HARDWORKING entrepreneurs can be counted on to be hands on in their businesses 24/7. An order hasn’t arrived at the end of the day? The businessman/woman will be on the phone instantly to find out from the supplier why the order hasn’t arrived. The computer system bogged down at 9 p.m.? No problem. The hardworking entrepreneur will go to the office to determine what’s wrong then communicate with the server people. Even on weekends, some entrepreneurs will still have business on their minds and will check on their stores (or the competition) if possible. But working doubly hard for long periods of time without taking vacations can be bad for your physical and mental health. It’s like your body is on constant red alert. In an article entitled “Stress Basics,” staff at the Mayo Clinic say, “Over time, that level of stress leads to serious health problems.” Migraines, back pains, vision problems and even allergies are just some of the health problems associated with work stress. While relaxation techniques and delegating tasks help, a good stress-free vacation can do wonders to recharge and reinvigorate the working man. Early this month, I had a three-day vacation in Baguio with a friend who happens to be the editor-in-chief of a monthly magazine. Since both our schedules are always fully packed with work deadlines, meetings, interviews, and mommy duties, we welcomed the break and resolved to just chill. Our vacation schedule was not hectic, and several times we just caught ourselves staring at nothing, and saying over and over again how wonderful it is not to do anything. We ditched the touristy activities (no Mines View Park, horseback riding, and Burnham Park for us). Instead, we chose relaxing activities we could do with no rush: a trip to the salon for a mani-pedi, a luxurious massage at a spa far from the mall, visits to an art gallery and museum for a culture trip, and long meals at restaurants that serve delicious entrees and the freshest salads. We also took the stress-free ride to and from Baguio, taking the de luxe aircon bus with no stops. Needless to say, we both felt recharged even with just that short vacation—a far cry from other vacations that are so hectic, you need a vacation to recover from your vacation. Have you used your vacation leave credits this year? Although it’s been raining now and then, summer is still here, a perfect time to chill either up in the mountain or down at the beach. :)
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WE KNOW we have one of the, if not the longest Christmas celebration in the world. Beginning September, the Christmas season is ushered in in the Philippines with the playing of Christmas songs on radio, announcements of holiday sales in the malls, and Christmas bazaars or tiangges in villages and commercial areas. This 2009, the Christmas season seems even longer. We haven't had as many nonworking holidays as we have this December. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has declared December 26, 29, 31 and January 2 as nonworking holidays. December 25 (Christmas Day) and 30 (Rizal Day) are already legal holidays so that makes it an almost whole two-week holiday stretch from December 25 to January 4 for most people. Most people are happy about it. One banker I spoke to says she is very happy about the long break. "I can have time to be with my family and cook," she says. Although her bank has declared some branches open during the holidays, a system has been worked out such that employees only have to work for 1 to 2 days during the holidays (at holiday pay rate) since branches take turns being open. "In one area, there will always be a branch that is open to service the needs of the public," she says. It's a win-win situation. By keeping its branches open, the workload will not be that much on January 5 since some clients have been serviced during the holidays. Employees, by working for 1 to 2 days, get to earn more, yet still enjoy some days off. But for a software executive, the long holiday break is just too much. "It's not okay. It used to be that companies have a day or two after Christmas with which to close contracts before the year ends. This year, most customers went on leave after the 19th. So some year-end targets were not met, and we'll be rushing come January." Holidays were designed to commemorate special events and allow people to celebrate the occasion with their loved ones. Some want more holidays, some want less. Whatever you prefer, here's wishing you a happy new year! Here's to a great 2009! :)
“ALMOST MEANINGLESS.” This is how Congressman Roilo Golez of Parañaque City described the Philippine centavo when he filed a resolution recently calling for a study into the possibility of retiring the following denominations: 1-centavo, 10-centavo, 25-centavo, and 50-centavo. According to Golez, cash transactions can be rounded off to the nearest peso. Anyway, vending machines do not accept centavo coins, and producing coins cost more than their face value. This news story came to mind as I went about my errands today. At the bakeshop nearby where I bought a loaf of bread, the cashier asked me for an additional P0.75 so she can give me a P5 coin as change. At the supermarket a few minutes later, the cashier asked if I can add P2.50 to the money I gave her so she can give me a P20 bill as change. There is a shortage of coins in circulation today as there are reports of smugglers transporting our coins elsewhere for their metal content. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has warned the public against the illegal use of coins, smuggling included. This situation has left many businesses grappling for coins as change over the past few years, and this Christmas season is no exception. Should the centavo be retired? Although Golez raised valid points, one must also realize that some transactions still have to be done exactly down to the nearest centavo—interest on loans and deposits, for instance. We may or may not see the centavo retired. Businesses then have to make the extra effort to have coins available for change, at least the 10-centavo and 25-centavo coins especially this busy Christmas season. Consumers should use more coins as payment, and not hoard them in piggy banks at home. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen a 50-centavo coin in a long while. It seems to have vanished together with the P10 bill.
MY EYES were glued on Suze Orman, well-known personal finance expert and author, as she affirmed to Larry King yesterday on Larry King Live on CNN that the current crisis is comparable to the Great Depression. See the rush transcript here . Because of the US subprime crisis, the US big banks are falling, and so does everything else—stocks, yields, even the super insurer AIG, so it does seem like the sky is falling worldwide. After Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch, two other banks—Morgan Stanley and Washington Mutual--are up for grabs. Just a few hours ago, news came in that central banks in other countries are pumping cash into their economies to help stabilize markets. So, is this really the Great Depression 2.0? The Great Depression happened in 1929 when the US stock market crashed on October 29, which has since been referred to as Black Tuesday. Crop prices fell, trade declined, businesses closed, incomes diminished, jobs became scarce, and in Gone With the Wind, Scarlett O’Hara had no choice but to face poverty. It was a devastating event for people who just experienced prosperity in the roaring ‘20s. It spread from the US to other countries and lasted into the late ‘30s when World War II began. Historians say the great imbalance of wealth and stock market speculation caused that 1929 Great Depression. The rich became so rich, while the rest of America discovered credit, and soon consumers had so much debt they couldn’t buy every new thing coming out of assembly lines. Farmers also encountered an over-supply situation in the international market, so prices fell. Then it snowballed from there. But thanks to government reforms and assistance, the US and other countries got back on their feet. Economic slowdowns happen, but they don’t last forever. Since then, financial reforms and restrictions have been put in place, so we stand a greater chance of bouncing back faster from economic setbacks. As the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas says, RP banks are safe. A New York economist shares the same view. Mark Getler, an economist from New York University, was quoted by Wall Street Journal saying: "This has been the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. There is no question about it. But at the same time we have the policy mechanisms in place fighting it, which is something we didn't have during the Great Depression." So business goes on. Back to work, guys.
Last week, the World Bank released a study called Doing Business 2009. In it, Singapore took the top spot in the rankings on the ease of doing business, New Zealand was 2nd, and the U.S. was 3rd. Hong Kong was 4th; Japan, 12th; Thailand, 13th; and China 83rd. The Philippines? 140th. The study monitored countries as to the ease with which businesses can do the following: start a business, deal with construction permits, employ workers, register property, get credit, protect investors, pay taxes, trade across borders, enforce contracts, and close a business. I’ve heard many tales from business people of red tape and corruption, which slow down business growth. A woman I know had a hard time getting the occupancy permit for her school due to red tape. Another friend asked around for anyone who could help her friend get a business permit the right way. It turned out her friend was being asked to give P20,000 as grease money. But don’t let these scary stories discourage you from doing business in the Philippines. There are some rotten eggs in the basket, but the good ones outnumber the bad ones. Know the proper way of doing things and stick to it—ditch those fixers!
