The U.S. federal government is the largest purchaser of goods and services in the world. For small businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic over the past two years, this may offer a glimmer of hope as many attempt to pivot to stay afloat. While several businesses were forced to close due to losses, new businesses were formed by laid-off or dissatisfied workers. But new firms are more vulnerable to economic swings.
This time last year, America was fresh off the high of a change in executive leadership. Americans started rolling up their sleeves for COVID-19 vaccinations, and the nation was undergoing a racial awakening generations in the making. Then a week into the new year, democracy was breached, and the ensuing fallout would test the ideals of what it means to be American. In our 2021 ThinkNow year-end report we examine the economic highs and lows of the past twelve months, and how consumers, in their resilience, have weathered the storms by tapping into their power and wielding it to demand a fair and just society for all.
The American economy depends on jobs created by small businesses, which account for 64% of new jobs created every year. Some of the best-run U.S. small businesses are those participating in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program. The annual review required to maintain eligibility in the program can seem onerous to some, but it ensures participating firms are adequately capitalized and operating in a stable manner. An annual business plan review is beneficial to all companies, but for 8(a) firms, the mandate prompts them to align their efforts with changes in the market to ensure they have a plan to respond.
A couple of years ago, I had a conversation with an SBA Business Opportunity Specialist who was lamenting the absence of SBA 8(a) program applicants. At the time, she was seeing three to five businesses graduate the Small Business Set-Aside program for every new one applying. I did the math and realized most of the graduating 8(a)s enrolled during the Great Recession. By 2018 things were going well enough in the economy that perhaps small businesses felt that pursuing government work was not worth their time and energy. Due to COVID-19, however, the economy is once again unsteady.
Many small businesses are finding new ways to breathe life into their revenue streams during the COVID-19 pandemic to offset slow customer traffic and trickling income. This week, Barney Santos, CEO of Gentefy and BLVDMRKT, discusses how Hispanics in the restaurant industry are adapting sales initiatives to social distancing, and why virtual marketplaces will be essential to small business success as consumers adjust to post-quarantine life.
During times of crisis, Federal contracts must be awarded as quickly and efficiently as possible. Federal contracting, however, is deliberately slow to ensure public funds are spent responsibly. There are, of course, contract vehicles that allow for quick awards during emergencies. But, these vehicles are generally limited to specific areas deemed critical when a disaster is declared. The pool of vendors who bid on these projects isn’t necessarily pre-screened, which would help determine their ability to meet the needs of the award.
Latinos are the entrepreneurial engine of the U.S. economy. Latinas are starting more businesses than any other ethnic cohort and the trend isn't slowing down. Yet, despite this staggering growth, minority-owned businesses, in general, struggle to scale. Maribel Lara Senior Vice President, Head of Consulting at The Sasha Group, discusses some of the barriers minority, women-owned businesses face and shares growth hacks MWBEs can use to accelerate the growth of their firms.
In this new age of social media, traditional market research has taken a beating. Influencers like serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary Vee) extol the importance of getting out and talking to their customers personally while countless memes of Steve Jobs’ quip against market research “customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them,” are shared endlessly online. To some extent, they have a point. Gary Vee’s “back to basics” approach of getting out in the real world and speaking to consumers makes sense. Technology has made it so easy to hide behind our screens that, just like the Wizard of Oz, we tell our customers what we want without giving them a chance to get to know the person behind the curtain. Nor can we get to know them.
The trade war, to date, has been somewhat hypothetical, existing mainly in the minds of consumers as it has yet to hit our wallets tangibly. However, this may be changing in 2019 as the latest slate of tariffs is likely to affect items in grocery stores across the country. Hispanic grocery stores, however, have enjoyed a steady rise in business during 2018. So, will the impending tariffs stunt this growth? Let’s take a more in-depth look to find out.
2018 has been an eventful year for Hispanic grocery stores. We saw Bodega Latina expand to Texas with an acquisition of Fiesta Mart, Winn-Dixie’s Fresco Y Más concept grew in Florida, and Albertson’s El Rancho Supermercado officially entered the Houston market. Acquisitions and consolidations have been accelerating at a break neck pace the past several years and they will continue to in 2019. But what is driving this trend? Understanding the underlying drivers of these acquisitions and consolidations in the Hispanic grocery store space can help us see what the future of Hispanic grocery holds in 2019.