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'It's been two years and my business is still not doing well. What do I do?'

By BṺM TENORIO JR., The Philippine STAR Published Apr 17, 2022 4:23 pm

Each week, PhilSTAR L!fe addresses a reader's concern about relationships, career, and anything they want to talk about through its advice column: Asking for a Friend.

Dear L!fe friend,

I need some advice. I am the breadwinner of a family of nine and I've been crying every night because I feel like I will never ever have the means to support my wants and needs. Binubuhay ko ang siyam na tao and I am earning so little. I'm getting older and ito pa rin ako, living from paycheck to paycheck because of everyday expenses. 

To make ends meet, I started a convenience store in 2019 and until now, it's not profitable. I feel like a failure. Giving it up is not an option because masasayang lang mga pinaghirapan ko. Hindi ko alam kung merong pwede mag-advice sa akin dahil business ang problema ko, pero I hope you could help me.

Thank you in advance, friend.


Dear Breadwinner, 

I understand the sacrifices of breadwinners like you. I understand the love you have for your family. You have a kind heart. 

Your main concern is business-related—your convenience store is not profitable. In that department, I asked Andy Ferreria, an entrepreneurship guru who is both teaching and practicing entrepreneurship for 40 years. He believes that entrepreneurship is key to national development and individual financial freedom.

“First, I do not see why the 2019 convenience store could fail. Baka maraming pautang na ‘di nababayaran. That is the number one cause of sari-sari store failure. But if the convenience store was a franchise, the issue is a high fixed cost. I suggest to restart a sari-sari store and avoid pautang,” Ferreria said. 

He suggested making the sari-sari store home-based so there’s no additional fixed cost. “The sari-sari store should serve the neighborhood market,” he said. 

“The franchised store has too high fixed cost,” he reiterated. “The key to success is low fixed cost even with high variable cost.”

Is there a ratio or formula that’s needed to ensure success if Breadwinner restarts a sari-sari store?

Ferreria said: “I repeat, make it home-based so no additional fixed cost. Use some of the nine members of her family to watch the store and serve customers so (there will be) no additional variable cost. Bawal ang palista o pautang. Strictly cash.” 

I also interviewed my brother who owns a sari-sari store in our barrio. He agreed with Ferreria that there should be no pautang

“Maraming manunuba (people who don’t pay). ‘Pag siningil mo, sila pa ang galit. Kaya bawal na ang utang sa tindahan,” my brother Odick Tenorio said. His sari-sari store closed once because of a long list of people who did not pay for the items they got from his store. 

Learning from his lessons, he opened again his store after a year when he earned ample capital. It helps that it is a home-based store so he doesn’t need to worry about rental fees.

He said competition is steep because sari-sari stores are aplenty in his residential area. “Ang mahal na ng presyo ng paninda. Hindi ka pwedeng mag-tubo ng malaki kasi hindi ka bibilhan,” he said. 

To augment the meager earnings from his sari-sari store, he also sells cooked viands from time to time. No utang allowed, too. 

Another friend who owns a grocery store in the province told me this: “We get our daily supplies from our grocery store. But we also make sure to pay for every item we get. Even for a small sachet of toothpaste or shampoo. Otherwise, we will go bankrupt. The important lesson is always to treat the store like a business. Hindi palabigasan ng pamilya.” 

I hope with those insights, this column will be able to enlighten you. 

Take care of yourself. 

Your L!fe friend,


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