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12 lies the World has told Entrepreneurs

Updated: Nov 7, 2023



1. You don’t need money to succeed in business


  • When I first registered AC Marketing in Trinidad and Tobago, I used every dime from sales to keep the business afloat. Giving myself a salary wasn’t even an option. Over time I made some bad financial decisions and landed in debt under my name.


  • I had to go back to being fully employed to repay the bank. It took two years to rebuild my credit and pay off the money borrowed via a credit card.


  • There are so many gurus who share why money doesn’t solve problems, but they’re usually charging you to share this wisdom.


  • The reality remains, money is a fact of our existence. It isn’t going anywhere and there are chosen few with most of it. We keep missing the opportunity to discuss disparity, when we choose to tell entrepreneurs they don’t need money to be successful.



2. You need to work hard to be successful

  • Molly Mae Hague has been credited with popularising, ‘Beyonce has the same 24hrs as you.’ I’m going to be awkwardly honest and admit that I believed it. And for transparency, mentally, I needed to be delusional at that time in my life. But just like science, new information brings change. Here is a real-world example of why you cannot compare 24 hours in the Caribbean. I had to purchase travel insurance for my four-month trip with Remote Year and I reached out to a well-known Trinidad company with over 4,000 employees with $800M in revenue last year. They replied via email with a pdf for me to print, fill out and return before getting a quote. Time is a limited commodity for a small business owner. I googled and researched for alternatives. World Nomads kept showing up and their quotation instantly included what they would cover. It took less than 10 minutes to pay and get my insurance certificate sent to my inbox. For every small business owner who feels like they never get enough done, you have a different 24hrs than someone in the USA, UK or anywhere else in the world.



3. Partnership is a Leaky Ship

  • Jeff Bezos became a billionaire while married. Elon Musk created Paypal with Peter Thiel and Max Levchin. Former PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi, credits her husband for being able to balance work and life.


  • Disparaging the value of a business partner, assumes that you have the support system necessary to withstand the brutal realities of entrepreneurship.


  • Three years into creating AC Marketing, a friend and I had an idea, so we registered an events business in Barbados. In less than two years it became the most recognizable name for a national Carnival event called Foreday Morning. Over time we started to argue about small things, then it got more difficult to communicate and ended with him withdrawing funds without my knowledge.


  • Although I was less than happy with how he departed, I learnt the importance of having more than one person invested in the success of an idea.

  • I’ve spoken to many small business owners in the Caribbean and we all have similar approaches to solving problems. However, we tend to lean into the Superman syndrome and opt out of working with someone who will complement our desire to build a business.


  • I’ve slowly come to the realization that I feel alone, and a partnership doesn’t sound like the worse thing in the world.



4. Every opportunity is a chance to build profit

  • When you live in a third world country, you don’t know what it means to be a developing nation. The inconvenience of driving to the bank to fill out a form seems like a reality we all live. However, when you jump on plane and get exposed to companies using technology, the question about how to do the same at home begins.


  • Admittedly, it’s partly why I started AC Marketing. I saw how cost-effective Facebook marketing would be for businesses and thought it would be a no brainer. Unfortunately, reducing one’s marketing budget was not a priority across the Caribbean. Instead, the existing relationships with former schoolmates were valued more than work.


  • Similarly, the person who is ready to provide a service to reduce the visits to the bank, doesn’t realise that there is a group of persons who are excited to leave their house and meet their favourite bank teller.




5. Government failing is a chance to start a business - I really despise this one!

  • I recently attended the Caribbean Export Forum and listened to a group of panelists who are all entrepreneurs in the tech space. One person lamented that the government’s downfall is an opportunity for small businesses to capitalize for profit. As someone who must renew her driver’s license in Trinidad and Barbados, I have a different perspective.


  • Companies like Apple, Google and Meta (formerly Facebook) were all founded in Silicon Valley. There are many stories in non-fictional books and Hollywood Movies depicting what it was like to be a troubled man trying to change the world with technology. Yet, none of them included the supported from the public sector.


  • Even as I am typing this, I’m wondering how dull the storytelling would become at the registrar office for small businesses. Regardless, that’ the reality. These companies would not be as successful without the agility of the government.


  • Instead, let’s stop trying to monetize the shortcomings of an organization and make them accountable. That way Trinidad will be in the news for something more than securing an Apple patent.



6. Everyone gets paid what they’re worth

  • I used to charge US$250 per month to manage clients’ Facebook pages in Barbados. On average I was spending two to three hours per day building their online audience. There was never enough time to do everything, and I thought I had to work harder to deliver more. Eventually I lost all my business and thought it was because of my pricing.


  • I moved back to Trinidad and worked in tandem with a local agency to create content with their clients. I was privy to what this 100% male owned business was charging and was floored by the reality of commerce in the Caribbean: we value relationship over results. It’s also a common theme I’ve experienced through consultancy work. Agencies pitching to get business and being measured by familiarity.


