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VOL. 126 | NO. 241 | Monday, December 12, 2011

Emphasis: Small Business

Small Business Showing Signs Of Improvement


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Signs point to the growth of small business in Memphis as a response to the bad economy. Signs detailing just what those businesses are have appeared on the car doors of vehicles all over the city.

Jerome Anderson worked as a steel welder at Trumbull Steel. He was laid off three years ago, but Anderson relied on his 30 years of experience in another field to survive financially. Anderson had done automotive work on the side for all of those years, and since the layoff from Trumbull, his company J Automotive has thrived.

“We do everything from diagnostics to replacing engines, transmissions and brakes,” Anderson said. “Everything from A to Z.”

Anderson’s wife, Beverly, is a volunteer counselor at the Memphis chapter of SCORE, an organization whose members mentor new business owners, so Anderson knew exactly where to go get the resources and information he needed.

Gene White, the chairman for the Memphis chapter of SCORE, said the organization is seeing a lot of people coming in to get information due to having lost a job or anticipating losing one. “All kinds of repair firms will do well as long as customers are cutting back on buying new items,” said White. “Medical services, online retail selling products within the $10 to $18 price range, fitness gyms and nail shops are all doing well. Some networking marketing opportunities are excellent for part-time income as long as they are not new, and are five to 50 years old. Their advantage is that they are a low investment franchised business model.”

Lance Flynn’s last corporate job was as a project management consultant for Technicolor Home Entertainment Service. In January, he and Steve Chandler launched 2U Mobile Lube, an onsite oil change service company.

They service residential consumers who want to get their oil changed without having to squeeze in the trip before or after work hours, and also corporate accounts.

“Many companies in the area understand that allowing their employees to receive vehicle maintenance to their automobile while at work provides a great benefit and morale booster,” Flynn said.

The company has landed a contract with a retailer for their third category of customers – fleet service – and will be servicing those vehicles across five southern states.

Both Anderson and Flynn enjoy the advantages of being an entrepreneur and find the rewards balance out the responsibilities of being your own boss.

He said that aspect of being the boss is balanced by the flexibility and by the fact that he is doing something that began as a hobby and is something he still likes doing.

The kindness of others has been one of the “miracles” that business owner Willa Stinson cites as having made her entrepreneurial journey worthwhile. While she isn’t making money yet, Stinson has been able to place her cards in six locations in the city.

Once she decided to try and market her cards, she was amazed at the willingness of other business owners to give her detailed advice on how to make her product better.

This experience has been a “life-altering” experience for Stinson, who came home to Memphis to care for sick family members after having worked as an auditor and a librarian in Las Vegas and New York.

After several years of helping her family, Stinson found it difficult to find a new job here. The economy was one factor, but she also found that having multiple degrees but not having worked in a while made her unemployable in the eyes of those doing the hiring.

She wrote verse during this time just to get her through it, but people started complimenting her on her work and eventually she had some cards printed. The cards are affirmative, and reflect Stinson’s faith in God. That faith has come full circle in her entrepreneurial experience, resulting in Stinson’s personal affirmation that she isn’t totally fixed but is certainly mended.

PROPERTY SALES 81 201 16,108
MORTGAGES 40 104 10,026
BUILDING PERMITS 130 336 38,272
BANKRUPTCIES 28 56 7,528