The Right Time to Start that Business is Now

Helen Keller might as well have been describing the Philippines when she quipped, “The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker.”

Over ninety percent (99.58 percent) of business enterprises operating in the Philippines are classified as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with the bulk (89.78 percent) composed mainly of micro-enterprises. MSMEs literally buoy local employment up by providing jobs to nearly two-thirds of the labor force. We can’t all be industry titans, but collectively, the MSMEs provide a foothold for millions of Filipinos to eke out a living and survive. As a multiplier for economic and social benefits, entrepreneurs should swell its ranks even more so but this ideal is hampered by a few critical factors:

Lack of capital. The most oft-cited reason for not starting a business is lack of capital. I’ve seen a few cashflow projections of business ideas that never took flight because the ideal numbers on paper effectively gave its proponents stage fright. Lethargic response from potential funders often is sometimes enough to seal the coffin for timid would-be entrepreneurs. A true-blue businessman, however, would view this challenge as temporary and may be approached in different ways. Cash may be short, but never creativity.

Think phases. Break the ideal set-up into phases until you find the most basic scenario (or your phase one) that will allow you to put limited cash primarily on products or services that generates you sales as soon as possible. Pare down all other expenses with creative options. If all you need is a proper business address and not a storefront, a virtual office in a central business district paid quarterly or monthly will be a more viable option than entering into a lease on office space that will require setup, manpower and operating costs. Coffee shop meetings have become the norm in any case.

Outsource accounting and other non-core activities. Each person in the organization may take on multiple roles, but make sure the decision-making, structure, accountabilities and communication channels are clear. Identify workflows and see how you can optimize given initial resources. Even before starting, go out of your way to find the best value sources of inputs, supplies and equipment (think surplus or refurbished). Even as you begin operations with the pared-down version, start fine-tuning your plan on how to revamp the organization that will allow you to grow as you keep pace with opportunities. If working capital is limited, don’t let sloth be the culprit behind poor planning, research, and execution; nor allow your personal lifestyle extravagance to drain your fledgling business. Plow income as much as you can back into the business to help it grow.

Getting the right people

Sure, you and your best friend or spouse have a brilliant product or service idea, but if you lack the right skills and business temperament, the idea may not flourish. In business, it is particularly critical to get the right team in place, even if some individuals have to hold multiple roles initially.

In the absence of an advisory board, ask help from an experienced businessman in your field to provide strategic review and assistance in your planning. Check that business functions, i.e. marketing, operations, organization/human resources management, and finance, are sufficiently covered either in-house or through outsourced help. Strength in one area while overlooking the other functions may be the seed for disaster. Make sure that members of the team are competent in their assigned roles and some at least have enough experience in the industry or field. This allows you to start running with the business idea right away and helps you cut costs in market research, supplies sourcing, and customer connections as you bring your product to market. To sustain teamwork, cultivate a common goal that benefits the group.

When you think about it, a journey of a million miles begins with one step. Start your business. Plan, secure just enough capital to start, surround yourself with the right team.  Then hunker down to work. With every setback, assess and start again.

As David Icke puts it, “Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s nut that held its ground.”As a micro-entrepreneur that provides required products and services and generates employment, your success is just what this country needs.

Evangeline Navarro is a serial entrepreneur and investor, a finance teacher; and a student at heart on how money and resources affect people. She can be contacted at


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