If you ask someone from the Caribbean about their mother they’ll probably tell you that they learnt how to bootstrap a company by watching her make something out of nothing; taking care of them and their siblings on an inconceivably small salary but I believe the thing they enjoy best about their Caribbean mom is her special way of saying things.

Caribbean moms have a special way of saying things. They have a special way of giving warnings and advice. They’ll have you rolling in laughter amidst serious matters. They say things like no one else can.

On this note, here are 4 pieces of entrepreneurial advice inherent in your Caribbean Mommy’s phrase:


Doh Hang Your Hat Where Yuh Hand Cyah Reach

You may have heard your Caribbean mom make reference to this phrase several times and it was usually when she was giving advice about the management of your finances or when you were about to over extend yourself for the cause of another. In other words, live within your means. Don’t position yourself to do what you cannot do.

This is sound advice especially when you’re building a company on a tight budget. There are times when you’ll need to invest to grow your company but be careful to grow your company at a pace that doesn’t overextend you or position you to do what you cannot do.

Sometimes we become so excited about immediate growth that we find ourselves in a position that calls for us to do what we cannot afford to do. This only produces stress and frustration. Listen to Mommy. Do hang your hat where yuh hand cyah reach.


One One Cocoa Full Basket

When little things add up they become one great thing. Consistency in the little things result in greatness. Be patient in doing the little things because they contribute to greatness. Don’t rush the process.

Entrepreneurs are visionaries. They start ventures with a particular end goal in mind. They know what they want their companies to become. They know what their companies should look like in 2-3 years. For many, when the end goal vision is not yet realized they find themselves frustrated and incognizant of the value of the little steps that will take them there.

According to Mummy, “one one cocoa full basket” so enjoy the journey.  Be patient and celebrate the small successes.


Not Every Skin Teeth Is Smile

Partnerships and collaborations are super important. They can make your company but they can also break your company. The result is dependent on the types of partnerships and collaborations that you find yourself embroiled in.

Many young Caribbean entrepreneurs have found themselves in positions where someone they looked up to or looked for assistance from broke their companies. They felt that these people would have their best interests at heart but would find out in a painful way that they didn’t.

Everyone who befriends you does not necessarily have your best interest at heart. Everyone who is pleasant to you doesn’t like you. As an entrepreneur it becomes important to look out for your company’s interests and to filter out the good and the bad.

This is not to say, “trust no one”. This is to say, ‘Trust, but verify because Not Every Skin Teeth is Smile.”


You See It Yellow and Think is Butter

If you’re from Saint Lucia or Dominica, say this phrase in Kweyol. Anyhoo…

All things are not as they seem. This is a call to take a second look at things; to examine all things carefully.

As entrepreneurs it is important for us to be opportunistic people. It is important to be able to capitalize on an opportunity during the life of that opportunity. But it is also important to examine every opportunity carefully.

On the surface it may seem that you’re being offered an opportunity of a lifetime. However, when you look more deeply you may find that the opportunity comes attached with certain strings.

Don’t be too hasty to take on a huge client. Don’t be too hasty to take on that HUGE government contract that could take your business to the next level. Examine contracts. Read the fine print. Make sure that it is indeed butter.


Share with us some of your Caribbean mom’s phrases and how you think they apply to entrepreneurship.