Whatever You’re Thinking, Think Bigger.
(Updated 25 October 2019)
I’m currently working with a couple of Americans who plan to move to the Philippines “someday”, and try to earn a living with their own business.
They have a depressingly mundane small set of ideas that come up constantly … over and over again.
- An Internet café with expensive equipment, extremely low profit margins and constantly being made antique by ever-cheaper tablets and iPhones.
- Or sari-sari stores, where you can compete with the other 25 sari sari stores on the same block to see who will sell a cigarette (yes they are typically sold by just one “stick” at a time) for less. Maybe you can cut the stick in half and sell it even cheaper for people who want a “quick smoke”. *sigh*.
- And of course whatever you sell you’ll be stuck selling on credit and no one will pay their bill voluntarily and you’ll wind up having to pay “5-6” rates (20% weekly interest) just to be able to put stock back in the store, or pay your electric bill.
Life can be very hard here for small businessmen and women, trust me on that … or find it out for yourself, your choice.
In general, this just won’t work. Just trust me, it won’t work. Period.
Now I am going to get at least two “rebuttal” type comments to this assertion.
The first is going to be from one or more foreigners who have some sort of “jury-rigged” “bottom-feeding” business cobbled together that is earning them a bare minimum subsistence level of profit .. and likely the business is really in someone else’s name, or otherwise “Hiding Out” from the world.
Or I am going to get a comment from a foreigner who has a real, full-fledged, licensed business operating on its own two feet and bringing in a non-trivial income.
If you’re out there, especially commenters like the second type, be absolutely sure you write in and tell me how wrong I am.
I actually WANT to be wrong on this issue, but the years have proven me right many, many more times than I have been wrong.
Don’t Concern Yourself With Bottom-End, Barely Viable Businesses.
- So what should you be setting your sites on, then? Well here are my thoughts which I can show you h7undreds of examples of.
- Find a Need and Fill It. (perhaps you didn’t think the lack of inspirational posters for the offices of new startup companies was a “need”), but this team did, and they are making money from filling it.
- Make sure the idea is a viable business internationally. People need inspiration, humor and such in any country, and there is nothing “Filipino-only” in this business that limits you.
- Make sure you don’t have to slave all day to actually make what you are selling … otherwise, it’s a job, without good benefits, not a business. These products are all made to order by third parties, and can also be sourced elsewhere in case prices go up.
- Make sure the business can move with you. You can start a business like Startup Vitamins did anywhere in the world, and then move anywhere in the world without the business missing a beat.
- Not only Could you start a business like this in the USA and then “bring it with you” when you move, but you Should. Any business may fail to perform.
- You should start one and get it running while you are still back in the USA with a job, food stamps, unemployment insurance, Medicare, medic aide, regular trash pickups and subsidized public transportation.. Don’t wait until you move to the Philippines to find out it’s a flop.
I recommend you read and learn from their “About” page where they mention their We’ve learned the hard way – to the tune of 11 failed projects. story. 11 Failures?
Are you kidding me? I can’t afford to fail 11 times?
Well since these guys are making more money than you probably are, and certainly more money than I am, perhaps the problem is that you (or I) haven’t (yet) failed enough.
Whatever You’re Thinking, Think Bigger