Daisy Bedoya Will Not Give Up

Daisy Bedoya Will Not Give Up

LARGO, Fla. — Entrepreneur Daisy Bedoya is facing tough times. Like many other small business owners both Hispanic and otherwise across the country, she’s been slammed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, she’s determined to keep fighting and not give up.

Bedoya, 66, says she can barely pay her bills and keep open GraphX Designs & Concepts, the business she started 16 years ago in Largo, on Florida’s west coast. The company sells promotional products for businesses and events, and sales of such items have been in a slump due to pandemic-related restrictions.

Bedoya’s small business has gone through some tough times due to COVID-19. *** La pequeña empresa de Bedoya ha pasado por momentos muy complicados debido a COVID-19. (Negocios Now)

“I have survived so far, but it is challenging. There are no sales, but one has to pay bills, rent, electricity and supplies,” said the Panamanian businesswoman, who runs the business by herself, or sometimes with the help of her son.

The pandemic has turned into a double whammy for Latino small businesses, which already faced “systemic barriers” to access resources and financing, according to a new study by Small Business Majority.

Bedoya is fighting with all her might not to close her small business, and she says government programs have helped her, but it has not been easy. *** Bedoya lucha con todo por no cerrar su pequeña empresa, y dice que el gobierno le ha ayudado, aunque ha sido duro. (Negocios Now)

Despite federal and state efforts to provide emergency funding, small businesses continue to suffer heavy losses. As a result, many have been forced to make tough decisions to stay afloat, according to the organization’s report.

Bedoya insists she won’t close.

“I’ve lived from it, and I wouldn’t want to close it because if I do, life will be even more difficult,” said Bedoya, who was one of the 300 entrepreneurs participating in Small Business Majority’s study.

The businesswoman said that last summer, she applied for federal aid and was approved for a Paycheck Protection Program loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration, but not for the amount she needed to face several months of crisis.

“I wish the money had lasted longer, but it didn’t,” said Bedoya.

Now that the federal government has made more emergency resources available, she is planning to apply for another PPP loan but says more needs to be done. The maximum amount that a company can borrow is 2.5 times its average monthly payroll costs.

“We need a long-term plan from Congress that helps vulnerable businesses. Another PPP loan is a bandage to keep us from sinking, but what will happen when the funds run out?”

Despite all the challenges, the entrepreneur sees the future in a positive light.

“I feel quite healthy, despite being 66 years old. I am a woman who likes to work, and I know that as long as I am healthy, I will keep going.”

Daisy Bedoya, una empresaria que no se da por vencida en estos tiempos de pandemia was first published in Negocios Now.

(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos. Edited by Melanie Slone and Matthew B. Hall))

 

 



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Latino Entrepreneur Is In The Business Of Helping Others Achieve Success

Latino Entrepreneur Is In The Business Of Helping Others Achieve Success

Arturo Adonay entered the business world from a young age in his native Mexico.

“Since I was a child, I have worked in all sorts of businesses. I have sold gold, body creams and clothes. I have had taquerías, pizzerias, as well as advertising and marketing agencies. I have also been in distribution,” said Adonay, who is currently a managing partner of Sara Capital Group.

After 23 years of living in the U.S., Adonay has become a renowned entrepreneur in the Southeast. His love for doing business has led him to discover another passion — helping other entrepreneurs.

“I consider myself a facilitator, a bridge for our community and our people. I like to take them by the hand while they create a sustainable business. I love that. That’s my passion,” said Adonay.

Adonay considers himself a natural businessman. He is one of the masterminds behind the idea of commercial plazas for Hispanics. Plaza Fiesta and Plaza de las Américas, in Atlanta’s metropolitan area, and Plaza del Sol, in Kissimmee, Florida, are examples of his creative endeavors.

Adonay wanted to build shopping plazas similar to those in Latin America and Europe, where large and small businesses converge, “dedicating a part of the shopping center to promoting small businesses,” he said. He had done something similar in Mexico and was lucky enough to meet people in the U.S. who agreed with his vision. Together, they made “the magic happen. It was a blessing, luck; you name it.”

After living more than two decades in the U.S., Adonay has seen many success stories highlighting Latinos’ “magic and creativity.” But he is aware that Latino businesses often follow a particular path.

“Americans are very structured. They make a business plan in advance, project more and give the company some time to grow. If in that span the business doesn’t grow, they close it up saying, ‘It didn’t work, what’s next,’” said the businessman.

 

He has successfully set up Latin-themed strip malls in several U.S. cities. (Negocios Now)

Latinos are different.

They “often jump into the pool without knowing how to swim. They usually don’t know what they’re doing. However, through thick and thin, they learn to swim while trying to survive. When they see that the business is sinking, magic, creativity and family support come through, which is something I don’t see among other ethnicities.”

In times of crisis, “the whole family rolls up their sleeves and says, we have invested here, now we have to keep the business afloat, whatever it takes.” At this point, an exciting transformation happens from the business and community perspectives, he said.

