Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Anti Medici

We are not a country of entrepreneurs. We do not have the blood of the merchants.

And yet going into business has recently been in vogue.

With online technology, it’s even easier to run a business. Buyers need not wait for time zone differentials to be able to contact their suppliers. They can get price lists and catalogues without having to wait for a post office parcel. With email, even FedEx seems too long. But if you really need to speak with your manufacturer in the US, you can use any VOIP program, and you want be charged exorbitant IDD rates.

For small businesses that cannot afford the latest (and therefore pricey) database for their inventory, they can use any one of the many open source applications online. You’re a retail chain with several branches all over the Philippines and can’t obviously physically be in any one of them at the same time? You can ask PLDT for an IP Camera where you’ll be able to see a 360 degree view of your store in Zamboanga, right at your desk in Manila. If you’re resourceful (therefore cheap), you can install a regular webcam in your Zamboanga store – not as fancy, but it gets the job done.

Business, has to be cutting edge, otherwise it will perish. It has to keep up with the changing times and tastes. Business can relatively keep up with technology.

Not so the law. In fact, our laws and our bureaucracy are not very conducive to the entrepreneur. Nowadays, it’s easier to run a 10k marathon than to open up a business. Case in point: I tried to register a business name with the DTI a long time ago (before law school). According to the website, you can do it online since their search engine would be able to tell you if your proposed business name is similar or confusingly similar to another already registered. What I didn’t expect is to be thrown like a ping-pong ball in the office, only to be asked to return the next day. Once it was “approved” and the certificate was about to be printed, some person decides to investigate into my background a little more because of I might not be a Filipino, because of my Chinese middle name.

Setting up is one thing, but surviving/thriving is another thing altogether.

On a larger, more multi-national scale, I wonder why corporations are not enthusiastic over placing their hubs here. Is it our labor laws/tax laws? Maybe it’s our culture in general?

For businesses, the problem has never been the market. There is always something to sell and someone willing to buy it. Their biggest problem is dealing with government (and its employees) who are not as avant-garde as business or sympathetic to the entrepreneurial spirit. It seems that our laws have not fully realized the potential of a self-sufficient entrepreneurial society. And every merchant who dreams of becoming the Next Medici Prince will just have to wait.

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