“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” – Isaiah 55:9
My first job after completing my formal education abroad in 1968 was as Biometrician at the Regional Research Facility, Faculty of Agriculture, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad. In those days the concept of entrepreneurship was the farthest thing from my mind. Nine years later, in response to a need to pursue a path of freedom, I resigned from the University to pursue a career as an entrepreneur. The more risk averse thought I was crazy, the risk prone (not many) empathised with my course of action, my family did not curtail my forward thrust, so I set up my own business.
I could have settled to be a sole proprietor but I chose to become an employer and set up a company instead, where I offered people jobs and created an establishment to serve the Caribbean in the area of business consulting. This continued for 23 years, at which point I had assumed what was to me the gargantuan responsibility of paying over 50 full-time salaries every month. It should be noted that in a consulting business, unlike say a supermarket business “cash flow” was a perennial headache and the business, as well as the senior management in the business, could only take so much. The model therefore changed.
I woke up to the understanding of the opportunity hierarchy in the employment space. Here, even though the team grows on a steady basis, at each level in the hierarchy there are nodes of entrepreneurs and at each node the entrepreneur takes on the responsibility to create more opportunities. Creating jobs, in certain environments, can be likened to a millstone around your neck, whereas one can be liberated by creating an opportunity hierarchy. The process can penetrate the depth of the hierarchy until such time as we exhaust the pool of risk prone entrepreneurs. This general opportunity hierarchical arrangement may also be called the economic gearing system. I therefore became a sole proprietor and I offered opportunities instead of jobs. Each of the members of my team is pursuing the opportunity provided, as a sole proprietor. Up to today, I have continued to use this system in one form or another.
For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think, and an opportunity hierarchy improves on the job arrangements and an employment space is created to allow us all to grow and blossom to their hearts’ content. We can recover our freedom and our peace of mind if we imbibe the entrepreneurial culture.
As the Government pursues policies in 2010 to increase the country’s chances of recovery from the impact of the global recession, it is faced with an option to reduce the size of Government which means a smaller civil service. In the private sector, we do not need a policy, prudence must prevail and the board of directors of a non-viable business will just recommend to the shareholders that the business be closed, a consequence of which is the loss of jobs. In each case, before decisions are taken, there must also be concern about productivity of the labour force.
The culling of jobs in the public and private sectors to increase efficiency in the country in the long term is obviously the right thing to do. The problem which arises relates to the short term dislocation of individuals and their ability to provide the basic needs of food, shelter and clothes. It seems clear therefore, that there is an urgent need to create new jobs, and what better way to do it than to create an entrepreneurial culture based on the economic gearing system.
In partnership with the Government we have already established Barbados Business Enterprise Corp. (BBEC), driven by the CBET Shepherding ModelTM, , the use of which is promoted as a necessary and sufficient condition for enterprise success and hence economic growth. We know what our lead sectors are, so let us apply the model to these sectors. Agriculture, the black sheep of the family (no pun intended), which will address our food need, can reduce our food import bill and drive an increase of foreign exchange earnings through exports. We know what to do here – we just need the political will.
The Minister of Tourism has just made a comprehensive address on the restructuring of the tourism industry, public and private sector; let us hope that this political will be converted in entrepreneurial energy. I am told that we have merely experienced the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can be achieved globally for the development of the creative industries of fashion, film, music and art.
Let us create some more hype about enterprise development. Let us plan systematically for the development of the entrepreneurial thrust. Let us create programmes that can be undertaken by future entrepreneurs. Let us train all those people who will be laid off so that they can convert from a job culture to an opportunity culture. Let us encourage Government and the established private sector to create a user-friendly enabling environment. Let us facilitate the involvement of civil society. Let us inculcate the entrepreneurial culture in the minds of the youth. Let us practise the opportunity hierarchy in the employment space.