Shaquille Johnson: Flying beyond expectations
Eighteen-year-old Wolmer's Boys' School student Shaquille Johnson has impressed observers with how successfully he has run his company, Drone Repairs Jamaica.
Shaquille, who is serving as head boy in his last year at Wolmer's, started his company over a year and a half ago, providing repair services for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), otherwise known as drones.
His company has multiple divisions, including marketing, outreach and repairs. Currently, seven other persons, mainly high-school colleagues, are involved in the business, four as partners and three as employees.
Shaquille noted that operating the business has provided him with a host of difficult challenges.
"Every repair that we get, there is a different set of challenges that come about," he said.
Small market for drones
Shaquille's most difficult experience, he said, has been to remain relevant as, though growing, Jamaica continues to have a small market for drones.
He said, however, that the restriction does not affect his business' immediate profitability.
"This kind of business is unique because although there is not an extensive market for it, the quality ... and complex nature of the work that we are doing allows, for us to increase our prices."
The limitations do, however, influence the business strategies he adopts.
"There is an extremely vast amount of research that we would have to put into everything we do so that we are up to date with the technologies that are coming out ... . We are constantly evolving," he said.
He noted that the business idea developed from an interest in electrical repairs and him combining that passion with a natural attraction to entrepreneurship.
"I have always been interested in business. What really stunned me was when I decided to take up principles of business as an extra subject ... . [Despite] not immersing myself in the content as much as I should, I still came out with a distinction."
The source of his lasting support has been his family, which also continues to inspire him.
"My family has been involved in business for years," Shaquille explained. "Watching them conduct business ... sparked that interest in me."
His family also provided a guiding philosophy that "business entails much more than money, it is how you are able to satisfy your customers through the service that you offer".
Shaquille said he "aims to exceed expectations at all times, regardless ... and foster a culture within the business of togetherness".
.. Prioritising is important for young businessman
Managing a successful company while balancing his responsibilities as Wolmer's head boy and his academic studies continues to be a daunting task for Shaquille Johnson.
Shaquille previously served as student council president during his business' inception and is also responsible for reintroducing the Robotics Club at Wolmer's.
He stated: "Certainly, priority is important. My schoolwork takes precedence over the business for me. It also boils back down to leadership. As the CEO of the company, I have to know how to work out my corporate governance structure and how I am going to delegate in a way that it does not impose too much labour on me, but at the same time, there is still a level of accountability."
Achieving his goals can be accredited to his efficient time-management skills, which he admits he is constantly sharpening. "Balancing time and time management is single-handedly the most important aspect that transcends all three of those factors in my life - schoolwork, business and personal life."
This young entrepreneur also has a burning desire to contribute to nation building. He says that his vision is to have a "premier technology company in the Caribbean for starters, and then we can look at expanding it into the globe".
"I do plan to expand beyond drones and drones repairs. We are looking at UAVs on a whole ... . We are going to see how we can put that in a toolkit that will be of some value and asset to the country ... let us say in a natural disaster, or how we can assist with the disabled," he adds. Additionally, he highlights
that while drones possess immeasurable potential for the future, the industry should also be coupled with the necessary regulations in order to ensure a safe environment.
Shaquille also believes that despite the societal ills that plague the country, Jamaica is developing a more business-friendly environment.
"Yes, crime is a factor that affects business in Jamaica ... but I think we ought to pay more attention to business opportunities and those things that have already been achieved in society."
He suggested that policymakers "break down the bureaucratic processes" and "make it easier, through policy, for small-business owners and young entrepreneurs to start businesses in Jamaica and become a part of the country's business community".
He challenged potential young entrepreneurs, "First, assess where your passion lies, then assess the skill sets that you may have".
Added Shaquille: "Once you see something that will turn over profits, build a team around that, and then work together to try and deliver a product that will be an asset not just to yourself and your company, but to society on a whole."
- For further information, Drone Repairs Jamaica can be contacted through email: firstname.lastname@example.org or via Instagram: @dronerepairsjamaica.