It requires at least a 20,000 circulation for Summit Media to continue publishing a magazine.
One of their magazine, “Entrepreneur,” boasts of a 30,000 circulation, a 4x pass-on readership, and a total monthly readership of 150,000. While this may not be impressive to some, it is still one of the most popular magazines in the Summit Media stable, trumping Top Gear, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Real Living, Good Parenting, Town and Country, and Esquire.
The point is, Filipinos like to read about Entrepreneurship. They like to know industry news, facts, and figures, and get more ideas about how to start their own business.
However, being an entrepreneur is still an uphill climb.
Some statistics reveal that the micro-, small and medium sized sectors account for a whooping 99.6% of total establishments in the country and 61.2% of the country’s total employment. However, micro, small and medium sized businesses only account for 35.7% of the total value added. Now, that’s low.
This means that despite the hoopla about owning and managing one’s own business, wealth is still restricted to a limited few, namely the big tycoons and corporations.
The second and third generations can be quite good in spending their parents’ or grandparents’ hard-earned kayamanan (inheritance).
So I wonder why so many people want to be entrepreneurs.
Maybe they were brainwashed from birth that the road to wealth is to start your own business?
That you can never earn a lot of money if you worked for a big corporate, because you are making money for them and not for you?
That being an entrepreneur is all pomp and glamour? And it’s the best way to get rich in the Philippines?
This is flawed thinking.
As I grew up, worked abroad and joined one of the largest investment banks in the world, I realized this paradigm is NOT entirely true.
Corporate life was EASY! At least, it was for me…
All I had to do was get good grades, talk eloquently, and bullsh*t my way to a good, high-paying job.
While it was hard to get in a good paying job (e.g., it took me 6 months just to start working at the bank I worked for), it was easy to get used to the early hours and the highly stressful environment. Quickly, my work became like clockwork.
In the morning, I would wake up and be at work by 7:30 am.
I’d work my ass off and take a quick lunch at Central.
Then it’s back to work till around 8pm or 9pm where I pause to have my dinner. Takeaway of course.
While eating, I was always on my Blackberry. The Blackberry was my best friend and boyfriend.
On weekends, I’d have dinner, dessert and drinks with my friends in Soho.
Despite having my fun, I would still be at my Blackberry talking to people from the US and Europe. I only put it down at 2am when I go to bed.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Sure, the work was hard. I had superiors to answer to. The pressure was overwhelming.
But I got rewarded generously for it.
On my first year of corporate life, my bonus was a year’s salary.
I was dumbfounded. At that time, at the age of 26, I was not used to that type of money.
That wasn’t all.
Travels were in 5-star hotels and airplane tickets were all business class.
Everyone at work owned a YSL, Prada, Chanel, Bottega, and even Hermes! People at work no longer touted Louie Vuittons. We went for the more expensive bags. It didn’t take long for me to start my own bag collection.
My point is, so many people lambast the corporate life. The employee mindset.
But given MY OWN EXPERIENCE, I LOVED the corporate life!
I worked and was paid tons of money for it.
I was given 15 working days of mandatory paid leave, and I had to take it every year.
Bonuses were always a pleasant surprise, and the people I worked with were one of the nicest, and most competent people in the world.
The Head of Asian Equities knew me by name, and working there was one of the best years in my life.
I made a lot of money, and I spent a lot of money.
I traveled everywhere — In Asia, I went to Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Japan, China, Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka.
I got time off to visit Australia, and Europe, specifically, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, France, Italy, the United Kingdom.
My business trips were to the United States. I would’ve gone to Africa and Russia if I didn’t quit to get my MBA.
Every year, my worry was never where to get the money but where to go.
My husband teasingly calls it my “glory days.“
They were the good ol’ glory days.
After seeing how much money I actually made on my employment certification from my last employer, he nervously asked me whether I have any regrets coming back to money and earning the money I do today.
“Those days are over,” I said.
That’s why I wonder why some readers lambast the employee mindset.
I was an employee and now an entrepreneur.
I’ve seen and experienced both sides of the coin.
Both had his pros and cons.
But never would I say that being an employee was the worst days of my life.
In fact, it was a time where I cruised my life, enjoyed my evenings, and experienced an even full life!
Here are five specific reasons as to why corporate life is better than entrepreneurship life:
1) In the corporate world, I was in total control of my work and my life. My days were organized. My life was organized.
Back when I was in Hong Kong, every day, I knew exactly what I was going to do.
My schedule was pre-planned weeks and months before.
