WEDNESDAY WOMAN: Building own business after setback
ABOUT A YEAR AGO, Cherie Greaves became an entrepreneur, setting up not one, but two businesses.
The decision to branch out on her own was driven by a change in her working circumstances after a 25-year career in banking. The unit she managed was restructured and she had the choice of working in a different capacity or using what she learned over the years to start her own business.
“I found myself at a juncture in my life where I wanted to make a determination on if I wanted to work for somebody else or for myself,” she told the MIDWEEK NATION.
Greaves said she did not want to return to the job market and find herself struggling to find employment. As the head of the department that did recoveries, foreclosures, debt collection and property management, Greaves decided that she would start a company, Probity Management Services, in that field. She would also use her love for fashion to start an additional business, Hottglam, a clothing store in Speightstown.
The transition from employee to employer started from the day the meeting was held to inform Greaves of the changes to her department.
“When they asked me how do I feel, I said, ‘you cannot fault the doctor for his medicine’,” she recalled.
“It was the reality of the situation, so from the time we had that conversation my mind was churning about where am I going and what am I going to do outside of this little box.”
With the confidence that she had enough knowledge and experience to work for herself, Greaves decided she would use the relationships she had developed to go out on her own.
“One thing I knew was that nobody was ever going to come and drop a bomb like that in my lap again,” she said.
As a result, she was enthusiastic from the outset about starting a new chapter in her life and has not looked back since.
Next year Greaves wants to get the businesses in Speightstown together to work on developing the area. She was born a stone’s throw away from the town and has a love for the area, whose standing as a commercial centre has fallen in recent years.
“I know what the commercial activity in Speightstown could be like,” she said. “I do not believe and I do not join the bandwagon who says that Speightstown is dead.”
She said the way the area was viewed became even more apparent when she went to the bank to open an account for her business. “The bank officer was like, ‘you worked in the banking sector, why are you going to Speightstown that does not do business?’ If everybody has that attitude Speightstown will never do business,” she said.
Greaves’ view is that the town’s business operators have not worked together and made the area what it has the potential to be. “I firmly believe that if we come together we can only get better,” she said.
The effort also called for help from the authorities, she said, citing Speightstown Sizzling, a successful initiative of the Barbados Tourism Product Authority.
“I think the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, Fund Access, Small Business Association need to get their field officers into Speightstown and work with the business owners. It is not saying you are asking for a handout, but it is a partnership,” she said.
For the year and a few months she has been in business, Greaves said, the approach she took to working for herself was the same she had in her job; she puts in long hours but this time it is not to build someone else’s business but her own.
Greaves said she wanted to work as a mentor to encourage young people to make themselves as marketable as possible because people want to see the certification and experience does not count.
It was somewhat different when she entered the job market.
“From my experience and the environment I was in, you would find that persons who entered the workforce in the 70s the 80s and maybe even the early 90s they went into jobs coming out of schools, some with just the basic A level and O level,” she said.
The thinking at that time, she said, was that you got a job and worked your way up, so many people worked long hours and there was no time for university or formal education that would put them in good standing outside of their workplaces.
Greaves also wants to be a resource person to share with young entrepreneurs what they can do to make their businesses successful.
“I find a lot of people are losing their jobs and they think that it means they are lost. I want them to understand that it means let us be creative and not be dependent on people. We are being taken over by foreign entities and I think it is because Barbadians have moved away from key concepts of working hard to achieve what they want.”