“For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” -Matthew 10:20

The rate of national economic growth is most impressive when we have sustained enterprise development, one successful enterprise after another. Weak economic growth impacts negatively on employment, savings, inflation, net foreign exchange earnings, use of natural resources, taxation revenue, gross domestic product, consumption, investment, international trade, international finance and ultimately on gross national happiness which is important to us all. It is therefore incumbent on national planners to create a conducive environment for successful enterprise development.

The global failure rate statistics which are associated with start-up and emerging enterprises, in particular, are nothing short of staggering, a real cause for concern and warrant further investigation. Why do these enterprises fail at such an alarming rate? My belief is that there are three reasons for this high failure rate: (1) a casual approach to the recognition of innovations and entrepreneurs with potential for exponential growth; weak management of the business systems which give life to an enterprise; and (3) the lack of timely access to appropriate capital for investment in the enterprise.

The CBET Shepherding Model™ was introduced in 2007. The term shepherding was spiritually inspired and has been warmly received in many quarters and adopted by many persons.  The Model provides three solutions which address the three reasons for this high failure rate. Solution #1 entails the undertaking of due diligence processes, Solution #2 requires a more diligent approach to what has been traditionally handled by a mentoring process and Reason #3 necessitates an innovative equity finance process bolstered by Solutions #1 and #2.

I was asked a few months ago to explain “shepherding” in one sentence. My response then was “The Shepherding process reduces the risk of business failure of the enterprise by the diligent management of business systems and consequently may be regarded as a form of collateral to protect the financial investment in the enterprise”.

I have upgraded my perspective having been guided by a number of divine interventions. The Barbados pilot project to test the efficacy of the CBET Shepherding Model™ (1998 to 2012) was a great learning experience. The UWI Cave Hill School of Business asked me (2012) to prepare a publication which would give some rigour to the  Model. This year I have had three other very interesting experiences: (1) interacting with the BizBooster incubator programme of the UWI St Augustine Lok Jack Graduate School of Business; (2) the Life coaching interlude, in particular,  in the Blue Waters Productions Inc. Bank on Me six episode TV Reality Show for entrepreneurs; and, most recently, (3) a Marketplace Excellence Corp./Wells Fargo Evening of Excellence in New York featuring Bahamian motivational speaker and author Zhivargo Laing.

These experiences collectively have convinced me of the importance of the term Shepherding. There has been a tendency to use it as a synonym for Mentoring but it is now clear to me why it is not.

Mentoring is about one person helping another to achieve something. More specifically, something that is important to them. It is about giving help and support in a non-threatening way, in a manner that the recipient will appreciate and value and that will empower them to move forward with confidence towards what they want to achieve. Mentoring is also concerned with creating an informal environment in which one person can feel encouraged to discuss their needs and circumstances openly and in confidence with another person who is in a position to be of positive help to them. Mentoring is sometimes available on a volunteer basis sometimes it is not.

Shepherding is about a team of several persons with management skills (planning, organising, staffing, leading and monitoring) who are collectively versed in business systems (corporate governance, marketing, technical and support operations, human resources development and investment finance) helping the diverse stakeholders of enterprise development (Entrepreneurs in the making, Entrepreneurs, Management Consultants, Investors, Board Members and National Policy Makers). The Shepherding process, like any other essential part of the business e.g. legal advice, incorporation, board members’ fees, marketing, working capital, equipment, training, office or factory or warehouse space, comes at a cost which has to be provided as part of the investment capital requirement but most importantly Shepherding mitigates the risk of business failure.

I would like to single out a single resource because I think that there is a tendency to focus on the enterprise rather than on the entrepreneur. Life coaching is that one resource. A life coach is  somebody who provides advice and support to people who wish to improve their lives, helping them to make decisions, solve problems, and achieve goals.

The CBET Shepherding Model™ identifies with and embraces this definition of shepherding and indeed provides for it at no upfront cash flow exposure to the enterprise. This, of course, depends on the establishment of an equity fund to invest in the enterprise but this too is part of the operations manual of the Model.

As the Spirit guides and nurtures our souls so shall Shepherding guide and nurture our enterprises. Shepherds are always divinely directed. If they do not know what to do or say, they remember there is an inexhaustible source of guidance in their souls.  They relieve themselves of any belief of ignorance. They release any fears of insufficiency or inability, and return to the inner stillness, where wisdom arises. They stay quiet on their spiritual blankets in an idyllic, tranquil and serene space and listen to the whispers from heaven.

God’s infinite wisdom is always available for us to draw upon. It guides us in loving ways.