On Top Business Opportunities and Healthy Skepticism

It’s easy to talk about business and entrepreneurship — how it’s done, tips in running a successful business, top business prospects for the year, business ideas with huge potentials, and just among the myriad of topics that could be discussed by just about anyone.

We read articles on the top business prospects of 2012. Change the year to 2011 or 2013, or some other period for that matter, and we have a list of top 10 business opportunities in the Philippines, highly recommended businesses for OFWs or for home-based moms. Top list of sure hit business ideas in the Philippines. The list could go on.

But why would you believe such a list? Why would you believe blogs, websites, magazines, newsletters, speakers and what-have-you discussing business and making money in general.

“Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.” This quote, attributed to Benjamin Franklin, beautifully summarizes our own skepticism from the moment we began to tackle non-legal aspects of business and entrepreneurship.

We recently encountered a concise statement of this healthy skepticism from one of the country’s top Chief Executive Officers (CEO), Manuel V. Pangilinan who is commonly referred to as “MVP”. He said:

I mean, let’s not name names — you have a management guru coming to town, and you’re being encouraged to attend.

And then you know, you sort of ask yourself, why should I see this guy? If Warren Buffet or Lee Ka-shing were speaking, I’d go. I’d even pay. I don’t think they need the money but I’d go. But you see these management gurus and ask, “How come you’re not rich? You’re not as rich as Warren Buffett. If you’re as rich as he is, then I’ll go see you.” (December 2011 issue of Esquire Magazine)

In other words, if I’m (or if others are) more successful that you are, why should I listen to you? Following the logic of MVP’s statements, we could ask these questions:

  • If the speaker holds himself/herself out as an expert in business, a leadership or business guru, would you believe him/her knowing that he/she is not running a business that is No. 1 or No. 2 in its category?
  • If the author creates a list of the best business opportunities, why not exploit the business himself/herself? There must be a reason why he/she is not putting his money and effort on those supposedly top business picks.
  • If the author or resource person is currently running a successful business, would he/she truthfully spill out the key ingredients of his/her success and risk being copied or “attacked” by the competitors? As Sun Tzu said in the Art of War, know your enemy and you’ll win half of your battles.

We’ve been told to question anything and everyone, including ourselves.

It doesn’t mean, however, that we totally disregard a business article or a piece of business advice. We read an article or listen to business advice, and we evaluate its basic assumptions and conclusions. The business article is a reference point for further investigation and study, just like what Wikipedia is and should be – it’s not a definitive and expert source of information, but it could be the starting point of further research.

If a new Pinoy Entrepreneur does not read between the lines or does not see the chaff from the grain, then more study/experience is needed. The opposite is true. We previously noted that “an entrepreneur doesn’t have to be told about business ideas or opportunities. Entrepreneurs recognize a potential business venture even if the opportunity is not staring them in the face. Successful entrepreneurs see what is not obvious. This ability sets entrepreneurs apart from the rest of the pack.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *