“Where no counsel is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” – Proverbs 11:14

Recently I have been promoting the private sector company Caribbean Venture and Integrated Services Inc. (CVIS), which is a member of the CBET family. Unlike CBET, which is a Trust, CVIS is a for-profit company designed to manage three funds:

(1) a business plan development fund; (2) an emergency loan fund; and (3) an initial seed capital fund. These three funds, respectively, are necessary to (1) convert Business Opportunity Profiles into Business Plans for investment – it is a revolving business plan fund with an attractive return as soon as an investment is made in the corresponding business; (2) supply short term loan funds, at an affordable cost, to remove financial impediments to progress – an ‘angel investor’ concept; and (3) provide that initial investment to get the business off the ground in the context of the sequence ‘start small, do it right, make a profit, then expand’ – this may be a necessary precursor to an initial equity call.

I hasten to add that the uniqueness of these funds is that they are only available in the context of the CBET ‘shepherding’ model where it is recognized that the triad ‘entrepreneur’, ‘money’ and ‘management’ must work in tandem for successful enterprise development. Very often the money is made available to the entrepreneur but, in the absence of sound management, the enterprise still flounders and fails. We cannot afford the luxury of such failure. We must make sure that all resources are applied when needed to engender high levels of business success among the ‘sunrise’ industries that emerge.

The entrepreneur not only needs money but the timely management to go with it. The entrepreneur will define the enterprise, which may extend beyond the traditional productive sectors into ‘sunrise’ industries, and the management of marketing, operations, people and finance will provide the support required to foster the sustainable success of these enterprises and the collateral to protect against the risk of the loss of the funds. Hence the concept ‘management as collateral’ for the money invested.

Who provides these management services? At present, CBET operates in a virtual environment and hence coordinates the provision of the services, of a cadre of well qualified and experienced management resources, to enterprises. As the demand for the ‘shepherding’ model increases there is the opportunity to expand commensurately the network of this consulting fraternity, at home and abroad.

The process of management is the health care system that can help to prevent business failure as well as provide comprehensive therapeutic care to businesses at various stages of development.

As in the human health care setting, the process involves completing the patient history, recognising symptoms, diagnosing the condition and prescribing therapy. In the business setting, the management process is designed to handle this sequence of activities and enhance the health of the business.

In order to take the patient history, there must be a comprehensive intelligence review of the business by a management consultant team. The management consultants then examine the marketing, operations, human resource and financial state of the business, trying to identify symptoms of ill health which are usually manifested by negative variances arising from differences between the expected and the actual performance of the business. If negative variances are observed then a diagnosis is made and therapy is prescribed in the form of the appropriate management service.

In the past, this symptom identification activity was restricted to the variances in the financial statements. However, more efficient management practices require that the marketing, operations, human resource and financial plans be put under the microscope to determine whether there are any negative variances in each of these plans. If the marketing, operations and human resources plans are on target, then the chances are that the financial plan will also be on target. However, the reverse is not necessarily the case.

The science of management traditionally consists of five functions: Planning, Organising, Staffing, Directing and Controlling. Historically many businesses were commission agents, i.e. buying and selling to a captive market, and, hence, the need for planning was de-emphasised because of the ready success of these businesses.

In these days of increased global competition arising from trade liberalisation, businesses have to pay more attention to the planning function if they are to accept the challenge of increased competition and survive.

The organisation and staffing functions of a business, where decisions on the corporate structure, management structure, and staffing are made, must be given careful attention to ensure that overheads are kept to a minimum. Organizing and staffing of a business has come under great scrutiny as businesses have attempted to augment their productivity mix, which consists of optimising the use of people, technology and processes.

The directing or leadership function is important to ensure that we ‘put the ladder up against the correct wall’. The importance of the management function cannot be overemphasized. It is not enough just to approve plans and ‘run’ the business. Regular and meticulous care must be exercised to monitor the actual performance of the business against the targets that have been set in the plans.

In the multitude of management counselors, the new collateral, there is safety.

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