Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 6th 2017 Contents JULY 6 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG19
Some say recession, others it's
economic adversity, while some
economists describe it as a peri-
od of structural adjustment. I say
it's time to put more thought into
what actions you---the owner of
an SME (small- and medium- sized enter-
prise)---have to do to deal with the changed sit-
uation. You need to think entrepreneurially and
get your employees to do the same. This is no
small feat but, if you have the right leadership
skills, mobilising the collective intelligence of
your organisation can have tremendous upside.
This slowdown may have some differences
from the past. But let's assume that it is going
to be a long period of zero or negative growth.
The closest period in our recent economic his-
tory is the 1980s.
We were totally unprepared for this decade
of contraction. I can think of three words to
describe the decade, words that were widely
used for the first time: receivership, refugee
(status) and vagrancy.
An unprecedented of amount business fail-
ure occurred. Iconic names such as Kirpalani's
(retailer), McEnearney (conglomerate), Inter-
national Finance (finance) and others bit the
dust. They were unprepared to deal with the
fall in demand and were not well positioned
to deal with a different economy.
People still needed to buy certain things,
but at a more affordable price. While Charles
McEnearney went under, the Bamboo started
its rise as it offered more value than original
equipment or even after-market parts sellers
could offer automobile owners.
The rise in business failures resulted in one
of the largest migration in our recent history.
Think about all your Trini relatives and
friends from Toronto, Miami, London and
New York, and they have one thing in com-
mon---they left during the difficult years. Many
lost their homes and they saw no future here.
'Trini to the bone" was not the philosophy of
the day. I may have been the largest migration
of the 20th century in our country.
Those who could not leave faced the pres-
sures of rising prices, taxes and no jobs. Some
turned to alcohol and others to drugs. Many
ended up on the streets. It was the beginning
of the trend of street people. We call them va-
grants. It was a sign of the times as there was no
safety net or psychiatric assistance available.
How can you avoid
Lack of planning
Business owners make some common errors
that can be easily avoided. Businesses failed
because they were out of alignment with the
environment. Sometimes going out of business
can be imperceptible at first. You go slowly and
then suddenly. After years of subsidies and high
demand, many inefficient businesses could not
adapt. McEnearney was selling Ford Cortinas
and Escorts but consumers wanted Nissans
One major error that business owners make
is not planning. When there is a shift in the
economy, the old plan will not work. There
is now need for greater operational efficien-
cy, better marketing and getting your human
resource capital to be more productive. Busi-
ness people sometime tend to see only the bad
news but there are opportunities out there.
All is not bad if things were to mirror the 80s.
We have some hope and I call these the three
"I": intrapreneurship, innovation and internet.
Intrapreneurship is a branch of the entre-
preneurship that preaches a different gospel.
It says that everyone in an organisation can
think and act as entrepreneurs. The convention
is that the founder is the entrepreneur and, is
solely responsible for all new value creating
activities that are opportunity driven. We see
the likes of Bill Gates, Michael Dell and Mark
Zuckerberg and think they are the only heroes
but it is not so. They are great because they
were able to unleash their entrepreneurial
This task of getting the organisation to im-
prove its IQ is rather complex, but it can be
done. A strong dose of leadership and coaching
can get employees to generate new ideas and
make them into reality. It requires an entre-
Innovation is something we are missing
badly. The last time we were truly innovative
was about 60 years ago, when we created the
You might ask about doubles but I would
say no in its present form. If you innovate a
healthy doubles meal, then that could be called
an innovation. If it sold for about the same
price, this would be called value innovation.
The lines for healthy doubles would be longer
that the lines at the hospital for heart disease.
The last saviour is the internet.
This offers much opportunity and we did not
have this in the 1980s. We have much knowl-
edge assets due to GATE and we need to exploit
it. If you wanted to start a school now it does
not require you to open an expensive physical
campus. Digital education is a different busi-
ness. Students don't need to move, just the
information. Education technologies are so
advanced it is almost like face-to-face.
Even a service such as hair stylist or barber
could boost sales using the internet? Develop-
ing a website to provide information about hair
styles and attract a good following can boost
business. Also, social media can build your
brand. You can even teach potential students
to become professionals with some face-to-
The internet also offers an inexpensive way
Why complain about foreign exchange
shortages? You can sell products using your
website or Amazon and collect money through
PayPal. All of this could be conducted from
the comfort of your home.
One of the great businesses you can have
is a service business specialising in consul-
tancy and training. The inputs are knowledge
resources: education, books, conferences, etc.
Every time you develop a training workshop,
there is little foreign exchange input as a per-
centage of the final price. You can even take it
online for greater sales.
We live in a very different times.
We have more knowledge about management
and lots more innovative options.
If we fall into a similar 80s quagmire, we
only have ourselves to blame.
Sajjad Hamid is an SME and family business
adviser. His contact: entrepreneurtnt@gmail.
com and entrepreneurtnt.com
Links Archive July 5th 2017 July 7th 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page