“Many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see.” – Matthew 13:17

I met a contemporary of mine at a funeral last Saturday and he said to me “how are your children, Basil? I am occasionally in touch with Kevin, by phone, but how are the others? I like interacting with the youth that is my way of keeping young.”

I fully empathised with his sentiment because my day-to-day shepherding activities keep me in touch with “entrepreneurs in the making” and “start-up entrepreneurs” many of whom are in their 20s and 30s, much younger than even my children. It is an experience of the creativity and enthusiasm of the individual, a manifestation of opportunity and a fully gratifying learning experience. I would go as far as to say that it is like an elixir of life or eternal youth and it affirms the philosophy “seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”.

Right after the funeral, I attended a session mounted by the event company, Launch RockIt, that hosts entrepreneurship events. This particular event was a mini-expo for the “idea to innovation (i2i)” awardees. The “i2i” initiative is a programme sponsored by the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development in Trinidad and Tobago. Launch RockIt hosted a group of service providers to interact with the awardees and help them with different aspects of their businesses.

As part of the event, a subset of the awardees had the opportunity to pitch to a panel of business persons. I was invited to be a member of the panel. There were close to four hours of pitching from more than a dozen entrepreneurs with very innovative ideas – again a high percentage of youngsters and a gratifying and learning experience.

Even though all of the entrepreneurs were very passionate and knowledgeable about their ideas, most of them were very short on knowledge as to how to embark on the journey to sustainable business success. Some thought that money was the gateway to sustainable business success, others recognised that they were short of business management knowledge, and yet others were very thirsty for knowledge on what next steps they should take.

Earlier in the week I was discussing with one of my clients the results of two days of a technical training session in his business, by technicians from abroad, on the use of a new machine which was just acquired. One of the things I learnt, indirectly, in the process of this discussion, was that substances that reflect light from the wavelengths of one of the three primary colours cyan, magenta and yellow (CMY) and absorb other wavelengths, may be mixed to produce all colours as appear on a paint colour chart.

In the same way, the three primary elements of a business – idea, business management and money – may be mixed to address all elements that are necessary for sustainable business success. It is assumed that the entrepreneur has thoroughly researched his business idea and is very knowledgeable and passionate about it.

When the entrepreneur pitches to a panel of business persons, the entrepreneur is in search of some assistance in the areas with which he is not so familiar. The entrepreneur may not know it at the time, but as was the case for many an entrepreneur in Saturday’s Launch RockIt Pitch Panel event, the entrepreneur is really pitching for two things: Shepherding advice to address business management issues and sources of investment finance to address the money issues.

The order in which he seeks this advice is important – shepherding first and investment finance second. As one of the entrepreneurs on Saturday quite elegantly said: “If my business had access to a million dollars today, I would be none the wiser as to how to spend it in order to get the maximum return on investment.”

The entrepreneur needs a shepherd, divinely inspired to: “make me lie down in green pastures, lead me beside quiet waters, refresh my soul and guide me along the right paths” or, in other words embrace the practices of life coaching, business mentoring, Theo-economics and community service thus addressing all elements that are necessary for sustainable business. Then, the entrepreneur will be able to determine what money is needed, for what purpose, in what form, the likely sources of the money and the timeliness of the injection to fuel the growth of the company.

A new entity, Global Business Innovation (GBI), in which I am involved, is now taking this shepherding assistance to entrepreneurs a step further by adding the elements of design, open innovation and communication to shepherding as it addresses the issue of expanding trade from the Caribbean to the global marketplace with concomitant benefits to increased economic growth.

“Design” enhances the chances of an ideal match between buyer and supplier, “open innovation” supplies access to markets, technologies and relationships to facilitate the trade, and “communication” inspires supply and demand markets through traditional and social media.

The GBI team is about to launch this initiative in the Caribbean next month using the food sector as an example, but ever mindful that the sky is the limit. This approach can be expanded to other sectors of the economy and become a really dynamic economic growth strategy.

Caribbean colleagues and others please express your interest in meeting the team by contacting me by email at basilgf@caribsurf.com.

As we engage with young people, let their creativity and enthusiasm permeate our every being to produce eternal youth in us, especially at Christmastide.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)