Expert advice on building a sustainable business
The past two and a half years have been challenging for most businesses, especially for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). With the global pandemic affecting everything — from operations to service delivery, some companies had to downsize or, worse, shut down.
But while there were enterprises that collapsed, new businesses also cropped up. Those who survived found new avenues to thrive. For aspiring entrepreneurs, however, the question remains: How can I establish a business that will last for the long term?
Insular Life (InLife), which has been in the industry for more than 112 years, has been through two world wars and other crises and has remained strong to this day. To help people enjoy the good in life by pursuing their goal of establishing a business, the Company hosted a webinar on how to build a sustainable business.
Go Negosyo Mentor and Car Magic Auto Painting Owner Butch Salvador, Rags2Riches Owner and Co-founder Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, and Truelogic Managing Partner Bernard San Juan discussed the challenges entrepreneurs face. From changing one’s mindset to creating the right message — they shared their experiences, insights, and knowledge on how to start and make a business last.
Set specific goals and take action
“Napakahalaga ng mindset pagdating sa pagnenegosyo at sa ating buhay (Mindset is important both in business and life),” Salvador reminded the audience who attended the Zoom event. “It determines kung ano ang kalalabasan ng buhay natin (It determines the outcome of our lives).”
Salvador got into business in 1997 with only P10 as his “puhunan.” Through well thought-of investments and hard work, he was able to make it grow. With his earnings, he established more companies and now generously shares what he has learned through the years. He provided the following insights and advice:
- Have a positive mindset to encourage you to take action.
- In setting goals, make sure that you are specific in what you want to achieve.
- Have goals to give you direction and help you in creating a plan to reach it.
- Once you have a plan, start taking action.
- Invest on things that will earn you money in return.
Let your values and purpose guide you
Ruiz shared that they started their social enterprise in Payatas, Quezon City, with the goal of being a life and livelihood partner for artisans in the Philippines. For the past 15 years, the enterprise has provided artisans with fair and regular livelihood and training.
“Pwedeng kumita at gumawa ng kabutihan para sa iba (You may earn and do good deeds for others at the same time). Our why made our how and what easier,” she said.
Their purpose guided them throughout the pandemic, and they even saw new opportunities for their people and business.
“May mga panahon sa buhay natin na akala natin yun na ang pinaka-challenging, pero yun pala pwede siyang blessing in disguise (There are moments in our lives when we think we are dealing with the most challenging thing, but it turns out to be a blessing in disguise),” said Ruiz, who is a 2021 Young InLife Shero Circle of Excellence member.
When the pandemic hit, they had to adjust and pivot while maintaining their values and purpose. Below are some of the insights she shared during the webinar.
- Have the capacity for innovation. During the pandemic, Rags2Riches re-purposed its assets to create essential and relevant products for the new normal. “In the new normal, people are more conscious about the effects of their actions in the world,” Ruiz said.
- Strengthen e-commerce, social media community, and digital presence.
- Have a compelling story. “Storytelling sets brands apart. Storytelling is essential,” said Ruiz.
- Give importance to learning and knowledge. “Hindi lang kita ang mahalaga; mahalaga din ang kaalaman (Profit is not the only important thing. Knowledge, is, too),” Ruiz stressed.
Make your story matter to the right people
San Juan also underlined the importance of good storytelling. At the same time, he emphasized that it should reach the right audience.
In the storytelling process, he said, one should answer the following: What are you solving? For whom are you solving it?
“There is no such thing as a product that is meant for everyone. The biggest waste of money in marketing is the fact that when you market, you try to talk to everybody,” San Juan said. “What we miss a lot is the real decision maker — the personal need. Why should the person buy from you?”
He noted that people don’t care about a product or brand until a product or brand cares about their problems first.
In his presentation, San Juan shared key figures that could help guide entrepreneurs who want to take their business online.
- There are 68 million Filipinos online
- 90% of online Filipinos are on Facebook with 79 million accounts; 40 million are on TikTok, and there are 45 million viewers on YouTube.
- There are 1.05 billion searches per month. Top searches include recipes, personal care, RPG (role-playing games,) and programs.
“Don’t underestimate how much Filipinos have adapted to being online. The trick to marketing is for your message to be present where your audience is. You put it where there’s a lot of eyeballs and traffic,” San Juan said, adding that Filipinos do not go online, they live online.
He said that in 2021, there were 19 million new smartphone users and 1.3 million new social media users — all of which can be potential customers. San Juan, however, cautioned that there is no product that is meant for everyone and that the biggest waste of money in marketing is spent on trying to talk to everyone.
“If your story is going to matter to the people who are listening to you, it has to be because you are talking to the right people,” he stressed.
When creating your own website, meanwhile, consider not just your storytelling and messaging but your budget as well. San Juan said that a website build alone costs around P50,000 to P100,000, and its upkeep (name, hosting, and SNL) can cost P1,000 a month.
Protect your employees and business
Business owners should consider mitigating the risk of financial losses. One way to achieve this, is by having group life and health insurance.
“A group insurance enables employees to have their own insurance at a lower premium. They can even enroll their dependents,” said InLife Customer Relationship and Management Unit Head Mia Gonzales.
She noted that the pandemic has made companies realize the importance of providing health, security, and protection to their employees.
“For as low as P200, an employee can be insured for around P50,000. This already covers basic life, accident, and total and permanent disability benefits. For P4,400, the employee can enjoy a coverage of up to P1.1 million,” Gonzales explained.
She pointed out that group insurance plans are not only meant for big companies. Even a team of five may apply for an insurance coverage for as low as P5,000. InLife’s group insurance plans may be customized according to the needs of the business.
“Getting a group insurance for your employees is not an expense. Mas marami kayong makukuha kesa sa ibabayad ninyong premium (The benefits you will receive outweigh the amount of premiums you will pay for),” Gonzales said.
Establishing a business is not easy. But with the right mindset and a specific goal in mind, you can start making a plan, take action and craft a compelling story for your target audience. Keep in mind your values and purpose as you move forward. Most of all, make sure that you take care of one of your most important assets — your employees.
Get in touch with an InLife financial advisor to learn more about the Company’s group insurance plans. You may also visit https://www.insularlife.com.ph/ for more information on InLife’s insurance products.
Subscribe to our business newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.