FOODIES know that the best cakes can be ordered not from commercial bakeshops, but from little home bakeshops run by young moms, where you need to order a day or two in advance and pick up your order yourself. These are specialty cakes with rich fresh ingredients which can give hotels a run for their money. One such bakeshop is Taza Platito. Owned by Tina Concepcion-Diaz, Taza Platito (which means cup and saucer in Filipino) has been serving up cake orders since 1991 to individuals and corporate clients—caterers and cafes included. After graduating from Ateneo with a degree in communication arts, Tina realized she didn’t see herself entering the broadcasting industry. But one thing she knew was that she liked baking and cooking. And so she enrolled in courses taught by gurus Sylvia Reynoso Gala, Dorothy Ferreira and Heny Sison. After learning the basics, she went on to experiment and made her own product line. She borrowed P5,000 from her dad to buy ingredients and equipment like baking pans and a handheld mixer, used their oven at home, and opened for business out of the family home. From Christmas gift orders from friends and family, Taza Platito’s business grew over the years. “At the start I was doing everything—baking, doing the grocery, delivery, everything,” says Tina. Now she has two people working for her. Tina started supplying pastries and cakes to restaurants in 1993 and from her earnings was able to save up for a bigger oven. Tina got married in 1994 and continued Taza Platito as a home business. “I consider myself a mom foremost than a businesswoman. With my business based at home, I still have time for my son,” she says. In fact, Tina finds time to bring her son to and from school on most days, hold a full-time job as managing editor of Foodie magazine, and still run Taza Platito. She adjusts her schedule when something needs more priority. “You’re not supermom,” says Tina. “The home business is good for moms. It gives as much fulfillment as if you had an outlet as clients call and place orders. But I read about successful businesswomen with outlets. So go with what works for you. Balance your time. Know your priorities,” says Tina. Here are a few more tips from Tina on how mommies can embark on a home-based business and still balance work and family demands: 1. Know what you want and what it is you love to do. Tina says you must look into your hobbies and see if any of these can be turned into something big. “In my case, I like to bake, gather recipes and tinker or change those recipes. It’s a stress buster. If you make your hobby your business, it won’t be a chore to do,” adds Tina. 2. Start small, then work from there. Maybe in the future you can branch out and open an outlet if that seems best for you. 3. Constantly innovate and update. Find what’s new about that hobby of yours. “With wedding cakes, for instance, if you don’t update, you’ll be stuck with old-fashioned designs,” says Tina. In her case, she innovates by using local ingredients such as tablea for her Tsokolate Cake, pastillas de leche for her Pastillas De Leche Cake, and barako coffee for her Caramel Coffee Crunch. Right now she’s working on using healthy local ingredients, such as coconut sugar, for her cakes. 4. Maintain best sellers. Even with new items on the menu, keep the crowd favorites. For Taza Platito, the food for the gods and mango bars are mainstays. 5. Get the word out through your network and through the Internet. What put Taza Platito in the public’s eye was exposure in blog sites such as Dessert Comes First and Shopcrazy. Tina also gives out flyers and is working on launching her Multiply site soon.
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Last week, the World Bank released a study called Doing Business 2009. In it, Singapore took the top spot in the rankings on the ease of doing business, New Zealand was 2nd, and the U.S. was 3rd. Hong Kong was 4th; Japan, 12th; Thailand, 13th; and China 83rd. The Philippines? 140th. The study monitored countries as to the ease with which businesses can do the following: start a business, deal with construction permits, employ workers, register property, get credit, protect investors, pay taxes, trade across borders, enforce contracts, and close a business. I’ve heard many tales from business people of red tape and corruption, which slow down business growth. A woman I know had a hard time getting the occupancy permit for her school due to red tape. Another friend asked around for anyone who could help her friend get a business permit the right way. It turned out her friend was being asked to give P20,000 as grease money. But don’t let these scary stories discourage you from doing business in the Philippines. There are some rotten eggs in the basket, but the good ones outnumber the bad ones. Know the proper way of doing things and stick to it—ditch those fixers!
