(Reprinted with permission from Inquirer. The article originally appeared in Dr. Ned Roberto’s column Marketing Rx on Nov. 20, 2015)
Last Friday’s column (November 13, 2015) ended with my promise that I will invite a teacher but who was first a successful entrepreneur so we can learn from his experience. I invited and he has graciously accepted. So here’s my dear friend Josiah Go – Ned Roberto
Most of my entrepreneurial journeys have been granted much grace from God. I see everything as stepping stones where goals are achieved because I do tend to see beyond lines of sight and am always ready to pursue opportunities with the clear purpose of achieving what I set my mind to.
I began a second career in education by understanding my own training needs and then finding and focusing on a niche to specialize in and to make the specialization deeper as well as wider until it becomes a cluster of advantages.
I was first “discovered” by Professor Manny Fernandez of the Ateneo de Manila in 1990 when I spoke in a school event. Speaking on my favorite topics in marketing and entrepreneurship in various fora, I realized I had what it took to create understandable, teachable and applicable frameworks and that I enjoyed doing so. I accepted to teach marketing mindful then I can also be an educational entrepreneur. I wasn’t the type to just do something without an end in mind, clearly an entrepreneurial trait. To do this, I needs a solid network to get my name out, thus the need to audit the abundance of three types of network — operational network (those who can help get the job done now), strategic network (those who can help accomplish your long-term goals, including future clients and suppliers) and personal (those who can help you become a better person).
By then, I have also learned well from Dr. Roberto’s market research specialization and thus chose to specialize in marketing strategy. I then expanded my understanding of marketing strategy using different lenses available concentrating on the unfamiliar — market-driving (unserved market), business model, strategic marketing (analytical tools), defensive marketing, marketing innovation, innopreneurship, profit strategy and the like, rather than what everybody else was reading on market-driven strategy.
Since one of my entrepreneurial endeavors was in marketing education, it was almost natural that I spotted and then pursued many opportunities while teaching — I founded the Ateneo Junior Marketing Association (AJMA) on my rookie year as a teacher. I initiated annual and free briefing to the Association of Marketing Educators since 1997 as my humble contribution to help enable the academe with live cases and updated industry information. I co-founded an outstanding student training program called MarkProf Bootcamp, an offshoot of the Ateneo Marketing Outreach (AMOR) when I was still its director for the marketing minor program in 1992-1995. I also accepted time-consuming (and sometimes thankless) volunteer work in various industry associations — as president of Philippine Marketing Association, Direct Selling Association of the Philippines and of the Association of Marketing Educators in the past, as part of my network audit.
It became clear to me that teaching from school to corporate clients required a totally new set of competencies. I needed to create my own local examples, and even my own framework beyond what is available in books. As local to international clients needed further refinement, I needed to have my own books (I have written/co-written 13) and converted local to foreign case examples far more than what clients know or are able to read readily. I also needed to welcome other seminar facilitators in marketing and sales to scale up Mansmith with a pre-requisite that they all needed to be better than me!
Mansmith and Fielders, is now celebrating its 25th year in the training and consultancy business. It started as a mere “hobby” of mine while I was growing my main entrepreneurial business in premium consumer health durables in Waters Philippines. I merely wanted to learn and to help others learn how to do well in business via marketing and sales. In pursuit of this, I needed to take courses from the best mentors while partnering with like-minded consultants who are either successful entrepreneurs or members of top management in the corporate world, and who also loved to teach and mentor.
Being an educational entrepreneur has many advantages versus ordinary business. Not only is there no product inventory and very few receivables, it also has a strong barrier to entry where capital is not a key success factor. Teaching is both vocation and mission for my partners and me who are used to combining excellence, focus, passion and commitment. I hope the foregoing will help you plot your own journey into educational entrepreneurship.