The Next Generation

African Americans are _successfully launching _businesses earlier in life. Here are some who are _making strides in their _industries.

Who’s waiting around to grow up? Now more than ever, age is becoming less and less the qualify_ing factor in starting a business. Young people want to be their own bosses and aren’t waiting to do so. Generation Y (born between 1981 and 1995) is three times more likely to have started a business right out of school than their Baby Boomer counterparts, according to a _survey from OPEN, a team at American Expresses dedicated to the needs of small business owners.

The eagerness of young individuals to venture out on their own is best attributed to the generational gains in areas such as _education, technology, and available capital, as well as shifts in attitude. Case in point: In terms of risks, the findings (based on data from an equal number of entrepreneurs polled from each generation) reveal that nearly three-quarters of Generation Y entrepreneurs (72%) say they are likely to take risks compared with just more than half of Baby Boomers (53%). The younger _generation understands that mistakes—such as the dot-com implosion—are a part of growth, so they anticipate stumbles along the way. In addition, these younger individuals are setting their sights on being serial entrepreneurs, owning more than one business.

Coming of age simultaneously with the Internet seems to have given Generation Y a greater ease with technology: Two-thirds consider themselves tech savvy compared with less than half of Baby Boomers. Conversely, both groups agree that experience trumps tech savvy in terms of business success, with more than half of those surveyed from Generation Y believing older entrepreneurs have somewhat of an edge based on their years of experience. Of course, young people remain resolute in their aspirations, determined to make up for any deficiencies while moving forward with their entrepreneurial efforts.

On the following pages, black enterprise highlights three entrepreneurs in their 20s who took their passions to profitable heights sooner rather than later. Not only did they launch _businesses, they surpassed expectations by growing them into million-dollar enterprises. Sure, there were risks involved, _challenges to overcome, and naysayers to ignore along the way (there always are), but they fearlessly brought their idea to _market—and are ready for just about anything.

Tina Wells, 27 Founder/CEO
Buzz Marketing Group (Voorhees, NJ)
“I never said, ‘Oh, I’d like to own a marketing agency.’ I didn’t even know what that was at 16,” says Tina Wells. “I knew I was a kid who was passionate about fashion, beauty, entertainment, and pop culture.” All grown up, Wells is now a savvy businesswoman continuing to redefine the way companies identify, interpret, and respond to young people.

As the founder and CEO of Buzz Marketing Group (www.buzzmg.com), a Voorhees, New Jersey-based market _research firm, Wells focuses on the interests and needs of people ages 16 to 24. “It’s more than what people are buying,” says the 27-year-old. “It’s about understanding and getting to the heart of the problem.” The innovation of Buzz Marketing stems from Wells’ ability to recognize consumer triggers and use them to separate the fad from

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