My grandfathers were both small-business owners and they earned their success the hard way. One ran a barbershop in South Los Angeles and the other was a tailor in Boyle Heights. They often struggled through tough times – and when the Great Depression set in, they gave everything they had to keep their businesses afloat.

Over the years, millions of Angelenos like my grandparents have built businesses here, forging our city’s vibrant, diverse economy through hard work and sacrifice. And today, running a business still isn’t easy – it takes tremendous courage, steadfast resolve, and an unshakable faith in your own vision.

The last thing small-business owners need is confusing red tape that can slow them down. That’s why, since becoming mayor, I have been committed to changing the culture at City Hall, and finally giving small-business owners the support they deserve. It’s also why I am so proud to launch the L.A. Business Portal – a powerful online tool that gives Angelenos the help and guidance they need to start or grow a small business.

Last year, my office competed with cities across America and won a $250,000 grant from the Small Business Administration to build an innovative, consolidated online platform for resources that cut through red tape and help entrepreneurs get their businesses started. I directed my Office of Economic Development and our Innovation Team, funded by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, to build, test, and launch a tool that would meet those needs. The L.A. Business Portal, at business.lacity.org, is the culmination of that process.

We designed the portal to directly respond to the needs of all small-business owners, whether they own a bakery or an auto shop. We spent months talking with them face to face, asking them how we could help them meet their challenges most effectively. The result is a comprehensive, open-source platform with three core features: a startup assistance tool, a resource library, and a business-preparedness guide.

Opening doors

One of the most difficult parts of starting a business is getting the doors open in the first place. There can be a variety of permits, licenses, and tax registrations the owner must obtain separately from city, county, state, and federal government agencies before opening day. Without the proper guidance, this process can present a significant barrier to success.

Mario De La Torre, who owns a business in the Fashion District, couldn’t wait to open his doors. But he struggled to navigate the startup process on his own. He said he often felt lost and confused trying to figure out what government approvals he needed and how to get them.

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