Now’s the time to kickstart a small business – and here’s how
Now’s the time to kickstart a small business
As COVID-19 regulations loosen in New York, Onondaga County is experiencing a surge in small business growth. During the week of March 8, 44 new businesses were filed in the county, according to Syracuse.com, with 17 in Syracuse alone.
New business owners are finding many opportunities to kickstart their dreams this month particularly, and their experiences offer prospective entrepreneurs valuable lessons for taking a chance during the pandemic.
As many businesses close in Central New York, “[COVID-19] left a lot of openings in the market and opportunities for new businesses to step in,” said MaryAnn Monforte, professor of accounting practice at Syracuse University. On top of that, government resources like stimulus checks and small business loans are allowing some people to receive the extra support they need to develop their businesses, she said.
As COVID-19 restrictions decrease and precautions like wearing masks have become almost “first nature,” Ladashia Adams, 28, said “now is the perfect time” to start a new business. Adams filed her nail salon, Lavish La La Nails, for business this month in Syracuse. Currently working from home, Adams said she plans to move her salon to Hiawatha Boulevard this spring.
Onondaga County has always been a hub for small companies and “mom-and-pop-owned businesses” that provide unique goods and services alongside larger organizations, and the pandemic only contributed to this popularity, Monforte said.
“When [people] watch neighborhood restaurants close, when they hear about friends or friends of friends that were servers that are out of business or stylists have a salon that’s closed and can’t do anything – when it hits home like that, it makes you realize how important local businesses are to your community,” Monforte said.
For some people, including baker Jaclyn Hanifin, 38, the time spent at home during the pandemic inspired them to create new businesses.
“We’ve had the time to do the research,” Hanifin said. “There’s the time to really focus on your goals and your dreams, and you’re just able to put it all together and just see what happens.”
A stay-at-home mother, Hanifin filed for business in Baldwinsville to start her bakery called Mama’s Sugar Slate. Hanifin said that, by working from home, she has not had to manage COVID-19 restrictions and precautions like other businesses. Customers typically pick up their food from her house, but she said she leaves the baked goods in boxes on her front porch or hands them off outside wearing a mask.
Baking in her kitchen, Hanifin can create her own work hours and be her “own boss,” she said. “I almost feel more comfortable in my own home where I can kind of be more productive and allow my creativity to blossom.”
Aware that she is starting a new business during an unprecedented pandemic, Adams said it has been important for her to take “baby steps.”
“I’m working around the pandemic, working around the rules,” Adams said.
With the tools and equipment she has now, Adams said she makes sure to limit the number of clients she takes at home, so she never runs out of resources. She pays careful attention to her budget in all areas of her personal life, so she can save up for new equipment and expand her business even more when opening her space this spring.
A newcomer to all things business, Hanifin said the Onondaga Small Business Development Center has also been a valuable resource to her.
Working with a consultant free of charge, Hanifin said the center has helped her set up a limited liability company for her bakery and has given her resources to set up business accounts, track expenses, get in touch with attorneys, accountants and other individuals and more.
“I had no idea where to start with all of this, and he gave me all the resources,” Hanifin said. “I’m a rule follower. I don’t want to mess up, and so he really helped me to feel more confident in that area.”
Hanifin said she can keep in touch with the consultant as long as she needs, acting as a constant support system for her while expanding her bakery.
Jada Sanjurjo, 19, who filed her hair care and styling company, Culture Hair Growth, in Syracuse this month, said the pandemic has helped small businesses like hers gain more recognition in the area. More people are realizing that she can do the same hairstyles and provide the same quality hair products as larger salons but for a lower price, she said.
Sanjurjo knows that many people are struggling financially during the pandemic, so for her returning customers, she said she will often throw in a free hair paste or oil with their purchase to show her appreciation for them and set her apart from other hair care companies in the area.
“I’m kinda taking advantage of the fact that I’m just getting into it, knowing that if I’m going to grow my company, things like [the pandemic] are going to happen,” Sanjurjo said.
The pandemic is a learning experience for many new entrepreneurs like Sanjurjo to help them prepare for the unexpected, think strategically and seize as many opportunities as possible to ensure success within their communities.