OF TREES AND FOREST
Former Senate President
The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns we have experienced for more than a year now has crippled our economy but it has also resulted to some positive changes that we can take advantage of. These are transformations that we can fully utilize to ensure our economic recovery. One of these changes was the spawning of a new cadre of entrepreneurs.
I believe that the pandemic has created an opportunity for us to build a culture of entrepreneurship that I have been championing for decades. I believe then, as I do now, that entrepreneurship is the key to winning the war against poverty. And I am convinced that entrepreneurship will be the key ingredient as we recover from this economic slump we are in. Our job is to help nurture these nascent entrepreneurs, most of them engaged in micro or small enterprises brought about by their response to crisis — some have lost their jobs others responding to the needs of the times.
But there are some questions I often hear, even pre-pandemic, from those who are thinking about opening new businesses: how do I know if I am ready to become an entrepreneur? The simplest answer I can give is that there is no simple answer to this question. There is no bible of entrepreneurship or a manual that will tell you exactly if and when you are ready to become an entrepreneur. There is no formula or equation to definitively tell you that it’s time to become an entrepreneur.
What I would like to do is devote a series of articles in this column to discuss some key elements of entrepreneurship culled from my own experiences and the published experiences of other successful entrepreneurship. My purpose is to inspire others and answer some questions which hopefully will nudge prospective entrepreneurs to take the plunge and become a frontliner in our battle to revive our economy.
The first question I want to delve into is this — are there tangible signs that you are destined to become an entrepreneur? We love to do this especially to youngsters: “Oh, I can see that he will become a senator of the republic,” your aunt would say, or worse, “Mag-ipon ka na ng pang-piyansa at tingin ko madalas ang dalaw nyan sa presinto!” It’s as if we can see into the future and divine the life of the young. There is no pre-determined route for you, of course, as you were created with free will and intelligence to carve out your own existence. But there are certain qualities that you may have developed at a young age that will certainly help you if and when you decide to become an entrepreneur.
One is passion. It might be a quality so generic it has become cliché, but it is true. It refers to a burning desire or an absolute love of something. It is something that all successful entrepreneurs share. And not just a passion about certain ideas or products but a passion to embrace the risks, the uncertainty, and the possibility of failure. In other words, rather than become immobilized by doubt, you decide to seize the moment even with the uncertainty of success. It is the kind of risk-taking attitude that make successful entrepreneurs. But it is not reckless. Passion must be combined with other elements in order to thrive: skills, hard work, persistences, etc.
But if you are a restless creature, someone who will not simply accept the status quo and rejects the idea that what you have now is good enough then you have the first quality of what makes entrepreneurs succeed. It is something that will help you push your ideas, products and services to the brink of perfection because you will be obsessed with thinking of ways to improve your own products or ideas.
I remember how we started Coffee Project. I would always have my meetings at coffee shops and I often wondered how we can come up with a better coffee shop for people who read, study, have meetings, or just hang out. Coffee shops are not all about the quality of coffee but it is also about ambience. Drinking coffee — alone or with friends or colleagues — is an experience. So we came up with the Coffee Project.
They are not written in stone. Being passionate and restless does not automatically make you an entrepreneur. But it is a great place to start. In my next columns I will discuss other elements that might help you decide to become the next successful entrepreneur in the country.