Growing up, the focus for many was to get an education, with the purpose of snagging a good or at this rate in this economy, a decent job. Emphasis was also oftentimes placed on being the employee and not the employer. How many time have we been indecisive of which “track” we would go on when entering 4th form, whether it be business, science, general, etc. I for one, took the business track, under the guise that I would eventually become an Accountant or professional in the business sector, with working for someone being the default, as opposed to someone working for me.
Entrepreneurship, whether formalized or not, is oftentimes arrived at by force (job loss and the need to find a hustle to make ends meet financially), and other times its by choice (something that you’ve wanted to do for a while and now have the financial freedom and wherewithal to try your hand at it). It also can be brought about by something you’re passionate about and/or good at, and where you’ve come to a point where you would like to monetize it. Regardless of how you stumble across this other form of gainful employment, it’s important to have the following steps in line, if you are considering dabbling in, or are launching full throttle into, for what is oftentimes unpredictable but an extremely gratifying business-ownership sector:
1. Identify a need– Barbados is a small island, which by default means that the diversity of resources may not be as in abundance as one would like. This is an opportunity for entrepreneurship to be explored, by identifying a service, product, or resource that people need, that is in short supply, or where the options are extremely limited. Once the need has been identified, it’s then time for the next step- catering.
2. Cater to/addressing the need- successful entrepreneurs typically do things that have never been done before. We’ve gone from buying $2, $5, and $10 phone cards to Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Some of these entities were not in existence 15 years ago. But, just because they didn’t exist didn’t mean there wasn’t room to create them. Why? Because their creators were able to identify and to cater to/address a need. Once the need has been identified- in the case of Whatsapp, the need for a medium and platform through which people can communicate with each other free of cost both nationally and internationally- then it is time to create a product resource, and/or service to cater to that need. Was Whatsapp in existence 20 years ago? No. But, because no one had ever created it, made the case for why it should be done. Catering to an established need and addressing it, is a sure-fire way to create a niche within a specific sector, and to grow your audience once cemented as a reliable and reputable business entity.
3. Research, identify, and know your target audience- who do you want to be the main audience for your product/service? Children? Young people? UWI students? Secondary school students? Young professionals fresh out of UWI? Seasoned or senior level professionals? Men or women or both? Senior citizens? Once you know who your target audience is, then you can decide on which mechanisms and mediums will be used, and most effective, to market to and to cater to them. Instagram may work for one audience, whereas the newspaper may work best for another. Know your audience, how thy receive and process information, and present it to them in a way that is compelling, engaging, and that leaves them wanting more.
4. Market your service/product/resource- once the need has been identified and the service or product that has been created has been found to cater to and address that need, then it is time to be strategic in your marketing and as a result, your branding and communication about what you do, the service being provided, how it helps the consumer, why they should purchase it, and why it is different from the other competitors (if applicable). You want to be certain that you have 1) identified your target audience 2) that you have a clear and clutter free sharing of information about the service being offered 3) a compelling communication about how the service/resource/product being offered is valuable to the target consumer so they feel inclined to purchase it. Be sure to package it in a way that screams professionalism, quality, and quite frankly, that it is indeed a business.
5. Produce quality work and provide excellent service– now that you’ve gotten the step of marketing your niche and service out of the way, it’s now time to really put in the work, meaning that whatever service you are providing, ensuring that it is the best possible and most competitive service in that field that is out there, that it is done with excellence in mind, and that the end result is high quality output. In doing so, you will begin building a reputation for yourself as a reliable and quality service, fostering a true and stellar business model of doing the work required to produce the expected (and beyond) results.
6. Build your repute and create easy access– as you begin to build your clientele based on the quality of the services that you provide and produce, you then want to encourage your clientele to spread the word, by making it easy for those who may be interested, to access your services- whether it be a business card, website, phone number, email etc.- it can be one or preferably all of the above, providing them with multiple ways to get into contact with you easily. Word-of-mouth is the most popular and common way to garnish clientele, and it is conversely the most popular way for the same target clientele to shy away from less than stellar service. Under no circumstances should the customer have to dig and research to access your services- access to your services should, literally and figuratively, be at their fingertips.
7. Be patient– Rome was not built in a day. The average number of years for a legitimate, established, and sustainable small business to begin seeing profitability and a return on their investment is about five years. Entrepreneurship requires grit, creativity, determination, and the patience to see it through- if you don’t believe in the value of the service, product, or resource that you have to offer, why should anyone else? Establishing and building a business and its reputation takes time, if you want it to be sustained. So…put your entrepreneurship hat on, be innovative, and get to work.
Taking on the role of an entrepreneur requires courage and boldness in a world where the narrative is almost always to get your college degree, so you can get a good/decent paying job- aka work for someone else. Instead of you working for the benefit of someone else fulfilling their dream, why not begin investing in fulfilling yours? Whether it be a pastry business, nail salon, writing services, mechanical services, being a Bajan author, cleaning services, landscaping, interior designing, tutoring business, fitness instructor, etc…you name it, be it. Tomorrow is not guaranteed so if not now, then when? Be creative, be innovative, be your own boss, be your version of a successful you, be that entrepreneur you’ve always dreamed of being- it’s time.