Small Business Survival

Bank of America says the vast majority of small businesses in Miami are hanging in there. How?

When Bank of America issues a report on small businesses, listen up: It found that business owners remain resilient and flexible: 87% of small businesses in Miami have remained open in some capacity amid the pandemic and shutdowns—either by adjusting operations (63%) or as an essential business (24%). It’s a story that resonates throughout the greater Miami metro area.

“We had to transform how we did business and we’re still in a learning stage, changing every day,” says Tim Petrillo, CEO and founder of The Restaurant People. And we’ve recognized that since we’ve reopened that we’re no longer a high-touch game where people were taken care of. We used to have a network of teams and we had to break that down, and integrate as much technology as we can use, with digital menus. Now hospitality is all about safety. We want to make sure our guests feel safe and minimize interacting. One server is key, and we no longer have a lot of people approaching the table.”

Other members of that 87% owe their survival to the particulars of the pandemic. Beyond the obvious essential services like grocery stores, pharmacies and UPS storefronts, society has tilted toward two tangibles: the laptop and the sofa.

Digital services like PeakActivity have flourished as online lives have expanded even more. CEO Manish Hirapara says that COVID-19 pandemic only caused his business to slow for a few months last spring, “then came back with a roar.”

Home life has also expanded, which is why interior designers have kept active. “We have fared really well—thank God we are really busy,” says Giselle Loor Sugerman, principal of B+G Design. “We feel that since so many people are spending more time at home, they understand the value of good design. Clients want home offices, gyms, spas, outdoor areas for entertaining and media rooms.”

“We really haven’t had to adjust,” says Todd Davis, principal of Brown Davis Architecture & Interiors. “At the start of COVID, some clients put their projects on a temporary hold but most started back up after a few months. Other clients never stopped their projects. The big news is that many wealthy people from New York bought places in Miami and we have signed on new projects. Most of these transplants are making Miami their permanent home for tax reasons, and I see this as another step in Miami transforming to a large, multicultural, international city.”

Versatility—not just services, but services and goods—has also aided Brown Davis’ success: “Our furniture line has continued to sell well across the country.” Cue the couch, preferably with laptop close at hand.

Drew Limsky
dlimsky@sfbwmag.com
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