Baylor Entrepreneurship Walks Side By Side with Local, Small Businesses

 

At the stroke of midnight, the ball dropped and 2020 was ushered in with promises of a fresh start and a new beginning. After all, 2020 is a once-a-century year when the first two digits of the year match the second two digits. This is something folks will only see once in a lifetime. That alone makes 2020 a year to remember.

And then there was COVID-19…

COVID-19 came in like a wrecking ball. Schools, businesses and churches all felt the sucker punch. Baylor University was no exception. Classes went online, dorms emptied, events were cancelled and engagement programs were put on an indefinite pause. 

The Community Entrepreneurship Program (CEP), managed by the Baylor Entrepreneurship department, is one such program that felt the impact of COVID-19. CEP is a faith-based community entrepreneurship training program developed by Baylor University, hosted by local churches and facilitated by successful executives and entrepreneurs.

Participants in CEP are local, small business owners who simply want to grow their business. The program provides peer-to-peer networking and valuable mentorship, along with training and coaching. CEP utilizes Baylor Entrepreneurship faculty, staff, students, alumni and donors in delivering this best-in-class Baylor content in a non-threatening, caring environment that welcomes small business owners from all backgrounds. 

Denitia Blount of locally owned and operated Oh My Juice is both a Baylor grad and a small-business owner who volunteers as a facilitator for the program. Blount spoke at a Confessions of an Entrepreneur event on campus in 2019 and she explained, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” 

CEP helps small-business owners recognize what they don’t know in bi-weekly meetings, by providing support and one-on-one counseling in areas of accounting, finance and strategy. In March 2020 as COVID-19 hit, CEP was halfway through its Spring 2020 session (with record attendance and a diverse group of small businesses represented). The program was forced to go on an indefinite hiatus with respect to the regular meeting schedule. 

Dr. Peter Klein, Entrepreneurship Department Chair, co wrote a recent article for the LSU Business Review with the sentiment that uncertain circumstances can give businesses an opportunity to improve. The article states that in the end it’s businesses, and not policymakers, that should decide how to best weather COVID-19. 

The Entrepreneurship department, recognizing a strong need to pivot CEP to meet the needs of the small businesses facing life or death business scenarios, reconfigured the program to deliver real time, relevant strategy and information that played a major role in being able to keep a majority of these businesses in operation even through a shutdown. 

Michael Wyatt of Wyatt Brothers Moving was a participant in the spring CEP class. He explained that while the goals for the business didn’t change with COVID-19, they were definitely adjusted. The company has implemented a more go with the flow outlook and adjusted goal timelines to account for some of the unforeseen circumstances.

Shaun Limbers, Associate Director for the Baugh Center, oversees CEP and personally feels it’s a privilege to serve the local, small businesses especially during this very difficult time. He says, “We truly believe Entrepreneurship can be transformative with an ability to positively impact our community both locally and worldwide.”  He continues, “CEP is uniquely positioned to execute that vision on a local level.” 

In the coming weeks, the Baylor Entrepreneurship department will wrap up the spring CEP class. CEP may look a little different going forward, but one thing that is for certain is Baylor Entrepreneurship will continue to walk side by side with local, small businesses.


For more information on Baylor Entrepreneurship, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneurship/.

Michael Wyatt, Wyatt Brothers Moving Company

Do things better.

-Michael Wyatt


Michael Wyatt grew up in the small town of Groesbeck, Texas. Like a lot of pre-teens, he took to mowing neighborhood lawns as a relatively easy way to earn a little extra cash. Michael soon developed friendships with his customers, especially the veteran who lived across the street. The two would sit for hours and talk. After graduating highschool, Michael went through the fire academy and became a firefighter in a neighboring town while also working as an EMT in Groesbeck at the Limestone Medical Center.

