Q: As a Latino business owner, I’m wondering if you might have input that’s specific to challenges facing Latinx entrepreneurs?
A: In my 14 years as a Latino advisor in Oregon, I’ve noticed that the biggest challenge is changing my clients’ approach to entrepreneurship. They are often unaware of the resources available for starting or expanding their small businesses. Here are some of the insights I share:
1) Be open to assistance to scale your business. Many businesses engage in local business transactions, like selling goods at regional markets, but they seldom consider taking out loans to grow their businesses or establish larger stores. Identifying loan sources and funding programs is an important — and very achievable — step.
2) Redefine success. The typical mindset for many starting a business is to save money, seek help from family and friends, and start on a small scale — with relentless hard work being the definition of success.
In my role as an adviser, I concentrate on education to shift this mindset. Instead of solely focusing on working IN the business, I encourage individuals to take advantage of additional resources and support to delegate and train others. I encourage my clients to work ON their business. This approach accelerates growth and creates a sustainable business.
3)Success includes what not to do. Success is not always about finding tools and resources. As an adviser, I also provide information to help validate a business, or even keep owners from getting into a bad situation. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Central Oregon Community College (COCC) has a Small Business Development Center that offers free, confidential professional business advising and a variety of low-cost courses to help entrepreneurs through the business lifecycle: cocc.edu/sbdc.
About the Expert:
José Balcazar has owned restaurants for more than 20 years and often works with clients who want to start food-related businesses. He also serves as the SBDC’s Veteran liaison, drawing from his own experience in the U.S. Army. José has always had a passion for computer programming, and as a bilingual adviser he is well positioned to help both English- and Spanish-speaking clients with the challenges that can arise in business ownership and with technology.