Thursday, September 24, 2015

What Can T&T Small Retailers Do To Survive The Oil Crisis?

It’s Time To Get Smarter Or Die

Hard times are coming.   Small business owners in Trinidad and Tobago and eventually the Caribbean must prepare.   Street vendors feel it first. One vendor who operated for years in Mayaro reported that she no longer goes to Mayaro.  She sold kids clothing and underwear for men and women, her weekend sales dropped from $6000 a weekend, to about $2000.  That was before the cost of transporting her goods from Chaguanas to Mayaro.  She did what vendors do best; she moved her business to Tunapuna.

Let’s face it if you are a small business owner and you think that the oil crisis will not affect you, then you should get your head examined.  You are crazier than Crazy.   Today, in the back of every small business owner’s mind are two questions.

1.       How will the low oil prices affect my business?
2.       What can I do to prepare?

Let’s answer the first question.  T&T lavish economy has been supported by the Energy Sector for the last 25 to 30 years.  A lot less foreign exchange will come into the country’s monetary system.  Less foreign exchange  means that first the country will be stretched to pay  the high food import bills, high ticket foreign products like automobiles will be a thing of the past.  A lack of foreign exchange may even affect carnival. 

The reality is that 80 percent of our goods come from foreign.  It is only a matter of time before the supplies we now have are depleted.  At that point if supplies cannot be replaced locally, the business is in trouble.  Simultaneously, consumer demands will be for more essential goods and services.  Consumers will start making lifestyle adjustments for the lean times.  This will immediately affect the bottom line of most retailers with foreign good. 

It is only a matter of months before symptoms will start appearing.  Stores will begin to close their
doors, some with the hope of opening again when the economy recovers.  You could expect a mad dash to sell old stock.  We have a perfect example with our neighbor, Venezuela.  First you will see huge sales in an attempt to reduce inventory.  Small retailers will make desperate efforts to recover their  investments; to turn it into liquid cash.   Some will take their losses with a lot less fanfare; one day, you will see a sign on the door; “Out of Business”.

What Can Small Business Owners Do?

Let’s start with what we know.  We know that…

1 The economy will take a downturn in the near future.  Evidence is the plummeting price of oil and the uncertainty of the new government being able to manage without increasing taxes and changing regulations that could possibly affect small businesses.

2,  The Budget: Our new government led by Prime Minister Keith Rowley have PNMManefesto  Here       

prepared a detail manifesto which, since winning, became the government‘s policy for the way forward.  The Manifesto presents a strategy to get goods and services to the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.  As a business owner, view the Manifesto to see where the dollars will go and how it will affect you.  Especially, read the section on Trade and Industry.  You can see where the emphasis will be placed in the next five years. 

3 Consumer Demand determines what sells.  If you do not provide an essential product or service your business will be the first to feel the reduction in spending power.   People will take care of their survival needs before spending money on none essentials.  

 At this point, we do not know if our government will have to go begging, cap in hand, to the IMF with promises of self imposed austerity.   

But here is the reality.  As small business owners in a small country, we know that what the government does affect the country, it will affect everyone, not just you.  The difference is what you do in your business to ride out the upcoming economic downturn.  You can wait until you it hits you or start preparing now.

First think strategically, answer these questions.

·         Where are you in terms of your business? 
·         What are your profitable products or services? 
·         How profitable are they?
·         What is the turnover rate of your inventory? 
·         How can you manage without foreign exchange?

At this point, the relationship you have with foreign suppliers will be crucial to your survival.  The predictions are that oil prices will stay low for the next 2 years.  Can your business survive for two years without foreign exchange? 

It could, if you prepare. 

There are a lot of questions you need to answer about your inventory and profitability.  Most retail business owners carry a variety of retail items unaware of the profitability of each.   Inventory is a major expense to any retail business, control this and you will control a significant part of your business.

Start with an inventory audit

Count and cost every item of inventory.  Date inventory, the intention is to know what you have and to consider drastically reducing the price of stale inventory.  This will be harder to do when demand falls.   

