Thu | Jun 17, 2021

Successfully starting a business in Jamaica - Part II

Published:Monday | September 7, 2015 | 12:00 AMDr Andre Haughton

In light of the popularity of our discussion recently on the issues of successfully starting a business in Jamaica, this week we give you Part II of such challenges that have continued to stifle growth, reduce the probability and survival of micro, small and medium enterprises in Jamaica. These include, time-management, fatigue and founder-dependent, customer satisfaction, profit anticipation, filtering and application of information.

Let us explore each of these individually:


Time management


Time is money in every sense of the word. Micro and small businesses must manage their time wisely. Businesses fail globally because owners fail to invest time and energy necessary to facilitate business sustainability. Timing is important in this world of commerce and trade. Everything is done on timing and not at the owner's convenience.

Jamaican business owners are sometimes too complacent because they believe they are their own boss. This is not the case. Micro and small business owners must work twice as hard and timing has to be accurate to help build goodwill and long-term reliability of the company. Make schedules that are achievable and stick to them. Use appointment and calendars to ensure you don't forget important dates and meetings.

Getting an idea from thought process to implementation is not as easy as it sounds. Long hours are required and constant pressure to perform well, develop goodwill and a solid customer base takes time and patience, and may become overwhelming at times.

Successful micro and small businesses work longer hours, and use criticisms to improve their businesses rather than being arrogant about the initial approach. In most cases, these businesses are usually owner dependent and cannot sustain or expand in the absence of the owner.

Owners avoid taking long breaks, fatigue sets in and the owner becomes prone to making irrational decisions that may harm the viability of the company.

The owners must find someone confident and trustworthy, who sees the vision and can help to maintain the business in their absence. It is also important to remain calm, even when it appears everything is going wrong; panicking makes things worse. Determination and composure will help your business find the right solution.


Customer satisfaction


Sometimes new entrepreneurs are so excited about executing a new idea. They focus too much time and energy delivering what they think the consumer wants, instead of delivering what the consumer really wants.

Being too focused and rigid in the execution of an idea, without the flexibility to adjust business settings and redesign product to suit customer requirements, can lead to business redundancy in short order.

It is important to get valuable feedback from your customers and implement this feedback to provide better goods and services to suit your consumer's exact demands.


Profit anticipation


The drive and enthusiasm you have about the success of your business may force you to anticipate profits too early. Most new entrepreneurs start their business with minimum cash and expect maximum returns in short order. This frame of mind is wrong. It is important to understand that significant profits might not be realised at the start of the business life cycle. Understanding your cost structure, which is the difference between fixed and variable cost, is important.

Ensure you have enough money to sustain your business over the first couple of periods in case anticipated profits are not materialised. Always keep worst-case scenarios in mind and prepare your business to cope with such.

The advent of computers and the Internet has increased the transfer and accessibility to information greatly. In pursuit of a better understanding of your business and trends in the industry, you will be bombarded by information, some more relevant and applicable than others. Some firms might find it difficult in selecting the right information. The information overload makes it more difficult to find the right solutions at the right time. It is sometimes tedious for micro and small-size enterprises to sieve through this information. You must develop searching techniques as you go along. Ask other business owners and learn from them.

If Jamaican micro and small businesses are able to mitigate these problems, either on their own, or with the help of expert institutions, the survival rate of these businesses in Jamaica will improve considerably.

- Dr Andre Haughton is a lecturer in the Department of Economics on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies. Follow him on twitter @DrAndreHaughton; or email