Starting Small

Starting+Small

Ayesha Khan, Design Editor

Not many realize that when they purchase their tiger apparel from Tigers Inc., they are supporting BV’s very own student-run small business. 

Junior Leah Dunton, manager of the coffee line, said this has given her a newfound appreciation for small businesses while also building her skill set and gaining unique work experience.

“I feel like talking to the vendors and real-life business people has definitely prepared me a lot — you can’t really get [that] at an outside environment because you are running a full-on business all by yourself,” Dunton said. “You don’t get a lot of adult help, so it helps you prepare how to organize a business.”

At Tigers Inc., students are interviewed for specific lines — financial, custom orders, apparel, strategic marketing and coffee — although all employees work shifts at the Tigers Inc. Cafe.

“Since I’m on the coffee, food and beverage line, we came up with the drinks that we are going to sell — we’re really involved in the process of opening the coffee shop,” Dunton said. “We also go and get the supplies to make the coffee, and we have to call the vendors to get the coffee beans.”

The benefits of being on staff may not be instantaneous, but Dunton, nevertheless, can see her work experience at Tigers Inc. aiding her later in life. 

“If I’m trying to get a job, saying I’ve had experience running a business would definitely benefit me and give me those opportunities,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s given me more opportunities now, but definitely in the future — I can see that.”

By working with business people, she can see a difference in her confidence levels, especially in regard to social interactions.

“It’s taught me to be more independent because I have to call the vendors or talk on the phone with adults — in past years that probably would have scared me or made me nervous, but now I don’t really think of it as that,” Dunton said. “It’s definitely helped me become more confident in my business skills and even just talking to people.”

After viewing first-hand the extent of work that must be done to keep a business running, Dunton has gained admiration for entrepreneurs.

“It definitely has made me appreciate small businesses because it made me realize how much work [is needed] to run a business,” she said. “Especially if you’re doing it on your own, I think that’d be hard.”

She wants to remind others of the impact they have on business owners by shopping small. 

“It’s good to support those businesses instead of large corporations because they don’t have as much money — they need that business more, and it has more value to them than the larger businesses,” Dunton said. “There’s a lot of work behind the scenes you don’t really see from an outer perspective and a lot of work goes in there.”