For large projects, our timelines were already set and were religiously followed.
Relative to my experience now, there were no big surprises.
From the time I woke up till the time I slept, I was in total control of my life.
I bid that control goodbye when I became a businesswoman.
When I had my own business.
“Ma’m absent po si Julie,” my area supervisor would tell me as she would be busy finding a reliever for Julie (Ma’m, Julie is absent).
Working in retail in the Philippines, it can be a big headache if one of your store employees disappear or go AWOL (absence without leave). This happens more than you think.
Filipinos always revert back to “not feeling well” and “family emergency” when they don’t want to go to work that day, and there’s nothing you can do to get them to come on duty.
This does NOT happen in the corporate world.
If you do this crap, you’ll be fired, stat.
Everyone is professional.
Not when you have a business in the Philippines.
Many people are NOT professional.
That’s just the beginning.
As a business owner, you cannot control many factors. A few examples:
- You can’t control the daily needs of your business. Yesterday, I had a business meeting with someone in Fairview, then proceeded to Banawe to meet a client. Lastly, my husband and I did a dog and pony show in Ortigas in front of 80 people to hawk our products. On a freaking Sunday today, we will be visiting Pasig and Novaliches to scour out good locations. Even on Sunday, we are working! There is no rest for an entrepreneur.
- You can’t control the weather. If it rains or if there’s a typhoon/flood, sales inevitably go down. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Sigh.
- You can’t control your people too much. If people don’t show up for work, there’s nothing you can do about it. If people steal from you, you’d have to go back, catch them and try to prove that they did it. You can’t control how good people sell. If they’re in a bad mood, if they’re unhappy, or if they have personal problems, their sales will suffer. Yes, you can pick better people, but good people are hard to find nowadays. It’s always a hit or miss.
- You can’t control government policies. One day, what you’re doing is legal. Tomorrow, it’s not. This happens in the car after-market industry. Today, it’s okay to modify your car. Tomorrow, the government comes up with another policy. Then you’d have to change your entire business model. Aiyo…
2) In the corporate world, you don’t need to care about the company you’re working for. It’s different for an entrepreneur. YOU ARE YOUR BUSINESS.
The only time I was truly afraid for my company’s fate was during the 2008 global financial crisis.
At that time, my company lost USD 50 billion due to a wrong business decision.
But I was not afraid for my job.
My department was making money.
Actually, we had a very good year that year — and I was a key part of the department.
Usually in the corporate world, if you make yourself indispensable, you become indispensable.
You have job security.
It’s different when you have your own business.
You are your own business.
Every right business decision grows your company.
Every wrong decision has serious repercussions for your company.
Case in point, we made a wrong hiring decision last year.
The candidate came from the same industry and worked for a competitor.
She seemed strong and had the potential to lead.
She’s managed people before.
She made a lot of promises.
Here’s the clincher, she couldn’t live up to her promises.
Our sales from her area fell 20% this year. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s a lot.
We thought it was just her adjusting to her new job.
But I now believe a lot of it was complacency, her inability to handle different scenarios well, and her lack of managerial competence.
Oh well, how the hell were we supposed to know?
When you hire people, it’s always a hit or miss.
You trust your gut but it’s only after they start working that you can see just how good they are.
Oh well, chuck it up to learning experience.
But unlike in the corporate world where wrong decisions only elicit sermons from your boss, when you make wrong decisions like this in your own business, your wrong decisions ALWAYS come at a cost.
And the cost inevitably comes out from your own pockets!
3) In the corporate world, it’s a dog eat dog world out there. You only care about your own job. In your own business, you have to care about every body’s job.
It’s a huge responsibility — being a business owner.
Not only are you responsible for yourself, but you are also responsible for a LOT of people.
Hiring people takes a lot of guts and thought.
By taking them under your wing, you are taking them away from what could be a more stable business that can provide them with better job security.
In a way, the people you hire trust you.
They’ve bet on you and your business.
They believe that your business can make it, and so choose to work for you instead of another.
While they care about money, they work for you because they think you’re a good boss and you will help them grow as your business grows.
People will not work for you if you’re an asshole.
They won’t work for you if your business is not stable.
They leave when they feel you have no money to pay them.
As an employee, your staff takes a bet on you — If your business grows, you can give them more responsibilities and a bigger salary.
So with owning a business comes the responsibility and the pressure of providing for everyone’s livelihood.
That you have enough capital to resist economic downturns.
That you can make enough money to pay everyone’s salaries on time.
