Nope, it does not mean “bring your own bottle.” It means “be your own boss.” Well, in a sense both meanings refer to you taking charge and making your own choices. This was also the major findings in a lesser known survey conducted by OCTA Research. In their Tugon ng Masa survey conducted last March 2023 among 1,200 Filipinos 18 years and older, from across all socio-economic classes, 78 percent of survey respondents said that they would like to go into business.
This number is simply astounding! Nearly eight out of 10 Filipinos prefer to go into business and be their own boss. That is a landslide vote for entrepreneurship. That is an amazing data which government should use in order to craft policies that would make it easier to sustain an entrepreneurial revolution.
Entrepreneurship is something that I have been advocating for a long time now. This is primarily due to my own experience as an entrepreneur who started to help his mother sell shrimp and fish in Divisoria, but also because I believe in the value of entrepreneurship in ushering in an age of prosperity for Filipinos.
I remember when I first entered Congress as the representative of the district of Las Piñas and Muntinlupa in 1992, we had our meeting with the legislative staff in order to determine our priorities. My marching order was clear — we focus on strengthening entrepreneurship.
This was also the reason why one of the first project we focused on was called “Manpower on Wheels” which was our way of bringing entrepreneurial knowledge and skills directly to my constituents. We had a van that we used to transport teachers from the Technical Education and Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) to depressed communities in Las Piñas and Muntinlupa where they can provide residents, who otherwise may not have the time or money to go to TESDA training centers, skills training on dressmaking, cooking, and the like. It was a very successful program which eventually was transformed into a foundation.
In the OCTA survey, respondents were also asked why they want to start their own businesses and the responses were quite interesting. Thirty one percent wanted to have the ability to manage their own time/schedule while another 30 percent like the idea of having no boss to report to/ get along with (30 percent). These two responses are basically the same thing so in essence you have more than 60 percent wanting to take control of their time by being their own bosses. Other answers included no limit in profit/ bigger salary (16 percent), daily income/ money (12 percent), and ability to work/earn at home or anywhere (11 percent).
The results are very exciting for someone like me who has been fighting for entrepreneurship all his life but it is also important to balance the enthusiasm with a bit of caution. Yes, becoming an entrepreneur allows you to become your own boss but being the boss also means being responsible for all things, the business and even the people working for you. Being the boss involves accountability and more responsibilities. It is also true that as a business owner there are generally no limits to what you can earn but it also means that you would have to risk your own money (or money that you borrowed) in the enterprise.
This brings me to the other interesting result of the survey. Respondents were asked what support small business owners need from government and the top two responses were capital (82 percent) and mentorship (67 percent). This should not come as a surprise to everyone, especially those in government because the single most significant stumbling block to would-be entrepreneurs is lack of access to capital. I often hear people in forums saying that they want to open up a business but they do not have the money to start it with.
Mentorship is something I have discussed in previous columns but I would like to state here that this is something government and the private sector can do. They can create a mentoring program specifically designed for young entrepreneurs. Bosses need help too, you know.
At any rate, I hope we can use the data from this survey to seriously push for the entrepreneurial revolution I have been pushing for. People from different colors and ideological orientations have been fomenting their brand of revolutions but I believe that this is the only kind of revolution that can free our people from poverty.