Do you have a product you want to sell but don’t have the capital to put up a store? An easy way to make a sale (and test the market) is to go online and put up a virtual store. That’s right, make cyberspace your mall and set up shop by putting up your own website with your own customized web address or join the many young entrepreneurs doing business via social networking sites like Multiply and photo sharing sites like Picture Trail. Kaye Catral makes diaper cakes—fancy “cakes” made of diapers, towels and baby essentials that would make good baby shower gifts. She also does towel cakes that are gift items too. At first, Kaye said she was planning to put up a real store, but the overhead alone will make her products expensive. “I decided that putting up an online store site would be a better alternative to a small, starting business like NappyCakes,” says Kaye. Kaye started her Picturetrail site in 2004. About 60 to 70 percent of NappyCakes’ sales come from online orders. The rest come from referrals or from those who contacted Kaye as a result of her TV and print media exposure. Claudine de Jesus-Ruiz is a full-time mom who gave up her banking career when she gave birth to her son, Redd, three years ago. A unique hand-made necklace featured in a local magazine caught her eye two years ago, and she ordered it online from the seller, who had a Multiply account. Happy with the experience, she made 4 to 5 more online purchases before realizing she can do this business herself. The result is Eye Candy Jewelry & Accessories. Ninety percent of Eye Candy’s sales are generated online. The rest are purchases made by family, friends and neighbors. The highs of online selling For Claudine, the main attraction of online selling is the thought of having a business right in her own home without sacrificing her “mommy duties.” She is also thrilled when people buy the stuff she puts up for sale. Claudine gets her jewelry and accessories from a friend who supplies them from abroad, and from her sister-in-law who executes Claudine’s designs. Profit, of course, is a major motivation. “Otherwise, there is no point in putting up a business, even if it’s just a small online one,” says Claudine. For Kaye, being online makes it easier for her to reach out to her market. “Networking sites like Multiply allow you to send automatic updates directly to your contacts.” And since friends of friends can check out your site from your own friends’ pages, you get more exposure. “I get about an average of 100 to 150 hits a day from non-contacts,” says Kaye. “One positive experience that online selling has brought me is the realization that I have an ‘inner entrepreneur’ in me,” says Claudine. Because of the market, Claudine has to constantly think of new items that will catch the attention of her clients. The experience has also allowed her to have a network not only in Metro Manila but also in Visayas and Mindanao. Some of her clients have even become her good friends. The downside of online selling Both Kaye and Claudine say the only downside to online selling is the presence of bogus buyers. They reserve an item, promise to pay, then leave online sellers hanging when payments are followed up. “These bogus buyers completely waste the time and effort of online sellers. When another client asks for that same item they have reserved you cannot sell it,” says Claudine. “That is part of the business,” says Kaye. “You just have to be on guard when dealing with people you don’t get to meet face to face.” To address this problem, Claudine imposed a limited reservation period of 3 to 5 days. “When the previous client fails to buy the item, I give it to the one next in line or to the one who will pay first.” Starting an online business Just like in putting up a brick-and-mortar business, do some market research before putting up an online business. Claudine searched various Multiply online sites to find out what items are in demand, and what kinds of people shop online. “This is important in order to know the kind of products to sell and the pricing too, because it can get competitive,” says Claudine. To differentiate her business from other online sellers with the same products, Claudine identified her banner product, something identifiable with Eye Candy. She found it in colorful hand-made crystals, glass and bead accessories. Then comes the building of the website. Decide on the design, upload photos, and make an easy “how to order” form. Here are more tips from Claudine and Kaye: 1. Invite contacts. If you’re on a social networking site, add friends and family to your contact list and invite them to visit your store. Claudine’s husband, Alfred, does his share of spreading the word out by giving out Claudine’s business cards to friends and acquaintances. 2. Network. Kaye joined e-groups and parenting forums to promote her product and online site. 3. Submit your website address to search engines. Kaye submitted her info to Yahoo and Google so if someone searches the Web for nappy cakes or diaper cakes, her site will come up. 4. Put your address on your products. In this way, “when a recipient gets a product from NappyCakes, they know where to find me,” says Kaye. 5. Blog about your stuff. This is a “must” for online sellers, says Claudine, so people will know what products you have. 6. Join bazaars. It’s not all virtual selling for online sellers. Some clients want to see the goods physically before buying. Claudine joins bazaars during summer and Christmas time and makes sure her booth is attractive. Online selling is a great venture for start-up businesses and for those with full-time jobs who just want to earn something extra on the side.
