Celebrating the spirit of the Jamaican entrepreneur

Jamaican Entrepreneurs

The Business of Philanthropy

Posted by CHS on December 6, 2012 in An Entrepreneur's Life with 1 Comment

Despite the heavy commercialization of Christmas, many businesses use this holiday to help the less fortunate in the society, ensuring that at least one day of their lives is filled with food and fellowship.

But after the Christmas excitement has faded, what part does charity play in the other eleven months of the year?

Is it possible for entrepreneurs to incorporate good deeds as an integral part of their business strategy?

It could be argued that a charitable focus is in direct contrast to the prevailing concept of the free market economy- one that is built on greed and self-interest to promote wealth.

The reality is that many of the world’s most successful corporations are based on a solid tradition of philanthropy. Wikipedia defines philanthropy as “the act of donating money, goods, time or effort to support a charitable cause, usually over an extended period of time and in regard to a defined objective.”

Over the years, entrepreneurs with a charitable focus have greatly helped to improve the world:

-  American steel mogul Andrew Carnegie diverted much of his wealth to fund libraries, schools and universities worldwide.
- Billionaire investor Warren Buffet gave away most of his immense fortune to the Gates Foundation, founded by Bill Gates, which funds global health and education programmes.
- Locally, the charitable efforts of philanthropists such as Michael Lee Chin and Ferdinand Mahfood have changes the lives of many ordinary Jamaicans.

How can the average entrepreneur incorporate a philanthropic philosophy in business?

Follow the 10% Rule

“Over the years I have found that many of the richest people in the world began their lives with the habit of tithing.” – Robert Kiyosaki

The formula of giving back ten per cent of your earnings to charity is called tithing. In the entrepreneurial world, whether tithing is done for religious purposes or not, the benefit is the same.  There is a universal law that works to reward those who make a consistent practice of donating to worthwhile causes. I have found that the act of giving without seeking something in return has unleashed good fortune in both my personal and professional life.

 Create goodwill for your company

“There can be little doubt that a certain amount of corporate philanthropy is simply good business and works for the long-term benefit of the investors.” – John Mackey

Businesses can profit from establishing foundations which are allowed to focus on altruistic pursuits instead of making profit for the shareholders. In deciding where to give back, it makes good business sense to contribute to those who support you. The Digicel Foundation has created tremendous goodwill for its parent company by helping to develop Jamaican communities, by building and equipping educational and social centres, and supporting local projects.

Establish a more profitable society

“Is the rich world aware of how four billion of the six billion live? If we were aware, we would want to help out; we’d want to get involved.” – Bill Gates

What if more profitable businesses focused on advancing the lives of the least fortunate among us, wouldn’t that help to improve the market place for all of us? What if more entrepreneurs concentrated on developing neighbouring communities, providing sustainable solutions for education, fostering job creation, and helping to change the mindset from poverty thinking to prosperity thinking, what kind of society would we create?

(c) Cherryl Hanson Simpson

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Can Social Networking Help Your Business?

Posted by CHS on November 17, 2011 in Business Basics with No Comments

Unless you’ve been living as a recluse for the last few years, or you’ve chosen to ignore the technological advancement of the Internet, chances are that you have heard of the concept of social networking. The way that the world communicates in the 21st century has been completely transformed by this phenomenon.

Social networking is a web-based structure that allows persons who have common interests to interact freely online; sharing comments, ideas and stories.

Some of the more popular networks include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and MySpace. Research indicates that avid social networkers will spend several hours per day communicating with their online friends.

With over 500 million users [2010 figures], Facebook is the king of all the networks; and it offers the most options for a business to create a meaningful online social presence. If you’re a Facebook newbie, click to read  some great tips on how to make use of this opportunity…

(c) Cherryl Hanson Simpson

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Persistence Pays

Posted by CHS on September 1, 2011 in An Entrepreneur's Life with No Comments

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” -  Calvin Coolidge

One of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs is the ability to keep on going even when the going gets tough. Many a business dream that came into the world with an enthusiastic shout, later died with a feeble whimper because the entrepreneur just didn’t have the persistence to continue until success prevailed.

Ralph Marston in his Monthly Motivator online newsletter confirms that long term, consistent success in any endeavour requires persistence. “With enough persistence, anything is possible. It is a quality that counts more than skill or knowledge or intelligence or the right connections. The ability to persist is the ability to win.”

What steps can you take to become more persistent?

