Growth in Construction Industry A Business Opportunity for Some

According to numbers provided by the Planning Institute of Jamaica there has been a steady rise in residential and non-residential construction. Here are the relevant stats:

Real Value Added in the Construction Industry grew by 1.5%, reflecting:
Growth in Building Construction due to 1. Higher levels of Residential Construction and 2. increases in the number of housing starts (up 219.6%), housing completions (up 37.4%) and the volume (up 17.7%) and value (up 25.3%) of mortgages for the period

Real Value Added in the Construction Industry grew by 2.5%, reflecting:
Increased Building Construction activities due to 1. expansion in residential and non-residential construction projects and 2. increase in the volume of mortgages by 71.7% and value of mortgages by 68.8%

When a homeowner takes possession of her new home, she is likely to spend more in the first year than at any other point in time. Here is a list of things a new homeowner is likely to purchase:

1. furniture
2. curtain, blinds, drapes and other window treatments
3. bed spread/sheets/blankets, pillows, pillow cases
4. kitchen appliances and cooking wares/utensils
5. bathroom accessories
6. door locks
7. lawn equipment and lawn services
8. phone/cable/satellite services and Internet access
9. alarm system
10. banking services

The list so far covers things most likely to be bought within a few months of home ownership. However, the list can be expanded to include certain high price items like high-end audio and video equipment, exercise equipment, pool accessories and services, solar panels and investment banking.

There are companies in the USA that rents list of new homeowners to sales persons of all types. It is very common for a new homeowner to be bombarded with flyers, sales letters and phone calls promoting many types of products and services. Is there an opportunity for your company?

The Numbers Behind Jamaica’s Economic Performance

The Planning Institute of Jamaica publishes economic performance reviews that covers the performance of the Jamaican economy for a given quarter. Listed below are links to some of the recent reviews. What do they reveal?

These reviews show the performances of different sectors of the economy such as agriculture, fishing, food & beverage, hotel & restaurants, transport, mining, manufacture and construction.

It also reveals the amount of money into the country from remittance, the currency exchange rate at the end of each quarter and the rate of inflation.

For January to November 2012 remittance from abroad was US$1859.0 million. Remittance accounted for US$1841.6 million for the first eleven months of fiscal year 2012/13. These numbers tell us that remittance to Jamaica is somewhere between US$150 million and US$170 million per month.

The reviews tell a story about the work force:

Total population in July 2013: 2,715,200
Labour Force: 1,309,700
Employed Labour Force: 1,108,100
Unemployed Labour Force: 201,600 (15.4%)

If you belong to the hotel, restaurants and tourism industries you can use recent trends to help with your planning:

January 2013
Airport arrivals declined by 3.2%
Cruise passenger arrivals increased by 8.9%

April 2013
Airport arrivals declined by 1.9%
Cruise passenger arrivals decreased by 12.2%

July 2013
Airport arrivals declined by 0.2%
Cruise passenger arrivals increased by 7.0% to 7994

October 2013
Airport arrivals grew by 12.5%
Cruise passenger arrivals up by 30.4%

Although numbers can be manipulated to argue for or against a certain position, these stats provided by the Planning Institute of Jamaica are very valuable. They can be used to monitor trends, to make projections and to assess the the likelihood of a business surviving in a given industry.


Jul – Sep 2013

Apr – Jun 2013

Jan  -Mar 2013

Oct – Dec 2012


Is the Free Basic Paid Premium Business Model for You?

In some other world or century you would be able to offer a free basic service, get loads of customers and gradually convert most of them to the paid premium service. The concept sounds like a winner. However it does not always work that way in today’s real world.

The following article offers a true story of an entrepreneur – Ruben Gamez – who offered his service for free hoping to convert many to the paid version. After weeks of testing he realized that the number of paid customers declined. He dropped the free offer and was stunned by the result. He gained more paid customers. How much more? Take a look at the article:

Why Free Plans Don’t Work

How Ruben Gamez Turned Bidsketch Into A Successful Online Business
Bootstrap To Quitting Day – with Ruben Gamez

Biz Trends & Stats

According to the Pew Research Center Facebook is still the social medium of choice for small businesses to reach customers. 71% of adults use FB in 2013, up from 67% in 2012.

The American Bankruptcy Institute reported that business bankruptcy filings were down 24% in 2013, the lowest level since 2006. The climate for business startups is a little more favorable than in previous years.