Putting up and maintaining an office is getting costlier every day. If you have been working out of your home for some time now and are put off by the idea of putting up a brick and mortar office due to cost, a virtual office may be the answer. Virtual offices have been around for quite some time now in major cities in the world like New York, London and Hong Kong. It's great for those who don't need an office full-time but need an office presence. Companies that are downsizing or are just starting up may also benefit from having a virtual office. Just what is a virtual office? Tina Cuerva, marketing consultant of My Office , a Makati-based company offering virtual office services, says: "A virtual office lets the entrepreneur enjoy the benefits of having a traditional serviced office without having to physically occupy office space. This way, an entrepreneur will still have a professional image without having to spend much on capital." Cuerva herself has been working out of her home for several years now. But there came a time when she didn't feel comfortable forwarding her clients' calls to an answering machine or giving out her mobile number. That's when she brought up the idea of putting up a virtual office with her sister, Milette Carlos, to service the needs of entrepreneurs who don't need an office and staff full-time. Carlos became My Office's managing director. According to Carlos and Cuerva, a virtual office may be just what small business owners need these days. "With no end in sight to the weekly increases in oil prices, our subscribers are able to save on gas by telecommuting. They are able to maintain lower overhead costs, maximize their resources and focus on their businesses," they say. Since 2004, MyOffice specializes in office support services such as mail receiving/releasing, phone answering, call transfers, fax to email service, inquiry handling and others. Its facilities, like workstations and meeting room, are made available to clients either on demand or as part of their subscription. "This set up has worked very well as it gives our clients the flexibility in work hours and capability to control their expenses," Carlos and Cuerva say. Nina Martinez, business manager of ProAccess Business Services, Inc., says the company's virtual office service started in 2002 as an offshoot of the services they were providing to the tenants of the Makati building they were in. "Further recognizing the need for small and starting businesses to have the option of a good corporate address without the attendant expensive costs, the ProAccess concept for providing flexible office solutions was born," she shares. Like My Office, ProAccess provides clients a respectable business identity with several flexible subscription options based on individual client specifications at very reasonable costs appropriate to the selected option. It also offers ready-to-use serviced or flexible managed offices, business support services, conference center, and even a concierge service. "There is a basic cost which is inclusive of many services such as lighting, electricity, airconditioning, security, etc. If and when needed, all other services are on a "pay-as-used" basis so the client need only pay for what is required in a timely manner to save any unnecessary fixed costs. Clients receive a single monthly billing and where applicable, includes the detailed usage records such as business services utilized, toll calls made, text message transactions, etc. allowing the client to track and control costs," adds Martinez. The cost of all these? Very flexible, says Cuerva. "The subscription price will depend on the services availed of and our minimum is P1,000 per month. We can come up with a package having a combination of features that best complement one's business." For ProAccess, rates start at P2,000 for a mail access virtual office subscription. Serviced offices go for P15,000 monthly for a shared office space.
AT THE DANGWA Flower Market, some 50-plus vendors sell an array of fresh cut flowers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This market has been there for more than 30 years. Retail buyers and those with floral businesses flock to this market for their floral needs. Jay Domingo and his wife Gina run a branch of Pat’s Flowers & Supplies in Dangwa. The main outlet located in Quiapo was put up by Gina’s grandmother in the early ‘70s. It still exists today. As the name suggests, Pat’s Flowers & Supplies does more than just provide flowers: They also make available to flower shops the supplies they need, from pots, ribbons, and other tools of the trade. But five years ago, they started doing retail floral arrangements for consumers. They called this business Flora Grande. Business is brisk on Valentine’s and All Saint’s Day, when sales would be ten times higher than a normal day’s sales. Flora Grande also gets a lot of requests for sympathy floral arrangements, wedding arrangements, and arrangements to decorate stages during school affairs. Jay said they would like to expand the business by putting up a website offering gifts and flowers so OFWs abroad can send these to their relatives in the Philippines. They can even do exports. There is a lot of competition now for Pat’s Flowers & Supplies in Dangwa, and profit margins have become leaner. Jay and Gina are thus faced with a dilemma: Should they still continue Pat’s Flowers & Supplies in Dangwa? Or should they just close it and focus on Flora Grande? The thing holding them back is sentimentality. Gina was raised by her grandmother Pat, and so is reluctant to let go of the business. The couple is also reluctant to take that step as they will not be able to absorb the 12 people employed -- all old-timers -- by Pat’s Flowers & Supplies. Mentor Willy Arcilla sums this up as the couple’s “fear factor -- fear of the future.” How can Jay and Gina address this dilemma? Willy suggests the following: 1. Define your mission and vision. Ask yourself: What do you want to be? A business with P50 million as long as grandma is happy, or a business with P100 million even without grandma’s business? 