“When they were discouraged, I smiled at them. My look of approval was precious to them.” – Job 29:24
The statements “Prevention is better than the cure” and “One ounce of prevention is worth one pound of cure” are familiar in the context of human health care where the practice of preventive medicine is recommended to avoid the more expensive alternatives of prescription drugs, surgery or tertiary care. These concepts may also be applied to business health where one wants to apply preventive business health care services to ensure that each business is successful and contributes to sustainable growth in the economy.
In the same way that we may talk about health care management for humans, we may talk about health care management for businesses. Human health care for children and adults of all races (the human physiology and anatomy is the same) includes the management of circulatory, digestive, endocrine, immune, lymphatic, muscular, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, skeletal, and urinary systems, which are finite in number. A failure to manage one or more of these systems puts the human health at risk and frustrates the attempt at sustainable social development.
Business health care for small, medium or large scale enterprises in renewable energy, tourism, agricultural, manufacturing, financial services or cultural industries (the business functions are the same) includes the management of corporate governance, marketing, operational, human resource and financial systems.
Corporate governance systems delineate the set of processes, customs, policies, laws, and institutions which affect the way an enterprise is planned, organised, directed, monitored and controlled. They are concerned with visioning, planning and results management. Marketing systems drive the revenue streams without which a business is not defined. They are concerned with mining the Marketing Matrix, sales cycle management, public relations, sales distribution, personal selling, product fulfilment and merchandising. Technical and support services systems are concerned with generating high levels of productivity (people, technology and processes) and quality of the products and services operated by the enterprise. Human resource development systems are concerned with our most important asset, our people, as we set about to develop them to the fullest. Finance is the fuel that drives the business and we must ensure that the financial instruments appropriate to the stage, type, size and need of the enterprise are available on a timely basis. A failure to manage one or more of these systems well, puts the business at risk and thus frustrates our attempts at sustainable economic development. In our present recessionary climate, the focus in a given country has to be on economic recovery and growth.
The Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation is a facilitating organisation founded on five pillars namely: Government Policy, Business Facilitation, Education, Financing and Mentoring. The goal of the BEF is “Barbados: The #1 Entrepreneurial Hub in the World by 2020”. Whereas the first three pillars fashion the business enabling environment, the last two fuel the thrust to sustainable business success.
The Financing pillar has a mandate to promote innovative ways to provide financial capital for enterprises. The Mentoring pillar is about addressing the management issues in a business by ensuring that a mentor(s), a person who is skilled and experienced in one or more business functions or industry sectors, is matched with the enterprise and greets them with a smile. Whether a business is small, medium sized or large, whether a business is a start-up, emerging or mature, the management must be of high quality in order to experience sustainable success.
Good mentoring may, therefore, be said to mitigate the risk of business failure. The implication here is that without mentoring businesses are at risk; with mentoring this risk can be significantly reduced, especially for start-up enterprises.
If we encourage innovation and entrepreneurship then many of these businesses are going to be start-ups. If we allow the existing practices to prevail, many a business may never see the light of day.
At the 2011 SUMMIT in November, the BEF will be giving an account of the stewardship of its pillars since the 2010 SUMMIT. Plans will be revisited and refocused on the 2012 SUMMIT thus, gradually year by year, closing the gap between the existing status of the economy and the target statistics which have been set for 2020.
Each pillar will stage a presentation at the Conference and each pillar will host a series of workshops at which Conference participants will interact with international and local presenters to reflect on the past and plan for the future. The mentoring pillar, for which I have been assigned the responsibility of Champion, will be mounting a Digital Enterprise and Mentor Matching Service which will be formally launched in November 2011 and which recognises the importance of mentoring to the enterprise. It will allow each enterprise, which has conformed to the registration requirements, to interrogate the service and seek mentors in specific business function areas.
This service obviously requires that mentors are also registered within the system and the enterprise and mentor will be encouraged to negotiate the terms under which their matching arrangement will take place. This service, coordinated by an administrator, will be designed to monitor the progress of the enterprise from month to month, year to year, and therefore, provide a dashboard which allows us to monitor the rate of growth of the economy. Information will also be provided which will allow enterprises to either applaud themselves on the success achieved or to take corrective action so that we may refocus and reset our controls to achieve the overall target.