Insight: Sensing Potentials

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on

The ability to sense potential opportunities is key to the identity of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are wired in a way that they can sense the surroundings and identify a need immediately. This entrepreneurial ability can be reached by anyone through understanding what change and dissatisfaction mean to entrepreneurs.


Before the pandemic, people were free to move and go on with their usual life. Buying clothes is done in malls, people eat in restaurants and watch movies in theaters. As the numbers started to rise, the government mandated to stop economic activities and put people inside their homes until hospitals are well equipped to handle infected people. Change happened, which affected people’s way of doing things.

The change in people’s behavior because of the quarantine created a need. People can no longer go out to buy their wants or watch movies in theaters. Students had to stop school. People can no longer exercise. The working force had to work from home. All these changes created a void and manifested as needs. 

Online became the default go-to place. As people searched for solutions, they went online to get and share information. People met online, transacted online, watched movies online, studied online, and made money online. Everything became online. 

As a result, the old and new gained traction. Zoom, practically an unknown company before the pandemic, earned millions because it became the most used platform for meetings. Google classroom became one of the most learned platforms for online learning. PPEs became highly in demand. New businesses sprouted as well. Viber groups became a selling platform where people looked for their essentials. New food products were noticed, such as the Sushi Bake and Ube Pandesal.

Change signals the formation of needs as shown in how people’s behavior changed as a result of the mandate to put people in quarantine.

Here are the changes people need to be sensitive about:

  1. Changes in Political factors include policies, tax, state of peace and order, labor law, corruption, etc.
  2. Changes in Economic factors such as inflation rate, interest rates, exchange rates, policies, growth patterns.
  3. Changes in Social factors such as demographics, urbanization and population
  4. Changes in Technological factors involve innovation in technology. What is being developed and what is available.
  5. Changes in Environment includes changes in climate, supply restrictions and availability based on environmental policies.

To illustrate how change was recognized as a source of opportunity, here is a short story on Jeff Bezos and Amazon.

Back in the 90s, Bezos was working for a financial firm. He was doing well and good in the company. He has a good career ahead of him. One day, he saw data on the change and  growth of internet users in the coming years. Being entrepreneurial, he interpreted the data as an opening to an opportunity. He grabbed the opportunity and founded Amazon. 

Changes can also be taken advantage of by small businesses too. An extreme example would be the vendors along EDSA. There was a time when EDSA’s traffic was not as bad as today. Back then in the 90’s, motorists would not see vendors along the highway. But today, as soon as the traffic starts, vendors will be offering their products. Change in volume of the cars, urbanization, and population growth are some factors that triggered the change and eventually attracted vendors. 


What are the changes you sense that is happening around you? You may use sources such as newspapers or data from the internet.


People want. They want better, they aspire for something more superior and that is the case for the majority of people on earth and people I know. I have yet to meet someone who does not need or want anything. As long as people feel they want and need, there will always be new customers and products.

When we are dissatisfied, it is because the experience is not as we expected or not as what is expected. There is a feeling that something is MISSING, ANNOYING, IRRITATING & DISAPPOINTING and knowing WHY gives the entrepreneurial an insight to the solution that can be provided.

The entrepreneurial, an aspirant for better things, can use dissatisfaction as a source of business opportunity. There are 2 types of dissatisfaction: Dissatisfaction as a user & Dissatisfaction as observer. As a user you have a personal experience with the brand. As an observer, someone else was the user. 

Konsuke Matsushita is an example who personally experienced dissatisfaction and had knowledge about how Japanese were dissatisfied with the bike lamp. As a response to dissatisfaction he made a better bike lamp.


  1. When was the last time you were dissatisfied with a product?
  2. Identify what is MISSING, ANNOYING, IRRITATING & DISAPPOINTING with the experience.

To entrepreneurs, changes and dissatisfaction are anomalies that create needs and problems and those needs and problems trigger the entrepreneur’s capability to insight.

Founder’s Spirit

Photo by Andrew Neel on

What universal tasks are common among founding entrepreneurs across time, culture and geography?

Founders are those who start the enterprise. This is important because this will help understand the tasks inherent to the founder. When these tasks are identified, it can be studied, learnt and shared to allow more entrepreneurs in the society.

