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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The three “S” of business

The three “S” of business
By Dean Pax Lapid

truly rich club three “S” business

Early this year I got an email from one of my 2ND batch of Entrep graduates from Entrepreneur School of Asia (ESA). While in school, Michelle established a native street food franchise in a Makati mall. Let me share with you her email.

Hi Dean Pax!

I’m coming home at last!! I’ll be there from 23rd-30th of March! Please grant my request to sit-in in your Entrep class! I can’t wait to attend your class once again! God is really good! By the end of spring the pre-school that I established three years ago is going to move in to a bigger place here in Japan to accommodate 100 students!

I learned that being good at something is not only the requirement to realize a dream. I have to build what is unseen. I have to create a vision. But it doesn’t end there. I must also have a willing heart, mind, body and soul to fulfil that dream.

I need to have a deeper compelling reason why I want to achieve such things and to know the real purpose of my existence. As I journeyed into entrepreneurship, I have to know my strengths and do something to overcome my weaknesses.

Most importantly is to praise how great my Maker is. I’m created in His own likeness. Like you (Dean Pax), He has called me to do something impossible to show His Glory. In short, Victory International Pre-school (VIP) was established to tell the world (especially to the Japanese about Jesus!). God has blessed me in return by pouring out His favor pressed down, shaken together running over! Sorry, I got carried away with so much joy. See you soon, Dean Pax!

Wow! What a blessing to see a mentee like Schela barely five years after graduation to have journeyed into the three “S” of business. The harvest of an educator’s mission is attained when the mentee becomes successful or has exceeded his expectations. (This is even more true for us parents—when we see our children who are as good as or better than us in their life). I’d like to honour her by telling you her entrepreneurship journey.


While at ESA, Michelle established a franchise of balut, or duck egg. Actually, she was both the first franchisee and ‘co-concept proponent’. She learned to work with the franchisor and was able to contribute to society by providing jobs for the employees of her two branches. For her early success, Michelle garnered the Entrepreneur for Society Award during her graduation for the nature of her business involved the retailing of a native industry such as balut vending.

Thinking that her balut vending business was a “quick success,” Michelle went to Japan right after graduation to help her mother run a Filipino store while remotely monitoring the balut business entrusted to the franchisor. The Filipino store was not doing very well since the Filipino community in Japan had decreased due to stricter laws implemented by the Japanese government on foreigners. She wanted to salvage her mother’s business.

She started to STRUGGLE to find out her true calling (balut vending, mom’s Filipino store or her own dream of a preschool). Michelle remembered our “Dean’s eulogy assignment” to write down how one wanted to be remembered when they die. She had written as part of her eulogy: “Michelle lived an amazing life that positively influenced young people. She was a great school master.”

Her Vision Prevailed

Being serious with her dream, she made a checklist on how to operationalize her pre-school: a) Knowledge and experience in the field of education in Japan; b) How to do business in Japan and the right business network; c) Ability to communicate in Japanese, at a business level; d) Capital for investment; e) Right heart, right reason, right drive.

In September 2007, she took on the job of working as a pre-school teacher in an international school. She discovered that teaching children was a very rewarding experience, as well as a good source of income. However, she also met a lot of STRUGGLES when she experienced discrimination because of her nationality and young age. Michelle recalled, “I dealt with this in a professional manner by speaking to my manager and co-teachers.

We came up with solutions such as an open day for parents to give them a chance to observe how I conducted my class. I re-designed my daily schedule that included 10 minutes of teacher parent time. Michelle reflected, “If life throws you lemons, make lemonade.”

More Struggles

Michelle resigned from the school because she had to go back to the Philippines to attend to a pressing problem with the franchisor of her balut retail business. The franchisor had sued her. After five difficult months of trial, she won the case, closed the business, and went back to Japan.

With her vision still focused, in September 2008, she found work at a public junior high school, where she acquired a broader view of and greater experience with the Japanese educational system. Teaching experience: check!

Michelle continued to pray to God for the right opportunity. And her prayers were answered when she met a person from Playgroup, a company that had the exclusive right to the “Creative Curriculum,” a popular childhood curriculum in the United States operating in Japan. She expressed an interest in franchising the school.

In the beginning, the president of the company expressed doubt because they had no experience dealing with a foreign investor. She was also the first gaijin (foreigner) to show interest in the business. Also, she did not speak business-level Japanese fluently, she was a woman, and she was too young.

But Michelle was undaunted and proceeded to write a letter of intent. The next day, the senior adviser of the company scheduled a meeting with her. He was impressed by her resume, how she understood the business terms in the contract, her good command of English and her comprehensive analysis of the selected market in Kasukabe City, Saitama Prefecture (using Dean’s napkin plan). How to do business + business network: check! She needed capital!

She had no money but remembered the advice that it was better to have a good business idea and not have money, versus a pot of gold but without any idea on what to do. Michelle found a lot of people willing to buy into her pre-school business idea. Family and friends supported her and allowed her to use their money to apply for a bank loan.

Applying for membership at the Chamber of Commerce accompanied by her banker was a trying, but memorable experience. Michelle persevered in her prayers and soon learned that her bank loan was approved. She was also accepted as a member of the Chamber of Commerce, having the distinction of being the youngest entrepreneur in the city. Capital for investment: check! Finally, Michelle enrolled in Japanese lessons. Japanese proficiency: check!

Onwards to Success
As she put up the school thru the various struggles she met, her SUCCESS with Victory International Pre- School (VIP) had a more solid foundation compared to the ‘quick win’ of balut vending. In order to sustain her pre-school business in a foreign land, Michelle hired a bilingual assistant manager to assist her, as well as Japanese and American pre-school teachers.

She truly has an international team with her. Michelle also launched into marketing campaigns to promote her school through billboards, newspaper inserts, posters, website advertising, and tie-ups with children’s shops and swimming pool facilities. This campaign has generated 100 students for this 2012 school-term!

More Than Just Success—Significance

Three "S" of Business
Michelle had ticked off every item in her checklist to build Victory International Pre-school. Furthermore, she also found her SIGNIFICANCE thru her school: To be a Kingdom builder. Michelle’s school vision is very simple.

It is found in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.” Michelle said that she felt that the mission and significance for her existence was to prepare these pre-schoolers for life and to teach them about Jesus as the source of life.”

Michelle definitely has the Right heart, right reason, right drive to take her thru life’s STRUGGLES, SUCCESS, and SIGNIFICANCE. After all, Michelle’s dream really had three ‘S’ as well: Schela, a Schoolmaster in Saitama!

May God prosper you as you pursue your dreams thru the three ‘S!

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