Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)


Business Administration


William B. Stokes


Small business entrepreneurs in the United States often struggled or went out of business during the recession of 2007-2009. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the strategies entrepreneurs needed to grow their businesses during a recessionary period. The conceptual framework for the study was effectuation theory. The population consisted of small business entrepreneurs whose businesses survived the recession of 2007-2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. Data were gathered through semistructured interviews with 20 participants. Data organization and thematic analysis involved coding interview data and using software to categorize themes and subthemes. Major themes that emerged from the study included specification of characteristics of entrepreneurs, approaches to customer acquisition and retention, and decision making strategies. The findings might contribute to social change by adding to entrepreneurship literature and potentially leading to the development of resilient and adaptive entrepreneurs. Small business entrepreneurs who can sustain profitability during economic downturns benefit the community by providing jobs.