Happy Easter!

Easter is the most important event to those who believe in Christ, much more important than Christmas. Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven is proof that He is the son of God. If Jesus did not rise up on the 3rd day then He is human like us. You could imagine what will be the effect if they found a tomb of a jesus with a body in it.

How is your lent journey on the 2nd time during the pandemic? We hope this would be the last, but some say this will be the new normal. Whatever it is, we have to adapt, we have to move on, we have to rise. In case you were able to find an idea or a direction during this Lent, don’t let them die with the pandemic, it is time to execute your ideas.

Serendipity – A Holy Saturday Reflection

Holy Saturday for me is the most boring day in Lent. After going to the emotion-filled final hours of Jesus and His crucifixion. After going though different celebrations and activities we stop and wait. You cannot consecrate the Host because Jesus is dead. We are in a bubble, just waiting for His resurrection. Feels familiar? We have been doing it for more than a year. It seems that we are in an over extended Holy Saturday. After thinking that we will only be in lockdown for one year, we are now over and still far ahead. Are we half way till the end of the Pandemic? When will I get get vaccinated, I am in Priority Eligible C? Much worse the number of people testing positive is increasing, will I get Covid first before getting the vaccine?

While waiting for the pandemic to end, what will I do? Do I bum it out? Do I think of a new racket? If I have one, how do I sustain it? Or, do I wait for a Serendipity…

What does Serendipity mean? I first heard the word when I was part of the Yuppeace Faith Community based in Don Bosco-Makati which was born from the volunteers of World Youth Day 1995. We call a Serendipity session, the sharing of a group of four individuals from Bible Passages. Googling, Serendipity simply means finding something good without looking for it. But I like most the definition below :

How can we even think of something good happening when we are in a lockdown. Do we wait and pause our lives for two years? While waiting, it will be good to also dream of a serendipity.

The Great Reset – A Good Friday Reflection

God is Pesky, He has been waking me up for several weeks during our common early morning time to write an article. I tried but somewhere in between, work got in the way. It was a busy month at work, finally I got to make time yesterday to write ECQ Part 2 – A Holy Thursday Reflections (http://smepinoy.com/ecq-part-2/). Although I included Holy Thursday in the title, I do not know what to write today so it was supposed to be a one time thing. God is Pesky, I am now writing an article for a Good Friday Reflection.

Sad news greeted us this morning due to the passing of a High School then College Batchmate due to Covid. I am not doing a tally of those who got Covid and those who died from Covid, but it is already a part of our chats in my different Social Media groups. There are even more who are collateral damages of Covid, such as my mother. People who did not get the medical attention they needed because of the Pandemic.

What is the God’s message this holy week to you? During this holy week, we will be letting go one of the 2 units we are using. I confess, I am an Anonymous Hoarder. I have a lot of things in storage that I hope to find useful in the future, broken things I hope to repair or old memorabilia to show my children. I have kept things which are now 30 to 50 years old, some still in boxes, which my kid broke in 5 minutes. Downsizing this holy week has forced me to finally accept God’s message, its time for a great reset. Although I have been clearing a lot of things since my mother died, it was more automatic and a chore. I was able to sell a few of my things online but most of them were shared to those who will have better use for it than sitting in a plastic box in my makeshift warehouse. God’s message for me this Holy Friday…acknowledge that 2021 is a year for my Great Reset.

While I was searching for a video to add to this article, I was surprised that there have been a lot of discussion on a global Great Reset. I would not want to touch on that, but I would like to share a video that may help you reflect this Good Friday. Just incase you also need to reset your life.

ECQ Part 2 – A Holy Thursday Reflection

After a year, we are back in ECQ. When I wrote my Business Insights article, Happy Lockversary! (http://smepinoy.com/happy-lockversary/) at least one person in my circle of friends are getting Covid. Now at ECQ 2, there are at least 3 and growing fast. I read different reasons from different sides, but for me no one reason is the cause of the problem. As I always hear at the beginning of my favorite show from my favorite channel…

Are we already in a disaster? If you have not seen it as such, it means you need to prepare more. Hospitals are already overwhelmed and even our President has recognized this. No need to sugar coat it, expect bleak months ahead.

In the different Social Media groups I belong to, there are cries for help for family or friends. Most are looking for hospitals that can accommodate their sick. I could just imagine if my mother had her bad fall at this time, we could not have given her the hospital care, wake and burial she got. But with so many sad stories and pleas you hear, I feel guilty to even think we were spared from what thousands are experiencing now.

So how are you holding on? This holy week we do not need to be reminded to avoid beaches, you are forced to stay home. You do not need to look for inspiration to reflect, you are forced to quiet down. During this Holy Thursday, just surrender to the silence. When ready take time to reflect and pray. Reflect on what is happening all around us and include some prayer time for our country which needs a lot of healing…

Happy Lockversary!

It has been one year since the lockdown, for some it was more. Classes were suspended one week before, while us at work had a trial lockdown starting March 12. A trial lockdown that is more than one year old now. I do not need to tell you how hard a year it was, we were all affected:

So how was your one year in lockdown? Some say you need 40 days to change a habit, others say you need to to do the 21/90 days to build a new one. Which ever is more effective, we have been in lockdown for more than 365 days, definitely we all changed. I even wonder what will be the new me after the lockdown, from someone who likes to go out or travel I might be now a home body.

During the one year lockdown I was able to follow my reset-realign-restart formula which reinvented SMEpinoy.com and AgentisConsult.com. If I was to plot my wheel of life, there would be major improvements in most aspects of my life.

(SOURCE: https://codescale.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/wheel-of-life/)

Sometimes I felt guilty that the lockdown was more a blessing to me compared to other people. Until I lost my mother, although she did not die because of COVID, I believed she was an indirect victim of COVID. Being a nonagenarian, she cannot get the proper medical attention she needed.

Furthermore, there is now a more contagious variant which brought things closer to home. There is at least one from my different circle of friends getting COVID, not just individuals but also their families. From averaging 2,000 new cases a day, we are now at 5,000 new cases a day. The UP OCTA even projected it can go to 6,000 new cases a day by the end of March. Even if there is already a vaccine, a Philippine Senator projected that at the pace we are going, we will reach the needed 70% vaccinated to get herd immunity by 2033. Even if we drastically improve our pace, it only mean we would not be able to reach the 70% needed this 2021. It only mean that at best we are just halfway into this lockdown.

I am stating this not to scare people, or make them lose hope. In the spirit of Strategic Planning, we should know the real score so we can plan appropriately. In the spirit of ISO 9001, we should revisit our plans, check how we are meeting them and adjust where necessary.

If you have hibernated for one year, do not believe you can survive by being idle for another year unless you have millions in your account. Even if you have millions, you still need to reset, realign and restart the other aspects of your life.

If you have been adept to have followed a plan during the pandemic, it is now time to for a revalidation. Personally, I have neglected my health. I also feel a need to have more impact in helping the community. Sharing what I know is not enough, I should start a project that would have a more direct impact to people’s lives and the environment. Whatever it would be, I would now review and adjust my plans.

Just do not forget, that to survive another year of lockdown we need more than ourselves. We need support from other heroes in our life. Whether we like it or not, this is not the end of the longest lockdown in the world. Happy Lockversary to you all!

Data Privacy

Before anything, I would like to apologize for the long hiatus in my articles. I lost a very special person in my life and am actually still grieving. Writing became more a struggle when you are sad. But while searching for a video to promote our new product Data Security Consulting (http://agentisconsult.com/new-normal/data-security/), I stumbled into something that even a seasoned techie like me was shocked. I was forced to at least write about this discovery. Initially I thought the data being collected was simply the data you post in your social media account and the indoctrination were simple digital marketing. The Artificial Intelligence was more advanced than I knew.

Psychographics, the first time I learned of the word is the game changer. Mass advertising for me is still tolerable through influencing by bombardment or shotgun approach. But when you can already zoom in to the psychology of an individual and surgically target the matching niche advertising this is already the realization of the Matrix and V for Vendetta level of indoctrination. It is hard to explain my fear, but as a Martial law baby, I have a phobia to dictatorship and government control. Psychographics can lead to brainwashing without my knowing it. If you are a techy and would want to learn more how they do it, please proceed to view the next video and get a nose bleed.

This video was posted in 2016, now I am not so sure if the choices I made are my own or am I already mind controlled. Although I knew Cambridge Analytica operated in the Philippines, I dared to Google, “Cambridge Analytica Philippines” and this is what i got.

At risk to be called crazy or a conspiracy theorist, my advise…Be afraid…Be very afraid…

Joke only! I want to make this article to be an eye-opener of your Data Rights and teach how to protect your Facebook Privacy:

and lastly…Be afraid…Be very afraid…

My Plan or God’s Plan?

I would like to apologize for the one month silence of “SMEpinoy Business Insights”, we left out just beginning to discuss the 7P’s of Marketing. But a lot has happened the past month both Negative and Positive that all my previous plans were put on hold.

I had everything planned, including the follow up articles, but God has other plans. I am not alone in asking this question, early March we had the Covid lockdown and just this month Typhoon Rolly, Quinta and Ulysses battered Luzon. A lot of plans are erased or needs to be adjusted. What do we do when we are overwhelmed with problems? I would like to share what I have learned through the years:

1st step is to not struggle and fight, our stubbornness will make us decide to continue with our plans. We have to realize that we are now in one of the crossroads of life where we may need to drop or adjust our plans.

2nd step is to let go and let God, just drop everything and let God take the steering wheel. This is a time to step back and look at what is happening inside and outside. Sounds familiar, that is how you do strategic planning. It is time to self assess and adjust, much like the Agile methodology.

3rd step is do not forget to pray, for atheists you can drop step 3. For theists, our desolation makes it easier for us to be closer to God. I had my closest relationship with God during times of desolation.

The 4th and final step is to slowly restart, by taking baby steps. Revisit your old plans but do not start yet. Starting immediately is not God’s way. Assess your self, you will know it is time when things are clearer. Thread slowly as new opportunities will come your way. If you are going the right direction, things will fall into place. Just be careful on the source of this opportunities, how would you know if it is the right one? I was taught this 3 tests to determine if something is God’s will:

  • Time Test : as mentioned earlier, God’s way is not fast. If an opportunity came that requires a quick decision or action then it failed the Time Test.
  • Goodness Test : anything that comes from God is good, including its fruits. Anything that is bad or will bear fruit that is bad fails the Goodness Test.
  • Humility Test : things that comes from God will make us Humble. If the gift will give us pride or become boastful then it will fail the Humility Test.

It is not God’s Will if even 1 of the 3 tests fail. So, where does God want me to adjust? I am still in step 4 but so far this article is one of my new directions. To sometimes touch on spirituality and God in my articles. I am doing this as a mission to help MSMEs but I have failed to mention God or share my spirituality in my articles. Another change is to relax and smell the flowers more, pray more and exercise more.

Pitching for Funding

As promised, this week I will talk about how to pitch to the bank or potential investors to get funding for your business. It is not enough to have a business plan, you also need to sell it to potential investors. Even after your business is operational, you still need to continuously pitch your products and services to potential clients.

There are different kinds of pitch but personally I just use two, a short or informal pitch and a long or formal pitch. The short pitch is used to get the attention and attract the potential investor to setup a meeting for a more formal presentation where you will need a Pitch Deck or a PowerPoint presentation.

SHORT PITCH

There are different kinds of short pitches such as the Twitter Pitch, where your pitch is limited to 140 characters, and Elevator Pitch, where your pitch should not be longer than 2 minutes or an elevator ride. Although there are a lot of variations in doing a short pitch this are the essentials :

  • A strong opener that will capture their attention.
  • Introduction of your business, including what you do.
  • What is the problem your business is trying to solve?
  • What is the solution of your business to the problem?
  • Why is your solution unique and why it is hard to copy?
  • What you need, i assume its money?
  • How will they be assured to get their money back with interest? If your talking to an investor, how much money will they make by investing in your company?
  • Close by setting an appointment for a more detailed presentation.

Here is a video of how to do an elevator pitch;

LONG PITCH

If you are successful in your Short Pitch, be it in the phone, social media or an elevator it means you need to prepare a Pitch Deck. Here are the essential information that must be present in your PowerPoint presentation:

  • A strong opener that will capture their attention.
  • What is the problem your business is trying to solve?
  • What is the solution of your business to the problem?
  • Your product that will deliver the solution.
  • Present the team, with short description, that will create the product.
  • Show the competition or alternatives to your product.
  • Describe your target market.
  • Present how you plan to make money.
  • Show your financial projections including how much investment is needed and how it will be spent.
  • A strong closer, including how much money they will make by investing in your company.

There is a 10/20/30 Rule in PowerPoint Presentations, it should have 10 slides, should not last more than 20 minutes, and contain no font smaller than 30 points(1). So where do you put your contact information if you already have 10 slides? I put it at the bottom of all my slides.

Lastly, do not forget that you are still talking to a human therefore always add eye candies or anything that will touch on the human emotion;

References:

  1. 10/20/30 Rule : https://www.pier8group.com/the-10-20-30-rule-of-powerpoint/

Jerry Maguire’s Mission Statement

When Jerry Maguire came out in the 90’s, it had a strong impact to some people. Some looked for the one who completes them while some like my co-sales teammate resigned from work. Like Jerry Maguire, he too had a quarter-life crisis and wanted to go back to school to pursue his passion. I, like some of Jerry Maguire’s officemate we’re clapping but deep inside was wary he will achieve his passion. If you are wondering what happened to him, he is now successful in the same work and industry he tried to leave.

Wikipedia defines quarter-life crisis as “involving anxiety over the direction and quality of one’s life” which is most commonly experienced in a period ranging from a person’s early twenties up to their mid-thirties[1]. I define quarter-life crisis this way; we go through college and find a job just focused on earning money until one day we wakeup and begin to ask, is this what I want to do for the rest of my life? In this crossroad of our life, we begin to look for our passion and purpose. If you are successful in finding your purpose and pursuing it, life seems easier. Actually the problems are the same but since you are doing what you love, you have gained the resilience to continue in spite of the difficulties. Plus the comfortable feeling that you are doing something that you are meant to do.

Business is like life, that is why it needs a Mission Statement. Otherwise your business would just be for earning money. In my “How to Start Your Own Business” Seminar, I always ask the attendees what is their passion, then I tell them to start the business of their passion. Business is a struggle, it is harder than just being employed and earning salary. Your continuing the business and closing it will depend if the business is your passion.

Another point from the movie, Jerry Maguire was fired for trying to change the direction of the company when he was not part of the Board of Directors. In fact he was like Don Quixote, dreaming people will embrace his mission when he is in the middle of the organizational chart. There will be no twist to the movie if Jerry Maguire was part of the Board of Director. It is the Owners or Board of Directors who sets the Vision and Mission of the business then cascades down this direction through policies and corporate culture. In fact, Jerry Maguire was only able to set the direction he wanted when he was the owner of his own company.

Two lessons I want to reiterate from this movie:

  1. Your business needs a Mission and Vision based on your passion. There are a lot of advantages to this, one of which is you won’t have a quarter-life crisis which in business years is just after a few years. Owning a business is like sailing towards waves and you continuing or going back when you encounter rough seas would depend if your business completes you.
  2. The Mission, Vision and Values are developed by the owners and cascaded down their employees. The analogy is like steering a ship with the directions coming from somewhere below deck and not on top at the bridge.

Ever wondered what was really inside Jerry Maguire’s Mission Statement? The movie’s writer, director and producer – Cameron Crowe released the full 25-page Mission Statement in his website to commemorate the 20th year of the movie in 2016. You can read it at http://www.theuncool.com/films/jerry-maguire/jerrys-mission-statement/ .

Reference :

  1. Quarter-Life Crisis – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarter-life_crisis#:~:text=In%20popular%20psychology%2C%20a%20quarter,begin%20as%20early%20as%2018).

Funding Your Business

In the spirit of reading the signs of the times, I would change my article this week into Funding Your Business. I received a private message (PM) this morning from one of the attendees of my “How To Start Your Own Business” Seminar. He asked advice on how to fund a business he WANTS to put up. His savings run out and needs to get funding so he can generate income. Which is our mission for Business Sanctuary (http://sanctuary.smepinoy.com/) having foreseen this issue being encountered by a lot of people in the New Normal.

My first feedback, is the business you WANT to put up feasible? Is there a market for your product or are you just asking for funding to build your clubhouse?

Are you trying to get a loan from the bank, or funding from anyone, without a business plan? Good luck! Having a business plan gives assurance to whomever you approach that you are legitimate. It also show that you have a plan and not just starting something on a whim.

Having a business plan also gives you the opportunity to analyse if the business you WANT to put up has a chance of succeeding. Is there a market need for the product you want to offer or is it something people can wait until after the Covid Pandemic to purchase? To answer this question, you can do market research. If you think market research is too tedious and difficult, you can try to use the Pestle Method which I touched on at CH 2 : The struggles of an Entrepreneur (http://smepinoy.com/the-struggles-of-an-entrepreneur/).

I will discuss in my future articles how to create a business plan, but for the meantime try to put yourself in the shoes of the bank. What are the things you will ask the business loan applicant before you approve their application? Example of some questions I might ask myself are:

  • How will the loan applicant spend the money?
  • How will the loan applicant give back the money?

Lastly, he told me all banks he visited said they are not offering loans for small businesses. As a guide, this are the institutions whom you can approach to ask for funding:

  • Development Bank of the Philippines and Landbank are government banks which they use as conduits for loans to MSMEs. (https://www.dbp.ph/developmental-banking/micro-small-and-medium-enterprises/sustainable-enterprises-for-economic-development-seed/879-2/)
  • If you Google “MSME loans in the Philippines” you would get a list of private institutions, not only banks, offering loans to MSMEs.
  • Crowd and Seed funding, if your business project has a technology or social impact you can also Google “Crowd/Seed Funding Philippines” to get a list and instructions on how to do Crowd or Seed Funding for your business.

This are just a few institutional sources of funding for your business, but before you even start looking for funding, create a business plan. Next week I will talk on how to pitch your business plan.

CH 1 : How my sanity survived the New Normal?

Before the ECQ I have some routine breaks that revitalized me, like early morning walks in the beautiful campus of the Ateneo (felt like Baguio even in summer), weekend beer with friends and office mates, church community activities and a sideline business that quenches my thirst to share. My routine breaks are nature and community, then came the Covid-19 pandemic where I was forced to stay home for months and close my sideline business. I was privileged that even during the ECQ I was still able to work from home and have a family to take care of as a routine. I could not imagine the otherwise of being alone and doing nothing. Having got used with routine breaks, I tried new activities such as gardening, delivery disinfection, home repairs and insect extermination. I also kept myself updated with news and pretended to be a back-seat IATF, but my sanity was still breaking while trying to be normal in the New Normal. The intensity increased when it became clear that the New Normal will last for around two years. I felt like the boy in the video, I was becoming grey.

After a few weeks, I shifted my mindset from being inward to outward focused, my thirst to share was awoken once more. It started with a free webinar on how to manage your business on the Post-ECQ using the knowledge I have gained as a back-seat IATF and hours of reading on the internet. The message was simple, to survive in the Post-ECQ MSMEs needs to go digital and Reset-Realign-Restart(a). To Reset, I re-assessed my SWOT(b), Strengths and Weaknesses during the ECQ and looked at the Opportunities and Threats then started strategizing for the New Normal. I saw that my Strengths matches with the Threat the MSMEs will face on how to operate in the New Normal and made this as an Opportunity to help MSMEs succeed in the New Normal. This will be my re-mission, a rehashed mission to re-focus to support MSMEs. I took the SMEpinoy.com brand out of the “baul”, and planned to use this as a vehicle for my re-mission. I created a BHAG and created an initial plan using the Business Model Canvass(c) framework. To Realign, I fired up again my sleeping partners in Servus and asked for a re-commitment, to continue working with those who are still willing. To get new blood, instead of finding partners or start a new company, which is unwise knowing how hard it is to close a corporation, I instead looked for new alliances with existing businesses. People who like me are just waiting for the starting gun of the lifting of the ECQ and start sprinting to do business in the new Normal.

But this was not the case, we were just brought down from ECQ to GCQ and still finding it hard to Restart. More businesses are forced to close or slow down which cause a lot of people to lose their job. Digital Commerce was booming even though the government said they will tax them. DTI said the online sellers should register their business so the online buyers can run after suppliers of defective product. I see the value of DTI’s reminder to protect the online buyers, but I also see the risks of registering your business. A business is not simply finding a product or service, branding it and selling it. The department you see at large corporations, HR, Operations, Finance, etc. must be present in any business big or micro. Although for big businesses it can be a division for a micro enterprise it will just be a function done by the sole owner of the business. Not doing this other functions is one of the major reasons why less than 0.7% of businesses in the Philippines survive more than 5 years, it is even much less during the Covid-19 pandemic. As it is hard to register a new business, it is much harder to close a business. During the GCQ, I am receiving at least five FB page group invites a day for new online businesses. Based on the statistics, from the 25 new FB page invites I receive per week only 1 or 2 will still be there 5 years from now.

Thus, I saw a new segment of society that needs the support of my MBA and more than 23 years of experience as an Entrepreneur, people who lost their old source of income and trying a new one. I took out again my trustee Business Model Canvass Template to create SMEpinoy Business Sanctuary whose mission is to guide startups from the dream stage to the expansion stage. The GCQ, as a blessing in disguise has given me time to Realign before Restarting a better planned and equipped SMEpinoy.com.

To answer the question, SMEpinoy.com and the weekly “e-numan” is how my sanity is surviving in the New Normal.

References:

  1. Reset-realign-restart : https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/economy/covid-19/guide-to-organizational-recovery-for-senior-executives-heart-of-resilient-leadership.html
  2. SWOT Analysis : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SWOT_analysis
  3. Business Model Canvass : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Model_Canvas

CH 2 : The struggles of an Entrepreneur

I have learned to make it a habit to do an external analysis of the macro-environment to anticipate the different forces that might affect my business. The Macro-Environment Analysis, or some call it the PESTLE Analysis(a), is one of the MBA frameworks in Strategic Management. One method to do external analysis is by keeping up to date with the news, much more in the New Normal. Recently one news that came out will have a big impact on businesses in the Philippines. There is a sharp drop in the Philippine economy, much worse than the 1984-85 economic crisis during the Marcos-era.

This is a Threat in the Economic Factor to all businesses in the Philippines.  During the ECQ I was optimistic, once the Quarantine is lifted people had the SAP to still spend in the New Normal. But the prolonged quarantine is depleting the savings of most Filipinos. OFW’s are going home, people are losing their jobs and businesses are closing. I am wondering how much cash will be left circulating in the Philippines after the quarantine. I am feeling sad, this has also brought back memories of how hard it was in 1984-85…

Although we were more fortunate than Chris Gardner in the movie, our family had a major setback in our lifestyle during the 1984-85 recession which gave me bad memories that built my character. From this experience, I learned to live a simple lifestyle.

Filipinos and businesses struggled during this period, we had the Smokey Mountain (not the band) and Negros (including the Escalante Massacre(b)) which was our very own Ethiopian Famine (Band AID(c) and USA for Africa).

Before the Pandemic, a Philippine statistic was less than 0.7% of businesses survive more than 5 years. I could imagine that in this pandemic it will be much less. To show it in a different lens, I receive around 5 new Facebook Page invites for new businesses per day, that is around 35 per week or 140 new businesses per month. If we follow the pre-pandemic statistics, only 1 of this 140 new businesses will survive more than 5 years. During the Pandemic where businesses are closing, the Philippines would be lucky if 1 of around 200 business would survive more than 5 years.

If you are a neophyte entrepreneur during the pandemic or even have an existing business, you need to ask yourself, how can I be the lucky 1 to survive more than 5 years. Follow this up with the following questions:

  • What is the difference of my product or service with the others existing in the market?
  • Aside from a product/service and an FB page, how can this difference make me capture a chunk of the pie (market share) to make it feasible to maintain this business?
  • If I were lucky enough to capture a significant pie of the market, how can I protect this competitive advantage to make me survive more than five years.

The struggle of an entrepreneur is on how to develop a product or service that can capture a significant market share that will make it financially feasible to survive in the now and after I captured this market share, how do I protect my competitive advantage to expand in the tomorrow. This struggle is greater during the New Normal where the pie being shared has decreased and the number of new players increased.     

A lot of people dream to be an Entrepreneur by necessity, having lost their jobs, or were enticed by the thousands of rag to riches stories. There are exceptional entrepreneurs who started their business during the recession. One of the business cases we analyzed when I was earning my MBA was Chowking Food Corporation, its founder Robert Kuan started his business in 1985 and even expanded during the recession. His strategy was to build his company when it was cheap to setup a business and be in position as the economy grows.

The silver lining, if the forecast below will be accurate, we have the same scenario as 25 years ago.

The economy is expected to recover after two years, there is hope. There are also people like Robert Kuan who believes that now is a good time to start your business. Actually it is not the business you need to start, its your product or service. Capital is cheap and the best time to test your product/service.

But still we have to beat another statistic and be The 1 of the around 200 new businesses to survive more than 5 years. People do not just enter into something to fail and maintaining a business with only a product and an FB page is a sure way to fail. We enter a battle prepared, just like a general you need to spy on your enemy, know the terrain, assess your soldiers and then create a battle plan based on all this factors. I will discuss in the future chapters of SMEpinoy MBAlite how to prepare yourself for battle so years after you can call a little part of your life Happyness…

References:

  1. Pestle Analysis :  https://pestleanalysis.com/what-is-macro-environment-analysis/
  2. Escalante Massacre : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escalante_massacre
  3. Band Aid : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Band_Aid_(band)

CH 3 : Go Digital!

There are two important things an existing business must do to succeed in the New Normal; 1) Reset-Realign-Restart which I have touched on my previous article “CH 1 : How my sanity survived the New Normal?” and 2) Go Digital!

This video was produced in 2016 long before the COVID-19 pandemic and businesses were already expected to embrace digitization to succeed. This has become a necessity in the New Normal due to the quarantine implemented by the government to protect its citizens.

Going Digital is not just having a web presence, which is having a website or an FB page. Going Digital is adapting technology in different areas of your business. What are the different areas of your business? See the figure below which is an Internal Analysis Framework in Strategic Planning:

If you are a micro business or even a sole proprietor this does not mean you have to create departments and hire people. You can assign yourself the different functions. Owning a business is not simply producing your product and selling it. You need to improve your product, deliver quality, have a good relationship with your suppliers, maintain financial books, file government compliance, and more. Based on studies, doing the other functions is a factor for business success. A common practice among the less than 0.7% of businesses that survive more than 5 years.

After being aware that there are more things that needs to be done in owning a business, you now do an internal analysis of your business. Track the process of your product from ordering your raw materials from the supplier to delivery to your client, plot the process into different boxes, as below:

Match your business process with Porter’s Value Chain Model and see what is missing in your business. Check what you cannot do during the New Normal and make two lists, in the 1st list put what you can do on your own and in the 2nd list put what you need manpower assistance. Items in list 1 can be solved with technology intervention and items in list 2 with outsourcing. The motorcycle delivery app is an example of an outsourced process for your business. It is not something you can do on your own and need extra manpower to achieve.

If you also want to have focus in just creating and selling your product, there is an option to outsource the other items in your list 2. There are businesses, such as SMEpinoy, who are offering business process outsourcing for MSMEs. You would be surprised how affordable it is to outsource, even much more affordable than hiring an employee.

But if budget is really tight and you want to do everything on your own, adapting technology is an option. How do you acquire technology? What you need can easily be Googled now, there are also friends you can ask or social media groups you can join.

But is technology expensive? On the contrary, do you know Google Suite and Microsoft Teams has a free usage for limited use. Which is enough if you’re a Micro Enterprise. You just start to pay when your transactions increase as your business grows.

If your still stuck in acquiring technology, feel free to ask for our assistance by emailing us at team@smepinoy.com. We will be more than happy to help since this is our mission. To help businesses succeed in the New Normal.

CH 4 : If You Build It, They Will Come

If you belong to Generation X, you may be one who were inspired to start a business because of this movie – Field of Dreams. Sorry Millennial’s you may not be able to relate, but even those who have not seen the movie believes just build your business and customers will line up at your door.

Although the movie was meant by the director to be about family reunions, “If you build it, he will come” and the father-son catch as the finale. The long line of headlights impacted me more, the pun “If you build it, they will come” became a slogan for startups. Unfortunately it is not that easy, business is not simply finding your product and registering your business. Now that I have gained white hair the last scene makes me ask, how did the people learn about the field?

Clients does not just come in droves without doing any marketing activity. It may be through word of mouth but the impact will not be that big in a short period of time. You need to do mass marketing to gain such a big impact. Unless you have baseball ghosts who can whisper to a lot of people, nobody will know about your product and business if you do not take the effort of telling people about your product.

I always mention in my business planning seminars, “If you want your business to succeed, make sure you and your business partners also sell aside from doing what they are tasked to do.”. You as the owners got to sell, sell, sell! You are also the best salesman for your company because you have the passion for your product. But many times I encounter business owners are afraid to sell. Example are tech-business owners that are developers, they are usually introverts and shy. They want to be the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs by creating the next Windows or Apple. Unknown to them it took a lot of influencing and manipulating not just inspiring people. Even if you have the best product in the world but you cannot convince people that it is the best product in the world, might as well apply for a high paying tech job.

Another way is to look for partners that will help you convince people, the marriage of chaos and order.

CH 5 : The marriage of Chaos and Order.

One of the factors for a business to succeed is in its partners. It is important that you choose the right kind of partner. If one partner is a dead weight, they divert the attention of the other partners from making the business grow into dealing with the lagging partner. It is like walking with a ball of chain attached to one on your leg.

But creativity thrives in chaos, the creative person who usually have the messy workspace is the one who churns the eye candies which is attractive to the masses. On the other hand, those who creates the systems and processes creates unattractive products.

Thus adding to the sub-factor under choosing the right partners, is also choosing the right blend of partners, the marriage of chaos and order. As an example, usually tech companies are started by group of techies, developers who focus in coming out with their own Iphone or Windows. It can be the best product in the world but if no one can see its values, no one can sell it to the masses. When the masses cannot see their product then it would not be the best product in the world. The product will just die and be lost from existence.

The MS DOS which Microsoft sold to IBM was developed by a now unknown software company. Although the DOS was developed by another company, it was the product that gave Microsoft its first big break. Watch this clip from the 1999 TV Movie, Pirates of Silicon Valley, to see how one of its partners did it;


CH 6b: Sales or Marketing

What is the difference between sales and marketing?

My answer will differ if you asked me this question today or 25 years ago. When I was with sales in the 90’s, the marketing effort is limited to generating awareness and interests through advertising, telemarketing, etc.. The prospects (or leads as we called it) are then given to us, the sales team, to Always Be Closing by getting Attention, Interest, Decision and Action.

As mentioned in last weeks video, “93% of buying decisions are influenced by Social Media”. Now, Social Media has widened the scope of Marketing that Sales is left to Decision and Action or based on the figure below Evaluation and Purchase.

Our sales report then was based on this funnel, for example :

  • Consideration = Number of Leads Visited, ex. KPI = 100 leads visited.
  • Intent = Number of Proposals Submitted, ex. KPI = 70 proposals submitted.
  • Evaluation = Number of Proposal in the Top 3 of the client, ex. KPI = 30 proposals shortlisted in the top 3.
  • Purchase = Number of Sales Closed, ex. KPI = 10 Proposals Closed.

If my batting average of Number of Sales Closed is 10% of Number of Leads Visited then if my Sales Quota can be achieved if I closed 10 clients I need to visit at least 100 leads and so on. As my MBA Sales Professor taught us, the best salesmen in the world are those who are not affected negatively by rejections. To close 10 accounts, you need to be rejected 90 times. If your batting average is 5%, to close 10 proposals you will be rejected 190 times.

To answer my hanging question last week, is Facebook a Sales or Marketing Tool? Based on the funnel, Facebook is a Marketing Tool. If a client decides to purchase, you need to go outside of Facebook to accept the payment. Facebook does not have a payment facility to complete the whole selling cycle. Facebook cannot be used to convince the client to decide and receive payments so Facebook is not a Sales Tool. You need your own eCommerce site or payment process to close the sale.

The title of our article this week asks, Sales or Marketing? “If you post it, They will Buy” alone does not work. It is a valuable knowledge especially for online sellers that you also need to “Always Be Closing”, even if you do not like it. Facebook knows this that is why they rate your Facebook Page based on how fast you respond to the Inbox of your FB Page. Notice this description in the About section of your FB page, Typically responds within a ______ thus you need to actively respond to inquiries in your Social Media Sites. Thus you also must not just be sharing and posting, you also must be closing. But how can you go to every group and comments to sell your product when Facebook treats this as an action against FB community standards which could make them block your account?

In the now, majority of the activities is in Digital Marketing. You must be able to bring people who have not heard of your product from Awareness to Evaluation through your Social Media presence. While the sales activities is now left to processing of orders and acceptance of payments. A control freak life me would find this as a disadvantage since my closing of sales is now dependent on how well I plan and implement my digital marketing strategy and not how good I am in selling. You need to have innovative promotions and a well thought of plan just to be noticed. How do you convince them to consider your product solely using Digital Marketing?

Lastly, how is Digital Marketing in the New Normal different from the usual Digital Marketing? I will answer this question next week.

How will you spend Christmas 2020?

Happy New Year! In case you do not know yet, Advent is the start of the Liturgical Calendar. Here is a video to know more about Advent:

It is already cold outside, do you feel the Christmas Spirit? Have you done your Christmas shopping? Are you already preparing for the parties and reunions? Oops you cannot do that. How do you plan to celebrate Christmas 2020?

Since September my kids have been asking me everyday, how many days till Christmas? 109 days, 96 days, and the count goes on, but deep in my heart I am sad that I cannot give them the Christmas they enjoyed in the past. Although I am already warning them that Christmas this year will be different, I am still hoping we can make them happy this coming Christmas. My daughter, in her online class today told her teacher she is sad because she would not be able to visit her family in Laguna. They also want to go out again and see the beautiful Christmas decorations and lights.

But does it mean, we just have to surrender that 2020 maybe your worst Christmas ever or can we celebrate a different kind of Christmas? Maybe this year, I will try to teach my children a different kind of Christmas, as the video below suggests:

Let 2020 be a year of real waiting and reflecting, letting go of all our baggage in our homes and in our minds. A year to reflect what is really important in our hearts. A year that we start doing what we really want to do in our life. Have a blessed Advent.

Divine Inspiration

This is a continuation of http://smepinoy.com/my-plan-or-gods-plan/.

When I was doing my vocation discernment, one of the seminaries I did my search in was the Holy Apostles Senior Seminary (HASS) in Guadalupe. We stayed there for one night and the next day we were interviewed. The priest asked me just one question, how did you sleep? I even excitedly told him I slept soundly. Interview over, he said I am through and I may go home.

I keep sharing this as an anecdote without me knowing why, until today. When ever God wants to talk to me, he wakes me up around 5am then all His inspiration pours into me. Pours because I get a high, my heart palpitates and the inspiration just keeps coming. I feel His presence, when the high subsides I reach out to have a casual conversation with Him. I think this was the answer the priest was looking for, I only was able to connect the two today.

Today after so many years of having this early morning divine inspiration, I have linked it to how God inspired the apostles to write the Bible. So, this is how He did it. His message to me is to write another series of articles every Wednesday (Yuppeace day) about Spiritual Insights, which I am starting now. At first I complained, how can I do that? It takes me a day to write and edit my Monday article Business Insights how can I add another day in writing an article? How can I fit it into my schedule? I have no time?!? He just said to trust Him and gave me several examples, I now have several articles for the next weeks.

We always try to catch the online mass of Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB during the lockdown. His sermon this Sunday was from the Gospel about the Parable of Talents and he focused on “Malasakit” and “Tiwala”. I could not connect the Parable of Talents to “Malasakit”, and again until today I realized God gave me a talent during the pandemic and He is asking me to have “Malasakit” and I just need to just Trust Him. Writing for me is a struggle, I am not adept in the English Grammar. I have to read and re-read my article dozens of times just to spot and correct grammatical errors, but I am sure there are still some that slips. But in this Covid-19 pandemic he gave me this gift to write. I was able to start “Business Insights” and people are reading it, they tell me. I did not know I can write something and people will read it, no one has corrected any grammatical errors so far. He is now asking me to use this gift of talent to spread His word. Thus I am now writing this article every Wednesday. Lord, I surrender it all to you.

How do I know it is God talking to me? Did it pass the 3 tests? Goodness Test – definitely, I do not see how my writing about God can harm anyone. Time Test – Yes, because of my stubbornness it took a month before I understood His message and I am still in Step 4. Humility Test – writing is not my best talent, I am still ashamed someone will come to me with a list of my grammatical errors. I also still doubt how long I can write this article every Wednesday, I just surrender. In conclusion: Yes, it is God’s will.

Just to correct a wrong notion, doing a Vocation Discernment does not mean you are only discerning to be a priest, Married life and Single Blessedness are also vocations. But that is a topic for another article.

(Footnote: Today, Nov. 17, we celebrate the 7th Death Anniversary of a dear friend Bernard Macalintal (+) who is now my angel in heaven. Bernard and I did the search-in at HASS together, he was accepted and was still discerning until he decided to continue his vocation in heaven.)

Why did God allow 2020?

Why did God allow 2020? I do not mean to open a Pandora’s box or promise that after reading this article you will find the answer to this very controversial question.

I invite you to watch the video below and after, spend a few minutes to personally react before you continue reading:

Is it true that God is an absentee landlord? Is God a prankster? Did God set the rules in opposition? If this is the first time you watched this movie and may have not noticed, Al Pacino was playing the devil. Is the devil a fan of man? the last humanist?

This is what the devil wants us to believe. But unlike what we see in movies where the hero and the villain is clear, the devil wants us to forget he exists. The devil wants us to believe that it is all God while the devil does his work in incognito. I would like to remind people that the war between good and evil, God and the devil is real.

When I was looking for a video for my article, i set aside this one. It may open a can of worms, it is hard to explain and some people may question their faith. But while hearing mass today, God inspired me to use this video. I too must admit, I forgot about the devil until I watched this video. It was all God, God, God, but where is the devil? The devil exists and he is in a war with God for souls.

Watching this video may rock the faith of some who may view it but God reminded me of my own faith struggles. He reminded me when I was young that I had a phobia of death and about dying. It was so bad it was manifesting through hyperacidity, palpitations, etc. I was using my head to answer the question of God’s existence. I, like the boy St. Augustine met in the beach was trying to put the whole sea inside the hole the boy dug. My phobia was instantly cured when hearing mass in my late teenage years, God inspired me that I just need to have faith. Years of questioning God, the Bible, the Creation I just need to say amen and believe.

Pope Francis gave a similar answer when asked by a 12 year old Filipina why does God allow Children to Suffer; “Only when we too can cry about the things that you said are we able to come close to replying to that question,”. Intelligence will never be able to answer the existence of God, only when the heart has understood will the head follow.

I leave you with this reflection question, when was the last time you thought about the devil and his acts?