Small businesses vital

Owning a small
business is almost in the blood of Caymanians. Nearly every Caymanian either
owns or has owned a small businesses or has some family member that does or
has. It’s the common dream of many Caymanians, who see owning a small business
not only as an independent way of earning a living, but also as a way of making
their mark on society.

Although there is no
official definition of what constitutes a small business in the Cayman Islands,
even by the most conservative of criteria, the vast majority of businesses here
are small. These small businesses in Cayman create the majority of commerce,
employ the most people and have by far the biggest impact on the economy.

This is why the
Observer on Sunday has decided to dedicate space in its four issues during the
month of September to articles about small businesses in Cayman and the many
challenges they face.

Because of the financial
crisis, many small businesses are in a fight for survival now. The combination
of reduced commerce and increased fees has significantly affected the
profitability of Cayman’s small businesses. Some have already closed their
doors for good while others have had to alter their business model in attempt
to get by until better times return. Businesses owners are working out of their
homes or are using technology in an effort to cut overheads and increase
profitability.

With no real
manufacturing base, many of Cayman’s small businesses provide services of some
sort rather than products. Although this helps keep start-up costs down, it
tends to make Cayman’s small businesses even more reliant on labour.

The challenges
presented by the rollover policy, the increase in work permit fees and the
higher number of out-of-work Caymanians have made it more difficult for small
businesses to recruit, hire and retain the employees they need to be
successful. As a result, more and more businesses are resorting to out-sourcing
certain company functions, sometimes off island. This has helped cause the
first real reduction in population in the Cayman Islands in more than a
half-century, putting further pressure on small businesses.

The articles this
month will delve into the changing dynamics of owning a small businesses and
what various organisations are doing to help ensure the survival of what is
truly the lifeblood of the Cayman economy.

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