Adria Abella: Founder of hDrop

Adria Abella graduated with his Mechanical Engineering Degree from Harding University in May of 2019. Adria’s passion for tennis sparked the idea for the hDrop device. He has been a tennis player for more than 14 years. Tennis can be a high endurance sport because sometimes the matches are three to four hours long. Adria wanted to develop a wearable device that can track hydration status in real-time. He knew this could be helpful for many athletes and individuals. 

While Adria was in his senior year, he started developing the hDrop device. The hDrop is a wearable device that tracks hydration status electrolytes and core temperature in real-time. This stands out from other products because it offers real-time feedback. Unlike some water logging apps, it does not require you to log your water intake. Listed below are some commonly asked questions about the product: 

Q: Why do I need a device to track my hydration, if I already have my thirst sense? 

A: Whenever you feel thirsty you are already 10% dehydrated. Thirstiness is an alert that your body sends to your brain so that you can survive. Drinking when you are thirsty is enough to survive, but not enough to perform at your best.

Q: How do you use it? 

A: The user turns on the device, places hDrop on the upper arm, and turns on the App. After that, the hydration status, body temperature, and hDrop battery are recorded and shown on your phone or watch App. 

Q: I do not like to carry my phone with me, what are the options? 

A: hDrop App is going to be available for Android smartphones, Apple smartphones, Apple watches, Android watches, and other smartwatches. If you don’t want to carry your phone, you can use your daily workout smartwatch to connect it. 

Q: How long does the battery last? 

A: hDrop is a low consumption device. The battery lasts up to 30 days when left turned on. Turning it on and off during your workouts will extend the battery life. It works with a coin cell battery that is easy to replace. 

You can Pre-Order hDrop right now and have it delivered in November 2021 on the website below: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hdrop/hdrop-real-time-hydration-wearable-device-monitor/posts

Tony Slate: ASL Teacher and Creator of The Clear Mask

Jon Wood interviews Tony Slate, a 1996 graduate of Harding University. Tony is an ASL teacher and world language department chair at Fort Bend Christian Academy in Houston, Texas. Recognizing the limitations cloth masks have on the deaf and hard of hearing who rely on the facial expressions used in ASL, Tony began a campaign to make clear masks available. You can purchase your clear mask at https://www.clearmasksusa.com/#/

Inaugural Student Entrepreneur Holiday Showcase

Fall 2020 held a lot of challenges for Harding University. One of those challenges was how to engage students in a time where gathering in small groups was considered a no-no, and students had to adopt a more distant lifestyle at school. A normally bustling Waldron Center was empty and quiet.

Rochelle Waddill, new to the Waldron Center, and director Jon Wood, were determined to get students involved and began concentrating on awareness and name recognition. Regan Campbell, student worker at the Waldron Center, partnered with Rochelle to head up the social media this semester. The two decided to focus on student entrepreneurs here on campus, and began a weekly highlight of a student business that was featured on instagram (check out @huwaldroncenter). More and more businesses began to roll in, and it was quickly evident that there was a large amount of talent and initiative in this group of students. Waddill had the idea to form an event at the end of the semester to bring them together and give them a chance to truly showcase their work on campus. Given the COVID guidelines, that was easier said than done. Working with the Provost office and Dean Frazier, they were able to get a plan that worked, and the Student Entrepreneur Holiday Showcase was born!

The Holiday Showcase, themed “Hu-Ville” (pronounced hoo-ville), was met with eager excitement and rave reviews. Each student entrepreneur that participated (18 of them!) was able to set up a table, showcase their work, sell their wares, and support one another.

Below are some of our entrepreneurs and their contact information. Check out what these students have accomplished and consider supporting them on this Cyber Monday! Christmas shopping awaits!

Alaina Abbott Photography

Alaina Abbott

insta: @alainaabbottphotography

abbottalaina27@gmail.com


AMT Fitness

Toni Montez

insta: @toni.montez

http://amtfit.com


Bloom Clay Co.

