Good Businesses To Start In The Philippines

I have often been asked what would be a good business to start in the Philippines. Unfortunately, a good answer to that question may take over a day to answer. Business consultants usually say that it depends on many things, from your personality and experience to your resources and countless other factors. This answer is true, but judging from the disappointment in people’s reactions, this is not what they are really after.
Most prospective entrepreneurs already know that there are many influences, like their personality, in choosing a business. What people really want to hear is what business will probably do well here in the Philippines or in their specific location. They want to learn about promising businesses to check if it fits them.
A lot of business experts are aware of this desire to know promising businesses, and some of them proceed to suggest several popular ventures they believe suitable. The problem with giving specific answers is that it then goes into the other extreme of being too expansive for a limited discussion, or to being too limiting. In fact, this may be more dangerous than the “it depends” approach because there tends to be more competition in such types of businesses.
For a short conversation, I believe recommending promising industries instead of particular businesses would prove to be more helpful. This will give the prospective entrepreneur just the right amount of flexibility and guidance in coming up with a good business for him.
It turns out that much of the research to find favorable industries have already been done by some government agencies. Drawing on the resources at its disposal, much of the data gathering and number crunching were done precisely to guide entrepreneurs toward what is likely to succeed. Combining selected government priority areas (except those that are too capital extensive) with some of my own ideas, I have come up with the following suggestions:
Information Technology. With a large pool of IT graduates, we are well situated to compete in this industry. One of the biggest potential here is in Internet-related businesses like website and e-commerce. Another newly booming sector here is Internet Marketing, which consists of many activities like social media, search engine optimization, e-mail marketing and online advertising.
Business Process Outsourcing. Having an abundant supply of English-speaking manpower, many of whom are college educated, gives the Philippines a competitive edge in this industry. Most people think only of giant call centers when they hear of business process outsourcing. However, it is possible for a call center to have only 20 seats or less as there are also smaller companies abroad that would like to save on cost. Many small entrepreneurs have entered this industry, and with the proper niche and marketing, they have been coping well even with the presence of the big players. There is now a trend towards more sophisticated services like medical transcription, animation, accounting and teaching foreign languages that our country’s labor force is well placed to fill.
Tourism. Comparing our tourist arrival to our Southeast Asian neighbours, it is apparent that we are only tapping a fraction of the tourism industry’s potential. It is not only the travel agencies that stand to make good, but many other types of ventures could tap into the projected massive increase in tourist arrivals and expenditures. Some tourism-related ventures include organizing MICE (meetings, incentive travel, conferences and exhibits), car rentals, and tour organizing. Other beneficiaries of the expected increase in tourism are resorts , transportation providers, restaurants, lodging, live entertainment, and many others.
Agribusiness. The backward state of our agriculture presents a lot of opportunities, especially to those who would be residing in the province. Presently, there are plenty of soft loans and other government incentives for those who want to go into agribusiness. Another reason to be optimistic about this sector is the large international market for indigenous fruits like mangoes. Besides the numerous crops one can grow, agribusiness also includes agrichemicals like fertilizers and pesticides, farm machinery, and distribution, trading and retailing of the crops.
Healthcare and wellness. Our advantage here is the large number of well-educated health professionals. People in developed countries are increasingly traveling to countries that offer lower costs of healthcare. This phenomenon called medical tourism is likely to further increase in the future as people are forced to seek affordable medical treatment. In the wellness industry, there are also tremendous opportunities as people become more concerned with their health. Among the businesses here with bright prospects are those in beauty care, fitness and slimming, and spas.
Looking for a good business to start is not an easy task. There are so many possibilities and each business has its advantages and disadvantages. Narrowing down the choices to those industries that have the most potential will go a long way to helping the prospective entrepreneur make a wise choice.

*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. C-6, Sunday, October 6, 2013. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.