Second, you need to figure out what it takes to operate lean.  Lean, meaning; what will it take for you to operate at the barest minimum cash flow and investments?  Fixed expenses like rent/lease are untouchable but you may be able to shave off small savings by examining your phone, and other utilities.  Your biggest savings however will come from examining your operating expenses such your employee’s compensation.

Employee payroll represents a significant recurring expense to the business.  This may be your last resort but your preparation should consider each position.  You may discover redundancy that can be assigned to another employee with increased compensation.  Alternatively, you can adjust the working hours to focus on periods where activity peaks.  For example, instead of opening the store at 8 AM open at 10 AM saving two hours or introduce part time work if there is a need to hold on to dedicated employees.  Each man hour you save will reduce your expenses by the number of employees you currently have.

The worst thing you can do is stick your head in the sand and say you are not in the oil business;  oil fuels your business.  Here’s why it is important to you.

The writing is on the wall for those who want to see.  It says that we are headed for turbulent times. As small business owners we need to be proactive, ride the waves or wait on them to crash into your business.  

While you still can access foreign exchange, you may want to consider cutting cost by making arrangements with your regular suppliers to make purchases online instead of flying to Miami or New York City. 

It does not matter if you are a retailer specializing in specific goods like ladies shoes, men’s clothing, electronics, cell phones, furniture or you carry a large variety of merchandise; you need to prepare. 
Retail stores are built on the idea that the more you have the more you are able to sell.  It is also true that the more you have the more you end up losing.  Each inventory piece was cold hard cash. 

One of the biggest mistakes small retailers make is to rely on hope.  They hope customers will visit
them tomorrow.  Most never  build a database of their customers.  Knowing and being able to communicate with your loyal customers is essential to your business.  When hard times hit, that is not the time to think about customer relationship program.  That time is now.


3 Biggest Mistakes Retailer Make and How to Avoid Them

Monday, September 21, 2015


This article is a reprint of an article plucked from an email.  After you read it you will understand why I had to reprint it here.  

It resonates with a previous article I wrote entitled  Is The Chinese Colonizing The Caribbean? and another that ask Why Are The Chinese Spying On Caribbean Children?

By Paul Ifayomi Grant

Have you ever received money from a Chinese person for anything other than them making change for you? No, is the answer I have been receiving when asking this question as part of an informal survey to Black People. The follow up question is, "Have you ever given money to a Chinese person?" The answer invariably is yes. This imbalance of give and take is reflective of the consciousness of Black people and consequently our relationship with ourselves and others. 

There is a reason why every Black Ghetto has a Chinese food restaurant, but there are no Soul Food restaurants in Chinatown. In fact, the most popular Soul Food restaurant in Harlem, New York on 135th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard is owned and operated by a Chinese family. Again, there are no Soul Food restaurants in Chinatown and there certainly is no Chinese Food restaurant in China town owned and operated by a Black family. If a Black person tried, the business would be shut down, before it started. Why? Economic Violence. 

Every group of people understands practices and strategically utilizes the concept of economic violence, except Black people. In fact the economic violence that we, as Black people, practice is economic violence against ourselves. Economic violence is the art and science of using the exchange of money for goods and/or services as an aspect of ethnic warfare, survival and prosperity. The Chinese will not support a Black business over their own, because they are not interested in ethnic suicide. 

The Chinese are logical, as self preservation is the most basic of human instincts. So not only will a Chinese person not support a Black business over a Chinese business, they take it one step further and plant their business in a Black community and implement plans to take Black people's money. This ideological posture is pure and scientific economic violence. Replace Chinese with any other ethnic group besides Black, and the picture becomes clearer. 

The above is not a condemnation of Chinese, Korean, Arab or white businesses at all. It is a condemnation of Black people who have forgotten The Honorable Marcus Garvey's mantra of "Race First." Every ethnic group has mastered this concept except Black people. It is in my interest to come from a powerful people. Therefore, my interest is committing economic violence on behalf of Black people. 

That means purchasing a Black person's service or product "first" before I purchase any other ethnic group or race's service or product. Have you committed economic violence on your behalf or against yourself today? If you are a Black person reading this, I am sure that you are familiar with the notion of, "I just want the best product or service for my money and a lot of times, Black folks just isn’t up to par." 