Rachel Williams

insta:  @bloom.clayco

FB: Bloom Clay Co.


Byrd Jewelry

Maddy Byrd

insta: @shopbyrd

byrdjewelry10@gmail.com


Candace Grace Arts

Candace Crawford

insta: @candacegrace.arts


HaMi Boutique

Hallie Smith

insta: Shophamiboutique

www.Shophamiboutique.com


Kendra Neill Design

Kendra Neill

insta: @kendra.neill

kendraneilldesign.com


On Me Clothing

Colt Williams

insta: @on.me.clothing

www.coltgraphics.com/on-me


Ramen Doodles

John David Stewart

insta: @ramen.doodles_

http://www.johndavidstew.art/doodles


Spooning with Carol

Caroline Palmer

insta: @spooningwithcarol


Start Her Running Co.

Layne Pace

insta: @startherrunningco

www.startherrunning.com


Suitcase Studio

Megan Benz

insta: @suitcase__studio

www.suitcase-studio.square.site/


Wicker & Wood Vintage

Megan Sides

insta: @wickerandwoodvintage


Wir’d By Sal

Sally Roach

insta: @ponygalsal

sallyyyroach@yahoo.com

From Venue to Menu

How one man took his years of small business experience to turn his home into a profitable post-retirement job and mission.

Jim Rose carried his love for business throughout his life and now channels this love and his many skills into The River House, a bed-and-breakfast in Searcy, Arkansas.

When he was around 10 years old, Rose had his first experience with small business, hanging around a produce stand near his home in Dayton, Ohio. He befriended the owner of the stand and volunteered his time to help in whatever way possible, even going to Cincinnati with the owner to learn about supply chain and wholesale. Not long after, he began working as a paperboy.

“My first desire for business started when I was about 11 years old,” Rose said. “I wanted to be a paper boy. I wanted my own money.”

From this young age, Rose had a desire to be financially independent. This pushed him to make his own money, whether it was at a grocery store, delivering papers, or at the local carwash. 

Though his parents never pressured him to do so, he wanted to be able to pay his own way through college. As a college student, he worked at Kroger and was able to pay for over half his college expenses with that job. Rose paid for his final year of undergrad in full by working full time in addition to completing his school work. 

After moving to Delaware with his wife Eva, Rose began working part time for her family’s business, Three Little Baker’s Dinner Theater and Bakery. He became a full-time employee of the business in 1975, when the family acquired a country club.

In the mid 1980s, the family’s dinner theater business took off, and Rose became the general manager, overseeing staffing and the bakery. He liked working in the small family business because he enjoyed having a part in every aspect of the business. He said he wasn’t just an employee. He was a part of the process and the business and had vested interest in its success.  

In 2007, the Roses left the family business. Shortly after, it closed for good. After about seven years working in school food services in Franklin, Tennessee, Rose retired, and he and Eva moved to Searcy, Arkansas, to be near their daughter and her family. 

The couple bought property on the Little Red River, just down the street from their daughter. After tearing down the previous house on the property, the Roses realized they had an opportunity as they rebuilt. They wanted more than anything for their passions and talents for entertaining and hosting to be used by God in some way. From this dream, the vision of the River House Bed and Breakfast was born. 

River House

Their original vision was to reach out to families visiting town for Harding’s various events like Homecoming, Spring Sing, and graduation, but their connection to Dr. David Kee, assistant professor of business administration, his entrepreneurship students and the Waldron Center brought them a bigger and better idea. The students encouraged them to develop their brand and get it listed on Airbnb, which grew their business even more. After having guests from all over the country, the Roses said they have loved the opportunity to do something they feel is a calling and ministry as much as a business.  

Guest Blogger Mat Faulkner Reflects on Inspiring and Supporting a Community of Entrepreneurship

How does a community create a culture that inspires entrepreneurship and is supportive of one of the most challenging and risky pursuits in one’s lifetime?

