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In The Balance

Young women and minorities find success in the face of economic disparity.

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This story appears in the September 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

At the tender age of 14, Sidney Warren knew he wanted to run his own small business someday. "I've always been a natural salesman," says the now-33-year-old entrepreneur, who has grown up to be a partner in two Cincinnati-based TCBY Treats/Mrs. Fields Cookies co-branded franchises. Despite his upbeat attitude, however, Warren maintains a certain pragmatism: "Coming from a minority group, I just felt I wasn't going to be as financially successful working in corporate America."

Enter entrepreneurship--not just for Warren but for a host of like-minded women and minority twenty- and early-thirtysomethings. Their mission? To do their own thing--first, last and foremost. But given the fact that no business exists in a vacuum, it's clear that Gen Xers like Warren must also contend with social forces beyond their control. In theory, today's crop of women and minority entrepreneurs are reaping the benefits of decades-long battles for equal opportunities--the proverbial leveling of the playing field. In reality, however, these Xers are in the curious position of coming into their own at a time when equal-ity-driven initiatives such as affirmative action are being criticized--and, in some cases, struck down altogether. It makes you wonder: Just what kind of playing field are Xers competing on, anyway?

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