Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thoughts on Caribbean Businesses

Whenever things in the economy get tight one of the first things politicians in developing countries do is turn their direction towards entrepreneurship. In many cases, it's hard to tell if this is genuine and the interests are for real.

Job gimmickry often comes to mind for a number of reasons. The key one being that this is a way of justifying job creation through lip service. My thinking goes this way for some of the various reasons I'll now highlight below.

  • The processes entrepreneurs face is becoming increasingly bureaucratic since the government wants tax clearance certificates issued at every turn. The attempts at collecting taxes are becoming a nickel and dime process without a holistic approach that can make the entire process more simple. 
  • Too many companies in Barbados and perhaps the Caribbean are not structured for growth. The general approach is to incorporate without the incorporation documents supporting the raising of capital via shares instead of debt financing. Consequently, too many businesses are limited by the opinions of the lending officers within banking institutions who may have never run a business and have no appreciation for what is required in the running of one. Most banks then represent their interests with a cookie cutter approach rather than truly examining the business on its own merit. 
  • The accountants along with business advisory services and attorneys need to interact more in the advice that they provide companies so that their advice is more inclusive to the strategy that the business wishes to employ that would best serve its sustainability and survival. 
  • The leaders of the business are ignorant of areas outside of their immediate scope of work since they do not read enough developmentally. Sure they know the technical information yet that often is not enough to grow to the levels of success that such an educated grouping of leaders should be meeting and exceeding. Hence the performance of Caribbean businesses remains constant for the most part with very little mobility in either direction. Once they are profitable, the incentive to stretch further seems to be non-existent as leaders setting into contentment with their levels of performance. They function completely oblivious to the competition from other world markets. 
This is by no means finished but serves the basis of getting the reader to think that perhaps more needs to be done. We need to get on purpose with business development, not only within our existing markets but seeking to expand into other markets and create opportunities future development. 

We need to develop our own unique model for conducting business and take it global thereby helping them to understand what it means to be doing business within our standards. Perhaps we should redefine what it means to be doing business@islandtime, and help them understand that we do business as a people the world over. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Observation and Opportunity

Pictures are deliberately left out of this post so that you'd want to visit and experience it for yourselves! 

With the recent global events, media around the world has been providing us with stories where we were presented with the growing problems, the impact and challenges which many are facing. Just last week, I happened to be on one of my media channels where one of my friends, posted what he entitled, "a rough day at the office".

The pictures were wonderful! Even though I too live within the Caribbean, I had never seen photos like that; and I see quite a few. Picturesque and peaceful; I was immediately filled with a sense of calm.

So wonderful were the pictures that they generated lots of topics for me from a holistic standpoint which included business. I paused for a moment to think of experiences I've had in the Caribbean. How my thinking changed when I visited each of the places I've visited. As an aside, I pale in comparison to some of my dear friends who take me on excursions around the world with their camera lenses. I see other places up close without the help of National Geographics, and some of my friends become quite immersed in the places they visit, which make the pictures so much more appealing.

Then it hit me.

Most people in the world in experiencing stress, uncertainty, made to feel unappreciated despite their contributions to their "homes". There is major displacement. Tensions are high. Hatred is real. 

Though many would think as I once did that the Caribbean is similar, like I once did, they would be pleasantly surprised to experience the diversity of the Caribbean. They could visit for the next 10 years, just to pull a figure, and not have the same experience as they visit all the various islands within the region. From luxury to rustic, with foods that reflect global cultures with a Caribbean spin; this region has it all.

You can visit all the islands in the chain of the Caribbean islands, and then if you look from the sky, you'll see there's a pendant which was once a transshipment point historically and in some circumstances still functions as such today.

Whether you as I would say, "fly over, drive through, sail around or dive under", the Caribbean makes great memories.

The people are wonderful in their own way as well. Expressing love, affection, gratitude and hospitality in the ways they know best.

As a region, it's time to use the services of those trained and educated in the micro and macro levels of tourism, business development, events, and hospitality to create a travel plan for the visitors to the Caribbean. Not the stuffy programs that are known from the various tourism authorities, but the creation of a type of organic tourism which transcends politics, nationalities, ethnicity, and in some cases even tradition.

With the use of the social media, we can enlighten those who are feeling negative feelings of any sort to come and relax in our beautiful environs and just relax, learn, and enjoy that life is not all bad filled with high pressure; but it is wonderful and fulfilling.

