It’s always a challenge to start a small business, and even more so when you have little to no experience. When William El-Amin and Jakeveeus Davis decided to take an idea and turn it into a business, they faced an uphill battle.

Luckily, they discovered the resources from Communities Unlimited along the way.

William El-Amin and Jakeveeus Davis both worked in Little Rock. They had an idea for a side business that would collect vehicle-related fines from those who owed or parked illegally, one that had worked well in other states.

Together, they came up with The Boot Guys, a vehicle “booting” company.

Often, those who owe traffic tickets or those who park illegally would come out to find a “boot” on a tire of their vehicle, preventing them from driving off until they paid their fines. The Boot Guys wanted to do something similar but with a different type of “boot.” This device consists of a rectangular piece that attaches to the windshield of the vehicle. It prevents the driver from being able to see to drive, and the driver can remove it by putting in their credit card information and paying their fine.

With this product in mind, William and Jakeveeus looked for resources to assist them in starting their business.

The Boot Guys were introduced to Communities Unlimited during a training session held in Gould, Arkansas.

William met Deborah Temple, Director of Lending at Communities Unlimited, at the event in 2018. Two years later, he approached Deborah to say he had an idea for starting a new small business. Deborah had her team speak with him about small business loan options and referred him to the Entrepreneurship team at Communities Unlimited to assist them in getting their business off on the right foot.

The men began working with Communities Unlimited in January 2020, presenting their ideas to Brian Wells, Senior Management Consultant, and Akira Morishita, Management Consultant. Together, they worked through an initial assessment. William and Jakeveeus laid out their initial business plan, future plans, corporate structure, identified challenges, and how they would promote their business through the Internet and social media.

As preparations for the business continued, the COVID-19 pandemic began making its way across the country. The pandemic caused closures and job losses throughout the nation and put a significant strain on small businesses.

William and Jakeveeus took a step back, debating whether it was a good time to open a small business. On April 1, 2020, they decided to delay opening their business in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

Though their plans were on pause, their dreams were not. The men kept their plans for opening their new business ready for launch.

By July, businesses were slowly starting to reopen, and William and Jakeveeus decided to move forward with their plans. Once again, they contacted Communities Unlimited for assistance.

Communities Unlimited guided William and Jakeveeus in applying for and receiving their business license, business insurance, EIN and state registration. They received instruction in preparing a business model to show potential customers, revenue generators, costs, value propositions, cash flow planning and other aspects.

Kevin Tillman, Small Business Lender, was able to walk the men through the application process for a microloan of $4,000 to cover licensing fees and the first few months of equipment leases. The loan was approved in August, and the men set to work establishing the business.

With all the necessary knowledge and tools about starting and operating a small business, the men began The Boot Guys, LLC, in early September 2020. By early October, the business was up and running. They started with one contract, but even before the business officially opened in October, they had two more.

With the support of Communities Unlimited, William and Jakeveeus were prepared to start their new business. Despite the challenges of beginning a business during a pandemic, the new business is quickly becoming a success.

William praised the assistance they have received from Communities Unlimited.

“I am ecstatic. The CU consultants that I work with are the best,” William said. “Akira and Brian are there with me every step of the way. The passion they have is so refreshing. They work tirelessly with me in developing the business plan, from identifying keep partners to financial planning. CU has, by far, exceeded my expectations, and I would not change a thing.”