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Becoming a Timely Entrepreneur

by Simone Delochan,  sdelochan.camsel@rcpos.org

The ageless Cherise Castle-Blugh—and I do mean this literally; like the esteemed artist Prince RIP, she doesn’t count the progressing years—is a woman on a mission of empowerment.

The author of The Timely Entrepreneur is committed to sharing with both her students and anyone in need of guidance, the path to becoming a successful business owner. The book was launched April 18 at NALIS, Port of Spain.

Her own business sense has its roots in her family, with her father’s insistence while she was still a teenager, that she made herself marketable.

“I didn’t have vacations like everyone else. While everyone got all their Easter and Christmas vacations, I had lessons. My dad had this thing that you had to make yourself marketable. He was always pushing me. ‘Yes, you in secondary school but you could learn typing, or you could do a little computer’. So, I did all of that. In Form Three I got my 13 subjects….”

It is perhaps in this foundation of looking for opportunities outside of the expected that has propelled the cheery Castle-Blugh forward. Added to this is her experience in teaching, in which she finds a space to lead younger generations in more than just academics.

As part of her Business and Social Studies classes, she asks her charges to bring in the Classifieds, then find a job they are interested in to actually see what is required from them.

“I like them to see how hard it is…I will tell them to go to COSTAATT’s Open Fair Day, or UWI’s Career Day, so they can be ahead…” She also realised that after one of her students in an Accounting class requested of her to “dumb it down” for them, that the language of business had to be made accessible.

These as well as her own forays into entrepreneurship (she has a few businesses) led to the creation of the self-help book, which is written in language that is easily understood by the everyday man even while offering tips for which people often pay specialists.

The book takes the reader from the point of idea to execution and after in easy-to-follow steps, with each chapter ending in a mantra and personal affirmation. “If you don’t know how to start, in my book I literally lay it out…what your expenses would look like….I tell you exactly what you need, tell you how to operate in front of your customers, tell you how to wrap your customer’s product…tell you how to ask for referrals…everything.”

For example, she says in one chapter she cites the importance for budding entrepreneurs to assess the amount of capital required “by running multiple scenarios”. She suffers from anxiety, and “this is what works: Plan A, Plan B. Plan A is my perfect plan; Plan B is my ‘what if Plan A doesn’t work’. Plan C is if all else fails.”

Castle-Blugh continued that many times “we are short-term” and many start-ups are guilty of taking an idea and then running with it without the necessary stage of assessment: “Is my idea going to do well? Market reality. Would people buy this? Is my product solving any need?”.

She also avers that while the economy is tight, there is still room for a small business, but the key is changing the way business is done in Trinidad, something which she promotes in her book: social entrepreneurship.

This is also the area she continues to write on in international publications, for example Desi Entrepreneurs, coming out of India. The business culture as it stands now in Trinidad she describes as “selfish” but she sees the possibility in a network.

“…I think we need to start helping, in terms of entrepreneur to entrepreneur”. It is important as well for entrepreneurs to be continually customer-facing, ensuring needs are met and always aiming to innovation and creativity to “up my game”.

The book gives tips on how to promote on social media and access to the website www.thetimelyentrepreneur.com where there is more information, guidance and downloadable content.

“If you are looking for a business plan, a comprehensive business plan, it’s on the website. If you are planning to go to one of the financial institutions, we have been able to link with them….and we put their links on the website…Importantly, the website provides community for likeminded folk who seek to become entrepreneurs, a hub just for entrepreneurs”.

The book she says is not for lazy entrepreneurs—it’s for “go-getters, people who want to see their business”. She suggests that readers have a pen and paper nearby or journal while going through the contents, because “you are going to assess you as an individual.”

The Cathedral/Sacred Heart parishioner who was also a part of the successful Bargain Weekend in Santa Rosa parish when it began as Bargain Saturdays advises, “If you are sitting on an idea, you need to work on it. Your idea may be the next big thing and you are already close to failure if you don’t try. Give your idea a chance.”

A copy of the book can be ordered by calling 488-0507/760-6221 and is also available on Amazon. The author can be reached on her Facebook page authorcherisecastle-blugh or via email thetimelyentrepreneur@gmail.com.