Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 19th 2017 Contents BG18 | ENTREPRENOMICS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt JANUARY 19 • 2017
The year has just begun and your
plans might be shaken-up due
to the economic challenges of
low energy prices. Over the
past few months, the bad news
of companies cutting staff has
been growing. In addition, the unemployment
rate is increasing.
According to Central Statistical Office, for
the second quarter 2016, the unemployment
rate stood at 4.4 per cent. Globally, this is
good, unless you factor in the involvement of
government in the economy. The State has
many social programmes which "creates" jobs.
But, with falling government revenues, we can
expect further cutbacks. The picture, moving
forward, includes more unemployment.
Recently, RBC Royal Bank indicated its offer
of VSEP. But the company expects more em-
ployment cuts and some will not make head-
lines. If you are working for an organisation---
large or small---and you have commitments,
you need as many options as possible. No one
likes to be a sitting duck. Fortunately, there is
an option that offers many advantages.
Entrepreneurship good side
Anyone starting a business has several ad-
vantages over someone who is an employee.
Cubicle life can cramp your style, you go
where the company goes. It's that simple.
If the company sells fried chicken and you
are nauseated (from smelling oil and other
things), there is little you can do. But with a
venture, there is the possibility that you can
offer healthy meals---whether it be chicken,
lamb or vegetables---and you get to do what
you like and maybe change the world.
There is also the potential that you can make
more money. We know that the top ten wealthy
people in the world are entrepreneurs. If wealth
is your game, then you can make it big like Bill
Gates. Forbes estimates his worth at US$84
billion for 2016.
Gates also has another thing going for him.
Forbes ranks him as one of the most influential
people in the world. If you want to be remem-
bered, entrepreneurship is the way to go. If
you want to leave a legacy, a family business
for your loved ones is a great gift.
Making money is good, but what about if
you wanted to have fun too. Entrepreneurship
offers you both.
Entrepreneurship dark side
But entrepreneurship is not for everyone.
It's not for the faint of heart, the comfort zone
lovers, the chickens and those who need a boss
to be a great worker. Being an entrepreneur
requires a certain mindset.
Moving from an employee to an entrepre-
neur means a transition to a more risk taking
personality. You become more resourceful and
tenacious. You must be creative and innovative
in solving problems and identifying oppor-
tunities. But there is one drawback. You can
lose your shirt.
If you invest your savings (as most entrepre-
neurs use their personal funds), or your VSEP
money, there is a good chance you will lose
some or all as things may not work as planned.
We all know that business failures are high for
start-up enterprises. Sometimes the business
succeeds in surviving, but it generates a much
lower rate of return than expected.
Other big drawbacks can be psychological:
the stress and discouragement of an early stage
business; more bills than revenue, things going
not as planned, delays, etc. This can eventual-
ly---if not managed properly---lead to problems.
Too much stress can affect your health re-
sulting in high blood pressure, heart issues and
more. Budding entrepreneurs may also have
to deal with stress which can damage your
These drawbacks can be dealt with through
• Communicate and get agreement from
family members or spouse/partner
• Outline their roles and sacrifices
• Promise uncertainty, but with the chance
of a better life
• Give updates and consult with members
on key decisions
• Set a time limit and resource commitment,
so that exposure to failure does not result in
migrating to your relatives in Toronto
In addition to a mindset transition, entre-
preneurs need to acquire a different skill set.
Remember the saying: the mind is willing
but the flesh is weak. You may have to acquire
If, however, you are a good salesperson with
a diploma in marketing, you have an important
area already locked down. One of the biggest
challenges a new venture has is getting new
customers and knowing how to convince them
to buy. Therefore you should make a list of all
Remember, skills and competencies are two
different things. You can have skill for water
pumps repairs but you are unable to leverage
it and turn it into a successful pump repair
Perspectives and blind spots
In the gospel of entrepreneurship, Pastor
Me says, in the beginning there was an idea
(a business starts with an idea). But note, ideas
can only come from a fertile entrepreneurial
mind. You must have a different perspective
on things, looking for blind spots, trends, re-
sources that are misused or misallocated.
Here's an example: a distribution entre-
preneur I know turned an abandoned build-
ing (with a rundown shop) into thriving retail
business, hiring workers and, consequently,
contributing to the Treasury.
But not all ideas are good.
I have heard of three-legged panty hose
(women didn't seem to want a spare), frozen
chenette (thawing out their favourite fruit) and
dog lingerie. The last sounds odd for T&T but
in the United States, this is a big deal, espe-
cially when the pet market is US$62 billion
as estimated by the American Pet Products
Association in 2016.
Business ideas are ones with commercial
potential. Look for ideas on which you can
build a solid venture.
Next week we will look at ways to spot oppor-
tunities and screen out bad ideas and test your
business model. In the meantime, start making
a list of the resources (physical, financial and
knowledge) you have at your disposal, it might
be the first place to start.
Sajjad Hamid is an SME & family business
adviser. His contacts are: entrepreneurtnt@
Dealing with job loss:
Why not start
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