PATH TO SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS SUCCESS – BASIL SPRINGER COLUMN NOVEMBER 13, 2017
“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
The opening paragraph of an article in the Barbados Daily Nation newspaper on November 3, 2017, attributed to Sherrylyn Toppin, attracted my attention: “Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has called for the Warrens to UWI corridor to be developed as the island’s first smart community, laying the foundation to transform the stagnant economy on pillars of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship”.
My first reaction was that at last we are getting some advice, albeit from an experienced and retired leader, which exhibits the lateral thinking needed to stimulate the revival of the stagnant economy in Barbados. This advice applies equally to other Caribbean countries and beyond.
The final paragraph also piqued my interest: “Arthur said the move to smart communities and focus on technology and innovation would create a new class of indigenous international businessmen who could sell their services on the global market and Barbados’ economy would not be foreign-driven or dependent on tax treaties.”
My observation is that, amazingly, in the space of a single report, the focus on “innovation, technology and entrepreneurship” has been shifted to “innovation and technology”. “Entrepreneurship” has just disappeared. Is this the printer’s devil, inaccurate reporting, a de-emphasis of a speaker’s belief in the importance of entrepreneurship in relation to innovation and technology or just coincidence? The reason does not really matter but it does, once again, provide me with a segway to promote entrepreneurship as a means of reversing the trend of the economy and augmenting the recovery process towards sustainable business success.
My experience would suggest that a young entrepreneur, who is at the core of any entrepreneurship policy, would be well advised to become familiar with the following guidelines, prior to contemplating a new business venture.
The first thing to note that in business sustainable success is measured by the triple bottom line – profitability, happiness of people and protection of the planet. More specifically, I shall restrict my remarks to profitability.
Simply stated, profitability is revenue minus expenditure and the entrepreneur’s responsibility is the continual enhancement of profit. There are only three ways of doing this, firstly cost containment to keep your expenses within a given level, secondly productivity (human, technology and process) where the emphasis is on maximizing your output for a given quantum of input, and thirdly to expand the profit of an already profitable enterprise by accessing bigger and bigger markets or even diversifying the product range.
The guide to be followed by an entrepreneur from the outset, is to: (1) seek an individual to shepherd you in the management of business systems – this will help remove the obstacles along the journey; (2) get rid of any unnecessary expense – this allows you to operate a lean business; (3) select staff who are well trained and are fully conscious of the need for time management – this will increase efficiency; (4) embrace state-of-the-art technology – why try to reinvent the wheel; (5) continually review the way in which you do business – this enhances process flow.
Collectively, (3), (4) and (5) will enhance productivity. The final step of the guide, having developed a profitable business, is to: (6) expand that business within and without your initial market domain and then revisit and branch out with your product mix – this will increase your profits exponentially, since even though your direct expenses will increase, your overhead expenses will not. The success of this final step is only restricted by your vision for the business.
The creation of a user friendly enabling environment by government can only enhance the entrepreneur’s initiative. However, it is instructive to note that Rome was not built in a day and that patience is a virtue!
Let us remember, like the case of Singapore, that our people are our greatest asset and we must develop them to the fullest. Entrepreneurship is a natural way to mobilize our people. Let us delight ourselves in the LORD and witness the deliverance of the desires of our hearts.