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Success secrets of the country's richest

What makes a good businessman? Learn it from the country's richest businessmen.

By: Peter Imbong | Mar 27, 2012 18:00 pm

In business, it all boils down to numbers. But when you’re going for longevity, you need more than just six zeroes. These are the people who have managed to shape the country’s ever-growing business scene and, in turn, the lives of millions of people who buy their products and use their services every day. They do it right.


Entrepreneur Philippines sat down with three business experts—respected business guru Dan Antonio, who is also the president of the Asian Center for Entrepreneurship and Management Education, veteran business journalist Wilson Lee Flores, and Edgardo Rodriguez, dean of the College of Business of Enderun Colleges—to discuss the success secrets of the country’s richest. Read on and learn 25 secrets in order to succeed in this numbers-driven world.


Read Part 2 of this article


1. Start with a great idea
Examples: Edgar Sia II and Tony Tan Caktiong
“Edgar Sia II of Mang Inasal is a great example of someone who possesses a great idea, and then strikes big. The same goes for Tony Tan Caktiong of Jollibee. When Tan Caktiong started Jollibee, McDonald’s wasn’t even in the country yet. That also made them the first mover. And they were also good at it, so they really stuck in the minds of the Filipino. They started as a Magnolia ice cream parlor, but Tony Tan noticed that his hamburgers were selling more than his ice cream. And that ice cream parlor became the first Jollibee in 1975.”—Edgardo Rodriguez, Enderun Colleges

2. Build a strong brand
Example: Edgar Sia II
“There are the common strong brands like SM, but Mang Inasal, for example, is a strong brand even if it’s very young at less than a decade. The perfect role model for building a good brand is Edgar Sia II. His strategy was clean and precise: coming from the province, he had no connections in Manila. His product worked, and then he had an exit strategy.”—Rodriguez

“If you don’t have a strong brand, people will think of you as a generic commodity. In the Philippines, branding is important. But you have to be careful to not make it too high-end and therefore limiting. The middle class is not very big, and the wealthy is very little. You need branding that is very affordable.”—Wilson Lee Flores, The Philippine Star

3. Hire the best people and treat them well
Examples: Henry Sy Sr. and children
“The way Henry Sy’s children—Teresita, Elizabeth, Henry Jr., Hans, Herbert and Harley—are operating the SM Group is very professional in terms of recruiting the right talent. They hire the best people and pay well. These second-generation entrepreneurs have that particular capability. They are professional and they know how to get good people, making sure the company continues to be run well.” —Dan Antonio, Asian Center for Entrepreneurship

4. Don’t be afraid to go your own way
Example: Henry Sy Sr.
“When I was the manager of the Ayala Center in the 1970s, Henry Sy was my biggest tenant at the Makati Commercial Center. He accounted for almost one-fifth of the entire rental income of the Ayala Center. He probably thought, ‘If I developed my own shopping center, I won’t have to pay this. Instead, everybody would have to pay me.’ And he did. SM became big in the shopping center business because it was forced to do it. And with their shopping business turning out to be good, SM became its own anchor for its own shopping center.”—Antonio

5. Take it to the next level
Examples: Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Fernando Zobel de Ayala
“In the case of Ayala Corp., led by patriarch and chairman emeritus Jaime Zobel de Ayala, the sixth generation is already running the business with Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Fernando Zobel de Ayala in the company. Those in the family who are willing to nurture and grow the business further are the ones in charge. And successful business families have exactly done that: taken their businesses to the next level. They were able to transform a very conservative company into something very dynamic, with a heavy component of the business being in technology. Their main business, real estate, is as traditional as you can get. And they are now heavily venturing into information technology. That’s the wave of the future.”—Antonio

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