Decide why it’s important for you to keep going

The first action to creating persistence is to find a compelling reason NOT to give up. You have to be passionate about your purpose, and very clear about the reasons for establishing your business. Do you want to achieve financial freedom for your family? Do you want to make a difference in your country? For me, the knowledge that there are thousands of Jamaicans in financial distress motivates me to keep pursuing my goal of advancing financial literacy and empowerment.

Do it even when you don’t feel like it

It easy to keep going when you feel great and everything is happening according to plan. The truly persistent don’t let personal feelings stop them from accomplishing their goals. You feel a cold coming on, but you take some medication and make that important presentation anyway. You hate calling new prospects, but you smile through all the negative responses until someone says yes to your proposal. As Nike says, “Just Do It!”

Think of challenges as speed bumps, not brick walls

Persistence can be difficult when there seems to be nothing but obstacles in your path. According to Marston, obstacles are not there to stop you, but to challenge you. “Obstacles are what make achievement worthwhile, if there were no obstacles, then achievement would be meaningless and without value.” Challenges can also develop your character and teach you valuable life lessons.

Defeat discouragement

In every business, disappointments will come which can make you doubt yourself and think of giving up. Fight the despairing thoughts by taking action – take an honest and objective look at the problems you’re facing. Seek professional help in areas in which you lack the expertise. You may even need to change your approach and adjust your strategy to get to your goal.

Balance work and rest

Despite living in a world of instant gratification, we have to realise that important things are notaccomplished overnight. Being a workaholic doesn’t always bring faster success. In fact, if you keep going without resting you will end up extremely tired, unable to focus and more likely to quit from sheer exhaustion. Make the time to rest and re-energize yourself.

So whatever comes your way, keep going, for as Marston says, “You can only win the race if you run it through to the end.”

(c) 2008 Cherryl Hanson Simpson

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Things To Consider Before You Start a Business

Posted by CHS on August 18, 2011 in Business Basics with No Comments

Unlike her co-workers, Camille had been ecstatic at the news of the closure of the company she had worked at for nearly 20 years.

As she mentally calculated her expected redundancy package, she was delighted that her dream of starting her own catering business could finally become a reality.

As soon as she received her final pay cheque, Camille turned her attention to setting up an upscale eatery that rivalled the bistros found in South Beach, Florida.

Awash with cash, she spared no expense in creating the right décor and an enviable menu. Excited at the prospects of her first business venture, Camille opened her doors with a flurry of promotions and pizzazz.

Fifteen months later, Camille is singing a different song. Gone is the optimistic fervour of the newbie entrepreneur; today Camille is burnt-out, broke and begging for someone to buy her out.

What went wrong with her grand business idea?

Click here to find out what Camille didn’t know before she started her business…

(c) Cherryl Hanson Simpson

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Want to Make Money? No Problem!

Posted by CHS on August 4, 2011 in An Entrepreneur's Life with 1 Comment

“Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.”- Henry J. Kaiser

I’ve often heard people complain that they wish they could earn more money or start their own business, but they don’t know which field to get involved in. Some would-be entrepreneurs sit by the wayside and never fulfill their business dreams because they think they don’t have any special skills to offer to the marketplace.

The reality is that you don’t have to have any unique talents to start your own business. T. Harv Eker, bestselling author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, defines an entrepreneur as “someone who solves problems for people at a profit.” Therefore if you can first identify existing problems, and then figure out the solutions to get rid of those problems, then it won’t be hard for you to generate profitable business ideas.

What’s the easiest way to find problems that you can turn into money-making ideas?

Start with yourself! Have you ever faced a difficulty and responded “why doesn’t somebody do so-and-so about it?” Maybe that ‘somebody’ should be you. If you are having difficulties in this area, other people may be too. If you can fix the problem for many people, then you may very well have hit upon a cash cow.

Years ago when I wanted to establish an artistic line of tourist wear, I was completely frustrated in trying to find information that would help me to be successful in the business. I remember saying to myself “I wish there was one place that I could go to get all the information I need on making money.” Twelve years later, recognizing that this is a problem for many people, I have started to create the financial education service that I had envisioned.

What if you don’t have any pressing problems that can inspire money-making solutions?

Take a careful look around your surroundings- in your community, the workplace, at school or church. Can you identify any major issues which people constantly complain about? Can you pinpoint any situations where the presence of something or the lack of something else causes people to feel severe discomfort or even pain?

