Good Entrepreneurs Know The Rules

Good Entrepreneurs Know The Rules Before They Break Them

Entrepreneurs are made to innovate. We have an urge to always differentiate ourselves from the status quo, and prove that there is always a better and wiser way of doing things. But then again, how can you innovate when you don’t know the stage you are operating in?

Know the rules, then break them — my mentor and chairman, JJ Atencio, would always remind us about this. Before we even attempt to redefine an industry, it is important to understand how the game is played. If Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant didn’t know the basics of dribbling and shooting, they wouldn’t be able to play basketball the way they did, and would probably be not the legends they are today. It’s the same thing in business; you need to know when to dribble and when to shoot.

For most universities in the Philippines, there is still a massive skills and knowledge gap going to the workforce. Comparing the manner we do internship to other countries, we don’t have a strong integration program. In France for example, if you are taking up finance, some universities will require you to go through a nine-month internship program in three different financial institutions, and not just to prepare coffee, but to do actual work. They really integrate the student to the working environment.

In the Philippines, internships are being taken lightly: they go to work, sit the whole day, just to be asked to photocopy or prepare coffee for their supervisors. With this kind of program, how do you expect to create strong entrepreneurs out of university? Students learn best by doing.

Policymakers all around the world have been pushing entrepreneurship among the youth. During the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development World Investment Forum in Geneva, Switzerland last October 22-26, Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi has emphasized the importance of the role of youth and entrepreneurship in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

UN’s SDGs are composed of 17 goals by 2030 that aim to alleviate poverty, hunger, climate change, and many others in a global scale to preserve a world for future generations.

Referring to the youth, Sec Gen. Kituyi quoted former President Barack Obama saying, “We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change, and the last generation to do something about it.”

There is a heavy burden to the youth to take a dive in entrepreneurship to help resolve the world’s issues, but how can the youth establish themselves if we don’t train them properly and give them the right support to grow? What happens to those who will fail? Less than 10 percent of those who venture into entrepreneurship actually succeed.

This is where proper policymaking should step in. We can convince people to venture into entrepreneurship, but we need to mold them the right way with the right training, and we have to make sure to support them when they go through this journey.

Luckily, in the Philippines, laws like Go Negosyo Act and Innovative Startup Act have been created to support entrepreneurs. The country has strong advocates in the Senate and Congress for entrepreneurs. There are just two gaps that policymakers and educators should be concerned about.

The first one is education. There are only so many universities in the Philippines that offer a competitive entrepreneurship program. Setting up a foodstall to sell kikiam or squidballs, like everybody else, is absolutely not entrepreneurship. Students need to learn how industries run and who run them, how to innovate, how to lead and manage people, how to raise money and manage valuations, and most importantly, how to communicate their vision to the world.

Entrepreneurship students should be required to shadow real entrepreneurs and business owners for at least half a year before they are asked to venture in a business of their own. Students need to see how these entrepreneurs struggle, but still go through every obstacle because they have grit and they believe strongly in their vision. You can’t expect a person to change the world if he doesn’t have a single clue on how to even start, and the best people to teach this are those who have and who are already in the middle of their entrepreneurial journey.

The second gap is a reintegration for entrepreneurs. Not everyone is going to succeed, this is a fact. We push people to venture into entrepreneurship because it will help the country. The least we can do is to create a program where these risk takers can manage the risk they take and the time they lose when their ventures fail by helping them reintegrate in the workforce, or cope up with the investment losses that they may incur.

You learn more by running an actual business than studying business principles in school. As an entrepreneur, more than the subsidies and the business environment, what scares us and keeps us at night everyday is how we’re going to face the people who depend on us, our employees and customers, if one day, we couldn’t push through anymore. Some entrepreneurs barely live at all. We need to address these real crucial problems that entrepreneurs face.

Entrepreneurship is a great initiative. I do believe that entrepreneurs today are this generation’s inventors and discoverers, but if we really want to develop a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among the youth, we can’t let quality education and the capability to reintegrate exclusive to those who can afford it.

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