Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 22nd 2015 Contents This is the season it seems
for cutting costs and
restructuring. Make no mis-
take tis the season for
adjustment. Oil company
bpTT recently announced
they are offering VSEP to
its 1,000 or so employees. They envision a
long period of low energy prices. We can expect
other oil and gas companies to follow. After
that sector, the non-energy business may fol-
low suit, if the economy slows. Depending on
who you listen to, energy prices might stay
low for a while but who can predict that?
If you are an employee and you re a sitting
duck; waiting for the pink slip. Do you just
wait until your employers offer you a severance
package? Is this your only option? Are there
examples of talented people who did not accept
firing or got fired and did something about
it?Walt Disney---famous cartoonist and entre-
preneur who built Disneyland---lost his job at
the Kansas City Star newspaper. In 1919 his
editor reportedly told him that he was "not
Oprah Winfrey did have not a good sepa-
ration either and, like most people with
resilience, she opted to start a business. Oprah
was hired as an evening news reporter for
WJZ-TV in Baltimore and the producer, at
the time, thought she was not emotionally
engaged. She was later demoted to a day-time
talk show, which later became a huge hit.
Another example was Former New York
mayor Michael Bloomberg. He was fired at
Salomon Brothers, an investment bank. Though
he left with a huge severance cheque, he did
not try looking for another job or going into
retirement. After that debacle, he started his
own investment firm and is one the richest
men in the US today.
Employee to entrepreneur
There is a point in life when we may ask
ourselves: are there other options? Is it the
time to consider using my knowledge and
skills to create something of value? Maybe
you want to leave something behind. Leaving
a business legacy is one way to be remembered
and admired long after you are gone. Think
Sometimes we have the skills, but do not
understand the true worth of these compe-
tencies. Since organisations are built a certain
way, your skills may not have fighting chance
to capture real value or your employer does
not see the true value in you.
The founders of Home Depot in the US,
Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank were fired
at Handy Dan, a home improvement store,
when they were told they were not needed
after a disagreement with their boss. Their
idea was to start a warehouse-type home
improvement business. Today, Home Depot
is worth over US$50 billion and each of its
founders are multibillionaires.
Nothing is sure in the business world. You
can have the best business plan, have a great
consultant on board or a deep pocket, the
bottom line is that entrepreneurship is a road
that is filled with good and bad experiences.
You should consider the good and the bad
before going into business, weigh them carefully
and ask if you can manage them. Remember,
while your severance payment seems big, you
do not want to blow it.
Make a fortune
We read about it all the time; entrepreneurs
who made not just millions but billions.
Mark Zuckerberg, 30, is worth US$34 billion,
according to Forbes last year. Of course the
average entrepreneur does not amass such
large net worth. Nevertheless, entrepreneurship
can be your ticket to becoming wealthy. The
average entrepreneur who owners a small busi-
ness can still earn substantially more than
their pre-severance salary.
Influence the world
You leave your mark on this planet in several
ways. You can be the first to develop a vaccine
(Dr Jonas Salk, polo), write a novel about a
street full of interesting characters back in
Trinidad (VS Naipaul) or be the first to make
an affordable car through mass production
(Henry Ford). Entrepreneurship offers the
attraction of making a difference in the world
Many entrepreneurs are motivated by this
aspect. However, it is a myth that they are
only driven by the profit motive. What could
be behind the late Steven Jobs of Apple com-
puters to continue to work even after achieving
financial security? Jobs continued to work
despite illness and will be remembered as one
of the great architects of the information age.
A better world
Entrepreneurs want to leave more than their
footprint in the sand. They want to leave a
wonderful piece of artwork that touches that
deep human feeling of compassion. Do you
want to be remembered as one of the richest
man or woman in the world only? Or be like
Zuckerberg and his wife Dr Priscilla Chan who
recently donated US$75 million to the San
Francisco General Hospital. Zuckerberg posted
on Facebook (not surprising): "Our contribution
will allow The General (San Francisco General
Hospital) to double the size of its new emer-
gency room and quadruple the number of
beds, and provide state-of-the-art equipment
for healthcare providers.
Here in T&T, the Bhagwansingh family made
a $5 million contribution to diabetes research
and food entrepreneur, Arthur Lok Jack made
his mark with a $20 million donation to UWI s
Institute of Business, now the Arthur Lok Jack
School of Business.
As one philanthropist once said, to die rich
is to die in disgrace.
Work = Fun
Work and fun are not synonymous in the
corporate world. In that world you go to work
and then go on vacation to have fun. Entre-
preneurs can blend them both and live an
exciting life. They never seem to get tired and
enjoy working for themselves well past retire-
ment. The late Sam Walton of Wal-Mart is
a good example.
Entrepreneurship does have its pitfalls. It s
not all a bed of roses. You may need to balance
the good with the bad.
Lose your shirt
You can indeed lose your money and all
too. When you work for someone, all you can
lose is your job. The founder of CNN, Ted
Turner and Real Estate developer, Donald
Trump, have both declared bankruptcy. This
is the worst case scenario. Entrepreneurs need
to have plenty of "belly."
You may not lose all your money, but you
may end up having a low level of profitability.
The opportunity may not be all that big or
the cost of operating maybe too high. This
might have been the case of Fresh Express.
The owners, Bermudez, did not see the busi-
ness model generating an acceptable rate of
Long hours & stress
Entrepreneurs seldom work 40 hours per
week. They work late, weekends and public
holidays are the norm for doing the things
they can t do during the normal work week.
This can sometimes lead to health issues later.
There is a high burden that entrepreneurs
carry. It s the financial, social and career risks.
Could I make this month s wage bill? Will I
fail and have to look for a job? This can be
While entrepreneurship does offer many
benefits, there can be issues that could make
any sane person ponder. Choosing an entre-
preneurial option is to take a path filled with
many possibilities and a road that only the
strong-willed can follow.
Sajjad Hamid is a SME consultant. His
contact is email@example.com
FEBRUARY 22 • 2015 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
FINANCE | SBG13
with Sajjad Hamid
Try starting your own business
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