Small Business Startup

A smiling young woman wearing a shirt that reads “Beyond the Arch” stands next to several balloons and jars of party supplies. A woman opening a clear, plastic sphere. Three shelves of colorful balloons in clear, plastic holders. Two shelves, with stuffed animals on the top and colorful balloons in clear, plastic holders on bottom. A shelf of pick bunny candy holders. A teddy bear in a clear, plastic sphere.
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Extension workshop helps entrepreneur open business

Story by Rhiannon Page • Photos by Kevin Hudson

Deciding to participate in the StartUp Mississippi program led Simpson County native Amber Milloy to success with her own business, Beyond the Arch.

StartUp Mississippi, delivered by the Mississippi State University Extension Service, shows program participants how to transform their great ideas into profitable businesses. In turn, these businesses work to build a successful Mississippi economy. By connecting entrepreneurs to education, training, mentors, and resources, the program prepares them to launch their small businesses in just 30 days.

Terence Norwood, an instructor with the Extension Center for Government and Community Development, promotes the free online program as a way to turn a dream into reality.

“Research informs us that younger generations are entrepreneurs at heart,” Norwood explains. “StartUp takes this into consideration and relies on their technical skillsets to deliver the virtual program. This allows us to effectively and efficiently use Extension resources to meet the needs of today’s clients.”

After seeing a Facebook post about the program, Milloy registered online. She participated in the online program in September 2021 and was able to interact and share ideas with other small-business owners and entrepreneurs.

Without the help of the StartUp program, Milloy says she would not have known how to turn her vision for her business into a reality.

“StartUp teaches you how to be successful,” Milloy affirms. “It took away my fear of all the wondering, ‘What if I’m doing something wrong?’ and helped me believe in myself even more.”

After decorating with balloons for her child’s birthday party year after year, Milloy decided to listen to a friend’s advice to put her talent to use. But she didn’t know how to turn that idea into a business. StartUp changed all that.

“Upon completion of the program, I felt that I had gained the knowledge to be successful in my business,” Milloy emphasizes. “As I was completing the class, I was already working on building my business.”

Beyond the Arch is Milloy’s balloon shop and gift store. She specializes in balloon arches, but she doesn’t stop there: she also offers customized balloon designs, helium services, event planning, gift baskets, and special occasion gifts.

Using the knowledge she gained from StartUp, Milloy was able to use her talent to make customers happy, earn a profit, and contribute to Simpson County’s economy.

“My favorite part of my business is seeing smiling faces in front of my work,” Milloy says.

Beyond the Arch is on Facebook and Instagram, where you can place your order. Learn more about StartUp Mississippi or register for the next session here.

To learn more about Milloy’s business, Beyond the Arch, you can find it on Facebook at Beyond the Arch.

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Extension Matters Volume 8 Number 2 Cover.