The Importance of Youth Entrepreneurship




It seems that we have forgotten that children are our future. Whitney Houston references aside, it’s true. We clothe, feed, and nurture today’s youth, but those are the basics. There are a few things that many are missing out on, and entrepreneurial education is one of them.

Over the past thirty years, school districts have significantly reduced or completely eliminated programs that inspire and nurture kids’ creative and entrepreneurial tendencies. When was the last time you heard about an art or home economics class being offered at a public high school? Even worse is that the next generation is increasingly being pushed to attend college, despite the increasing cost, and the fact that post-secondary education may not accommodate their professional aspirations and ambitions. The students who want to develop an app or a custom car stereo business are stuck with amazing ideas that they can’t use because the curriculum that could teach them the basics of entrepreneurship just don’t fit schools’ constrained budgets.

This country runs on entrepreneurship. Each year, more than a million Americans roll up quit their 9-5 jobs, roll up their sleeves, and launch small businesses. Our economy depends on the success of small businesses, but it is leaving a significant demographic of aspiring entrepreneurs behind: kids.

Some of the greatest businesses to ever enter the marketplace have been helmed by kids. Ever heard of a little sandwich shop by the name of Subway? A high school student started the ever-popular sandwich chain in 1965. And some of the most influential small businesses being created by kids who have yet to hit puberty. Bee Sweet Lemonade is a Austin-based, multi-million-dollar company founded by seven year-old Mikaila Ulmer in 2011.

It’s never too early to teach entrepreneurship, or to encourage ideas. Kids are entrepreneurial by nature, and they’re not just interested in having neighborhood lemonade stands. They’re developing some of the most innovative and impactful businesses in recent memory, and it’s up to the adults in their lives, be it their parents, educators, or people who want to invest in the next generation to ensure that they achieve their goals no matter their age.

To the teens who may be reading this, we want you to know that your friends at BiGAUSTIN here for you. We know that you have business ideas, and that you want to see them grow. We can help. We’ve developed a curriculum that will teach how to start and manage a successful business, and how to find the investors and capital you need to get it going.

We offer  free youth entrepreneurship programs for high school students throughout the year. If you’ll bring your business ideas and willingness to work hard, we’ll provide you with the tools you need to make your small business dreams a reality. For more information, please visit the BiGAUSTIN website by clicking here, or give us a call at 512-928-8010.


BiGAUSTIN Events – August 2015

BiGAUSTIN provides comprehensive workshops that will help entrepreneurs build healthy, thriving small businesses across Central Texas. Please review the list of our August courses below, and check back regularly, as the list will grow daily. If you have any questions, please call us at 512-928-8010.


MBA of Personal & Business Finance

August 5, 2015 // 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

It’s easy for both new and established small business owners to become overwhelmed with maintaining the financial health of their businesses as well as their personal finances. This three-part series will teach small business owners how to find balance and move forward successfully.

Register here:

Business Law Basics

Business Law Basics

August 7, 2015 // 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

This class is taught by licensed attorneys who understand the complex legal issues small business owners face. If you own a small business and don’t have a strong grasp of what your rights and responsibilities are as a small business owner, then this class is for you.

Register here:

Borrowing Basics

Borrowing Basics

August 11, 2015 // 11:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m.

Getting a business started means raising capital to get your dream off of the ground. Borrowing Basics will help you make the right moves when looking to finance your small business.

Register here:

Client of the Month: Thai Fresh


Thai Fresh has been serving the Austin area with delicious, home cooked meals since 2008 down in the hip and trendy area of South Congress. Jam grew up in Thailand, where she learned to cook and fostered a deep love for food that she wanted to share with others. She moved to Austin and that’s where she met her partner, Bruce. His experience in the restaurant industry mixed with her passion for cooking has made them a power house in the Austin restaurant industry. BiGAUSTIN is proud to have been a partner with Thai Fresh during the normal growing pains of expanding a business.


If you have any sort of love for food, and you should, you will love their dishes. Not only are they a culinary experience, they transport you to the streets of Thailand with amazingly fresh ingredients. They work with local farms to provide only the best ingredients from grassfed beef to local pasture raised eggs to organic spinach. Not to mention they have a coffee bar serving coffee straight from local producers in Brazil with organic soy milk to add to their daily french pressed coffee. I’m telling you, if you are a coffee snob, you don’t want to miss this.


For those of you vegans out there, you’re in luck! They have vegan ice cream with rotating flavors like Sweet Potato Pie, Texas Corn, and Mango Lime. They use coconut milk with organic fair trade evaporated cane juice and local seasonal fruits for that added sweetness. They also have a variety of gluten-free and vegan deserts ranging from vegan salty caramel brownies to fruit pies to Thai sweet sticky rice. All of their ingredients are farmed from local, organic farms whose number one concern is the quality of their products. These people take pride in their food, and it shows.


