Tips on how to take the 'great business leap'

Armando O. Bartolome

Posted at Mar 19 2016 10:21 AM

(Business Mentor's notes: JM Matienzo, born on August 12, 1978 in Manila, Philippines, is the second child of five siblings of three boys and two girls. He started working, while studying, on odd jobs at age 16 and eventually became the breadwinner of the family.
He completed his third year college degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management at the Philippine Women’s University, Philippines in 1999. With firm determination and a brave heart, JM pursued progress under mentor Harry Pound’s until he actualized his dreams through the ARIVA Company.)

MANILA - Smart-driven entrepreneurs have invaded the world of work with astounding success. Many of these young professionals or "yuppies" have explored and flourished in the ASEAN.

Zooming into the upbeat business scene in Manila, one particular focus is on a fine gentleman, Joe Mar A. Matienzo or simply "JM," the 37-year-old chief executive officer and president of a 10-year-old Training and Events Company called ARIVA.

At age 24, JM did not earn his initial business "battle" the easy way. With his life mentor, Harry D. Pound, they went along the road less traveled. They did what was then unconventional marketing and consistently engaged clients. JM was then the administrative officer of “Megavision” in 2000. His exceptional performance at work resulted to a fully bloomed friendship and business partnership.

With strong motivational encouragement from JM's mentor Harry, he took his first business leap of faith by establishing The Harry Pound Company (THPC), in ardent gratitude to Harry who honestly believed in his competence, potential and birthright to success and prosperity.

JM's start-up years was marred by financial lack. Looking back, he shared, “I did not have enough operational funds and no salary for a year.”

In fact, his first earning then was only P500. Finding the right people to work with was painstaking those days. Yet beyond all of these, he endeavored to be recognized as a training company. It paid off after two years. Branding the business with Harry’s name, being known as a motivational speaker, JM had to make known the company as seriously operating a training business.”

He was able to borrow sufficient capital from Harry, which he prudently used in his business operations. He posted job ads with high hopes to hire the right candidates for the job; but compensation was an issue. With the turn of these events, JM resorted to inviting trusted friends and sought referrals from them. He also hired few relatives. To aptly position THPC in the market, JM relentlessly offered public seminars at a subsidized and discounted seat rates.

Despite all the efforts made, JM remembers how reluctant he was then and communicated what bothered him, “I feared that the market may not patronize our programs. We may not get our seats filled or even have attendees.” But he was cheered to proceed with his mission. Thus bravely, he continued on marketing THPC events in partnership with another former Megavision associate Noreen, who was then the vice president with JM as the CEO.

After years of practice and gaining more business skills during his THPC years, JM went a notch higher by putting up his very own ARIVA Events Management, Inc. This time, he did a more strategic approach to position ARIVA in the market by organizing better learning events in partnership with well-known speakers.

With great power demanding great responsibilities, JM was embattled with more issues. He confessed, “Firstly, the tediousness of complying with business permits is too tiring. Secondly, I utilized our house as office thus privacy is an issue. Lastly, handling people is certainly challenging and managing internal work relationships is undeniably tougher.”

Despite this worrisome plight in business, JM got rave reviews and favorable feedback from ARIVA patrons, which put him back into the 'ring' and fight again. In business meetings, clients would verbalize their appreciation on the quality of speakers and service they get from every ARIVA learning event.
Many of their business partners would express their admiration on the organizational progress in a short span of time. From these affirmative responses and claims, JM is raring and unstoppable. Humility is JM's overarching value for himself and staff as they continue to 'plant and harvest' fruits of their passionate labor of love in ARIVA today.

JM shares his top four key learnings particularly for those who wish to take that great business leap ahead:

• Never give up no matter how challenging the situation is. There are ways to overcome ?problems.

  • Set boundaries between personal and business matters. ?
  • Be diligent and work hard; yet be smart in your strategies.

• Track your progress. Analyze what worked and what did not.

