businessman Douglas Orane recently encouraged young entrepreneurs and small business operators within the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) sector to take advantage of catering to the unmet needs of customers to fuel new ideas for innovation.
Speaking at a Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) ‘Lunch and Learn’ quarterly feature held last week, Douglas told a group of aspiring entrepreneurs that business ideas can also come unconventionally.
“By just walking around in downtown Kingston during my time at GraceKennedy, I got a lot of business ideas. You meet all types of different people and they tell you many things, some of which is very useful. One of the things I found is that behind every complaint is a business opportunity because it indicates an unmet need,” he shared.
The retired chief executive officer (CEO) and chairman served Grace Kennedy for several years, during which time he used much of the insights and knowledge that he discovered during his unconventional walks in the streets of downtown Kingston to shape new business ideas to improve quality assurance, efficiency and revenues for the company.
“Don’t be afraid to do something and fail, because that’s the way we learn,” he urged the entrepreneurs as he also told them to take advantage of all opportunities. In pointing out that there was no junior market on the stock exchange when he started out as an entrepreneur to aid in raising capital, creating businesses in this current economic climate has become more interesting.
He reasoned that catering to the unmet need is important as it allows individuals to tap into what will make people’s lives hassle-free. He views the unmet need as any good or service that will improve productivity.
He articulated what he deems seven life lessons that are critical for the individual who wants to pursue business objectives. Among them are “integrity as, if people trust you they are more likely to do business with you; excellence; optimism in not seeing the glass as half-empty but rather as half-full. He referenced hotelier and businessman Gordon “Butch” Stewart as one such person who continued to do business and never quit despite the challenges.
He advised that three areas with unmet needs in the country currently include the food delivery service on which companies such as Quickplate have capitalised; alternative energy, as oil companies are going to decline over the next 10 years; and fresh produce for healthy living as people are becoming more health-conscious.
“People are more concerned about their diet and looking after their bodies, keeping their weight down, but it’s hard to find consistent supply of fresh produce, especially those organic or free of pesticides,” he stated.
Valerie Viera, CEO of JBDC said that the event which was staged by the entity’s business advisory services unit was aimed at equipping SMEs with the relevant knowledge and support needed for them to thrive in the eco-system.
Melissa Bennett, manager of the Business Advisory Services Unit at the JBDC, also said that the topic, which was centred on the effective management of SMEs, will help the participants to gain knowledge that will help them move from the start-up phase to the global space.
“One of the biggest challenges of which we are working on is to build out corporate governance, build out coaches and mentors and systems to bring entrepreneurs together,” she added.
The ‘Lunch and Learn’ series, now in its seventh staging,was established to give existing businesses and potential entrepreneurs an opportunity to listen to the experiences of Jamaican entrepreneurs and business professionals who have successfully navigated the business landscape despite many challenges.
Previous speakers at the event have included: Deiwght Peters of Saint International, Donna Duncan-Scott and Keith Duncan from JMMB, Chris Dehring from ReadyTV and Thaila Lyn of Island Grill restaurant.