ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Despite the number of businesses who have had to close their doors during the pandemic, some new entrepreneurs in the Key City are finding a few things to smile about.

New businesses are actually up in Abilene compared to previous years.

Milos Stevanovic is the owner of Barbershop 011 in Abilene, which has been open for just two weeks.

“I always like to say a barber shop is not where you get your hair cut, it’s a lifestyle,” said Stevanovic.

Stevanovic started cutting hair when he was in high school.

Even though his business card says “barber,” he’s got another title: Abilene businessowner.

“It’s a challenge,” said Stevanovic. “But you know, when you don’t have too many options you just go for it.”

Milos isn’t the only one who opened a new business in the last year.

David Smith over at the Small Business Development Center says he’s never been busier.

“People were laid off and looking for alternatives,” said Smith.

Smith says he’s helped nearly 60 new businesses open since March of 2020.

“They had a skill that they thought that they could go out and start a business on their own, or maybe they had a side hustle, a hobby or something they always were wanting to do,” said Smith.

He says people just had more time.

Doug Peters with the Abilene Chamber of Commerce says the extra stimulus money helped, too.

What it really boils down to though is the need to make money.

“West Texas has a very unique level of determination and grit among its people,” said Peters. “Someone told me once that we believe that no one’s coming to help us so we just take care of it, and I think we saw a lot of that during the pandemic.”

Today, Milos has found something he loves to do, but like many others in the Key City, he’s also found a new way to make money.

The SBDC says the recent increase of new businesses will likely have a ripple effect, encouraging more and more to open businesses of their own.