  • Two years ago, I was an attendee at a Chamber of Commerce event. It was exclusive access to the biggest players in Trinidad and Tobago business. I watched as many asked frivolous questions about their day to day lives. When I finally got to speak, I inquired about their approach to hiring marketing partners and the response, “…I get so many of those proposals on my desk, I just look at the ones from people I know.”


  • There are reports around the world measuring the impact of small business to a country’s economy and it’s promising to feel valued. However, there isn’t enough transparency in the Caribbean to even start this conversation. Granted, my industry is relatively new compared to medicine, but we have had enough information to learn how to replicate.


  • Change is uncomfortable but necessary. For my company the only way to be paid what we’re worth is to look outside.

7. Failure isn’t an option

  • Hollywood has neatly contained our reality in two hours with a few obstacles and happily ever after. It’s a world we don’t like to admit we believe in, but the success of Apollo 13 says otherwise. It has been credited with popularizing the phrase, ‘Failure is not an option’ as the tagline for the movie.

  • It’s excellent storytelling that creates a cocoon of safety in a world filled with uncertainty and wrongdoing. We search for happy endings in movies, TikTok videos and Vloggers. Successful content creators know the secret to your attention and we’re willing to monetize every second.

  • Unfortunately, none of the above prepares you for the truth about entrepreneurship – or life. Because anything worth doing includes failure. Don’t get me wrong, one doesn’t start a business with the intention of losing money, friends, and your identity, but sh*t happens when you venture into the unknown. It gets worst when you don’t have mentorship and support.

  • That’s why it would be nice for society to stop sharing the ‘everything will be okay’ memes and have the difficult discussions around failing. Specifically for people of colour who are more likely to lack family support.


  • I didn’t grow up talking about the importance of Mental health. So naturally when I racked up fifty thousand dollars in debt, I thought I was a failure, and my life wasn’t worth much.

  • Thankfully I managed to pull out of depression with sports and therapy. But I’m lucky. What about the entrepreneurs who don’t have access to a network of friends who love them?

  • Failure doesn’t need to be an option, but it would be great for it to be a part of the entrepreneurial discussion. Maybe we call it a change of direction? Let’s work on that.


8. It’s a one man show

  • As I’m typing this, the world cup final is four days away and I’m routing for Morocco. Partly because I’m not a fan of Messi, but mostly because I despise how the media ignores the ten other men on the field. Similarly, we associate Steve Jobs with Apple, Bill Gates with Microsoft, and Mark Zuckerberg with Meta (formerly Facebook).


  • The single story negates all the people who supported them along the way. As a marketer I know the importance of focusing on one person to get everyone invested, but as an entrepreneur it dilutes the nuance of success.

  • For years I was delusional with the power of what I could do if I worked incrementally harder each day. With every obstacle that appeared, it was my responsibility to find the solution. From creating content that the customer was happy about, to learning how to register my business without paying someone to stand in the line at the government’s office.

  • I’m grateful to be living during a time of access through technology. My approach has changed after lived experiences and finding the Freakonomics podcast. I have learnt that people like Steve Jobs was able to access resources created by public sector. Mark Zuckerberg had the support of his parents and one of the founders of PayPal. And if we can move into the uncomfortable - it’s rarely a one-WOman show. The world is still uncertain about where we ‘should be’ - subject to country.

  • There is no one man. Every successful business has a combination of family, friends, government, and societal support.


9. Profit is an automatic sign of Success

  • People who say you don’t need money to be successful have money. Money isn’t a luxury, it’s mandatory to keep inhaling and exhaling. It’s easy for someone who grew up with food on the table and a roof over their head, to care about the environment. Their childhood was filled with things.

  • When you grew up not knowing if the food truck from school would have extra to take home, money has a different meaning as an adult. I built AC Marketing in fight or flight mode. Heck, I’ve lived that way all my life.

  • Each client was a window to food, rent and to buy things I never could afford as a child. Over time I learnt how to charge clients based on what my time was worth and eventually created jobs that allowed me to hire people full time. Nothing my team is doing that I haven’t already done at one on a Tuesday morning. However, they are much better than I could ever be.

  • Through the support of people who believed in me, I’m finally managing cashflow and sleeping through the night.

  • At the start of 2022, I hired someone to create new business and have been meeting potential clients all year. One stated, ‘…so you’re in business for twelve years, you must be successful...”


  • My initial response would be, ‘not really, because I’m one client away from letting a team member go.’ But perspective is everything. On my vision board is US$1 Million in sales because mama needs a house. At the same time, what does success mean to the little girl waiting for the free food from school?

  • Profit is part of my entrepreneurial journey, but I’m not sure it’s the only measurement of success.


