Hispanic business owners are forced to find ways to be creative in order to survive the economy. Also, more undocumented entrepreneurs are creating their own businesses to make a living.
Juan Esparza, business consultant with Regio Asesores, talks about why this is happening.
Rosa Macias, CEO of Del Sol Furniture, discusses the challenges and decisions facing hispanic owned businesses.
José Cárdenas: Thank you for joining us. I'm José Cárdenas. According to a 2011 study from the Pew Hispanic center, the number of undocumented immigrants in the nation's workforce was eight million in March 2010. The number of undocumented immigrants in the labor force had decreased in 2009 from its peak in 2007. With undocumented immigrants unable to enter the traditional workforce, many have had to find a way to make a living. With me to talk about this is Juan Esparza, a business consultant with Regio Asesores. Also here is Rosa Macias, CEO of Del Sol Furniture. Thank you both for joining us on "Horizonte." Juan, the group we focused on in the introduction, undocumented entrepreneurs here, that's only part of the business clientele that you have. But that particular group was the focus of a recent article in the Phoenix New Times, so I want to talk about them. Are you seeing a lot of that? I understand a number of them are kids who are brought here when they were babies, two, three, four years old, they've gone to school and they've gotten college degrees, some of them. But they can't get a job unless they do it through some kind of business form.
Juan Esparza: They need to survive and they need to find new ways to support their families. Some of them are now parents -- sometimes they're the only support for the family. They found, you know, new -- obstacles with the new economy and tendencies from the last, it's not an option for them. So they must survive, you know, and choose to keep paying the high prices for the college credits if they want to continue with their education, they need to be creative. Now they're, they start their own businesses.
José Cárdenas: And so these people, some of them with college degrees, who can't get jobs because it's illegal for people to hire them. But they can legally create a business and provide services and get paid for it.
Juan Esparza: Correct, they can be freelance or outsourcing, now outsourcing is more popular. If they create a business and you know, they register with the different government dependencies, they can start on the business work and be hired by the corporates, you know, and like freelance or outsourcing.
José Cárdenas: And some of the people featured in the article included people who started translation business and people teaching English as a second language. What other kinds of businesses are you seeing these people start?
Juan Esparza: Nowadays first -- I will say first -- now in technology, on education, construction, graphic design. The levels of requirements are higher and these people are prepared for professional to provide these type of services.
José Cárdenas:: I want to talk to you about some of the advice you give to people coming to you for -- about starts businesses, but Rosa, your situation is different. You've been in business for some time. And you have seen changes over the years. But first tell us about how you got started in your business and what your business is.
Rosa Macias: We came from Mexico in 1989 and we started with the furniture business, originally it's called Muebleria Del Sol. We started the business with my brother-in-law.
José Cárdenas: "Muebleria" meaning furniture?
Rosa Macias: "Muebleria Del Sol" means "Del Sol Furniture" because it's a furniture store. But now it's changing.
José Cárdenas: And that's a result of a number of factors including the economcy. But also trying to reach out to a bigger market.
Rosa Macias: We've been targeting the Hispanic and Latino market in the past trying to do advertising just in Spanish, but now it's so different. That's why we're now also using the name "Del Sol Furniture" and now we're making advertising in English or bilingual in order to attract the general market and not just a portion of the market.
José Cárdenas: And your Del Sol Furniture location, you have a separate location by Mill's Mall?
Rosa Macias: Yes, it's another change we had to do. Now we have another store, and we needed another name to sell furniture under another concept. Because for example, we don't give credit on the rented furniture and Del Sol Furniture is still giving credit, but they're in different kinds of markets. We're selling different furniture, we have different people in the preparation of the sales rep, because they're different markets.
José Cárdenas: And you have different customers in the different locations, just give us generally an idea of how they differ.
Rosa Macias: Actually, for rental furniture we have a general market. When I say "general market" I'm talking about Anglo people, Latino people, Arabian, any kind of people. At Del Sol Furniture, we mainly have Latino people.
José Cárdenas: And you do different things to reach out to these different groups?
Rosa Macias: The marketing and advertising- they're so different.
José Cárdenas: And Juan, in your business as a business advisor, you're getting people coming to you, and we were talking a little bit off camera, you might get the small business owner who says I want my company called "Perez Landscaping" and you tell them it's not a good idea. Why is that?
Juan Esparza: Nowadays, you need to open to a new culture. Perez landscaping, for example, you are thinking like you're only closed or got a segment of the market only on the Latinos. But now, if you get creative and put, for example Saguaro Landscaping you are open to the whole market of Arizona and now they're more attractive and it's a business strategy that besides the name of the business, you know, people can find you more easily nowadays with the web, social media, and that's part of the new tendencies of the market.
José Cárdenas: So you're telling them don't just focus on the monolingual Spanish speaking customers, broaden your horizons and marketing efforts and use a different name that might be more appealing?
Juan Esparza: Yes, think big. If you own a business and if you're taking the risks -- you can be more creative and open to the whole market.
Rosa Macias: And I think that as a community, we're looking for new opportunities, you know? We're looking for a diverse opportunities. The things that we've been instilling is the one we that we've been living. Changing the name from "Muebleria Del Sol" to "Del Sol Furniture" is almost the same thing that he is saying.
José Cárdenas: And some of that is circumstances have changed with the downturn in the economy. With some of the immigration measures. You almost have to, out of necessity, broaden your customer base, as I understand it.
Rosa Macias: That's right. We have a marketing department and this guy has been working real hard looking for new opportunities for new niches because we need to attract different kind of customers right now. The main reason is because a lot of Latino people are gone, they're not over here anymore.
José Cárdenas: And have you seen the same thing, Juan? There's a decline in the Latino population because of measures like S.B. 1070 and employer sanctions?
Juan Esparza: Yeah, that's a real scenario on the streets. But now, new generation, kids born here in the USA, they're helping parents to be more successful in the business. Now they're involving in all business areas, like, you know, bookkeeping, marketing, helping parents to attract more clients and going to the Anglo market.
José Cárdenas: Juan, one last question, what's the most important piece of advice you can give to one of these entrepreneurs that come in and want to start a business? What's the most important thing you can tell them?
Juan Esparza: What I tell them, they can be a success, besides their legal status. What I tell them all the time, business doesn't have a status. You can start up a business and you can be a successful businessman, you can be a millionaire besides your status, because people are creative, people are -- they have dreams. They have to reach their dreams.
José Cárdenas: And you help them do that. Juan Esparza, Rosa Macias thank you for joining us on "Horizonte."
Rosa Macias: Thank you very much.
Juan Esparaza:Business Consultant, Regio Asesores; Rosa Macias:CEO, Del Sol Furniture;