“What we — and all the small entrepreneurs — are facing is unprecedented,” said Adonay, referring to the pandemic.

He believes companies must reinvent themselves, for example, doing business online. However, “not all businesses are prepared to do it. That is where we, as leaders, have to work with them, looking for alternatives, such as new distribution channels,” he said.

Common mistakes in challenging times

Being afraid of what the future might bring is a big mistake. “When you start focusing on the catastrophe before there is a catastrophe.” An entrepreneur cannot be afraid of what will happen tomorrow,” Adonay said.

Not seeing an opportunity is another mistake. In challenging times “businesses succeed if you are creative. When things are going down, you can dive in and rise with the wave. Sometimes, in times of crisis, small businesses come to a standstill rather than proactively looking for ways to grow the business,” he said.

A big mistake is not being austere in personal expenses. There are people who, in challenging times, “still have cable television with 300 channels and make unnecessary expenses. Instead, you have to tighten your belt, lower your spending and set money aside to continue supporting your business. Eventually, it’ll give you a monthly profit,” he said.

Not reinventing yourself is a mistake, too. “Wherever there is a challenge, there is an opportunity. But you have to look for it proactively,” he said.

Tips for those seeking to become entrepreneurs 

“Businesses start from the inside out.” First, you have to organize the family or personal economy, he said. “Set aside some money and invest it [in the company] hoping for a return. Keep your personal budget straight to continue investing your extra money in your business, so you can support and fuel it. Little by little, it will give you a return. … Eventually, that return will allow you to live the lifestyle you had when you started. If you can’t handle your finances, you can’t run a business,” he said.

Passion is important. His advice is to open a business dealing with those things one cares about most. “If you know how to paint, create a business where you teach painting classes and sell painting supplies,” he said.

Do not be afraid of banks. “There is the fear of asking for a loan, often because of the language barrier,” he said.

Arturo Adonay, un hombre de negocios cuya pasión es ayudar a otros was first published in Negocios Now

 

(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos. Edited by Melanie Slone and Fern Siegel.)

 



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Stepping Up: Rafael Marrero Helps Small Businesses Succeed

Stepping Up: Rafael Marrero Helps Small Businesses Succeed

By Migdalis Pérez

Rafael Marrero’s passion for opening the door to Hispanic companies through million-dollar contracts with the federal government is legendary.

Marrero’s efforts have saved countless small businesses.

Rafael Marrero & Company specializes in securing contracts with the world’s most powerful client: the United States Government.

Knowing there is an abundance of federal purchasing opportunities, Marrero never tires of discussing them with his Latino business community. He has done it in seminars, business conferences and training, as well as radio, print, and television interviews.

While touring the U.S., Marrero learned that many entrepreneurs are not aware of the immense possibilities. In 2018, he wrote La Salsa Secreta del Tío Sam, a helpful guide on doing big business with the federal government.

The book helps small companies connect with the U.S. Government for business. *** El libro ayuda a pequeñas empresas a conectarse con el Gobierno Federal de Estados Unidos para hacer negocios. (Amazon)

Of Galician descent, Marrero is the son of Cubans and was born in the United States. He firmly believes the Hispanic community is the spearhead of the American economy. “Every year, we work on growing our clients as government contractors, and we nominate them for awards, based on the result of working directly with us,” he said.

Businesses led by minorities, veterans and women receive Marrero’s training through a process that “is not about philosophizing, but about learning.” Many people are unaware that 23% of government purchases are made from small businesses, he said.

“The government does not produce anything; it buys everything. So, it’s about sponsoring entrepreneurs, teaching them to navigate the labyrinth of bureaucracy and applications, and serving as a bridge for them to be able to sell to the government,” he said.

Considered by Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the United States, Marrero’s firm also teaches its clients to establish trust with government buyers.

“The government operates using the private sector’s products and services, from consulting and cleaning services to the manufacture of solar panels.  Our clients even manufacture the furniture [of government agencies],” he said.

Based in Miami, Marrero works with small businesses across the country, as well as lectures and training courses. *** Basado en Miami, Marrero trabaja con empresas pequeñas en todo el país, así como da conferencias y cursos de capacitación.  (Blake Connally/Unsplash).

Marrero has a list of companies he has helped grow, but he loves to mention Miguel López Jr. Inc. The Miami-based company has been in business for 30 years. However, after Marrero’s certification and advice, it grew more in two years than in its entire history.

Miguel López Jr. Inc. “is our greatest pride because we helped it grow. It went from being a $7 million-a-year company to a $23 million one,” said Marrero.

“To start working with the government as an entrepreneur, the first thing I recommend is to take our training and our preparatory course. These resources are decisive to make an exhaustive evaluation of the company’s state at the beginning of its journey into the federal world,” he said.

“We develop a business plan starting from this point and perform an analysis of strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats. The initial process — between workshops, enrollment, and marketing — takes about 90 days. You cannot improvise when dealing with the federal government, which spends $500 million dollars an hour.”