My response is, 

1) If that's your attitudinal posture, then do not get mad if people don't patronize your Black business (product or service) for fear of deficiencies. 

2) Since when has the uncleanliness of a Chinese food restaurant stopped you from buying a to-go order of shrimp fried rice, or the messiness of an Arab or Indian corner-store, gas station or bodega stopped you from purchasing those pork rinds you love and a soft drink.

 Have you committed economic violence on your behalf or against yourself today? 

Black people: Due to our lack of economic militarism, we are losing the fight for economic independence. That's why everyone and I mean everyone, "bangs" on Black people. All ethnic groups gain their financial strength in America by economically banging on Black people. This is how white people became wealthy in this world. 

The European transatlantic slave trade of kidnapping millions of Africans as Prisoners of War was the biggest gang bang of all time. Chattel and plantation slavery was a continuation of this policy of economic violence. Since then, we have been left open to economic attack by every ethnic group that makes it to America. 

Nothing has really changed, because the relationship between slave and slave-master is still the same. Tastes, Interests and Values: Stop Eating Pizza, You're not Italian The first step in perpetuating economic violence against a people is to change their tastes, interests and values to the tastes, interests and values of the invading culture. 

Tastes, interests and values are the sole determinative factors in the decision to purchase a service or product. This is extremely important as all products and services spring from a cultural landscape. Here are some extremely basic examples to illustrate my point: 

(1) An overwhelming amount of people in America, purchase turkey on the third week of November, every single year. The turkey is an imperative for a Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is a white cultural holiday designed to celebrate white conquest and genocide of the native American population, but is masked as a day of family togetherness and thanks. The people who own turkey farms are white poultry farmers. They are the direct economic beneficiaries of the values of this particular cultural holiday. If native American and Black people were the owners of turkey farms, you can bet your last dollar that turkey would not be a requirement of that holiday. White people understand economic violence and under no circumstance would they allow anyone other than whites to benefit from a white holiday. 

(2) This is the same reason why U.S. federal, state and municipal government cars must be American cars. They understand economic violence. Have you committed economic violence on your behalf or against yourself today? 

(3) Selling beef to Hindus won't work. The Hindu religion absolutely forbids the killing of cows as the cow is sacred to them. Therefore selling beef products to this crowd is not economically feasible. 

However, if you are able to convert the Hindus away from their religion into say, Christianity, you would have not just brought a new group of people to the priest or the pastor on Sunday, but a new group of people to McDonalds and Burger King, because their tastes, interests and values concerning cows would have changed.

 A further examination of tastes, interests and values reveal that once you adopt or are coerced into perpetuating the tastes, interests and values of another group of people you will not only be committing economic violence against yourself but you will be committing violence against your health.

 Example 1: In Hawaii, over 50 percent of native adults 40 years old or more were diagnosed with diabetes. The Hawaiians are a Polynesian people who have for centuries flourished on a local diet of vegetables and fruits from their land. After the U.S. invasion and displacement of the Hawaiian Queen Liliuokalani, the tastes, values and interests of native Hawaiians were changed to the tastes of white people. Hawaiians began eating Hamburgers, Pizza, etc. and became zombies of American fast foodism and forgot about their traditional foods. Something interesting happened: 

Disease in the form of Diabetes. Diabetes was never a problem for Hawaiians until their tastes were changed. In effect, Hawaiians were funding their Diabetes. A Hawaiian doctor trained in western medicine and traditional healing sciences went on a crusade to save her people from Diabetes. She did not prescribe insulin-controlled by white pharmaceutical companies, which is a band-aid to the real problem, but she prescribed a traditional Hawaiian diet and forbade her patients to eat European made food.

 As her patients ate green leaves, fruits and root food vegetables from the place where they evolved, their diabetes was wiped out completely. Additionally, in this manner, Hawaiian farmers benefit from the purchase of food grown on their own land, thereby restoring economic and physical health simultaneously. Example 2: I was at a supermarket in Miami, Florida buying a yam. Not a sweet potato, but a real yam, brown and hard. The cashier was Black and said, "What's that, a turnip?" I was startled and had a serious epiphany. 

