Island Businesses Succeed with Strong Strategies and Partnerships


Are the rules for successful island entrepreneurs different from the rules for entrepreneurs globally?

I don’t think so. People often tell me that you have to evaluate island entrepreneurs by different criteria, but based on our experience with the Fish 2.0 competition for sustainable seafood businesses, that is not true. We have many small-scale companies competing against large-scale companies, and we find that basic business and sustainability rules apply in all cases.

Island businesses have the potential to deliver great positive impact for their communities. Some of those businesses will stay within their island’s borders and others will expand globally. The criteria for judging potential in both cases are the same, because every business needs a sound growth strategy. The trick with island businesses is ensuring that the strategy is relevant to the island context. This point came into focus for me when reading a new paper, “Business and Family in Micronesia,” outlining what it takes to succeed in Micronesia.

“The issue of family obligations versus good business practice comes up over and over again in Micronesia,” writes C. L. Cheshire, senior business development manager at the Pacific Business Center Program, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. “One hears about it when a business owner complains of having to give family as well as non-family members ‘credit,’ otherwise they will shop someplace else. Loan officers at the bank hear about it when a borrower cannot make his or her loan payment because money from the business was used to pay for a relative’s trip to Hawaii or a family member’s medical bills. The conflict between family obligations and standard business practices also shows up in personnel matters.”

This is true of most small-community cultures, but it doesn’t have to stall business growth. Cheshire interviewed owners of successful Micronesian businesses and found that a —> Read More