Starting a small business is a leap of faith -- and with the country's current economic condition, it may not seem like the best time to venture out on your own.
But as one local entrepreneur proves -- it's all a matter of finding your niche.
Chris McMillan already had a good job as a web designer for Dillard's -- but after four years of designing for his own clients on nights and weekends, in 2003, his own company, Mass Enthusiasm, became a full-time venture.
"It finally got to a point where a decision had to be made," McMillan said, "and ultimately that's what I was hoping for and dreaming for." In the past five years, McMillan said, his company's client list has climbed from a handful to 40 companies.
In the past five years, McMillan said, his company's client list has climbed from a handful to 40 companies.
And web design is just a part of what Mcmillan and his creative director Ryan O'Connor offer. Working so closely with other small businesses also gives McMillan a unique vantage point to scan the effects of a tightening economy.
Working so closely with other small businesses also gives McMillan a unique vantage point to scan the effects of a tightening economy.
"Food d prices, gas prices, it affects every business -- it really doesn't matter what industry you're in," he said.
But the flagging economy hasn't been all bad for Mass Enthusiasm. McMillan said some clients are investing more in their websites and branding strategies -- because the sites themselves can act as marketing, recruiting, and management tools, all in one place -- a cheaper option than hiring new staff.
"If your site's done effectively and professionally -- it can house all those functionalities," he said.
But technical know-how and innovation aside -- McMillan said what has made his small business successful is the same thing that pushes anyone's entrepreneurial dream to reality.
"It ultimately has to become a passion," he said. "It has to be a dream to fulfill it because you have to live and breathe it. When you go home at 5 o'clock you don't ever leave it."
McMillan says since 2003, business has just about doubled every year for his company.
Obviously a lot of that has to do with him and his employees -- but he gives a lot of credit to the guidance he got from the Arkansas Small Business Development Center (ASBDC), which offers affordable instruction and resources for small business owners.