The entrepreneurial spirit is truly alive in a country like the Philippines. Thanks to its growing middle class, strong consumer base, and rich tapestry of cultures and traditions, the archipelago is a fertile ground for budding entrepreneurs.
However, many remain intimidated by the idea of transitioning from the relative stability of corporate employment to the unpredictable realm of business ownership. Launching a successful business is not just about seizing a market gap or launching a product—it’s about embarking on a journey that intertwines personal ambition with the unique nuances of the Filipino market.
If you’re feeling intimidated by the idea of abandoning your typical 9-to-5 to launch the small business or startup you’ve been dreaming of, know that being properly prepared can make the journey more manageable. Here are five transition strategies that are perfectly tailored to the Filipino entrepreneur.
1) Understand Your “Why”
Every entrepreneur’s journey is deeply personal—and, very often, highly reflective of their desires and personal values. For some, it’s the dream of creating an organic farm in the provinces, away from city life. For others, it might be about addressing an urban need, like eco-friendly transportation in traffic-congested cities.
Start by asking yourself what drives you. Is it a longing to give back to the community, the thrill of innovation, or the quest for financial freedom?
The Philippine setting, with its rich cultural diversity and social fabric, offers numerous areas where change, innovation, and improvement are needed. From sustainable tourism initiatives to tech solutions addressing local challenges, would-be business owners don’t lack possibilities. However, anchoring on the “why” provides clarity in purpose and serves as the guiding star when making critical business decisions.
2) Draw Up a Detailed Business Plan
With your “why” crystal clear, the next step is channeling that drive into a tangible and actionable business plan. This isn’t just about crunching numbers or setting objectives; it’s about understanding the intricacies of the Philippine market landscape.
If you’re looking to capitalize on the recent e-commerce boom in the country following the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, you’ll want to think about how to differentiate the online store you envision from a host of other competitors. In addition to providing unique products and top-notch services, consider optimizing your store for a fast and easy shopping experience.
The best way to do this is by researching the technology commonly employed by your peers in the industry—such as the go-to payment gateway Philippines-based businesses use, popular online invoicing systems in the country, and the like.
One popular payment solution startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are turning to these days is Maya Checkout, an online payment gateway by Maya Business that provides fast and frictionless checkout for both online businesses and brick-and-mortar stores. It’s fast becoming regarded as the best payment gateway Philippines startups and SMEs can depend on, and will ultimately help streamline your checkout process and win you the favor of customers.
Among the common pitfalls many budding entrepreneurs face is the temptation to replicate Western business models without adapting them to local contexts. The Filipino consumer is unique in preferences, behaviors, and values. Crafting a good business plan will require you to look beyond logistics and finances to take this uniqueness into account; it’s about weaving in the cultural, social, and economic nuances of the Filipino people into your business blueprint.
3) Set Aside Savings
Starting a business involves capital, and it often takes time before profits start rolling in. While any successful entrepreneur needs to be willing to take risks, remember that you’ll also need a financial safety net. Building up substantial savings will not only get you a cushion during lean periods, but it will also offer the financial flexibility to seize unexpected opportunities.
Of course, unless you’ve been saving for a long time or have a substantial amount of wealth put away, you likely won’t be able to shoulder all of your venture’s initial costs by yourself. Even if you do have the capital, you may want to consider diversifying your funding sources all the same. Doing so will reduce your personal financial risk and also potentially fast-track business growth.
Fortunately, there are many local funding opportunities available to would-be entrepreneurs in the Philippines. Cooperatives, microfinance institutions, and government grants targeting SMEs are just a few options that you can consider tapping into to help get your startup off the ground.
4) Know When to Pivot
Entrepreneurship, by its very nature, is a journey full of uncertainties and evolving challenges. In the Philippines—a nation of over 7,000 islands, each with its distinct flavors and cultures—businesses may need to constantly adjust to cater to diverse markets. But what does it truly mean to pivot? It’s about agility, adaptability, and the keen ability to read the signs.
For instance, while a seafood business might flourish in coastal towns, it may require an entirely different approach in the uplands. Similarly, trends that dominate in the cities might barely ripple in more remote regions. Collecting feedback from your customers and peers in the industry is invaluable here. Whether you gather it by listening to casual comments by locals at a barangay gathering or handing out structured surveys, listening and adapting to the input you receive is crucial.
Pivoting doesn’t always signify failure, either. On the contrary, it often signifies the resilience to adapt and grow. The world of Filipino entrepreneurship is brimming with tales of businesses that thrived after making timely shifts. Whether it’s a café transforming into a co-working space due to the advent of digitalization, or a traditional craft store going online amid a pandemic, recognizing the need for change and acting upon it can set you up for long-term success.
5) Safeguard Your Well-Being
Though it can be exhilarating to finally live the entrepreneurial life, long hours, unpredictability, and high stakes can take a toll on your well-being. While passion drives many Filipino entrepreneurs, remember that you won’t get anywhere if you don’t look after your health. Take time to disconnect, spend moments with loved ones, and engage in activities that you enjoy. These pursuits will rejuvenate both the body and soul and enable you to work your best when you return to the grind.
Your new entrepreneurial journey in the Philippines will present you with both challenges and opportunities. What will be important the whole way is a keen understanding of your motivations, a commitment to planning, and an open mind for being adaptable and resilient to changing market conditions. Know your priorities and what direction you’re headed in, and you’ll be able to chase your entrepreneurial dreams with full confidence.