Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 17th 2015 Contents MAY 17 • 2015 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | SBG5
How can your business con-
tinue to maximise profits
when forced to minimise
investments? This is the key
question that every busi-
ness---big or small---must ask
as the T&T economy, accord-
ing to international ratings
agency Moody s, faces the bleak prospect of stasis
or contraction. Nearly all the answers that owners
and managers come up with will revolve around
financial decisions: reduction in expenditure; cutting
staff and/or salaries; less (or more) investment in
plant and equipment; streamlining processes and
procedures; reduced production goals; and so on.
This piece deals with none of those decisions. At
least not directly.
Every effective business leader knows that, at the
heart of sound financial decisions, lies people.
"Business is all about managing relationships,"
write Charles Jacobs, business consultant to many
Fortune 500 companies and author of Management
Rewired. Successful business depends on under-
standing human beings: what people desire, what
drives them, what persuades them.
Business organisations in T&T have begun to
understand the value of such an approach in max-
In recent years, the feature speakers at business
conferences organised by the Chamber of Commerce
and the Arthur Lok Jack School of Business have
not been entrepreneurs or executives or even sales
persons. Instead, they have been people who write
about psychology, such as Tipping Point author and
journalist Malcolm Gladwell, To Sell is Human author
and psychologist Daniel Pink, and leadership
researcher Marcus Buckingham.
Each of these individuals was invited (and paid
handsomely) to give their insights into the psychology
of successful business. Of course, these conferences
are primarily marketing tools rather than training
workshops. And they are very good marketing tools.
Whether they make a difference to how businesses
are managed or customers persuaded, however, is
While every speaker featured has been first-class,
none of them said anything that wasn t already in
As professional consultants, nearly all of them
did do some research on T&T and made some ref-
erence to our economic context. This does not mean,
however, that their research and ideas were directly
transferable to local businesses. Some would have
been, because human nature is basically the same
all over the world. Some would not have been,
because people s behaviour is shaped by their culture,
society, and work environment.
While organisational psychology dates back to
the early 20th century---when psychologist Frederick
Taylor discovered the Hawthorne effect (that workers
become more productive just by getting attention)---
the field really expanded in 1984 with the publication
of Influence by American psychologist Robert B
Cialdini. For a long time, however, psychological
techniques have been used mainly by one kind of
business: casinos. But, with the expansion of the
Internet in the 21st century, data on consumer
behaviour has become so vast, along with new pos-
sibilities for real-world experiments, that market
psychology has acquired an entirely new and
In this business psychology series, this research
will be presented, along with the caveats for T&T s
particular socioeconomic and institutional contexts.
You will find out why Employee of the Month awards
are counter-productive; how the word "because"
can help you bypass bureaucracy; and why it s bad
marketing to brand a grocery, a finance company,
and an appliance store with the same name.
By providing answers to these and other questions,
managers and policy-makers may be able to avoid
more errors, increase efficiencies, and improve their
company s bottom line; even if Moody s predictions
are right on the less money.
tracts and they do not know where to start. We show
people how to identify tenders that line up with their busi-
nesses and the basic pieces of information that all tenders
have to carry."
Courses are usually delivered over a period of one or two
days. Cox said there is usually a practical element and par-
ticipants are encouraged to come with questions or problematic
situations from their own businesses.
ETTIC also conducts one-on-one advisory sessions with
entrepreneurs who just need a listening ear.
"A young woman joined us and she had two ideas and
wanted to get our advice on which one we thought would
be the better idea."
"We get individuals like that. Some need encouraging
words as opposed to what they are hearing at home, from
their spouse or from their parents. We get entrepreneurs
who have just started and who are probably facing some
hurdles. We also get mid-stage individuals, who have reached
a peak and are probably looking for some marketing advice
in terms of how to grow the business."
Help is not only available for individual business owners.
Cox said ETTIC is planning to expand the assistance offered
organisations. This will take the form of partnerships, particularly
with other state agencies offering skills training.
"We have sought to build relationships and that is a heavy
part of our future direction. For example, last year, we started
doing entrepreneurial skills training for trainees at the National
Energy Skills Centre."
Even though most of those trainees are likely to end up in
the energy sector, Cox said a small number will start their
"They would know, after they add the specific skills, this is
how you go about starting your business. This is how you go
about promoting your business; this is how you go about doing
One of ETTIC s chief targets in this area are the agencies
providing agricultural training.
"We have realised there are a number of agencies that are
providing specialised training and there is a need for an entre-
preneurial component to go along with that training. You can
teach how to plant crops, but they are really planting crops
for a business. They are not really getting that entrepreneurial
skills component. So we have sought to build relationships."
The organisation is also reaching out to women and youth
in rural areas.
In 2014, Cox said ETTIC created a new position to provide
support to people in this target group.
ETTIC looks to boost agricultural sector
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