Can Miami Hold its Microbusiness Crown?

 |  3 min read

Can Miami Hold its Microbusiness Crown?

Image Source: Thierry Painparay, American Dream Tour Miami

To drive lasting, equitable growth, the city can do more to reach would-be entrepreneurs in its immigrant communities.

During the depths of the pandemic, Miami emerged as fertile ground for one of the few shoots of good economic news: a boom in people starting their own microbusinesses – in particular, people who had responded to the lockdown by relocating to warmer, often lower cost locales. As of March 2021, the Miami metropolitan area, including neighboring cities such as Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach, had 9.9 of these microbusinesses per every 100 residents – the highest density of any major U.S. metro region, according to data compiled by GoDaddy’s Venture Forward research initiative.

Headshot of Erick Isaac, Vice President – Development at Prospera

The area still holds that crown; in fact, its microbusiness density has risen to 11.0 as of June 2022. And yet, some community advocates are struck by how much still needs to be done – particularly to support owners of microbusinesses from the area’s large immigrant population. “Miami is a very diverse city with a lot of immigrants who are trying to learn to do business in the U.S.,” said Erick Isaac, vice president of development of Prospera, a nonprofit entrepreneurial support organization that focuses on Hispanics and bilingual communities. Given the extra challenges these people face, “It’s no surprise that their failure rate is higher than average.”

Read Americans Are Starting More Microbusinesses to Overcome Economic Struggles  to learn more about how communities, and their leaders, can support their budding entrepreneurs and narrow equity gaps, nurturing new paths toward economic opportunity for marginalized populations.

To better serve underrepresented groups, start with data.

Part of the problem for advocates like Prospera was a lack of hard data on what was happening in their own backyard. “We’d been searching for data for a decade to see how Miami compared to the rest of the nation,” says Isaac. His team scoured U.S. Census reports and other sources, but never felt it could cobble together a comprehensive picture.

Then he discovered Venture Forward, which combines anonymized data on the number and activity of millions of microbusinesses that use a GoDaddy domain, along with quarterly surveys of entrepreneurs across the country.

Microbusiness Activity Index
Q2 2022 Top Gainers

“When we saw this data, it made sense right away,” Isaac said during a webinar sponsored by mySidewalk another Venture Forward partner that helped create the data exploration platform that enables visitors to generate localized reports for policymakers and others. The dataset gives a more accurate picture of microbusiness activity in part because many owners don’t register their businesses, so they don’t show up in government statistics. His team also used the data to understand demographic and geographic cuts of the data, down to the zip-code level.

Address the unique challenges of immigrant entrepreneurs.

These surveys provide a way for owners to share directly what they need to prosper. As in most places, the top requests are help with marketing, accessing capital and help connecting with mentors and other entrepreneurs. According to Isaac, these issues are more pronounced among Miami’s pool of immigrant entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs, many of whom face a significant language barrier and fewer contacts with potential lenders, customers and partners.

What’s more, he says that immigrant-owned microbusinesses are often “startups of necessity,” with owners motivated more by the need to put food on the table than to achieve long-term success. For many, their business is their second or third source of income, and as such, many haven’t even considered investing hard-earned cash into marketing, preferring to get by on word-of-mouth referrals.

Isaac believes these immigrant entrepreneurs are also more likely to be unfamiliar with programs and resources that can help them get funding, training and networking programs that can help.

“The path of these entrepreneurs is a lonely one,” he said. “You can’t put them in a box and try to find solutions. These microbusinesses need to be served where they are.”

Are you or your organization searching for similar salient data about your local or regional microbusiness community? Visit GoDaddy Venture Forward’s Microbusiness Data Hub to find the data you need.