Proverbs 10:4 – “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”
In a not so long-ago disclosure, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says that more new companies and businesses were registered in the 2020/21 financial year than at any other time in the country’s history. Indeed, this was a tremendous feat considering the global challenges experienced during the period. Nonetheless, we must give serious consideration to the keys in starting a business in Jamaica. This can be a complex and overwhelming process particularly for new entrepreneurs. However, to improve the likelihood of a successful venture, utilize a systematic approach. Here are some key steps to start off on the right foot: –
Step 1 – Market Research and Validation
Whether it is a product or a service you must research whether there is a need for this business. Brainstorming innovative solutions to pressing problems such as food security, safety, health care, transportation or high energy costs is one way to generate business ideas. Similarly, you can improve on existing products or services or invent completely new and revolutionary products.
After settling on an idea, you would then need to validate and test same to ensure it is feasible. Validation involves data analysis and research to determine whether the concept can be created and if there is a market for it, among other considerations. The Jamaica Business Development Corporation can assist with validation at little or no cost.
Step 2 – Product Development
Create a model of the product or service quickly and at an affordable cost. The purpose of a model is to have a tangible version of the product or service you plan to produce. This generally can be done be yourself such as food, clothing, furniture etc. On the converse, this may not be possible for certain types of services, creative arts and entertainment in which case you will have to rely on the concept only at this stage.
Step 3 – Business Planning
It is a strategic planning and thinking process that requires your full involvement. It is where you ask yourself the tough questions, honestly evaluate your capacity to start and manage the business and determine when you should move forward with the idea. Your focus here is on the vision, viability of the business, potential for profits, resources required and strategy for success. It involves preparing financial projections — especially cash flow — identifying funding, doing a risk assessment, evaluating the competition, defining your target market, identifying all legal and regulatory requirements, human resource needs, selling and distribution strategy, branding and marketing essentials. Because of the numerous and diverse areas you must cover, it would be best to seek assistance from a capable business adviser or an experienced accounting professional who can provide expertise and objectivity.
Step 4 – Product/Service Refinement
It is important that you conduct a subsequent review and refinement of the products or services you plan to offer to ensure they meet the needs of the target market, and that the quality, pricing, packaging, and proposed branding, etc, is appropriate.
Step 5 – Business Registration
Once steps 1-4 are complete, it’s time to register your business with the Companies Office of Jamaica and the Tax Administration Jamaica. These are statutory obligations.
Depending on the nature of the business, you may need to protect your intellectual property by registering trademarks, patents or copyrights. The Jamaica Intellectual Property Office can guide you on how to go about this.
Step 6 – Business Set-Up
This is the business set-up stage where you open a bank account, access financing, rent office space if needed, print business cards, compile business contracts and service agreements, create a website or blog, engage suppliers and partners, purchase equipment and stationery, hire staff, and carry out the numerous other tasks required for turn-key operations.
Step 7 – Launch
New entrepreneurs sometimes think that once they open their doors to the public or launch website online customers will start pouring in. That is a fantasy. You must make potential customers aware that you are open for business and how your offerings add value to their lives. Organise an official launch for the business that is designed to grab the attention of potential customers and create awareness and a buzz about your new venture.
Some contribution from Yaneek Page, Programme lead for Market Entry USA, a certified trainer in entrepreneurship.
Mr. Darren Brown, an active born-again Christian has served (and in some capacities, continue to serve) the Church of the Nazarene as a treasurer, a trustee, a youth camp board chairman, men’s ministries president and a musician. He holds a B.A. in Accounting and International Business as well as an MBA (Finance Concentration). He and his wife are blessed with two precious daughters.