10. You need to be good at everything

  • Just keep at it. The fallacy of a YouTube expert

  • My resume covers a broad list of industries. I’ve been a bartender, administrator at BMW, events coordinator at Microsoft and so much more. With each yes in an interview, I got access to learn something new. There were many evenings my coworkers would leave me in at my desk as they head off to their families.


  • Learning has always been exciting for me, even as a child I didn’t look forward to summer vacation. I missed my teachers.

  • When I started my business, it was an opportunity to bury myself in learning about marketing, technology, and accounting. Two years in and I was managing ten Facebook pages for many companies in Barbados. It was mayhem and I loved it! Yet, burnout came fast and furious.

  • It took a few years before I learnt that being good at everything means being excellent at nothing. It was a hard fact to swallow in a time when YouTube University is free. If you search long enough, you will find a few studies that supports multitasking, but it doesn’t work for me. I also had to learn to respect the time it takes to become an expert.

  • We have a finite number of hours on this earth and living in the information age has fooled us into thinking that everybody can do anything. I’ve had many discussions with persons devaluing the work my team puts out by referencing ‘a cousin who does social media.’ I no longer am offended by it; I nod my head and wish them all the best.


11. You must have an office to be an entrepreneur

  • The bank I used to pay off my credit card debt decided to give me a call one Wednesday morning. I can only assume he found my number in the database of ‘good credit customers without an existing loan.’ He proceeded to share loan offers for small business owners and the special rates.

  • My patience for conversations that aren’t beneficial ended after exiting my 20s, so I had to interrupt him with the following, “…until banks recognize digital infrastructure as an expense, I don’t think I’m the right fit for this promotion.” And with that, there was silence for a full 10 seconds before responding, “yes, I will call if anything changes.”

  • It had the conviction of a mother dropping off her 3-year-old at foster care, “don’t cry, I’ll be back.”

  • For much of my entrepreneurship journey, I put an office on my vision board. A line item in my expenses to make me feel like an official business owner. Anything less and I was merely a hustler trying to make it.

  • Fast forward to March 2020 when the world had to figure out how to be productive while boiling rice on the stove, my business never closed. Instead, our revenue grew because companies were looking to partner with agile businesses.


  • Two years later and most of us have return to normalcy, but the traffic is evidence that many companies have not adapted to remote working. Reasons include seeing out lease agreements and a lack of motivation to change.

  • After engaging with multiple business owners across several industries, the client who is measuring success based on having an office, isn’t going to be a long-term partner with AC Marketing Caribbean.



12. You must have people to fill that office

  • Project based. Employees. Freelance economy.

  • For most of 2022, I got up at 4.30am to jump in a pool for an hour three times a week for six months. This approached helped me crossed the finish line for the Ironman Cozumel 70.3-mile race.

  • However, the mother who has three children and no support system, also gets up at 4.30am. Her day looks different to mine, and unlike me, her finish line has no end.

  • Each of us have obstacles in life. Regardless of where you live, this is the price we pay for inhaling and exhaling. That’s why I appreciate the evolution of work and the benefits technology allows for work/life balance.

  • Since inception I have employed persons remotely. I would like to take credit by saying I’m a futurist but, it was a decision based on the bottom line. I’ve had many persons betrayed my trust with their lack of productivity and it took time to reset and try again.


  • However, after twelve years I can finally admit to pulling together the right ingredients for successfully managing a TAX paying business. It’s a combination of the people who love what they do, clients who trust the process and technology that fills in the blanks.

I remember the first time I saw the book, The Secret. It felt like the words were my mentor, sharing wisdom that was exclusive to someone older than me. The ideology of the Law of Attraction meant I needed to keep attracting to access the riches of the world. Thankfully, I’ve lived long enough to understand that a blonde author from Australia omitted the part about privilege.

We all have some form of it. My darker friend told me I have the attention of people with my eyes and one of my closest friends shared his jealousy for my ability to make friends easily. But that’s life. It’s filled with obstacles and people delusional enough to work through them.



 


Why Choose AC Marketing Caribbean  

AC Marketing Caribbean offers a wide range of content marketing services to help you create content for your business in the Caribbean. Here are just a few reasons why AC Marketing Caribbean is the best choice for content marketing:  

   

- Our content marketing specialists can help create content for your business that is best suited to the Caribbean consumer.  

   

- Our sales funnel strategies are designed to lead your audience effortlessly along the buyer’s journey.  

   

- You need eye-catching and engaging content that converts clicks into cash.  

   

If you need to create content for your business, but don’t know where to start, AC Marketing Caribbean has the start and finish line fully mapped out. We’re committed to helping you achieve your company growth objectives in the Caribbean! Attract a bigger audience, increase your conversion rates, and make content marketing your biggest business superpower today.   

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