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After months of recalibrating their business strategies and remodeling company policies, these entrepreneurs share their takeaways from this crisis.

Any business owner and entrepreneur can attest to how challenging the past months have been. It was a time of studying strategies and policies and developing ways to keep the business afloat. Of course, they have to consider the well-being of their employees as well. This is a time when businesses must take a humane approach, prioritizing their people above all. After months of reworking strategies, we talk to business owners from different industries to share lessons they learned from overseeing their companies amid the pandemic.

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LEFT: Dani Osmeña. RIGHT: a dreamy bridal look featuring Olivia Bustier and Rebecca Skirt. (Photos from Dani)

Dani Osmeña

As the owner of her eponymous clothing line featuring elegant, hand-selected fabrics, Dani knew she had to adapt to the changing needs in the new normal. From observing how weddings amid the pandemic drastically changed—with every safety measures in place—she thought of supporting this need for simplicity. “With celebrations being pared down, I developed bridal pieces as signature separate tops and bottoms to create adaptive bridal looks for anything from a minimalist civil ceremony to a more traditional church ceremony,” she explains. The new designs allow brides to customize their look and achieve their dream bridal dress. From underscoring the elegance in minimalism, Dani shows anything is possible as long as one learns to be flexible. “I’ve learned to be dynamic and take stock of my surroundings,” she says. “I see hope in people choosing to move forward with their lives and am inspired to do the same with my brand.”

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(Photo from Buskowitz Group)

James Buskowitz

Eight years into the industry and Buskowitz Energy continues to provide renewable energy alternatives in the country. However, the pandemic proved to be a challenge for the company as the Philippine economy and state of infrastructure suffer. Many businessmen have filed for bankruptcy and James feels “humbled and privileged” that his company remains operational and the employees are taken care of. “I believe the flexibility we have always extended to our employees prior to the pandemic allowed us to easily transition to a remote work setup,” he says. Through Discord, the teams created a virtual office or a “digital Buskowitz server—allowing us to adapt, evolve, and stay innovative with our internal communications,” James clarifies.

In spite of the terrible impact of the pandemic, Buskowitz Energy remains cognizant and accommodating of its employees’ needs. “[We] have extended benefits that allow them to get a free virtual consultation with a doctor from home, as well as online mental health check-ups with a certified professional,” James shares. This experience of constant studying and developing ways to respond to recent developments allowed James to realize many things. “It is vital to take a step back and look at the big picture. Never forget the macros,” he starts. “To run a business, especially during a time of crisis, a leader should not just react to issues, but must continuously plan ahead to remain relevant and be ready to pivot or steer the business in fast-changing markets.”

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(Photo from Instagram)

Kristina Sy

The pandemic compelled people to isolate themselves and thus, reducing the sense of community. Some gain strength from it, especially when trying to stay fit. Unfortunately, gyms and fitness centers like Electric Studio were among those that were forced to close, indefinitely. As a response, Electric has become a “digital fitness provider, offering not just classes but also bikes and other equipment for rent and for sale,” Kristina explains. Switching to digital space is quite tough. For class instructors, they have to communicate their enthusiasm and energy as they guide their clients online. For delivering equipment, Electric had to learn the processes of being a logistics provider. Despite these challenges, Kristina and her team managed to pull through. She imparts advice to dealing with these times, “Don’t let perfection cripple you. Be bold, go to market [quickly], and iterate along the way. Don’t be afraid to throw spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks because, at a time like this, no one has the answers. Evolve quickly and serve your community as fast as you can.”

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(Photo from Gabriel)

Gabriel Esguerra

With quarantine measures discouraging people from visiting public spaces, it is no surprise many industries suffered. Gabriel’s company, SmartAge Solutions, one that is in the business of developing smart homes and smart technology, is no exception. “Since we’re mainly in the construction business, we were affected early on when all projects were put to a halt. We had to assess where we could shift our focus in order to adapt to the ‘new normal,’” he shares. The company navigated the digital landscape. From online client presentations to showroom visits with strict health protocols in place, SmartAge Solutions adapted well to the global changes.

Beyond recalibrating the business, Gabriel continues to look out for his employees. Apart from paying them full salary during the Enhanced Community Quarantine, he encourages them to keep a growth mindset. Gabriel clarifies, “We made it a point to create a positive work environment. Every month begins with meditating, setting our intentions, and visualizing our goals together.” While the people and business aspects are covered, he knows times will be tougher. He contemplates, “It was through this crisis that we learned more about who we are and can be as a company. We are confident that trying times can be overcome with a team that communicates openly and is completely aligned—with clarity in purpose and direction.”

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(Photo from Jam’s Instagram)

Jam Chan

The House of Ital prides itself on carrying the finest, sophisticated pieces of classic and modern furniture. Loyal clients can confirm as well and favor the store for the importance they stress on collaborating with the client’s interior designer. Building and strengthening a relationship is essential and Jam knows it goes the same with managing the company. “Being able to empathize [with] your employees’ situation, and as an employer [trying] to help as much as you can, whether big or small, sometimes even just checking up on everyone and making sure that they’re doing okay, really makes a big difference,” she says. Empathy brings comfort and the support that everyone needs, especially in these difficult times. “It gives people a sense of togetherness that I believe will improve team morale and each person in the team will also practice that empathy to each other which results [in] a great culture in the company that can cultivate success from within,” she adds.

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