Challenges to Opening a New Business in Hawaii

Hideo Simon, co-owner of Square Barrels restaurant spoke with Joe Kent on E Hana Kakou, a TV Show on the Think Tech Hawaii Broadcasting Network. Mr. Simon explained the challenges to opening a business.

Hideo Simon said that the time it takes to get a permit through the government bureaucracy can take six months or longer, and during that time, “You’re paying your employees, you’re paying rent . . . you’re paying for the third party to help . . . every single minute that you’ve got the lights on, the hoods on, you’re testing your kitchen out, you bring on employees because you told them they need to come in, and you’re still kinda like waiting.” Hideo added, “It’s high stress.”

Hideo recognizes the need for regulation, but believes the current process could be more efficient. “Maybe it’s just as simple as what they call regulation reception,” proposed Hideo, “A reception desk for entrepreneurs to walk up to and say, ‘This is the type of business I would like to open, what would do I need to do?'”

Another possible solution is giving permitting agencies a deadline before the permits are issued automatically. “By default, the pressure’s gotta be shared. If you’re gonna give me all of these regulations, then you’ve got to have some way to humanly handle the enforcement of those regulations,” explained Hideo, “We’re the ones that get burned in the end, and we can’t afford to do that. We need to hold people accountable for getting things done.”

The onerous permitting process is not only detrimental to small business owners, but also hinders the potential of Hawaii’s economy. “You want businesses to thrive, you want them to hire people, and make a profit, and make some taxes. It’s the goal of government to make sure the businesses are doing well, cause that’s how they make money,” Hideo said.

Watch the full interview here:

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