Black people have been so oppressed in America, that we do not even recognize our own ancestral foods. The implications again are self inflicted economic and physical violence (dis-ease).A major disease that affects Black Americans is Sickle Cell Anemia. However, this disease does not affect Black people in Africa nearly as much. 

The reason: The shifting of tastes, interests, and values much like the Hawaiian example. The sickle cell trait is a trait that helps Africans fight off malaria. The sickling of the red blood cell helps prevent the malaria parasite from binding to the cell due to the peculiar shape of a sickled cell and its hemoglobin. Since Black Americans are literally from West Africa, they have this trait just like any other West African. 

The difference is the West African diet contains root foods from the Africans soil like cassava and yam. Studies by Nigerian researcher, Dr. OgiAgbaihave, shown that thiocynate in cassava and yam and their leaves alleviate the symptoms of Sickle Cell Anemia.

Black Americans do not eat cassava or true yams, so Sickle Cell Anemia is rampant. Instead, Black Americans have been forced to develop a taste for everything other than African root food, therefore the dis-ease is present. Disease is defined as imbalance. 

When a person or a people have tastes, interests and values outside of who they really are, all types of imbalances occur such as economic and physical health balances. Recalibrating a Black American diet from chitlins and fried chicken back to a West African diet of plantains, cassava, yams, etc., will create a necessary economic balance by supporting African commodities markets and enriching personal, group economic and physical health simultaneously. 

Have you committed economic violence today? 

The Opium Wars: There is Nothing You Have That We want in China. In studying economic violence, tastes interests and values, a cursory discussion on the Opium Wars is extremely important. Please note that major wars occur due to the addictions of Europeans. 

Today, there is a war in Iraq, due to the European addiction to oil. In the 19th century, the Opium wars between Britain and China were due to the British addiction to tea. The Chinese have an ancient tradition of drinking tea as part of their daily ritual. The British developed this custom due to the travels of many European "explorers" who successfully made it over to Asia. By the 19th century, tea became a staple of the British, particularly the middle class and ruling class. The British imported all of their tea from China. In a short amount of time, there was a huge trade imbalance between Britain and China in favor of China. The British paid China for their tea with gold. 

Soon, the British became nervous as their gold reserves were being depleted. However, the British population's taste for tea was insatiable and there would have been riots if the British population was deprived of their tea. In response to the economic violence that Britain was suffering at the hands of China, British leaders arranged a meeting with Chinese leaders. 

The British wanted to stop trading tea for gold. They told the Chinese that they would trade anything else that Britain produced for the Chinese tea. The Chinese response was laughter as the Chinese retorted, "There is nothing that you have that we want." The British were stunned as they took this as an offense to their way of life and their plans to keep their gold. 

The British went back to Britain and decided to pump opium into China. The opium was to be traded for gold in China, and thereby getting the gold back into British hands. In addition, the British took lands from the Indian subcontinent for two purposes: 1) for growing the poppy plant for opium to facilitate their drug trade and 2) for growing various other plants for tea so that trading tea with China would be obsolete. In fact, today one of the most famous tea names is Ceylon tea. Ceylon is the former British colonial name for the country in the Indian sub-continent now named Sri Lanka.

One day, in 1839, the Chinese seized a ship off of its shores containing tons of opium. The Chinese rightfully seized the ship as opium was illegal in China and anyone caught with opium was given the death penalty. The British declared the Chinese seizure of their ship as an act of war, and hence the initiation of the Opium wars which were from 1839-1842 and 1856-1860 between Britain and China.

The Chinese have never forgotten the economic war with Europeans and the implications are felt today. Consequently, the Chinese have nuclear weapons, the largest standing army in the world and Europe and America as debtors in trade. Their major strength has been maintaining their own tastes, interests and values and the ability to look at Europeans in the face and say, "There is nothing that you have that we want." Black people, can we say the same? The reason why we have been in trouble as a race for so long is our unrelenting taste for things European.

