Long Island City, NY—March 24, 2014–Two graduates of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses at LaGuardia Community College have won 2013 New York Enterprise Report (NYER) Small Business Awards. George Constantinou, co-owner of Bogota Latin Bistro in Brooklyn, was honored with the Best Practice/Leadership Award, and Tamara Nall, president and chief executive officer of The Leading Niche, was bestowed the Best of the Year/Supplier Diversity Award.
NYER is a media company that provides resources and expert advice to more than 100,000 business owners and executives in the tri-state area to help them grow and run their businesses successfully. “NYER’s Small Business Awards” is the annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of over 500,000 small businesses in the region. Five companies were recognized for their best practices, and three won under the best of the year categories.
Mr. Constantinou’s Bogota Latin Bistro is a 120-seat pan-Latin restaurant located in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Opening in 2005, Mr. Constantinou was a seasoned business owner by the time he entered 10,000 Small Businesses in July 2011. “I was on the right path, but the program helped me get there faster,” he said. The national initiative assists small businesses in growing and creating jobs through greater access to business education, financial capital, and support services.
Calling it “CEO boot camp,” he said, “10,000 Small Businesses got me to understand the concept of working on your business, rather than working in your business. I loved working in my business, but it wasn’t growing that way.” Adding that the program helped him win the NYER Leadership Award, he said, “It showed me how I could do it better and be a better leader.”
With opening a second restaurant as one of the goals in his program growth plan, Mr. Constantinou noted that he signed a lease this past November for the additional location, which will also be in Park Slope. He also pointed out that he has hired eight new employees since participating in 10,000 Small Businesses and that his revenue has increased almost 40 percent.
“Two years after the program, I’m still applying what I learned,” said Mr. Constantinou. “I’ve grown in leaps and bounds in past two years—more than I did the six to seven years before.”
Ms. Nall started her data analysis and IT consulting firm in 2007. “We turn data into gold,” she said, explaining that The Leading Niche analyzes clients’ data and gives recommendations to the executive team. Serving government agencies and large corporations, nationally and abroad, she said she saves her clients time and money and helps them increase revenue.
Attending 10,000 Small Businesses in the spring of 2013, Ms. Nall said the program allowed her to look at her company differently. “I considered us a consulting firm. But my program business advisor asked, ‘Are you more of a staffing company for some clients?’ And he was right,” she said, pointing out that for corporations, they’re asked to solve problems, while for government agencies they’re asked to provide position profiles. “My advisor made me look at everyone we serve and really think about how to best deliver to them,” she said.
Commenting on the practicality and value of 10,000 Small Businesses, Ms. Nall, who holds a graduate degree from the Harvard Business School, noted that when she started the program she had four employees and six contractors but now has 30 employees and 10 contractors. And her revenue more than doubled in 2013. “I’ve seen tremendous growth because I stepped away and focused on strategy,” she said.
Regarding the NYER Supplier Diversity Award for a small company that successfully uses business certifications to win contracts, she explained that though she won the same award in 2012, she had to show how she has increased success. “We were able to grow because of 10,000 Small Businesses, so there’s definitely a correlation there,” she said.
To learn more about Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses at LaGuardia Community College:
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LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.