“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” – 1 John 4:18
In my last column, “Shepherding in the Business Context”, my concluding paragraph was “The shepherds are committed to stay with the entrepreneurs and to protect them from the vagaries of the business environment – the shepherds will stick with them until they have done everything that they have promised to do for the entrepreneurs”. I received very favourable replies from regional and international consultants in St. Vincent, Jamaica, Atlanta, Miami and Ontario which ranged from (1) “I will print it to read during my trip tomorrow”; (2) “Awesome! Wonderful concept and article. I have a product called “Sleeping giant” where the objective is to “accompany” the business owner/operator into sustainability and success; thus helping them to awaken the sleeping giant within! Congratulations on your partnership with the state!”; (3) Congratulations, your concept has finally become reality as it should. You know I totally believe in the concept and practise it in my son’s company. I’m the shepherd and because of it we are in our third year of business operations. I can tell you for a fact that the business would have failed in its first year without shepherding”. (4) What a co-incidence – timely update! I was just planning to write you on what was happening with these two programs and the feedback/results so far so it’s good to see this update on the projects to which Shepherds have been assigned. I particularly like #7 (there are plans for the project manager, shepherds, business advisors and entrepreneurs to meet regularly and benefit from the synergies of interaction) which I think has huge potential for developing entrepreneurs’ (and others involved) business acumen over the long term and it will be interesting to see the success rate as these evolve through the various stages; and (5) “what a great concept! I love the idea and it brings together the key components for success. I wish you all the success possible and if I can help with guidance and advice in any way let me know. There is so much potential in the area of “micro development” and this seems another great approach”. These replies, also the observed interaction between the shepherds/business advisers and the first entrepreneurs in the programme as well as the rapport between these entrepreneurs and the affiliations that have been developing between me and other shepherding clients; all smack of a relationship of love. Since there is no fear in love but perfect love casteth out fear, then the fear of business failure is mitigated by the shepherding concept and the reality so far is a manifestation of this hypothesis. We can therefore conclude that “Shepherding as Collateral” protects against the Risk of Business Failure and hence secures the CBET Twin Seed & Venture Capital funds investment or any other investment for that matter. Another comment from last week alluded to the Shepherding model as a means of giving comfort to commercial banks (purveyors of loan instruments) “The Shepherding – Collateral linkage…while I agree with you that effective shepherding may mitigate the risk of business failure and therefore should be factored into the collateral assessment equation, I don’t see how it could ever eliminate the need for collateral against a bank loan. Remember that other factors (often involving competitive or technological issues beyond the Shepherd’s knowledge) that could cause business failure. For example, the emergence in the market place of new technology that may completely make the entrepreneur’s technology obsolete”. My response was: “I agree with you. I probably got a bit carried away by saying “may obviate the need for any collateral at all”. I should have softened my statement by saying “may obviate the need – in some cases – for any collateral at all”. The Shepherding concept then allows commercial banks to look more favourably at funding or co-funding the entrepreneur’s project than it was able to do before. They can now get involved in a wider range of project than they did before without compromising their risk assessment process. The economy will grow as a result. Last Friday night I listened to three international company CEO’s being interviewed on the TV programme firstname.lastname@example.org. One of them, a rather petite lady, commented on her company’s strategy to survive in the light of rather trying times. She said that it consisted of four elements: scale, risk, complexity and testosterone. She said that to increase the “scale” of the operation one should optimise its size and expand through mergers and acquisitions. When she mentioned “risk” I could not resist the temptation to participate virtually from my chaise lounge with the comment “shepherding is the answer!”. She advised that for “complex” operations one should not to spare any expense to hire expertise, at the right technical knowledge level, to sustain these operations. The moderator did not let her forget that she had mentioned a fourth element – testosterone. She then admitted it was not easy for a small English woman CEO to survive in an American businessman’s world. She urged all CEO’s to recognise that there is “no growth without risk” and hence we must at least simulate the cycle of male aggression that, as if fuelled by testosterone, culminates in managed risk taking.