HOUSTON - In the Houston area, nearly 97% of employers qualify as ‘small businesses.’ They are an essential and growing part of the economy.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the changing face of employment has seen a lot of people go into business for themselves. Women, in particular, are part of the entrepreneurial trend in Houston. A recent financial study found, just in raw numbers, Houston is among the top-10 cities for women-owned startups.
Jess Hughes is among them. When we first met her, two years ago, she was looking for something more rewarding than her corporate oil and gas job. She opened Citizen Pilates, which now has three studios, and a fourth on the way. "I wanted something that was mine," says Hughes, "I wanted to build a business that I could be part of; That I could just grow from the ground up."
Small businesses are much more than small, boutique operations. Depending on the industry, the government says these privately-owned companies can have as many as 1500 employees and sales up to $38 million dollars. That leaves a wide lane to define success.
Commercial real estate broker, Michelle Johnson, fights her own battles in a male-dominated industry and a challenging commercial real estate climate. She says those life lessons, and advice from mentors, are the key to success.
"In order to get to the next level in your business, it is imperative that you connect to the right people who have a genuine interest in wanting to see you do better," says Johnson.
Dr. April Day, of the Women's Business Enterprise Alliance, helps women-owned businesses get certified to bid for corporate and government contracts.
"There are about $25 billion dollars, in federal spending, that is available for certified women-owned small businesses," she says.
Certification is a rigorous process, but one that could open some lucrative doors to any type of business.
"Every single thing that we buy, every day, is made in some way, or touched in some way, by a small business," says Day.
The same financial found there were more than 125,000 female business owners in the Houston metro, accounting for more than a third of the region's businesses. Proof, perhaps, that small business is big business.