Interview with entrepreneur Marianne Olano, Baycrafts

Marianne Olano started Baycrafts, her jewelry company based in the Philippines in 2005. She won the ING retail prize at the Growing SMEs competition in 2010. After the refreshing and moving speech she gave at BiD Challenge Philippines in May 2011, we wanted to share her inspirational story and wisdom with you.
BiD Network: Tell us a few words about your company Baycrafts.

Marianne Olano: Baycrafts manufactures and retails costume jewelry made from both indigenous and synthetic materials such as pearls, wood, fiber, seeds, crystals and glass. Baycrafts has both B2B and B2C markets. We sell to resellers and distributors who in turn, re-sell our products to their friends or in their boutiques. We also sell directly to customers during our trade exhibits and our website.
I own the company and currently I am also dedicated to marketing, product development and sales. Someone else handles the operations. From a 3-staff company, Baycrafts managed to grow into a micro-enterprise with 12 people. We also train more people because we are gearing towards exports.

BiD Network: How has your life changed since you opened Baycrafts?

Marianne Olano: A LOT! I am now famous! Joking apart, I did achieve a measure of financial independence. I am not as comfortable as I would like to be but my life is not ruled by the 15th, and 30th paydays, or restricted by the 8 to 5 time regimen… Setting up Baycrafts has made me achieve a lot of my personal goals and pursue passions that I would not have been able to think about as an employee. For example, it has given me the opportunity to travel, to meet a lot of business-minded, interesting people, it is also continuously providing me with challenges that hone my ability to adapt, be strategic, think out of the box, above all, with training and experience in facing the real problems and issues of putting up a business.

BiD Network: Looking back on your achievements of the past years, what was the role of BiD Network and BiD Network’s partners in this?

Marianne Olano: Thanks to BiD Network, I had the most unforgettable experience of my personal and business life. The opportunity to join the Growing SME’s competition has made me develop skills I didn’t know I possessed like adding & subtracting, for the financial plan. It has also widened my perspective – enabling me to see other worlds, other way of doing things, perhaps better way of doing things. I met people I knew I wouldn’t meet if left on my own – famous people, rich people, business tycoons, entrepreneurial people, and more…

“BiD Network has transformed my small little world to a global world full of promising possibilities.”

BiD Network: What would you say the particularities of doing business in the Philippines?

Marianne Olano: Things have been looking up lately because we are now “computerized”. Getting permits is now easier and takes about 2 weeks all in all. That’s a lot of improvement compared to the old days.

BiD Network: What are the most important lessons you have learned building Baycrafts?

Marianne Olano: I have discovered that there were certain fallacies in what business books teach or what I have commonly heard about building a business.
Myth 1: Create a business about what you love doing.
That’s what got me into making a business out of dreamcatchers and lanterns, but nobody was buying because my market was almost non-existent.
The real deal? If you’re going into business, make sure it is Market-driven. Look for what the customers want and need, not what you think they will love or what they will need. Base your decisions on real demand, not on your sentiments.
Myth 2: If you’re smart, you will succeed in business.
Aside from the fact that this statement smacks of arrogance, it is also full of loopholes, because succeeding in any endeavor requires not only thinking, but more on implementing. Again, the real deal? It’s not what you know but whom you know.
I have proven this countless of times. Where would I be now, if I didn’t know my connections? As such, if you intend to become a successful businessman, develop people-smarts, rather than know-how. Learn to network, make friends, overcome shyness… Talk to people. Learn to negotiate. Learn to handle different kinds of people. Learn to give them what they want so you can get what you want. Make win-win situations for every deal, so they will remember you, and refer you, and make business for you. A businessman is more of a facilitator of people than a genius with a unique idea. Although if you’re both, then there’s nothing to stop you from reaching the top.

“A businessman is more of a facilitator of people than a genius with a unique > idea.”

BiD Network: What’s your biggest business wish for Baycrafts?

Marianne Olano: I hope It will become self-automated and make myself dispensable. I hope that if it runs on its own, it will have the ability to profit on its own, replicate its success and become a model for other similar companies. So I’ll be able to start another business venture, another business challenge.

BiD Network: Do you have any personal wisdom to share with other women who might want to start their own businesses ?

Marianne Olano: The life of a businessman might be attractive to most people because they see the prime benefits first: financial freedom, freedom of time, unlimited earning possibilities, etc. Before plunging headlong into this life, they must understand, that this is not by far the easier path. This path are for people who work their butts off, will double their efforts for very minimal returns, perhaps, even at no return. Their eventual success will depend on their faith, at how long they can keep at it, despite the odds, without losing hope that eventually they will be rewarded.
If you have that faith and that persistence, then go ahead.