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3/14/13

Philippine Success in Business

Article Written by Guest Writer Matt Wilkie


Matt Wilkie Philippines
Matt Wilkie is a expat living in Cebu, Philippines offering advice and help to newcomers to the Philippines.  Check his latest blogs at Tropical PenPal

Expats Can Do Successful Business In The Philippines.


We are already into year six and our most recent edition of businesses has been BPO24hour.com.


But what I find in the Philippines within the expat community is that there is often a looking for failure or negativity in people starting business here in the Philippines.

In reality though its just as hard here as anywhere else, where I see many people fail over the years is down to market conditions and how things are run. For example giving a business to a family member of your wife with no experience is pretty much guaranteed to run aground very quickly. Yet giving the opportunity to develop a business with you with the same person who has been experienced in something particular and unique can actually blossom.

Understanding where people make money in the Philippines is part and parcel of this and for me its about looking at not only what they do but how they do it. Because getting things like new rack mount servers into Cebu is something that can run aground with corrupt customs officials. At the same time knowing a family member who works at customs or is a regular importer can deal with your headaches. But isn’t that corruption? Actually its the opposite! Because we have already paid all the fees associated with goods but you will often find that “extras” are added in what seems almost random costing. Which in some cases can see a $100 item getting $100 of taxes added to it for no apparent reason. These are part of the problems of doing business in the Philippines.

But doesn’t mean you have to be defeated! Instead look at where these things are and how to fix them, get round them, work with them. Which for me what should be the easiest route is finding an IT company in Cebu who will sell me a rack mount rather than importing my own. Not as easy as it sounds as most computer companies don’t seem to supply them. But workable! Just time consuming in sourcing. Last resort will be a direct import and crossing my fingers with relatives help.

But that gets me onto BPO24hour.com as this venture is blossoming rather quickly and expanding well. It was not a business I had looked to get into as although I know the inside of an office very well from my surveying background I am not telesales orientated. But this gets back to the expats around me and also the local market. There are call center’s all over the place and we seem to be the one furthest South we have come across.

Understanding the local market that if people don’t have to take 2 – 3 bus rides into the city and can earn the same money at a business within 10mins of their house, who will they work for? Because what has happened is initially it took a bit of canvassing for trainees to get people to try us. But once people became aware that we are here the experienced people started arriving.

Now we see that we have both experienced and trainees working side by side. The trainees are learning quickly as they have good coaches and our most recent additions have seen us recruit Quality Controllers with over 3 years experience in the industry from a major Call Center in the city.

For us we see the business is going to continue to grow and with it I am hoping to share the expansion with others who can manage other call center’s under our umbrella. But right now this is one Expat business that is expanding quickly and successful in the Philippines. Oddly enough its not hard to find other call center’s owned by foreigners or foreign backed around Cebu.

Because lets face it who knows your home market best, you who lived there and as a previous consumer or someone who has only seen your country in the movies? Adding this edge is why we openly look to get skilled staff from the expat community but also OFW’s. Having knowledge they can share as well as help develop people’s accents are all part and parcel of developing the business.

Which gets me back to the title Expats can do successful business in the Philippines, but often they don’t advertise it and often take a back seat. There are many reasons people do that here and some are for safety others could be that they simply don’t see the advantage of the limelight. Privacy is often something people like to have and as one of the biggest money spinners in Asia at the moment is technology related either via call centre’s, web design, SEO and other’s one thing they don’t need is a person. As most are based on results and internet trading. Not Joe Blogg’s from Kentucky which is what gets me back to negativity on business.

The fact is many expats come here and decide to open a small business with high expectations and little business knowledge. In reality though those with business knowledge and experience generally don’t talk too much about what they are doing. Quite simply they don’t need to they just get on with it.

After several years in the Philippines I can honestly say that most people would fail in business in their home country never mind here. The emphasis comes about by many looking to expand their pension income or looking to keep idle family members busy (idle as in available). Throwing money at idea’s doesn’t work especially if its then given to someone else to deal with. But even worse when no figures or planning has gone into it, which is often the case with businesses in the Philippines that expats do.

Which in conversations with talking to people who have already been here over a decade and are very successful in business you find they did exactly what we do. Initially they chipped away at things on a small scale until something clicked. Some of our businesses make good money others broke even, but its all been about logging the information and experienced gained. Not all projects will be successful but they won’t all fail either.
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