You are likely aware that Searcy rallied to win a national vote to be featured in eight episodes of the hit online show Small Business Revolution  co-starring Ty Pennington and Amanda Brinkman. The show’s premise is to help revitalize a town’s Main Street by conducting make-overs for six local small businesses. Deluxe Corporation utilizes the television show platform to market their small business services, which is an example of content marketing at its finest. 

The show championed small business owners and the common challenges that most entrepreneurs deal with. Amanda Brinkman, the brainchild behind Small Business Revolution and Deluxe’s chief brand and communications officer, emphasizes how most entrepreneurs start a business because they are skilled at what they “do”  but may not be a specialist at wearing all the hats — such as marketing, human resources, legal document drafting, and accounting — needed to run a small business successfully. 

The creative magic for Think Idea Studio happens in the historic Robbins-Sanford building in downtown Searcy. The stylish renovation also provided conference space and an event venue on the ground floor.

Entrepreneurs tend to survive in a steady state of nervous energy: pursuing new sales, retaining employees, juggling costs of benefits versus profitability, upholding quality, maintaining the facility, creating social content, carving out family time, eyeing the competition and keeping up with technology.

So, it is safe to say the first step in creating a conducive entrepreneurial environment is affirmation and encouragement. Entrepreneurs are heroes. They are the backbone of this country and vital to the sustainability and uniqueness of our communities. Owning a business is hard and it can consume most of your mental, physical and emotional energy. It is risky and many business owners leverage personal assets as collateral to get their baby off the ground. The fact that they are doing it (or thinking about doing it) exemplifies a courageous spirit, ingenuity and adaptability. 

Encouragement is powerful. Community leaders need to publicly champion entrepreneurs, setting a tone of appreciation and validation. This should be a consistent message that resonates across all community organizations and reinforces that the community is behind those who decide to take the leap. It also cultivates an atmosphere of shared experiences, allowing entrepreneurs to know they are not alone and there are many who empathize with what they deal with on a daily basis.

Amanda Brinkman congratulates Faulkner after the announcement that Searcy had been selected for the show, and that six local businesses would receive consulting and a makeover.

Along with consistent affirmation and encouragement, entrepreneurs need networks and programs for peer-to-peer information sharing and cross-promotion. Even businesses within the same vertical market can participate in being supportive of each other while still protecting their trade secrets. We were first-hand witnesses to this during the Revolution experience. Restaurants within walking distance were promoting each other and sharing foot traffic. Brinkman coins it as “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

When the community is generally successful, the residual benefits can affect everyone. In a typical competitive environment, businesses keep everything close to the vest and work hard to rise above their competing neighbors. So it may feel unnatural to support a competitor, but we witnessed several business owners lean into cooperation over competition and it didn’t negatively affect their bottom line. On the contrary, it built goodwill, camaraderie and even produced unique co-op opportunities through cross-promotion and shared ‘shop local’ efforts.

The Small Business Revolution competition galvanized local resources around a common objective. Faulkner entered the town in the competition and was key to promoting the opportunity to local businesses.

Beyond competitors transitioning to supportive cheerleaders is the initiation of information-sharing groups. Commonly, this comes by the way of Chamber economic development programs. However, communities who are heading in the right direction will also see more grassroots efforts where business owners begin taking it upon themselves to be proactive. For example, an all-women entrepreneurship group recently formed and began meeting monthly at various locations. It is an open forum for women entrepreneurs, facilitated by volunteers and is centered around information-sharing. These organic, less formal groups represent a healthy entrepreneurial community where citizens are taking the time, effort and initiative to better themselves and others.

Searcy is getting a lot of things right and is generating a culture that inspires and supports entrepreneurs. The winning formula is a community that champions its entrepreneurs through encouragement and affirmation, generates opportunities to share both information as well as customers, and consistently communicates all the resources available to them through university and community partners. The Small Business Revolution poured fuel to a fire that was [and still is] burning bright. Entrepreneurs are champions who give communities uniqueness and character. We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to tell a few of their stories on a television show, but there are still so many stories yet to tell. 

