By Michael Gougis – Contributing Writer, Long Beach Business Journal
December 6 – Growing up, Jesse Torres saw first-hand in his own family the stumbling block that many a small business trips over.
“My dad had his own barber shop for many years,” says Torres, 35, a Southern California native who now lives in San Gabriel. “He had to make a decision one year about whether to expand, to open up another store. And he didn’t have anyone to turn to, to say ‘here’s how to do it.’ And I always remember that. He had such a hard time. Then he decided not to do it. I wonder; if he had someone there really advising him what to do maybe it would have been different.”
Torres now makes sure that business owners in the position of his father all those years ago have some place to turn for advice and direction.
Torres is the new regional director of the Los Angeles Regional Small Business Development Centers Network. Hosted by Long Beach City College, the agency is the largest regionally funded small business development center in the country. The offices at LBCC are the hub of a network of six small business development centers in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the centers focus on helping small businesses survive and grow, and helping established small businesses grow into thriving operations that generate revenue and jobs. Practical, professional advice on everything the small business owner needs to know – financing, marketing, planning – as well as professional consulting services are provided free to the small business community.
When asked about the most common topic of advice for small businesses, Torres says it often falls into convincing the entrepreneur to back away from the counter and do some planning.
“What we see often is soft financials – not having a mastery of their own budget. Not really having essentially the time to do the proper amount of forecasting, budgeting,” Torres says. “They’re so focused on ‘I need to deal with my customers right now – I need to get a move on this business’ – that they can’t step back and say, ‘How is my cash flow doing? How am I prepared for success? Say I get 100 new orders – am I ready for that? Do I have the cash flow to do that?’”
The network is set to open yet another center, this one in Downtown Long Beach, this month. Torres says the emphasis for much of the region is on international trade; with its ports, airports and rail yards, the greater Long Beach region is a hub of import and export operations of global significance.
The Long Beach Business Journal is a publication of South Coast Publishing, Inc., incorporated in the State of California in July 1985. The Business Journal is a tabloid newspaper, published biweekly – every other Tuesday. It has served as the “voice of business” since its premiere edition in March 1987. It covers a wide range of business and community issues, with special focuses on international trade, real estate and development, healthcare, tourism, aviation and aerospace, technology, financial services, the arts, education and the environment. Additionally, the Business Journal editorial team tracks local, state and national legislation impacting business and keeps its readers informed about City Hall actions.