Thursday, December 8, 2011

Belize Entrepreneurs and their true attitudes!

One of the things I´ve discovered from the young persons who want to be entrepreneurs, is that the immediacy of cash flow, overtakes their sense of what is possible. Basically, in any venture, that is a start up, you have to have 1) Sweat Equity and it will be over a period of TIME. Usually unpaid investment. Next you need some sort of cash flow to live off for your basic needs, other than your entrepreneurial idea. 2) In any entrepreneurial venture there is the element of RISK. All your efforts and labor, might be for naught, wasted as it were. Your ideas and goals may not stand the test of TIME and REALITIES of the developing marketplace.
If a would be entrepreneur cannot handle the RISK and put in the slow TIME needed through SWEAT EQUITY, ( labor that may NEVER BE REWARDED ), then that young person is not mentally prepared to be an entrepreneur. No sense kidding themselves, they are mentally challenged SALARIED TYPE WORKERS and not entrepreneurs.

In Belize, there are a number of challenges that are unavoidable, which you will probably not find out the impracticalities of this, until you give it a TRY, and see what happens in the real world. There are lots of failures in entrepreneurial ventures, despite glossy business plans. You won´t know until you waste some TIME, and MONEY and a lot of SWEAT EQUITY.

The biggest obstacle to being an entrepreneur in Belize are "the Government costs".
GST tax is a HUGE COST up front. It hits you from every angle and side. There are other costs as well, like customs on imported materials, especially since your start up venture is not big enough, to afford the TIME it costs to comply with the bureaucratic RED TAPE (so called HELP), that outfits like BELTRAIDE can give you, supposedly. It´s a nice bureaucratic thought that there are things like TAX FREE IMPORT CONCESSIONS, but these things are designed for millionaires, not for the small start up entrepreneur, who does not know how he is going to pay the store rent yet. The bureaucrats lie a lot too, mostly by evasion, misinformation, and trick you into losing the little money you have, if you try to deal with them. Not counting the expense of travel trips to offices, forms to fill out and most of all, your loss of TIME, which can be HOURS AND HOURS on a weekly basis. All these hidden things cost a lot of money, when you seek bureaucratic assistance.

Even if a business plan, lets you figure a way to produce something and export, and make a profit. In the real world, there is a RULE OF THUMB in Belize, that says, WHATEVER it finally costs you to import materials, tools, etc., to make something for export, you basically require the sale price in the foreign country, to be 300% of what it costs you to make it. A lot of ignorant people who have never tried to do this, will scoff at such a profit margin. But it is true! You are going to get taxed, licensed, permited, and red taped to death, with unexpected costs that will surprise you. From the gasoline and travel time and hours, even days, perhaps week, it takes to fulfill some bureaucratic requirement. To high costs of shipping a container out of the port, or impossibility of shipping by air, or truck via Mexico intransit because of other transportation problems. Many products have to follow rules of other country bureaucracies that will take you YEARS to solve. You wont even know what they are, until you give it a real world, try. I remember in my youth losing a shipment of frozen dessicated coconut meat, for which I had a practical profit making steady business from General Foods in the USA. I didn´t bargain for THEIR rules, nor for the need for a forwarding agent, that understood, that New Orleans Customs officers required bribing beforehand when the shipment was coming through. In this particular case, they were not bribed as I didn´t know and had not budgeted for it, and the shipment was allowed to sit on the tarmac for more than 30 minutes which effectively spoiled the refrigerated product. In our Northern Fishermans Cooperative back at the beginning, we lost a number of $15,000 shipments of lobster and conchs due to similar problems. YOU WON´T KNOW THE PROBLEMS UNTIL YOU TRY! If you cannot afford as a startup, the initial losses, it will wipe you out as an entrepreneur for YEARS, before you can try again. Especially if you were working on loan, borrowed money. Worst thing you can do is borrow money for a start up initial entrepreneurial venture.
You will not know the problems of freight, other transportation, unexpected extra costs until you actually try. Believe me, take it from this horses mouth. If your item you are going to manufacture and export cannot compete in the world outside, at a value that is 300% of what it costs you to make it here in Belize. You probably cannot compete. Drop the idea and go on to something else that will give you that pofit margin. Most of the unexpected costs will eat up that extra 300% and leave you hopefully with a profit of 10% after all is said and done. You try it and see!

No comments: