, JANUARY 1, 2007 (STAR) ASK NANAY By Socorro C. Ramos - Editor’s note: She’s an iconic maverick of Philippine business and entrepreneur nonpareil. She’s an inspirational role model who has received countless awards, including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2004 and most recently the TOFIL award. She has been awarded a Doctorate of Humanities (Honoris Causa) by the Ateneo de Manila University, the highest award the university can give. She’s a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother and hopes that someday she’ll be a great-great-grandmother.

Socorro C. Ramos is the founder and chairman of National Book Store, an institution in Philippine retail that we have all come to know and love. Fondly called "Nanay" by her friends, family and National Book Store family, her vast experience and rags-to-riches story has served as an inspiration to countless Filipinos. Nanay’s ethic for "very hard work," "sipag at tiyaga," and "tipid, tipid, tipid" make her an exemplary role model worthy of emulation by every Filipino.

Outside of business, her commitment and dedication to her family is unsurpassed. With fate having denied the young Socorro the opportunity to finish her education, she vowed to give her children and grandchildren the best education she could afford. She has since fulfilled her commitment to her family as well as helped educate millions of Filipinos through National Book Store’s affordable books and school supplies.

The Philippine STAR begins the New Year with Socorro Ramos’ new column, "Ask Nanay."

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Dear Nanay, I start out every New Year by listing down all my resolutions. However, my problem is, every year by March or April I find that all my resolutions have been forgotten and I cannot keep any of them. How should I do my resolutions this year so that I can maintain them? – Rolando

Dear Rolando,

Anytime you set goals in life – whether you are entering a new business, planning your career or making a New Year’s resolution – you cannot just say, "I am going to do this" or "I am going to do that." Setting your goal is only the first step in a long process. After you have decided what you want to do, you have to set your mind to it and make a plan on how you will achieve your goal. Then comes quite possibly the most difficult part of reaching your objective – having to work at it. Sometimes you have to work hard and sometimes you have to work very hard.

Do not make an impossible plan and do not set impossible goals. For example, if you want to lose weight, do not begin by saying you will lose 30 pounds in three months. I know that some people can really do it, but for most of us, losing so much weight in so little time is neither practical nor healthy. Set reasonable goals that you can meet. Maybe one pound a week or four pounds a month is enough. Then, maybe, if things are going better than you had planned, you can also set a loftier goal that you can also try to meet.

Finally, whatever resolution or plan you make, it should make you happy. If you are trying to do something that makes you unhappy, it will become even more difficult than you originally intended. But if it makes you happy, no longer will it become hard work but a joy instead.

Good luck, Rolando!

Sincerely, Nanay

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Starting A Small Business

Dear Nanay,

I am a full-time housewife with two kids. My husband is an employee and his salary is just enough for our food and bills. My mother lent me P10,000 to start my own business. What business should I start? – Christine

Dear Christine,

First of all, you do not need a lot of capital to start your own business. You can start small with a little capital and build up the business slowly.

The first thing you have to think about is what your skills or talents are and what do you enjoy doing. For example, if you have a very good recipe for chocolate cake or ensaymada, you can start selling it to your friends and neighbors and eventually word will get out and you will have more customers. The good thing about this kind of business is you only need to prepare what your customers order so you will not have any wastage. There are so many people who started their business this way and have grown over the years.

If you cannot cook, look around your neighborhood and find out the service that people need. Do they need a laundry service? Are there a lot of children who need daycare? Do people need someone to come to their house twice a week just to clean? Is there a need for a sari-sari store in your neighborhood? Talk to people and check the market. Provide the service they need. If you give the people a service they need, they will surely be willing to pay you for it.

Whatever business you decide to enter, be prepared for setbacks. Do not be discouraged if at first you do not succeed. And whatever money you risk, you must be prepared to lose it. Do not risk everything in your business venture because we all make mistakes. And if you unfortunately make a mistake in the beginning, you need to be able to continue with life even if you lose the capital you invested.


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If you have a question, e-mail or drop your letter at drop boxes in all National Book Store branches nationwide.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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