“Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.” – Psalm 16:1

My son Bevan was asked by a colleague in the US to introduce her to a firm or individual in Barbados who could advise on the anticipated growth in renewable energy.

I endorsed Bevan’s response to suggest entrepreneur James Husbands and his group of companies to fit this bill.
A Google search revealed two James Husbands YouTube videos, one at The Anthony N. Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence (2011) in Trinidad and the other when he was conferred with an honorary doctorate (2012) by the University of the West Indies in Barbados. After viewing these videos for the first time, I recommended them as suitable material to support his suggestion.
Only hours before, I was attempting to improve upon my description of the construct of a start-up business enterprise as a foundation for shepherding start-up businesses, to make it logical, memorable and succinct.

The logic is that (1) the inventor starts with an idea, (2) the innovator converts that idea into a product or service for sale to customers, (3) the entrepreneur manages the business to sustained profitability, (4) the shepherding (life coaching and business mentoring) process is a protective mechanism which mitigates the risk of business failure and secures the investment and (5) the investors provide the money.

I am a great believer in alliteration as a memory enhancer and was focusing on the letter ‘M’ to give me a 5 ‘M’ alliteration, so that the business construct could be succinctly described. I was flirting with the words Management, Money, Mentoring, Mechanism, Mitigate but something was missing.

Then, as I listened to his use of the terms Model and Mindset in James’ latter address, I found the missing link. Among the things he stated were: “(1) I believed that it was possible to turn an idea into an industry. We turned that industry into an ideology. An ideology that now energizes our region, and engages the world; (2) the strongest currency we trade in the world is not money, but ideas; and (3) the most important asset we bring to any opportunity is our mental model – our mindset.”

Eureka! It all came together so that my logical, memorable and succinct description of the business construct for a start-up business is “Model – Management – Mindset – Mentoring – Money”, the 5M start-up business construct.

The inventor and the innovator produces a product or service for sale to customers – this is the Model. The entrepreneur focuses on making a profit – this is the Management. The shepherding is split into two parts (life coaching which addresses the mind of the entrepreneur – the Mindset) and (business mentoring which addresses business management – the Mentoring). The investor invests – the Money.

It is the amalgam of success stories like that of James Husbands that will enhance our thrust towards sustainable economic development in the region. It begins with the start-up enterprise.

My experience in the Caribbean is that there is no shortage of ideas. Even if there were, there is a tried and proven methodology, the CBET High Impact Growth Strategy (HIGS) Workshop, which creates ideas from a blank sheet of paper. It has been tried in 12 countries in the Caribbean and it has worked each time. Then, as James Husbands has demonstrated, as we turn these ideas into industries, we can turn these industries into ideologies. As a region, we can engage the world.

The recently launched Global Business Innovation Corporation’s Caribbean Food Business Innovation Revolution is one such innovation which can identify and transform products in the food and beverage industry in the Caribbean and engage the world. We need to move swiftly to develop this Model.

Also, in my experience, there is no shortage of passionate Caribbean entrepreneurs who are willing to accept the mandate to manage businesses arising from these ideas to sustainable success. There are two constraints however, these entrepreneurs have to be continually coached and mentored to be able to aggressively and persistently address and overcome the challenges which they will face in a tough evolving businesses environment.

My current experience with start-ups dictates that the best way of addressing these constraints is through the shepherding process, on a one-on-one basis, where mindset and mentoring are tackled in tandem. As a practitioner in the trenches on a day-to-day basis, I have noticed that entrepreneurs have to untrain themselves first before adopting new assignments – this applies even to some of my shepherding clients who have MBAs. The world of academia and the real world of business are often like chalk and cheese.

As a result of this, there is great demand for trained life coaches and business mentors to implement the shepherding process. This means an opportunity for suitable persons to be trained to meet the expected demand and an opportunity to “train the trainers”.

As James and many others have experienced over the years, the one scourge in the 5M start-up business construct is quick access to appropriate sources of finance. So critical is this that I find myself advising clients to seek funds from “friends and family”, who believe in them and their Models, and more recently through crowdfunding platforms, rather than to wait for the public and private sectors to wake up. Of course, start-up entrepreneurs should spare no effort, where practicable, in generating early profits in the business. There is no better source of investment finance and it does wonders for your credit rating.

As we are divinely protected, let us shepherds protect our start-up businesses so that they thrive and contribute to a business revival in the Caribbean.

(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.)