2. Make a business plan. Putting it on paper will force you to think. “A business plan is not just for multinationals,” says Willy. Study the cost benefit of keeping or letting go of one business. 3. Find out how you can differentiate yourself from other vendors in Dangwa. Jay and Gina said the flowers they use for Flora Grande’s arrangements are different from others’. That can already be the company’s competitive edge. 4. Segment the market. Decide whether you want to focus on institutional customers or retail customers, and whether you want to focus on sympathy, romance, or wedding arrangements. Decide which market you want. “You cannot be everything to everybody,” says Willy. 5. Know your consumer. Once you have identified your target market, find out what he/she likes: his/her favorite color and favorite flowers, then prepare arrangements to suit his/her likes. 6. When putting up the website, beat the top competitor. Show the flowers and the benefit one can get from them. “Find the human emotion -- it is the highest form of consumer need.” Think of Kodak offering not just photos, but memories. What would happen if Jay and Gina follow Willy’s recommendations? Abangan! :) Editor's note: Photo courtesy of Jay Domingo
UPDATE: Editor's note: Added video taken by INQUIRER.net business editor Ma. Salve Duplito. FRANCO MESINA is in an enviable position. At twenty-something, his problem is how to keep up with the success of Icylicious, his snow cone business, and how to sustain the seasonal business of FranzAvian Trading Co. Ltd., which supplies equipment to water refilling stations. Franco has been running his businesses with his girlfriend Abby Sarmiento, and they sat down with mentor Willy Arcilla for advice last March for their first mentoring session. Because they had space in front of Fountain Cool, the water refilling station in Binondo he put up with his dad, Franco thought of selling something there. Lots of young people pass by on their way to school. And so Franco and Abby started Icylicious just three months ago. They registered the business with DTI and SEC. They got an electric ice crusher and sourced ready-to-use syrups for the snow cones. To distinguish themselves from other snow cone vendors, Franco and Abby made sure the syrups are delicious and do not leave discoloration in the teeth and mouth. They would sell as much as 1,000 cups of 6-oz. styro cups a day for P15 a cup, so the profits are coming in swiftly. Franco foresees the return on investment to happen in five to six months’ time. Now people have been making inquiries about franchising. One person who inquired said that one obstacle facing them is their company background. "They’re asking, ‘Who are you? What’s your background?’" shares Franco. Is this a good time to franchise? It seems a good time. Willy says, "Milk the market before competitors come in." But Willy is also cautioning the two that there’s a possibility of Icylicious becoming an instant hit like Zagu. The market then became quickly saturated due to the low cost of entry. Here’s Willy’s advice: 1. Think of how to differentiate Icylicious from competitors. Look for the unique selling point. 2. Protect the patent. 3. Touch base with franchising organizations. 4. Don’t be sentimental. If the business loses its luster later on due to mushrooming of competitors, bug out. FranzAvian’s water refilling equipment/assembly business has more favorable long-term prospects. Today they can put up two to three water refilling stations per month. But Franco says if they can streamline procedures, they can even do one water refilling station per week. They can do different setups, from residential to commercial. The company’s competitive edge is in using bigger filters for tanks, and not artificial filters and cartridges that have to be replaced monthly. The problem is that this business is seasonal, and there are many water stations already in Binondo -- few new ones are being put up. Franco sees the need to market their services more effectively to get more customers. Because PET bottles are environmentally damaging, Willy blew Franco’s and Abby’s minds when he said, "Why not filter straight from the source? Imagine the campaign: Dump the Plastic Bottle, Save the Planet." Franco remarked that some have already tried but all failed. Willy responded by quoting Benjamin Franklin: "I have not failed. I have found just 10,000 ways not to do it." And so here’s FranzAvian’s homework: 1. Research and get data about the possibility of filtering water sources. Other countries have clean potable drinking water coming out of their faucets so this is attainable. 2. Don’t commit the same mistakes made by home filtration systems. 3. Test water filtered by FranzAvian and document this. Talk to an engineer, a water expert, and a quality testing company. 4. Be clear about your mission. Don’t be opportunistic. These all sound exciting. Let’s see how FranzAvian and Icylious fare in the coming months.
