What is the Secret to Being a Successful Entrepreneur?

I am often asked with “What is the secret to being a successful entrepreneur?” To which I answer: “Success is for those who want it the most.” This must be true as many entrepreneurs were definitely driven to become successful since the beginning. Their passionate approach towards their goals has turned into fruitful journey.

From 2005 up until today, we have shared countless of inspiring stories from all kinds of entrepreneurs. From micro to icon entrepreneurs, their entrepreneurial journey reminded us how challenges are evident but can be succeeded.

From the stories of our featured entrepreneurs in all our books, we have come up with a list of mindsets and values an entrepreneur must possess in order to survive and champion the challenging but rewarding journey of entrepreneurship.

The following are the key learnings found in many entrepreneurs. There are a lot but let me share with you some of them based on the number of times these learnings were cited in their stories:

1. Passion. Understandably, this is the most cited entrepreneurial attribute. When there is passion, hard work is easy.  Like what we have always said, passion is the fuel of every entrepreneur.  It is the driving force for success. It has been exemplified by many entrepreneurs in our list. Some entrepreneurs who have pursued their passion are Andrew Tan, Washington Sycip, Chit Juan, Ronald Pineda, Samie Lim, Vicki Belo and many more.

2. Hard work. This can also be attributed to perseverance, courage and determination. The country’s most popular fast food chain exemplifies this very trait. “Jollibee became what it has become now because of the hard work and determination of people working towards the achievement of our vision,” words straight from Tony Tan Caktiong. For Ricardo Po Sr. of Century Pacific Group, “There is no substitute for hard work.” It has also been exemplified by entrepreneurs such as Justin Uy, Carlos Chan, and Esther Vibal.

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3. Innovativeness. If an entrepreneur can’t invent, he must re-invent. Mr. Quickie’s very own EC and Niño Caruncho said it best, “Always innovate! The way to survive today and the future is to always be one step ahead of the competition.” PLDT’s Manny Pangilinan is an example of an innovative entrepreneur. His company has created countless of innovative ideas in the telecommunications industry. Just recently, SMART Communications, which is under him, partnered with UBER, a transportation service.

4. Aptitude to see opportunities. Sen. Cynthia Villar shared, “Keep your eyes open for more opportunities.”  It is a smart move to be constantly updated with your industry and market. John Gokongwei Jr.’s company, JG Summit Holdings is a proof that there are several opportunities entrepreneurs can tap. “Before malling became a national past time, we put up Robinsons Galleria…when we saw that Filipinos would travel by air if costs were low, we started Cebu Pacific Air… when we realized that consumers were more health-conscious in their choice of food and drink, we launched C2… When we saw that ASEAN would merge into one marketplace in 2015, we made sure we set up factories in all its members countries to be competitive with other regional players.” Another notable entrepreneur who saw an opportunity in the construction and industrial industry and maximized it is Alice Eduardo.

5. A clear vision. Andy Ferreria advised starting entrepreneurs to listen to their voice for personal vision and mission. When a vision is seen to be almost achieved, it’s time to set new and higher visions. Zenaida Tantoco added, “Never lose track of your vision amid the changing market tastes and growing competition.” A vision provides direction and instigates passion. Exposure to and reflection of the environment or surroundings is the best basis for a vision.” Henry Sy, Jay Aldeguer and Injap Sia, among others have set their clear vision ahead for the company.

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6. Market and customer-orientedness. “By focusing on the customer and the changes in the environment he’s engaged in, you know how to craft the perfect products and services,” said Alexander Bangsoy of Goshen Land Corporation. Other entrepreneurs who exemplified this trait are Johnlu Koa, Myla Villanueva, Raul Concepcion, and Santiago Araneta.

7. Capacity to think big/expand network. A perfect example of this is what happened at SEAOIL. Its president, Glenn Yu, shared that it was through franchising that SEAOIL was able to rapidly expand its retail network. After more than 15 years into franchising, SEAOIL now has over 400 retail stations nationwide, 60 percent of which are franchised. William Belo, one of our trustees, is a firm believer of business expansion. He encourages aspiring businessmen to not stop growing and innovating.

8. Guts to take risk. Most Filipinos would rather be employees than be an entrepreneur because entrepreneurship is full of risks. But as Universal Records’ Kathleen Dy-Go puts it, “Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut feel for a certain strategy or business model that you want to try. It is not always good to stay on the safe side because you never know if something will work unless you try.” Benjamin Liuson advised the entrepreneurs “Don’t be afraid to try new things.”

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9. Faith in God.  Amb. Philippe Lhuillier owed his accomplishments in the fields of his business, government service and philanthropy to his faith in God. Manny Osmena who is known for his locally produced wine, Manny O Wines, persevered despite the serious doubts of people but he attributes to his faith, his strength and courage to continue.

10. Will to give back to community. Perhaps this is best explained by the author of Go Negosyo law, Senator Bam Aquino, who before becoming a senator was a social entrepreneur himself. “We shouldn’t forget that we have a role to play in nation building. The best entrepreneur is the one that never succeeds alone, and helps the success of his community.” Dr. Aristotle Alip also shared, “I think that is what passion is all about, the ability to infect others to achieve your goal. In our case, that is poverty alleviation through microfinance.”

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Congratulations to the success of AFFI’s first EntrepRun held last Sunday, September 6, with more than 2,500 entrepreneurs and runners! Entrepreneurs should stay healthy and happy.