“Jesus said to them privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!'” – Luke 10:23
Travel allows us access directly or indirectly to the global supply and demand markets. There is an aura of excitement about travel. It may be business travel where we are either buying raw materials or finished goods or attracting leisure, cruise, recreation, sport, community and culture tourism visitors to our shores.
It may be holiday travel where we are seeking leisure, relaxation and recreation in a destination away from home. Even travel for medical reasons conjures up an expectation of cure and success. It is the change from the day-to-day routine that is appealing.
The logistics of travel, even though that can often be an ordeal in these days of maximum security, can also be exciting. The prospects of staying at a hotel or visiting relatives, where you are treated as a guest, is also a pleasing variation to one’s routine, even if only for a short while.
As we pursue the travails of economic expansion which is driven by enterprise development in all the productive sectors, we are forced to focus on the amalgam of the business idea, the innovation arising from that idea and the prospects that are at the beck and call of the entrepreneur to make money from that innovation.
Then we shepherd the enterprise, to reduce the risk of business failure and secure the equity or loan investment, pitch to investors and obtain investment funds to fuel the enterprise. We manage this process cyclically and observe its sustainable growth. The collective impact of all enterprises then redounds to the benefit of the country.
The small nations of the Caribbean cannot survive and thrive by selling only to their own small markets. Economic growth must be driven by a cadre of enterprises that focus on the global market. In order to be a successful exporter, the entrepreneur must engage a three pronged thrust in the form of “mind set”, “skill set” and “cross cultural communication” change. In addition enterprises must be very efficient at the management of their business systems. How can the entrepreneur achieve this?
Let us explore the thought that, for the export thrust to be successful, “the experience of travel makes the world of difference to the entrepreneur”. What can the entrepreneur learn from travel, virtual or real?
“Mind set” change implies that we must focus outwards not inwards, as might have been our wont, to understand how the world works and what products and services we have to compete against and what innovative products and services we can introduce with our raw materials or creative minds.
“Skill set” change implies that we must improve our skills, access appropriate technologies and learn about new processes to enhance our productivity.
Travel does two things: it allows us to get appropriate education and training but it also allows one to source or outsource the best human resources which can then be used, in a real or virtual environment, so that we can become globally competitive.
“Cross cultural communication” change implies that we must, given the nature of global trade, speak the language of trade across borders and we must become familiar with the impact of different cultures on our business relationships. Travel facilitates these activities in an optimal manner.
The startling global statistic that 90 percent of start-up businesses fail in the first four years of operation begs the question, why is this failure rate so high? Surely if it were the infant mortality rate we would not only be alarmed but do something about it.
I believe that the reason for this statistic is the failure to manage these classical systems of business (corporate governance, market, operations, human resource and investment finance) well. Travel allows the entrepreneur the opportunity to interact with global partners in search of solutions.
Then there are the business systems themselves. How do successful companies address corporate governance issues? How can we penetrate the global markets with innovative products? How can we design our operational systems? How can we leverage the concepts of virtual operation and economies of scale of production? How can we enhance productivity and outsource resources to other jurisdictions where the wage rate is lower in an impactful and sustained way? How can we attract global investment to our shores where there is an attractive return on investment? Travel allows us to interact with the cutting edge industries and transfer the technologies within our shores.
But of course in this day and age, we can enjoy some of the benefits of travel without setting a foot out of the country. We have access to research through videos, the Internet, Skype, telephone, email, texting, television and live streaming at very cost-effective prices.
We can learn plenty from our virtual home office operation.
If we are fortunate to be able to travel as an entrepreneur then so much the better we can see things at first hand. We must “travel” to the global marketplace and do due diligence so as to determine the prospects.
We are all blessed with the spirit of insight, some in different ways than others.
The first telescopes and microscopes enabled people to clearly see worlds they had never been seen before. Similarly, let us use the experience of travel to make the world of difference to the entrepreneur and to gain new insight by looking at life from a different perspective.
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.