In October, readers who are past, present or future business owners were asked to complete a brief survey to share their thoughts about operating a business in New Orleans East. Only 20 business owners responded, so the survey will be revisited again at a later date; however, the feedback (see below) from those who did respond offers some insight into the challenges and needs of small businesses.
The data, though limited, provides information that can be used to revisit specific topics of interest for small business owners and those considering the possibility of owning a small business. For example, even though individuals may be uninterested in operating a business themselves, they may be interested in funding the operations of a business that someone else manages. Or, if several individuals are experiencing the same challenges, a collective effort can be made to address those concerns.
Note: Some percentages may total more than 100% due to multiple choices selected per respondent; or they may total less than 100% if respondents did not select an answer to a question.
Are you a business owner in New Orleans East?
50% are current business owners
10% previously owned a business
40% don’t own a business and have never owned a business
Most respondents have taken steps toward laying the foundation for a business; however, some may be deterred by regulations, and could possibly use guidance from programs such as Capital One’s Getting Down to Business, Southern University’s Small Business Development and Management Institute, IDEA Village’s Accelerator Program, New Orleans Business Alliance’s InvestNOLA or similar programs.
If you own a business in New Orleans East, which of the following applies?
92% are registered with the State of Louisiana
83% are registered with the City of New Orleans
100% have a Federal tax ID number
What resources are/were available to you, or would have been helpful, had they been available?
- Training available through Capital One/Urban League & Louisiana Small Business Development Center
- Assistance with blight remediation
- Any resources
- Being able to grow my business without politics that owners are subject to
- My business was financed out of pocket by myself. I had no prior formal business ownership training. I did take the opportunity to train for several business classes after opening my business.
Poor perception of the area, in many cases unwarranted, continues to be a huge hurdle for business owners to negotiate. An upcoming marketing campaign, including billboards, by the New Orleans Business Alliance, will carry the message that New Orleans East is open for business.
What are the biggest challenges with operating a business in the area?
35% – Blight
10% – Constrictive regulations
35% – Crime
15% – High cost of obtaining required licenses, permits, certifications, etc.
10% – Lack of affordable retail space
15% – Lack of awareness of business by residents
15% – Lack of complementary businesses
5% – Lack of confidence by area residents of abilities of black professionals
30% – Lack of funds or financing
30% – Lack of incentives
10% – Lack of patronage by residents
10% – Lack of skilled workforce
5% – Lack of training or knowledge to start or operate a business
10% – Length of time to obtain required licenses, permits, certifications, etc.
55% – Poor perception of the area
What are the most positive aspects of operating a business in the area?
20% – Active patronage by residents
10% – Availability of affordable retail space
20% – Availability of training or knowledge to start or operate a business
10% – Awareness of business by residents
10% – Expedited receipt of required licenses, permits, certifications, etc.
5% – Favorable perception of the area
5% – Helpful regulations
5% – New Orleans East has a strong sense of community
5% – None
10% – Usefulness or value of required licenses, permits, certifications, etc.
Most would agree that greater patronage of New Orleans East businesses is needed; however, residents need to know where these businesses are and what they provide. NOELA Services stands ready to spread the word about local businesses. Business owners can share an initial free business profile, including information about goods and services offered, with NOELA Newsletter readers by emailing email@example.com.
As a business owner, what information would you gain the greatest benefit from?
5% – Community engagement
20% – How to grow my business
5% – How to improve operations
25% – How to market my business
15% – How to obtain and manage human resources
15% – How to obtain assets for operating my business
20% – How to obtain financial advice
5% – How to obtain legal advice
20% – How to obtain operating funds
5% – None
While most respondents used cash on hand, local banks like Fidelity Bank and other lending institutions stand ready to provide critical funding for small businesses, even those with credit challenges.
What sources of funding have you used to operate your business?
15% – Bank loans
55% – Cash on hand
5% – Credit cards
5% – Personal loans from family or friends
10% – Profits from the business.
Many locals are frustrated with the lack of interest from outside investors, and it could be that residents may have to provide the catalyst to jump start economic development in the area. Franchises could provide the answer for some, by providing a blueprint for operation with proven business models, and providing brand recognition. NOELA Services will seek out franchise owners for their feedback and advice on the pros and cons of operating a franchise, and share this information with NOELA Newsletter readers.
Are you interested in becoming a franchisee or independent business owner?
59% – No
18% – Yes
23% – Maybe
If you are NOT interested in becoming a franchisee or independent business owner, why not?
5% – Am already a business owner
10% – I am concerned about the impact of crime on running a business
10% – I don’t have the funds or financing options to run a business
5% – I don’t think a business would be successful in the area
20% – I don’t want to run a business
5% – I’m already a business owner
5% – I’m retired and have some health issues.
5% – Other Family commitments at this time.
If there is a specific topic related to economic development that you would like to see covered, email firstname.lastname@example.org.