A MONTH AGO, CNN Money.com came out with a feature entitled “The smartest advice I ever got.” Successful business people were asked to share the best advice they received regarding money. For Bobbi Brown, founder and CEO of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, it’s “Create your own opportunities.” For Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, it’s “Money doesn’t make you happy.” And for Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, it’s “Know where your money goes.” Going into business isn’t a walk in the park, so part of the homework is heeding the advice of other people. This ties in with Proverbs 15:22: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” A couple of businesswomen share here the smartest business advice they ever got. See if you can apply these to your life as well. 1. Go into business involving your expertise. Jol Espiritu-Cruel of Just for You personalized stationery, party favors and diapers cakes, credits her mother-in-law, Chita Cruel, for this advice. “She always says that one should go into business involving his/her own expertise—not one that is fully or largely dependent on somebody else’s talents. That way, you will never have to worry about that person one day leaving you for greener pastures—or worse—for a competitor!” says Jol. This work-at-home mom of three kids aged 14, 12 and 11 has taken that advice to heart and believes that is the reason her business is still around. “The greater bulk of work involved lies with me, my talents and hard work. I may hire an extra hand or two to help me out during my busy season (in time for the holidays), but the work I assign them does not make them indispensable,” says Jol. “For the rest of the year, I am on my own and I do just fine.” 2. Don’t forget relationships. Crissy Balatbat of Cerealicious, a cereal bar, and Newstar Publishing, quotes businessman William Rosenfeld: “Never be too busy or too involved in details to forget that any business is really about relationships: you with each employee, the company with its customers, and customers with their end product.” People skills are important in business. Crissy says, “I apply this in both businesses I’m currently involved in. I find that when you treat your staff well, they enjoy working for you and are motivated to work hard to achieve the company’s goals. And in dealing with customers, I find it very beneficial and rewarding to know and understand their minds, their hearts, and their lives in general. Focusing on their desires and what makes them feel satisfied is first priority.” And the reward follows. “I find that the more effort you exert in making your customers feel happy, the more they will keep coming back to you. At the end of the day, you realize that your business is all about catering to their needs. That’s why you put it up in the first place: no customers, no business,” adds Crissy. How about you—what’s the smartest business advice you ever got?
(This post marks the first entry of Karen Galarpe, the new blogger for Open For Business. Karen is the editor of SME Insight, the Inquirer group's magazine for entrepreneurs, and has been a journalist for almost two decades now. She has written extensively on entrepreneurship in many different magazines and books like The Ultimate Guide To Starting Your Own Business and has been a consulting editor of Entrepreneur. Karen is bringing in her extensive experience on writing about entrepreneurship and is a great addition to the INQUIRER.net team. Welcome, Karen! -- Ma. Salve Duplito) SOME years ago, in an interview with Good Housekeeping magazine, Sharon Cuneta advised the GH reader what to do if she had P50,000: Put half of it in a high-yielding account in the bank, place about 10 to 15 percent in a savings or checking account for emergency, then start a small-scale business selling cakes (if the reader loves to bake) with a startup capital of P5,000. Many entrepreneurs started out this way, putting up a business they love with a small capital. And they have found out that the rewards are good -- money will flow in most cases, and theyâ€™ll get to do what they love to do. Take my high school batchmate Analyn, for instance. She's good at cooking and so she started selling chicken pastel and baked macaroni from her home on a small capital. Soon she got a small space in Greenhills Theater Mall and the Peach Box business was born. Analyn tells me that among her regular customers are showbiz people, with whom she's now on first name basis. Her business, which she runs with her sister-in-law, Joan, is growing, and now she has other products as well, like kesong puti made from pure carabao milk from the family business, Arce Dairy. My other friend Jun is so high-tech (and Iâ€™m so low-tech) that I had to ask him more than once to explain to me what business he got into with his friends. It turns out that they do IT stuff such as making billing software, among other business solutions they provide through their company, Seer Technologies Inc. And time and again he has told me how happy he is to be doing what he loves and doing it for himself -- no more employment in other companies for this fellow. So why be an entrepreneur? It's to do what you love to do. And I found out, through years of covering interesting people in my work as a journalist, that such passion is the one that will spell success in business. Indeed, when you do what you love to do, you excel in it, and in the process, you help enrich other people's lives. The money will just follow. In this blog, Open for Business, we'll be featuring passionate business people and find out how they run their businesses. Weâ€™ll follow the travails of the winners in our mentoring contest and see what will happen when they implement mentor Willy Arcilla's tips. We'll talk about entrepreneurs' concerns and what must be done to address them. We'll talk business -- plain and simple. Thanks to Salve for giving me the opportunity to blog here. She has done a wonderful job -- I'm sure you'll agree. Now let's take Open for Business to the next level. Jump in on the discussions!
