Many Millikin alumni answer to a boss they know very well: themselves.
Of all MU alumni who have reported their employer status to the alumni office, a large group list themselves as self-employed business owners.
Some Millikin alumni own companies with numerous employees while others run what the U.S. Census Bureau calls nonemployer businesses, companies without paid employees and sometimes based out of a private home. Despite a national decline in the total number of small businesses, Millikin boasts a growing number of emerging businesses among its alumni base, including one owned by Zane Peterson ’11 and his father, who together opened the University Dogs shop near campus last year (see page 21).
According to the Small Business Administration, there were 27.5 million total U.S. businesses in 2009; all but about 18,000 employed less than 500 employees, and a majority, 21.4 million, had no employees but the owner.
Nearly three out of every four owners founded the business they run, says the Census Bureau, and more than half of them earned a college degree before setting up their businesses.
At Millikin, students can get specialized training in how to succeed as business owners while in school. Millikin has offered entrepreneurship as a major through the Tabor School of Business for some years, and now non-business majors can minor in the field, taking 23 credit hours to learn how to make their business dreams come true.
One such student is Alexa Snyder, a junior art major from Springfield, Ill. Snyder enrolled in The Art of Entrepreneurship class to learn how to market herself as an artist. Her business, Ewe-sed (pronounced “Used”), sells women’s handbags made from recycled wool and cashmere sweaters.
“As a BFA studio art major, I can honestly say that I wondered how I was going to handle the logical side of my brain for business, but I was pleasantly surprised how the knowledge that I learned from being an entrepreneur has applied even to my creative side. My experiences in class taught me the fundamentals of creating and maintaining a successful business plan.”
After graduation, Snyder may take her new knowledge and join the ranks of other thriving business owners who are Millikin alumni, including those featured on these pages.