I am really excited that a lot of our friends are jumping into entrepreneurship. It gives me a very warm feeling. I want to literally HUG all of you for being brave in leaving the security and comfort of monthly paid employment and jumping into the uncertain world of entrepreneurship.
As exciting and as exhilarating as it feels, here are some words of caution that we have learned the hard way during all these years. Hopefully these would help you:
- Keeping up with the Joneses: Before my then fiancé – now my husband – started our first business together, we both had a few hard earned millions each in our bank accounts. We spent a great deal of our money in representation expenses, and yes, keeping up with the Joneses. Our mistake was, we have never put these representation expenses in our company books, even though many of the expenses were spent for growing the business.
We were so caught up in our excitement and in our hunger to be successful that we tried to keep with the lifestyle of the people we met. Yes, building a network in the Philippines is one of the keys to survival of your business. There’s a saying: “It’s not just what you know. It’s also who you know.” Sometimes you will need help to open doors for you. Simply having a great product will not cut it. There are hundreds, if not millions of “great” products out there!
Before we knew it, we were down to a few hundred thousands. So friendly reminder – do not try to keep up with the Joneses! No matter how much success they project, there are always stories behind it. And you never really know. There may be sacrifices that were made for them to reach that status and most likely you need to make the same sacrifices as well. So keep your feet on the ground. Focus on your own success. One thing we learned – people would respect you for who you are, for your values, for what you stand for, for your timeliness, for your professionalism, for your honesty – and not for the car you drive, or the branded bags that you carry, or the watch that you wear. Do not try to impress people.
- Control your costs and expenses: Having a projected financial statement is always good. Try to compute how much will be your overhead expenses. And compute how much revenue you need to cover all your expenses. When we say expenses, it includes every business related expense – administrative, operational, packaging, product costs, PR and marketing, and others. No matter how small the expense, as long as you spend it for the business, it is an expense and must be recorded. Do this diligently! Do not try to gather all your receipts and tell yourself, “I will do our accounting tomorrow.” Come tomorrow, you will say – “ok tomorrow, I’m busy today.” Get it done because numbers will not lie. It will give you the real picture of your business. If you do not know how to do it, get someone who does, and have it done. It is for the health of your own business.
- Have systems: When we were in the early months of one of our businesses, one of our ‘trusted’ employees pilfered almost a million worth of inventories from us. We did not have a system in place then. Have a system in place! It does not have to be an expensive system. It can be a manual system or simple computerized system – whatever works for you.
- Make a sale!!! And we always say this. A sale is not a sale until you collect the money! It’s all just expenses if you cannot collect. Watch your sales versus your expenses. Always make more money than what you are or will be spending.
- And above all, follow your own instincts. Regardless of what others say, when you know deep inside what needs to be done, and what decisions need to be made, do what you know is best for you and your business. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong. But being an entrepreneur means marching to the beat of your own drum. If you fail at least you did it your way. Charge it to experience and learn valuable lessons.
We genuinely wish all our friends SUCCESS. There will be sleepless nights. There will be lots of downfalls, frustrations, heartaches, uncertainties, self-doubts, moments that you’ll be wanting to give up and moments when you will question yourself and your sanity. These are all important lessons to reach your calling and purpose. Persevere and be strong!
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