Anthony Robbins, peak performance guru and author of Awaken the Giant Within, explains that people’s primary motivators are pleasure and pain. “Everything you and I do, we do either out of our need to avoid pain and our desire to gain pleasure,” Robbins confirms.

Understanding the forces that motivate and control buyer behaviour can be crucial in the success of any money-making venture. The avoidance of pain can actually be a stronger impetus that the search for pleasure; in fact most people will pay almost anything for products and services that can remove their painful problems.

Look for where the pain exists, and then figure out a marketable solution to offer to the public.

Here are some obvious examples of businesses that were spawned out of problems: route taxis abound where there are no regular bus routes; people shop and run errands for elderly persons who can’t get around; and informal school buses help busy parents with their children’s transportation.

If you solve a big enough problem for a whole lot of people, you can actually make a fortune.

In the 1950’s, Bette Nesmith Graham, was a secretary with a huge problem. It was hard to correct typing mistakes with a pencil eraser on the new electric typewriters. Graham tried using white paint to remove errors, and it worked perfectly. She placed the paint in bottles and gave to other desperate secretaries. Soon, Graham was producing thousands of bottles of ‘Liquid Paper.’ In 1979, she sold her company to the Gillette Corporation for US$47.5 million.

So if you need a business idea, let your motto be, ‘No problem!’, and get creative at finding and marketing solutions.

(c) 2008 Cherryl Hanson Simpson

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The Born Entrepreneur

Posted by CHS on July 7, 2011 in An Entrepreneur's Life with No Comments

“The entrepreneur is our visionary, the creator in each of us. We’re born with that quality and it defines our lives as we respond to what we see, hear, feel, and experience.” - Michael Gerber

Are entrepreneurs born or bred?

Are they gifted with fearless minds which permit them to take on certain financial risk to seek uncertain financial rewards? Or do their hearts beat with a fervent passion for creating something of their own? Could there possibly even be a special gene that differentiates them from the passive nine-to-fiver?

In his book, Instinct: Tapping Your Entrepreneurial DNA to Achieve Your Business Goals, former cell biologist Thomas Harrison argues that genetics plays a large part in business success. Through scientific studies he demonstrates that entrepreneurial traits are hereditary, but he also shows that you can develop a successful business mentality by using specific techniques.

There are many cases where the entrepreneurial spirit seems to be genetically linked. From mega-rich moguls like Donald Trump and Butch Stewart, to neighbourhood Chinese grocery store owners, we see where business success can be transferred through the generations. But is it really genetics at work, or are they just very skilled at teaching their children the attitudes and behaviours necessary to become great entrepreneurs?

The case for entrepreneurial DNA may be strengthened when we observe self-made business success stories such as Oprah Winfrey. How did a black female, born in rural Mississippi poverty, overcome childhood traumas and setbacks to become the first black woman billionaire and according to CNN,“arguably the world’s most powerful woman?” Could it be that Oprah was born with a genetic predisposition for making money?

I’m not exactly sure how I got my entrepreneurial spirit. My mother and father worked all their lives in the government service and never had the desire to earn money any other way, so I definitely wasn’t influenced by them. In fact, as many well-thinking parents do, they encouraged me to study and work hard to get a good job. Not exactly the best recipe for nurturing an entrepreneur!

The birth of an entrepreneur

I have no inspiring stories of using my business skills to wheel and deal through my early years of school.The dormant entrepreneur in me first revealed itself while I was at university, when my natural ability to make things that people wanted led me into business by default.

Leather jewelry designs created for my personal use became a hit with my friends, and instinctively I began sourcing raw material and working all night to fashion pieces for my new-found customer base.

The thrill of getting paid for something I created has stayed with me throughout the years. Although I juggled between self-employment and a standard pay cheque for over 15 years, the desire to be my own boss was always predominant. I’ve used those years to learn more about what it takes to become successful in business. Some lessons have been gained the hard way- from trial and error and hits and misses. Valuable insights have also come from observing other people’s business achievements and failures.

What I have discovered is that whether you have genes that give you an entrepreneurial head start, or you have studied all the book knowledge about business success, there are some non-negotiable attributes that you must have in order to play and win at this game. Determination, enthusiasm, perseverance, courage, vision, and a never-say-die attitude are essential to help you overcome the obstacles and keep going to the finish line.

Are you a born entrepreneur?

To find out if you have what it takes to be a born entrepreneur, take this personality test at Forbes.com and find out!

For the record- my test revealed “What are you waiting for? Start raising capital!”

(c) 2008 Cherryl Hanson Simpson

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