How to succeed in business in the 21st century

Published October 26, 2020, 4:11 PM

by Kerry Tinga

Next-gen business leaders share some advice for young entrepreneurs

Back in the day, as our parents and grandparents would say, it took a lot of investment (time, sweat, property, capital, etc) to start a business. Today, all you need is an Instagram account or a Facebook page, no storefront required. If you see a trend, say, ube pandesal and sushi bake if you are into food, or barrettes and oversize-collar shirts if you are into fashion, just create an account and you are ready to start selling.

Technology is such an amazing thing, breaking down the barriers to entry in fields so that anybody can have the opportunity to make it big. But that also means that the marketplace has become saturated with similar, sometimes identical, offerings every which way you look. While it is great that young people are becoming entrepreneurial, there is a tendency to be purely product-driven instead of brand-driven, following trends instead of setting them. No longer do we worry about how to get things started, rather, we wonder how to make something that lasts once the interest in the new kid in the neighborhood wanes.

What does a legacy brand of the 21st-century look like, and how can young entrepreneurs make a business that lasts?

We talked to several prominent Filipino business people involved in local brands that have stood the test of time. As next-gen industry experts, they have helped lead businesses into a new age, having seen and experienced the advancements in technology and shifts in trends. Nonetheless, a common theme they share with young entrepreneurs is to remain resolute in their original principles.

Learn your core values.

Businesses are evolving so quickly nowadays because of technology. It has become even more competitive. Life has become so fast-paced and decisions need to be made quickly in order to grab the right opportunities. What helps and guides my sisters (Christine and Suyen Lim) and I are the core values we learned for our parents (Virgilio and Nene Lim) and our uncle Ben (Chan): integrity, hard work, resilience, and humility.

I cannot emphasize this more than during this pandemic. No one was ready for the changes we had to adapt to overnight, but a clear mind and thinking about what really matters will help you make the right decisions. We are still trying to navigate this new normal in businesses the best way we know how. And having lived through this unprecedented time in history, I think the next generation has picked up a lot. At the end of the day, we work hard not just for ourselves, but for the generations to come. —Bryan Lim, vice president for business development at Suyen Corporation (Bench Group).


My mom (Connie Haw) started Advance Paper over 30 years ago. Her legacy is not just handing the business over, but sharing everything that she has learned with us. It is my job to make sure the business is constantly and continuously improving our processes and expanding our product lines. For me, a 21st-century legacy brand is something that is able to adapt to the modern market needs, while still having its core values. —Kim Haw Perkins, general manager, Advance Paper

Never lose sight of where you started.

A 21st-century legacy brand would depend on its missions, vision, and core values. The brand should be true to these and, at the same time, be flexible enough to go with the changing times. But always make sure not to forget how or where it began. —Michael Huang, vice president for store development and expansions at Rustan’s Corporation