WACO, TX — The pandemic might have done the opposite of what you may think for those wanting to become entrepreneurs. What might have scared some has inspired others.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more people in Texas applied for a business license in 2020 than in 2019.
Comparing the moth of June, in 2019, 24,921 entrepreneurs filed for a business license. In 2020 that number jumped to 31,456.
So far, data has only been tracked through March 2021. During that month, 37,603 business applications were filed in Texas.
Waco has paralleled this growth. With new business popping up all over Central Texas, Union Hall has been faring well, even in a pandemic.
Zuke's Tea Bar is one new business that opened inside the eatery in January 2021. Owner Stacy Zukerman says she applied for her business license in the fall of 2020 and took a leap of faith doing so.
"Last year, actually before COVID, is when we first started talking about it. Then in the fall, we really started aggressively moving forward," she said.
Being a new business in a pandemic, Zukerman says she was worried, but owning her own business has been a dream and lifelong goal.
"There was a a little bit of hesitation, but I felt really good about it. I spoke to other vendors in here that have been open prior and during and just decided that it was a good time to take the plunge," she said.
Around the corner from Zuke's is Po'Boy Place. Leo Spann started his business in 2018 as a food truck in Dallas, but moved to a brick-and-mortar in Waco right in the middle of the pandemic.
"We had no idea that we were going to sign a lease in November and two or three months later be challenged with a pandemic," the owner said.
Spann was born in Waco and raised in New Orleans. When Hurricane Katrina hit, his family moved back to Waco, where his heart stayed.
"Waco has just been amazing. I don't think we could have survived anywhere else," Spann said.
Spann's business was open pre-pandemic, but says it's been a challenge, in more than ways than one, to run a restaurant versus a food truck.
"Being short staffed, how it impacts our food purveyors, getting supplies to us, price increases, there were multiple challenges throughout the process, and then there was the easy one was how do we still let people know it's a safe environment to come to Union Hall and get some po'boys," he said.
Zukerman and Spann say they wouldn't have been able to survive this time without the support of the Waco community.
"I think that's one of the things that came out of the pandemic, the importance of doing that," Zukerman said.
They both gave a tip to future entrepreneurs looking to follow their dreams. Spann says to rip the bandage off and go for it or you'll be stuck in limbo forever.
Zukerman says the best thing to do is talk with other entrepreneurs in and outside of your line of work to get their grasp on all situations you may not have thought about on your own.
Overall, in the U.S., business applications reached a record high in 2020 at 4.4 million filed.
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