Student entrepreneurs-lessons beyond the classroom

- Ardelle T. Merton () - December 11, 2006 - 12:00am
Almost all Commerce college students would confess that the most challenging part of the course is putting into action a project feasibility study, a sort of thesis cum business proposal. Truth be told, most see this practicum as just the final course requirement, in which they efficiently set up actual business operations but then completely abandon once their graduation bubbles up. That's business potential down the drain every time.

But once in a while, some Commerce students are gutsy and determined enough to take their practicum business for the long run, to be kept in full operation even beyond graduation. No wasted effort there. Take for example this eighteen-member group of 4th year BS Business Administration from the University of San Carlos. They each invested their own money and recently opened Bisan Asa Tapsilog, Atbp., located at 70 P.del Rosario Extension, Cebu City (across USC-Girls High).

Earlier in the year, after months of brainstorming and research, the student corporation came up with a unique concept: To cook up an all-in-one Pinoy experience. Then they decided to set up the tapsilogan, to offer the instant silog meals and the home cooked Filipino viands under one roof: the Bisan Asa roof. With the support of practicum adviser Ms. Joyce Natalie Yang and other Business Administration Department faculty members, it had its grand opening last November 5, 2006.

Manned by the 18 members of the student corporation, the tapsilogan is in full swing. By shifting schedule, the members take charge of cooking the silog meals, serving them, keeping the place clean and orderly and then auditing and doing the inventory check at the day's end. It's truly a hands-on business for them. Yuko Fukagawa of the group admits these shifts are the hardest part of the business because they have their duty either straight after class or right before class, which can get really tiring. Add in a student's extra-curricular activities and it can be dizzying! But this doesn't hinder her from doing the best of service for their customers. Instead, it keeps her more energetic to go double time. It's all about time management and power. Yuko further says, "It's a big help to keep the fatigue away by laughing, smiling and most especially working while having fun. These, I believe, could take all the stress away. My little motto I learned from my college life: If we're not the best, I'm sure, we're one of the best! Keep striving and never give up."

But for them, it's all in a day's work! And it's definitely worth it. So far, they've managed to meet their projected sales from their project feasibility study. More than earning profit, it's a great learning experience for them as students and future business magnates. Experience is indeed the best teacher.

On learning outside the classroom, Lé Torrefranca, a group member, shares: "To be a student and an entrepreneur at the same time is actually pretty fun, because for once, you get to apply those 'I-thought-they-were-useless' lessons and theories. That's why it's an advantage if you're studying and at the same time practicing, because the classroom lessons and principles are still fresh in your memory. And you can't help but apply those learnings, even if at most times you are actually unaware of doing so (laughs)."

If there's one thing that's really difficult is that you have to micro-manage your time, " Torrefranca continued "especially if you still plan to insert the party animal in your schedule. That's why you really have to be efficient if you still aim to squeeze in your lifestyle, giving consideration to priorities, of course. On the other hand, the great thing about it is that you get to train yourself on a lot of things that matter: How to handle money, deal with different people and especially the gift of getting the more for less - the magic of bargaining (laughs). And these are the kind of things that you just don't learn overnight."

When asked on advice she could give to other aspiring, young "studentrepreneurs" out there (and yes, there are a lot), Lé candidly shares: "And for the portion where we'll sound like hot shots (laughs), I'll try my best to inspire the young. Perhaps the best thing that I could advise is to load a lot of guts, because that's the starting point for basically everything. Never see risks and failures as problems but rather as challenges planted in every man's life. There are actually no a-b-c' s to entrepreneurship; it's just a matter of personal approach and guts to start things spinning. That's why, don't be afraid and let the road lead you to Bisan Asa (pun intended). You just might find what you're looking for...especially if it's silog meals, atbp. that you're looking for."

The group plans to continue the business right after graduation. They envision as early as now other possible locations for the tapsilogan. Needless to say, they won't have to worry about the high unemployment rate once they get their college degrees.

May fellow Commerce college students or just about anyone who wants to be an entreprener take their cue from this refreshing example, to take any business opportunity seriously and then work hard at it. Golden opportunities can come knocking at anytime...even as early as your classroom days.

(Bisan Asa Tapsilog, Atbp., # 70 P. Del Rosario Extension, Private Road, Cebu City, for bulk orders or delivery, contact Terence 0916-5727802, Paul 0917-7400480 or Paolo 0920-9273157)

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