By Bel Ramirez
For most Overseas Filipinos, apart from owning a home, having a sustainable business back home that will support the family is the ultimate dream – an aspiration our kababayans want to achieve before they eventually settle back home for good in the Philippines.
But there are so many questions and fears that linger in our heads that seem to make the journey from OF to entrepreneur a daunting one. “Will I be able to survive in the world that I left long ago?” “Will I be able to reintegrate?” Or even the simple question – “Will I survive?” These fears are enough to hold us back from coming home for good. And that is a bit ironic, especially since “home” should be our comfort zone.
So how does one overcome this feeling of “alienness” in his/her own homeland? It’s easy to set-up a business with all the rules written out. All you have to do is follow. But it is harder to change our mindsets that have been shaped by staying all those years abroad in foreign land.
Fret not! All you need is to utilize whatever you have learned as a resilient OF, apply some flexibility and open-mindedness, and before you know it, you will be adjusting well to life in the Philippines and getting closer to your dream of having your own business back home. Here are some tips learned from my own tough personal experiences that OFs can benefit from:
As an OF returnee you have to understand that the country you have left a long time ago has experienced many changes through the years. So it’s not useful to only be referring to the things you were used to “back in the day.” Study the new lay of the land. Get up to speed with how things work. Observe your surroundings and the people and learn from them. Find out the new way of doing things.
Be the people
A lot of OFs have a hard time adjusting to the lifestyle back home because their expectations and actions are stuck to the life abroad that they left behind. If you want to be successful in building a business in the Philippines, you need to make an effort to start acting like you are truly part of the community. For how will your business serve the people, if you don’t even understand them?
Be a problem solver
Look for unique, urgent requirements or anomalies within the community that need resolution and where you can contribute your talent and skills. This is how you can come up with a business, a product and/or a service that, will address existing needs in the market. OFs are very skillful in finding ways to solve problems, even beyond our professions. We’ve learned to be inventive with our exposure to different cultures and workplaces. Use this strength and let your ingenuity shine!
Be an explorer
OFs are innately adventurous. Our spirit for challenge has brought us to distant seas. We don’t want to be kept stagnant in one place. So why not try new ways of addressing market needs back home with inventive new business solutions that would help a lot of kababayans.
OFs are not afraid to try and fail, and relearn and apply what we have learned, whenever we get a chance. This is a special skill of an OF. Trial and error leads us to success and it’s proven. We just have to be more courageous and not be discouraged by failure, as each one of them is an opportunity to learn that brings us closer to success.
Be open minded
Not all business succeed on first attempts. 80% to 90% of startups fail. So you have to have an open mind and accept whatever happens. By having the right perspective only are we able to move on, start over again and pursue that dream until we make it. But in starting anew, we have to understand what did not work in the first place. Our strong OF will which we developed while working abroad will help us to carry on, despite the failures we may face.
And lastly, be a doer
An idea is useless, unless you implement it. A business plan is nothing until you establish the company and get started. And being an entrepreneur back home can only become reality if you start working on it today. Be a doer to get the result that you desire, to achieve the dream that you hold dear. Most of us think that we don’t have enough skills, and get paralyzed by fear. But those skills exist deep inside us, so we must not be afraid of trying until we get it right.
Each of us may have different ways of applying these guidelines on adjusting our expat mindset to achieve our dream business back home. But the most important thing of all is to start doing something to move towards success. There’s no better time but now!
Former Overseas Filipino and Dubai-resident, management professional Anabel Ramirez is now based in Manila and is the founder of ABBR BUSINESS CONSULTANCY. As a driven result oriented person, her core advocacy is to help OFs create their own dream businesses back in the homeland.
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