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The overall landscape for those of Hispanic descent may be fraught right now, what with a contentious U.S. immigration policy and an increase in xenophobic attitudes and attacks, but spend some time talking with Hispanic business owners, and you'll likely hear a sunnier story.
In fact, the 2019 edition of an annual survey of Hispanic business owners conducted by Bank of America reports what might seem to be a surprising finding.
Hispanic business owners are actually more optimistic than their non-Hispanic counterparts, expressing stronger confidence in the economy, as well as their own short- and long-term outcomes.
A majority of them—79%, in fact—are planning to expand their business in the next five years, compared to just 55% of their non-Hispanic peers.
How can we explain and understand these seemingly disparate observations?
One New York City entrepreneur, DJ Camilo, a disc jockey turned restauranteur, helps break it down for us.
DJ Camilo opened his first restaurant, Blend, in the New York City neighborhood of Long Island City, in 2005, and has since expanded his business portfolio to include several more restaurants, among them, pizza shops and a Latin American-inspired tapas and cocktail bar. The Colombian-American serial entrepreneur says that he and many other Hispanics are so bullish about business for a few key reasons.
1. A 'rising tides lift all boats' mindset
Hispanics who want to start businesses are more likely to collaborate with one another than to adopt a "go your own way" approach. Whether it's a group of investors who arrive at a formal agreement to go in on a business together, or a loose grouping of Hispanics who want to support each other's businesses informally by, for example, promoting each other on social media and in offline spheres of influence, Hispanics are more likely to offer mutual support in a "rising tides lifts all boats" philosophy rather than a cutthroat, competitive stance.
2. Non-traditional methods of cross-pollinating their businesses
For DJ Camilo, his career spinning at nightclub turntables garnered contacts that served him well when he began making inroads into the food service business.
Clubs that hosted special events could likely fulfill their own beverage service needs with an in-house bar, but were often looking for quality food vendors to provide catering.
DJ Camilo could use his club contacts to position his restaurants as vendors that could fill those food-related needs, seeding his business with lucrative catering contracts, which resulted in even more referrals from satisfied customers.
3. Growing interest in Latino cultures
DJ Camilo believes that the success of his restaurants is due, in no small part, to the fact that he launched his first business right at the moment when there was a growing interest in Latin cultures and, especially, Latin food. Developing a menu inspired by diverse Latin American countries allowed him to cast a wide net for customers, satisfying their taste for something they hadn't tasted before, expanding their palates and priming them for his future businesses, especially the pan-Latin tapas and cocktail bar.
This desire to "taste the world" represents a "great opportunity for Latin businesses to open and expand and ride that wave for Latin cuisine preference," DJ Camilo says, and not only in the food industry.
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