By Armando O. Bartolome
From the many encounters I have had with entrepreneurs, I am often asked for advice on how to make a business grow and even bloom? Frankly, this may be the result of having assisted seven (7) companies, which have now been taken over by the big conglomerates. The owners began as a micro business and later stumbled into such fortune.
The following are the tips I may share and witnessing what these seven entrepreneurs followed. Remember if you want success, you have to strive hard to achieve it.
1. Be different.
Do-not-be-a-me-too. Your business idea must be differentiated. You may be serving the same products or services. However, begin asking yourself if you have such a distinction. You may want to have a BLIND TEST where you can place side by side your products vis-à-vis your competitors. Oops, better appoint only one person in your company to handle this. He or she should be the only one who knows the true identity. It may be fun but dig deeper if you or your management staff fail to recognize your products. People always say that they can have better if not the best product or service. Now it is time to prove it. Oh remember to be different is not an overnight magic. You have to constantly communicate to the target market. The customers must be able to really see and convinced.
2. Find a need and fill it.
When people complain about a product or a service that means there is room for a new player, a new solution or a new answer to everyday problems. Imagine the world today without mobile phones? Or better imagine today without the upgrade of mobile phones to smartphones? Almost everywhere one sees the tremendous change in the cellphone landscape. Thanks to Alexander Graham Bell for inventing the phone. Listen and see what people are talking and complaining about? In general, we have people complaining about the hot weather, the endless traffic, diggings on the roads; among entrepreneurs you have difficulty in getting the right locations, finding the right franchisee, obtaining the necessary loan to improve the business, salaries and right quality people, etc. If you are in business, how can the above words help you pick the right golden nugget to success?
3. Be focused.
Some have the notion that all a business needs are capital; a business name and it will run already. How I wish these could be true! Nevertheless, in today’s world, an entrepreneur needs to have the discipline to focus on the right scheme of conducting the business. This is like driving a bus and many options are presented to reach a destination. In fact, technology is so fast opportunities can appear and disappear in a matter of seconds. Look at these young geniuses we have this century in the name of Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page and Sergey Brin who are founders of Facebook and Google respectively.
4. Eat what you sell; use what you sell.
If you don’t eat it, don’t sell it. The real entrepreneur can talk hours and hours and even describe his product or services non-stop! I remember Injap Sia in his early years. On our way to visit his parents in Roxas City, as he was driving, he would narrate all his experiences like putting up Mister Labada, Holland Water Station, Four Season Hotel and Mang Inasal. In fact we were all the time laughing to our hearts content that we never realized it took us much longer to reach his place. He was driving 30 kph! He remembered all trial and error he and his wife Shiela encountered. Funny moments but that time he almost gave up!
5. Love what you do. Everyday.
You have to like what you are doing, so it will not seem like work at all. This is what I always tell people. Challenges or problems will be easy to face if one is always in love with what one loves doing. There seems to be some healing of sorts as I hardly see happy and contented entrepreneurs from suffering some form of sickness. People like our friend Chit Juan of ECHOstore seems to hold the secret to the fountain of youth. She is always on the go that her mobile phones like
Blackberry, Nokia and iPhone seem to give up of her fast phase. Her mind just churns out with bright and super ideas. Mind you these ideas are so brilliant that it turns into full satisfaction and dinero!
6.Wait for one whole cycle of one year before expanding.
Go through different seasons, buying seasons and also cash-strapped periods like tax filing time and opening of classes. Check your good and bad months. Remember the days of the Shawarma? Years and years ago my phone did not stop ringing from different people asking for assistance in positioning their business into a franchise. My one and the only answer is to let us talk after 12 months. Unfortunately, nobody returned to set a meeting. Any business must under a cycle especially in months where scarcity of raw materials may be experienced. My advice is to take it easy and nurture the concept.
7. Be a marketer.
Know your target market. Study them. Watch their buying patterns and their habits. I am fond of building a database. In our years of mentoring, I emphasize the importance of knowing the customers. There are promotions and advertisements to get people to come and try the product or service. There are forms or coupons filled up and dropped in a tambiolo. Yet most often after the event, those pieces of paper are disposed! Oh this is a great source of information. Database or customers’ listings are even purchased by marketing companies. Next time, be mindful and take time to study that information.
8.Be true to your business.
DO NOT DO IT JUST FOR THE MONEY. Do it because you like the business, it can pay for your expenses and it can help many people. I always believe that not everybody is given a chance to go into business without having a defined mission in life. Many people are given different talents and skills. Yet to be an entrepreneur always spells for me to carry on a mission. Most of the people we have assisted have begun to do what we call Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It is not mainly for show or some kind of gimmick. In fact, most of these people prefer to be behind the scene. Blessings come in many folds and different circumstances.
The true test of the following will be just how you and your business will fare out in the coming months!