“Owning your own business changes everything. It’s not easy when you’re working for a big company because if they don’t need you, they don’t have to keep you. Now, we can treat our people well. We have 1-3 employees and they tell us, ‘no one has treated me like you have; you take care of us.’”
Oscar grew up in an entrepreneurial family. He watched his father own and operate his very own ice cream truck. It only made sense that Oscar would get into business for himself later in life.
“Since I remember I was like them. My father was a businessman and didn’t want to work for someone else. When we have the opportunity, we take it.” Oscar’s wife, and partner in business, had a slightly different opinion when Oscar bought their food truck in 1996. Rocio’s mother and father also ran a small business. “They sold street tacos in Mexico. I didn’t like it as a child because we had to help out a lot. I’m not a kitchen person, but I was in the kitchen chopping onions, cleaning chilies, making tamales.”
Rocio, unlike her husband, has always preferred to work for someone else, and did as a teacher. “When you’re done, you’re done. And you have your life. Owning a business doesn’t give you that balance.”
But that is the beauty of their relationship. They are a perfect balance for one another in their business.
While Rocio manages the back-end of the business which ranges from record keeping to bookkeeping, Oscar runs the day-to-day food prep and deliveries. Oscar and Rocio run a food service business. It’s called Little Angels.
They wear many hats. And while they are excellent in the running of the day-to-day of the business, they both came to the realization that they needed help with the larger vision and overall business plan.
Unlike services that only provide entrepreneurial support or general services to existing businesses, Mile High United Way’s United Business Advisory (UBA) was created to meet the needs of the business owners where they work, based on what they need to help them get to the next level. It’s of no cost to the individual being served, and the services are specifically tailored to meet the needs of the business and the particular industry that they are in.
Small businesses often fail, even in the best of circumstances. Then there is the added pressure that comes with running a business and raising a family. Oscar and Rocio have three children. Their oldest son works full-time for Wells Fargo, but thanks to the work ethic he’s learned from his diligent parents, he works with them on the business every Sunday-Tuesday. Their ten-year-old daughter wants to own and operate her own food truck one day, specifically a dessert truck because she loves to help Rocio bake pastries and cupcakes. Then there is their youngest four-year-old son who wants to be a chef one day and loves to play in the kitchen and ask, “what can I make you?”
They are in the business for a reason. They need to make it work because they need to be able to put food on the table every day for their family. When you’re working day-to-day just to make it work, you can’t help but be in survival mode. How can you make a plan if you can’t see past tomorrow?
And this is the exact reason why United Business Advisory was created. The premise behind UBA is to help business owners stabilize and grow their businesses, in a way that benefits both the owners and their families, as well as their employees and suppliers. If this foundation is established, growth is inevitable, and for a business like Little Angels this is exactly what’s needed. Oscar and Rocio want to grow, hire more employees, and be able to have more quality family time which is missing these days.
“We’re growing a business and we’re growing a family,” Rocio put delicately. That is the purpose behind every early morning, every date night conversation turned business talk, every ounce of themselves that they put into what they do. Oscar and Rocio connecting with UBA and Mile High United Way may have been a chance encounter, but it wasn’t coincidental. Oscar and Rocio were at a point where they were ready to move forward with their business, and they happened to be in the right room at the right time.
From UBA’s perspective, Oscar and Rocio knew the front office ins and outs of their business, and UBA is helping them to more efficiently run their back-office and tighten up financials.
Little Angels makes the breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for 10 childcare centers throughout the Denver and Fort Collins areas. Their business has shifted from its initial food truck days, so it’s more structured, and gives them stability in consistent contracts. That doesn’t mean their day-to-day is simple.
“We start at midnight.” Everything needs to be ready to go by 4:30am for the childcare centers. They load the trucks at 5am, get on the road, and finish up all of the deliveries anywhere between 8:30-11:30am. Three days out of their seven day a week work schedule, Oscar makes the deliveries himself to Fort Collins. They have been doing this since 2012, and Rocio has been keeping track of all of the paperwork, and there is a lot of it, as they are working with federal regulations dealing with both private childcare agencies and nonprofit organizations. They are on top of everything as much as they can be.
“In every audit, our meals have been well above the marks that they’re looking for. I like those types of challenges, and meeting those expectations,” Rocio says.
Working with UBA, Oscar and Rocio believe they are doing “more than just business. We have a plan. We’ve survived one way for so long, but now we have a structure and are smart about the direction we want to go in and how we want to grow.”
Little Angels is at a turning point. Between the childcare centers and consistent catering jobs, that come from previous relationships established from the food truck era of their business, they’re coming to a point where they are ready for growth. What does that look like? They’re on track to hire more staff, get more contracts, work less (the two of them), get some back-office support when it comes to accounting, bookkeeping, and taxation, and one day maybe operate a commercial kitchen space of their very own.
“The goal is to have a schedule. When we close the office, it stays closed, and we have set hours. When I need to do homework with my daughter or read a story to my son, I can be there. When I go out to lunch or dinner with Oscar, I don’t want to talk about business. I want to talk about us.”
The hope is that one day Oscar and Rocio can do for other businesses, what UBA has done for them.