As we continue to experience uncertainty in our economy, I am reminded about the research I came across several years ago that was carried out by Stuart Read, who was Professor of Marketing at IMD business school in Switzerland. He found that in times of uncertainty, expert entrepreneurs took action based on what they had available while the standard managerial approach was to set goals then create actions based on what was needed to achieve those goals. He stated that the main reason for starting with what you have was that it enabled you to start right away.
So what do you, or your business, have that you can start with right away to survive and even thrive in these uncertain times? What about us as a country? In the past, we have relied largely on tourism and international business and we know there are challenges with those sectors. While we certainly cannot dismiss tourism, or simply despair because visitor spending is down, we need to create new niches in the tourism market, such as a greater focus on heritage tourism as we certainly have a lot to offer in that area.
What can we as a nation do with what we already have? We already have a lot of sunshine and based on the temperature the last few days, it’s not getting any cooler. A good start might be to utilize more solar solutions, particularly in the tourism sector. A number of companies in Barbados offer solar solutions, so hotels should consider investing in solar energy systems to reduce their horrendous electricity costs and reduce our fuel import bill. We still have incentives for installing solar systems, both for individuals and for companies which we should take advantage of.
What else do we have and how can we use it right away? We don’t have a lot of sugar now but perhaps what we have could be repackaged and sold in different markets at higher prices rather than selling it in bulk at a loss. Another thing we can use (before all our land goes for housing) is our botanicals. A few years ago I met a Barbadian living in the US with a PhD in Biomedical Engineering. She wanted to set up a facility here to research and develop nutraceuticals based on Barbadian botanicals. Nutraceuticals are defined as dietary supplements derived from plants that are demonstrated to have a physiological benefit or provide protection against chronic disease.
For example, I came across an article on the Internet about paw paw that said: “Eating paw paw after a meal makes for better digestion, prevents bloating and chronic indigestion. It can also lower the inflammation in the body and alleviates the pain and edema caused by sports injuries. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties paw paw can relieve the severity of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Because of its high antioxidant content, it can prevent cholesterol oxidation and can be use in preventative treatments against atherosclerosis, strokes, heart attacks and diabetic heart disease.” Should we be planting some more paw paws? Just a thought. The nutraceutical market is estimated to reach $302 billion by 2022. It would be great if Barbados had even a small piece of that pie.
What about us as individuals? What do we have that we can use right away? This may be a good time to do a personal audit, review our skills and abilities and how quickly we can turn them into a new revenue stream. Do you have a computer? There are numerous online businesses that you may be able to start. I googled “Best Online Businesses” and came up with: social media consultant, SEO consultant, web designer and handmade craft seller to name a few. You can even write a book, publish it and sell it in a matter of months. I wrote one of my books in 30 days. With Amazon you can now do the layout yourself and create your own cover using their cover creator service. I must admit I have never used that service because I prefer to have my cover designed rather than use a template. Publishing a book has never been easier. It’s the marketing that takes the effort.
Government’s role in helping entrepreneurs thrive in uncertainty should be to facilitate those who are keen to get ahead and use what they have already (the ideas, the resources, the contacts) to create new and exciting businesses. Hopefully, the innovation fund and other sources of funds will help so that we can diversify the economy and increase the competitiveness of our existing businesses. This is not the time for us, our businesses or the Government to use standard managerial approaches of setting lofty goals and then looking for ways to achieve them. Instead, we need to identify our resources, and act quickly to use them, making the best of every opportunity that presents itself or creating our own opportunities. In so doing, we will survive and even thrive in this uncertainty.
Donna Every is an author, international speaker and trainer. She was the Barbados Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (2014-2016) and is the Barbados Facilitator for the WINC Acceleration Program. She has just released her eleventh book, Vaucluse, which is available on all Amazon stores, at Pages and the Museum or contact her to order your copy.
Contact her at [email protected]