There is saying that all dreams do come true only if we have the courage to pursue them.
Edgar Saavedra has always dreamed of making it big in the construction business when he started doing fit out and renovation projects right after college with his best friend, Michael Cosiquien.
Saavedra, who graduated with degree in civil engineering from De La Salle University, began taking small construction projects at a time when the economy was reeling from the Asian financial crisis.
It was not an ideal time to look for big contracts but instead of getting discouraged, Saavedra used the situation as an opportunity to learn and gain experience.
One day, while doing research, Saavedra discovered a construction technology from Germany that could increase their productivity, which he used to differentiate and develop his competitive strategy.
In 2007, Saavedra’s investments finally paid off when they won a bid to do a multibillion-peso contract with a large property developer. The rapid expansion of the business paved way for IPO in three years. Today, Megawide is the leading construction company in the country with significant interests in infrastructure and property development.
How did Saavedra survive the challenges of growing a startup amid lack of experience in the business? What important traits can we learn from Saavedra as a passionate and thriving entrepreneur?
Here are the five business lessons every startup founder can learn from Saavedra, founder of Megawide Construction Corp.:
1. Learn how to persevere and endure.
Success does not come from giving up. It comes from believing in yourself and working toward to achieve your goal.
“When we started, we did not have experience in construction. It was all lakas ng loob.” Saavedra says. “I always thought that since we came from zero, we had nothing to lose. At worst, we could always go back to work for others if we failed.”
2. Learn how to adopt a growth mindset.
Instead of telling yourself that you are not good in something, you should focus on how you can improve yourself and become better in what you do.
“Sometimes it is difficult to teach new things to someone who is already experienced. You have to unlearn the person.” Saavedra says.
“You have to unlearn what he already knows because you are going to teach him a new method. But if you hire someone who has no experience, you have nothing to unlearn. The learning is faster.”
3. Learn how to manage risks.
There is always a risk that what you plan to achieve in your business may not always happen. Always identify the potential risks and develop a plan to minimize it.
“I maybe gutsy but I always have a contingency plan,” Saavedra says. “The risk in construction is when you have delays and cost overruns but if you know what you are doing, you cannot go wrong. If you screw up or make mistakes, the most you can go wrong should be less than 10 percent. If you go beyond that, make sure you have other profitable projects to cover you up.”
4. Learn how to pay attention to details.
Building a business is all about the little details. You don’t have to become too obsessed with it but you just need to pay attention to the right details. “I am a very detailed-oriented person,” Saavedra says. “Very often, the problem lies in the details, which many people don’t notice. You know that you need people and you need technology but the question is how do you capitalize it? The benefit is in the details. If you can’t see the smallest details, you won’t appreciate it.
5. Learn how to work with advisers.
Sometimes there are ideas that you can’t simply share with your team. You need someone more experienced who can provide you a different perspective.
“If you remember King Arthur, he had a right-hand man named Merlin who was his adviser but was part of his round table,” Saavedra says. “I also have a similar setup like that where I have regular advisers that are not part of my management team. They help me balance my views. They can criticize me when they need to.” —CONTRIBUTED