An entrepreneur can be present from the beginning up to the end of the venture’s life cycle but I am only interested in the start up phase as this is based on the definition of the origin of the word entrepreneur, which is to undertake.

To know their universal tasks, I reviewed 4 founding entrepreneurs coming from different time, culture and geography. I did not randomly choose any entrepreneur, I chose them based on being different in time, culture and geography as well as based on the definition of 4 luminaries on economics and management, namely, Richard Cantillon who defined entrepreneur as someone who buys resources and sells for a higher price, thus denoting the current definition of a businessman. I still considered his definition to define the entrepreneur because the entrepreneur must also look into the profitability and sustainability of the company. Next is the definition of Jean Baptiste Say, which states, one who undertakes an enterprise, especially a contractor, acting as intermediary between capital and labor. The Joseph Schumpeter’s, as someone who destroys status quo and shifts resources out of an area of higher productivity and greater yield. Finally, Peter Drucker who defined entrepreneur as someone who seeks change, responds to it and exploits it as an opportunity.

Based on how entrepreneur was defined (seek change, create profit, shift resources and challenges status quo), I chose following to represent entrepreneurs:

Godric of Finchale

Life in medieval England was hard, if you are born poor, chances are you will live and die poor. A peasant or farmer will have to spend their lives as slave of their masters.

In 1066, the Normans, a tribe from France, conquered England. After the conquest, trade became vibrant in England.

A few years after the conquest, Godric was born. He was born into a poor family and chances are, we would live and die poor. But when he was a teenager, he decided not to be a farmer like his father and become a trader.

He got onto his bike and went from village to village to trade goods. Over time, he went onboard a ship to trade in different countries.  His customers were rich people and nobles. He would bring items that are rare, such as house ware, in the country he will sell, making those items highly coveted.

*Locally, he would be considered Henry Sy or Mrs. Ramos of National Bookstore who started as retailers, also in the local context, an entrepreneur.

Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniack

Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniack are friends and members of the Homebrew computer club. It was Woz who has into computers and Jobs was the salesman. In one of the events, Woz showed that it is possible to create a personal computer. Woz was to share the blueprint of the computer to other members of the club but Steve Jobs convinced him that, instead of giving away the blueprint, they could sell the computer to retailers who will sell to those who want. This is how Apple 1 computer was born. The Apple was an innovation at the time because an ordinary picture tube TV can be used as the monitor of the computer. It also used less chips than what is available on the market.

Jack Ma

Jack Ma learned English as a young kid. To practice his English, he would tour foreigners, and have penpals. He also would become an English teacher.

In 1995, we went to the US and there he first encountered the internet. He first searched for the word beer and found plenty of information about it. But when he searched China, he found few to none.

As soon as he got back to China, he started a company that would make websites for businesses. He called it China Pages. He wanted information about China to be found on the internet. China Pages would also be his stepping-stone for Alibaba.

Konosuke Matsushita

Panasonic started 7 months before World War 1 ended. The founder was Konsuke Matsushita and only 3 staff helped him during the start up.

Matsushita was enthusiastic about developing new ideas so he had pen and notebook with him always. His company became famous for the creation of a bullet-shaped bicycle lamp.

During 1920’s in Japan, bicycle lamps were unreliable. Personally, he was frustrated with his own bicycle lamp, which frequently went out when he rode at night. Though there we battery operated lamps in the market, he made a better one.

He was able to create a battery-operated lamp that would last for 30-40 hours using 3 batteries.

It was not an instant success. Battery-powered lamps were yet to be accepted by the mass market because they had a bad image to customers, making them hard to sell to wholesalers. Instead, he went directly to retailers and left samples for testing. Since the lamps proved to be as promised, orders started coming in.

So what is common?

