If you went through 14 failed businesses, would you still pursue dreams of being an entrepreneur? 

Princess San Diego graduated from the Center for Culinary Arts Manila, and went through 14 attempts before she finally hit on a ‘flan’ for success—a flan business.

My husband is a seasoned and successful businessman. He wanted me to start my own [business] so I can have something that I can be proud of. It was difficult to fail since expectations from me were high and failure was not an option. Failing in a business that I did not invest in is the worst feeling,” says San Diego.

San Diego lives by this advice from her husband: “Don’t worry about failures for you only need to succeed once. Failures are not failures but lessons we need to learn to be better in what we do.” This made her pursue her entrepreneurial dreams, working hard to run a successful company of her own. Today, San Diego is CEO of her franchise business, What’s your flan.

Missteps and doubts 

San Diego believes a combination of factors sunk her previous businesses, foremost being her lack of experience, knowledge and dedication. For the first few tries, she felt she was not that serious and was targeting the wrong market.

Maybe the best motivation was the people who doubted me,” she says. 

Before finding success, San Diego went through 14 business attempts, which include dealing with car accessories, gadgets, LED TVs and Android cellphones, clothing, and networking. She also opened two barbecue joints as well as food stalls for chicken wings, burgers and snacks. 

Homemade specialties or easy desserts put her chef skills to the test when  she ventured into online selling. The entrepreneur also tried her luck in the business of gaming cafés and dine-in restaurants.

“I asked God one day, ‘Lord, what is your plan for me?’ Then as a last resort, I tried something new. It was an instant hit. Hence, What’s your flan? Besides, I love leche flan. Leche flans are an all-time classic dessert,” says San Diego.

The ‘flan’ for success: survival

Two things guided her: persistence and hard work. San Diego learned that if she wants to start something serious, she has to be committed to it. Now, she always makes sure to keep her eyes open for new things and to be hands-on. Investing in knowledge like seeking mentorship from the best people, reading books and enrolling in a pioneer culinary school also helped her in establishing her business. She also believes that having a good attitude and thinking positive pushed her in the right direction. 

Despite her newfound success, San Diego faces a new challenge now—operating a business during a crisis.

“Nothing has changed drastically. We have been operating the same way even before the pandemic. The main adjustment that we had to work on would be the availability of ingredients; we had to put some products on hold. We also didn’t expect to double our franchisees during the pandemic. We decided to hire more staff to meet people’s expectations,” she adds. 

According to San Diego, she learned that in a snap, the world and people can change. Big companies can close down in a matter of months without sales and services, and that life can throw a curveball at any given time. It’s not just about being successful anymore, but surviving. 

Failures are lessons. Lessons are knowledge. Knowledge is power and a powerful mind will lead you to success. You can stumble and fall so you can rise and be better. Keep doing what you are doing and do not give up without a good fight,” she says.