Michael’s brother, Danny, spent time in the Marines and later worked for a moving company in the Dallas area. Danny spent six months observing the business and running numbers. Michael and Danny would often talk about what it would take for the two brothers to start their own business. Should they…could they…what if… The back and forth went on for a while, then one night in November 2014 over a Texas-style BBQ dinner, Michael’s wife prodded, “You need to either do it, or don’t.”

Michael and Danny did it. Five weeks later Wyatt Brothers Moving Company was a reality, servicing a 500 mile radius from Waco.

The first goal for the new company was simple: find a move. It didn’t take long to find that first move. A customer asked the brothers to move a 1,100 pound safe to a third floor apartment. Let that sink in for just a minute: 1,100 pound safe to a third floor apartment. It took forty minutes, with additional help from the customer, to move the safe. That first move earned Wyatt Brothers $100. Michael describes the move with one word, “Terrible. It was just terrible.”

But hey, you have to start somewhere. With that safe move, the brothers officially met their first business goal. Word of mouth started to speed things up for the brothers. Michael talked with someone at a local apartment complex, which led to a working relationship that helped put Wyatt Brothers at the top of the list for four-sister company complexes.

On one particular job, they were moving a tenant from one building to another within the same complex. A trailer couldn’t be used, so Michael and Danny walked and carried everything from building to building. During the move, Michael noticed a guy standing in a stairway watching their every step. Every…single…step for one and a half hours.

The man finally approached Michael and asked if they were professional movers. He explained that he was with a production company and needed to move some appliances that afternoon to a house in Hubbard. Wyatt Brothers was able to move the appliances, leaving another satisfied customer.

When Michael told his wife the story about the stairway guy, her immediate response was, “I wonder if he was with Fixer Upper?”

A quick YouTube search confirmed that the hard-working brothers did indeed actually move appliances for Fixer Upper. Shortly after, the stairway guy called and asked the brothers to move some furniture. He admitted that it was pretty cool to watch the brothers in action and asked to film them.

On January 15 during the last episode of season one, Wyatt Brothers Moving Company was filmed as the mover for Fixer Upper. This small-town business that was established over a family BBQ dinner was featured in almost every Fixer Upper episode from then on. 

By the time Fixer Upper ended in April 2018, Wyatt Brothers had become a trusted, local name. There was a noticeable trend in repeat customer business. For Michael and Danny it was about establishing a family name legacy and providing stellar customer service with trust and transparency. 

In January of 2020, Michael enrolled in the Community Entrepreneurship Program (CEP), a faith-based community entrepreneurship training program developed by Baylor University. Local churches would host the meetings, while successful executives and entrepreneurs facilitated them. With CEP, Michael was able to network with other local, small-business owners as well as collect some significant take-aways in accounting, financing and marketing strategy.

The ultimate goal was to grow Wyatt Brothers, but to also keep the business small. During 2020 the brothers planned to bring on an additional three full-time movers and two part-time movers. But in March 2020 everything took a wonky turn with Covid-19 stay-home orders. 

While business did slow down a bit during that time, people were still moving. However, a lot of folks were working from home and had extra time to pack and move belongings without assistance. Normally in the spring, Wyatt Brothers would book out four weeks in advance. For 2020, it was closer to two weeks. 

As a medic, Michael knows the importance of PPE (personal protective equipment). With that in mind, masks became part of the Wyatt Brothers standard uniform. Some customers were initially uncomfortable with allowing a masked stranger into their home. To squash some of those fears, Michael now “meets” new customers via Zoom meetings and Facetime prior to on-site moves. 

Goals for the business didn’t change, but they were adjusted. With a go with the flow outlook, timelines were shifted to account for some of the unforeseen circumstances. A partnership was also added to the business plan. To enhance the overall customer experience, Wyatt Brothers partnered with Neat as a Pin to provide customers with additional packing, cleaning, unpacking and organizing services.

Michael prides himself on operating a personable company. From mowing to moving, he strives to do things better… no matter what’s thrown at him.


For more information about the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneur/.