Understanding the Philippines

If your browsing this no doubt you are also using forums to get information on the Philippines. Most posts end with a mix of very positive or very negative for instance “Come to the Philippines your tropical Paradise” can easily find a post on the same forum stating “To have a small business here start with a big one”. So what is it that is making such a broad spectrum?

For a start successful people in business don’t need to talk about it unless they are offering things such as a franchise opportunity. In other words unless its beneficial to themselves. Generally business minded people are looking out for themselves first which is common nature worldwide.

Retirees here are in Paradise for the majority they have met a woman who is 20 years his junior who respects and treats them well better than they would likely be treated anywhere else in the world. Some of the retirees have also spent a lot of time alone or suffered from bad divorces and even younger generation have suffered with the divorces that have pretty much broke them mentally and financially. So coming to a society where you are a status symbol regardless of age has the obvious effects of lifting ones spirit to a state of happiness.

Negative posting generally happens with people with bad experiences and/or have too much time on they’re hands. Often just semi or fully retired so have a lot of time on they’re hands. Easy way to monitor this is to put a post on a forum and check the response rates.. if you’re getting lots and within an hour or two you have pretty much been introduced to this spectrum of user. I wouldn’t say all they’re advice is bad because there is a lot of good information the downside is there is too much negative due to personal experiences rather than fact.eg. how often do you hear someone who crashed a car say its they’re fault? Not very often its always the other driver. That’s exactly what I’m talking about so take a lot of responses with a pinch of salt as they are normally related to specific incidents that happen to people.

So what is the truth? I can give you a mix of experiences and other people’s facts I’m still working on. I try not to bring too much personal thoughts into it as they may become bias. So ill post a few things I’ve discovered.

A friend of mine was involved in training recruits for a call centre in Manila the issue arose rather quickly that if you spent time and money training people the majority of people leave within a year. Leaving you to retrain the next batch. Problem with this is you have to keep a training and recruitment program constantly moving. As well as the fact your competitors just took your best recruits. They paid the people a good salary but because they were now trained they believed in most cases they could get a better job at another call center now they had they’re knowledge and experiences. Truth is the majority of people ended up in lower paid jobs with less opportunity to advance. So how do you kerb this? You make it difficult to start the job in the first place. You make them have to take tests and value the people at they need more training (regardless of experience and knowledge) tell them they have to take more training and tests and that they didn’t make the grade. They wont be paid the high salary until they complete a probationary and training which is several months long. Paying very little salary but paid more in accommodation and food. So why does this work??? Because if you mess people around long enough and they stick with it they are going to stay with you years. Not going to pass judgement on this practice because I understand the method from both sides.

Someone else I know within 6 months of opening a duck farm had managed to get through 80 staff.. biggest problem is theft. I have heard it a lot here the truth is “you can afford it” that’s how a lot of people see things. You are a rich foreigner so stealing from you isn’t important because you can afford to lose it. At first I thought that was crazy but last week I was sat drinking beer with a friend and offered all the peddle cab drivers free beer as its so cheap here. One of the drivers stole the beer money from the table. I got the money back but I will never buy the guys a free drink again. It does annoy me that  some people assume you are just a stupid foreigner. I spent 9 years at college aswell as decades of experience in my chosen fields what makes me stupid? Enough about this as its a sore point.

I have heard many cases of similar instances the truth is you have to be careful with business operations not only because of the restrictions with the Philippine codes of what you can own and operate but because you could easily find the biggest drain on your business being time in training and watching people don’t steal. I know several business owners who operate here and the one thing they all say is whatever else is going on the most important thing is GOOD STAFF. They make or break a business. I’ve had experiences in the UK with using people for business and it gets tiresome having to go over the same thing time and time again. Even worse if you’re trying to start a business that’s going to be your bread and butter and hoping that it will expand and let you help your workers develop within the company also. I’m a strong believer in franchising from employees giving them the opportunity to learn from the bottom up and moving into their own venture-backed and assisted. Time will tell if my model will work here.

So what are the positive sides to business? To be honest its down to labour costs. The red tape can be tiresome and a headache if you want to start a medium to large-scale business but small-scale its easier than the UK as well as less crippling taxes. Downside is obviously there is less money floating around.

Way up the pros can cons of the Philippines it has a lot of opportunity here but also a lot of pitfalls so if you haven’t been in business before you will find it difficult unless your very unique. There is a habit here and you will see it a lot if you open a business if its cheap to start expect them to open up around you and eventually some of you will start to go bankrupt for the simple reason everyone is selling the same goods. Its strange but very true.. look at the fruit vendors if you venture into the markets they are all side by side selling exactly the same goods. So what can succeed? If I’m honest with you your lifeline could be the internet breathing new life into the Philippines. I wont go into internet ventures on this post but there are plenty of them out there.

So why am I here? Because I’m from the UK where my outlay was around P150,000 per month. In the Philippines our family lives on at a minimum outlay P15,000 a 10th of my old budget. It allows us to expand and we are doing slowly but we will get bigger over time. Eventually expanding into real estate, farming and various stores. But I’m not going in throwing money into any venture I haven’t fully assessed. Money can disappear easier than its earned.