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How Experience is the Best Mentor

In this competitive market, real-life practical experience can lead you to great opportunities. And some of the most successful entrepreneurs started their business ventures with nothing but experiences.

Entrepreneur, Liz Jao, shares that her experience was her biggest mentor in achieving success, leading her to open up multiple businesses.

Jao is a licensed pharmacist and the owner and co-founder of Boombox Social. The 29-year-old Cebuana earned her degree, Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, at the University of San Carlos in 2014. And in the same year, she started her first business, Laser Blitz LaserTag, without any professional experience.

LaserBlitz LaserTag is a laser tag hub located in Parkmall, Mandaue. It was the first laser tag hub in Cebu and the whole Visayas. She expressed that the thought of people enjoying something new in the city is the idea behind opening the place. Jao did everything from researching, creating concepts, contacting suppliers down to negotiating rates and processing. “The fact that it was a first-in-Cebu concept made it easier to market since Cebuanos are fond of new experiences,” Jao said.

“Starting a business is just step one. The challenge is to be able to sustain it, get sales and clients,” Jao mentioned. After succeeding with the laser tag, she ventured into a new business by opening Safe Haven Rehabilitation Center, a rehabilitation center for substance addiction.

Jao explained that dealing with individuals who attend rehab are more likely to possess different addictive personalities such as having a high tolerance for deviant behavior or a tendency to do things on impulse. She admitted that it came to a point where it was getting more challenging to facilitate the day-to-day operations. She saw it best to turn over the business to a more experienced Center Director. The rehab business only lasted for eight months.

After having started a few, she continued to run more businesses that made her excited in her own right. Jao and her business partners opened his third business called The Barracks, an adrenaline hub of laser tag, laser maze, and archery tag that was considered the first in the Philippines.

“We are from a generation where everything changes and evolves at a rapid pace. I guess that is how we ended up looking for a new kind of fun activity to do. We wanted something that could encourage team building while learning a new skill, something people can bond over no matter what age they are,” said Jao.

Jao continued her entrepreneurial pursuits as she launched Boombox Media, now Boombox Social. Founded in 2017, Boombox Social is an integrated marketing communications firm that provides digital and non-digital content to brands.

“Since I didn’t have a formal education in business, I learn through experience and self-help books. That requires passion and perseverance.” Jao said. She explained that hard work and discipline entails mentoring yourself by studying, learning how to negotiate, presenting yourself and your ideas with confidence, and celebrating your small wins. And from there, she improved her skills in sales, marketing, operations, project management, basic accounting, and defined leadership by living it.

Jao expressed that even with limitations, people shouldn’t be afraid of learning or trying something new and be courageous enough to talk to people about their ideas and take action if it feels right.

There are no shortcuts to achieving success in life. We must take the paths that will shape us by our experiences. Experiences mold us into who we are now, and memories of the past help us gain a new perspective to make better decisions.