Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. With an estimated 10 percent of startups that are successful in the first year, 90 percent of them fail almost immediately. according to Forbes. In the Caribbean we are known for our resilience and our passion, so there is no lack of ambition even when the odds are against us.
Given these statistics, the regional technology ecosystem, Tech Beach Retreat, has teamed up with the social enterprise, Nudge Caribbeanto host Building Sustainable Growth, a four-part virtual series featuring successful regional entrepreneurs sharing sharp insights to help aspiring entrepreneurs overcome adversity.
Episode 1, Cultivate your passion: from the idea to the execution, featured Monique Powell, CEO of QuickCart; Eldon Marks, CEO and Founder of V75 Inc; and Kyle Maloney, co-founder of Tech Beach Retreat. The conversation, moderated by Scott Hilton-Clarke, CEO of Inspiration Labs, focused on the key steps every Caribbean entrepreneur must take to successfully transform their ideas into sustainable businesses. Here are six key takeaways that every business owner needs to know.
Kyle Maloney, Co-Founder of Tech Beach Retreat.
Do your research
In many cases, a startup’s first product or service doesn’t always meet an existing need. Powell notes that often entrepreneurs are so consumed with their ideas that they forget to consider whether or not there is a real demand for them. “You may be in love with an idea, but you’re the only one who loves it,” she says. With that in mind, she strongly recommends founders conduct their research by speaking to potential clients to ensure that what you think is good to bring to market is actually something that other people would appreciate.
Familiarize yourself with failure
In the world of entrepreneurship, failure comes with territory, and Maloney sees no shame in that. In fact, he believes that failure drives growth. Quoting the advice he received from his father, he says, “When you are at the lowest point in life, you are often at your highest point of opportunity.” Because even with correct planning and a viable business idea, stumbling blocks are to be expected; the key is to make use of these missteps and to use the knowledge gained to improve the business model.
Most corporate travel starts with an 8-4 job, which offers a number of benefits. From a steady income to health care, it can be difficult to step outside of that level of stability. Difficult but not impossible. After Powell saved the equivalent of a year’s salary before quitting her job at the company, she advises that “one of the first things” [to do] is to prepare financially ”. Calculate what it will take to support yourself and your family comfortably, then make a commitment to saving to create that financial cushion. Because, despite your optimism, there will be a lot more cash outflow than in in the early days of building your business full-time.
Accept that the timing will never be “perfect”
And that’s okay, say the entrepreneurs. You may always feel compelled to save more money, do more research, or attract more investors, but in the end, these things won’t stop you from taking the plunge. For Powell, “80 percent ready” is a good indicator that you are at a good starting point, while Marks believes the signs are more aligned with your ability to connect your vision with action. “It’s about understanding where you stand, what you have to offer, and engaging in your passion for delivery,” he says.
Start with strong core values
It is well known that corporate culture has a direct impact on productivity and profitability. To that end, Mark’s Founder encourages “starting with a good set of core values” that are ingrained in your employees. Once this is achieved and your team grows, those who respond well to Core Values will become well integrated while those who do [are] not necessarily compatible with it …[are] cut out of course. ”The end result will be a cohesive unit that fully engages your vision and embodies the true spirit of your organization.
Take care of your mental health
Fact: Starting a business is not easy. However, you never really know how difficult the process is until you actually do it. While nothing can fully prepare you for the toll that entrepreneurship will take on your life, it is imperative that entrepreneurs do whatever is necessary to prepare mentally and emotionally. “This is going to be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done,” Powell says, encouraging founders to reach out to family, friends, and even the wider community for support. Maloney also promotes the benefits of healthy eating and meditation to gain more control over one’s mental health and avoid burnout, a common symptom of entrepreneurs, whether new or experienced.
Entrepreneurship is a long and arduous road, but for Maloney, Powell and Marks the sacrifices were worth it and today they are reaping the rewards. There may not be a foolproof plan to help you find a flawless course, but Maloney hit the nail on the head when he shared the lens through which he sees entrepreneurship: “Do things that make life better for others “And you’re already off to a strong start.
About TBR LAB: As a solid partnership with IDB Lab and the DMZ, TBR LAB’s vision is to radically transform the digital landscape of the Caribbean and emerging markets. TBR LAB’s mission is to promote the emergence and diffusion of high-growth technology start-ups and enable business organizations and governments to deliver impactful technology-driven solutions.
About NUDGE: Nudge is a Massy-run social enterprise that drives brilliant ideas through training, mentoring, and access to audiences and investors. We are revolutionary because we listen. The entrepreneurs we work with are our partners who lead the way in development on their own terms – we simply provide access. In a world where traditional ways of working are disrupted, nudge offers alternatives. Most of all, we strive to create hope. To apply to participate in the Nudge Caribbean Community, visit www.nudgecaribbean.com.