Monday, October 08, 2007

Article - ‘Radical’ money advice from top lady entrepreneur

‘Radical’ money advice from top lady entrepreneur
From content sharing with and MoneySense

By Pacita U. Juan
Last updated 09:41am (Mla time) 10/08/2007
(As told to Lynda C. Corpuz)

Being an entrepreneur, I take risks – that’s why my advice might not go for everyone. And as I tell my nephews and nieces, “you’re married and have kids. I’m only responsible for myself. Huwag ninyo akong gayahin.” So, whenever people ask me what’s my secret, I say I don’t over-think it. With that, following are what I call my “radical” advice:

Stylishly travel on a budget
Reward yourself with travel. My mother, Remedios, was more of a housewife who took care of us eight children, while my father, dentist turned entrepreneur Maximino Dionisio Juan, who put up MD Juan Enterprises, Inc. (manufacturer of authentic civilian and military jeep bodies and replacement parts), was away almost every other month. I find myself doing that now. My dad seemed to be happy when he traveled. And traveling is his carrot for us.

Pack light and right. I think I was only 5 when he took me to Subic via a small plane. In my subconscious then, I already thought it was nice to fly. I was always packing for him – to a point I knew how to pack at a young age.

Learn from your trips. I can relate even with geography. At a young age, I knew what’s next in our travels – Hong Kong, Japan, US, and Europe. As we were planning our European trip, my father asked me to take a leave for a semester from the University of the Philippines-Diliman, where I took up Hotel and Restaurant Management. He said I would learn more from that travel – and I did.

Save portions of your pocket money. In that European trip, there were five of us – my dad, mom, and three of us children. Our guide was Arthur Frommer’s “Europe on $10 a Day.” Dad decided to buy back from us at double the exchange rate any portion of our pocket money that we saved. So I spent half and I got half, since I wanted to have something to fall back on upon returning to the university. From what I saved, I also bought a tennis racket, since I was thinking if you’re not good in tennis, at least, maganda porma mo.

Combine business with leisure. I try to see new places every year, which eventually becomes related to business. I want to see other coffee-growing countries and places with local coffee shops, in line with what we do in Figaro. Because of our business in China, I go to Shanghai often, and I discover a different facet of the culture each time. I have a natural curiosity about new places and finding out how people eat, speak, live.

Travel at the least possible cost but at the maximum benefit. You can’t travel without some money so traveling is one thing I always save for. Not to say that I pinch but I constantly consult Penny Pincher’s "Passport to Luxury Travel," "10,000 Places to See Before you Die," and the likes. I’m also a member of frequent flyer’s clubs like Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay Miles and Asia Miles (which gets you to Cathay Pacific and British Airways), and the latter has taken me to Turkey, for free. Also, because of friends I make on my travels, I’m able to get special rates on luxurious hotels, and since I’m an HRM graduate, I know how to get my way through the hotel language, like understanding discounted, out of order room, and rack rates.

Money shouldn’t be idle
Be comfortable in handling money. Don’t be scared of money because it’s just a means to an end. It’s no use worrying about how things will be when you lose money because there are many ways to find it. And don’t resent yourself if you let some money slip away from your hands as there are other opportunities to earn it.

Don’t be fooled by short-term gain. I don’t believe in overnight success, like lotto. I believe that if it’s easy to gain, it’s easy to lose.

Negotiate without losing the shirt off your back. A friend asked me if she could sell her condo to me.

“Why me? Do I need it?” I asked.

“I don’t want it to sell to anyone,” she says.

But I told her, “You know, I have to make a loan from the bank for that.”

“I don’t care, just buy it from me,” she said.

“I’ll have the bank appraise it. I’ll pay you with whatever the bank gives and I’ll pay the balance in a year.”

She agreed. Now, I’m renting out the condo and paying the amortization with the rent so it’s self-liquidating. I paid my equity in one year, so it didn’t hurt as much. That’s the reward of knowing how to negotiate.

Tolerate risks. You can tolerate more risks, as your portfolio gets bigger. The risk you stake in gambling, in stock market, and in putting up a business (is the same), but in business, you can see if the struggle is even. My investment in our companies and real estate comprise my portfolio. I don’t want anything very volatile, maybe because what drives me is working on something. I want to get my hands dirty, and give myself some spanking when it’s time to stop.

Do business fairly
Grab the opportunity once it knocks. Some say there’s no such thing as luck. I believe there is. But what you do with it is your destiny. Sometimes you have this chance, staring at your face, but you didn’t pay attention since you were sluggish. As my father said, there’s always an opportunity in something. There’s always a need, and if you fill it, that’s business.

I remember apart from working in the family business during summers, I was also selling chocolates back in Grade 3, and my classmates said, “ang mahal naman ng chocolate mo, sa canteen mura.” “Eh, `di sa canteen kayo bumili. Dito hindi ka na pupunta sa canteen.”

I was selling them convenience. At that young age, I wasn’t shy or embarrassed to sell stuff. I don’t know if it was the money I enjoyed, or convincing people, which is also fulfilling. My father said it was up to us what we want to do with our money. He would not finance any of our whims though.

It’s not bad to borrow money. My father told me not to be ashamed of making a loan. For him, a loan is not a sign of being poor for it is a natural course of business. It comes with the entrepreneurial risks. Look at those with inheritance; some just waste it. Borrowing is part of doing business. If, for any reason, you’ll be delayed in your payment, don’t hide. Talk to her first before she looks for you. Be honest and sincere.

Build your name. My brother, Bienvenido, would come with me to the bank and explain to me how to do things until I knew already how to ask for a grace period, to restructure a loan, etc.

I learned that you don’t go to the bank only when you need to borrow money. Make an appearance there at different times of the year, to build your credibility. Time will come that your name alone will be your collateral. Everyday is a chance for you to build your name and legacy.

Get your feet wet. When you get a windfall or extra money, get a business or be part of one, like franchising. Through this, you’ll learn to improve your cash flow, and not wait for every 15th or 30th of the month for your paycheck. Investing in a small business can turn you from a full-time employee to a part-time employee and full-time entrepreneur.

From the July-August 2007 issue of MoneySense, the country’s first and only personal finance magazine. Visit for more.
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