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Experts urge small businesses to get the fundamentals right

 Tax and marketing experts are urging small business to get the fundamentals right in the start-up and early phase of their businesses.
This, the experts said, enables entrepreneurs to access financing and other technical support, as their business grows.

Speaking at a seminar hosted by JMMB Bank, at its Knutsford Boulevard branch in New Kingston recently, tax expert, Merrick Saddler of Taxwise, highlighted two key areas of taxation that affect all small businesses, namely income tax and general consumption tax (GCT).

He said it is critical for entrepreneurs to understand basic taxation principles, as “ignorance of the various taxes laws does not exempt them (entrepreneurs) from being liable for payment of the applicable taxes.”

Saddler pointed out that good record-keeping of the relevant documents,  such as invoices, banking transactions, receipts, and using good accounting principles to manage expenditure and income, can assist entrepreneurs to more accurately determine the amount of tax payable to the relevant authorities.

This clear financial management is essential, against the background of the self-reporting approach used by the tax administration in Jamaica, whereby the burden is placed on the business owner to pay the relevant tax.

He further urged entrepreneurs to “separate personal expenses and income from business-related ones”.

In explaining the principle of income tax, the tax consultant outlined that this is applicable to all disbursements and expenses wholly and exclusively incurred in acquiring or generating the income for the business. Cautioning that personal property that is used by business owners for dual purposes could not be attributed as a business expense. The following income tax deductions, however, were outlined by Saddler for all small businesses: national insurance scheme (NIS), education tax and National Housing Trust (NHT).


Communication consultant and managing director of DRT Communications, Danielle Terrelonge, in sharing key pointers to scale-up their businesses, highlighted a few marketing fundamentals, noting, “Be clear what you want to achieve for your business, then align your marketing objectives to achieve these one or two business goals.”

Terrelonge emphasized the need for small businesses to understand their target audience and be deliberate in choosing the best channels to speak with them, and not simply set up a plethora of social media pages. 

Instead, “identify a few initiatives that align with your business objectives, which speak to your target audience, and focus on those, refining the initiatives as needed,” was the word of advice shared by the communication guru. Adding “there is no success in life if there is no measurement. This will help (you) to determine whether or not you have met your business objective”.

Access to Financing and Technical Support

The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), during a recent editorial forum, outlined that despite the financing opportunities provided, micro, small, medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) “lack the capacity to undertake sound financial management”.

Against this background, the JMMB Group and the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) used the occasion to share insight about capacity-building and financing opportunities and guidelines they offer respectively, to assist small businesses to overcome the challenges identified, and open doors to access financing.


Shani Duncan-Falconer, senior corporate manager, JMMB’s SME Resource Centre, introduced the supporting services and expertise available to the budding entrepreneurs, through the recently-launched JMMB SME Resource Centre and JMMB Bank.

Duncan-Falconer detailed a range of resources that these entrepreneurs could take advantage of, through the SME Resource Centre, including: financial opportunities, through grant funding; expertise in business plan writing, creation of financial statements;  access to other resources, such as the Branson Centre’s online learning platform; and mentoring.   

Development Bank of Jamaica representative, Kerry-Ann Parker, also detailed the financing solutions provided by her organization for SMEs, including: technical vouchers, for capacity building services; grants and loans with partial guarantee, to help SMEs to access financing from commercial institutions; and venture funding.

Parker also emphasized the need for SMEs to have the necessary documentation in place, open a business account and develop a solid track record, as these play a key role in the assessment process of entrepreneurs, by the DBJ, in offering financing solutions, in collaboration with the various commercial banks, including JMMB Bank.

The JMMB Bank-hosted seminar is in line with the company’s financial inclusion and integrated financial partnership approach. 

 As part of its strategy, the JMMB Group intends to add value to its small business clients through the provision of the financial partnership, resources, innovative financial solutions and a network, throughout these businesses’ life cycles; thereby providing necessary support for the growth in the sector, and filling the gaps that currently exist in the financial sector.