From Buppie To Biz-Wiz

Forget corporate America--Generation choosingthe entrepreneurial path to success

in another location. In May of last year, Baker and Warren opened a second TCBY/Mrs. Fieds location in the Tower Place mall in downtown Cincinnati–this time without a third partner. They took out a $125,000 loan, which they secured with $25,000 cash, in order to build the second store. This new venture grossed $250,000 between May and December of 1996, and Warren expects 1997 sales to top $500,000. Together the stores have nearly 30 employees, mostly African Americans. Warren manages the day-to-day operations of both stores, and Baker–who now lives in Philadelphia–acts as a consultant and handles much of the accounting for the businesses.

Baker and Warren’s decision to leave corporate America was typical of many in this new generation of entrepreneurs. “Dissatisfaction with the corporate world is cited as one of the main reasons for members of our organization,” says Richard Bright, marketing director for the Virginia- based Young Entrepreneurs Organization. (YEO is composed of entrepreneurs under the age of 40 who are founders, co-founders, owners or majority stockholders of companies grossing $1 million or more per year.) “Our organization grew 40% in 1994 and 67% in 1995,” says Bright, who expects YEO to show a similar gain for 1996.

A member of YEO, 32 year-old Marc Cormier is CEO of Aero Tech Services Inc., an $8.5 million security firm based in Queens, New York. Started in 1986. AeroTech provides security guards and security-related services, such as closed-circuit television installation and document destruction. A member of YEO since 1994, Cormier attends classes in entrepreneurship sponsored by the organization and finds the resources an invalua
ble asset in his role as an entrepreneur.

“YEO lets rite benefit from the experience of my peers, who are also entrepreneurs and have already gone through situations I may be going through,” says Cormier. He seeks to expand his firm into the Midwest, and already has over 300 employees in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut. Cormier also uses YEO as a worldwide network. “When I’m looking to enter new markets, I already have a contact in any part of the world because of my affiliation with YEO.”

Lolita Sweet was discontented with the career prospects offered by corporate America. “I’ve seen people work for 10 or 15 years only to be downsized right before they are due to receive their pensions,” says Sweet, the 30-year-old owner of San Francisco-based BAYE Limousines, Sweet left corporate America after having worked in accounting and as a managerial assistant at several companies. The California State University graduate, who has a degree in business management, was disgusted with the lack reward and recognition. “The most anyone was willing to pay me was $10 an hour, and most weren’t that high,” she recalls. “Why should I give 110% to a company chat doesn’t appreciate my work or even offer me a decent retirement plan?”

In 1992, Sweet decided to start her own business, a record company. But the record deals were slower in coming than the job offers, and she

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