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10 time-tested business principles to live by

Ten successful Filipino entrepreneurs share the business principles that brought them to success.
By Jimbo Owen B. Gulle With Marie Anne Fajardo, Kendrick S. Go, Mishell M. Malabaguio, And Tino Pamintuan | compiles business principles that helped these outstanding entrepreneurs drive their business from startup to success.

Learn from these wisdom gems:

1. Be helpful.Patricia Besinga
“Our service is for people who have no idea where to begin after coming up with a product idea. Most startups have budgetary constraints, and because of this they can't purchase the volume orders that most manufacturing facilities require. PLC comes in at this point, helping startups out so they can be relieved of the headaches during the startup phase."

-Patricia Besinga of Prestige Labels Co.


PLC offers startup entrepreneurs a development package costing P100,000. The package "consists of market research, product stability tests, packaging as well as FDA (Food and Drug Administration) registration," managing director Patricia Besinga says.


The development package results in a unique product formulation that is for the exclusive use of the client. The formulation is usually retained by PLC, but clients may purchase it if they want to. They may also get discounts on the cost of the formulation if they have products manufactured by PLC.

An example of a product that PLC has developed is Xylogel, a teething gel for babies, commissioned by one of its first clients. Xylogel is created with xylitol, a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables, and even algae, and is found to help oral care.

"We can produce the products and even market the merchandise for the client. The product formulation is retained by PLC, but clients can ask for tweaks as they see fit."


Junie del Mundo2. Be financially strong but remain creative and fun.

"We're selling ideas. We have the creativity and ingenuity to lead the market...We have kept growing steadily...I believe a company will succeed if it has strong and stable finance, aggressive marketing and business development, and excellent human resources. That's cash flow, clients and brain power."


-Junie del Mundo of EON The Stakeholder Relations Firm, a public relations firm



Ambition is a good thing, especially when it is aligned with the desire to improve not only one's lot but the community as well. EON wants to promote a "more progressive future" for the country through one of its various advocates, "Branding the Philippines."

This advocacy is "rooted firmly" in the belief that the country's greatest asset and most effective brand ambassador to the rest of the world is its people. It promotes the belief that Filipinos can be summed up in 4 C's : colorful, caring, creative and collaborative," EON's website says.

Through articles, speaking engagements and other forums that the PR firm participates in, it consciously reiterates the value of the Filipino people, "in the hope that the sooner Filipinos live and breathe this advocacy, the sooner the world will follow."


Jerry Perez de Tagle3. Be worth your salt.

"Our aim is to get back 10 times the investment of our clients in our seminar."


-Jerry Perez de Tagle of Integrative Learning International Inc., an international training and consulting firm.



In 2007, Integrative Learning International introduced another business unit, the IL Institute, when Jerry Perez de Tagle "saw the need to bridge Filipino talent and Australian opportunity and education."

Nine hundred students, ranging from nursing graduates to college students and mid-career individuals, have since enrolled in its three-month Study Work Abroad certificate program, and 138 of them have been issued visas to study in Australia.

Perez de Tagle insists that the IL Institute is not a placement agency, but provides opportunities for people who want to study and work in other countries.

In Australia, for example, students can work 20 hours a week to help support their education."It's for people who want educational opportunities and a new life overseas. We offer the fastest way to make it happen," he says.

In August 2009, IL Institute Australia was set up to provide further support to its students. Besides Australia, IL Institute has included United Kingdom and Canada in its Study Work Abroad programs.



Benjamin Liuson

4. Be original.

"We do not do what others are already doing. It is an original concept."

-Benjamin Liuson of The Generics Pharmacy Franchising Corp.


The Generics Pharmacy supports the government's NARS (Nurses Assigned to Rural Service) program, which sends nurses to hard-to-reach areas to increase access to quality health care. It also sponsors scholarships for seminary students at the Febias College of Bible in Valenzuela City and helps street families at the Center for Community Transformation in Pasay City.

However, Benjamin Liuson adds that the company is nurturing a different type of CSR, "corporate spiritual responsibility," by giving out  copies of the Bible in Filipino and helping distribute other Christian publications, such as pamphlets of the Gospel of John and Evangelicals magazine. Its employees distribute them to suppliers, workers at the Food and Drug Administration, and other organizations that do business with the company.


Roberto Locsin5. Be in your own niche.

"The important thing is to find a niche market, exploit that niche, and continue to work hard...We want to improve the quality of our products every time, and meet the needs of the market. When you come up with good quality products, your customers will come back."


-Roberto Locsin of Locsin International, a furniture exporter


Furniture items made by Locsin International are distinguished by their unconventional themes and design concepts transformed into practical living area pieces, made possible by year-round product research and development initiatives.

In order to continually tap into the new design concepts, Locsin closely works with the Chamber of Furniture Industries in the Philippines to find young design talents.



Jovita Romero6. Be sincere and honest.

Over the years Jovita Romero says her secret to success—shared by Danilyn's as a company—remain hard work, honesty and sincerity coupled with the desire to make things easier for clients.

