“You shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” – Isaiah 55:12
The inequitable distribution of wealth is an inevitable consequence of our history, politics, policies and practices. We continue to entertain this environment, as if it were cast in stone, without fully realising the potential to be destructive nationally.
What if we were to understand that people are a nation’s greatest asset and were to go out in joy not only developing our people to the fullest but instilling in them the confidence to quit their current employer and develop their own start-up, spin-out, and scale-up enterprise and become their own boss hence gaining control of their own destiny?
What if start-up, spin-out, and scale-up enterprises in each country in the world were encouraged to go out in joy and to lead a whole and complete revolution in terms of marketing their innovations to the world, which innovations may otherwise not see the light of day and die with the promoters of the ideas?
What if this marketing revolution were driven by a shepherding process and a timely and appropriate benevolent quick response seed/venture capital investment process which would go out in joy to: (1) significantly reduce the traditionally high global failure rate of these enterprises and contribute to an increase in the rate of economic growth; and (2) increase their cash flow and convert this cash flow into wealth?
What if these successful enterprises were to go out in joy and use this augmented cash flow to buy back the shares in the enterprise held by the venture capital investor so that the original promoters of the enterprise were now significant majority owners of the enterprise, which could then lead to the diversification of wealth and the reduction of the wealth divide?
If these things were made to happen, I think that the government, the private sector, the trade unions and other members of civil society in each country would burst into song and the respective populaces will join the procession, exuberant with applause, clapping their hands in harmony at the prospect of a sustainable life for current and future generations. These things therefore should be the foundation on which our economic development policy is built.
I delivered a three-hour guest lecture recently to a group of 20 MBA students pursuing a course at the UWI Arthur Lok Jack School of Business in Trinidad. The course was entitled “Entrepreneurship and Business Growth” quite understandably because this is the international language of the day. My preference, however, is for “Enterprise Development” to replace “Entrepreneurship” and my reason is based on my definition of the construct of the enterprise and the fact that it is the amalgam of successful enterprises which contribute to economic growth not the amalgam of entrepreneurs simply because the entrepreneur is a component of the construct. The construct of the Enterprise consists of: (1) the inventor who presents the idea; (2) the innovator who converts the idea into a product/service for sale; (3) the entrepreneur who starts small, does it right, makes a profit and then expands; and (4) shepherding which mitigates the risk of business failure. It was gratifying to receive positive support from the students in this regard.
I interacted with the students individually, before the lecture during the break and afterwards and each student to a man/woman intimated that the reason for them doing this course is the fact that they wanted to put themselves in a position to quit their current employment and liberate themselves financially through enterprise development. Some were already actively engaged in innovative enterprises in parallel with their job. They are on the journey towards developing themselves to the fullest.
We must have confidence in ourselves, we have a brain like anyone else in the world, we have the potential to generate ideas and convert them into innovations on our own or in partnership with others. However, this is not enough and unfortunately the current business environment is far from optimal in removing the constraints to the sustainable development of start-up, spin-out, and scale-up enterprises to the extent that many of these exciting innovations may not see the light of day and may die with the promoters of the ideas.
Unless countries can increase economic growth rates, recession or no recession, we shall not enhance the socio-economic well-being of the populace. Small states in particular cannot survive and grow on their own market footprint. They have to export to other countries to survive and hence innovative marketing strategies are mandatory. Are we really managing (planning, organising, staffing, leading and monitoring) the marketing system of business optimally? In many cases we are not, we need to aggressively and urgently rectify this situation.
For those enterprises which show signs of being successful, there is the challenge to convert increased cash flow into wealth. Avoid the temptation to splurge when there is light at the end of the tunnel, invest wisely, expand promising profit centres, look for ways of increasing productivity and keep on looking for ways to contain costs.
One obvious use of excess cash is to buy out initial benevolent investors who provided the initial incentive to create lift off for the enterprise. This gives the enterprise the opportunity to expand and generate further cash. This is the source of future wealth for the enterprise which contributes to the spread of wealth in the community.