“From the beginning of time, more people are alive today than who have ever lived. That’s opportunity,” Puffer said.
Tom Puffer, Professor of Practice in the Department of Accounting at Texas State University, encourages students to prepare for prosperity now as there’s never been a better time for young entrepreneurs. Puffer says that opportunity will come into one’s life, and to prepare for prosperity is to take advantage of that opportunity and create a plausible business plan.
The last few years have felt chaotic and unpredictable with the COVID-19 pandemic, however the best time to start a business is when things are going south, or, not particularly good according to Puffer.
Entrepreneurs in the early stages of their business attribute to the TEA rate, or total early-stage entrepreneurial activity. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, GEM, Adult Population Surveys from 2019, 2020 and 2021, there was a wide variety of experiences among the 34 countries that participated. In the United States, nascent entrepreneurs and owners of new businesses increased steadily from 2019 to 2021.
In 2019, pre-pandemic, 17.42% of the population aged 18-64 considered themselves nascent entrepreneurs or owners of a new business. In 2020, first wave, these early-stage entrepreneurs increased to 21.90% of the population. In 2021, second or third wave, the TEA rate increased again to 23.06% of the population.
Many students at Texas State have entrepreneurial spirits, some becoming inspired at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Crochet, a craft that uses a hook and yarn to create textile, flooded social media platforms during this time. While it was often picked up as a trendy hobby, it also became a desired skill with opportunity for income.
Sara Reul, 20, is the Vice President for the Knitting and Crocheting Club at Texas State. She began her journey with crochet during the first round of quarantine in 2020. Reul says while being stuck at home and bored, she wanted to see what she could learn. She came across a tutorial for a crocheted top in her YouTube feed and began following along.
“It made me want to learn more and it helped that there was nothing to do at the time,” Reul said. “I just kept practicing and about two or three months in was when I really started to have it down.”
Reul, now in the position of Vice President for the Knitting and Crocheting Club, plays a key role in guiding the passion of fiber art in students at Texas State. Some join in on the club’s weekly meetings with an unfinished project in hand while others just want to learn more about it. No matter the reason for attending, Reul offers her time and expertise.
“I feel like success is not only the stuff you accomplish but also the stuff you try, even if you don’t end up getting to the level that you want to be at,” Reul said. “There’s a lot of successful businesspeople who had to try a bunch of things before they got to the position that they’re at.”
Andrea Miller, 20, is a junior at Texas State University majoring in exercise and sports science. She is also a member of the Panhellenic sorority on campus, Delta Gamma, as well as the Knitting and Crochet Club. Miller picked up crocheting as a hobby during the pandemic after seeing a crocheted top she was interested in purchasing from another crochet artist, but ultimately deciding to learn how to make it herself.
“I decided to turn my hobby into a small business after making so many different tops and scrunchies and having people ask if they could buy them from me,” Miller said.
Miller runs her own online shop called Hello Handmade and markets her creations through the Instagram account she’s dedicated to her small business, @shop.hellohandmade. She says the most unique part of her business is that everything is handmade by her and it’s impossible to make any two crochet tops exactly alike. In other words, everything she makes will always be one of a kind.
Miller gives her best piece of advice to student entrepreneurs, and that is, if opportunity strikes, go for it! Beyond that, she says it’s important to figure out how to communicate genuinely with customers. Be genuine about what the business offers and be genuine about what the customer can and will receive.
“Genuine means authentic, but in a business sense, it means a little more than that,” Puffer said. “In a business sense, it means that you have built a reputation that people know you and they think that you are reliable.”