A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – Lao Tzu
Many dream of quitting their day jobs to go into business someday but only a few follow their goals and eventually succeed.
Succeeding in business doesn’t mean that you must have a lot of cash, or business experience or even be a college graduate. You must have the passion and determination to succeed before you embark on your entrepreneurial journey.
When you have the right mindset, you will know how to take risks, accept failures and face the challenges of overcoming adversities in business.
In observance of the Chinese New Year, we have gathered some of the most influential young Chinoy tycoons today whose success can inspire every budding entrepreneur.
Here are the five business lessons everyone can learn from their experience:
1. Know where you are going and be prepared - Injap Sia
When Mang Inasal founder Injap Sia listed DoubleDragon Properties in the stock exchange in 2014, he wanted to accomplish his one goal for the company: to build one million square meters of leasable space by year 2020.
Sia needed Php40 billion to finance his community malls project, which he successfully raised in four years with focus and determination while building his leasing assets.
Next year, Sia expects to complete all his projects, which will transform his company, DoubleDragon Properties from a property developer to a leasing company.
Last year, Double Dragon Properties had already generated Php2 billion in recurring revenues and this is expected to increase further this year.
“The key is before you go into business, you have to do your homework,: Sia says. “You must see it so clearly that you know what you are doing. You have to be so convinced of the goal you want to achieve.
“You have to study and understand deeply whatever you want to do so you can draw your map from point A to point Z. If you are prepared, you will know where you are going.”
2. Know how to take risk and be decisive – Dennis Uy
When Dennis Uy started his company, Phoenix Petroleum, he was already late into the competition as the market was already established with several independent oil players.
But this did not discourage him from pursuing his goal. Uy persevered to build his business despite his limited resources until one day, he bagged a big service contract with Cebu Pacific, which helped his company to grow.
Today, Phoenix Petroleum is one of the largest and most profitable independent oil companies in the country with over Php90 billion annual sales.
“I always say that I have more balls than brains,” Uy says. “When I see a good business opportunity, I just go ahead and plan later. Sometimes if you don’t decide immediately, it may prove more costly later on.
“One of the keys to succeed in business is to be humble enough to admit that you don’t know. I am not afraid to ask if I need to consult something. Just because you’re the boss, doesn’t mean you know everything.”
3. Know how to stand up and have guts - Edgar Saavedra
Edgar Saavedra was just fresh out of college when he started doing fit-out and renovation projects for friends and relatives with his college best friend, Michael Cosiquien.
Saavedra wanted to do more by going into the construction business but he did not have the experience and capital. Despite his limitations, he had the courage to make things happen.
Saavedra began doing high-rise projects while learning the business. He soon hit his biggest break when his company, Megawide Construction, secured a multiple project contract with SM Development Corporation.
Megawide today is one of the leading engineering and infrastructure companies in the country with a market value of Php40 billion.
“It was not easy to get projects in the beginning but I always thought that we came from nothing so we had nothing to lose,” Saavedra says. “We came from zero. At worst, we could always go back to work for others if we failed.
“Sometimes ignorance can be powerful. What you don’t know won’t scare you. If you know how big the battle is, you won’t really go into it but if you don’t know, you may say ‘Okay let’s do it!’ because once you are in the battle, you cannot turn your back anymore.”
4. Know how to handle failure and be stronger - Tony Tiu
Tony Tiu has been a crisis survivor many times in the past.
When he co-founded AgriNurture in 1997, he helped the company survived the Asian financial crisis by turning the company from importer of agricultural machineries into exporter of fruits and vegetables.
Tiu also refused to give up when he was turned down by top investment banks to do the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of his company in 2008. He persisted until he found a creative way to get his company listed by way of introduction.
In 2015, Tiu was wrongly accused of money laundering emanating from a case filed against then-Vice President Jejomar, which he fought dearly until he was proven innocent.
Today, Tiu leads three listed companies that he partly owns in the stock exchange. These are AgriNurture, Greenergy Holdings and IRC Properties, which have a combined market value of Php50 billion.
“You have to evolve to become a better and stronger person after every crisis,” Tiu says. “There is always a reason for something to happen. Do not panic. Take time to reflect. Every night before I sleep I always reflect. What have I achieved today? What have I done wrong? How do I improve it tomorrow?
“Failure is part of day to day life. There is no perfect score. Some failures will give you lessons to learn. Other failures will give you nobody but only yourself to blame.”
5. Know how to keep the business for the long term – Alvin Lao
Alvin Lao belongs to the second generation of the Lao family, whose patriarchs, Dean and Leon Lao, founded D&L Industries, the largest chemical company in the country, more than 55 years ago.
As president and CEO, Lao led the company transition from a typical family business set up to a professionally managed organization.
He believes that in order to sustain the business into the future, his family must share some aspects of control to non-family professionals without losing the culture.
“Culture is very important to us,” Lao says. “It is something that we guard very closely and we want to maintain. By culture, it is not only about how we are as a family but also as a business as well.
“We try to stay low key and be humble, but we work hard and we are aggressive in business. We try to excel in both. When we hire, regardless of someone with vast years of experience or new graduate, we try to gauge and see if the person is a good fit to us. In a few months, if they don’t fit, they won’t last long.”
Henry Ong, RFP, is president of Business Sense Financial Advisors. Email Henry for business advice firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @henryong888