Monday, March 3, 2003

Location key not only for business, but also for community, client base

NOTE. This article was first published in The Manila Times - Business Section.

“Innovate daily, but obsess over the details of implementation unceasingly,” says Mark Vadon, founder and CEO of Blue Nile Inc. and a Fast 50 winner. “Building a successful business requires trusting your ability to execute an idea. We had faith in ourselves and believed we understood how to sa-tisfy our customers and maximize the business opportunity.”

Fast Company introduces the winners of their Fast 50 companies thus: “The Fast 50 is Fast Company magazine’s annual readers’ challenge, a worldwide search for ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Our goal is to remind the world of all the good that’s created when passionate people with big ideas and strong convictions are determined to make a difference. Powerful ideas and personal commitment are what propel industries, companies, and individuals into the future. The winners ­demonstrate the power of persistence, the thrill of invention, the value of values, the rewards of sol-ving problems, and the business of culture. It’s been a brutal few years for business. These champions of ­innovation show what it takes to build a brighter future.”

These winners are all manufacturers, producers, ideators, innovators, makers, creators, trail blazers. None of them is a copycat even as they are in an overly saturated industry such as the call center business. They succeeded because they did something right in a different way.

Gil Alinsangan writes in Sambuhay, “The Lord is doing something new. God is a God of surprises, of new beginnings.” Scientists confirm that there are no two snowflakes alike. There are millions of species of plants, animals and minerals. Aren’t you amazed that even the makahiya makes cute little flowers?

Your Journey on Entrepreneurship is replete with a daily dose of serendipitous challenges, problems, questions and opportunities. One important attitude of an entrepreneur is having an open mind and sharp senses for something new always. You have the power to ideate and create. You are made in the image and likeness of God.

As you start a business or revisit your existing business, you need to consider your choice of location in a big way. Location can have an advantageous or disastrous effect on your business. Finding the best location calls for purposive planning, serious research and thoughtful decision-making. Particularly for a retail store which is a favorite initial venture of Filipino business babes, location should be given utmost consideration.

Last Monday, we discussed the specific needs of your business, e.g. space, kind of products, etc., and the customer base of your prospective area as critical factors in choosing a location.

Today, let us continue to talk about your client base and give it serious thought to help decide where to locate your business.

Given your products and services, where are your target customers located? What is the type of your business? If you were in the business of school supplies, you wouldn’t want to locate in a residential area even if it is heavily populated by students. Sales would still be brisk in a school zone. In like manner, if you are into household supplies like canned goods and cleaning implements, you would have a better chance at success in a residential area rather than in a school district. The business area is also a good location nowadays with many moms and dads dashing to a store to buy urgently needed supplies during their lunch breaks.

Go around or get a map and mark them. It is pretty much like Messrs. Bush, Powell and Rumsfeld marking their war table with dot pins to track the location of the elusive Mr. Hussein before planning for their next move. I heard Saddam has so many doubles that look very much like him, moustache and warts, making it hard to identify the real one. In business and in war, it is best to know where your real targets are actually concentrated.

Next is to determine the traffic count. How many persons or cars pass by your intended location? Do you need to locate in a heavily populated area or will your customers find you wherever you may be or do you have the proper distribution system and channel to reach out to your customers? MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) or your local government traffic engineering office would, cross your fingers, would have data on the traffic passing your potential site. Consult them.

If you want to locate in an out-of-the-ordinary area, consider accessibility. How will your customers reach you? Is there public transport to and from your place? Are the roads passable for private transport? Is the area—leading to and around —your intended spot safe for people and properties?

Speaking of safety, in many places in Metro Manila, particularly in communities like Sta. Mesa, Manila, there are practically no parking spaces available for customers. Sidewalks are allocated, without an iota of consideration and respect for the rights of pedestrians, as private business parking lots. Along Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard, near V. Mapa, pedestrians wait for their ride standing on the street. The five-meter wide sidewalks, including the bus/jeepney waiting shed is being used and abused by delivery trucks and other vehicles of establishments in the area, particularly LPG dealer Valram Marketing. The vehicles of their customers and their trucks are oftentimes double parked on the sidewalk and on the street. So pedestrians are forced to walk on the second lane of R. Magsaysay while the MMDA traffic enforcer stands nearby, uncaring. They even use the waiting shed to repair and repaint their old LPG tanks and as garage for their employees motorcycles— with not a bit of regard for the safety of their customers, and the residents of the area!

Establishments like them are profit-oriented and self-centered, not entrepreneurial. They do not offer value to customers. They pose a threat and problem to society. They could be another Rhode Island disaster waiting to happen. Unfortunately when that happens, the owners might be someplace else enjoying their profits.

Entrepreneurs are mindful of their customers and the community that hosts them. You don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you. Your location is a critical consideration not only for your business but also for the people who live there. As I often see in bathrooms, “Please leave this place cleaner than when you first saw it.” Social responsibility baga.

Ms. Moje Ramos-Aquino is president of Paradigms and Paradoxes Corp. and invites you to e-mail your feedback to

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