The fact that over 90 percent of businesses in the Philippines belong to the sector of micro, small-to-medium enterprises means one thing: Filipinos are entrepreneurial in spirit.
However, because of various factors, a good number of business concepts fail to take off. There's always risk involved—while it's true that doing what you love will take you places, it doesn't necessarily translate to instant success. Your passion needs to be poured into the right opportunity.
Take your cue from the people behind Mercato Centrale, Toby's Sports, Proudly Promdi, and Taclob—four individuals who are at the peak of their careers and have inspired and influenced a new generation of entrepreneurs. These are some of the things we've learned from them:
"Collaborate with people who share the same passion for good food, and pave the way for others." - RJ Ledesma
RJ Ledesma and his wife Vanessa got the idea behind the local food and lifestyle market Mercato Centrale from a honeymoon trip to Florence, Italy. Florence is home to mercato centrale, where people get to sample various food products and meet with food proprietors. Impressed and inspired, the couple decided to take that experience home.
Another inspiration came from co-owner and Our Awesome Planet blogger Anton Diaz's Ultimate Taste Test—an event where Anton invites his readers to be "food critics for the day." During said event, Anton handpicked several top food vendors to participate in their pilot market at Bonifacio Global City. From these ideas, the food market pioneers worked out an excellent business model that continues to work today.
Like RJ and Anton, it's important to have a partner who will inspire you to succeed. Their partnership not only helped build Mercato's identity, but Mercato also became the birthplace of many new food establishments like Manang's Chicken, Merry Moo, Mochiko, Spring by Ha-Yuan, Brasas, and many more.
"Use your sports-fanboy love to encourage fellow fans to go to your sports shop." - Toby Claudio
At a very young age (five years old), Toby Claudio of Toby's Sports already knew how to play tennis, baseball, soccer, biking, and other sports. Having grown up exposed to the (retail) business, he also learned the ropes of retail and merchandising (brand management) at an early age. When it was time for him to start his own business, opting for a sporting goods store wasn't a very hard decision to make. After all, he knew everything there is to know about sports fans. He is his own market.
Toby's Sports is the first sporting goods chain (shop) to sell a wide range of sportswear and equipment (and activewear) in one place, and operating a brand that's named after him drove him to grow the business to where it is today. This commitment to sports and the family business ultimately led Toby to being the company president and leading the store which bears his name to new heights.
"Brew that liquor love into an enterprise." - Kenneth Alonso
Regularly visiting his home province of Cagayan growing up, Ken Alonso, owner of homegrown liquor brand Proudly Promdi, is changing the way people think about products that are deemed promdi or unsophisticated. Greatly appreciative of provicial life and values, he is focused on preserving indigenous trade and tradition. Proudly Promdi aims to elevate local liquor in the eyes of the discerning Filipinos who like a fine tipple. Kenneth didn't want to simply roll with the punches—he knew what his strengths are and used them to his advantage.
Proudly Promdi also taps communities from the north and helps them by repackaging and sending off their products, particularly the bugnay fruit wine and the tapuey rice wine to Manila.
"Turn disasters into a business opportunity that gives back." - Jourdan Sebastian
For the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda, there are different ways to get back on your feet after a disaster. One path is through sustainable enterprises.
Helping the Taclobanons in this aspect are Jourdan Sebastian and the other founders of the social enterprise Taclob. The survivors are trained to manufacture environment-friendly backpacks that can also double as flotation devices. The Taclob team believes that teaching them skills helps them become self-sufficient and also empowers them to pay it forward.
Profits are also put to good use: to help fund workshops on disaster preparation, climate change, and trauma mitigation. Jourdan, like many established entrepreneurs, has used his business know-how to give back to society.
Turning your passion into a lucrative business isn't going to be a walk in the park—there are sure to be a lot of obstacles along the way. But with the right mindset and tools, you can set yourself up for a greater chance of success.
If you're not ready for a physical store, go for digital solutions like those offered by Globe myBusiness. Globe's digital entrepreneurial arm empowers startups and supplements running businesses by offering customizable products, online support, and online platforms that you can use to bring your business forward.
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