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Lesson of the First Decade BCC President: Modernize and Diversify

Lessons of the First Decade is a new Guardian Business weekly feature for the month of December that picks the brains of leading figures in the local business community, to get their views on what were some of the most valuable business lessons of the decade as we approach the end of 2010.

Many mark the end of 2010 as the close of the first decade of the 21st Century. The decade had a turbulent beginning, with the destruction of the Straw Market by fire on September 4, 2001. A week later the world stood still as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center fell at the hands of terrorists. During 2010 many economies across the globe tottered on the brink of depression, and still face hurdles for recovery.

As the old saying goes, those who do not learn the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them.Guardian Businessasks leading figures in the business community what are some of the biggest business lessons of the last decade:

Khaalis Rolle, President of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce:

“From a business perspective the biggest lesson is that we should have learned that the old way of doing business died a long time ago, and we should modernize our approach to doing business.

“Our entire approach is old and archaic. By now, there shouldn’t be a question about whether small business people keep good records, whether small business people can go into a bank and properly negotiate terms that are beneficial to their business. That should be something that is standard, and I don’t think it truly is.

“The other is that we need to be structurally prepared to handle external shocks. Unfortunately we are very dependent and reliant on an external economy to drive our economy. We have one big customer and that’s the U.S. for our main product. We need to find far more creative ways to diversify our customer base.

“We have focused so much on the U.S. for a number of things. It’s our largest trading partner in goods and services, and it’s our largest customer for our most dominant product, which is tourism. We have to find ways to diversify and expand that relationship beyond the US. Profitably.”

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