Join and network at the Entrepreneurs Organisation

I read this article and found the group (EO) mentioned will be valuable joining for the many benefits mentioned for entrepreneurs.

PH entrepreneurs help each other stay on path to prosperity, growth

By: 

Monday, March 26th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Anyone who occupies the coveted plush corner office of a top corporation knows that there is truth to the hackneyed expression “It’s lonely at the top.”

It can even be downright depressing.

The pressure that comes with the responsibility of leading a corporation and hundreds, if not thousands, of employees is enormous and one cannot really rely on direct reports for unvarnished advice since the relationship is unequal—one is a boss and the other a subordinate.

Entrepreneurs, regardless of the size of their enterprises, can closely identify with what chief executive officers are going through.

Like CEOs, these founders of companies big and small do not really have anybody in their team to go to for help.

But they can reach out to other entrepreneurs who are embarking on the same challenging journey, and this is what the Entrepreneurs’ Organization is all about, a needed venue for entrepreneurs from around the world to get together and learn from each other.

Founded in 1987 by a group of young entrepreneurs in Washington DC, the group says it “enables small and large business owners to learn from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life.”

Its vision is “to build the world’s most influential entrepreneur community.”

The global organization, which is celebrating its 25th year, has 8,000 members belonging to 120 chapters, including one in the Philippines currently under the leadership of Manny Ayala, managing director of boutique investment banking firm IRG.

The 48-year-old Ayala, who used to be a broadcast journalist in the Philippines, says that EO is based on the premise that the best people who can provide business advice and even life lessons are other entrepreneurs who have either gone through—are still going through—similar challenges, such as finding suppliers, dealing with difficult clients and competing with bigger players.

To be a member of EO Philippines, the entrepreneur must be either a founder or a controlling shareholder in an enterprise with an annual revenue of at least $1 million.

There are currently 119 members in the Philippines and they come from different sectors of the economy such as advertising, agriculture, architecture, design, computer software, delivery services, food and beverage, sports, telecommunications, manufacturing and multimedia.

During the monthly meetings, members divided into peer groups or forums of about 8-10 people each get to discuss business as well as personal issues, with the other members in the group called on to provide advice, business insights or just a listening ear.

“It’s like having your personal board of directors,” explains Ayala.

He says that members of the peer groups are carefully chosen so that they are not in competing businessesand not related to each other.

This is to maximize the benefits of frank, fun and yet structured discussions that can last for hours.

“The discussions are an avenue for entrepreneurs to share their experience and skills and this works well when there is an atmosphere of openness and honesty. What is said in the forum stays in the forum,” says Ayala, who returned to the country a few years ago after successful stints in media companies in Asia-Pacific.

Ayala, who graduated with honors from Yale University and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, was the No. 2 executive at Discovery Networks Asia, where he oversaw strategic planning, programming and program sales. He was instrumental in turning Discovery Channel and Animal Planet into top-rated TV channels across the region.

Now that he is back home, Ayala says that he has his hands full providing consultancy services through IRG, as well as overseeing the growth and operations of EO Philippines.

This year, he says, the mandate is to increase the membership base as well as fulfill the priorities of the growing organization.

These include turning over 50 houses to Gawad Kalinga and finding worthy students to take part in the Global Students Entrepreneur Awards, the premier EO award program for undergraduate students that own and run businesses while attending school; and Accelerator, a series of quarterly, learning events designed to provide top business owners with the tools, knowledge and skills they need to grow their businesses to more than $1 million in annual revenue.

Ayala did turn his back on a challenging career in the corporate world, but he has no regrets shifting to entrepreneurship.

“I love the challenge of making something out of practically nothing—it really pushes a person to use all his God-given talents to create something that is meaningful to people,” he says.

“One of my favorite definitions of entrepreneurship comes from Howard Stevenson, an HBS professor, who said 37 years ago: ‘Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.’”

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