By Basil Springer

"Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832), German Playwright.

Over the last month in this column we concluded that interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success. We also observed that champions must not only have the skill but the will and passion and that the passion drives the will which must be stronger than the skill.  We recognized the benefits of a virtual office in terms of enhanced productivity. Last week we discussed the benefits of a partnership approach between entrepreneur and investor to impact on reducing the wealth divide and contributing to an improved socio-economic well-being for all.

We are all blessed with time as a resource and, with the help of other resources, we have to convert the use of this time into meaningful output which would lead to continuing progress. This is true whether we are developing an idea which would lead to the development of a business. This is true whether we are developing a business which will contribute to the growth of an economy. This is true whether we are developing an economy which will lead to the sustainable development of a country.

 I had occasion during the last week to hold discussions with an entrepreneur who had a very interesting idea. He has been nurturing this idea for many years, there were occasions where the product he produced was in great demand but he was unable to respond to the demand and hence lost the business. His passion passed away. My advice was that he needed to partner with entities which could complement his obvious commitment to the business with the appropriate management skills. When asked what single factor contributed to business failure generally, he correctly answered ‘the lack of management’.  I expanded that by advising that it was more particularly the lack of one or more of the following business functions; marketing management, operations management, human resource management or financial management.  

His challenge would therefore be to seek a partnership with resources which could help him develop his business to achieve the global potential which it obviously had. I mentioned that in the CBET environment we talk about businesses which have the DNA of an elephant, that is businesses which, like any other, start small but have the potential to grow big once carefully nourished and well managed. He would be forced to seek an environment of inter-dependence, he would need to resuscitate his passion so that it drove his will to a point where it was stronger than his skill. We also observed that he would be wise to adopt the features of a virtual office to keep costs down and increase productivity as he started small, did it right and made a profit before he began to expand.  

My final advice to him was that he needed to be creative in seeking partnerships which would meet his financial capital requirements today and in the future. I advised that he started with contributions from his close family and friends and that he encouraged other partners to convert their complementary skills, which were necessary for business success, at least partially into an equity instrument in his company until such time as the business was big enough to afford to pay for these resources.

CBET which presents itself as ‘a Caribbean catalyst turning concepts into commercial realities’  is currently going through an organizational renewal process for consideration by its board having reflected on its operations over the last three years.
The CBET experience in dealing with existing or emerging businesses is also one of floundering fortunes. Here again the important ingredient is good management and the elements of interdependence, passion, outsourcing in a virtual office environment and the appropriate investment instruments, always emerged as critical from the analysis of these projects. They can be so critical that insufficient attention to detail can signal the difference between success and failure.

For a country to have sustainable economic growth there must be a healthy business climate. It is essential to have a smart partnership between social partners, there must be passion and commitment, and the understanding of their relative roles.  There must be an enabling environment designed to enhance productivity and to foster the development of innovative financial instruments to ensure that liquidity and enterprise development work hand in hand to foster sustainable growth.  

All these examples whether focused on the idea, the business or the country imply that the use of our time resources is critical to success. As Steven Covey encourages, we should draw on the time management matrix concept which consists of four cells. Activities are classified as: important/urgent, important/not urgent, not important/urgent, not important/not urgent. We must ensure that a large percentage of our time is spent on important and urgent matters if we want to achieve sustainable success. Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. (CBET) -