“Challenges come along as I grow the business. The way he does business encompasses visioning, planning and execution plus monitoring and evaluation, rolled into one.?With the leap growth of ARIVA, JM learned more lessons particularly on managing workplace issues brought about by the diverse ideas, personalities and competing priorities of his business and team staff. Thus he confessed, “I consider my staff as my friends and that makes it sometimes difficult for me to handle those who go beyond the boundaries.”

Instilled by family culture, JM effortlessly reminds his team of work policies. He personally teaches them how to professionally behave in situations and encourage everyone to be civil as friends particularly after-work no matter what the pressures on the job entails. With team members relying highly on him for directions, he brought forth the philosophy of "WWJD," derived from the religious phrase: "What Would Jesus Do."?JM encourages the good practice of self-accountability and hopes to nourish a team with fortified sense of ownership and the capability to generate practical
and sensible solutions to concerns. ?

Delegation of task has also been a waterloo for JM as he explained: “I am the typical one who wants to do it right away in a right way. If my team is unable to deliver, I tend to do it myself instead so as to get the results I expect.” Being aware of this area for improvement, JM constantly reminds himself that people are diverse and thus, everyone thinks and do things differently. Hence, he does his best to give clear instructions and directives to ensure that his staff comprehends what he meant. ?

ARIVA Events is composed of 25 highly trained staff personally groomed by the CEO and president JM himself. JM affirms them with reminders such as, “You know what to do, you can do it.” and “Good job guys, keep it up!” JM is open to listen to bright ideas and improve on as needed. Staff who may have to leave the company for personal priorities expresses gratefulness for self-improvement and enhanced skills from their work engagement.

Today, multi-awarded ARIVA is the most sought after events-marketing and learning event organizer-producer in the Philippines. Continuously calendared for yearlong are public and in- house training programs, summits and conventions, a feat since 2007.

Looking ahead, JM sees a promising expansion to engage more partners and service more clients locally and abroad via social media. From Manila to Cebu to Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia, ARIVA has earned numerous marketing projects and have gained significant partnerships with local and international speakers for the past 7 years.

The great expansion paved way as JM explained how he did it, “We continue to listen and learn from our market. After which, we get back on ourselves and ask—How and what else we can do to meet the communicated demands?” Unstoppable JM justifies his 100 percent being involved in his business that he tirelessly thinks of new concepts year after year. “I refuse to be complacent. I always ask myself, what can we do and how to do it better. I explore strategies and do it wholeheartedly. This is I believe where I get my burning energy from.”

Loyal clients, great programs and speakers, quality service, and unstoppable passion are the main ingredients in ARIVA’s success. As JM further expressed, “I thought I did good last year only to find out, there are still ways to do it better. Market always expects something new to learn and experience. Friends who have known him long admire his diligence at work, humility and professionalism, thus he continues to thrive in his business. JM proudly affirms his success indicators. Today, ARIVA maintains local and international database of 500,000 and continue to grow advocates.

JM has begun his expedition of creating newer programs; professionalizing the staff and putting in place better systems and structure to improve organizational system and business operations. He continues on his core value of sharing, bringing back success to ARIVA’s partner- community, the ABC Foundation, which simultaneously started when ARIVA began its operations. It is a Corporate Social Responsibility sponsoring low-income students in pursuit of education to become productive and better citizens. Soon, they will have opportunities to attend programs for free.

Beyond what JM enjoys today, he never ceases to be grateful to the Almighty God for continuously blessing him with good health, wisdom and resilience to proceed with his mission through ARIVA.

JM advices young people who may wish to start up an enterprise, “You have to decide if the business you are getting into is one you are most passionate about. Remember there are battles along the way. If you have not planted determination deeply, expect to surrender in a short span of time. So firmly decide what you want to become with an end in mind. Before you start the battle, build your fortress. Acquire tools and build the system before mobilizing your business plans."