Want to learn how to make these fresh dishes at home so you can enjoy some Pad Thai without leaving the comfort of your home? Go take a private or group class from Thai Fresh and learn the tricks of the trade. Tip: Register early because classes fill up quickly and can be booked a couple of months out. If you have the extra dough, splurge and get a private lesson for one or two (or more if need be). Private lessons can be done in your home or in the Thai Fresh commercial kitchen.


Wait! There’s more! Thai Fresh also offers a catering service to those of you who are having a party, wedding, divorce celebration, or whatever it may be! Seriously, who can resist delicious, fresh catered Thai food? Well, maybe some people can, but not me! How can they provide all these services you ask? The answer is by being amazing, hardworking, and maintaining their passion for food.


The reason I picked Thai Fresh as our Client of the Month is because they have been incredibly successful at building a business that not only reflects their passion, but it makes a positive impact on the local economy. Their success is Austin’s success, and Austin’s success is the United States’ success.

Thai Fresh came to BiGAUSTIN because they needed help getting their business started, keeping it running, and dealing with issues like funding and planning. Because of their ability to effectively plan, budget, and make goals they have steadily grown and became more and more popular. So if you are looking for some good, local grub go check out Thai Fresh and let us know what you think!















Empower Children With School Supplies

Two children on deprived housing estate

1. Go to a big box store near you

2. Pick up a school supply list

3. Buy something

4. Drop off your gift

After reading this short but, inspiring article by Anita Janke I’m about ready to jump in the car, run over to Target, and buy some school supplies to donate.  Anita Janke talks briefly about her struggles with poverty as a young child and how it affected her and her family’s lives, even to the point where she tried in vain to cover up a hole in her shirt because her family couldn’t afford to buy her a new one.  She also talks about how embarrassing and difficult it was to try to find a, “…safe person to bum a sheet of paper from or try to erase a mistake without an eraser.”  These may not seem like a big deal in the long run but, from a perspective of a student this is very real and very difficult.  It’s not just that these children are arriving to school unprepared because they forgot their notebook or required reading materials at home.  On the contrary, they knew all along they needed it and have been dreading the first day of school when they would have to ask all their schoolmates next to them to borrow the things their families couldn’t provide.  Not only did this affect Anita Janke’s self confidence but, she started to associate education with being wealthy.  This poses a huge problem for American (and many other countries) society.  We simply cannot afford for our youth to be forced into the belief that education is a privilege and not a right.  Anita Janke proposes this: “…for children living in poverty we have to help do more than get them through school.  We need to help them activate and achieve their dreams.  For the under resourced, it starts with putting school supplies into their hands.”  I could not agree with Anita Janke more.

Here in Texas parents get a long laundry list of school supplies they must buy for their children.  They require parents to over-buy school supplies so that there is a surplus  for the kids whose families couldn’t afford them.  I hear many complaints from parents talking about the burden of buying school supplies and how they are about to spend hundreds of dollars on them.  One of their main complaints is that the majority of those supplies aren’t even for their own children.  On the one hand, I understand where they are coming from.  A lot of families are scraping by just enough to buy their own children supplies let alone supplies for five other kids.  This is where Anita Janke’s suggestion comes into play.  If the community members took this matter into their own hands and each person decided to donate one thing, we could probably have enough supplies for every single child.  Think about it, how would you feel arriving at school for the first day with no notebook, no pencil, and no calculator?

What do you think of Anita Janke’s suggestion?  Would you do it?

Read the full article here: Breaking the Poverty Trap


Getting To Know BiGAUSTIN


Many people don’t know what BiGAUSTIN is all about.  In fact, many people don’t even know we exist.  I want to take you beyond the website and beyond Facebook to see who we really are.  As a nonprofit we are always short on staff, short on coffee, and short on time.  But, this doesn’t deter the some 15 people who wake up every morning and make that commute to BiGAUSTIN.


We work to help low-moderate income entrepreneurs receive education and training on how to start and sustain a new or existing business.  Also, we offer lending assistance so if you need help learning how to get a loan or help with the actual application process, we are there for you.  Not only will you receive end-to-end business solutions but, we can help you write your business plan and learn all the ins and outs of getting started.


BiGAUSTIN has a very diverse staff.  If we aren’t clowning around the office we are out in the community working to let people know that you CAN turn your dream of owning your own business into a reality.