When we think that what others have as screen savers of paradise is where we live. Can we not endeavor to share this with the world. They will thank us for doing so, I'm sure.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Communication Abbreviations and Productivity

Nowadays, all kinds of abbreviations are used in personal life and in business. It is as if communication is reduced to the stage where the writer in an attempt to be brief, not realize that they're doing themselves a disservice.

Saw this one recently in an article, and the more I thought about it, the more it troubled me. I'll show it below:

  • TL;NR - Too Long, Not Read

The scenario then unfolded in my head about when communications came out prior to a meeting and when the participants arrived at the meeting, their behaviour indicated they were seeing it for the first time. In essence, they're unprepared.

There's nothing that rouses my ire, like another needless meeting that wastes time. Not every communication can be short and snippy. One would imagine that the writer would ensure that they are not being deliberately long to prove a point.

Some abbreviations also are quite rude. I wouldn't mention them here, but there's really no need to be that impolite in a professional environment. Freedom of speech does not clear one of responsibility in what's being communicated.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The benefits of treating your customers well

There are a couple things that go towards making business successful; one of them is a constant flow of customers. The thing is, many businesses don't go beyond lip service when it comes to serving customers.

Daily we hear expensive commercials making promises that seldom deliver; and this is evidenced by the number of factors:
  • Staff are poorly trained in handling the product(s) / service(s). 
  • They may not have adequate knowledge about what they are offering for sale
  • The systems have not been adjusted to meet the increased demand in business, hence bottlenecks / shortages result within the operation. 
  • Incidences where the company can renege on its word which can lead to damaged credibility. 
  • Interdepartmental disconnect can lead to frustrated customers 
By now you get the picture of the myriad of things that can go wrong when interacting with customers without properly planned systems. 

When planning promotions for your workplace it is necessary to pay attention to the support systems that have to facilitate that promotion and its smooth running. All stakeholders need to be involved so that adequate discussion addresses any challenges that can take place; especially from a logistical / financial standpoint. It is key to ensure that all systems support each other adequately; serving the ultimate role of treating your customer well.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Youth are Searching

When you participate in the developmental programs that are available for the youth, there's one thing certain - they are searching. Special thanks go out to the entities who do put programs in place to give the youth an avenue through which they can pursue their dreams. 

These organizations have gone a step further, in that, they are not throwing money at the problems youth face, but using well coordinated programs that identify areas of support that they youth need to take tangible productive steps towards their desired outcomes. Sustainability programs and methods, diligence, hard work, skills, and thought processes are just some of the areas of address poured into these youngster. 

They have a different way of thinking that, because of education, they think on the levels that are needed to ensure their successes. Many think small, loving the dexterity and nimbleness that it provides, especially when crafting programs that enable them to gain footholds in the market against better funded establishments with longer track records. 

They are strong when it comes to visualization. When it comes to pursuing their dreams for their businesses, they seem to adopt the stance of well seasoned businessman Dexter Yeager, "When the dream is big enough, the facts don't count"

The youth will work tirelessly towards their goals, when they have carefully identified them. When they get excited about something that will "make them get out of bed"; they will pursue it relentlessly, in many cases at great sacrifice. 

One thing is certain. They are change agents and though some are afraid, they get the butterflies of anxiety in their stomachs to fly in formation; drawing on the strengths of numbers and networks. They won't let anything stop them since they are searching. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016


There are lots of people seeking to get into business. Conversations with many of them will reveal that these people have some pretty good business ideas.

Further discussion can be quite the insight into the fact that there are more ideas available than the research that goes into them. In short, many of the businesses are not where they should be in terms of the research that's necessary. Therefore they are totally unprepared for the hiccups.

In business, you cannot be myopic only planning for the perfect picture that you have visualized that business will happen exactly like that daily. Once you are alive, storms will come through ever so often; sometimes earlier / later. There's just no sure fire formula.

How do you ensure that your business is shovel ready? In other words, if you were being processed right now to access funding for your business, have you eliminated all of the setbacks that can halt the process? Should you get the funding right now, how fast can you mobilize to implement what you requested the funding for doing?

When business owners are asked to present about their business, and they are cross examined, it is when many realize that they are not as prepared as they thought. Sole proprietors suffer most with this as they have not built a team which would enable them to benefit from another perspective.

