Small businesses are making a comeback after two challenging years under COVID-19. There were more than 47,000 new business registrations in Connecticut in 2021; a 20 percent increase from 2020, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
CT Latino News spoke with Sonia Alvelo, CEO of Latin Financial, a family-owned and operated brokerage firm in Newington with offices in Puerto Rico. “Everybody was lost, everybody was overwhelmed,” said Alvelo on the Latino News Network’s podcast, “3 Questions With…” about the early days of the pandemic when small businesses were scrambling to get financial help in order to stay afloat. “There was so much miscommunication,” she said.
Alvelo described the beginning of the pandemic as a tense and stressful situation as her firm scrambled to help their clients access Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding.
Many members of the Hispanic-Latino community weren’t aware of COVID financial aid, including the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program until Alvelo told them. She worked with dozens of business owners submitting first-time applications, loan increase requests, and reconsiderations of denied requests – many times translating information in Spanish.
Alvelo said there are three things that make any small business successful: passion, logistics, and a good accountant.
“Start a business that you’re good at and love,” she said. “The second is logistics – have a solid plan of action,” Alvelo advises. And the third is a good CPA because it sets you up for success she said.
Much of the work Alvelo provides is at no cost, an investment in the community that she says is paying dividends in new clients for her company. She plans to hire new employees and expand her business beyond Connecticut and Puerto Rico.