Recommended Reading for the Jamaican Entrepreneur

Consider the businessman who has been catching and selling fish for 15 years. Over the years he has gained valuable knowledge and experience that have served him well. He is reluctant to take any classes or learn anything new about his industry. He thinks he has figured out all there is to know having worked in the business for many years. Unfortunately this attitude may prove costly. There may be things impacting the business that he is not aware of.

Is there overfishing in the area? Is the business sustainable for the next 10 or 20 years? Is pollution a concern in the area? Is there a shift in consumers’ taste? Will there be the same demand for fish 10 or 20 years from now? Is there any new regulation or licensing requirements? Will the supply of fish diminish by the increased presence of the predatory lionfish? (Lionfish invade Negril)

This article is not about fishing but we consider the above scenario to make a point. Entrepreneurs should always be looking for new or updated information about their field/industry.

There are many reasons for this. Market conditions change. Competition affect your business. Environmental changes can destroy your business. Consumers demand better quality and sometimes they spark new trends. Forecast for your business may require changes or adjustments. All of these could affect revenue.

How do you keep abreast with changes in your industry? Seminars, meetings, classes, conferences, videos and probably the easiest way READING.

So as an entrepreneur what are you reading? What are the more successful business men and women reading? Here are some recommendations that you can add to your list.

ENTREPRENEUR (entrepreneur.com)
12 Awesome Gift Ideas That Appeared on ‘Shark Tank’
7 Essential Habits of a Healthy Entrepreneur

INC. (inc.com)
How to Build a Company That Lasts Forever
3 Hot Startup Opportunities in Health Care

BRANSON CENTRE OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP (bransoncentre.org)
IdeaTrade helps businesses promote themselves, find new markets and boost their sales

FORBES MAGAZINE (forbes.com)
The Top 7 Online Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2014

BLOOMBERG (bloomberg.com)
Microsoft Targets Global Internet Growth With Cheaper Phones

FINANCIAL TIMES (ft.com)
EU warns west must be ready to rescue Ukraine

THE STREET (thestreet.com)
What Is Common Stock and What Is Preferred Stock?

YAHOO SMALL BUSINESS ADVISOR (smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/)
Social Media’s Impact on Moms’ Shopping Habits

SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (sba.gov)
7 Inspiring Home Business Ideas for Stay-at-Home Moms (or Dads)

 

Useful Technology: FingerReader a Wearable Interface for Reading On-The-Go

The FingerReader is a wearable device that assists in reading printed text. It is a tool both for visually impaired people that require help with accessing printed text, as well as an aid for language translation. Wearers scan a text line with their finger and receive an audio feedback of the words and a haptic feedback of the layout: start and end of line, new line, and other cues. The FingerReader algorithm knows to detect and give feedback when the user veers away from the baseline of the text, and helps them maintain a straight scanning motion within the line.

SOURCE: MIT Media Lab

FingerReader – Wearable Text-Reading Device from Fluid Interfaces on Vimeo.

10 Business Lessons I Had to Learn Before I Could Succeed

As an aspiring entrepreneur you can always learn from successful entrepreneurs. Erica Nicole is the Founder and CEO of YFS Magazine — a Young, Fabulous & Self-Employed brand. She is an accomplished serial entrepreneur, acclaimed small business expert, dynamic speaker, syndicated columnist, philanthropist and Christian thought leader.

In her article “CEO Confessions: 10 Business Lessons I Had to Learn Before I Could Succeed” she covers the following 10 pointers. Read the article in its entirely here.

  1. A handshake is not a promise.

  2. (All of the above) will overpromise and underdeliver.

  3. Never let everyone know all you know.

  4. Read the fine print.

  5. Customers want solutions, not excuses.

  6. Feelings are not a strategic plan.

  7. Business is unfair, but you don’t have to be.

  8. Mental drift is a silent business killer, get focused.

  9. Time is money; don’t let anyone waste yours.

  10. May the odds be ever in your favor.

Are You Using One of the More Powerful Social Medium Instagram?

