dip in the number of business licenses filed in Memphis-Shelby County for first quarter 2007, a steady stream of local entrepreneurs continues venturing out on their own.

Down to business

About 1,700 applications for business licenses were filed during Q1, which is a little more than a 10 percent drop in filings for the same period last year, according to The Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com.

A 10 percent variance isn't much of a drop, said Robert Staub, founder and executive director of the Memphis and Nashville chapters of the National Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

Staub was one of the people who received the e-mail from Seals. The e-mail also validates one piece of advice Staub said he instructs small-business owners to do: Take advantage of all available resources.

These days, it's not uncommon to hear a small-business owner say he or she decided to start a business because they were tired of working for other people and wanted to become their own bosses.

That trend is not motivated by seasons, Staub said.

"It's spring, so more people are starting their businesses and then they don't in the fall," he said. "If you put it on a graph, it's going straight up."

Ups and downs

Between January and March, 1,720 applications were filed, compared to 1,929 filed during the same period last year and 1,910 two years ago.

Staub said to spot a business startup trend for 2007, it would be important to have more data. It's simply too early to commit to anything.

"Next quarter, if it appears to be a 10 percent jump, then we'd see that business startups are relatively flat," he said.

Also, with the increase in home-based businesses, the numbers can appear a little deceiving.

When looking at the home-based sector, Staub said some business owners operate from home without obtaining a license.

"In the home-based sector, a lot of folks don't know that they need a license, or some just don't get a license," he said.

Licensed to drive

Two ZIP codes continued to see the highest number of business starts: 38116 in the Whitehaven/Southwest Memphis area and the 38115 ZIP code in Hickory Hill North. In the first quarter of this year, 179 businesses listed addresses in one of those ZIP codes. During the same period the year before, 243 business owners listed their business addresses in those ZIP codes. And in first quarter 2005, the total was 207.

Another area that has seen steady activity for new business license filings is the 38018 ZIP code in Cordova. In the first quarter last year, 61 owners filed for a license in that area. This year, filings held steady at 59.

One Cordova-area business that filed for a license but has yet to open its doors is eagerly anticipating that day.

Reginald and Karmeisha Johnson, owners of Royal Country Club Salon for Men, completed an application in Q1 for a business license. They intended to have the full-service salon open by April 3, but because of a number of construction setbacks, the opening date has been moved to sometime near the end of the month.

"They painted (the walls) and they start on the floors today," Karmeisha said. "So, now we're aiming for an opening date in two weeks."

To read more about the Johnsons and Royal Country Club, see our March 16 edition at www.memphisdailynews.com.

Quick 'n' easy

When looking at the numbers from quarter to quarter, it's difficult to get a good grasp on just how many people are starting their own businesses.

Staub stressed that more small businesses are opening, which can be attributed to a number of reasons: Among them are owners' desires to contribute to their own personal bottom line, the number of resources available to help new entrepreneurs and the ease of the process for obtaining a license.

To obtain a license, a person just has to take his or her driver's license and the filing fee - $42 if the business is in the city limits and $22 if it's in the county - and fill out a one-page application.

Business licenses are good for one year.

Reason for the season

New business owners have as many reasons for starting their businesses as they have ideas for types of businesses.

Darrell Milan, one of the owners of Milan & Milan Tax Service on Raines Road, obtained a business license for his second location during the first quarter. He said he decided to open the new location on Lamar Avenue because there was a need for his services in that area.

Besides offering tax preparation services, Milan said the second location also is a bill-payment agent, meaning people can come there and pay certain types of bills. The business also offers Western Union. The additional services allow Milan to remain open year-round.

Now or never

Unlike the typical small business, Heartbeat-CPR does not operate from a stationary location. Seals and his other certified CPR and first-aid trainers travel to people's homes and businesses to teach classes.

And that just might be part of the new trend with small-business owners, whom Staub said increasingly are operating out of their homes. Some of the reasons for that include low overhead and capital expenses.

"Unless it's just absolutely necessary not to, many people prefer to work out of their home office," he said.

Staub said he also is seeing an increase in Small Business Chamber membership for home-based businesses.

"We have a number of home consultants that are home-based, then there's real estate companies," he said. "I mean it's really across the board."

Besides being creative with the services offered and location, a number of unusual business names were listed in the first quarter, such as Now or Never Records, Funny Monday's and Spit Shine Mobile Car Wash.

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