“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” – Isaiah 43:19

We have just concluded the end of calendar year 2012 and many of us have transitioned seamlessly into 2013. Last week we discussed taking action in 2013 and recognised the richness of the resource of older citizens.

The responses to last week’s column were very gratifying, for example: (1) “Implementation is our weakness in Grenada and maybe throughout the Caribbean”; (2) “With focus on the older citizens like you and me (Dominica), who still have lots to contribute! This is based upon their technical/professional knowledge plus experience! No other group in the community can by definition have both these assets to offer, for commerce or development, or, for professional consultation, or for guidance to the youth, to allow them to design a successful future for themselves or their community”; and (3) “As a ‘retiree’ with a substantial portfolio of assignments related to national development (Guyana) in an integrated manner, I can identify with the relevance your article. It has great resonance with me”.

Some may have had a very successful year and the business and personal lives of others may be fraught with problems. In this seamless transition if we continue to do the same things that we did last year we are likely to, at best, get the same results. Although this may be acceptable for those who were successful, for others it may result in going from bad to worse. In either case, it behoves us to take a fresh guard and to set new goals. In this way, for those already successful they may do even better and for others there is an opportunity to reassess their position and take corrective action.

We talk about the economic slowdown and wonder when the economy is going to recover. A major solution to the problem is entrepreneurship development. Much lip service is paid to it but not enough public and private sector action in terms of financial investment and shepherding.

As I sit writing this column, I recount the story at one restaurant which I visited less than 24 hours ago where the proprietor was thinking of retiring and closing down the once thriving business because sales had dropped by a factor of two due to a change in the competitive environment. The response of the proprietor was to continue doing the same thing that they were doing and complain about the lack of a positive result. This became the subject over dinner for a short while and the conclusion was that with a “fresh guard” and a few innovative changes in corporate governance, marketing, production, people development and financial investment, there was a good chance that the years of knowledge and experience which have been accumulated in running that restaurant could be garnered to bring new life into the business and contribute to growth in the economy.

Less than four hours ago as I was picking up a few items at a supermarket, I had a chat with a member of a flagging (much emotional stress) family business which has been in existence for many years but which had not adopted the policy of taking a “fresh guard” thus setting new goals, objectives, strategies, plans and actions (GOSPA) to restructure the business and converting it into a successful commercial reality.

These are just a couple random examples, there are many more. What we need is a nationally-inspired private-sector led scanning mechanism which systematically offers a service to businesses, as a means of preventive maintenance, to diagnose, prescribe and dispense business medicine to turn floundering existing businesses around and lead then on a path of recovery and growth thus contributing one successful business after another to the sustainable growth of the economy. Of course, there are many start-up businesses in need of similar business boosting measures.

As this New Year dawns, the Rotary Club of Barbados South has been thrust into mourning the loss of two other members of its Rotary family. Paul Harris Fellow Laura Jones, the dedicated partner in service of Past President and Paul Harris Fellow John Jones, recently succumbed to her illness after a long fight. Rotarian James Corbin died last week after a very short illness. The passing of these two members of the Rotarian family, Laura and James, follows closely on the departure of Past President and Paul Harris Fellow Neville Millington in August 2012. May they all rest in peace!
As the Daily Word advises: “An ending to something meaningful in my life may come as a surprise or as a dreaded outcome. When I hear or think the words, ‘It’s over,’ I may feel confused or even hopeless. Yet whether anticipated or not, an ending is also a chance for a new beginning, an opportunity for a fresh start.

“When a relationship or a job has run its course, or a way of life no longer suits me, I make a new choice. Success comes as I learn from my mistakes, pick myself up, and begin anew. I turn within to release thoughts of the past, and I am encouraged by the love and wisdom that springs forth from the presence of God within me. As I rely on God, I discover all I can enjoy and accomplish in life. A new me is being revealed each day.”

Just as the existing businesses are encouraged to take fresh guard at the beginning of the New Year, we have been assured that Neville, Laura and James have taken fresh guard as they continue their spiritual journey.