Lifestyle, Stories

5 valuable lessons from legendary Chinoy entrepreneurs

1. No such thing as overnight success” – Henry Sy (SM Group)

Perseverance is one of the key values to live by, according to the Philippines’ richest man, Henry Sy. Decades ago, who would have thought that this entrepreneur’s humble beginnings of being a shoe seller during the World War II era would translate to the massive shopping empire today?

Indeed, there is no such thing as an overnight success as Henry Sy has worked tirelessly to pursue his vision and passion for business, despite the countless setbacks he encountered along the way. “Success is not just good luck. It is a combination of hard work, good credit standing, opportunity, readiness and timing,” shared Sy and surely, this has manifested in his classic rags-to-riches story. Through his sheer determination, Henry Sy is able to build one of the most important companies in the country and prove that success can only be reached through perseverance and hard work.

2. “Success is not only due to one person’s talents” – Andrew Tan (Alliance Global, Megaworld)

If there is one thing to be learned from billionaire Andrew Tan, it is that teamwork certainly makes the dream work. For Tan, he believes that no one, no matter his/her perseverance, determination and hard work, can successfully build an empire all by himself/herself. The people you surround yourself with as well as the people who work for and with you are crucial in determining the success of your company.

Tan emphasizes the importance of acknowledging the hard work of your people and organizing them well. “I see myself as a team leader. My companies grew because of good people and our organization. There are entrepreneurs who are smart, but if they’re not good at organizing a team, if they are too highly centralized, then the entrepreneur becomes the company’s bottleneck,” said Tan. 

3. “The more bitter the lessons, the greater the successes will be” – Lucio Tan (LT Group)

The path to success is never smooth sailing and iconic businessman Lucio Tan reminds future entrepreneurs that the harder these bumps on the road, the more essential they are to reach victory.

Almost everyone knows the story of the modest history of Lucio Tan: eldest of eight kids in a family struggling with poverty. He entered all sorts of work opportunities, including being a janitor, to make ends meet and help his family. These hard times in Lucio Tan’s life are not just challenges but also vital learning experiences for him. By overcoming hardship, he was able to acquire essential skills and values that allowed him to create multiple successes.

Tan’s unique perspective of finding opportunities during the toughest moments of his life should be a life lesson that every aspiring entrepreneur should always keep in mind.

4. “Anything is possible” – Tony Tan Caktiong (Jollibee Food Corporation)

The man behind the multi million fast food chain in the country, Tony Tan Caktiong, firmly believes that taking risks is the only way to move forward. For some people, they may opt to shy away from taking risks given the uncertainty that lies beyond but it is important to remember that embracing risks is the first step to success.

Being a graduate of Chemical Engineering from UST, Caktiong took the risk of pursuing a career in business. With massive fast food giant McDonald’s taking its place in the restaurant industry, Caktiong did not know whether his small ice cream parlor then would even attract any customers. Yet he chose to take the risk and it was a risk that definitely paid off today as Jollibee Food Corp. is now the largest fast food chain in the Philippines.

“In taking these risks there were times we lost money due to the mistake we made. But during those challenges I continued to have high hopes and optimism that anything is possible,” shared Caktiong.

5. “Entrepreneurship is more than earning money” – John Gokongwei (JG Summit, URC)

When talking about the tycoons of the business world, one would most often think that their sole purpose in conducting business is simply to gain more income and increase their wealth but the great John Gokongwei begs to differ.

Entrepreneurship is not all about self-serving income generation. Gokongwei inspired aspiring businessmen to “Choose to be an entrepreneur because then you create value. Choose to be an entrepreneur because the products, services, and jobs you create become the lifeblood of our nation. But most of all, choose to be an entrepreneur because then you desire a life of adventure, endless challenge, and the opportunity to be your best self,”.

Truly, there is a greater purpose to entering the business world and Gokongwei himself is an example of what it means to be a true entrepreneur.


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