NEAR THE FAR end of Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City, a new restaurant has been quietly luring diners these past seven months with its authentic Asian cuisine. This is Nasi Lemak, a small cozy restaurant just across the big McDonaldâs outlet with French fries on its roof. Thereâs a queue at lunch and dinner on weekends, and during weekdays at peak hours, the restaurant gets almost full too. And itâs all due to word of mouth, as satisfied customers rave about the tasty dishes, mostly Singaporean, at reasonable prices. Restaurant consultant H.K. Tan, a Singaporean, says they are very particular about the quality of the food they serve, to the point of being paranoid. âWe import ingredients to be assured of consistent quality,â he says. They also donât scrimp on the ingredients to be used in the dishes so as to give customers the real deal. But itâs a true blue Filipina, Cora Lelina, who owns the business with her family. Cora worked in Singapore for 20 years as personal assistant to a paper industry executive. In the course of her work, she would travel to many countries with her boss, exposing her to a lot of cuisine. Since she was based in Singapore, Cora developed a taste for Asian food, and can cook it well. In the end, when her boss passed away last year, Cora decided to come back home to the Philippines. âI have been abroad for half of my life. I went back here to try life here,â she says. And since she has long planned to have a business, Cora invested in the food business in the Philippines upon the advice of her longtime friend, H.K. Tan. Tan has been coming to the Philippines for business for the past 10 to 15 years. He noted that there are many Spanish and Italian restaurants here already. As for Chinese restaurants, most of them use vetsin which isnât really healthy. This is why he advised Cora to go for Singaporean food, and offer other Asian dishes as well, without MSG of course. Popular items on the menu includes Kueh Pai Ti, a sort of fried lumpia with lettuce, turnip, carrots, and prawn on top to be popped in whole in the mouth. Thereâs Hainanese Chicken, a favorite in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong; the lightly spicy Malaysian Sambal Fish, which is crispy outside and tender inside; Japanese Tofu SautÃ©ed with Prawns; Singapore Laksa, a noodle dish with spicy coconut gravy which you can have with either prawns or chicken; and Stir-Fried Kang Kong with Blachan, among others. Of course, thereâs Nasi Lemak, a dish like our binalot, which is rice cooked with pandan and coconut cream. The Onde Onde dessert is like our pichi pichi but with a filling consisting of palm tree nectar. âWe didnât expect this kind of success,â Tan says. Itâs Coraâs first business venture. But theyâre handling it well, putting a premium on customer service. Tan takes the time to train the chefs and educate customers on the dishes and how best to eat them. They also offer delivery service. And thereâs free wifi too. This early, theyâre already looking at opening branches in other locations. (All photos courtesy of Nasi Lemak)
âFAMILIARITY breeds contempt,â so goes the well-known proverb. To some married couples, this holds true so they make sure they're out of each other's hair during the day -- the husband off to work, and the wife off to her own job or home duties. But then there are those couples who somehow make their relationship work even in the workplace. Take marketing guru and popular author Josiah Go, chairman and chief marketing strategist of Mansmith and Fielders Inc., and his wife Chiqui Escareal-Go, president and chief sales strategist of the same organization. At Thursday's Women to Women Mentoring Conference organized by the Women's Business Council at the Philippine Trade Training Center, the couple revealed that not only do they have a good marriage; they have a good working relationship as well. How do they do it? The Gos tell us their secrets: 1. Shared responsibility. From the start, it was clear to both of them what they had to do. "I provide. She takes care of the kids and home. I let her; she lets me," said Josiah. For the first 10 years of their married life, Chiqui stayed home to care for their twins. Josiah, on the other hand, worked hard and really worked hard, sometimes up to 12 to 18 hours a day. "I was so into my kids; he was so into his work. We knew our roles in the relationship from the start. We were partners," said Chiqui. 2. Shared power. When the kids were 10 years old and could be left with a nanny, Chiqui joined Josiah's company. Working for Josiah, Chiqui says she got to understand Josiah better, which made their relationship even better. "I learned to work with, not for Josiah," says Chiqui. Josiah, on the other hand, didn't lord it over Chiqui, adjusting by talking to her differently at work than he would with his staff. After all, she is his wife. 3. Common vision. The couple revealed they do have arguments. After all, they're both stubborn, hard-headed, type A people. But these arguments are tempered with logic and love. "We are willing to talk and apologize," they said. That's because they had a common vision. 4. Common joys. "We share joys -- about the work we love and the people we love," the Gos said. "And because we have love in everything we do, God takes care of the rest." Is harmony possible at home and in the workplace? Obviously, yes. But should there be conflict, Josiah's advice goes: "Between business and relationship, save the relationship." Now that's a man who knows his priorities.