Do you know the following for your business? Here are some questions that will need to be answered regardless of what business you are in:

  • How much money do you need to begin your business on the right scale that would enable you to meet your objectives head on? 
  • If you have to get investors, what are you willing to offer them / receive from them as a part of the total investment package? 
  • Do you know how investment / financing works and recognize the differences among them? 
  • Who forms a part of your team and what experiences / influences are they bringing to the table that can enhance your business and enable it to gain traction in the market? 
  • Do you have a full compliment of professionals that you can access? [accounting, financial, legal, marketing, business advisory services, operations] 
  • How will you handle shocking changes in your business' environment? Especially those that weren't considered in your SWOT analysis. 
  • Do I, as an entrepreneur, have what it takes to orchestrate this and where can I quickly find help? 
These seven are not the only questions, however they are key considerations for your business' development. you still think that you have the best business concept, or do you still need to put in some more work? How well do you know your business and the industry within which it will function? Do you know that you will not have all the solutions, and who are you willing to partner with to arrive at the necessary solutions? 

Always keep in mind that not all money is good money. Don't get overconfident in your dealings with the members of the public you serve.

Remember that the research you put in is not a one time effort as your environment is always changing. Your research needs to keep up to date lest you become extinct. 

Think in terms of possibilities. You were given that idea download for a reason; how best will you exploit it? Looking forward to reading about your lessons learnt down the road. Plan to be the winner you set out to be. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Self Talk for the Self Employed

Self employed people even when they work in businesses that interact with people tend to live rather lonely lives. Yet they loathe to attend functions that would take them away from their work; often with the train of thought that they're just too busy. Sadly, these are even in instances where there is organized mentorship available through technical assistance programs.

So what makes a self employed person behave in this manner, especially when they complain that no one helps them. What is really going on in their minds? What kinds of thoughts do they have; positive / negative? Do they feel as if you're thoroughly prepared? Can they really handle the power of this two letter word - NO!?

How you speak with yourself goes beyond wishful thinking. It sets the tempo and they rhythm that will determine whether you will win / lose. Often the event is not filled with spectators, but with your own self; who will see the results of your attempts - Can you strive or merely survive?

  1. Why do seemingly identical situations facing different people have different outcomes? One succeeds, whereas the other sucks salt.
  2. Is attitude all it's cracked up to be? Identify which is better - good attitude with action / good attitude without action. 
  3. There are times we question, why are we doing this? Would it not have been better to get s job and be paid more money?
  4. Why does it feel like we work to pay everyone except ourselves?
By now you should have noticed that I've made a faux pas and changed tenses; why? It's because I too am in small business, I too am self employed. It can be difficult to continue in the third person for something that impacts so directly.

For instance, you can write employment letters for employees to take to various institutions for them to obtain financial benefit of hire purchase or even loans. Yet when you have to do likewise for oneself, even when the business is thriving there's always some excuse / objection to be realized. You know the categories, but they all align themselves to justify why you cannot obtain the assistance you require. The objections are easily categorized under; cash-flow, revenue potential [too great / too small, too fast / too slow], age of business, age of applicant, collateral backing the finance request, and the list goes on.

There are times when it seems like we're not celebrated for our efforts, despite all that we do. It also seems that our work must go unrewarded, and profit is a sin. Most small businesses are uncomfortable with the word profit, often leaving their hard earned value at the negotiation table for their products / services. I don't do this anymore, as I have had the opportunity to contemplate the value that I bring to any situation. I also function by the premise that not all money's good money. It has saved me from entering ridiculous deals.

What do you say to yourself? I want to ensure that I am worthy of providing the best solutions that are practical, leading the client and our own business into mutually beneficial territory in terms of revenues, earnings, profits, and opportunity. This has to be done while maintaining privacy, wholesome relationships, health and wellness, and a true sense of purpose. One thing is certain - Success is not an overnight process.

Know that you have what it takes to succeed in a big way. Know that success is what you want it to be for you, and not the world's definition of it for you. When you speak with yourselves, speak in the can do, the I can, the willingly doing it.

Take time to work on your business rather than be constantly working in it. Remember when polishing anything, you have to step back to see the shine. Self employment is not easy. There are lots of uncertainties, but know that there is help along the way. People who are willing to also celebrate your success in as much as you prepare to embrace it.