When your business is helping other businesses become better


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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Nine years ago Erica Wynter decided, during the height of the recession in Jamaica, to buy a business. And as she went along negotiating with business owners, she realised just how many business owners did not have proper documentation, had nowhere to go for guidance in setting up their business nor did they have a support system for important services such as getting documents around the island.

So instead of buying a business, Wynter started a business to help other businesses.

The former president of the Young Entrepreneurs, Assocation shared about the challenges of being an international business consultant, expanding her offices to Mandeville, mommy guilt and a drive for wealth creation.

Dennise Williams (DW): Now that C & E Innovational Services Limited is nine years old, what business lessons stand out in your mind? That is, what did you learn about yourself as a businesswoman helping other businesses?

Erica Wynter (EW):. I learned that:

A: I am much tougher than I give myself credit for.

B. I am sometimes too hard on myself.

C. I can live below my means and still be happy.

D. To focus on my journey and never to compare myself with others.

E. An attitude of gratitude can. make a big difference in ones level of success.

F. Leave your signature everywhere you go; my signature is my high level of confidence, vibrant personality and infectious smile. Learn that these things can carry me a far way.

G. I am a powerful woman.

H. I sometimes give far too much.

I. I am impatient.

DW: What are Jamaican businesses doing right? What have you observed that we can do better?

EW: When I started nine years ago many, if not most, small businesses were primarily focused on serving Jamaica, not realising that the market size here is not growing.

The standard/quality of their products, services and packaging were also poor. However, we are currently seeing great improvement in that more businesses are getting into export. There are quite a few businesses that are also serving clients locally as well as internationally via the Internet.

Packaging is also looking much more attractive and I like to use Sweetie Ja (Patria) as an example — her sweetie packages are very attractive.

I am recommending that small businesses think globally instead of locally, because whether or not we like it we are no longer just competing with our country men/women but also with international service providers and manufactures via imports. Enhance the quality of products and services.

It's difficult for small businesses to compete on economies of scale but they can definitely compete with differentiation. Maintain a lean structure and build strong relationships with your internal and external customers. Also, forge alliance, and collaborate by pooling resources together for the benefit of your businesses. Stop trying to do everything by yourself.

DW: There are so many business start-up needs —business plans, tax compliance certificates, national contracts commission certificates, annual returns, payroll, business registration, etc….it can be daunting and a lot of persons don't bother. What is your view as to what policies can be effected to make doing business in Jamaica easier?

EW: Doing business has become easier over the years and yes it is still a lot to handle as a small business owner. DBJ voucher system has been a big help for many small businesses, the incubator at JBDC along with grants and technical support from Heart Trust, entrepreneurship completion at NHT, among others. However, we need special incentives (tax breaks, special interest rates on loans, grants, technical support for FREE, and special incubators) for young (18-25/30) people who are starting businesses. We need to cut out the double taxation for LLC.

DW: Why did C&E expand to Mandeville? What was the need that you saw there?

EW: That office serves Manchester, St Elizabeth and Clarendon; we are meeting our customers halfway. Therefore, instead of them having to come to Kingston in the maze of doing business, they instead just visit our office and we sort out all the paperwork for them. We are saving them time, money and helping them to be compliant.

DW: Tell us about team building. In your experience how can you build a team to build you up in return?

EW: Team building is extremely important. I rely on my team to hold the nuts and bolts of C&E together. The more efficient and reliable the people you have on your team as an entrepreneur, the greater your value.

We do several initiatives at C&E to strengthen the relationship with the staff. First, everyone is led to feel like they are more than just an employee but instead an important part of the comp. We do yearly training, shorts day, funny pics/video day, birthday celebration for staff, among other things. They are also a part of the yearly planning session.

DW: Mommy guilt… it's real and it has to be managed. What is your strategy to be the best mom to your two children while being the best businesswoman you can be?

EW: This one is indeed a touchy one because I do feel guilty at times. Nonetheless, it seems I'm not doing too badly. I have a very strong support system inclusive of my mom, grandmother, spouse, assistant, and friends. I off some things on them allowing me more time for family. I go on dates with my daughter. My son is now 19 and, trust me, don't have time for me. I attend most meetings at my daughter's school, read her stories almost every night, plan family activities and events but, to be honest, I know It's not enough because sometimes I don't complete all her assignments on time, I don't play with her as much as I should, I don't check on my son as much as I should. Nonetheless these are the things that work for me:

1. Plan out every single second of each day.

2. Teach my children to do things for themselves so that they can help.

3. Schedule my weeks months in advance.

4. Use up the people in my life. My spouse is like my little business reminder; he keeps me in check re: the things I need to do re: business. He is also an entrepreneur, so of course he understands the importance of getting these things done. My assistant does an excellent job with managing the offices; my mom and grandmother mostly assist with my daughter.

5. Make my daughter do exercises that make her tired so she gives me a break.

6. Take some me time (date with my spouse, spa, reading my books, gym) so that I can better serve in my different capacities because whenever I'm extremely tired.

DW: Wealth creation is something that business owners talk about but don't really have a strategy around. How can business owners create value not only for their community but for themselves?

EW: They can start by taking these simple steps:

1. Spend less and seek to earn more (live below your means).

2. Seek to earn from multiple sources.

3. Save 10-30 per cent of your income for one to two years and then invest it.

4. Learn about investments.

5. Do not get trapped in the middle-class liability maze (buying expensive cars, phones, clothes and living in expensive rental apartments).

6. Acquire assets (things that will increase in value and will earn money for you).

7. Pay yourself.

8. Manage your cash flow and remember the time value of money.

9. Pool resources with friends and family to obtain assets and watch it increase in value:

10. Earn it before you spend it.

11. Pay bills on time so that you do not incur late fees.

12. Keep proper records so that you can be aware of your financial position.

13. Be frugal.




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