MAPping the FutureColumn in THE INQUIRER
WHY WORRY?written by Arch. Felino “Jun” A. Palafox Jr. - March 14, 2022
When fuel prices go up, why worry? Because it is a sign of worse times coming. For a motorist, lining up at a gas station before midnight when fuel prices are set to increase gives you a sense of “short-lived” control that you saved maybe P300-P500 on a full tank of diesel. But it is also a foreboding that soon, everything else will rise in price from rice to eggs, and other essentials.
This is why financial pundits have given all sorts of comments like:
- Take a bicycle to work. Or take a scooter. Did you know that scooter sales rose dramatically during the pandemic? A dealer of a popular Italian-made scooter revealed to me that his sales surprisingly went on an uptick even if this brand he carries belongs to the luxury sector. Call it revenge spending, or just being practical, scooter sales are on the upswing and may stay that way for a longer time.
- Do not go to work. Work from Home (WFH) or Work from Anywhere (WFA) has become the norm. So office spaces have been vacated, reduced in size or carry only a skeleton force or staff on rotation.
- Shrink your staff size. While some staff have chosen the “resignation” trend happening globally, many rank-and-file workers still look for a daily wage and thus risk the public commute to get to their place of work. Employers may want to shrink the team and pay off the others whose work can be replaced by virtual employees or AI.
- Reduce inventory. Many retailers have closed stores, dealt with expiring inventories, and never replaced them. Now, order for drop ship (supplier does not carry inventory) has become popular with retailers buying either “just in time” or not having inventory at all.
The past two years was also a good time for business owners to rethink their business models and reassess or even reengineer their company. Maybe the needs of the market have changed. Maybe you now must address a different market.
Together with International Labor Organization (ILO), we at Great Women Philippines (GWPH) have a project for women entrepreneurs who wish to “FLIP THEIR BIZ” or flip their businesses into new formats and apply new strategies. And ILO is the perfect partner for such a project, given that labor will definitely take a hit with businesses looking for their new beginning or reorganizing themselves into a new style of business.
Women entrepreneurs signed up to have mentors brainstorm with them on innovation, marketing and finance. With women handling home duties and balancing these with business planning, it has been so important to have a group to discuss with.
Even men who used to be so adept at managing now find themselves adjusting to many variables and global changes that affect even the smallest of businesses. So we find men crossing over to a baking business (my suki bakers are 90% male), and other ideas that used to be female-dominated, like salons and spas.
So, why should we worry about fuel prices rising? Because it puts yet another spin to our already stressed lives, given the pandemic and the looming world war started by Russia.
It really is time to do the UNTRADITIONAL.
- Think digital. This may mean not having a physical retail store but going 100% online. This may mean manufacturing elsewhere and closing down your production line.
- Think Nature. Where we used to fancy nice offices and fancy cars, we now have to think country and bicycles. And maybe even hiking and camping.
- Think Sustainable. Check your age and if you think you will be here another 30 years, think about the future. Your future depends on what you do now.
- Think investment for the future. Nothing beats real estate. While we are still understanding cryptocurrency, this is where we choose the old reliable investment ideas: gold, real estate and blue chip equities.
It has been a long hard time we went through but there is always hope for the future and in the future. The future looks green and blue to me. More green grass, more green tech and more green investment opportunities. It also looks blue like the sky and the sea. Choose blue skies with more wind energy, blue seas with sustainable fishing.
Unless we plan for the near future, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes of the past. The future is here and it’s calling us to change our old ways and think new, think forward.
So why worry about fuel prices? Because it is just the start of a series of price increases, wage adjustments and increased prices of rice, eggs and even coffee! And if we do not recalibrate and reengineer our business, if we do not change our usual practices, we will be consumed by these economic developments and find ourselves with no business, no people and no future.
I am painting a doomsday scenario to wake us up. Because we thrived during the pandemic, we think business will go back to normal. Because it is alert level 1, we think it will be business as usual.
Many people are still thinking of the past – going back to Face-to-Face classes, stores opening up to the public, dining like we used to. I think it will be a revised version of the past and so we must also be revised versions of ourselves. Not to be a pessimist but this is the new optimism. To hope that we can survive and thrive in the coming years as we deal with all the changes and roll with the punches.
I would rather think of the worst and prepare for it to come. Then be prepared with an alternative. Because as the old saying goes- “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” And that’s from Benjamin Franklin.
(This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or MAP. The author is Member of the MAP Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Chair of the Philippine Coffee Board, Councilor of Slow Food (www.slowfood.com) for Southeast Asia and is an advocate for organic agriculture. Feedback at <firstname.lastname@example.org> and <email@example.com>.