REPORT #146 Nov 1999

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

I always marveled at people who kept trying to get into business and failed. Particularly the service type businesses. The recent article of Nov. 7th, 1999 in the REPORTER newspaper by Nigel Avilez giving his funny, but oh so common experience with a would be electrical systems car mechanic is so typical.

Being a successful service entrepreneur is easy! As Nigel points out, a person needs resourcefulness, work ethic and basic investment capital, which latter you have to originally save, sacrifice food and plain scrounge for.

There is a little more to it than that. Many years ago, a couple of decades or more, I became fascinated at the stories in Readers Digest and other magazines, about people going from Europe, Canada and the USA to countries in Latin America and becoming successful. Often becoming upper middle class and in many cases millionaires. Yet, usually they started with just a nickel in their pocket upon landing in a new country.

What was it, I wondered that separated them from the locals? It is not only in Belize, but all of Latin America. Anybody with some sort of basic skill can immigrate to any country in Latin America, even Belize and become moderately successful. Why? What is the secret? You can do this today, right now, even in Belize.

I found the secret was several minor things.

a) Do what you say you are going to do.
b) If you quote a delivery time and date, keep it. This is reliability upon which a customer can plan and count.
c) Quote a price for the service and stick to it, even if you end up being wrong and losing. In Belize, I have always been amazed at the scam artist business people that get jobs on a quote and time delivery, start the job, then quit half way through, wanting more money before they will finish. I mostly noticed it in car repairs and boat building. But it is widespread in all fields, even accountants do this con game.
d) I lost many a bid on boat building jobs, because I gave an honest quote. Only to see my competitors get the jobs with a low quote and then half way through, refuse to finish the job because it was costing more. The customer always got screwed, both in cost and timewise. Yet the suckers keep coming, in Belize and all through Latin America. Still, I never lacked for work either, because I was reliable.
I've notice these traits of an entrepreneur, guarantee success anywhere, in any country of Latin America. It is difficult for a customer to judge character and integrity. But word of mouth usually supplies more business to such a reliable person, than they can handle.

From my experiences, I came to the conclusion that there should be a PERFORMANCE BOND required in many service entrepreneurial fields as a legal license requirement, particularly in construction and with would be amateur contractors. It is this way in the USA, or Canada. Why not in Belize? This protects the customer from being victimized by con men scam artists. Those that are deliberate failures and should never be in the business.


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