“God has given both his promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie” – Hebrews 6:18
Life is a magnificent learning experience. It is one continual effort for man to discover the laws of God, which are predetermined and immutable, as we plough through the discovery spectrum: data – information – knowledge – understanding – insight – wisdom. Albert Einstein once said, learning to read the laws of physics is like reading the mind of God.
Discovery observations are acts of detecting and learning something. The observations lead to the assimilation of the knowledge of a phenomenon from which productive insights evolve. We later become wise. We discover God’s immutable law(s) which relate to the particular discipline. This is true whatever the discipline that is being pursued.
Sustainable economic growth is our challenge, especially in recessionary times, and can only take place one successful enterprise after another. It sounds relatively simple but yet many countries around the world have not found a sustainable solution which provides an environment of socio-economic and socio-political harmony.
Each potential enterprise is driven by an entrepreneurial spirit with a business idea but requires a nucleus consisting of the entrepreneur, a management process and money to create and build the enterprise. We must therefore nurture each entrepreneurial idea into a successful enterprise so that the collective impact of the success of all enterprises redounds to the benefit of our country.
What is God’s immutable law(s) in the context of successful enterprises? My hypothesis, based on identifying the needs of entrepreneurs intensively for more than a decade, is The CBET Shepherding Model™, promoted as the necessary and sufficient solution for sustainable economic growth. CBET, the owner of the intellectual property of the Model, partners with the Government and Private Sector in a country to effect a solution. In Barbados, we have started to explore the discovery spectrum in this regard.
The discovery observations are that enterprises fail at the rate of 90% in the first two years. The concept of failure of an idea in a socio-cultural environment, such as exists in the Caribbean, is one of ostracism of the entrepreneur. Failures should be banished never to be seen again. It is only the strong, diligent, persevering entrepreneur with a high Adversity Quotient who survives this environment.
On the other hand, the concept of failure of an idea in a more positive socio-cultural environment like Silicon Valley, is one where failure is seen as the food of successful entrepreneurship. Peter Day of the BBC has observed that Paul Saffo who is a celebrated futurologist has been watching and participating in the Valley for decades now. He says: “The absolute secret to Silicon Valley success is failure. This place reinvents itself because we know how to fail in the right way”.
My view is that we need to develop a socio-cultural environment which encourages entrepreneurship. One must examine the reason for the failure. Having done this I concluded that the reason may be encapsulated in a single phrase “weak management” of the various business functions attendant on the enterprise. These functions are corporate governance, marketing, production, human resources and finance. If one or more of these is not well managed, then we are on a course to business failure. The solution: strengthen the management. This may be achieved through the Shepherding process where a Shepherd and Business advisors are assigned to the entrepreneur to learn from and reverse the experience of failure.
After this, the lack of timely access to appropriate financial capital is the residual constraint. The mantra to start-up enterprises emanating from traditional financial institutions is “We do not fund start-ups”, even though some of these start-ups may one day be very successful and give rise to significant return on investment.
Venture Capital, in contrast to loans, is seen as the instrument of choice since there is no collateral required other than: (1) the entrepreneur’s idea with the “DNA of an Elephant”; (2) acceptance of the Shepherding process; (3) commitment of the entrepreneur to be passionate about the development of the idea; (4) compliance with the terms of the VCF agreement; and (5) predetermined exit strategy options to be executed in less than ten years.
The Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF) is creating an excellent support pillar environment towards “Barbados – The #1 Entrepreneurial Hub in the World by 2020”. I have the honour to be the Champion for the BEF Mentoring pillar and we finally managed to assemble the volunteer team, albeit over two separate meetings on the same day, to determine the strategy for mentoring support to entrepreneurs over the next 10 years. It will be, of course, a sequential evolutionary approach (SEA) with the first manifestation of success being shared at the BEF SUMMIT on November 17/18 2011.
At this SUMMIT the Mentoring pillar will be report on the impact of mentoring of 200 businesses both from the perceived value of the mentoring process by the entrepreneur and the progress of the growth of the enterprises being mentored. Members of the Mentoring pillar team, all volunteers, have assumed responsibilities as follows: (1) identification, selection and prioritisation of existing or start-up entrepreneurs in need of mentors; (2) identification of mentors (business persons or consultants) who are willing to share their knowledge and experience by mentoring one or more businesses; (3) matching enterprises with mentors; and (4) monitoring the progress of the mentored enterprises and feeding the information into an Enterprise Information System.