Starting 2017 right: Advice for SMEs on running a local business

MANILA, Philippines – On December 7, Rappler hosted a roundtable discussion among entrepreneurs Jourdan Sebastian of Taclob, Andrea Arancon of Craft Carrot, and Kendrick Co of Antidote Branding, who all shared stories about how they started out in the business.

Together with host RJ Ledesma, an entrepreneur himself, the 3 talked about the business challenges they had to fix, and how they’re creating success in their respective industries.

They had quite a few lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Ready, fire, aim

“Many actually stumble into the idea of entrepreneurship. Business is not handed to us, it just happens to fall into our laps,” RJ Ledesma said as he opened the roundtable.

Many businesses today emerge from an individual’s decision to pursue her passion. In some cases, the idea comes from frustrations as well.

Take the case of Andrea, who has always been interested in crafts but who was always frustrated by the lack of quality art supplies in the country. Or Kendrick, who loved local Filipino products and wished that it was more popular overseas. Or Jourdan, who was passionate about social engagement, he couldn’t find a sustainable rehabilitation program that really followed through.

Though their businesses catered to different markets and needs, all three entrepreneurs shared the desire to come up with solutions. Andrea launched Craft Carrot online to make art supplies available for Filipino creatives. Kendrick put up Antidote Branding to incubate and develop local brands and products. “As a country that prides itself on being creative, we don’t send out a lot of our own brands to other countries,” Kendrick said. Jourdan founded Taclob with his friends to create disaster-ready backpack kits that would benefit both rescuers and those hit by the super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

At the start, they didn’t see themselves as entrepreneurs. They simply wanted to create a better solution for something they cared about.

As RJ said, “When you’re in the midst of being an entrepreneur, that’s when you look for the right tools, that’s when you look for the right people, that’s when you look for the assistance or the entrepreneurship mentors to help you establish the kind of business you want to be.”

Sometimes, to be a great entrepreneur is to be ready to fire and aim at the best moment – considering that the inner workings of organizing a business can follow after your idea has taken off.

Be ready to hustle

Entrepreneurship is a road laced with its own set of challenges. The path is different for everyone, but one of the most common obstacles is manpower. 

“As an entrepreneur, you’re at the center of everything,” Jourdan said. “You have to keep everybody in place, everything in the right direction.” 

All 3 experienced issues with manpower, or the lack of it. Jourdan struggled with juggling multiple tasks as Taclob’s co-founder and spokesperson. Kendrick recalled having to accommodate a big order from an important German client. In Andrea’s case, her first months of running Craft Carrot required her to manage everything from inventory to operations to booths all by herself.

All their hustling paid off. Jourdan started seeing the worth of his venture when sales started surging. “We were getting sales like P200,000 per day in some of the bazaars we were getting into,” he said. After accomplishing the big order from the German client, Kendrick noticed an uptick in orders as well. And Andrea was able to expand her inventory from 30 items to 2,500 in a span of 2 years.

Expect to multi-task and be hands on when you launch your business. But the fulfillment will be tenfold as you watch things take off and grow from your effort.

Passion to #CreateYourSuccess

“Compassion gives you the ability to give you direction for your passion,” said Jourdan Sebastian.

When these 3 started out their business, they weren’t thinking about how much money they were going to make or how big their business was going to be. That wasn’t ‘success’ for them. 

Kendrick said it best when he declared, “Enjoy the process more, not the proceeds.”

They became entrepreneurs because they wanted to pursue their passion. That same passion is what has inspired their products, their services, their methods and principles, and in that sense, their definition of success.

In business, success is a subjective term. Because every journey of entrepreneurship is different, everyone goes down their own path defined by their version of challenges, goals, and success.  When it comes to success, to each his own. And while the path to success is never straight, sometimes it’s just a matter of keeping on, and before you know it, you’re where you’re meant to be.

“Sometimes, it’s just like you keep your head down, and when you look up – boom! – we’re here!” says Andrea Arancon. “It takes hard work. You have to show up. Be there.”

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