Life lessons and business advice from Tony Tan Caktiong of Jollibee


Everyone assumes that the founder and CEO of Jollibee Tony Tan Caktiong was born rich. But his story of rags to wealth is one that really inspires, especially because he really did it big! Jollibee is one of the most recognized Filipino brands across the country and in many parts of the world.

So what lessons can we learn from the CEO of Jollibee and what business advice has he shared with people?

be optimistic

In one of our first planning sessions, my vision was to build the world’s largest food business. It was then that we had 5 stores. Some people thought I was too optimisticCaktiong said at an APEC summit.

While it may not yet be the largest in the world, it is the largest food chain in the Philippines! And the company has even expanded to include other outlets such as Red Ribbon (cakes), Mang Inasal (roast chicken), and Greenwich (pizza and fried chicken).

Photo credit: TeaHub

Take risks

If you don’t take risks, you’ll never know what you can achieve.

These first days were not easy. We have faced many challenges and taken many risks. By taking these risks, we sometimes lost money because of the mistake we made. But during these challenges, I continued to have high hopes and to be optimistic that anything is possible.Caktiong admitted.

Innovation starts in our minds. Our state of mind determines what we are able to accomplish. The story of Jollibee Food Corp is a story of finding opportunities in difficult times.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Jollibee only had five stores when the multinational chain McDonald’s entered the Philippine market. Friends told him to sell himself but Caktiong kept his dream. He chased that dream and tried (sometimes failed) new things or menu offerings.

We thought (barbecue chicken product) was our best product. We worked on it a lot. But it didn’t work out very well. Should I call this a major mistake? Maybe not a major mistake but it’s a failure that we have in our history, “He shared.

But don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Be quick to recognize them and learn from them as fast as possible. Learn from every mistake and it won’t be a waste of time.

Develop your brand and defend it

Jollibee was able to quickly develop its brand and became the number one fast food chain in the Philippines, despite the overwhelming presence of McDonald’s. In fact, the Philippines is the only country in the world where McDonald’s is not the number one fast food chain!

It clearly shows how much Jollibee has grown.

Caktiong also makes sure to defend the brand against imitators and those who open stores with the name “Jollibee”, whether it is a food company or otherwise. They take copyright infringement seriously.

Trademarks have greatly enhanced the value of our business. For the consumer, they represent either confidence in the company or confidence in the brand … they will remember that the brand evokes very tasty dishes and also the experience, the ambiance, the service, and they are also proud to be part of this brand, “he explained.

We have to apply [our trademarks] correctly. If you don’t apply it correctly, your branding will weaken over time.

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