Edifying Entrepreneurs

By Melissa Rondon

After financial instability rocked his family in his youth, Tony Lopez devoted his career to helping other Latino business owners avoid the same hardships he and his family faced.  He talks business, family, and building a future.

Tony Lopez, a financial planner with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) knows what it takes to build and sustain a small business, and he’s helped thousands of families achieve their financial goals. Latinos are a major driving force of the U.S. economy, operating businesses at twice the rate of the general population. According to a recent study of Latino business owners by MassMutual, Latino-run businesses now number at over 4.4 million nationwide.  

Keys to Building Your Business

Nurture- “Business owners need to educated, organized, and prepared for their goals.”

Envision- “What do [you] really want to create in [your] life for the next 10, 15, 20 years?

Protect- “Protect the value of business most importantly, and secondly make sure that we’re taking care of their employees who have worked really hard and have helped them get the business to where it’s at now.”

Tony was born to immigrant parents from Mexico. When his father suffered a massive stroke while he was a teenager, his mother worked two jobs to support the family while he swept floors and bussed tables to pay his way through school. He joined the financial services industry right out of college and worked his way up to sales manager. From there, he moved to Silicon Valley, where he has expanded his success working with small business owners to protect families from the hardship he experienced growing up.  

Name: Tony Lopez  Occupation: Financial Planner & Vision Builder   “Paint that picture and then illustrate it into a plan.”

Name: Tony Lopez

Occupation: Financial Planner & Vision Builder

“Paint that picture and then illustrate it into a plan.”

According to Lopez, the 2018 MassMutual Small Business Owner Perspective Study is directed at Latino small business owners to provide strategies to maintain employee loyalty, assess the worth of their business, and alleviate the impact of illness or injury on the business. The study is also meant to help business owners put in place a plan for who will take over their businesses when they retire or pass away. 

“By reading this study, they’ll find out that they’re not alone,” says Lopez. “The majority of their concerns are what’s top of mind to all business owners.” Lopez hopes to educate, organize, and prepare business owners to achieve their goals both through the study and through fostering financial planning relationships with MassMutual. 

Lopez says that there are two main ways that working with a company like MassMutual can help business owners.  “We can support two areas: wealth accumulation and wealth protection,” he says. These strategies include things like retirement plans and executive bonuses for key employees on the wealth accumulation side and income continuation in the event of illness or injury on the wealth protection side.   

Support from a financial planner also means ensuring that businesses are financially organized and properly insured and incorporated to protect their earnings in the event of death or retirement. By preparing your business for any circumstance, you can insulate it from harm and give it the opportunity to grow in the face of hardship.  “The main benefit we provide is guiding our clients through a process where they feel safe in communicating what should happen when they pass away,” says Lopez.

According to the study, many Latinos find themselves spending more time working in their business than on their business. This means that many Latino business owners are often so overwhelmed with keeping up with day-to-day operations that they neglect the long-term planning necessary for a business to grow and prosper. 

This isn’t to say that protecting the business isn’t a priority to Latinos; many say that protecting their investment and ensuring loyalty to their business are major concerns. However, long-term priorities are often overshadowed by subsistence needs. One of the benefits of working with a financial planner is that you have someone to help you achieve your goals and realize your vision even in the face of hardship, according to Lopez.

It is crucial to keep long-term planning in mind despite distractions in order to position your business favorably for long-term success.  “The first step may be just a phone call to a service rep,” says Lopez. “They can design plans for your business that help align with your personal goals.  That’s an incredible asset.”

It’s also important to remember that you aren’t alone, and to use the connections you have to your advantage.  “Make sure you have the right team in place,” says Lopez.  “Utilize people in your network who you know to build a Board of Directors for yourself:  an aunt, and uncle, a cousin, or a friend who has high values and integrity”.  This can help you to make decisions about your business and provide you with multiple diverse perspectives. 

Your business is important  not just to you, but to your employees, your community, and the economy at large.  Therefore, wouldn’t you want to put as much effort into protecting it as you did in building it?  Creating and implementing a plan for your future is crucial if you want your business to flourish.