*For links to the Small Business Revolution episodes and behind-the-scenes photos, visit www.gosearcy.com

Mat Faulkner is founder of Think Idea Studio, president of the board for the Searcy Regional Economic Development Corporation, former chair of the Searcy Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Committee, director of the Think ART Project, co-director for Searcy Beats & Eats festivals, past president for Jacob’s Place Homeless Mission, member of Searcy’s Beautification Committee and Holiday of Lights Committee, member of Harding University’s chapter of Sigma Nu Tau National Entrepreneurship Honor Society, and 2017 member of Arkansas Business’ 40 Under 40. 

Mat and his wife Shelley have 3 boys: Easton, 14; Lawson, 12; and Jace, 9. The couple renovated the old Robbins-Sanford Mercantile in downtown Searcy, which now serves as an event center and loft studio offices. Faulkner is a Fall 2002 graduate of Harding University with a degree in Communication Management. Recently, Faulkner served as the point person for the Searcy community winning the Small Business Revolution hit online TV show, where six local small businesses received $500,000 in makeovers as well as community improvements.

Have a small business story to tell? The Waldron Center would like to hear from you! Email psummers@harding.edu.

OneLife Provides a Different Model for Primary Care

The OneLife partnership includes Lance Kemper, P.A.-C;
Christie Brooks, Functional Medicine R.D.; and Joe Dugger, M.D.

Dr. Joe Dugger and partners have assembled a multidisciplinary team in a newly-renovated facility —  and along with traditional and urgent care, provide an innovative practice model for wholistic treatment. 

Everyone agrees there is room for improvement in American healthcare. Statistics indicate that emphasizing wellness, access to preventative care, and consistent management of chronic conditions improve patient outcomes and reduce the overall cost of care. OneLife Wellness and Primary Care, a new clinic, provides a model of primary care that takes all these factors into consideration.

After 20 years as a traditional primary care physician, Dr. Joe Dugger and his partners, physician assistant Lance Kemper and Functional Medicine Registered Dietitian Christie Brooks, have opened OneLife Wellness Center at 901 E. Beebe-Capps Expressway, the former Ann’s Bridal location. Community Relations Director Todd Miller discussed the concept and introduced the team. 

“The clinic will offer the traditional primary and urgent care to which patients are accustomed,” Miller explained, but what distinguishes OneLife from other practices is that they also offer an alternative known as concierge medical care or direct primary care (DPC) — in which the physician contracts with a patient for a flat monthly fee. In exchange, patients receive a guarantee of a provider who knows their medical history, is available to communicate, and offers preferential appointments to members. 

Todd Miller, Community Relations Director

“The vision for a better kind of clinic really stems from Joe’s faith. He’s a motivated achiever —  but he’s a soul/body/spirit thinker. Those different parts of our being are connected, and he was very interested in reaching patients wholistically. The vision was to have a place where patients would receive primary and urgent care with excellent providers, but where we also emphasize treating the whole person.”

Dugger is not only an experienced primary care physician with a loyal following —  he’s also an entrepreneur, having been part owner of Doc’s Grill and Searcy CrossFit. Partner and physician assistant Lance Kemper contributes deep experience in orthopedics; partner Christie Brooks is a registered dietitian with expertise in functional medicine and weight loss. Dr. Wade Fox, who specializes in men’s health and sports medicine, recently moved from Bentonville to join the OneLife practice. Physician Assistant Amanda Diles has a particular interest and experience with diabetes management. Physician Assistant Mary Madill is the director of the medically-supervised weight loss program. Mary Darden, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, specializes in women’s health and family medicine and has years of college health experience. 

OneLife offers monthly memberships for $89 per individual, $149 per couple, and $189 per family. Family memberships for families of three or more include a couple and all children under the age of 25. There is a six month minimum requirement for monthly memberships; some exceptions apply. Student memberships are $299 per semester. Student memberships are $75 a month.  

