MANILA, Philippines - Most overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are keen on starting a business with their hard-earned money.
"When OFWs go into business, they become absentee owners and that in itself is a recipe for disaster. For many, entrepreneurship is the only way to come back home," ANC On The Money's resident financial adviser Salve Duplito said.
Sam Christopher Lim, vice president for marketing and strategy at Fran Corp., offered five business trends for 2014 which he believes will continue in 2015 and beyond.
5 Business Ideas
1. One-stop shop for everything a farmer needs
A company called Agri offers a one-stop shop for farmers' needs, from feeds, fertilizers and pesticides to technical support.
"They not only sell the products cheaper at the same quality, but they also give the (technical) support. They have food, agri technicians who tell farmers on how to use pesticides, what kind of feeds to use to increase their crops. What's fantastic about this is it is professionalizing the industry that services farmers," Lim said.
This type of business is not only profitable since there's less competition, Lim said, but it also helps the country achieve food security.
2. Travel and tourism
OFWs are in a good position to find tourists for the Philippines.
"If you can find people at home to trust to become tour guides, that synergy can work so well, especially since you are working overseas. You are in a unique position to know what tourists are looking for. You understand global quality standards but you also know what quaint little customs and images make good experiences for tourists," Duplito said.
She noted this type of business requires little capital.
OFWs can either get a franchise or start one that provides cleaning, plumbing, carpentry or other kinds of services.
"One thing that we see, not only in 2015 but in 2016 onwards, is there's going to be a growth in service franchises," Lim said.
For instance, Lim noted that since condominiums are getting smaller, there's no space for live-in helpers.
"So we need a more professional way of hiring maids on a daily basis. The same thing with plumbers. If I need a plumber, I have to look at a Meralco post for a tubero," he added.
4. Real estate
Another business idea for OFWs involves real estate.
However, Duplito said this requires doing due diligence on what properties to buy and sell. It would be good if you can get a broker's license as well.
"You need to be trained on how to sell and know your products well. Again, as an OFW, you are in a sweet spot. You have access to fellow OFWs who want to buy property. As you know, Filipinos tend to buy from people they know and trust... You can also earn from referral commissions instead," she said.
5. Buying an existing business and turning it into a franchise
"A recommendation to OFWs is if they come from the provinces, I'm sure they always have one or two brands that they really love there. I'm sure they can approach the owner and ask them to start franchising, and co-invest with them. The OFWs know the difference between world-class and just puwede na," Lim said.
One advantage is that there is no need to start a business from scratch, since the business is already running and earning money.
Duplito said entrepreneurship builds more overall wealth than investments, when done the right way and in the right business environment.
In addition to earnings, Duplito said you can consider the fact that you employed people and made money flow faster in the economy.
4 common business mistakes
However, she reminded would-be entrepreneurs that businesses need constant attention, and long-distance interactions don't work well.
While these business ideas can be started while the OFW is overseas, Duplito said the OFW may need to come home to continue growing the business.
Lim shared a few business mistakes OFWs should avoid.
1. Don't invest in trends or fads.
2. Don't invest with your eyes closed.
When investing in a franchise, make sure the company will provide support for branding, training and logistics.
3. Prioritizing trends over things you know and enjoy
"I've seen a lot of people who went into a business just because one of their friends said it's profitable. I asked them if they tried the service, they say they're abroad and they haven't tried it," Lim said.
4. Not investing in technology
For absentee owners, it may be wise to get a CCTV camera and check the footage regularly. Get an accounting software that is backed up in the cloud.
Duplito said building a business should be a full-time work. For OFWs, she said they should start one while they're overseas and "use it to propel you to come home."