I stumbled on this short film by Nic for www.monday9am.tv that shows an interview with one of my favorite authors Seth Godin. There's a lot of talk in the video about curiosity, faith, getting stuck and why one of the smartest things done by the smartest people in the world was turn off their television. But what I really want to share is how he talked about attitudes towards risk. He says:
Curious is the key word... It has to do with a desire to understand, a desire to try, a desire to push whatever envelope you are interested in... [Curious people matter because they] are the ones who talk to the people who are in a stupor. They are the ones who talk to the masses in the middle who are stuck. The masses in the middle have brainwashed themselves to think that it's safe to do nothing.Seth Godin is a genius at creating strategies to market stuff. He wrote bestselling books such as Meatball Sundae, The Dip and All Marketers Are Liars. Imagine what would have happened if he was not curious enough to try out his ideas. But it wasn't easy for him, too. He further explains:
It's easy to underestimate how difficult it is for someone to be curious. For 7, 10, 15 years of school you are required not to be curious. Over and over the curious are punished....It's more about a 5, 10, 15-year process when people start finding their voice and they start realizing that the safest thing they can do feels risky and the riskiest thing they can do is play it safe.Repeat after me: "The safest thing we can do is feel risky and the riskiest thing we can do is play it safe." How does that sound? Last week, I observed several small entrepreneurs (just your run of the mill ones) and discovered that even for something as small as a fruit stall, they had to be curious and they had to learn not to play safe. Entrepreneurs cannot afford to get stuck in the middle, in a stupor and just let the world pass by because it feels safe to do nothing. If you are one of the masses in the middle who are slowly starting to get out of that stupor, and realize that you want to be an entrepreneur, you've got to make a conscious effort to resist playing it safe, as Seth experienced. It will not just happen. It will require curiosity, will and a healthy dose of courage.
(Photo from Agence-France Presse) By J. Randell Tiongson, RFP® Personal Finance Educator I was thinking of a New Year's Resolution for 2008, something I can choose... then not follow, haha! In my hobby forum (www.reefphilippines.com), someone asked us about our New Year's Resolution and one wittingly answered that he will only make one, that is not to make any resolutions -- funny guy. Seriously though, this is a great time to reflect on what I want to do for 2008. I want to pursue my entrepreneurial endeavors for 2008. I have been happy with my career these past few years. I have a job I really love and I work with a lot of people I really like. I am thankful for what I have now... how many people can really say they like being an employee? I actually sincerely do. If only I get that promotion, then everything will be perfect (I really hope my boss reads this, haha!). Now if this is the case, then what seems to be the problem? Well, there's a tiny voice in my head that keeps on telling me that I can also be a successful entrepreneur. I grew up in an family of entrepreneurs. I am the lone employee in my family. In a brood of about 45 cousins in my mother's side, there are only about 10 employees, maybe even less. My siblings can’t comprehend the concept of vacation leaves! That voice that keeps telling me to set up my own business is somehow rooted in my subconscious. There are times that I am happy that I am employed when I see my siblings go through some business reversals but I still feel that I also have the smarts to be an entrepreneur too. I tried to go into business when I was much younger but I lost big time in that business and I swore never to go back into business again. I don't know if I am entering into some mid-life crisis but this itch is nagging me. So for 2008, I have resolved that I will, once and for all, quench my thirst to give the entrepreneurial run a good try. I'm not sure if my many years in the financial services industry will be a plus or not. My years in insurance sales can be viewed as being in business, but somehow I don't think that’s exactly the same. I started to lay the foundations of some business endeavors in 2007 and this year, I hope to see it bear fruit. What was the catalyst that started the ball rolling? Let me tell you a story. I arranged for an interview of Francis Kong by Salve Duplito (of Inquirer.net) some months ago. During the interview, I kept on hi-jacking the interview as if I was the journalist (sorry Salve) and in one of my inquiries about the Francis’ success, he mentioned that it was because of leveraging that he got to where he is right now (Francis Kong was foremost a successful businessman prior to becoming a sought-after speaker and training expert). He said that he had great ideas but he lacked capital -- leveraging allowed him to hook up with people who were willing to jump into business with him and the rest, as they say, was history. That fateful interview