Sense opportunities from change and dissatisfaction (INSIGHT). Change and dissatisfaction create void in the market or self which are translated into problems and needs by the one who feels it. Someone who is entrepreneurial can visualize a potential opportunity from change in environmental forces or dissatisfaction to a condition. Godfric was dissatisfied about his condition on living and dying poor, so is Matsushita who was frustrated with poor lamps and Jack Ma who did not get information about China on the net. This dissatisfaction made them seek solution. On the other hand, Apple 1 computer came to life because Jobs saw a potential to fill the void in the market due to the availability of a better technology and a need from the members of the computer club. The change in technology and dissatisfaction of the current market made Jobs sense an opportunity, thus, he was able to connect the dots between problem and profit, just like the other founders. This first task of sensing opportunity is vital to the process of the entrepreneur, without the ability to sense opportunities, there will be no motivation to visualize what can be done.

Generate innovative solutions (IDEATE). Entrepreneurs are not satisfied with just filling the market with supply, instead they want to be different by providing innovative solutions. All the products sold or produced in the stories above were all innovative and new during their time, like the personal computer, webpages and bike lamp. However high technology is not necessary. Godfric, for example, sold items that were rare in the places he went to making them “new” to customers, but no new technology were applied in the items. What made the products innovative is that to the customers they were new in terms of how they are used, how they look, or how they function.

Create value-driven venture (INITIATE). All these products, before they came to fruition, were all innovative solutions in the form of ideas. The final task of the founder is to bring his idea to the reality. To create a value driven venture, the ideas must be transformed into an enterprise. At this stage, the founder must take risks, either using his own resources or resources of others. The goal of the enterprise is to be able to create value for, the customers in the form of products and processes, and to owners in the form or profit – continuously through innovation. The enterprise may also (highly recommended) create value to society or community as well, in whatever may help the society or community it is in.

These tasks above are what makes someone entrepreneurial and are present in all the entrepreneurs who were used as examples. It would be hard to accomplish the said tasks without the following traits:

  1. Creativity. Creativity not in aesthetics (though it helps) but in being able to come up with unique yet useful ideas. This creativity may also be applied in being resourceful while solving problems and coming up with innovative solutions.
  2. Risk-taking. Risks can be calculated or not calculated. Whatever it may be, the entrepreneur must be able to take some amount of risk. Risks come in on the part where the entrepreneur will be creating a value driven venture because the creation happens without a promise of return.
  3. Vision. Not the vision that foretells the future like that of the fortune teller, although close to that. But a vision that sees the possibilities in creative ideas.

These traits are just here to give guidance on qualities of the entrepreneur that allowed them to do their tasks.

Steve Jobs as an example to represent the others.

First, he was not an inventor or even tech savvy but he had an insight and idea, that is there is an opportunity to fill the market need by selling the Apple 1. He was able to initiate by selling the computer to retailers. He also captures the definition of the 4 economists mentioned above, he was able to make profit, challenge status quo, take advantage of the need and shift the resource to higher yield. This is also the same with Jack Ma who was not tech savvy but had an insight, idea and drive to initiate.

In all generations, and cultures, these are the 3 tasks that are inherent in the founding entrepreneur: Sensing change & dissatisfaction, Generating innovative solutions, and Creating value-driven venture. The traits such as creativity, vision and risk-taking completes their entrepreneurial spirit.

How to Price & Promote Your Products

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva on

Mike, for the longest time wanted to resign from being employed. He wanted more time for his family and start his dream business. He was retrenched this pandemic and saw this as an opportunity to do what he always wanted to do. With some savings, he and his wife started a home-based business selling food. Getting in the food business was not a problem for Mike because he has a degree in culinary though he was employed as HR in a production company.

I am writing this with the intention to help those people who are starting a business price and promote their products or services.

Here is my promise, after reading this, you will have an idea on how to price and inform people about your new product or service (In this article, I will refer to services as products). I thought of these 2 because in my experience, many people can create or trade a product but do not know how to price or promote their products.

What you will learn in this article is simple and easy to apply, yet can be profitable if consistently done. A little warning though, do not expect to hit it big time right away. I just had to put it here to manage expectations.

Simple Manufacturing, and trading are 2 of the business models out there that will provide you with cash as soon as the selling happens. Manufacturing is creating an output by putting together raw materials, for example, making Longganisa. Trading on the other hand involves buying and selling of finished goods, an example would be buying products from a grocery and reselling them.