Remember, African prisoners of war (slaves) were traded for white commodities like European processed rum, spare parts and European textiles.

Have you committed economic violence today?

*Slavery and the Value of Labor: Adam Smith*

Adam Smith was an economic philosopher from England and considered the patron saint of European Capitalist thought. He was also an opponent of the enslavement of Africans in America and Europe. However, he was not opposed to our enslavement for moral or noble reasons. He was opposed to slavery because he thought it was inefficient in the capitalist world. 

He believed Africans should be paid for our labor so that we could buy European goods. That was his sole argument. He didn't like the idea that such a large population could not be consumers because slaves were not allowed the ability to earn money. What does this mean? It means that the only reason why it was acceptable for you and I to not be enslaved is so that we could feed the economic system of white supremacy better and more efficiently. 

And what are Black people now? The biggest one dimensional pure consumers the world has ever seen. The slavery relationship is still the same. If you work a job that pays you ten dollars per hour and you pay $150.00 to Tommy Hilfiger for his jeans, you have effectively given 15 hours of your labor to Tommy Hilfiger. 

You worked 15 hours for him. When are you going to work for yourself and your people, by purchasing Black goods and services with your labor hours? Tommy Hilfiger and company don't even have to whip us anymore to turn over our labor to him. He is still economically violent, and we are still bleeding. Lesson: In your economic life, if you are not buying from your own people first, then you are committing suicide on many levels and enlisting for slavery and zombification. 

Buy Black with no apology and if you have to buy from others, try to make sure it's a bootleg. Never pay full price for anything from others-especially those who have historically and continue to benefit from your underdevelopment. For in fact, our relationship is dialectical to our oppressors.

Their development is dependent on our underdevelopment. Have you committed economic violence /self-hate today?

Friday, September 18, 2015

FREE: Get More Customers With This Product Creation Tool

Make and Sell Your Own Products

First before we get too much into the reasons for an information product lets answer this question.

What is an information product?

Information products comes in many formats, all with the capability of delivering useful information to the receiver.

So in infromation products can come in the form of books, reports, articles, white or green papers and in fact in any written document.  Information products can also come in the form of audio files like a CD, video files DVDs or even in the form of documentaries.  These are all information products. The written documents are no

As you already know a item becomes a product when a price is attached to it.

Ok, so now that you know what an information product is; why should you consider getting an information product for your business?

Here are 3 good reasons why having an information product is essential to any business. .

1.      Investment: There is very little or no investment in creating an information product. It does require some research, but if you know your market already you will know why they are choosing your product.  The information product will inform your new prospects about your product or service. In other words it will cost you next to nothing to have an information product for your business.

2.       Differentiator:  Still in this day and age, most businesses never take the time to articulate what makes them different from their competitors.  An information product will be the perfect vehicle develop an information product that their prospect would appreciate.  Providing your customers with an information product about your business differentiates you from your competitors.

3.       Profit Builder:  An information product is useful for prospect that is not in the buying stage but seriously considering and waiting for some condition or event to occur.  An information product is a soft way to sell a potential prospect.

 As a business owner, seriously consider creating your own information product. 

Today you can get an information product creator that makes it so easy; the instructions are step by step.  Anyone can put together an information product in less than 30 minutes. 

This product come in the form of a pdf file but you will get access to 7 videos that explains how it is done one step at a time.  The best part is that it’s free.  

Help me share this article, use the social links below.

Snappy Product Creation

Enter Your Email Here Get This Free Tool

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

General Elections 2015 Results


For a short time during the counting of votes the UNC had the lead in the number of seats but when all the votes were counted, they were 5 seats behind the PNM.

Thank God.

This is how it looks...

Daily News Head Lines

Trinidad Express 

Kamla Swept Out of Office

Jack - I succeeded in ousting Kamla

PNM Anxiety and Joy In Tunapuna

Trinidad Newsday

Rowley Reigns

Prime Minister of All

Trinidad Guardian

PNM Does It

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Unbelievable! Are UNC Candidates Paying For Votes?

NO, NOBODY is that stupid. Double negee?