On Shark Tank a few month ago, an entrepreneur revealed that she initially paid nothing for advertising while racking up decent profits. When asked how she got customers she said “from Facebook” but Mark Cuban was not convinced. When she mentioned that she had an image of her wearing a boot sock on Pinterest, Mr Cuban smiled. He knew how effective images on sites like Pinterest and Instagram can be.

There was a recent exodus of customers from Facebook to other social media. One of the beneficiary of this exodus is Instagram. Fortunate for Facebook, it bought Instagram back in April 2012. Currently Instagram boasts over 150 million users.

Retailers and entrepreneurs who are using Instagram effectively to promote their products have been rewarded for their efforts. As noted in an article by Forbes magazine “91% of retail brands have cozied up to the potential buying power of Instagram users.” That buying power is huge.

Companies like Coach, Burberry and Levis have had success with Instagram. Read more aboiut their stories here.

WORTH READING
Instagram Is Shaping Up To Be The World’s Most Powerful Selling Tool

Facebook buys Instagram for $1bn: full statement by Mark Zuckerberg

 

Online Course: Introduction to Finance (Feb 3)

COURSE TO BE TAUGHT BY PROFESSOR KAUL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

This course will introduce you to frameworks and tools to measure value; both for corporate and personal assets. It will also help you in decision-making, again at both the corporate and personal levels.

About the Course

This course is primarily devoted to the fundamental principles of valuation. We will learn and apply the concepts of time value of money and risk to understand the major determinants of value creation. We will use both theory and real world examples to demonstrate how to value any asset.

Recommended Background

This is a tough issue.  I do not believe in prerequisites, except for a sense of curiosity and an attitude. Having said that, exposure to economics (the mother discipline of finance), accounting (the language of business), and/or algebra and statistics (we all need it) will clearly help.  I will however try and cover everything starting with fundamentals and will highlight when there is a need for you to do some further work in specific subjects.  In fact, I hope the class will motivate you to learn more.  I believe that learning usually happens when you are motivated by a curiosity to understand something.
Check out the Syllabus here

Jamaica Can Do More to Profit from Organic Products

Today the first caller of the midday show “The Open Line with Winston Barnes” (WAVS1170.com) was the famous “farmer” who runs successful farms in Jamaica and reports on the business periodically.

He related a recent story about how he contacted a food and beverage personnel at a hotel chain in Jamaica. He was told the hotel chain was importing organic food from Spain. After some questioning and research he found out that there is not enough locally grown organic food to satisfy the demands of the local hotels and restaurants. His research also determined that the hotels’ cost could be cut in half if the hotels bought organic food locally.

Jamaica is missing out on a growing trend. Many foreigners who visit the island are demanding organic food. The hotels and restaurants are forced to import organic products to keep up with demand.

This view is also shared by Daniel Schweizer, the executive chef at Goddard Catering in Montego Bay. He spoke back in October last year during The Gleaner’s Food Editors’ Forum at Mystic India Restaurant. He called on the Government and farmers to invest in organic farming to capture a piece of the lucrative private airline industry.

Schweizer said “the number of food and beverage managers of private airline asking for organic foods has been on the increase, but Jamaica has not been responding to the requests as it is not empowered to do so.”

One group that has stepped forward is Farm Up Jamaica Ltd. According to its website

“Farm Up Jamaica Ltd. is a non-profit organization formed to help reduce the importation of foreign food into Jamaica, through the cultivation of organic healthy foods. Strategic organic farming of vacant and under-farmed lands will help re-establish the agricultural sector to its maximum potential.”

The organization recently started the 1st of many organic NON-GMO seed farms in St. Elizabeth that will produce Scotch Bonnet Seeds. Follow the progress of this organization on Facebook and contribute to their efforts.

Those interested in getting into organic farming should consult the Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement. They provide answers and certification for the prospective organic farmer.

WORTH READING
The Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement (JOAM)
Farm Up Jamaica to grow organic foods, save money
Grow Organic
As Cost of Importing Food Soars, Jamaica Turns to the Earth
Farm Up Jamaica on Facebook
JOAM Organic Standards

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:

APRIL – JUNE 2013
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

JULY – SEPTEMBER 2013
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.

RECENT ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE REVIEWS

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

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