Arturo Adonay entered the business world from a young age in his native Mexico.
“Since I was a child, I have worked in all sorts of businesses. I have sold gold, body creams and clothes. I have had taquerías, pizzerias, as well as advertising and marketing agencies. I have also been in distribution,” said Adonay, who is currently a managing partner of Sara Capital Group.
After 23 years of living in the U.S., Adonay has become a renowned entrepreneur in the Southeast. His love for doing business has led him to discover another passion — helping other entrepreneurs.
“I consider myself a facilitator, a bridge for our community and our people. I like to take them by the hand while they create a sustainable business. I love that. That’s my passion,” said Adonay.
Adonay considers himself a natural businessman. He is one of the masterminds behind the idea of commercial plazas for Hispanics. Plaza Fiesta and Plaza de las Américas, in Atlanta’s metropolitan area, and Plaza del Sol, in Kissimmee, Florida, are examples of his creative endeavors.
Adonay wanted to build shopping plazas similar to those in Latin America and Europe, where large and small businesses converge, “dedicating a part of the shopping center to promoting small businesses,” he said. He had done something similar in Mexico and was lucky enough to meet people in the U.S. who agreed with his vision. Together, they made “the magic happen. It was a blessing, luck; you name it.”
After living more than two decades in the U.S., Adonay has seen many success stories highlighting Latinos’ “magic and creativity.” But he is aware that Latino businesses often follow a particular path.
“Americans are very structured. They make a business plan in advance, project more and give the company some time to grow. If in that span the business doesn’t grow, they close it up saying, ‘It didn’t work, what’s next,’” said the businessman.
Latinos are different.
They “often jump into the pool without knowing how to swim. They usually don’t know what they’re doing. However, through thick and thin, they learn to swim while trying to survive. When they see that the business is sinking, magic, creativity and family support come through, which is something I don’t see among other ethnicities.”
In times of crisis, “the whole family rolls up their sleeves and says, we have invested here, now we have to keep the business afloat, whatever it takes.” At this point, an exciting transformation happens from the business and community perspectives, he said.
“What we — and all the small entrepreneurs — are facing is unprecedented,” said Adonay, referring to the pandemic.
He believes companies must reinvent themselves, for example, doing business online. However, “not all businesses are prepared to do it. That is where we, as leaders, have to work with them, looking for alternatives, such as new distribution channels,” he said.
Common mistakes in challenging times
Being afraid of what the future might bring is a big mistake. “When you start focusing on the catastrophe before there is a catastrophe.” An entrepreneur cannot be afraid of what will happen tomorrow,” Adonay said.
Not seeing an opportunity is another mistake. In challenging times “businesses succeed if you are creative. When things are going down, you can dive in and rise with the wave. Sometimes, in times of crisis, small businesses come to a standstill rather than proactively looking for ways to grow the business,” he said.
A big mistake is not being austere in personal expenses. There are people who, in challenging times, “still have cable television with 300 channels and make unnecessary expenses. Instead, you have to tighten your belt, lower your spending and set money aside to continue supporting your business. Eventually, it’ll give you a monthly profit,” he said.
Not reinventing yourself is a mistake, too. “Wherever there is a challenge, there is an opportunity. But you have to look for it proactively,” he said.
Tips for those seeking to become entrepreneurs
“Businesses start from the inside out.” First, you have to organize the family or personal economy, he said. “Set aside some money and invest it [in the company] hoping for a return. Keep your personal budget straight to continue investing your extra money in your business, so you can support and fuel it. Little by little, it will give you a return. … Eventually, that return will allow you to live the lifestyle you had when you started. If you can’t handle your finances, you can’t run a business,” he said.
Passion is important. His advice is to open a business dealing with those things one cares about most. “If you know how to paint, create a business where you teach painting classes and sell painting supplies,” he said.
Do not be afraid of banks. “There is the fear of asking for a loan, often because of the language barrier,” he said.
Arturo Adonay, un hombre de negocios cuya pasión es ayudar a otros was first published in Negocios Now.
(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos. Edited by Melanie Slone and Fern Siegel.)