Not only is our Executive Director, Stacy Dukes-Rhone, highly experienced but, she has served in a number of volunteer and leadership capacities.  In addition, she has been our Executive Director for over four years and has secured numerous grants to keep this place running and serving the community.

Karen Diggs is our Loan Manager and when she’s not changing outfits she’s working with community members to help them through the loan process and understand how their credit works.  Karen’s office is decked out in everything frog that you can imagine and isn’t afraid to show her love for those crazy, green creatures.

Stephanie just joined us four short weeks ago and can be heard throughout the office laughing and thinking out loud.  Not only is she a social media guru, she has great insight and really knows her stuff.

Melissa is our Training & Compliance Manager but she’s also our full time IT Specialist helping us with everything from hooking up monitors to re-coding the website.

Something unique about BiGAUSTIN is that we employ several AmeriCorps VISTA members (Volunteers in Service to America).  VISTA’s only get paid what the federal government estimates to be the poverty level for that particular area, making a year long assignment on food stamps and bus passes quite challenging.  But, as you may have guessed, it’s a pretty rewarding experience knowing that you are part of something that is working to make a difference in the community.

What is your work culture like?  Comment below and let us know what a normal day is like at your office or wherever you work!

Five Reasons Women over 50 Should Start Their Own Business

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they approach a crossroads that requires making a life changing decision.  Not only is starting your own business a lot of hard work but, it can seem especially difficult for women who are over 50.  Even though it may seem like your life is almost over, for some people it is just the beginning of a new chapter.  We can always think of excuses for why we shouldn’t do something or why it’s not the right time but, here we’ve come up with five good reasons why today is the day to open that book and start the next chapter by owning your own business.


  1. Increasingly difficult job market

–In today’s job market it’s becoming more and more difficult for women over 50 to get jobs and with the economy still not back in full swing, all the jobs are going to younger, lower paid applicants.  Even though you may have an impressive resume or worked for some hot shot firms, that doesn’t guarantee that you will get a call back from your application.  More than ever it’s important for women to be financially independent to ensure a comfortable life after the working days are replaced with the relaxing days of retirement.  So, instead of filling out application after application, ditch the job search and start your own business.  Or, leave your day job and go after that dream you’ve always had of being your own boss, working your own hours, and taking home your own profits.


  1. The US is ranked #1 for having the conditions that foster high potential female entrepreneurship

–Out of 17 countries worldwide the United States ranked #1 on having the conditions that foster high potential female entrepreneurship, according to Gender-Global Entrepreneurship Development Index (GEDI).  These conditions were based off entrepreneurial environment, entrepreneurial eco-system, and entrepreneurial aspirations.  This means great things for women who are trying to get their business off the ground and running!  The United States has some of the greatest conditions to help women move forward with their ideas and turn those ideas into a tangible source of income.  So, what are you waiting for?


  1. According to Forbes, women are better money managers

Forbes found two research reports that found that women tend to be better money managers than men.  First, they said that, “Women-led private technology companies are more capital-efficient, achieving 35% higher on return investment, and, when venture-backed, bringing in 12% higher revenue than male-owned tech companies (Forbes, 11 Reasons 2014 Will Be a Breakout Year For Women Entrepreneurs).”  For example, if you are bringing in one million dollars a year this means that a woman-led private tech company is, on average, bringing in $120,000 more every year than the same company led by a man.  Maybe that’s not the type of company you would like to start but, the data still proves that women are better money  managers than men.


  1. To do something you are truly passionate about

Now is the time where you’ve raised the children, worked in the office (or some other location) and now you want something different.  Suddenly, you feel this tug to venture out on your own and do something that you’ve always been passionate about.  Perhaps you have always wanted to help children improve their literacy skills, or maybe you have always loved cooking and want to start your own restaurant.  Whatever it may be, go out there and dive straight in.  Sometimes passion is the best motivator.


  1. Finally, BE YOUR OWN BOSS

If you don’t start your own business now, when will you?  It’s never the wrong time to be your own boss.  Wake up when you want, answer the phones when you want, and most importantly, there is no boss telling you what to do and when to do it.  There are so many rewards to being your own boss including less stress and more freedom. 


So if you aren’t sure whether starting your own business is the right idea, just sit back and think about what you really want in your life.  Remember, there is no right age for starting a business, it’s all about timing.  There are hundreds of companies that are extremely successful that were started by women over 50 years old.  This means all you have to do is take the first step, open that book and start reading because the next chapter may be the best.

What are your reasons for wanting to start a new business?  Comment below and let us know why you want to take the plunge into entrepreneurship!

Check out this article by Forbes for more reasons why women are dominating the entrepreneurial field!

11 Reasons 2014 Will Be A Breakout Year For Women Entrepreneurs