Spotlight: Joe Regina

We caught up with, Joe Regina, to talk small business.

How are you currently assisting Bronx merchants?
I’m working with merchants and community members in the Throggs Neck and Morris Park sections of the Bronx to develop Business Improvement Districts (BID). We’ve completed Phase 1 of the BID formation process for each section, which included contacting and meeting with the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), forming steering committees, conducting steering committee meetings, conducting needs assessment surveys within each community, developing district boundaries, developing district plans, developing district budgets, and the development and maintenance of databases containing property owners and commercial tenants. We are currently in Phase 2 of the BID formation process which is outreach for support of each BID.

How would you define a thriving business?
Longevity and turning a profit are good initial indicators. However, an organization that is truly thriving is one that not only considers itself a part of the community, but gives back to the community. Little things, such as seasonal decorations, street fairs, beautification projects, charity events, and other promotions, go a long way towards solidifying the merchant base within the community.

How has the start-up environment changed since you began working with merchants?
Over the years, I’ve seen the number of organizations who offer assistance and education for those looking to start a business increase tremendously. Places like the Small Business Development Center (located at Lehman College), New York City Department of Small Business Services, and NIDC are readily available to help people navigate through the system and point them in the right direction.

What advice would you give someone looking to open a new business in the Bronx?
Do your homework. Develop a business plan with a solid budget, assess your consumer base, and fully educate yourself. You must familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations of business ownership, including local agencies such as the NYC Department of Health, NYC Department of Buildings, and NYC Department of Consumer Affairs.

What’s a popular misconception people might hold about starting a business?
Many people assume that there is a need for their product or service. There may not be. Assess the potential consumer base and competition in a similar field, then determine if there is a genuine need before diving in.