Driven to Succeed

These companies emerged as B.E.'s 1999 Small Business Award winners. Here's why.

bike messengers who are now word processing managers," says Gray-Holt, who plans to open locations in Connecticut and New Jersey next year and expand corporate training and job placement services. "My expectations are so high. I just want to make a difference and help people who are poor to change their economic condition and self-esteem."

The Kidpreneurs Award honors a young entrepreneur or group of entrepreneurs, 18 years and under, who embodies the entrepreneurial spirit and is committed to advancing the rich tradition of black business achievement.

Anisah S. Rasheed
Sister Clowns
The fact that 14-year-old Anisah S. Rasheed has owned a business since age nine isn’t surprising when you consider that entrepreneurship runs in her family. Her mother owns a financial services franchise; her father owns a computer consulting business; her grandfather owned a shoe shop; her grandmother owned a hat shop and her aunt owns a beauty salon.

As a youngster, Rasheed’s two older sisters, Ameenah, 17, and Syiisha, 20, volunteered through the Red Cross to entertain-as clowns-children in hospitals and adults in nursing home facilities.

Since Rasheed was too young to accompany them, her mother, Valerie, suggested that the three siblings start a business in clown entertainment. The three started Sister Clowns in Roanoke, Virginia, in 1994, and Rasheed took over when her sisters felt they had outgrown the business.

"I liked being with children and making them laugh," says CEO Rasheed, who now has two employees and generated $2,050 in revenues last year.

To help ensure customer satisfaction and referrals, Rasheed has devised a system to manage her business from the first handshake with her clients to the last. For example, clients of Sister Clowns receive a needs assessment form, a formal contract, pricing structure and a thank-you note with five business cards to pass out.

"I like to make things simple for clients so they can be happy and just call to order the service," says Rasheed.This business dynamo, who is a ninth-grade honor student and in the student government at William Fleming High School, also finds time to volunteer her entertainment services for numerous community service projects and play on her school’s volleyball and basketball teams, just to name a few of her activities. After attending the be Kidpreneurs(r). Konference in 1998, she designed and facilitated a workshop to encourage other children to start their own businesses and is writing a book on becoming a young entrepreneur.

As part of her business plan, Rasheed plans to franchise Sister Clowns nationally, develop a Website and advertise her business in the local media. Rasheed also plans to copyright and trademark her business and patent the clown costumes.

"I like being an entrepreneur because I don’t have to work for anybody and can do things on my own time," says Rasheed. "The money goes where I want it to go and I have a lot of freedom."

Pages: 1 2 3 4