Online Course: Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies… (Jan 13)

About the Course
#1 Entrepreneurship Course on Coursera*
#8 Overall Business Course on Coursera*
*CourseTalk’s “Top Rated” MOOCs (November, 2013)

This course assists aspiring entrepreneurs in developing great ideas into great companies. With strong economies presenting rich opportunities for new venture creation, and challenging economic times presenting the necessity for many to make their own job, the need to develop the skills to develop and act on innovative business opportunities is ever present.

Using proven content, methods, and models for new venture opportunity assessment and analysis, students will learn how to enhance their entrepreneurial mindset and develop their functional skill sets to see and act entrepreneurially. The initial steps to creating a business plan, and raising financial capital to launch the firm, are examined as well. Our goal is to demystify the startup process, and to help you build the skills to identify and act on innovative opportunities now, and in the future.

Course Syllabus
Week One: Entrepreneurial Perspective
Course overview
What is entrepreneurship?
Who is an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation
The world’s most innovative companies
Types of innovations
Entrepreneurs and strategic decisions
The opportunity analysis canvas

Week Two: Entrepreneurial Mindset, Motivations and Behavoirs
Entrepreneurial mindset
Entrepreneurial motivations
Entrepreneurial behavoirs
Risk taking in entrepreneurial decision-making
Risk, uncertainty, and stakeholder involvement

Week Three: Industry Understanding
Knowledge conditions
Demand conditions
Industry lifecycle
Industry structure
Competitive advantage
Learning curve
Complementary assets
Reputation effects

Week Four: Customer Understanding
Macro changes that increase new venture opportunities
Exploring real market needs
Satisfying real market needs
Strategic positioning
Strategic planning

Week Five: Business Modeling
Value innovation
Opportunity identification
Introduction to business models
The business model canvas

Week Six: Business Planning
Defining the business plan
Authoring the business plan
Sales forecasting
Managing the sales pipeline
Developing the marketing mix
Building financial statements
Sources of financial capital
Final thoughts

Online Course: The Power of Microeconomics: Economic Principles in the Real World (Jan 6)

About the Course

In this course, you will learn all of the major principles of microeconomics normally taught in a quarter or semester course to college undergraduates or MBA students.

Perhaps more importantly, you will also learn how to apply these principles to a wide variety of real world situations in both your personal and professional lives.  In this way, the Power of Microeconomics will help you prosper in an increasingly competitive environment.

Note that this course is a companion to the Power of Macroeconomics.  If you take both courses, you will learn all of the major principles normally taught in a year-long introductory economics college course.

Course Syllabus

Lecture One: An Introduction to Microeconomics

Lecture Two: Supply and Demand

Lecture Three: Demand and Consumer Behavior

Lecture Four: Supply and Production Theory

Lecture Five: Perfect Competition

Lecture Six: Monopoly and Monopolistic Competition

Lecture Seven: Oligopoly and Strategic Behavior

Lecture Eight: Land and Rent

Lecture Nine: The Labor Market and Wage Determination

Lecture Ten: The Capital Market, Interest and Profits

Lecture Eleven: Public Goods and Externalities


Review of Jamaica’s Economic Performance July – September 2013

The Planning Institute of Jamaica published an economic performance report dated November 20, 2013. This report covered the performances of different sectors of the economy such as agriculture, forestry & fishing, manufacture, construction and tourism.

Here are some of what you will find in the report:

Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing
The Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing industry grew by an estimated 5.0%, reflecting:
Other Agricultural Crops up 8.7% due to increases in six of the nine crop groups
Potatoes, up 22.2%; Condiments, up 16.1%; Legumes, up 15.2%
The smaller weighted components recorded contractions
Traditional Export crops, down 0.1%; Animal Farming, down 4.0%; and Post Harvest activities, down 51.6%

Financial Services
Real value added in the Finance & Insurance industry increased by 0.4% during the quarter, due largely to:
Increased net interest income at deposit taking institutions
Real increase in total assets at deposit taking institutions
Higher Fees and commission income
Gains on foreign exchange transactions.

Hotels & Restaurants
Real Value Added for Hotels & Restaurants grew by 0.8%.
This largely reflected Stopover arrivals, up by 0.7%.
Cruise passenger arrivals, down 9.8% resulting in
Total arrivals, down 2.7%
Provisional visitor expenditure, down 2.5% to US$475.6 million

Fiscal Accounts
The fiscal deficit was $0.5 billion for the quarter
This was $6.3 billion less than budgeted due to:
$0.6 billion (0.6 %) more than programmed revenue
$5.7 billion (5.5%) less than programmed expenditure
Revenue & Grants totalled $97.7 billion in July–September 2013, while Expenditure totalled $98.3 billion.

