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Entrepreneurs Give Tips To Be Your Own Boss

Thousands of Bahamians are out of work despite exhausting job searches. With the unemployment rate in the double digits and workers being sent to the unemployment line every day, many Bahamians are strongly considering working for themselves.

But, they don’t know where to start.

Last night, a respected voice in the financial community, a PR expert and a serial entrepreneur gave attendees advice on striking out on their own.

During a panel discussion at The Nassau Yacht Club, President and CEO of BAF Financial, I. Chester Cooper, founder of the award-winning public relations firm, Diane Phillips & Associates, Diane Phillips and founder of Bahamas Waste and Bahamas Hot Mix, Peter Andrews shared stories of their successes and past failures.

Each of the panelists said starting and maintaining a profitable business is a lot harder than it looks.

In fact, the trio said becoming ‘your own boss’ requires great discipline, talent and a hardworking attitude.

“It’s hard work to be the boss,” Mr. Cooper said. “Oftentimes we think ok, when I become my own boss I’m going to do this differently. I’m not going to be overly concerned with being here eight hours a day. But, the reality is that when you do become your own boss no one feels your vision the way you feel it. No one feels your passion and there’s no one who works harder than you.”

“Let me set the notion aside that once you become your own boss life is easy and it’s all happy hour. Nothing could be further from the truth. So, when people see you working aggressively towards your goal, when they see consistency, when they see you repeating your vision and your strategy to the future there’s eventually some buy in.”

Mr. Andrews said partnerships are also crucial in business.

“I was fortunate and I still have a very good partner, David Donald, who was also my brother-in-law. Families don’t get along in business, they fight and scrap. Well, we did get along and there’s a lot of strength in being able to say to your partner, what do you think? Dave counted all the rocks, he was an industrial engineer and his forte was efficiency. Mine was talking, running around and seeing things,” he said.

Mrs. Phillips said being the boss is hard work.

“You will never work harder at anything than you will work when you have your own business. You’ll be the first one in, you’ll be the last one to leave, you’ll be the only one there in the office on a Saturday or Sunday . . . because you know that that’s the day that you have to get things done,” she said. “In the end, it’s on your shoulders.”

“Don’t even think about going into business for yourselves just because you’ve got a great idea. You’ve got to be willing to put in that hard work and you’ve got to be willing to carry that burden on your shoulders. So, you have to get it right all the time.”

Mr. Cooper said watching a business grow is like watching a child grow.

“You see the progression and you fall in love with that development and you want to consistently see even greater development. For some of us, it makes you want to keep doing it again and again. I think the motivation of an entrepreneur is almost a contagion associated with wanting to see progression – wanting to influence growth and see what you’ve built with your own hands,” he said.

He also gave the crowd a startling statistic: seven out of 10 small businesses in The Bahamas fail.

But, he said it’s not all bad as entrepreneurship can be quite rewarding financially and emotionally.

“Beyond that it’s a great sense of pride and accomplishment to watch your business grow and develop,” he said.

Mrs. Phillips said proper planning should be at the top of any budding entrepreneur’s list.

She said identifying needs is crucial as entrepreneurs should ensure that they have a product or service that people are actually willing to pay for.

“Look for needs that are not being met,” she said.

“I’ll give you a perfect example. In our business we have to do a whole lot of media buying. Clients want us to place ads and every day we have to make this decision. There are now 23 operating radio stations in New Providence alone. But, you know what there isn’t –there is no Creole station. Isn’t that a great opportunity for somebody. Look for that need that is out there not being met. Really give that some thought. Give that business plan going. Nobody is going to fund you just because you are passionate about something.”

Fish and straw vendors, she said, should consider introducing credit card payment options at their facilities.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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