Everyone remembers the day they made their first million. I was sitting in my car after getting the latest bank statement. I remember opening the envelope and seeing seven figures on the final balance.
Then time seemed to stand still. I did not know what to do; if I was to celebrate or go out and buy something luxurious. I decided to take my family out to a fancy restaurant.
I also remembered the day I fell from the Millionaire’s Club.
I just got home and received a call from the bank saying my check for 1,815 Pesos was insufficiently funded. I had issued so many check payments to fund my new BPO venture, Benchmark Global. With all the stress I was under, I did not regularly keep track of my financial position.
That final check of 1,815 Pesos zeroed out my millions. In fact, I was flat broke. This was just one year from closing down my first company in BPO.
I remember driving like a maniac to have the check funded while calling the payee to re-deposit the following day.
That night Jollibee was our fancy restaurant.
But I never lost hope.
Yes, I lost everything I had earned, but I was richer in terms of experience. In hindsight, everything that happened was an accumulation of poor decision-making, unfit business associations, and factors that were beyond my control.
Right after I finished my Chicken Joy and Rice meal, I went straight back to the office and started working. The definition of “clean slate” meant more than just building up my bank account. It was the beginning of a new journey.
That was three years ago.
Today, I can honestly say we are better off financially. We were able to sign up multiple clients over 30 clients in the course of 3 years. Some are onboard full time, but some are on and off engagements.
Best of all, our clients are happy with the way we serviced their accounts. Truth be told, I cut down on networking because the clients kept giving us referrals!
I am not quite back to where I was years ago, but I can breathe easier now. Maybe I need two more years!
All the advice I included in this article is everything I learned throughout my career as an entrepreneur. I left no stone unturned. Even the ones that appear trivial have value. Those who work as regular employees can learn, thrive and hopefully, be motivated by my experiences as well.
1. Learn How to Take Risks
Entrepreneurs are known as risk-takers. We take on new ventures, start from scratch and risk everything we have to succeed.
But entrepreneurs make the mistake of associating risk taking with gambling. You should never take on a new venture without having an idea of what you are in for.
For entrepreneurs, taking a risk means making an educated guess. This is why I phrased it as learn to take risks.
In business, many variables could change the profitability equation. It is not realistic to uncover all of these variables but you should do your best to anticipate them.
Even if you are passionate about your idea; if it’s a hobby you’ve been doing the past 20 years of your life, you still need a plan.
There’s a big difference between cooking for family and cooking for customers. If you think you can launch a successful restaurant just because your family loves your cooking, you could be in for a rude awakening.
Approach your business idea with an open mind. You may easily be swayed by your personal bias that you become selective with the information you come across. This type of attitude will render your project feasibility studies useless.
2. Embrace Failure
Do you know of any millionaire who never experienced failure? I do not know nor have I read of anyone who went through the journey of entrepreneurial success unscathed.
Failure is a necessary component for success. There are many benefits to failure:
- Identifies your weaknesses.
- Identifies the flaws in your business plan.
- Keeps you grounded in reality.
- Strengthens your focus.
- Builds character.
- Makes you appreciate even the smallest victories.
Thus, you should not be afraid of failure. Instead, you should embrace it!
If you remember the military uprisings that defined President Cory Aquino’s administration, all the political and social uncertainty drove the equities markets to rock bottom prices. Volume was thin; not many people wanted to invest.
Those who did bought blue chip shares such as PLDT, Meralco, Ayala Land and San Miguel at widely discounted prices and became millionaires within a few years!
When you give in to your fear of failure; you open doors of opportunity to others.
One of my biggest signups came at a time I was about to throw in the towel.
It was past 12 midnight, and I had been rejected a 17th time. I was worn out, tired, mentally and emotionally destroyed. I’ve heard the phrase “Thank you for your interest. If we have need of your services, we’ll get back to you” 17 times more than I needed to.
That bottle of rum looked enticing. It seemed like the only one who would see value in my company.
But as I placed ice in my glass, I had an epiphany. Would this shot of rum solve my problems and land me a client?
