Alejandro Villaquiran Explores Plans and Planning

This post is part of an interview series conducted by Arts Entrepreneurship students at SMU. With this project, we are seeking to understand if, in creative entrepreneurship, business plans are necessary. SMU student Alejandro Villaquiran conducted these interviews and offered her analysis.

Ivan Gonzalez: (Zummo Latin Corp)

Did you have a business plan when you started your business?

Ivan is a Panamanian Entrepreneur and a recent graduate from SMU. He has recently taken over the business operations of a series of ventures that he started in his senior year of high school and has developed throughout his college career. Ivan really got his start with the introduction and expansion of an orange juice machine line; Zummo Latin Corp. Ivan very simply stated that he did have a business plan. When asked to elaborate, he clarified that he stated he created one at the very start when he first launched his business, but as the business expanded from a consumer based operation into a producer/supplier concentration, the business plan was tweaked and also neglected at different stages of the business.

He is a creative entrepreneur in the sense that he allocates certain portions of his profits toward developing indigenous communities, in the mountains of Panama. He is also always coming up with new ways to expand his operations, whether it is through coffee, juice, or supplying burners for hotel banquets. Ivan is also currently working on bringing biodegradable, disposable utensils to Panama.

Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

When asked about the importance/necessity of a business plan, Ivan responded that a business plan could only be necessary to the operation if it is extremely detailed. He could not stress this enough, stating that if your plan is detail-rich then it will provide a “true north” while you are operating and expanding your enterprise.

What three pieces of advice can you offer developing arts entrepreneurs?

  • Consistency is key; it is the essential driving force behind an operation.
  • Always know that you don’t know. Never act in favor of your pride.
  • Fortune favors those who hustle.

Rafael Onrubia: (Personal Investments-Not under one company)

Did you have a business plan when you started your business?

Rafael is a current student attending SMU but manages his ventures on a daily bases through phone calls, and a network of assistants who inform him on the daily needs of his operations. Rafael currently runs cross country seafood production lines in Latin America, provides a wide assortment of foods and snacks to various cafes and gas stations, scraps and recycles used tires into material for roads and pavement, and runs a fruit/citrus processing plants which extracts citric oils and then sell the oils to Coca-Cola in Peru. He has never used a business plan and prefers to run his operations off of experience and instinct.

Rafael is a creative entrepreneur, in the sense that he is always finding new and unimplemented ways to break into markets. Much like Ivan, Rafael donates a portion of his profits towards the support of an indigenous community that lives on the outskirts of Piura, Peru. He is also very adamant about the possibility of running for a political office in the near future. Rafael is completely committed to the improvement of Peru and of his businesses.

Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

Although Rafael says that he does see the benefits of having a business plan, he says that they can stunt his creativity. Since Rafael’s operations are mostly face-to-face, and highly focused on social interaction, he says that the plan is in the handshake and in the salaries that he pays out, not on paper.

What three pieces of advice can you offer developing arts entrepreneurs?

  • Make your business focused on what you are passionate about. Passion is what drives creativity.
  • Trust is very important and takes time to build. Never trust blindly, and never assume that someone should do the same for you.
  • Never blindly trust the quality of your product, and always treat your employees as friends but draw a clear line.

Jorge Garcia: (Cuanto)

Did you have a business plan when you started your business?

Jorge is a Panamanian entrepreneur, who has had almost eight years of work experience as a successfully self-employed entrepreneur. Jorge’s work experience includes two major ventures, Ubiqua, and Cuanto. Ubiqua was/is an enterprise software development company that, Jorge co-founded while at U-Penn, with some fellow Panamanian college friends. After six years of operations, Jorge left his active management role to start an online instant card-payment service, similar to Venmo, but in Panama. When asked if he had created a business plan for either company, Jorge replied that of course, he had. Since Jorge and his Co-founders decided to seek funding in both the U.S, and Latin American Markets, a solid business plan is essential in order to secure investors. Jorge and his team have recently started a development process with the California tech-accelerator, Y Combinator. He attributes this positive growth path to a combination of past growth/success and a solid business plan, which clearly outlines what the company is about. Jorge suggests to create a business plan that takes a bottom-up approach, he explains that most people will inflate their business plan with big numbers, along with all of the possible success that comes with having 100% market share. Instead, he suggests that one should be more down to earth, and understand that not even Apple has 100% market share. By laying out a simple, realistic game plan, investors will be much more willing to give you funds.

Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

Jorge believes that if an operation wants to acquire outside funding, then a business plan is absolutely necessary. However, Jorge suggests that humans have a natural tendency to inflate perceived greatness in their own minds. Let investors do that on their own, you should not feel that you have to do it in your own words on the business plan.

What three pieces of advice can you offer developing arts entrepreneurs?

  • Failure is a good thing, failure is important. An entrepreneur who has failed and keeps going is someone who knows what it means to lose and keep going.
  • Entrepreneurship is like jumping of a cliff and building the plane as you fall.
  • Personal insight and analysis (are) fundamental for growth. Growth on the inside is always reflected on the outside.
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