“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17

I must begin by thanking all those who exercised their free will, in the face of competing events, and attended my seminar on the occasion of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association’s 15th Trade and Investment Convention (TIC) on Friday. More than 60 people pre-registered and another 30, mainly from overseas including East and West Africa, requested that I send a copy of the PowerPoint presentation.

Of the more than 40 persons who actually made it to the seminar, there was at least one participant each from the Shepherd, Investor, Board Member and National Policy Maker categories. Most of the participants were Entrepreneurs in the Making or existing Entrepreneurs.

The great interest shown in the seminar was very gratifying and was stimulated by combined marketing efforts in my column, the TIC website, a focussed email invitation, and social media marketing by Marketplace Excellence Corporation as well as a timely announcement in the TIC exhibition hall just before the event.

A dynamic interactive session ensued on the topic “Entrepreneurship: Emerging from Chaos to Order” where several issues were raised before we ran out of time to make way for the next seminar session in the Nelson Mandela Hall. The participants asked some very pertinent questions, made very relevant comments and shared interesting experiences as they contributed during the interactive sessions and after the seminar on a one-on-one basis.

The session began by establishing the philosophy “When Trinidad and Tobago wins, We all win”. This philosophy can indeed be applied to any country in the world.

Then, in order to stimulate a Winning Culture, the concepts of the Vision Culture “Nothing Beats Business Success” and a Stakeholder Action Culture were introduced.

The proposition was that if the collective action of the stakeholders induced individual productivity, private sector development, trade union effectiveness, civil service efficiency, political triumph, a broader assimilation of the unique messages of the church and other spiritual institutions, civil society support and the positioning of an enabling policy environment, then this would redound to the benefit of the country.

A concept of a Business Approach was introduced where (1) Goods or Services are sold to Customers, (2) Customers Pay for Goods and Services, and (3) Customers receive Benefits. For each of the above stakeholder categories there are business opportunities for the stakeholder and benefits to the customer.

Each individual can draw on skills and experiences which are of benefit to an employer to fulfill staff needs. Customers benefit when their wants and needs are satisfied by individual entrepreneurs or private sector enterprises in many different types of business. Trade Union members benefit when trade unions deploy their collective bargaining and consulting skills to enhance productivity for fair compensation.

The general public benefits when the civil service renders a range of public services to build an efficient regulatory and service environment. Constituents can benefit from good political representation. The congregation benefits from the delivery of spiritually enriching messages. The general public is better served as civil society supports the public and private sectors. Socioeconomic well being and happiness of the populace can be paramount if cabinet and parliament are efficient in designing, delivering and policing the relevant needed policies.

It is my experience that at every level of society there is never plain sailing as we plan, organize, staff and attempt to execute those plans. Indeed, I can think of many examples where the seas are so rough that we would be justified in saying that chaos prevails. We know that it is foolish if we continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect to get different results. We must therefore change our strategies and allow chaos to migrate to order, which paves the way for sustainable development.

The issues that were raised by participants related primarily to “Shepherding” which would expedite the migration from chaos to order. I shall share some of them with you: (1) Shepherding mitigates the risk of business failure and hence secures the seed and equity capital investment; (2) Equity is to be preferred to loan capital for several reasons because it addresses the needs of the enterprise; (3) The lexicon associated with financial investment for enterprises must change – whereas for a loan we talk about hard collateral as security, interest rates and payment, principal repayment and loan period; for equity we talk about shepherding as collateral, shares, dividends and only voluntary repayment prior to the exit strategy.

(4) Shepherding is a concept where the enterprise is not exposed financially but is expected to work diligently to develop the enterprise so that the equity investment may be repaid in the fullness of time; (5) the seed/equity fund concept could be either a public/private collaborative effort or a solely private sector offering.

(6) Shepherding is superior to traditional training courses because it gives custom-designed solutions to problems arising from the development of the enterprise on a timely basis; (7) The innovative seed/equity combination relieves the enterprise of having to be responsible for paying for the shepherding process (shepherd and business advisor) initially.

I received the following email comment early the next day from one of the participants: “Thank you very much for an excellent presentation. My team are reviewing the shepherding concept. We would certainly like to understand how we can use this concept to take our business to the next level”.

Let us celebrate our freedom by imagining our highest good and our limitless possibilities. Let us live life the best we can, today and every day!

Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. Columns are archived at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.