NYC's Small Business Services helping businesses avoid fines

Lauren Glassberg Image
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
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Lauren Glassberg has the story

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City's Small Business Services Department is visiting businesses all over the city, helping them to learn the regulations so they can avoid costly fines when they are just starting out.

"Everyone loves to use the A-frame sign because it's a great way to promote your business," said Shana Besley, Compliance Adviser, NYC Small Business Services.

A city inspector might fine Jimmy Chen's for the sign outside his ice cream shop, but Besley isn't handing out violations, she's only serving up free advice.

She's is a compliance adviser with the city's Small Business Services.

"It's not really conspicuously displayed," Besley said.

She and three other advisers visited more than 1,000 small businesses like Taiyaki NYC in the past year, helping business comply and avoid hefty fines.

"Some of these businesses are just opening, and they are not prepare to pay those fines, and they aren't actually trying to break the rules, they just don't know how to comply with the regulations," Besley said.

Business owners often have to deal with five or more city agencies at a time: the Health Department, Sanitation Department, Buildings Department, Fire Department, the Department of Consumer Affairs, those are the main ones, just imagine all that fine print.

"A lot of business have told us they don't know what they don't know," said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of Small Business Services.

The commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services says fines are down 40% under Mayor de Blasio.

The idea is not punish small business owners, but help them thrive. This week his department is starting to provide additional printed resources.

"Our interest is to make sure they are successful, because once they are successful they create jobs, and at the end of the day, they are the engine that powers the city's economy," Bishop said.

Chen only opened his shop in September and already employs 30 people.

"With the help of Shana's guidance, and with us doing our due diligence, just keeping everything on the up and up we've been able to avoid fines so let's keep that up," Chen said.

So that he can continue to serve his ice cream in these unique fish shaped cones.

Business owners can request a consultation by visiting or by calling 311.