If one plans to become a successful federal government provider, it is critical to know how it does business, which is the opposite of commercial enterprises. It is more rigorous and based on industrial codes and the classification of products and services. 

“Those who don’t know that slang can’t taste Uncle Sam’s sauce,” he said. The post La Salsa Secreta de Rafael Marrero appeared first on Negocios Now.

(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos. Edited by Melanie Slone and Fern Siegel.)



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Carmen Solano’s 15 McDonald’s

Carmen Solano’s 15 McDonald’s

Carmen Solano came to Chicago from her native Dominican Republic with a single suitcase and a huge dream: to become an artist. Today, she is an entrepreneur and the owner of 15 McDonald’s.

When she set foot in Chicago in 1980, Carmen Solano-De Carrier knew she wanted to study broadcasting at Columbia College and pursue a career behind the cameras and microphones.

The 19-year-old was the daughter of Rafael Solano, a famous Dominican musician and composer, and grew up admiring her father. (Rafael Solano composed Por Amor, a song translated into several languages ​​and performed by such artists as Plácido Domingo.)

“My father had a show called Solano. When I was 12, I introduced people to the show. From that time, I loved the microphone, television and being behind the cameras. I sang with my dad, and that’s what I wanted to do,” she said with a smile.

But to fulfill her dreams, she had to work first. Solano did not realize it then, but she chose a job that would set the course for her life.

“A McDonald’s restaurant was opening then. I applied for a job and secured it. I worked from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.; at 2:00 p.m., I would go to Columbia College until 10:00 p.m., and I would do the same the next day.”

 

Solano worked her way up at McDonald’s, from being a cashier to executive positions. While working behind the counter, she met her first husband, married, had children and continued to grow with the company. She was an employee for 23 years, but suddenly her life took a turn, and she became an entrepreneur.

“I divorced my first husband and met my second husband at McDonald’s. He was a department head in the company, and I worked as a consultant for franchise operators. It was then when I learned what an operator was,” she said.

Pregnant with a baby girl and with two decades of experience in the world’s largest restaurant chain, Carmen and her husband decided to buy their first McDonald’s franchise in 2002.

“People in the central office were not very happy because they did not have many Latinos in high ranks in Chicago. They didn’t want us to leave, but they ended up helping us and wished us luck,” she said.

McDonald’s had a rule of thumb at that time: it did not grant Chicago franchises to company employees. So, the couple opened their first two restaurants in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. How did Solano and her husband secure the initial capital? They used money from their 401K and a company loan.

That’s where Carmen started her mini-chain. Later, the possibility arose of opening a restaurant in Chicago, and another came, and another. The couple controls 21 restaurants today, 15 of which belong to Carmen.

“When you become an owner, it’s as if a train passed over you. There are many things that you are not taught as an employee and that you have to learn as an owner,” she said.

The businesswoman sees her colleagues and employees as part of a family. *** La empresaria ve a sus compañeros y empleados como parte de una familia. (Negocios Now).

People want to work with Carmen

Asked about the challenge of getting 15 restaurants in just 17 years, the businesswoman acknowledges that she has had many challenges, but none harder than finding employees.

“Right now, for all businesses, the most difficult thing is to get the staff. I have been fortunate. Chicago has a large Latino community, and people who come want to work for Carmen, not for McDonald’s,” she said.

The businesswoman attributes it to the special relationship she has with her employees. “I talk a lot with them. We have a very close relationship. I go to different restaurants every day, and I try to get to know them. Some tell me about their personal lives, and I try to help them,” she said. “If they have an emergency, I give them a loan, and they pay me little by little with their check.”

She has built a kind of family that is key when dealing with 15 restaurants simultaneously. “A lot of people have made their way up here, starting from the bottom,” she said. “When I see that they have potential, I send them to classes. McDonald’s has one of the best business training in the world. I didn’t know anything about business because I wanted to be on television. I learned it here.”

Carmen Solano believes that McDonald’s has been a great help and an incredible opportunity in her life. *** Carmen Solano considera que McDonald’s ha sido una gran ayuda y una increíble oportunidad en su vida. (Crystal Jo / Unsplash).

Carmen would like to say other businesswomen who are dealing with a myriad of challenges, “As Latinas and women, we have a lot to contribute to a company. We are moms, and ‘we run’ the house business. We are the ones who go to the supermarket with a budget to spend, the ones who usually make the children’s medical appointments, help them with homework. I mean, we know how to plan and that makes things a little easier.”

“As Latinas, we protect our children. We want them to be with us at home. We believe a lot in family life, and we take those ideas into business and make a family. This is what I have done, and I believe that’s why I have done so well,” she said.

“What is the limit of Carmen Solano? Where do you want to go?” we asked her.

“This is something people usually ask me,” she said. I don’t know, because when I started, I didn’t think I would have 15 restaurants. But I’m one of those people who believe that if there’s an opportunity, one has to take it.”

The post Los 15 McDonald’s de Carmen Solano  appeared first on Negocios Now.

(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos. Edited by Melanie Slone and Carlin Becker.)



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