Price and Promotion

Decide first on the price.

The most basic way to arrive at pricing your product is by computing for your costs and adding a margin (patong) – To not complicate matters for now, tax will not be included.

Definition: Price the the amount of money you will ask from your customer in exchange for your products or services.

For example you bought a box of water for 100 pesos with 10 bottles of water. That will be 100 pesos/10 bottles. Each bottle will cost 10 pesos. If you commuted and spent 10 for the trip then you divide 10 by 10 and it will give you 1. If you add 10 and 1, you will now have a cost of 11 pesos. From 11 pesos, you may add your margin or patong. How do you get it?

There are 2 ways:

  • Find out how much your competitors are selling, you may go a bit lower than how much they are selling, or equal to their price or higher.
  • The other way is to understand the profile of your market. If you are selling in an area where the market can pay high and you have less competition, then you can dictate the price.

Let us now go on how to promote your product. The most cost effective way to promote your product now is through social media. However, in social media, it is a battle of attention. There are 4 important assets when promoting in social media. Let us do organic or unpaid for now, which means you rely on shares.

Definition: Promotion is the activity of reaching your target customer to communicate the features and benefits of your products.

The 4 assets you need are:

  • Friends and followers. You need them because they will be the source of your initial income and word of mouth.
  • Nice photos. You need photos are attractive. The looks give you credibility; it makes you look trustworthy, which is important for someone starting a business. You want to be more sophisticated, go for videos.
  • Product information. People want to know more about your product beyond images. They want to know specifications, and benefits.
  • Social proof. This is the testimonial of people who have used you product. This helps convince people to buy your products. This can be in the form of reviews or ratings.

These 2 are just part of the bigger process but crucial in the early stages of the business. By promoting and pricing your product appropriately, you will have the benefits of gaining customers and hopefully repeat customers.

No Justice in a Page

Looking at the business’ logo history, compressed in one photo, success may appear easy. What it doesn’t show is the decision to change, process of change and the effects of change. What we dread is change and the uncertainty of its results, or the moving away from what we are used to and the predictability of the outcome.

Many so-called gurus, coaches and mentors loosely evangelize leaving the comfort zone to succeed in life as if it can happen with a snap of fingers. Yes, in theory it may be easy but in practice it is not because when you change, everything connected to you changes as well.

Great expectations lead to disappointment. Every time we attend a seminar, workshop, webinar or read a book, our expectation to succeed goes up. Of course, we want to get our money’s worth but that is not how it goes. A 2-workshop is useless unless it is practiced the right way. Underscore right way.

In many of my classes, the question of how to succeed comes up. I give them this answer: there is no blue print to success except the commitment to action, no matter how slow. There are no short cuts but there are skills, virtues and people who will help you achieve your goals.


photo source: Mirajane Linatoc

Selling an Idea


There is a big concern among employees who present proposals to their higher ups. Many if not all get disapproved. As a result, many employees feel they were not heard and the boss is labeled as narrow minded. In this narrative the boss unfairly becomes the antagonist.

How can you increase the chances of your proposal getting approved? You need to persuade better and yes, it can be done with the help of Aristotle.

I have been using this for a long time now, probably 20 years and so far it has been effective. Pre-pandemic I would visit companies to present and many times I am able to sell. It may not be instant but I close. One of the most memorable presentations is the one I did with a conglomerate 5 years ago. Known for being conservative, stable and strong, I decided not to use a deck to present my business. I decided to use index cards to convey my idea. I am not saying that the index cards were the key, but it helped me communicate that the presentation is not about high tech I am, but how I know and studied them by staying conservative with the use of paper. I also included stories at the start to hook them and facts to support my presentation.

How was that influenced by Aristotle? I used Aristotle’s 3 rhetorical appeals. In the photo, you will see their definition.

(See photo)

Ethos is your credibility and trustworthiness. You have to look and speak professionally, and of course, good reputation helps.

Pathos is the appeal to emotions. You can do this by sharing a story listeners can related to or anecdote that helps them see their goals.

Logos is appeal to logic. This is done with facts and scientific studies.

Combine the 3 and you become persuasive. So, the next time you present, appeal to the 3.