It is obviously not an easy task because we are faced with the statistic that only 10 percent of start-up businesses live beyond the first five years of operation. This statistic is a global average. Our challenge is to increase the chances of success of these start-up businesses. How do we do this? What can we learn from the structure of the human body which gives rise to the successful global average statistic pertaining to the human body which is that 95.4 percent of human beings survive the first five years of life. Can we map this onto the business structure?
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The increase in operational efficiency relates to standards, quality and competitiveness of the factors of production (land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship). It should be noted that success of a business is measured by the growth in profitability and not only by the growth in sales. The indirect costs of the business, all costs that are not direct costs (materials and labour), need to be diligently monitored and contained.
What is productivity? Productivity is a measure of efficiency and may be applied to any factor of production. Factors of production are the inputs that are used in the creation of goods or services to ultimately effect sustainable growth. These factors may include physical, natural, financial, spiritual, cultural, intellectual, entrepreneurship and human capital. The last five of these relate to people and we may argue that people are our greatest asset and we must develop them to the fullest thus achieving the best output we can from these resources.
The success of entrepreneurs is measured in terms of sustained profitability. A necessary condition for profitability growth is sales growth and therefore, in any business it behooves us to focus on sales as a priority. We should also note that sales growth does not guarantee profitability, since there are other factors involved such as productivity, quality, competitiveness and cost containment. Sales growth is therefore not sufficient for profitability growth.
Successfully coordinating all these meetings requires much discipline but my experience is that the benefits of a well lubricated and disciplined company redounds to the benefit of the employees, managers and owners of the business and brings happiness to all and sustainable success to the company and by extension the country.
Now some 66 years later, the manner in which Carlos Brathwaite executed his “four-sixes” in the last over to win the cup for the West Indies was nothing short of poetry in motion and it was captured by the Indian journalist, Sidharth Monga, as follows: “Carlos Brathwaite’s stillness, the smooth flow of his bat, the ball struck sweetly beyond the ropes – again and again and again. Four balls that wiped out all that had gone before.”
When the large tourism sector gear completes one revolution (arrival of long stay or cruise tourists), the medium gears of tourism services (e.g. hotels, restaurants, museums, festivals and diving) and agricultural linkages (e.g. farming, fisheries and agribusiness) spin faster as they respond to market demand.
Secondly, we must not only pay lip service to but also acknowledge and take action on the reality that effective leadership and efficient management of business systems (Shepherding) is the lynchpin which coordinates the use of our available resources (cultural, financial, human, intellectual, natural, physical, social and spiritual) in order to accomplish economic development goals and objectives, one business after another.
Now 50 years later, we reflect where we are on the path to sustainability. There have undoubtedly been many changes, some of them we could have done without and some of them for the better. We have officially been guided by the government of the day and have embarked on a year of celebrations presumably not only to congratulate ourselves on our successes but also to avoid repeating pitfalls.
The achievement of a sustainable future for our country is in the hands of many organizations, e.g. government, the private sector, trade unions, the church, service clubs and other members of civil society; each having a specific role to play but with the added benefits of the many synergistic interactions between combinations of the parties involved.
When we pay attention to issues of corporate governance, finance, marketing, people development and work smarter rather than harder, then the profits will grow, businesses become sustainable, the rate of economic growth will increase, individuals will become wealthier, governments will have more money for regulatory and service functions, if they design viable tax systems and collect the taxes due. In such a case we all win.