(This post marks the first entry of Karen Galarpe, the new blogger for Open For Business. Karen is the editor of SME Insight, the Inquirer group's magazine for entrepreneurs, and has been a journalist for almost two decades now. She has written extensively on entrepreneurship in many different magazines and books like The Ultimate Guide To Starting Your Own Business and has been a consulting editor of Entrepreneur. Karen is bringing in her extensive experience on writing about entrepreneurship and is a great addition to the INQUIRER.net team. Welcome, Karen! -- Ma. Salve Duplito) SOME years ago, in an interview with Good Housekeeping magazine, Sharon Cuneta advised the GH reader what to do if she had P50,000: Put half of it in a high-yielding account in the bank, place about 10 to 15 percent in a savings or checking account for emergency, then start a small-scale business selling cakes (if the reader loves to bake) with a startup capital of P5,000. Many entrepreneurs started out this way, putting up a business they love with a small capital. And they have found out that the rewards are good -- money will flow in most cases, and theyâ€™ll get to do what they love to do. Take my high school batchmate Analyn, for instance. She's good at cooking and so she started selling chicken pastel and baked macaroni from her home on a small capital. Soon she got a small space in Greenhills Theater Mall and the Peach Box business was born. Analyn tells me that among her regular customers are showbiz people, with whom she's now on first name basis. Her business, which she runs with her sister-in-law, Joan, is growing, and now she has other products as well, like kesong puti made from pure carabao milk from the family business, Arce Dairy. My other friend Jun is so high-tech (and Iâ€™m so low-tech) that I had to ask him more than once to explain to me what business he got into with his friends. It turns out that they do IT stuff such as making billing software, among other business solutions they provide through their company, Seer Technologies Inc. And time and again he has told me how happy he is to be doing what he loves and doing it for himself -- no more employment in other companies for this fellow. So why be an entrepreneur? It's to do what you love to do. And I found out, through years of covering interesting people in my work as a journalist, that such passion is the one that will spell success in business. Indeed, when you do what you love to do, you excel in it, and in the process, you help enrich other people's lives. The money will just follow. In this blog, Open for Business, we'll be featuring passionate business people and find out how they run their businesses. Weâ€™ll follow the travails of the winners in our mentoring contest and see what will happen when they implement mentor Willy Arcilla's tips. We'll talk about entrepreneurs' concerns and what must be done to address them. We'll talk business -- plain and simple. Thanks to Salve for giving me the opportunity to blog here. She has done a wonderful job -- I'm sure you'll agree. Now let's take Open for Business to the next level. Jump in on the discussions!
Great article today from SME Insight. Read the excerpt:
There’s a new food craze in town, and if you haven’t heard of it yet, you’re either out of touch or you’re getting too old. That’s because since 2006, many young kids, from grade school to college, have been saving up their baon for bowls of cereal they can buy in school. And a lot of yuppies troop to the nearest outlet for their cereal fix too. So what’s with the bowl of cereal, you ask. At Cerealicious, a cereal bowl is not just a cereal bowl. True, cereals are drowned in milk here, but the toppings go from fruits to chocolates to puddings to coffee jelly and more. In fact, Cerealicious offers 40 cereals and 40 toppings and you can mix them any way you want to or go for any of the 20 certified “blockbuster” mixes cheerily named after blockbuster movies. Thus, you can munch on Charlie and the Chocnut Factory today, order Nutting Hill tomorrow, and snack on Oreo Afraid of the Dark the day after. Nothing like it has been offered yet in the country, although cereal bars and cereal cafes have been mushrooming in the US lately. This is the reason why a group of young people—friends, classmates and officemates all aged 24 then—banded together in 2005 to offer that concept here.Read more here. Key learnings from Cerealicious: 1. Offer something new and unique 2. Educate the market 3. If at first you don’t succeed… 4. Consider franchising after more than a year of successful operation 5. Don’t poo-pooh the creation of an operations manual 6. Think carefully how to improve the backend system 7. Stay on top of marketing gimmicks Hope these give you a little bit of encouragement! Good luck on your businesses. (Photos by Shaira Luna, courtesy of SME Insight.)