8 Entrepreneurial Lessons I Learned When I Lost My First Million

Today I will share with you a very personal story of my financial journey.

I graduated with a degree in Entrepreneurial Management at 22 and got into a job a few weeks after my graduation. I got my dream job in the marketing field. I was young and starting out. I was hungry for success and I thirst for significance.

After a year, I did a part-time business. I was 23. I managed to raise a 100k capital from zero through leverage — loaning from friends and families. I read a lot of business books, I did network marketing, attended a lot of seminars, conducted free workshops on wealth and personal finance, played and mentored Robert Kiyosaki’s CASHFLOW game, learned that most people are not good money managers, learned from different business mentors, surrounded my self with self-made millionaires and entrepreneurs, left the corporate world for full time entrepreneurship, failed in business, lost all my money, pretended to be employed so my parents will stop bugging me to go back to the corporate world, lost more money, left with a wiped out bank account and a huge debt amounting to almost half a million.

I was 24 when I finally hit rock bottom.

I was back to zero. I lost 4 years of my hard-earned money. I was stripped away of everything — including love life! (LOL!) I had nothing left including my self confidence. I felt lost and most of the time thought that I was stupid for making such a big mistake and for taking the risk. It was traumatic, heart-breaking, and painful. But you know, God always has a way of turning you from the inside out.

Little did I know that it was the turning point of my financial journey.

I got back into the corporate world, found a job that I like and something that best suited my experience, luckily got employed in a multi-national company and given the opportunity to earn more money when I got transferred to Sales. I was able to pay off 3/4 of my huge debt, and still paying some, read more business and motivational books, got better at managing my finances, attended more seminars, learned from my clients who are successfully running their own traditional businesses, invested more of my money in the right financial vehicles and now, I left my 8-5 job once again to continue my quest, armed with a greater vision in mind.

Allow me to share to you the lessons I learned when I lost my first million at 24 that changed my life 360 degrees.

Lesson #1: Never be afraid to fail and make A LOT of mistakes. 

I believe that most of us were raised to always strive for excellence. Get good grades, get a good job, seek promotion. In our pursuit of excellence, we become afraid of making mistakes and failing. Failure gives us shame. Oo, nakakahiya naman talaga aminin na nagkamali ka, lugi ka, bankrupt ka. But failures mold us into a better person. It often gives us the most important lessons in life.

Lesson #2: Make mistakes while you are young and while you still can. 

Because while you are young, you still have a lot of room for improvement. You still have the physical energy and financial capacity to recover from failures and setbacks along the way. Once you reach the age of early retirement, it would be harder to take risks, you have a limited time to learn how to run a business and recover just in case you fail. There will be a little room left for mistakes.

Lesson #3: Never ever be attached to Money

People always say that money is not easily earned. So, most people are afraid of losing their “hard-earned” money.

Attachment to money is not a good thing. Why? When you become too attached to money, you become more afraid of losing it. You become afraid of taking risks especially when it comes to investing. When you become afraid of losing money, you will most likely cling to JOB SECURITY.

Remember, Money is just an object. It is just a tool, not the goal. So in my own opinion based on experience, it can be easily earned BUT you have to work hard for it.

Lesson #4: Increase your Risk Tolerance

Everything you invest into, be it finance, experience or emotion entails an equal amount of risk. Just like in investing, the greater the risk, the higher the potential returns. The lower the risk, the lower the potential returns. So which would you choose? Again, it depends on your tolerance for the risk that you expose yourself into. Keep into mind that returns are also not guaranteed. 🙂 So, will you still choose to take risks?

My two cents worth of advice, take the higher risk than miss out on what’s possible for you. Would you want to find yourself one day saying words of regret like, “Sana, ginawa ko ito noon, sana sinubukan ko.” There is no harm in trying, only lessons learned. 🙂

Lesson #5: Raise your 3 C’s

One of my business mentors in network marketing taught me that there are three C’s that you need to raise if you want to become a financial success.


Raise your character through real life experiences. Keep learning and growing. Earn money, raise your income but never stop learning. Learn and take the significant lessons that you think will help you in the future.

Raise your credibility by anchoring yourself to the values of honesty, integrity and excellence.

Raise your Credit-ability by being trustworthy and paying off your debts.

Lesson #6: Guard you mind, guard your heart. 

My employers would probably hate me for saying this. I have a Great Wall of China in my head. From everything that I have been through, I’ve learned to put a great mental barrier that would help me stick to my vision and keep my emotions in check. When times are tough and my competitive self is telling me to seek for recognition, an increase in paycheck and promotion, I had to constantly remind myself why I am working. I work to contribute, not to be promoted. I work not just for money, but to make a difference. I work because I CHOOSE TO, not because I HAVE TO.  My job is my classroom. I am working for the fulfillment of my dreams, not for anyone else’s dreams. I would like to think that having that kind of mindset brought me to where I am today. When God gives you a vision in mind, guard it with all your heart and find a way to make it happen.

Lesson #7: Be Persistent and Consistent. 

As the saying goes, “If you are PERSISTENT, you will get it. If you are CONSISTENT, you will keep it.” I learned that you need to consistently set your personal goals and work on it to achieve it. Consistency multiplied with persistence can give you personal fulfillment.

And lastly, the most important thing I learned is to KEEP MOVING FORWARD! Yes, Lesson #8: FAIL FORWARD. Always remember that Failure is not the end. It is an opportunity to learn.

But above all else, when I was lost, broken, a failure and empty handed, God was there, silently teaching me these lessons. He stripped me of everything till I had nothing. When I reached the point of having nothing, I realized that I have Him by my side. The experience brought me into a deeper relationship with God, more than I could ever imagine.

The lessons I learned are the greatest money and business lessons that I would never trade for anything else in the world. Allow me to end it by quoting my favorite words from John Gokongwei, “Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-heart.” Experience is always the best teacher (and it makes me feel a lot older than my age!) From breakdowns, there will always be breakthroughs. Rise up, bounce back, and keep on winning!


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