Each year in the U.S., thousands of small businesses ranging from home-based enterprises and small restaurants to commercial stores and manufacturing operations are launched.
That same entrepreneurial spirit can be found in the local region, with many people dreaming of owning and operating their own businesses. The sad reality is, many, if not most small businesses and start-ups fail within the first year of operation. Still others manage to defy the odds.
Here are just a few of them.
Scott Erb, right, works in the kitchen at Erb’s West End Family Market and Catering. Erb is one of several business owners who shared advice and observations on starting an area business.
Scott Erb started Erb's West End Family Market and Catering last year. By his own admission, it isn't always easy running a business. But so far, he's managed to keep his dream of owning a business alive, while learning a few things along the way.
"It's been rough going," he said. "You have to have thick skin."
Born and raised in Newberry, Erb wanted to start a family-owned business that caters to people living in that part of Williamsport. Erb's sells sandwiches, pizza, hamburgers, and even groceries.
"We still deal with the fact that people are loyal to other local eateries," he said.
Over the past year, he's changed things up a bit, offering new food items. Like many business owners, he cites the financial aspect of running a business as probably his biggest challenge.
"There are a lot of bills," he said.
The winter months can be slow, but Erb feels confident the business will be around for awhile.
"We definitely want to stay the family business," he said. "We want everyone to feel welcome when they come in here."
Judi Hubler, owner with her husband, Scott, of Fit & Flex, South Williamsport, said she has one piece of advice for anyone who wants to start a business.
"I think you have to be prepared to put in a lot of time, effort and a lot of yourself," she said. "You have to set realistic goals and keep pushing."
Judi and her husband both have day jobs, but that hasn't kept them from focusing on building up their fitness
business since launching it in 2013. Running a business means embracing change and trying new things. They hired a board-licensed dietitian to help clients. And now, they're looking to hire more trainers.
The two are committed to exercise and fitness, having embraced more healthy lifestyles after many years of neglecting their bodies. That passion helps.
"We know this is a positive thing," she said. "We think it's a really important thing."
She's a bit surprised herself that the business has taken off as well as it has.
Clients include those who've followed family members to Fit & Flex.
"We are hoping this is the year we really make ourselves part of the community," she said. "When we started, our goal was to make it through the first year just to be able to pay the rent. We really like what we are doing, but with a little more time we hope to build our clientele."
Tyndale Factory Store has been busy since opening in 2012, according to store manager Lisa Klein.
Located at 60 W. Southern Ave., South Williamsport, the store offers clothing for gas and electrical workers. Shirts, pants, outerwear, gloves and other work apparel hang from the many racks found inside the store. Tyndale is not a mom and pop business, but what Klein described as a well-established company of more than 30 years that opened a retail store in Lycoming County two years ago to take advantage of the natural gas industry. It's one of the few stores of its kind in the area catering to the gas and electrical industries.
"The location has been good to us because it's easy to get here from Route 15 and Interstate 80," she said. "It's been crazy busy."
The store sees a lot of repeat customers and doesn't do a lot of advertising.
The success of the local store prompted company officials to open up another site in Midland, Texas.
"That's our other retail store," Klein said.