Whether they’ve decided to make a career move into unknown territory, made the transition from corporate to small business, cashed in on a hobby or sang all the way to the bank-every year black enterprise pays special tribute to four entrepreneurs who’ve followed their hearts and dreams into business ownership.
The winners of this year’s be Small Business Awards are undaunted by the obstacles that most new business owners face: lack of start-up capital, limited or no access to commercial bank credit, the ever looming competition from larger or more established firms, and the struggle to attain profitability and remain in the black.
Statistics from the Office of Advocacy, a division of the Small Business Administration (SBA), estimates the number of black-owned businesses in 1997 (latest Census data) at 881,646, a 108% increase since 1987. These businesses generated receipts of $46 billion.
Our four recipients welcome the challenges of entrepreneurship and continue to persevere in their new roles as small business owners. Honored during the awards dinner ceremony at the Fifth Annual black enterprise/Bank of America Entrepreneurs Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, last May, these future business leaders stand poised for success.
Emerging Company of the year
The Emerging Company of the Year Award recognizes businesses that are poised for future growth. They have adopted creative marketing techniques and carved out a niche for themselves.
President of All American Meats Inc.
Everyone has someone, or something, to whom they attribute their success. Shawn Buchanan, the founder of All American Meats Inc., has God, William Hughes, and baseball.
Buchanan knows God, and he’s at the top of the thank-you list. He also knows baseball, having been an outfielder for the Chicago White Sox. And had it not been for America’s favorite pastime he may not have met Hughes, “a very special person and a great mentor, who gave me the opportunity to learn the business,” says Buchanan.
That business is in the beef processing industry, and it’s evident from the success of Buchanan’s 4 year-old company that he’s well into the learning curve. All American Meats has grown from $1.1 million in sales in its first year to a projected $25 to $30 million in sales in 2000, positioning itself as a prestigious be 100s company. The Omaha, Nebraska-based enterprise began as a one-man wholesale distributor of beef products, and has become a beef processing operation that employs 35 and whose customers include grocery store chains and military installations.
“Just because you don’t have money, doesn’t mean you can’t fulfill your dream,” says Buchanan, 31, adding that his only start-up capital was the $500 he used to incorporate his company in 1996. It also helps to have a mentor.
The two men met through Hughes’ son, whom Buchanan was coaching at a summer baseball program. A friendship quickly developed and Hughes offered Buchanan a job as a management trainee at Nebraska Beef, a new company Hughes was launching. That was in the mid-90s, while Buchanan was still playing professional baseball. “One reason I retired from the game at 28