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Success Secrets Of The Country's Richest Businessmen

What makes a good and successful entrepreneur?

In business, it all boils down to numbers. But when you’re going for longevity, you need more than just six zeroes. Most of the country's richest are the people who have managed to shape the country’s ever-growing business scene and, in turn, the lives of millions of people who buy their products and use their services every day. They do it right.

Three business experts—respected business guru Dan Antonio, who is also the president of the Asian Center for Entrepreneurship and Management Education, veteran business journalist Wilson Lee Flores, and Edgardo Rodriguez, dean of the College of Business of Enderun Colleges—discuss the success secrets of the country’s richest businessmen:

1. Start with a great idea.

Examples: Edgar Sia II and Tony Tan Caktiong

“Edgar Sia II of Mang Inasal is a great example of someone who possesses a great idea, and then strikes big. The same goes for Tony Tan Caktiong of Jollibee. When Tan Caktiong started Jollibee, McDonald’s wasn’t even in the country yet. That also made them the first mover. And they were also good at it, so they really stuck in the minds of the Filipino. They started as a Magnolia ice cream parlor, but Tony Tan noticed that his hamburgers were selling more than his ice cream. And that ice cream parlor became the first Jollibee in 1975.” —Edgardo Rodriguez, Enderun Colleges

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2. Build a strong brand. 

Example: Edgar Sia II

“There are the common strong brands like SM, but Mang Inasal, for example, is a strong brand even if it’s very young at less than a decade. The perfect role model for building a good brand is Edgar Sia II. His strategy was clean and precise: His product [was an instant hit in Iloilo] and worked [in Manila], and then he had an exit strategy. [He sold 70% of his Mang Inasal branches to Jollibee Foods Corporation for 3 billion pesos.]”—Edgardo Rodriguez

“If you don’t have a strong brand, people will think of you as a generic commodity. In the Philippines, branding is important. But you have to be careful to not make it too high-end and therefore limiting. The middle class is not very big, and the wealthy is very little. You need branding that is very affordable.” —Wilson Lee Flores, The Philippine Star

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3. Don’t be afraid to go your own way.

Example: Henry Sy Sr.

“When I was the manager of the Ayala Center in the 1970s, Henry Sy was my biggest tenant at the Makati Commercial Center. He accounted for almost one-fifth of the entire rental income of the Ayala Center. He probably thought, ‘If I developed my own shopping center, I won’t have to pay this. Instead, everybody would have to pay me.’ And he did. SM became big in the shopping center business because it was forced to do it. And with their shopping business turning out to be good, SM became its own anchor for its own shopping center.” —Dan Antonio, Asian Center for Entrepreneurship and Management Education

4. Diversify your business.

Example: John Gokongwei Jr.

“John Gokongwei’s JG Summit Holdings is a good example of diversifying your business. The way he moves is opportunity-based. He started in food processing (Universal Robina Corp.) which positioned him well to establish supermarkets (Robinsons Supermarkets). And if you’re a supermarket, you’re just a few steps away from becoming a department store (Robinsons Department Store).” —Dan Antonio

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5. Create a product that could rule a market.

Example: Betty Ang

“Betty Ang of Monde Nissin created Lucky Me instant noodles. And that one product alone dominates the entire noodle industry. Their instant pancit canton has 50% of the entire market.” —Dan Antonio

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* Minor edits have been made by editors