Like Ripley's Believe it or not, you will not believe it. You have heard people talk about paying for votes but you still don't believe it.  

Personally, I could not believe that any genuine political party in a free country with a democratically elected government will allow paying for votes.  

Let's face it, some utterances on the TV, radio or read it in the newspaper are plain out lies or so unbelievable it makes you very skeptical .  

Well, now I can actually say I have experienced one that I have always doubted. .  

Believing it is one thing, understanding why is another.  

Why would a political party in a democracy attempt to pay for votes?

Well maybe it is from a bygone day when the conditions were not the way they are today.  The days when underhanded acts were accepted and with two words "smart man".  T&T as a country has too many educated "smart men". Have we grown beyond those days. We have good smart men and bad smart men. 

Today we have people who put themselves up for political office, people who are or should be inherently a representative of the people in words and deeds. Believe it or not, whoever they are, we are, don't judge them, let God do that. 

But in politics  it's wrong for a political aspirant to pay money under any pretext.  In any other democratic society it would be, and by the way in T&T it is, illegal to pay voters. 

Democratic thinking citizens expect a demonstration of integrity, decency, and tact.  Some do.  In fact, you would think that even if a politician had no scruples, at the very least, he would be careful of the people he approach with his offer.  

Why would a politician do something that immediately marks him as being of questionable character?   It does not make sense.

Talking about sense that reminds me of a letter making the social media rounds about T&T recently appointed Sports Minister and UNC candidate for Sangre Grande;  More questions than answers: read about it here. 

Back to the vote for money.  A good friend came to me a couple of days ago.  I know his political views, we grew up together, he is 100% PNM; he's not fanatical but a supporter.  He walks up to me and says in a way only a Trini could say.....

"I jess geh ah bag ah money”,  showing me a black bag.

I looked at the bag, I did not believe it.  The size of the bag was too big, if it was money it had to be a lot. 

“Yeah, how much is it? I asked.

He laughed. “Feel nah” he teased. Handing me the bag. 

I felt it, it felt like money, he really had my attention now.

“Lemme see it? where did you get it?” I shot him a double barrel question.  

He laughed again. with a toothy grin he let it out; “I geh it from the local UNC representative here, she tell me is the new candidate from __________ who send it for me”.

“No”, I muttered not knowing what to say.  It is as if I had walked into a room ans saw a man floating in air without any means of suspension.  It slaps your belief.  Is democracy is always democratic?

“Yes” he insisted, "He send it for me".

It never entered my imagination that a new candidate, one who has never been in government would attempt to subvert the law to such an extent to get into office.  Lord, put a hand here, and while I am thinking this, he added.

“Dey sey it eh political” 

“OK”, I responded recovering from the dope slap.  "How much is it?” I asked.

“Four hundred"

My next question to him was. “So who you voting for?”

“PNM, yuh think I go refuse hard cash, right now ef dey wont ah go wear ah yellow shut; if ah geh more cash.  Ah go do it, even if dey want to owe.  Dat eh enough money to get me to vote UNC boi, dem crazy”  Express Article on payment to wear jerseys.

Proof, buying votes DOES NOT work.  Maybe it would for short sighted, people who feel some sort of obligation to vote because they are paid.  It will work on people who don’t care about the future of the country and only see the quick dollar and nothing else.  It did not work in this case. 

The funny thing is, there are so many people who will vote for a party because they believe in the party, not in the performance, just the party.  The UNC has made too many, missteps for anyone not to notice.  This is just another one. 

No politician should ever think of buying votes.  The process is supposed to elect the most popular, let the process work.  

Here are the questions that come to my mind. 

How could someone who want to be perceived as a respectable politician do this?  

Why would his supporters help him do it without understanding what they are doing?  

And the final mystery, why was the money in all $100 bills?

But the most important question is, after this; who would you vote for?  

Yuh doh have to seh nuttin; just vote right. 

The Shrewdest Chinese Company In Trinidad and Tobago

    The Richest Chinese Man in Trinidad and Tobago Riddle, Riddle A Re: How does a Chinese Company, with a majority Chinese workfor...