Most, if not all, developed countries were able to attain and sustain their economic growth because of a strong entrepreneurial society.
Coming out of a long-drawn civil war, the Americans rose to become a superpower through the perseverance and creativity of its entrepreneurs. From Benjamin Franklin to Ben & Jerry, William Penn to Bill Gates, Eli Whitney to Oprah Winfrey, famous entrepreneurs, both historical and contemporary, have developed products and services that changed the face of trade and commerce in the world. Japanese entrepreneurs like Sakichi Toyoda, Konosuke Matsushita and Yataro Iwasaki focused on developing technological innovations that eventually became global brands like Toyota, Panasonic and Mitsubishi. Israel with its limited population of seven million people and six million entrepreneurs has created great technology that has been exported around the world.
The Philippines, on the other hand, has long been the assembly site and raw material and manpower supplier for these developed countries. It has a substantial number of negosyantes: Small and medium enterprises, including micro-enterprises, account for 99% of all business establishments and 60% of the exporting firms in the Philippines which currently employ some 55% of the Philippine labor force and contribute 30% to total domestic volume sales.
But in reality, only a handful are able to make an impact in improving and sustaining economic growth and alleviating poverty. The country has a proliferation of garment traders, food charts, sari-sari stores, lechon manok stands and carinderias, which may be profitable; but these still have low value-added and limited job creation capabilities.
Often, ventures fail to attain sustainability because of poor management and a lack of entrepreneurial foresight. There are a few, nonetheless, who have succeeded in overcoming the decline stage of the business cycle, eventually transforming their businesses into a multimillion, multi-product enterprise. Jollibee has evolved from an ice cream stand into the biggest fast-food chain in the country, Julie’s Bakeshop now has a nationwide presence and Bench is already a global brand. But can we inculcate the same discipline and the same entrepreneurial competencies on the Filipino entrepreneur? Yes, the skill and mindset can definitely be learned.
The road towards entrepreneurship starts with self-mastery. Knowing yourself, your competencies, your interests and even your weaknesses is the foundation of an entrepreneurial mind. We, therefore, need to initially focus the training towards a better understanding of the self and how we can “reprogram” our minds to think like an entrepreneur. Learning to think and learning to intuit are competencies that an entrepreneur has to acquire.
Intuiting is the hallmark of the good entrepreneur who can jump to new levels of understanding without going through the step by step thinking processes. It is only after we have transformed ourselves to think like an entrepreneur can we start learning about the functional skills necessary to be effective in managing our enterprise.
Armed with both management and self-mastery skills—entrepreneurs must then get in touch with the ‘leader’ in them, that is, have a greater appreciation of their own leadership styles as they interact with their partners, colleagues, strategic allies, market networks, customers and employees.
Antonio del Carmen is the program director of the Masters in Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business. For inquiries about the Masters in Entrepreneurship Program, call 8994579 or 8997691 local 2407 or 2406.
Raul L. Locsin Building I
95 Balete Drive Extension,
New Manila, Quezon City,
Extensions: 706, 709-711
Direct Line: (632)535-9923
Fax No.: (632)535-9925
Email: New Media Group