Entrepreneurial students get an early start in business ownership

If you are waiting for the stars to align to start your own business. No. This is the advice of two University of Sioux Falls student entrepreneurs who launched businesses in 2022.

At 19, Brooklyn Terveen became self-funded and launched Brooke and Maize, an online clothing boutique. But this isn’t the first business venture for Junior College.

“At the age of 8, I would go with friends and family at Christmas and sell them soaps that I made. Then when I got a little older, I think I was 12 years old, I started a business making dog collars and leashes. I went to the local pet stores and sold them. I’ve always been very entrepreneurial and I liked to feel like I was in control, and I like to sell products to people,” Terveen said.

That’s not to say it’s easy to own your own business, while taking 22 credits of college courses, maintaining good grades, and working part-time as a babysitter.

“The biggest challenge is wearing all the hats. As a sole proprietor, I am the marketing team, the customer service associate, the manager, the social media coordinator – there are so many roles I have to fill as one person, since I am the only person working in my business.” Terveen said.

But she says the timing couldn’t be better.

“I’m a business student and I really think starting my own business has been more helpful than any internship,” Terveen said.

Bruce Watley agrees. Watley is an associate professor of business administration and director of the Lillibridge Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership & Innovation at the University of Sioux Falls.

“In the US, luckily, you can be worth nothing less than zero. So it’s good for students, I think they consider taking a chance. If you’re going to think about having an idea, and for some reason it fails, it’s better to fail fast and seek to learn from that failure and recover from it. And you can do it much more easily at a younger age than if you were 40, 50 or even 60 and started a small business,” Watley said.

In his business classes, Watley encourages students who have a desire to own their own business, but just aren’t sure what it should be, to consider what they’re passionate about or look for problems they can help others solve.

Kendra Wynja took this advice to heart. Inspired by a skill she has been practicing since childhood, at the age of 20 she started an event planning and organization business: KJ Organization and Planning.

“Funny story, my mom is probably the most disorganized person you will ever meet. But she always says, I need this drawer to be ready, I need these shelves to be organized and I would start to do it. Even with little things going on in our lives, I always had a schedule between me and my brother and where the family was going to be. And people were like, “make a deal out of it, what could go wrong,” Wynja said.

Although she’s been organizing pantries, drawers, and family schedules since elementary school, she says that because of her age, it can be hard to get potential customers to take her seriously.

“I have always had a busy schedule and doing a task for them is not something I take lightly, I am going to go ahead and take full responsibility for their project, which is hard for some of the older generations to understand. Wynja said.

Wynja uses social media to help build credibility. But he says that customer recommendations are really how his business has grown.

“I have done little to no advertising. If someone recommends me, that’s way better than any Facebook or Instagram ad could ever do,” Wynja said.

Customer feedback is also encouraging, said Brooke and Maize owner Brooklyn Terveen.

“It’s great to see when customers message me or post on the clothes they received from me. It’s so rewarding,” Terveen said.

When asked what advice they would share with other young entrepreneurs, both students said, “Get started today, but don’t quit your day job.” In addition to school and running their own businesses, the women also work part-time.

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