started to plant seeds in my mind. Once I opened up my mind to the possibility, ideas gushed out and opportunities started to open up. I was overwhelmed. Rather than spend time over-analyzing things, I started doing something about it. My boss once told me it is easy to get bit by 'analysis paralysis'. I started to think about getting into businesses about my passions in life and work with people I really look up to and/or share my passions with? I can't really talk about them yet as we are still in the process of executing our plans... but we've laid down the foundations and are about to start seeing our plans in action. I have three major endeavors planned... one is already running and another is about to start next week. The third endeavor, the biggest one of them should be a reality by the middle of the year, assuming things go as planned. I am overwhelmed with all these considering I hardly put up much capital. Francis Kong was right. Leveraging really works! It took some time to realize the Lord really has a lot of things in store for me. All I needed to do was ask! Is it that simple? Yes, it is. Being surrounded by entrepreneurs also helps you think clearly... you start thinking of opportunities rather than doubts. I'm fortunate to be friends with good business people, their energies really rub on you. Our new forum http://www.income-tacts.com/ has so many discussions on business ideas aside from the usual financial planning and investment threads. I recommend that you go there and read the posts. They are well worth your time. You might be wondering about my job. I'm glad to say that despite starting those endeavors, I managed to have an extremely productive year, hitting and surpassing all my objectives and have began embarking on bigger objectives in 2008. I'm having the time of my life as an executive and I don't think my employers can complain with my output. Will I quit my job? I don't think so -- I love it too much! However, I can also find fulfillment in pursuing my entrepreneurial spirit. I hope I can have my cake and eat it too! With the help of others and the guidance from above, I think we can. Here's to a fruitful 2008! * J. Randell Tiongson is a director of the Registered Financial Planning Institute and has been engaged in the various facets of the Financial Services Industry for nearly two decades. He is the co-founder of www.income-tacts.com with Efren Ll. Cruz, an inter-active site dedicated in the financial literacy of every Pinoy.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Ronnel Domingo has an article today about eight cities that made it to the Institute for Solidarity in Asia’s list of business-friendly cities. ISA is headed by Jess Estanislao, one of the few persons in this country most qualified to make this list. Estanislao is known by most as the chief economic manager of the Aquino administration, first as socioeconomic planning secretary and later as finance secretary. What few people know is that he has a PhD from Harvard University, where he was also a teaching fellow and a research fellow. I included this little snippet because ISA’s public governance system and scorecard is patterned after Harvard’s scorecard for LGUs. Any ranking of the country’s cities will fall down like a pack of cards if there is even a tiny hint that the judging process is arbitrary. Who else but Jess can ensure that the list is bullet-proof? So (drum rolls please), the eight most business-friendly cities are: San Fernando in La Union province San Fernando in Pampanga Marikina in Metro Manila Naga in Camarines Sur Sorsogon in Sorsogon province Calbayog in Samar Iloilo in Iloilo province Tagbilaran in Bohol Here’s an excerpt of the article:
The eight city governments have partnered with ISA on a program called Dream Cities, which requires each of them to map out a charter that states their visions for the next few years. Examples are Marikina’s goal of becoming Southeast Asia’s model city in competitiveness; San Fernando’s positioning to become a tourist destination, and Tagbilaran’s desire to become a premier eco-cultural tourism hub in Asia. Twelve other cities nationwide have joined the ISA program: Tuguegarao, Dagupan, Tagaytay, Iriga, Cebu, Dumaguete, Ligao, Panabo, Tacurong, Tangub, Toledo and Samal. The ISA’s support includes help in strategic planning for spurring business, infrastructure development, and zoning. The LGUs are required to involve the community in government affairs. “They have resources to do these projects,” Fulgencio said. “They also need to create an Office of Strategy Management, which is responsible for the core plan within the city.” Formed last year to address perceptions that the country’s attractiveness to investors was waning relative to neighboring countries, the NCC has created six groups to formulate action agendas and push initiatives focused on human resources; management expertise in specific public offices; financing to micro, small and medium enterprises; reduction of transaction costs and improved transaction flows; the upgrade of infrastructure, particularly in transportation, and reduction of costs and securing supplies of electricity.Click here to read the rest of the article: