- Market leaders were once market followers - Every start-up business started as a market follower to other more established companies. The same for Sy. He is the perfect example of how an entrepreneur can grow a small business into an empire. Though he started selling shoes with a small shop in Quiapo, he was able to grow his assets and eventually opened his first mall.
- You can fight the odds - Do you remember the 2008-2010 period when the economy was at its worst? Even when the numbers are stacked against you, you could and should still find ways on how to succeed. For Sy, it was a matter of being creative with his investments which led him to earn US$5 billion in 2010 alone.
- Diversify your investment - The career of Sy from the 1950s to the present is a story of diversification. What are the different investments made by SM? He was able to become the proponent of malls in the Philippines, plus he transitioned well into the banking and real estate industries. This goes to show how important it is to step out of your comfort zone to achieve greater success.
- Your name or family background does not define you - The Gokongwei’s story is not your average rags-from-riches story. He lost everything and had to start from scratch, which was more difficult than not having anything to start with. If you know how to play your cards right, it is possible to increase your assets without relying on your family’s wealth.
- Do not be afraid to get that loan - If you really know how to use your capital, it is possible to reach market leadership in your chosen market. A lot of people forget the fact that they need a capital in order to start something big. The bank is willing to help entrepreneurs who have an idea on how to grow that money.
- Know what the market needs - During the Second World War, one of the toughest times to survive, Gokongwei managed to start his own company. It was not easy to import goods from anywhere but he managed to do it. His determination to overcome obstacles is one lesson than everyone should try to emulate.
- Be practical - During his younger days, he saved up his money by not taking the public transport. This is a lesson that is still applicable today. Why waste your money in buying a car (that will surely depreciate in value) when you have other cheaper options?
- Have a dream - Born in Hong Kong, his family started as a struggling small time entrepreneur in Quiapo, Manila. This situation never became a hindrance to him after so many years. He dreamed big and he worked hard to realize it.
- Slow and steady win the race - Before Emperador became the number one selling Brandy in the Philippines, he kept a low profile from other well-established brands, such as Ginebra San Miguel and Lucio Tan’s Tanduay. Both brands were built in the 19th century, and going head-to-head with them would mean cut-throat competition for Emperador before it was ready. Patience is definitely Tan’s virtue.
- Dare to be different - In terms of marketing, Tan centered the advertising of Emperador by affiliating success to his brand. This is far from the type of imagery that placed Ginebra San Miguel and Tanduay on the map of the liquor market.
- Improve on what you do best - It is common for businessmen to diversify their investments. However, Consunji concentrated on what he knew best then, which was constructed and that had built a foundation of his wealth. New entrepreneurs may want to reduce the risks of failure by starting with their expertise first.
- Government projects can provide you great opportunities - Entrepreneurs, no matter the size of the business, are exposed to vast opportunities with government projects. Not only does it help with nation building, it is also a good way to grow your business.
The last one for me is the one I mostly agreed of because as a public servant now, I have seen and heard stories of contractors getting successful from being a contractor of small projects.