Exchange Rate
The average nominal exchange rate at the end of September 2013 was $103.60 per US$1.00, representing 2.14% nominal depreciation compared with end of June 2013.
This translates into a real exchange rate appreciation of 1.1% relative to the US dollar

SOURCE: Planning Institute of Jamaica

Agriculture Fishing Mining among Top Earners during July-Sep Quarter

The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) says agriculture, forestry and fishing, mining and quarrying; and construction, topped the industries recording growth during the July to September quarter of the 2013/14 fiscal year, which grew by 0.6 per cent.

Director General of the PIOJ, Collin Bullock, who made the disclosure at a quarterly media briefing at the institute’s New Kingston offices, on November 20, said agriculture, forestry and fishing, and mining and quarrying both recorded second quarter growth of five per cent each, while construction grew by 2.5 per cent.

He noted that the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry’s growth reflected the impact of improved weather conditions and growth inducing initiatives implemented by the Government. Read more

The Most Useful Funding Technique for Funding a Business Startup Is the Oldest: Bootstrapping.


My Consumer Product Development and Marketing Consulting firm is approached almost daily by entrepreneurs seeking to launch a new enterprise. For many of these aspiring business owners their primary concern is the funding requirements they believe will be required to enable execution of a proper launch. Many assume they need to raise funding from angel investors, venture capital or banking sources. Very few will succeed by taking this path.

Capital is extremely selective in placing highly prized investments in untried startup businesses, run by anything less than experienced entrepreneurs. It rarely happens. The expectations of professional investment sources is simply too difficult for most novices to be able to satisfy steep requirements for Return on Investment, Use of Funds, Professional Management Teams or First Mover Advantage.

When we explain to first time seekers of capital the complexities and difficulties that they will face in successfully securing a funding round, we almost always are confronted by resignation. The inevitable query we hear is, “Well, how do you get started”? There are many options but the simplest, and oldest is the concept of “bootstrapping”.

Bootstrapping is simply self-funding. Some of the greatest successes in the history of business were self-funded by Bootstrapping. The most famous is Microsoft, followed closely by Hewlett Packard. Leslie Wexner launched The Limited in Columbus, OH in the 1960′s by bootstrapping a single dress shop in a strip mall. Estee Lauder created the world’s most successful Cosmetic brand at her kitchen table in the Bronx. King Gillette did much the same in the 1890′s when he launched his eponymous shaving brand. There are hundreds of publicly traded companies around the world that were nurtured to life initially by bootstrapping.

The beauty of not accepting, or seeking an equity investment partner is obvious: There is no partner to share ownership and the necessity to hit performance marks required to obtain funding is eliminated.

True, bootstrapping can hinder the rapidity of growth. But the process of bootstrapping demands discipline and enforces controls on spending that become part of the DNA of the firm as growth occurs. Expenditures are weighed and considered before very dear capital is committed.

The three Magi were bootstrapping incense merchants. Every pioneering farmer or blacksmith was initially a bootstrapping business person. Your insurance agent, realtor, most salesmen, lawyers, shop owners or artisans are bootstrapping for their income. To the extent that capital is required to open a restaurant, coffee shop, day spa, sales agency, franchise a business or set up a landscaping firm the funding required to be able to bootstrap these opportunities comes from friends, family or personal savings.

The Venture Capital community has a well-known phrase to describe the source of seed funding: “Startup monies come from Friends, Family and Fools”. Money flows easily to new, novel business concepts, but only after there is a confirmation of a proof of concept and sales traction is demonstrated.

Bootstrapping is not glamorous. It requires total commitment and focus. Fancy offices, fresh cut flowers in the reception area, expense account lunches and leased luxury automobiles are not line budget expense items for bootstrapping Companies. Credit cards may need to be tapped. Home equity utilized. Aunt Jane approached for a loan. If the entrepreneur is driven, there is nothing that will deny them the opportunity to convert their concept in to a going concern. Bootstrapping is the simplest, oldest, and in most instances, the only strategy available to start a new business.

About Geoff Ficke

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, ( ) has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

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