And that your business will grow, taking your employees with you.
4) In the corporate world, money is not really a problem. You get paid a monthly salary regardless on how the business does. In the entrepreneurial world, money is ALWAYS a problem.
When I was working for someone else, I never worried about money.
Every month like clockwork, the company deposits the money straight to my bank account.
All I had to do was spend it.
In the business world, I worry about money.
Every single day.
Even holidays and Sundays!
I worry about sales and income, which gives my company its lifeblood.
If sales are low, I worry. I still have to pay my overhead.
I also worry about expenses.
I cannot over-hire, because my overhead will balloon.
I cannot over-spend.
Everything I spend must be well thought out of.
It should be a need, instead of a want… And the trick is deciding what makes a difference.
For example, is promoting your company via a Php 300K billboard ad space in EDSA the best way for your company? Or is it just throwing away more money.
How about hiring an endorser which will cost you Php 500K or more?
Regardless of how my business does, I still have to pay my rent and my people.
I can never tell my landlord that I have no money to pay the rent.
Woe is me if I have to tell my people that I can’t pay their salaries on time because of lack of capital. Everyone would resign!!! Nobody wants to work for an unstable company.
If a business don’t have enough working capital, it dies.
It shuts down.
Nobody is exempt, even the big conglomerates.
5) Lastly, having your own business is scary.
Being an entrepreneur is a gamble.
You put your money where your mouth is.
If it works, you make more money than what you invest.
If it doesn’t, the best case scenario is you don’t lose all of your capital.
There is no job security.
So even if you work your ass off, there is still many things beyond your control.
Delays put a dent to your capital.
Wrong hiring decisions can break a business.
A gazillion shits can still hit the fan.
And if you think having your own business can give you more time for your family, you’ve got to be kidding!!!
My husband’s dad used to bring the kids to the mall.
Not for fun but to scour for better mall locations.
They would drag their kids out to new malls every weekend just to check out how the mall was doing.
To see on whether they should open a shop there or not.
My parents used to bring us to the loading warehouse.
We used to give our trabahadors (workers) sticks so my parents can count how many bags of coffee they have loaded to a container.
I remember bringing my homework to business meetings.
My parents would meet with their business associates while we were outside reading and answering take-home quizzes.
My mom would do her accounting in the evenings while my dad would play mah-jong.
We would watch DVD in the living room while she’s bent on balancing her books.
Entrepreneurship is not just a job.
IT’S A LIFE.
And the life is not really a walk in the park.
“You’d really have to love your business,” my mother in law advised. “Because once you get into business, you’ll have no choice but to stick with it.”
She is right.
Today, I worry about our business.
I worry about business opportunities.
I worry about inventory and receivables.
I worry about rent.
I think business shortens your life.
So why do business, do you ask? Why not just go back to your cushy corporate job?
Well, to cut things short, I am in business because my parents were in business. They brainwashed me that having your own business can be the most rewarding thing ever. It was in their lifeblood, and they sure worked their asses off to ensure we have enough food in our table, and we can get good educations.
I am in business because my husband’s family is in business. They are judging me based on my abilities to maintain and grow a business. For them, keeping a business afloat is akin to how good I am. If given my credentials and experience, if I can’t manage a business, then I’m not really as smart or as good as I say that I am.
I am in business because I love challenge. And having a business is one of the bigger challenges there is. Can I test fate? How good am I? Can I survive? These are questions only finally executing your idea can answer…
I am in business because I believe in our business model. I like my products. I know how hard it is to start a business, but I believe in dreams. I am an optimist and a dreamer. I believe I can survive long enough to build scale. I believe that managing a few people is not a big jump to managing a lot of people. I believe in scale. Once I have enough scale, I can spread my overhead thinly, and more profits can come. I actually believe my business can grow and survive.
I am in business because people are counting on me. I love it that I’m employing people and they trust me with their livelihood. I am making a difference in people’s lives. And I work hard not to disappoint them.
And lastly, I am in business because I believe in time value of money. Over time, things will just get better and better. Experience is the best teacher, and while I may not manage as optimally as I would think, I would be a better manager tomorrow than I am today. Sure I will make mistakes but better to commit them when I am young enough to brush myself off from failure and try it out again. And while I still have the energy, I can still work my ass off. And hey, with perseverance comes success, right?
So again, entrepreneurship is not for everyone.
But it is for me.
Is it for you?
Comments — both positive and negative — are very much appreciated.
Have a great weekend everyone!