16 Tips for Business Success in Urban Philippines

Resources & Tools
June 10, 2020

 Running a business anywhere in the world is tough but in Urban areas or key cities of the Philippines, it's particularly hard. Want to increase your chances of business success in your city? Our 16 tips will give you an advantage over the competition:


1. Focus on your niche.

You must focus your efforts on your core value in your city; may it be in Manila, Cebu, Davao, CDO and other highly-urbanised cities of the Philippines, and not become distracted by the businesses that are flourishing around you. Keep your head down and serve your customers - do not compare your numbers to your business neighbours, or you will quickly become frustrated. Within your industry, find the audience that prefers you specifically and serve them! Keep Pareto's Rule in mind: 20%of your customers will make 80% of your purchases. Focus on the 20%, and you will sell more.


2. Create and use a business plan.

Manila, Cebu, Davao, and other cities mentioned above are highly competitive cities. Whether you are trying to raise capital or just keep your own strategy clear, a business plan is always a great start. This business plan should answer all of the tough questions and map out your future in business: Who is your competition? What market do you best serve? What is your competitive advantage or what sets your business apart? What kind of capital do you need to profit? Even if you never present a banker with this report, keep it for yourself as a plan to follow.


3.Don’t rely too much on banks at the start.

Traditional financing institutions like banks can be difficult to do business with, especially if you are just starting a new business. The time consuming nature of negotiations is better spent building your business. If you are looking to create a fallback position for your finances, consider your own savings and investments before you look to outside sources. Believe it or not, it is much easier to create your own startup capital than to deal with some banks as a new business entity.


4. Take business financing opportunities when they come along.

Although traditional Filipino banks are difficult, you should always keep your eyes open for financial opportunities. Partnering with financial institutions has given multiple benefits to businesses. You may be averse with interest fees, but if you’re looking to grow, companies like First Circle are great for business financing or working capital loans – faster, more flexible, and better than banks. At First Circle, many of our clients come to us because they need capital to take advantage of an opportunity – buy from suppliers in bulk, start a new product line, or hire new employees.

Opportunities can be rare – be sure to take advantage of them when they come along.


5.Start small.

It’s never been easier to start a business in the Philippines. Your company does not have to start off asa huge business right away. Your business plan should lay out what the first steps are to get going, and you should also have contingencies in that plan for rainy days.


6. Be prepared for the worst.

Sometimes, customers don’t pay on time. Sometimes, suppliers don’t deliver. Be prepared for these possibilities. Build up at least six months of expenses to make sure that your business can stay open if either of these situations happens to you, which they invariably will at some point. Build a relationship with a business finance provider like First Circle just in case you need a bridge loan in tough times.


7. Know your skills.

You will initially have to wear all of the hats in your business; however, to succeed, you need to learn what things you’re good at and focus on them. Outsource the rest. Hire for the skills you don’t have, and don't forget the virtual market. 


8.Sales are the most important thing.

Sales are the most important aspect of any business, so prioritise building sales revenue first.Revenue will open up opportunities for other business. Make sure to have a plan to get your product to market.

9. Your customers are your new boss.

Any time that you are not spending selling product, spend with your customers. Make sure they’re delighted with every interaction with you and your team. Your reputation is as good as money when you are a new business in the Philippines, so guard it with your life.

10.Worry about your reputation.

Your reputation “takes a lifetime to build and a moment to destroy.” Quality should be your number one concern above all. If your reputation suffers, you can be sure that your business won’t last very long.


11. Put profitability first.

You may have to take a personal pay cut in order to ensure that the business makes a profit in the early stages. Measure cash flow and understand your key financial ratios. If you want to guarantee long-term success, profitability is the most important thing to worry about.


12. Hire great people.

Hiring great people is the key to any long term business success. Your employees do the work that you cannot, and they are extensions of you. Make sure that you perform background checks on all of them and vet their skill set. Give them challenges to help them grow, otherwise, they will become bored with the work and be less productive.


13. Get all the help you can.

Find mentors and peers to learn from. Join trade associations and learn from people who’ve done what you want to do already. There are so many people you can learn from where you are in the Philippines – go out and find them.


14. Build excellent relationships with suppliers.

The relationship with your suppliers is the most important relationship you have in business after your customers - it can literally make or break your business. Make sure it’s a win-win relationship - do not accept exorbitantly high prices or late deliveries, and always have a back up plan.


15. Learn, learn, learn.

Make sure to take every challenge you face in business as a learning opportunity. To be successful, you must become an incredible learner, because you will not do everything right the first time.

16. Make sure your business is online.

In the future, the Internet is how people will do almost all business, especially in the key top cities in the Philippines, a growing market for online commerce. You have an opportunity now to solidify your online market share before your industry floods the landscape.


Need business financing today? Apply for one with First Circle by clicking here.

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