LILOs needed in the Caribbean
by Cdr. Bud Slabbaert
Ever heard of LILO entrepreneurship? LILO stands for “a little in, a lot out”. No, no, not “late in– late out”. It’s no joke. ”A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action” fits better in the pattern. The LILO type of entrepreneur does not use business plans and opts for an immediate try-out at minimal expense instead. Self-efficacy and creativity are the typical competencies. Their enterprises are set up with a minimum of start-up capital and are designed to operate at very low costs. The financial risks are low but when successful, the gains are enormous. A little bit of good can turn into a whole lot of great when fueled by commitment.
Entrepreneurs, by their very nature, are usually pioneers and a source of new ideas and innovations. They can be engines for economic growth. They bring new ideas to the market by replacing old ones with ingenuity. Many of today’s biggest brands and companies were initiated by disruptive pioneers. Entrepreneurial leaders and innovative pioneers are often Odd-Balls who lead and are agents of change. They can be a lateral and creative thinker, a maverick, a nonconformist, an individualist. Take your pick. They are willing to take risks as they mess up established ways of doing things in order to introduce new concepts, formats, or models that may be more effective, efficient, or more beneficial.
They possess characteristics that are only found in a very small portion of members of the community. Their entrepreneurship can lead businesses and economies out of problems and dilemmas; not by more of the same, not by regulations, and not by costly studies by reputable consultants or institutions. Entrepreneurial awareness cannot be trained in the same manner that one can be taught management techniques or factual knowledge or a skill in a given line of work. There is no training for becoming an Odd-Ball; life may just be it.
Obviously, the best example of entrepreneurship is the starting of a new business venture. The pioneer is first or among the earliest in any field of enterprise or progress. Glamourous announcements of a new venture or development often lack value. Real value is not what shines on the surface; it is the substance under the surface. Or…, the horsepower under the hood of the car, to say it differently. No horsepower, no pull; no substance, no value! Proven results are what count.
Announcements of new ventures are made on a daily basis and their amazing expectations and breath-taking prospects are presented in such stunning ways that make one’s heartbeat go up. Yet, one doesn’t know whether to refute them or give them a round of applause. Because of the impressive presentations, made by sleek PR specialists, one forgets to ask: “Really?” or let alone “what if?” Is the plan fail-safe? Is there a plan B and so what is it, and what happens if that doesn’t work either? Unfortunately, often the PR stands for Propaganda.
The best true friend of an entrepreneur is the least beloved person who asks tough and nasty questions. An independent thinking individual who pays no respect to who you are, but rather only focuses on what one aims to do and whether that makes sense. Sometimes called the “Devil’s Advocate” who can come over as an annoyance but intends the best. He may be the most valuable test pilot. It is common to surround oneself with followers and people who bring comfort because it feels good. Yet, plans and announcements need to be for real and a sound back-up plan has to be in place. That is what is required in real life and realism. By the way, “Surrealism” is an art form and not a form of doing business. Surrealism can become extremely highly priced if one is a Sothebys auctioneer.
Entrepreneurship is not only crucial in start-ups, but also essential in mature businesses or organizations. One hopes that it would also rub off on government institutions. One can never relax.
Somewhere, someone is always trying to think of improving an activity, at any point along the value chain by a better service, a better method, a better organization, or a better strategy. This is a tough lesson that is particularly hard to accept by persons who believe that they are successful and untouchable anyway. Competition is a fact throughout life, whether one wants to be Miss Universe or the Gourmet Capital of the world.
Just about everyone can be an entrepreneur and has the opportunity to be a pioneer in some way. LILO’s “a little in, a lot out” may be the key. The pioneership spirit is the attitude of thinking and doing things differently from how it used to be done, transform the mind from being a prisoner of the past to becoming a pioneer of the future. It doesn’t need a degree in rocket science. Logic and realistic thinking is something that anyone can exercise with some self-discipline and the will to not just stand up and be someone, but be outstanding and make history for others to write about or talk about.
A pioneering mindset that aims to make a sincere positive impact on the future, be it in business or in society, holds tremendous potential. Research has linked personal success with proactivity and therefore, instead of waiting for an opportunity to find you, brainstorm ways to improve your life or activities. It can be about building a life on your own terms. No bosses. No restricting schedules. And no one holding you back. Greatness in you may be screaming to come out. Hence, let your spirit loose and shoot for the extraordinary as the pioneers did. Act sooner rather than later.
Cdr. Bud Slabbaert is the chairman and coordinator of CARIBAVIA, the Caribbean Aviation Meetup, an annual result and solution-oriented conference for stakeholders of airlift in the Caribbean. Slabbaert’s background is accentuated by aviation business development, strategic communication, and journalism. In accordance with his study of economy in his younger years in Germany, he is authorized to carry the title of “state certified economist”.