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At the start of each year, we are often asked what are good businesses to start with. While it is a very relevant question, it is probably not the way to ask the question. We have found that success and perseverance in any business emanates from one’s passion. What is one passionate about? What would one be excited to do every day? Where is one good at? What solid experience and competitive skills can one bank on? Business is a bit personal, and one has to master himself to know his passion and find the right business for him.
At the other side of the equation is knowing whether this passion can lead to something of value to customers. Is there a growing demand for this product or service? We remind everyone that any business can be successful and be well accepted in the market as long as the business offers an excellent value and serves a real need in the market.
But there will be trends and opportunities in the market that one can look for. By trends, we mean it should not be just a fad. Instead, business trends are the emerging direction on how the market is shaping up, considering changes or shifts in the consumer behavior, practices and influences. These trends are estimated to have longer effects as they alter consumer buying behavior and lifestyle.
We still see the move towards e-commerce activities, especially as everyone has increasing access to cheaper smart phones. Behavior changes as we see more Filipinos have greater connectivity, WIFI or 3G access that enables them to surf the Internet, watch TV and movie shows, communicate not only by SMS but via mobile apps like Viber, Whatsapp and Facebook, or read the news through news apps, watch video on demand through Youtube and many more. The mobile gadget is now man’s best friend. This is how our friends from PLDT, Eric Alberto, sees the change in lifestyle. Even our kids and househelp check more their smart phones than watch TV. Yes, probably check more their phones than work. Kidding aside, the changes lead to more transactions that are online-based like purchases, gaming and communication. Businesses, especially the micro and small enterprises, have to embrace and maximize technology in their operations.
Marketing guru Josiah Go mentioned in his recent article on trends and predictions for 2016 that as there would be more online shops, there would be a rise in ‘mansumers’ or male online shoppers. With just a few clicks on their mobile phones, shoppers, male or female, young and old, can acquire a product and pay it through credit cards or upon delivery.
Angelpreneur Paulo Tibig also stated in his article on business ideas for 2016 that mobile commerce provides less operational expenses compared to brick and mortar purchases. Many of the young entrepreneurs these days are into online shops which also connect them to a bigger market since their medium is social media.
Another trend related to e-commerce is the development of more mobile apps which also reflects the essence of entrepreneurship – to provide mobile app solutions to existing problems, exactly how the Ubers and Air BnB were developed as platforms. There will be more platforms that will converge the suppliers and the users demanding those products or services. An example is technopreneur Shiela Marcelo and her Care.com, which converges caregivers with those who need such services. Another example is Mobkard of Angelpreneur Carlo Calimon. Mobkard a mobile app that provides access to promos and discounts, and information, consolidating the merchant providing the promos and making these visible to various groups or communities which sign up.
Another trend, although not yet huge would be the rise of organic and eco-friendly products and services. In the past years, we have seen how consumers are getting more sophisticated and conscious of what they buy in the market. From food, to skin-care products, to household cleaning goods, we now enjoy an eco-friendly section in the market. As more people become sensitive about their health and the environment they live in, there will be more ‘green’ products that will emerge in the market.
Agriculture has experienced an impressive growth because more Filipinos see the value of the sector. More agri-entrepreneurs these days like Henry Lim Bon Liong of Dona Maria rice, inject technology and innovation in their ways and processes in order to scale up their productivity and income. Since we are an agricultural country, we must maximize our rich and abundant natural resources and thrive in the agricultural sector through agri-modernization and levelling up the value chain.
We also agree with Angelpreneur Paulo that franchising is still one of the most viable options to get into business, especially for those with no experience. Franchising provides proven-and-tested business concepts that increase the likelihood of success for any adoptors. We have mentors like Butz Bartolome of AFFI and Bing Limjoco of PFA who mentor those interested in franchising. But as we always say, one still has to get a franchise concept that is in synch with what they really like to do, and they still have to work hard every day to operate such a franchise. There are no guarantees, especially for the lazy ones.
Lastly, social entrepreneurship is definitely gaining ground since it is one model that can stand as a sustainable business and at the same time solve a particular social issue.
Additionally, since 2016 is an election year, there will be a lot of election-related businesses such as printing shops for tarpaulins and flyers and t-shirts, packaged meals, food and beverages. Angelpreneur Paulo also believes this is only for a temporary period of time. If one decides to venture into related businesses, they must find ways to sustain the business beyond election period.
These are just a few trends we can cite given the limited space in this column. There are many more, but as entrepreneurs, we simply have to keep our eyes open to the opportunities that arise and inject innovation in processes or products or even the business model itself, to ride on the crest of these trends. And as we ride on the trends, we must constantly look into the fundamentals of our business models – on how we can build our competitive edge by continuously innovating and differentiating our models.