OneLife is located at 901 E. Beebe-Capps Expressway, the former Ann’s Bridal location.

Memberships include: 

  • Guaranteed same-day appointments 
  • After-hours phone and email access to a primary care provider
  • Nearly unlimited access (up to 99 visits per month)
  • Office care and minor procedures (such as stitches, rapid strep test, flu vaccine, urinalysis, pregnancy test, EKG, and in-office labs)

The multidisciplinary facility also houses the following specialties:

  • Byram & Finley Physical Therapy
  • OneLife Hand Specialty, Cyndi Seevers, O.T.
  • Life Within Mental Health Counseling,  Thomas Ritchie, Jr.
  • Restore Cryotherapy
  • Searcy Crossfit

Miller says providing a positive experience and minimizing stress for patients is central to the philosophy of OneLife, so staff members emphasize friendly faces in reception and are mindful of patient wait times. 

A final offering by OneLife will take another step to improve access to care: in March, OneLife will roll out a no-deductible health insurance plan to include a membership to OneLife along with major medical coverage. They expect that small business owners, churches, and anyone who is without employer-provided health insurance may be interested in examining this product, which will be underwritten by a third party.

The Waldron Center is interested whenever people apply new methods to familiar processes, whether it’s professional services or manufacturing. Know someone we need to write about? We’d love to hear from you. Email psummers@harding.edu.

The Bible Nook: Glen and Wanda Knabe Re-envision a Tried-and-True Business

Glen and Wanda Knabe may be first time entrepreneurs, but considering Glen’s experience managing the shipping and online functions for the Bible House, and Wanda’s years in retail, they definitely bring relevant skills to the table. They’re also content creators, having written and marketed a children’s curriculum for several years, so they also have intuition about the creative side of the publishing business. Buying an existing business, such as the 40-year-old Bible House, would be intimidating for most people — but the decision seemed easy for the Knabes.


A few years back, Glen resigned a full-time preaching position to return to pursue graduate work. He needed income, and was employed by the previous owner as a shipper. Eventually his position evolved into managing the online store as well. “When Dennis decided to retire, he asked me if I would be interested in buying the store. Since I knew so much about it, it felt right.”  

“I have managed different retail stores,” Wanda said, “so I understand how to track inventory and listen to customers.” She also realizes the importance of thoughtful merchandising, and has already set about revamping the store layout to be more customer friendly.

The Book Nook’s new Kid’s Corner is already seeing young holiday visitors.

What will change under new ownership? Wanda is passionate about making shopping easier for parents, and providing enrichment for children. “We watch moms try to handle their children while they shop, and we’re now working on furnishing a special children’s area and rearranging the women’s studies section to be nearby — so parents can more easily keep an eye on the little ones. We’ll have a featured kids’ book each month and we’ll have a reading and craft in the Kid’s Corner to go along with that. Parents can order the book in advance and the children can take their copy home after the reading.”

Wanda is also evaluating vendors for gift items that would appeal to younger customers; for instance, she recently changed t-shirt vendors to one that provides a fresher look. 

A relatively small space serves as both the office and their shipping and receiving area. Glen notes, “We have developed an agreement with our vendors to effectively act as our warehouse and ship on request,” which is convenient, but it also means it is essential that someone be monitoring inventory at all times.

Known as Bible House Supply, the well-established online portal has a national customer base.The online business is developed from what was originally a mail-order catalog business. “Dennis, the previous owner, invested heavily in traveling to conventions and trade shows for many years — and carefully cultivated his special order customer pipeline through doing that.” Glen explained. Supply orders from institutional accounts provided a stable revenue stream through lean times, which included a fire that destroyed the previous Bible House location and all the inventory. Glen emphasized the challenges of maintaining the portal well while being preoccupied with reconsidering the merchandising and making decisions about what lines to drop and which new lines they’ll bring on board.