I went back to the office, started responding to offers and networking.
A few hours later after I had woken up, I received an e-mail from a company interested in my services. He requested for a Skype call that evening.
The rest is history. We were signed up, and the company remains one of our top clients.
Had I succumbed to failure and given in to the bottle of rum, I would not have found the client.
Failure is painful, but it is a necessary experience. It will test your will and determination to become successful.
3. Develop a Competitive Mentality
Not attitude; but a competitive mentality. You can’t win the competition without thought, strategy and purpose.
Globalization has created many opportunities but has likewise increased the level of competition. You are no longer just competing against locals but even foreign brands.
In the face of rising competition, you have two choices: pack up or fight on. I believe in the saying competition brings out the best in people. That’s why we have the likes of Injap Sia succeeding in fast food despite the existence of Jollibee and McDonald’s.
Sia knew the challenges that lay ahead in fast-food: declining profit margins, finding suitable locations while maintaining the quality of food and service. But he stayed the course and focused on building the brand by providing consistently great value for customers.
Eventually, Jollibee had to tap out versus Mang Inasal’s 99 Pesos chicken value meal. The fast food giant bought out the competition, and it made Injap Sia a multi-millionaire before he turned 40!
4. Appreciate Numbers
The number one reason businesses shut down within five years is poor money management. And this is attributable to overlooking the value of numbers.
To make an educated guess, you must have a basis for your decision. Numbers provide an empirical basis that gives clarity and direction to your strategies.
As a business owner, you surely would want operations to become more efficient. Numbers will identify the equilibrium point whereby additional input would lead to diminishing output.
If you want to run a profitable restaurant business, you would want to know the pricing points so you can maintain attractive margins without compromising quality. The estimated retail price will then guide your marketing strategy.
Profitability involves revenues and expenses. Keep track of both. In business, strategy follows numbers not the other way around.
5. Avoid the Credit Trap
One of the primary reasons I lost millions was because I got mired in so much debt.
From 2010 to 2012 we continued to support a campaign that was losing money. It drained me financially that even my personal savings were affected.
I used credit to keep us going. In addition to cards, I had a housing loan to attend to. More money was coming out that there was coming in. Eventually, it caught up, and I was bankrupt.
Here are some tips I can give you regarding the use of credit:
- Do not borrow if the cost of amortization is more than 25% of your monthly income.
- Don’t use credit if you can cash it out.
- Pay off your credit right away; the interest will kill you.
- Don’t use credit to fund your business. Instead get into payment terms based on conservative cash flow projections or barter if the supplier is willing.
- Get partners or investors onboard.
Having credit history is good because it shows your ability to pay off debt. But it can be your worst nightmare if you allow it to spiral out of control.
6. Forget Get-Rich-Quick Schemes
The adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” applies in business.
The world is not an evil place, but there are those who plan to capitalize on your misfortunes. These are the scammers who unscrupulously cheat people of their hard-earned money.
You see them on the news; promising millions of pesos in returns for a small investment. Some sell their homes, their farms, their tuition and everything else; blinded by the lure of easy money.
In the end, they become another statistic; victims of scammers.
I’ve been offered multi-million peso contracts supposedly for BPO services. But when I dig deeper into their business plan, all I saw were potential red flags.
There was an offer from a foreign company to manage their back office operations. But when I did a Google check, the principal had many cases of fraud to his name!
Without hesitation, I declined the offer. Perhaps sensing that I had uncovered the principal’s dark secret, the representative tried to explain the issues were already resolved. They even offered to provide certification.
Why were they insistent on getting my company as the service provider? It was obvious they were desperate and could not get other centers to bite their offer.
No amount of money; even if it’s in the eight figures should be worth your integrity and honor! I would rather be a pauper than become a wealthy man who made his riches to the detriment of others.
While I’m at it, forget about playing lotto or sweepstakes tickets! Those are games of chance; nothing but gambling. The only good reason for playing lotto is that it helps fund charity programs.
Forget get-rich schemes. You don’t become a millionaire without working for it.