BUSINESS is about having the right idea, at the right time, said John Clare, director of Columbus Business Solutions (CBS).
Addressing the issues facing small businesses, especially given the difficult economic climate, Clare said, "Boom times are much more difficult, as when things are good you're not prepared for the hard times." He continued, "The people who have taken the plunge in the last two years are really well-prepared."
CBS is the business arm of Flow Jamaica and was separated from that "main consumer brand" in March last year, Clare said. It was also a sponsor of the inaugural Jamaica Observer Mogul in the Making start-up programme that reached a climax on Wednesday.
"We've replicated what we've done elsewhere. (Flow) is a very strong brand and has strong associations so it wasn't an easy choice to separate the two."
Innovation is critical for a business to be successful, he said. "When you're moving into (a new) business, you do need to kind of change your message and given that the brand has done so successfully elsewhere, we decided to split the two but we're very much alive.
It's important that small businesses be highlighted and supported, Clare said, adding, "Our SME team is 100 per cent bigger today than it was 18 months ago. It's an area of growth and job creation." Whether it's helping those small businesses gain customers or drive their own growth, they must be assisted.
The Irishman said there are many similarities between the economies of his home country and that of Jamaica as "they are made up of small and medium-sized enterprises which are the bedrock of the economy."
Yet SMEs have a high rate of failure and they need to enter their chosen industries with the intention of being aggressive, even with the "larger, more established competitors," he said.
CBS helps them to be competitive, through its "scaleable" technology. This includes television, landline and internet services that companies are able to tailor to their needs.
"We looked at the 21 companies (in Mogul in the Making) from sole traders to more modest businesses," Clare said. "Rather than making a huge capital investment, they can choose affordable and scaleable."
It's critical that businesses be given such choices that suit their needs as anything more or less may hurt instead of help.
"So as the business grows and with the passage of time there's a bundled offering. Whether it's by combining services because there are discounts available or they're entering into multi-area agreements."
With regards to CBS' partnership with Mogul in the Making, Clare said, "I was very impressed with the nominees. Right across the board, there were some very interesting things, but it was impressive, especially the range of sectors and representation." It's just fantastic to see young people with the entrepreneurial spirit."
Though it's difficult to take the plunge and go into business, " you have to have faith as there are opportunities for this kind of times", said Clare.