Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

Information Search Patterns among Hispanic Entrepreneurs

Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Management

Information Search Patterns among Hispanic Entrepreneurs

Article excerpt

INFORMATION SEARCH PATTERNS AMONG HISPANIC ENTREPRENEURS

The Hispanic population in the U.S. increased by 60.9 percent during the period from 1970 to 1980, as compared with 11.5 percent of the total U.S. population. In 1977, a Survey of Minority Business conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Censur shows that Hispanic businesses grew at an even more rapid rate than the Hispanic population. During the five years ending in 1977, the number of Hispanic-owned firms increased by 52.6 percent, and their receipts grew by almost 75 percent. In 1977, the sales receipts of Hispanic firms totaled $10.4 billion, in contrast to $8.6 billion for black-owned businesses.

The foregoing information suggests that Hispanics may start increasing number of businesses in the future. Research on Hispanic-owned businesses, however, is limited. One area in need of investigation is information-seeking behavior among Hispanic business owners, since the success of almost any small business depends in large part on access to and intelligent use of business information. Two sets of independent variables are considered important when examining the information-seeking behavior of Hispanic small business owners. These are psychological characteristics and the types of business problems perceived to be significant. The results of a survey questionnaire designed to reveal relationships between personality traits, business problems and use of various information sources among Hispanic entrepreneurs are reported in this article.

INFORMATION SOURCES

It is important for owner/managers to have access to a variety of information sources in order to adapt their business strategies to prevailing conditions. The responsibility for seeking information typically lies with the owner/manager, whose inclinations, predispositions, and biases determine to a large extent what information will be found and/or used. Since the owner/manager must also assume many other roles in the management of a small business, there may not be much time available for information-seeking. It is important, therefore, to determine how entrepreneurs utilize the growing array of data sources available to them in order to develop more efficient means of seeking and using information. This is particularly true in the case of Hispanic business owners, 93 percent of whom operate as sole proprietors.

Lack of contacts and knowledge about where to obtain information are problems that plague almost all new business owners. Hispanics, with a more limited tradition of establishing business activities in the United States, might be expected to find it even more difficult than domestic entrepreneurs to locate such information.

University-based small business seminars constitute a particularly important information source for new or prospective entrepreneurs. The special importance of seminars, workshops, and courses sponsored by universities or the Small Business Administration lies in the fact that these sources specifically address the needs and interests of small business owners. Such gatherings also provide the opportunity to gather specialized information and to interact with other small business people. Many other possible sources exist, however. These may be classified broadly in five categories: professional, personal, written, institutional, and electronic.

Professional sources offer services characterized by in-depth knowledge and expertise related to one or more aspects of small business operations. Some examples are bankers, lawyers, and accountants. Personal sources are usually based on social, family, community, and neighborhood ties, and most often involve persons with whom the business owner associates regularly. Written sources include newspaper, journals, catalogs, trade magazines, and other printed media. In the case of many Hispanic business owners, the language barrier and incomplete assimilation to the prevailing culture are likely to limit the usefulness or attractiveness of this group of sources. …

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