Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Entrepreneurship - Manila Style

One can't help but wonder how do the people in Manila survive?

The local currency compared to the dollar is miniscule.  For example a cab ride is 50 pesos, that's about $1 US! Can you believe that? In Manila, they don't have the dollar menu, they have the 50 cents menu!!! That's wild! For 25 pesos you can get a hamburger, sundae and some other stuff. I didn't go inside, I just looked at the ad. How are they surviving? Well, in Manila the people are hungry! Literally on some levels, but I really mean this figruatively.

The people in the U.S. and Japan have grown soft. We have food on the table, we can pay our bills, late, but we can pay them.  We have allowed places like the government to take care of so many of our needs that we have forgotten what it means to fly by the seat of your pants.

I'm from Gary, Indiana. The land of U.S.X. Steel! The home of the Jackson's! When the Jackson's started, they were hungry! Joe had them singing at every talent show, festival, stoop, titty bar between Gary and California.  Well, I can see that same hunger on the streets of Manila. People have set up shops selling nuts, meat on a stick, and tons of other things. In the states, especially if you lived on the Southside of Chicago or frequented 25th Ave in Gary, you are pretty used to seeing guys sell socks, belts and incense. But have you ever seen anyone sell steering wheel covers? Nope, didn't think so! These are examples of street hustling businesses. We all may know someone who does that, but when you are here, you'll meet at least a third of the population that's doing it.

Another example of entrepreneurship is something that must happen in a lot of developing countries. You don't see it too often in the states unless you live in Brooklyn, NY.  That's the dollar van. When I lived in New York, you could catch a dollar van instead of the city bus. The van would ride by with a driver and a handler. The handler would flag you down and help you hop on board the van. I was surprised to see that type of thing going on when I lived in NY. However, it's alive and well out here in Manila. For less than 10 cents you can hop on a jeepney and go from one part of the city to another. A jeepney is a cross between an elongated jeep and a taxi. You don't have to wait for long because the vans fill up rather quickly. 

These jeepney's got me to thinking. What's stopping people from Gary or Chicago from starting their own renegade bus service?  We all know that the services is unreliable and inconsistent.  Especially in Gary, if you need to catch the city bus you can forget it. It takes about 1-2 hours for one to come by and when it does, it doesn't even try to stop.  The busses have low ridership because they aren't convenient. However, if you had a dollar van  riding through the city taking passengers to Southlake Mall, WalMart, and other parts of Munster you could be in business.

I think we have forgotten what it means to be really hungry. How do we grab even the smallest opportunity?

In order to be an entreprenuer you have to have hunger! You have to keep smelling that cooked dinner in order to survive. You have to keep thinking of ways to make a difference. More importantly, sometimes you have to leave your comfort zone to figure things out!

Let's eat!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Twiddling Your Thumbs!

Twiddle dee dee! Twiddle dee dum! Twiddling my thumbs until they're numb!

There is a trap that's blocking you from success! Just look down at those darn thumbs! It's so easy to allow  outside forces to stop you from moving forward. The other evening I had a quick catch up with a fellow entrepreneur. We spoke about our current projects and how we would like to work on integrating our ideas in the future. While I was reviewing some of the projects that I have been working on, I noticed that I hadn't completed a few items that I thought I had addressed. What have I been doing with my thumbs?

As entrepreneurs it's easy to imagine that we are working on a project, but in actuality we are fooling ourselves. It's imperative that we stomp our foot through the floor and feel every splinter, because it's time for a wake up call!

Let's look at what we are twiddling our thumbs over!

Networking Events

Are you a networking junkie? Do you  have more cards in your Rolodex than customers? Or since we are in Tokyo are you carrying a Poken and hoping to share news of your latest business venture to someone who is trying to sell to you?  If so, these are some things you need to think about:

  1. What's the purpose of this networking event?
  2. Why are you going?
  3. Will you know 50%-70% of the people there?
  4. What's your sales pitch?
  5. How many new people do you plan to meet?
  6. Set a time limit. "I will stay for two hours and leave promptly at 10PM."
Examine your intentions and make a plan before attending a "networking event," Then you will be able to ascertain whether or not you should stay. Remember, every minute that you spend chatting with other people in the same position as you, prohibits you from meeting potential customers.

Business Meetings
Having a meeting is the supreme smoke screen. You think you are doing something because you had a meeting, but what did you really do?
Every time someone asks you to join a meeting, think about a few things:

  1. What's the agenda?  
  2. What's your purpose?  
  3. What new things will you learn? 
  4. What are the next steps?
    If you attend a meeting and those questions can't be answered, feign illness, begin to cough uncontrollably, create a fake asthma attack, whatever you do, GET OUT!
    There's no sense in wasting time meeting with people who will drain your energy.

    You read correctly, reading can be a serious time waster. If you are reading for pleasure that's fine. We all need to relax and have a laugh or two. If you are reading a book about business, then make sure it's worth it. Here are few guiding questions before you hit the library!

    1. Is the writer someone who is respected in your field?
    2. Is this book relevant to your current progress or will you need to address these concerns in the near future?
    3. Has it been said before? How many other writer's have said the same thing and used the exact same quotes?
    4. What new information did you learn after you read the first chapter?
    Don't be afraid to put a book down if it bores you or you don't see the point in continuing to read it. Don't worry if this person is supposed to be the best in the world, if you are tired of hearing the author's voice put the book down. Completing a book about business does not offer a direct correlation to future success.  Knowing when to put it down and to work on your business will!!!

    Networking, meetings, and reading can stop you from your end goal! Get focused and put those thumbs to work!

    Saturday, March 6, 2010


    The other day I had a small panic attack. I felt a bit overwhelmed by trying to start a business. I still feel a scared and confused, but I met some great people the other night who are on the same path as me. I believe we can do this. I saw this video on youtube and thought I would share it with you all.

    Miss LaBelle's message goes for anyone. If you listen to her last few statements, you can hear her champion anyone to pursue their dreams. It doesn't have to be in music, technology or even in business. It can be anything. Just go after it!

    Let's do this!