By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
How to safeguard against crisis and rebuild after tragedy will be the focus of this Saturday's "Business Beyond Borders Brunch" hosted by entrepreneur Simmone Bowe.
Scheduled for 10am at the British Colonial Hilton, the event was initially going to highlight the success stories of Bahamians doing business abroad, but in the wake of Hurricane Dorian Simmone said she thought it important to address the issue of business awareness in the midst of crisis and tragedy.
"Hurricane Dorian has changed the Bahamas forever. I lived in Abaco for seven years and I considered it home. I have friends there, I worked there, I started a business there, and I did a lot of work in Freeport as well with my training business, making frequent trips and getting to know both islands. So even though I returned to live and operate in Nassau, this was a hard hit for me. It wasn't just footage of a disaster, it was a place I lived and interacted and supported businesses that I saw were no more. I thought about the thousands who are displaced as a result. I wanted to cancel the event, but after talking with close friends and praying about it I decided to shift the focus of the seminar to 'Life-proof your Business'," said told Tribune Woman.
Major hurricanes like Dorian, and other detrimental circumstances like a bad economy, sickness, and even life itself can dramatically change someone's business or even end it. While Simmone knows that the Bahamas at present is facing a very challenging time, she thinks it will recover from the blow dealt by Dorian.
"It always does. Crisis births creativity. Necessity brings innovation. When people need an income they will do what is necessary to make that happen. We are resilient, resourceful people who will find a way to make a way. I believe the dip in the economy along with toxic, unfulfilling, unfair work environments have made entrepreneurship more attractive. This catastrophic experience will certainly drive people to consider starting a business that they were perhaps putting off or not even thinking about before now. I believe even people that may not have lost everything will be inspired to create or sustain their side hustle, simply because you don't know what life may throw at you and you have to adjust and keep moving," she said.
Tribune Woman asked her what advice would she give to those who now have to start from scratch.
Simmone said she wants to assure these people that they are not failures. Many successful entrepreneurs, she said, have lost businesses or had great ideas that didn't take off. It doesn't mean that they aren't successful. She advises those impacted by the hurricane to take this time to regroup and reflect.
"Do you want to reopen the same business you had before? Is it time to transition to something else? What do I have to rebuild with? Leverage your network. Your strength is in your tribe. There are people around you who will support your comeback. Tap into them and don't be afraid to ask for help. Learn from the things you wish you had done differently and do them. Didn't have insurance coverage? Electronic records? Disaster preparedness plan? Savings? Instead of lamenting about it, change it and set yourself up for success just in case there is a next time. Don't be afraid to start again or to start small. The power is in the start and the belief in your ability to make it happen. OK, you may have had a shop front and now you are home-based. There is no shame in that game. Just keep pushing and make it make sense for you and where you are in the business. Formalise your business by getting a business licence," she said.
She encourages Bahamians to start where they are and with what they have.
"There is social media, websites, graphic design, e-mail marketing and more that offer free services. Use them to promote and market your business and generate sales. Just start and don't overthink. Sometimes we think our way out of the best ideas, second-guessing and worrying about the validity of your next move. Trust your gut and trust yourself to do the right thing. Build your capital and use it wisely. As you make money, remember to not spend more than necessary, pay yourself, and reinvest in the business. Apply for business grants where you can get thousands of dollars of free money that you can use to get started. You can even crowd-fund or look for investors in your own circle who would be willing to give you a small loan or investment in the business," she said.
Presenters at tomorrow's event will include international brand and tax resolution specialist LeTonya Moore; "The Queen of Self-Improvement" LaKichay Muhammed; entrepreneur Myles Munroe Jr, and BCCEC Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Beckles.