A real area of growing opportunity is with LifeWay Christian Resources. The Nashville publisher closed all its corporate stores this year, so now their widely-used materials are finally available to independent retailers like the Bible Nook. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for us to upgrade our inventory and offer Bible studies and books by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer and Lysa Terkeurst. We can also special order older studies that might not be currently on the shelf.”

The Beth Moore studies are now available to independent booksellers.

The Knabes’ guiding principle while in this transition year is “evolution, not revolution.” They want to try to understand the reason things were handled in a given way by the previous owner before making sweeping changes. The stability of the online business allows them a little more time and freedom to do that than a new owner of a brick-and-mortar retail shop might have.

So what inventory management software and other tools do they use? “Bookstore Manager is an integrated system that houses our online portal, tracks inventory and sales, provides analytics, and serves as our point-of-sale system. We use UPS Worldship and Stamps.com for our online shipping through the portal.”

What other advertising and promotion efforts have been effective? “Dennis used Google AdWords for a while, and had real short-term success generating orders. Then the store worked with a marketing company that tracked the Google analytics and emphasized some particular items and promoted those. We did see a significant increase in sales to new customers through that, but then eventually it ceased to be effective. We’re reevaluating those plans going forward.” In the meanwhile, the part time help is upping their social media game and planning for some organized promotion of the newly-available LifeWay studies and Kid’s Corner activities.

There’s much to do, but for now: evolution, not revolution, is the plan.
You can visit The Bible Nook at 2207 W Beebe Capps, on Facebook, on Instagram, or their online store.

James Howard’s “The Modern Log”: A River Runs Through It

Entrepreneur James Howard is an outdoorsman and a craftsman, and sometimes the two intersect, as with his new business that markets his custom river tables.

On the surface, James Howard is a typical recent college graduate: He’s tall and slim with jeans, boots and a ready smile. He’s smart, confident and engaging. Behind that smile, however, is a mind churning with what the startup community calls ideation—and a fierce intentionality: He’s constantly scanning his own backyard for immediate opportunities and surveying the larger landscape for innovative projects with longer timelines. He’s a multitasker:  He can simultaneously manage his own well-defined artisan woodworking business while pursuing and implementing his part in partnership projects. And Howard obviously understands that every human connection in his network may pay future dividends. 

We met today to discuss Howard’s startup, The Modern Log, in which he handcrafts custom wood pieces ranging from tables to 3D wall art. He calls them “river tables.” Made of locally-sourced wood artfully combined with resin and other natural elements, Howard creates the appearance of water flowing through the table. The tables are finished with marine-grade epoxy and are extremely durable. A 20-by-45 inch coffee table with the flow element sells for $1,000.

Combining native red cedar with the flow element, Howard creates the illusion of a water feature flowing through the table.

Tables that are made using a computer numerical control (CNC) wood router to transfer a dimensional design into the wood can feature an exact map of a body of water or a custom logo, recessed with the flow material forming the level surface. Such a piece would be a perfect addition to a hunting lodge or rustic commercial applications, but would also add a unique accent to casual home design. 

A custom CNC router table features a map of Greers Ferry Lake with the flow element.

So how is business at The Modern Log? Howard smiles. “If I can show them, I can sell them.” He has access to an abundant supply of local cedar, so many of his first-year projects have incorporated that material, but he can order virtually any type of wood. If a customer can conceive it, Howard can probably include most ideas in a project. He’s recently brought his brother on board to assist with social media marketing of his creations.

Howard was born in Australia to parents who were vocational missionaries, but later lived in Pendergrass, Georgia. A finance major in the Paul R. Carter College of Business Administration, he ran track for Harding and later married the former Hayley Tobias, who teaches special education at Riverview Judsonia Elementary. They live in Searcy, where he does part of the work for The Modern Log in his garage and part in the borrowed shop of a friend. 

Entrepreneur James Howard's custom river tables are a unique addition to a casual space, whether commercial or residential.
Howard and wife Hayley Tobias.

