Q&A with Ramon Garcia on Keeping The Business Metrics For Entrepreneurs

Q1. How did you become an entrepreneur?

Answer: Since 4th year high school, I was a working student attending to the day-to-day operations of my eldest brother’s mini grocery store. My brother trusted me even at a young age to do the merchandising of goods. Divisoria was a normal place for me to buy the goods, as the price there was the lowest.

When I was in college, I was assigned to man my brother’s Tires, Batteries and Car Accessories store. This is where I was exposed to salesmanship and sourcing of goods. I was exposed to risk-taking at a young age.

After graduation from college, I told my brother that I want to practice my profession. After understanding what accounting career is, I trained my eyes in becoming one of the partners of Carlos J. Valdes. But God has other plan for me. I had a falling out with a partner of Carlos Valdes due to differences in value system. Being exposed to risks with my eldest brother, I decided to put up my own accounting firm. One ream of letterhead, a box of business card, a borrowed table, I started the practice in our rented apartment as my office.

Starting a practice is no joke. Initial income is almost nil. When you are 26 years old, getting clients is a major challenge. Since income is small and will not be able to sustain our daily family needs, my wife and I had to engage in buy and sell of t-shirts, pants, ladies underwears, bags and shoes. We also joined “tiangges” and bought stalls in Baclaran. The income from these businesses sustained us while income from my practice was still minimal.

Q2: What lead you to partnering with Crowe Horwath?

A: To be a member of Crowe Horwath cannot be attributed to my effort, it’s by God’s grace. Back then (2007); our firm was a member of AGN International, ranked 15th worldwide. When the Philippine member firm of Crowe Horwath resigned from the network, Crowe Horwath looked for replacements. It so happened that back then, I was very active in the profession and the International Director of Horwath International (old name of Crowe Horwath International) contacted me. It was my prayer that our firm will be a member of the top 10 Global accounting networks. Our prayers was answered because Crowe Horwath International (CHI) is ranked number 9 in the world and 5th largest in Asia Pacific then. I know that if we will be accepted, this will boost our credibility and our chances of getting bigger clients will increase.

Q3: What’s your competitive edge vs. other big accounting firms?

A: Our advantages are:
1. Highly personalized service
2. Solutions oriented in approaching clients’ business problems and situations. We gained lots of clients because of referrals due to the assistance and help we rendered to our clients in their business.
3. Our focus has been on delivering the services rather than the fees to be earned. The value of establishing long term relationship rather than short term gain.
4. Our fee is 25%-30% less than the big 4 firm for the same kind and quality of services.

Q4: What are the top 3 things that entrepreneurs take for granted and how can you help them?

A: Based on personal experience, they are:

a. Proper record keeping. Majority of micro and small enterprises have ignored proper record keeping monitoring their actual performance and their actual financial status as of certain cut-off dates. Most of them see accounting for tax purposes only a necessary evil. Because of this failure, they woke up with lots of problems; bills piling up unable to pay rent and other fixed expenses on time. In short, they have created cash flow problem.

b. Failure to cope with the growing business. When a micro is metamorphosing to a small enterprise, owners usually don’t upgrade their skills. They also failed to make use of professionals/ consultants to help them. Result: Their systems cannot cope with the fast growing business and the business implodes because customers are disgruntled, employees are demoralized, pilferages increased and eventually cash flow problem.

c. Many entrepreneurs don’t prepare written plan and budget. As the saying goes, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Many entrepreneurs failed because they did not bother to know the costs and how and when they will be able to recover the cost. A lot of our small clients have cash flow problems because from the very start, they ignored to plan and determined whether they will be able to sustain their operations given the little capital they have. They don’t have contingency measures.

Our firm’s mission is “to help our clients business grow”. We do not only record the business transactions but also explain to clients the implications of said transactions and guide them for the proper stewardship of their business. In many instances, we point to clients’ areas where they can save on costs and areas where they can maximize their revenues. We also have instances where we have improved and streamlined internal control and operational system, which improved their productivity and efficiency and saved the company by 5%-10% of their operating costs. We have also assisted our clients in their planning needs by providing important data necessary to come out with workable plans. We also give inputs on the industry where our clients belong. We have seen several clients that have improved their operations and are happy as their businesses grow.

Q5: How can clients convert an engagement with your firm from expense to savings?

A: Actually, it is not our client that converts an engagement from expense to savings but us. From the very start, we make sure that the services we will render will benefit the company more than what they are paying for. We explain to prospects how our services will create an impact in their operations either in actual savings or increase efficiency. To give you an example, we just concluded a study of a joint venture project in the Philippines. Our mandate is to come out with an alternative corporate structure versus the conventional way of structuring it in accordance with existing Philippine laws, rules and regulations. As the prospective clients explain their proposed business and how they plan to structure it, we already know that we will be able to come out with a better-structured company that could save them millions of pesos. The result is our client is very happy and is now giving their full trust and confidence in us even in other areas of their operations.

Q6: What are your future plans?

A: We want to further strengthen our organization by recruiting the best talents available and train them to deliver quality service. We want to expand our coverage to cover key cities in the Philippines. We will be hiring professionals other than accountants and we will create strategic alliance with other firms.

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Josiah Go features the movers and shakers of the business world and writes about marketing, strategy, innovation, execution and entrepreneurship


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