Small Business & Asian American Month: Celebrating the Superheroes of the American Dream 

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Welcome back to The Sunstone Way. 

May is Small Business Month, and it is hard to picture someone with more superhero traits than the owners of small businesses. After dedicating years of my life with the City of Long Beach supporting small businesses—specifically through the pandemic— I have seen first-hand how much courage it takes to start your own business, and how much strength it takes to run your own business. Successful small business owners face incredible odds to survive the ups and downs and must rely on superhero skills to make it all work. 

The recent emphasis on the “gig economy” has enabled even more people to set out on their own – becoming a small business – and pursuing the American Dream. 

The American Dream 

May also is Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and there is a much larger connection between the two than you might realize. 

According to a 2022 study by the website Smart Asset, Asian Americans make up just under 5% of the total adult population in the U.S. but own roughly 10% of all U.S. businesses.  More telling, the U.S. Small Business Administration website says that in 2019, there were almost 3 million Asian-owned businesses in the U.S., employing 5 million workers. You do the math –  Asian-owned businesses are powering the American economy and creating opportunity for their communities. 

Many Asian American immigrants pursue their American Dream by starting their own small business, whether it is a restaurant, a store, a hotel or a service business. Often, new immigrants don’t have the same opportunities for employment or time for education and must start their own businesses — becoming self-employed to provide for their families.  That’s what our own founder, John Shen, did. Sunstone Management, Inc., and American Lending Center both still qualify as small businesses in terms of number of employees – but, create jobs that make a difference and enrich lives through investment.  

Economic Impact of Small Business Owners 

Let’s hear more from the U.S. Small Business Administration. According to a 2019 report2, small businesses account for 44% of U.S. economic activity. Perhaps more importantly, small businesses create two-thirds of net new jobs in the country. 

That’s why it is so important for cities and counties to pay attention to and help small business owners succeed. It is no coincidence that Sunstone Management pays so much attention to those entrepreneurs working hard to start their own small businesses. Those are the folks driving our economy. 

In the larger scheme of things, some of those entrepreneurs are also developing innovative, sometimes world-changing approaches to solve problems. That’s why they are superheroes to me – they are shaping our future. 

Another Small Business Superhero: Government 

Most people don’t think of the government as a superhero for small business but our State government is a major reason why we have the most powerful small business economy in the world (and why so many immigrants come to America for startup capital and opportunity to start their businesses).  It’s no surprise that the biggest companies in the world — which started as small businesses — were born in California. 

Did you know that California has an Office of the Small Business Advocate? It is designed to be the voice for the state’s 4.2 million small businesses at the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. Tara Lynn Gray has been directing that office for three years. She has run her own small business as a minority business owner, worked with two small business development centers and ran a business association – in other words, she knows the world of small business from all sides. 

I introduce this superhero advocate because I want you to hear what she has to say. To that end, we are helping to organize “Capitalizing Potential: California Small Business Month,” a seminar on May 23 in Long Beach. Ms. Gray will be one of the featured speakers that morning, talking about how the state can partner with small businesses to help them succeed. California State Treasurer Fiona Ma also will be on hand. 

There’s nothing quite like hearing about the experience from someone who has been through it themselves, and I am pleased to say that Dr. Yi Chao of Seatrec will be speaking. I’m pleased to say both have been Sunstone partners for some time.  

I mentioned AANHPI Heritage Month earlier, and I am honored that Chiling Tong, President and CEO of the National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce will offer her thoughts. 

Come Be Our Guest 

All of this amazing information from these small business superheroes can be yours – for free! There is no charge to attend the event, but space is limited, so reservations are required. 

The day begins at 10 a.m., with the keynote addresses at 10:30 a.m. Once the speakers are finished, there will be a resource expo showcasing tools and services from state-backed programs, traditional banks and more designed to help small business owners and those trying to start a small business secure the capital needed to expand and create jobs. 

Register today at this link. Then show up and learn from these experts. Because that’s The Sunstone Way. 

And remember, be a Sunstone! 

John Keisler 

CEO & Managing Partner 

Sunstone Management, Inc. 

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©Sunstone Management, Inc. 2024 

More About Sunstone Management 
Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital sponsor firm headquartered in Southern California. Identified by Financial Times as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row. In the latest Pitchbook rankings, Sunstone Management was #15 in the third quarter of 2023 nationally, and #18 in the fourth quarter.1 

  1. Rankings from Pitchbook Venture Monitor, Q3 and Q4. 
  1. Small Business GDP, 

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