Ellis Sloan, assistant professor of business, taught Howard in finance classes. “James’s innate business IQ is higher than most students. He seemed more engaged in class discussion. He asked penetrating, relevant questions. His grades were good—but what really struck me was his maturity, his energy, and his ambition. When I say ambition, I mean that he wants to accomplish.”  

We hear so much in the media about self-doubt and fear of failure among Gen Z, but that seems not to afflict Howard. “James is not afraid,” Sloan confirms. “He doesn’t just want to study and understand—he wants to put things into motion. He wants to make it happen, and in the process, to make money. He’s the personification of an entrepreneur. With this table project he’s a craftsman, but he has connections at a gaming resort in Montana from working up there for several summers, and he also has ideas to create a business around those connections as well.”

Sloan introduced Howard to real estate developer and entrepreneur Adam Hart, “who is also an idea guy—and they’ve since created a partnership. James is interested in nontraditional housing and in real estate development. You get a sense about some people that they are going to be very successful, and James is one of those people.”  

Howard’s Instagram profile simply says “Entrepreneur.” We think that’s perfect, and The Waldron Center will follow his future projects with interest. 

If you’re intrigued by the idea of a custom piece for your home or business, you can find Howard’s creations online.  

Are you a Harding alumnus who owns a business? The Waldron Center is always looking for new stories to tell. Email psummers@harding.edu

Guest Blogger David Kee: Dispelling the Myth of the Young Entrepreneur

Dispelling the myth of the young entrepreneur
Dr. David Kee is assistant professor of business and director of the MBA program. He writes for us from Australia, where he is resident faculty for the HUA program this semester.

One would think entrepreneurship is common among young people these days. After all, Harding now has the Waldron Center for Entrepreneurship and Family Business, a management concentration in entrepreneurship, a minor in entrepreneurship and a Christian Entrepreneur Organization (CEO) student club. We hold high the successes of young people who start businesses out of their dorm rooms. We celebrate the 30 under 30 top entrepreneurs. The vigor of youth and the creativity of our newest venture-starters fills us with excitement for what the future holds.

The average age of successful entrepreneurs, however, is 45 years. The reason we hear so much about successful young entrepreneurs is because they are rare. In fact, recent statistics point to fewer startups among 24-to-35-year-olds in 2018 than in 1970, 1990 or even 2010. Entrepreneurship among young people may not be common, but is it truly a myth?

The success rate of young entrepreneurs is not high, but neither is it high for 45-year-olds. And that’s okay. These failures allow resources to be redistributed for more effective uses. One thing young entrepreneurs often don’t have is financing. They simply haven’t had time to build up the capital from personal savings that 77% of successful entrepreneurs use to launch their businesses. Add to that the urgency to pay off student debt, and you can see how it’s counterintuitive to think that young entrepreneurs are likely to successfully launch a venture.

Here is the good news: 

  • The internet and app world have made it cheaper than ever to start a business. 
  • Globalization has increased the availability of and the market for many products and services.
  • The consuming youth market is growing as millennials and GenZs are getting their first paychecks — and who understands their needs better than young entrepreneurs?
  • The retiring of successful baby boomer entrepreneurs has made available the largest number of potential mentors ever.
  • Entrepreneurial education is now prolific, and knowledge that past entrepreneurs wish they’d had is now being taught before someone takes the leap.

What is the ideal setup, then, for young entrepreneurs to squelch the myth? I say it can be summarized as “learning as much as possible to prevent mistakes while taking advantage of opportunities.”

It seems the solution for aspiring young entrepreneurs is to get an entrepreneurial education, discover what globalization has to offer, and team up with an experienced mentor. This is what Harding’s entrepreneurship program and the Waldron Center aim to help students do. Come and see us. We’ll work with you to dispel the myth and help smooth your path to success.

If you’re a student interested in the study of entrepreneurship, we’d like to answer your questions. The Waldron Center is located in Mabee 202.

