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Small businesses are booming in Memphis | What you need to know before starting your own

"One of the main reasons people fail in business, especially in the Mid-South, they don’t have a strong business plan. They haven’t planned accordingly."

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Lendingtree.com study of U.S. Census Bureau data shows that more and more Americans are taking steps to start their own businesses. Between 2019 and 2020, Memphis experienced a 77% increase in the number of people who filed for a business application, according to the study.

As the pandemic rages on, entrepreneurship is something more and more people are venturing into, but to avoid any false starts it’s best to understand some of the hurdles that come with punching your own clock.

Wednesday will mark the two year anniversary of Greg Diaz’s first TacoNGanas food truck, a business started to actually cut costs surrounding his Las Americas youth development center, which helps about 1,000 kids in the Memphis area.

"I thought I would open up a food truck to sell tacos to offset the cost of us always feeding the kids," Diaz said.

Tamika Booker and Derrick Miller run D. Miller Trucking Corporation – moving goods around the country since 2020. Miller has been a trucker and owner operator for over 20 years; Booker, a tax professional. The soon-to-be married couple decided to pair up in business.

"It originally started with me wanting to drive. Wanting to drive turned into starting our own company," Miller said.

Each company faced their own challenge in getting their business off the ground. For TacoNGanas it was permitting with the city. For D. Miller Trucking, finding qualified drivers and efficiency.

"Now you’ve got a lot of problems where there’s a big delay on a whole lot of things," Miller said. "When I say a big delay, I mean pushing paperwork is a nightmare now."

There are always hurdles, pandemic or otherwise. Daniel Irwin with the Better Business Bureau said early planning, rather than just big ideas is key.

"One of the main reasons people fail in business, especially in the Mid-South, they don’t have a strong business plan. They haven’t planned accordingly," Irwin said.

Depending on the business, that can include licensure - both state to state and county to county, insurance, and marketing. Irwin encourages people to check out free resources like non-profits designed specifically to help small businesses.

"There are lots of non-profits in Memphis that are there solely to help people start businesses. The Memphis Public Library is a great resource. They have a small business center there," Irwin said.

TacoNGanas and D. Miller Trucking have both found success through the pandemic. The popular taco truck now has four locations and eight different trucks with plans for a new restaurant. The trucking company expanded form two trucks to 11.

Diaz offers his advice.

"Ask all kinds of questions. You’d be surprised how many people would be willing to give up their secrets and help you along," Diaz said.

For more tips on starting a new business, check out the BBB's list here.

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