Immigrant-owned small businesses diversifying to reach more clients amid coronavirus

'Make sure that you're spending money in the right place,' economist says
Posted at 5:45 PM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 17:51:19-05

JUPITER, Fla. — The National Bureau of Economic Research reports 36 percent of immigrant-owned small businesses closed after the first month of COVID-19 alone. It's an alarming number for a region with the highest share of foreign-born business owners.

Since 2013, Nina Tomasik, the owner of Nina's Fresh Bakery in Jupiter, has baked a century-old family recipe to life.

"Eggs, butter, sugar and flour. It's very simple," Tomasik said.

It is a smart formula for a health-conscious region, but she admits the pandemic left a bitter taste in her mouth.

"I remember very clearly it was March 17. We got a lot of phone calls, double fisting the phones, cancellations and refunds," she said.

Nina's Fresh Bakery
Nina's Fresh Bakery in Jupiter, Fla., diversified their business model to include launching a website to offer online orders and curbside delivery.

Tomasik also still had a staff to pay. She quickly diversified her business model to include launching a website to offer online orders, curbside delivery and decorating kits, which has benefitted the company, according to Levi Grooms, a cake specialist.

"People are spending more time at home with family. People are planning these little get-togethers, and that's compounded upon itself," Grooms said.

Based on a report from the National Bureau of Economic Research, after the first month of the pandemic, only 15 to 20 percent of small business owners had enough cash on hand to cover three months of operations. Other disparities centered on minorities and women.

Nicole Anderson, an economist and CEO of MEND, a human resources solutions firm, is unsettled by the number of immigrant-owned businesses unable to rebound like Tomasik.

"COVID-19 brought to light the disparities in Black-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, immigrant-owned businesses and women-owned businesses," Anderson said. "Fears are there, and some people just don't want the stress anymore."

Nicole Anderson, economist and CEO of MEND
Nicole Anderson, an economist and CEO of MEND, says businesses should make sure they are spending money in the right places and don't be afraid to reach out for help.

Anderson also said there might be fear about asking and receiving help, especially from the government.

"You are a tax-paying citizen. Go to your local county commissioner, your local city council and find out what they have available as a tax-paying citizen," Anderson said.

Additionally, Anderson advises all small business owners to diversify the business to reach your client better and invest in organizational planning.

"Make sure that you're spending money in the right place and you have your employees where they need to be," she said. "Otherwise, move them around and shift them, and that's going to make something more profitable in your organization."

These are all steps that Nina Fresh Bakery has visibly accomplished both inside and out.

"I think immigrant businesses specifically are run by people that come here with a purpose, passion and a specific idea," Grooms said. "Make it work."