What if? Alan Howell Recommends Connecting Calling and Career

Alan Howell is visiting professor of missions in the College of Bible and Ministry at Harding University. 

Alan Howell
Alan Howell, visiting professor of missions

As a student at Harding University, I double majored in Bible and marketing. Near the end of my time as an undergraduate in Searcy, I joined a mission team that eventually went to Mozambique, Africa, where my family served from 2003-2018. It was there that I saw how those two disciplines that seemed to compete for my attention as a student had actually served me well and prepared me to serve well.  Our team’s mission in Mozambique was to encourage a church planting movement among the Makua-Metto people – this goal was holistic. We were committed to ministering in a way that integrated both the spiritual and physical aspects of life. 

Mozambique Road
27 million people live in Mozambique, a sparsely populated country where 45% of the people are below age 15.

When we first moved to Mozambique in 2003, it was one of the poorest countries in the world, and although in recent years our host country has made some advancements, the vast majority of our friends there live in abject or absolute poverty. In 2018, Mozambique ranked 180 out of 189 in the UN’s Human Development Index (Haiti and Afghanistan are tied for 168 – ranking 12 spots higher). Over 70% of the population live in “Multidimensional Poverty” and over 60% live on less than $2 a day. Statistics like these are both mind boggling and misleading — because the situation in Cabo Delgado, the province where the Makua-Metto people are most concentrated, is even worse. It is the furthest from the national capital (where much of the economic advancement has been concentrated) and the rare person with a job earning more than $2 a day is supporting his or her family on that income as well as a large group of extended relatives. 

Pedestrian Bridge in Moz
Because foot travel during the rainy season was limited, Howell’s team partnered with a Peace Corp volunteer to design and build a bridge.

Trying to make a difference in such a religiously, socially and economically complicated place meant bringing all of our skills and training to the table. Over the years, we tried a number of different projects – from Lorena stoves to a nonprofit chicken business, a sustainable agriculture program, a small peanut butter business, building a pedestrian bridge and eventually getting a school off the ground. My business training was a huge asset on many different levels. As the network of churches we worked with grew, learning how to “scale up” our ministry to encourage and empower the growing numbers was crucial. All of these experiences in Mozambique have given me a greater appreciation for the way the entrepreneurial skill set is extremely important in the kingdom of God. 

When I get the chance to talk to people with entrepreneurial gifts and skills (creative, innovative, risk-takers, people who think big and are willing to experiment and work hard), the question I hope to get the chance to ask them is this: What if your gifts for business were given to you to also do something else?

Sustainable Agriculture
Howell’s team had real success at teaching sustainable agricultural practices in Mozambique.

Ephesians 4:11-13, says, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Often in churches, we highlight those with pastoral skills and teaching gifts. But, Frost and Hirsch in their important book, The Shaping of Things to Come, ask us to consider Ephesians 4 from a different angle. What if…What if the labels of pioneer, strategist, innovator, visionary, or entrepreneur — words we often use in a business setting — are part of the apostolic skill set that God gives to the church today? 

Howell family
Howell and wife, Rachel, and daughters Abby, Katie and Ellie

As one who was sent to serve in Mozambique, I know from experience that being able to think and act strategically like an entrepreneur, using skills developed in my business training, was crucially important. 

What if? What if you thought of your entrepreneurial gift set as an important part of the kingdom of God? What if you found your place in Business-as-Mission (BAM) or full-time church planting or service in the local church?

In Let Your Life Speak, author Parker Palmer states, “vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear.” As followers of Christ we believe God can and does speak into our lives, equipping and calling us to live a good life of meaning and purpose.

What if? What if your calling or career connected your skills alongside your passion for service with the church in the world? What if God is calling you to do something like that?

I would like to encourage you to stop and listen – ask God if that is something you may be called to do. 

And if it is – come and see me – let’s talk about it.  

To continue this discussion of business as mission, you may reach Alan Howell at ahowell@harding.edu.