Adapting to New Markets

It of course is only logical for any small business that one of the major keys to success is identifying, reaching and then serving members of your target market. If you are like me, and own or considering operating a small business in the Philippines, then odds are, again like me, you are probably just not that knowledgeable about this new market you are trying to make money in.

Personally, I have spent my whole business life in Canada and through years of experience have been able to get a grasp on who my potential customers are, how to reach them and properly service them so that my businesses could grow organically. At some point it became something that I took for granted. Now that in middle age I have decided to run a business in a completely foreign market, I have been rudely reminded how much I need to relearn and during that re-education I have had to be able to put my ego aside and humbly admit to myself that I am a rookie. Only then could I start to learn the new realities I am faced with and adapt to them in a way that will give me better odds of financial success.

A perfect example of this is a surprise I received when starting our now quite successful tour company here in Dumaguete City.

During the planning stages of our setup, I originally thought that the vast majority of our potential customers would be European or North American tourists who were in the mid income range. After a few months of struggling operation, I came to the conclusion that I had missed the boat and my projections about my target market were way off the mark. There were in fact very few middle income Western tourists visiting our shores. Quite honestly, during those first few months there were numerous times I lay awake in the middle of the night staring at the ceiling wondering whether I should pull the plug and move on. However one of my character traits , which I feel all small businessmen must possess, is the tenacity to not give up, so I instead admitted to myself my miscalculation and set upon the task of trying to identify alternative markets. Through a lot of research, and yes a fair sprinkling of plain luck, I discovered that the key markets I needed to focus on were completely different than what I originally envisioned. Instead of Westerners in the middle income range, I found that there was huge potential in three other segments. The Chinese, low income westerners on a backpacker’s budget and the Filipinos. Once identified, I changed several things. The tours we offered were restructured to include  low budget options, we hired some Chinese speaking tour guides, and we started to explore marketing channels to reach those three groups more effectively.

The results were staggering and today we have a very profitable small business that is growing by leaps and bounds.

In conclusion, I am of the opinion that one of the major keys in the small business world here in the Philippines is accepting how little we know and that as our businesses progress,  our ability to adapt to the new knowledge we are gaining along the way, will be essential to success. Again only logical, but sometimes hard for those of us in middle age that have started to believe we knew it all, lol.



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