Undeterred by the pandemic and the economy, young entrepreneurs are forging ahead

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ALBANY — At first glance, you could say that Ashleigh Lindsay suffered from bad timing when it came to the economy and her business aspirations.

She graduated from college in 2008 at the start of the Great Recession. And she launched her digital marketing company, Digitally Grounded, in August 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But she looked on the bright side. She had just given birth to her second child in March of that year, and her maternity leave gave her time to assess and reflect on her long-term goals. And that made it easy for her to get into freelance work. “I had a lot of time to think,” she said.

In December 2021, Lindsay quit her job as a web developer at WAMC to focus full-time on her digital marketing business, which builds and manages websites and provides search optimization services, or art/ the science of getting people to visit a particular website.

Andre Goodbee also struck out on his own during the height or depth of the pandemic about two and a half years ago.
With experience as a union electrician, he opened Goodbee Controls and Electrical Services in early 2020.

Goodbee, 43, and Lindsay, 37, also knew where to get advice and help, at the Upstate New York Black Chamber of Commerce, which offers a boot camp as well as networking for African American businessmen.

“It was the best $600 I’ve ever spent,” Goodbee said of Boot Camp, which covered a wide range of topics including marketing, budgeting and the all-important networking.

“It helped me align my goals and structure the business. It allowed me to connect with others,” Goodbee said.

“It’s really about building better relationships,” UpState chamber co-founder and CEO Anthony Gaddy said of the training they offer.

The idea behind networking, he said, is to let potential clients know you’re there and ready to go to work.

The boot camp also provided advice on where to look for clients and how to get loans.

“They gave us job leads and helped us get started with the banks,” added David Anderson, who started his construction company Anderson Construction in 2018.
“One of the most important things I learned to do was make a business plan,” added Samaria Anderson, David’s wife who helps run the business. Capital, or money to get started, is often the biggest hurdle budding entrepreneurs face.

Anderson has also worked with the Community Loan Fund of the Capital, a nonprofit that focuses on loans for underrepresented aspiring entrepreneurs. They have a $22 million fund that can lend to nonprofits, small businesses owned by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or People of Color), women, or people with low incomes. revenue.

Their lending activity over the past two years, however, has plummeted. They can lend up to $25,000 for a new small business and $50,000 if they are already established somehow. Nonprofits can receive up to $500,000 per application if approved.

The fund has granted 39 loans in 2019, 11 loans in 2020 and 21 loans in 2021. So far this year, they have granted eight loans.

Mike Martin, director of community relations for the Community Loan Fund, says there may be a number of reasons for the decline, including the current labor shortage, high house prices and uncertainty. regarding the economy.

The labor shortage is evident. Even these 30- and 40-somethings detect a generational gap between their aspirations and those of people fresh out of high school or college.

Anderson is 30 years old and has worked in carpentry since he was 12, when he helped his father with some work. He said he employed four and needed more help.

“It has changed,” he said of the youngsters. He hears them talking about cryptocurrency or becoming social media influencers as a career choice rather than getting into trades like construction, even if the money is good.

Martin hears this too when he talks to young people. According to him, the focus on e-commerce and social media may have increased during the pandemic, when so many people were confined to their homes and spent their days on the internet.

Nishaea Richardson, a personal financial coach, said she knows people who work as third-party marketers, selling goods on Amazon and other web platforms.

“There are definitely business people leaving 9 to 5,” she said.

And entrepreneurs like Goodbee said they are stepping in at the right time, regardless of the pandemic or the economic outlook.
“It was about time, no matter what,” said Goodbee

[email protected] 518 454 5758 @RickKarlinTU

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