Latina Entrepreneurs are Powerhouses in Los Angeles.
By Christine Bolaños.
Latinas are venturing into entrepreneurship and small business ownership at a rapid rate. This coupled with the fact that Los Angeles county has the highest concentration of Hispanics in the country supports experts’ belief that it may be home to the greatest number of Latina entrepreneurs as well. According to the Census Bureau report, as of 2014 there are more Latinos in California than there are Caucasians.
“There are more women stepping up and realizing we can work for ourselves and pursue our own dreams,” says Ana Caban, president of Ana Caban Inc, who helps clients transform their bodies, businesses and life for the better.
Her Hispanic roots ingrained in her the value of family and community which she transitioned to her business. Caban helped people reach their fitness goals for more than 20 years but decided on a holistic approach to health through her own business, which has proven a success in Los Angeles and beyond, and in English and Spanish.
“Being Latina has always taught me to work hard and dream big,” shares Lala Castro, co-founder and social media consultant of LatinaGeeks. “My father was an entrepreneur, whether that meant selling things or having his own little tiendita (store front).”
LatinaGeeks is a media resource platform that encourages Latinas to embrace their inner geek and acquire technology skills girls can use in school, in entrepreneurship endeavors such as a digital marketing startup, social media or in the workplace.
Castro also runs her social media marketing consulting company Lala Castro Media in Los Angeles.
“(LatinaGeeks) reach is national, from Los Angeles to New York to Chicago and even Atlanta,” Castro adds. “Because we are in Los Angeles, we tend to have more involvement from one Latina to another here. It can be anything from workshops to university to Latinas talking about embracing their inner geek and proper branding as they pursue their career.”
Castro hopes the organization inspires other media outlets to create content geared at Latinas which can in turn inspire more to pursue technology.
“I think we have an openness and willingness to become entrepreneurs and a willingness to work really hard and sacrifice a lot to achieve our business goals,” says Michele Ruiz, president of Ruiz Strategies. “I think that’s very attributable to my upbringing and certainly, my culture.”
Ruiz Strategies is a communications firm that helps corporations, government entities and large privately-owned companies tell their story, reach and influence their target audiences and stand out in the marketplace. The former NBC anchor launched the firm after noticing a lack of bilingual media geared to Hispanics.
“Statistically we know that women who own businesses tend to have smaller networks than men,” she shares. “When our networks are smaller, that puts us at a disadvantage. Our networks have a direct influence of how we think of ourselves as business owners.”
She says a supportive network is key to entrepreneurial success.
“There will be times when you wonder how you will make it,” says Josefa Salinas, an on-air personality, LATINA Style Advocate of the Year and CEO of Salinas Media & Communications. “I took a chance to start my own radio stations, while keeping another job. To make it all work, I had to take a third job to help fund the dream.”
Salinas believes it’s a matter of how much a person wants to make their dream a reality.
“Closed mouths don’t get fed,” Salinas advises. “Ask for help. Keep asking until you find someone so enamored by your enthusiasm and dedication to your dream that they say yes and help you. Most of all, be willing to get out there and do it yourself. You have to want it as bad as you want to breathe.”
Her most cherished job is putting on the How to Be a Girl program every summer. It’s a five-day free camp for tweens to teach them everything from personal finance to hair, makeup, and personal growth.
“Being a first-generation immigrant has taught me to be tenacious, resilient and truly understand and appreciate the importance of my community involvement,” says Claudia Bodan, who worked her way up from teller in college to her current post as senior vice president and market manager of Bank of America in Los Angeles.
“As your business continues to grow, take inventory of your human capital resources,” she suggests. “Hiring key employees or professionals, such as controllers, CFOs or CPAs, is extremely beneficial as the business develops and maintains its strategic growth.”
She also strongly advices entrepreneurs understand their company’s financial statements.
“It’s crucial for the success of your business to strategize and make sure your business story matches up against the story of your financial statement,” Bodan says.
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