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As I write this column, I am filled with emotion and memories in looking back through the years. How fast the Christmas season has come. It was just like yesterday since we spent our last Christmas. Time is moving so fast, our children are growing, and as entrepreneurs, in keeping ourselves so busy, we sometimes fail to realize this.
Christmas has turned quite commercial through the years, with stores playing Christmas music early to remind people to start shopping. As early as mid-November, our youngest daughter Isabella has been asking us to help her write her list for Santa. She wants very diverse things, from a bird to a new dog. We told her Santa has other children to give gifts to so she has to choose only one.
In America and some other countries, people are discouraged to say ‘Merry Christmas’; instead, they say ‘Happy Holidays’ since Christmas is a celebration among Christians. For me, my reason for this season is to celebrate the birth of Christ. I hope I am not greeted by fellow Filipinos with ‘happy holidays’ as we need to be reminded our reason for this celebration.
My Christmas wish is good health for myself, my wife and children, and of course, my parents, especially my father who celebrates his 80th birthday this December. It’s a great blessing that our parents are still with us today to celebrate Christmas – we can ask for no better Christmas gift than this.
Just last week, my son Christian and his cousin Michael, who together have an apparel line called Greater Good, invited Don Jaime Zobel, Sr. to design a special shirt for them. Part of the proceeds from the sale of these special shirts will go to Haribon. The Haribon Foundation is known for their commitment to conserving biodiversity in the Philippines. Every purchase of this special edition of shirts will merit three seedlings to be planted in critical forest regions in the country.
My father gamely wore the shirt and took part in what I call a ‘generation photo’ as my son and my brother’s son mark the 3rd generation of entrepreneurial Concepcions. Both Christian and Michael have decided to pursue their own entrepreneurial endeavor rather than work for the company my brother and I manage.
Recently, my brother John started his own Japanese katsudon restaurant called Yabu. Its first branch in SM Megamall is doing extremely well. During its conception and start up, John took advice from me and my key staff who run my Joey Pepperoni restaurant.
It’s great to see the next generation pursue their own dreams and start their own business. It was also great to see Don Jaime take time out to help young entrepreneurs.
The advocacy of Go Negosyo has provided me the opportunity to meet hundreds of entrepreneurs. I see similar stories of entrepreneurs training either the second or third generation of their family to join in the family business or to encourage them to start their own venture. Another example of a family spawning generations of entrepreneurs are the Aboitizes, starting from the founding father, Don Ramon Aboitiz who handed management over to his son Eduardo, and then to his grandson Jon Ramon, currently the CEO and President of Aboitiz & Co. The same is true for various business founders such as Betty Go-Belmonte, whose three sons are managers of the Philippine Star; the late Jose Campos whose daughter Joy is now running Unilab, while his son Butch manages NutriAsia; and Henry Sy, Sr., whose children Henry Jr., Tessie, Hans, Herbert, Elizabeth, and Harley are intrapreneurs in the SM Group.
Entrepreneurship is a great avenue to pursue your passion and fulfill your dreams. It can also be a test of your character and extent of creativity as one is constantly challenged as to how products or services can be differentiated and be better than others. For many, entrepreneurship is the only way for them to survive and beat poverty. Whatever the reason, entrepreneurs have to make sure to fill in a gap in the market, and that the products and services offer more relevant benefits to make consumers want to buy them. In business, the key is to always answer the question: Why will they buy your product? That’s the bottom line.