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Sacrifice for success
Posted: Sunday, April 5, 2009

By Derren Joseph
April 05, 2009

A couple of weeks back, I did a piece on entrepreneurism that generated some interesting feedback. Two people in particular, my father Hayden and Peter Salvary, suggested that it is an issue that should be examined more deeply.

Within the context of Vision 2020, many agree that the continued nurturing of innovative people is key to our sustainable development. What I enjoy doing weekly is identifying people who not just believe that things can be better, but who are actively committed to making things happen. To act and not just talk is not easy.

So I have now decided to chat with some of the entrepreneurs I know to find out what, if anything, makes them different. I also want to get their take on what makes a successful entrepreneur. Last week, I touched base with my friend Darryl Smith who, four years ago, started Advertising Impact ( and six months ago started Trinnovation (

With the tag line–innovative marketing at its best–Advertising Impact promotes alternative forms of advertising. So they enable you to get your message to the customer, other than through traditional channels (press, radio, television). Products include an assortment of marketing collateral (such as showshiners, chargerboys, mobile billboards), and equipment needed for varied types of events. Trinnovation is his most recent start-up, and focuses on products powered by renewable energy, as well as disaster preparedness equipment. Here, his focus is on products that have environmental sustainability in mind. These two businesses employ him and ten staff members, which include his wife, sister and father.

In his early 30s, Darryl spent five years in marketing at G-Tech, where he saw a niche that traditional agencies seemed to have been overlooking. The niche is marketing collateral and equipment for events and marketing campaigns. In order to secure the exclusive rights for some of the key products he identified, he realised that he needed to move quickly to raise capital. So he sold his house. A year later, his wife, Danielle Campbell-Smith, left her job as an attorney at E-Tek to join him at Advertising Impact. The perks of running your own show are clear enough, the independence and freedom primarily.

But with the failure rates being so high, I asked Darryl what were some of the characteristics an entrepreneur must have to succeed. He identified five key ones. Firstly, he said an entrepreneur must be a risk-taker, and secondly, he must believe in the product or service they will be selling. Thirdly, an entrepreneur must have discipline and self-motivation, given how difficult the road is. After all, he says, if it were easy, everyone would be running a successful business.The fourth characteristic is one’s network.

Unless someone is in pure retail (B2C), where you just open a store and wait, you are selling to other businesses (B2B) and that space is primarily driven by relationships. Darryl says that is the one important thing that we were not taught in business school. He maintains that it is difficult to overstate just how important networking is–particularly in Trinidad. Darryl is a member of Queen’s Park Oval Cricket Club, and because he attended both St Mary’s College and Fatima, he taps into both old boys’ networks.

Darryl is also a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and is active in politics in his local constituency–Diego Martin Central. He believes in community work, so he sponsors and coaches football teams in his area. In a society as small as ours, relationships are driven by reputation. So he is careful about keeping his good name. The fifth key characteristic is sacrifice. Remember that Darryl sold his home to start this business. He also reminded me that he and his wife did not play mas this year, either because of some projects that they were working on.

The notion of sacrifice really resonated with me, as I remember some years back at university when I did a thesis on Servol, the key message I got from Fr Pantin was sacrifice. He said one of the main differences between those that achieved what they set out to and those that did not is that those that succeed had an ability to defer gratification–to sacrifice. As always, I end by saying that despite our challenges, we are so blessed to live in this beautiful country. We need to remember and acknowledge just how much uplifting work is being done all around us. Let us continue to have the audacity of hope in our country, as we move towards Vision 2020.

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