As a business consultant for start-ups and SMEs in the Philippines, I have often been asked, “What is the best business to set up in the Philippines?” Honestly, that’s not an easy question to answer.
There are many factors involved in starting a business; especially in the Philippines; but, it all boils down to what you’re passionate about and what you’re willing to do and endure to achieve your purpose. Having said this, however, I feel that there are some ideas worth looking into.
During our year-ender special on the SME Forum, Alvin and I discussed what we felt would be the 10 best business ideas for start-ups in the Philippines. This list wasn’t just a figment of our imagination. Believe it or not, this was a result of an entire year of research and experience. Well, I won’t leave you hanging any longer; here’s PART 1 of our list:
Number 10 – Business Consulting Services:
Just a couple of years back, this might not have been that lucrative. However, DTI reports a marked increase in the number of new and various consulting services registered between 2009 and 2011 (a 67% rise from 2009 to 2011). In fact, my own business consultancy has actually picked up in 2011 (this is despite the number of new business consulting agencies that have sprouted up last year).
Some years back, the government and the private sector, seeing that jobs were scarce, pushed for entrepreneurship. Many believed that starting a business was the way to go; and many got burned. Those who embraced entrepreneurship did so without knowing what they were getting into; hence, experts in various aspects of business were needed to aid these would-be entrepreneurs in their endeavors.
Number 9 – Virtual Services:
A long time ago, starting a business in the Philippines meant renting an office space and hiring a number of employees. Today, however, many Filipinos, weary of the rising cost of real estate and salaries, are turning to virtual offices, virtual assistants and other virtual services to reduce costs.
It makes perfect sense! Why spend a lot during the start-up phase of your business? Going virtual is a great way to save money while “incubating” your business.
If you have some building space lying around or a service (secretarial, writing, etc.) you could offer online, this could be a very lucrative business this year.
Number 8 – Social Entrepreneurship:
I was watching Rachel Botsman on TED TV some months back discuss “collaborative consumption” and she mentioned something intriguing. Rachel said that the power drill we purchase will be used around 12 to 13 minutes in its entire lifetime. This is an amazing fact and shows just how much we WASTE.
Now, how does this connect to social entrepreneurship (or to business in general)? Well, Wikipedia describes a social entrepreneur as one who “recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture to achieve social change.” In the case above, the social problem is "wastefulness by NOT SHARING".
I met a group of well-to-do college students in 2010 that showed me how social entrepreneurship and collaborative consumption could actually turn a profit. Since these students were well-off and had their own cars, they would each take their cars to school; that is until one of them came up with a brilliant idea. The idea was to car-pool (since they were all schoolmates and lived near each other) and put up a car rental business for the cars they did not use. It worked perfectly! They not only saved on gas money; they also earned on the side.
Now, I could mention some other ideas that combine social entrepreneurship with collaborative consumption, but that would take up too much time. I leave it to you to figure out how to use these concepts to your advantage.
Number 7 – Backyard Farming:
Last year, I interviewed Ms. Daisy Duran, a big-time vegetable dealer who started out as a fish-ball vendor, on the SME Forum. It turns out; she started her million-peso enterprise with a simple backyard farm. This actually inspired my wife, Helen, to start a backyard farm of our own. We may not be selling our produce (yet), but we’re saving a bundle on grocery expenses.
You don’t need a big backyard for this! Take, for example, Ms. Ulyssa Marie Torbiso (owner of Cebu Hydroponic Garden - the Hydro Garden); she is barely 21 years old and started her business in her small backyard. It has been growing ever since. I wouldn’t be surprised if she were to parlay this into a big business soon.
Number 6 – Online Training:
With rising travel, lodging and training costs, how do companies assure that their employees get quality training? The answer… Have them trained online. In my case, I have successfully been using some online tools (like Digital Samba) to reduce the price of the training programs my company runs.
My client, who is based in Davao, had wanted to send only two of their employees to attend management training in Manila; but they couldn’t because it would have been too expensive to spend for travel, lodging and the actual training. By providing online training to these two employees, we were able to eliminate their travel and lodging expense, and reduce the training cost by 30%.
If you’re a trainer or a consultant, bringing your training programs online not only saves you a lot of money; it may also open new doors for you in terms of clients.
UPDATE: I've already published PART 2 of this article on this blog... CLICK HERE TO VIEW PART 2.
is the Managing Director of Our-Knowledge Asia and a Business Consultant for Local and Foreign Start-ups, SMEs and Organizations based in the Philippines.