-Jovita Romero of Danilyn's Enterprise Inc., a supplier draperies and other soft furnishings to the country's top hotels.



Danilyn's Enterprise takes its name from the abbreviations of the names of Dante and Linca Medallo, the couple who founded the business more than 20 years ago.

Initially, the business was registered as a single proprietorship under Dante Medallo, but the company incorporated in 1998, with Medallo becoming president, his wife Linda Cortez-Medallo as vice president for marketing and Jovita Cortez-Romero as VP for finance.

Prior to Danilyn's Jovita Romero worked with the FUJ Corp. owned by Fernando Juan from 1976 to 1987. After resigning from FUJ Corp., Romero and her husband Robert operated a canteen concession business. In 1991 she joined the Medallo couple in the furnishings business.

The company's handiwork, meanwhile, can be found in two palaces in Manila: The Coconut Palace in Manila (commissioned by Imelda Marcos for the late Pope John Paul II's visit to the country in 1981) and Malacañang Palace, the seat of government.

Besides the offices of Accenture, Danilyn's has also furnished and decorated such places as the Shangri-La Plaza Hotel in Mandaluyong City, the upscale Adora department store in Greenbelt 5 in Makati City, and even the American Embassy in Manila.


Also, well-known designers Bea Valdes, Budji Layug and Leo Espinosa are among Danilyn's noted clients and partners.


Vivian Sarabia

7. Be informed.

"We have to know the lifestyle and kind of fashion of our customers, or if they want to have a different look with their eyeglasses. These information would help us know what frames to offer them...After the examination and the styling, we usually present 10 frames to the customers. The customers could then take out what they want: that usually cuts the selection into half. Then, we factor in the customer's budget. The frames are a mix of affordable and high-end kinds, so there's really one that fits the customer's budget, style and need."

-Dr. Vivian Sarabia of Vivian Sarabia Optical



Vivian Sarabia Optical's success has allowed it to make sales of up to 16 times more than the P250,000 a month it earned during its first year of operation.


But growing the business was still not easy for Dr. Vivian Sarabia, despite her expertise and her family's bankable name in the optical industry. Among the most pressing challenges she is facing at present is an acute shortage of local optometrists to help run her stores.


"Before, we were keeping four optometrists per branch, but now we only have two per branch," she says.

Sarabia is likewise still stinging from a failed venture into the Visayas market in 1994.


She explains: "We tried to open in Cebu but I lost P10 million because my staff was cheating me. So I decided to close it. It's better to lose P10 million once than every time I'll lose the same amount plus the brand's reputation. Anyway, my clients there also go to my stores in Manila for my service.”

Edgar Injap Sia II


8. Be brave.

"To do that (break into the dominant group of fast food restaurants), I had to serve something different...We didn't just copy other people's concepts, we innovate and expanded the concepts of Inasal and fast food."

-Edgar Sia II, Mang Inasal

To help Mang Inasal's expansion efforts (before the business was acquired by Jollibee), Edgar "Injap" Sia joined both the Philippine Franchise Association (PFA) and the Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc. (AFFI), the country's biggest franchise organizations. As a result, 80% of Mang Inasal's present branches are franchised outlets.

Carson Tan


9. Be a trusted brand.

"Aquabest has its own market, which is the well educated middle class; they don't mind paying a little extra if they know they are getting a quality product."

-Carson Tan of Aquabest (GQWEST Inc.)


Aquabest has recently launched a combo store concept, bundling the water refilling station with a laundromat.


Carson Tan says this combination takes advantage of the fact that 60% of the input water of refilling stations is discarded as wastewater.


Traditionally, this water is just used to clean water bottles or given away, but by putting up a laundromat one can utilize this wastewater profitably. Apart from this, combo-store owners can also offer laundry drop-off and pickup services using Aquabest's delivery network.


Since its launch in 2008, Aquabest now has 10 such combo stores.

Meanwhile, Tan is pushing Aquabest's expansion through its spinoff brands, particularly in the provincial areas. Its focus on brand building has led the company to rely heavily on advertising in billboards, print, and radio, as well as getting celebrity endorsers. It also makes sure that it's quality remains top notch by using the latest technology and conducting periodic store inspections.




Kerwin Thomas Tansekiao10. Be excellent.

"Wow is the only level of service and product quality we have set for ourselves...Looking at the state of pizzas then available in supermarkets—what we usually refer to as cardboard pizzas—e figured that we could offer our pizzas in the frozen format, but this time making them taste like they're freshly made every time they are baked."

-Kerwin Tansekiao of Jimini Foods/Pizza Pedrico's


Kerwin Thomas Tansekiao is a grateful man—he makes sure that Jimini Foods Inc. gives back to the community. Jimini supports the feeding programs of the country's biggest media organizations, and makes its products available to other foundations and charitable institutions.

It is also keen on providing training and livelihood to poor out-of-school youth through its Pedicab Pizza program. Under this program, Jimini consigns its pizzas to poor vendors who go around peddling the pizza on pedicabs, hence the name.

In all of his projects, Tansekiao says he owes his success to the Almighty: "To God be all the glory and honor."

Main photo from Flickr (Abbey.College)

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