Running a Small Business in
Spain - A light hearted view.
Posted by Chris Hughes (co founder
WhatsWhat.biz, internet entrepreneur and Business Analyst)
ago I worked as an IT consultant for Banks and Insurance companies in
the City of London (mostly on the trading floors). It was fascinating
work where I would write programs and design spreadsheets to help
traders make decisions on whether certain multi million companies were viable to invest
in. I also gave
presentations to audiences (for 5 figure sums of money) on the
fundamentals of running a small to medium size business. Looking back
over my clients, between 79 and 2000, I counted over 60. Railtrack, BUPA,
Sun Life, Prudential, Marconi, Elstree Film Studios - the list is long
and a lot of them were repeat business.
Times have changed but one thing
has not changed:- "The belief that you have a great business
idea, you can start a business, be your own boss, and you can earn a
living doing it." Don't get me wrong, there is no
substitute for enthusiasm, but you have to know WhatsWhat about running
a business and where enthusiasm ends
and running a business starts. For example there is a minimum head count
for "Key" staff. If you have a Restaurant, nobody can be good
at cooking food, serving food, advertising and marketing the business
and keeping the books straight. Facebook, Google and Microsoft were not started with just one
Generally business owners are middle aged, and full of aspirations of running a business
in Spain. They arrive in Spain with an idea (and depending on how much
savings they have), most of them are out of business within 5 years. Only
a few really make it.
So here are a few of the
aspirations and suggestions.
Turn a Hobby into a Business:
I have heard many a comment from Restaurant/Bar
owners who started the business "because they liked cooking".
Not a good reason to start a business. For example I like cats, but I am
pretty sure I cannot earn a living from running a Cattery in Spain.
Introduce your business to the
public: So once the business has opened, try to produce business cards with
information on them, not just a name. Without any indication of what the business is about, missing contact details like
phone number for example, is going to be a waste of money. People can't be bothered
trying to work out what it is you sell - so don't try and be cleaver -
people need to be told, in plain and simple English. And when you get
find out where they come from, and where they found you - then do more of it. So many businesses
have no idea whether their new business is coming from, and the "I
get most of my Business from referrals" is a precariously dangerous
Identify your potential or new customers: On one occasion I visited an
Indian Restaurant and was presented with a menu written in English and
Spanish. I asked the waiter if he had many Spanish customers and to my
dismay he said hardly any!!!- My next comment was obvious.... "Then
why have you spent money getting your menu translated into Spanish? -
His reply "Because we are in Spain". You see it had never
occurred to him that the bulk of his customers (95%) were English,
German, French and Dutch, so why not first focus on these Nationalities?
Communicate with your existing
customers: On another occasion when presented
with the bill, I asked where the customer comments feedback ticket was? - Blank
looks again - Hello am I speaking Swahili? On another occasion I asked where
the restaurants customers came from? - More blank looks. You see to get
your very important business message to your customers (e.g. Next week
we do 50% off all meals) you must have a way of letting them know. And
by the way its not cost effective advertising in a publication that is distributed to
outlets over a distance of over 200 Kilometers. Fact: Nobody travels that far
to do shopping or eat out.
Social media is what?: In a
nutshell I have been running two successful businesses before WhatsWhat
and to date lots of friends, lots of likes and lots of followers later,
not a penny has come in from either Facebook or Instagram. Been there done it,
it does not suit all businesses, unfortunately "Friend
requests" very seldom bring in business, as do
"Invitations to Events" and I really am not interested about
Jo Blogs updating his cover photo.
Which brings me nicely to on-line
Directories and WhatsWhat.
In the light of the fact that
business will blindly post their details on any directory they can find
that's free - no frills offered, not on first page of Google Business
search, no chance of being displayed first on the page. You know what
people say about something that's free - nothing in life is free - if it
is, it's not worth having.
As I said in previous articles try
to post your business in sizeable directories (i.e. the ones that are on
the first page of Google) but unfortunately, as the size of the
directory grows the chance of finding your business entry in the
directory diminishes due to the increased numbers of your competitors entries. This is a prime
example of how WhatsWhat works in your favor. It doesn't matter how
many "Plumbers" there are in the directory, if your customers
"Like" you or write a review about you, you will be re - ranked to
the top of the results page.
Try it yourself, choose a directory, any local
directory, choose a profession or business that you need tomorrow. Who do you find first on the first page?
Well that's my point !! If the
directory is any good you will now have many to choose from. The list is
in no particular order and never changes, even if you can find one that is within 3
miles from you - after all that hassle, are you actually interested?
However your confidence increases
tremendously if the first business on the list is one that has the most
number of customers that liked that business or have written a good
If you need help with your
business and need some new ideas, then contact WhatsWhat we will arrange
an appointment with a consultant. Don't wait and hope, get out of
"Titanic Mode" pick up the phone and contact us before its too late - (+34) 641 15 25 34
PS/ Our Business Advice is not free - You know what they say about anything that's free!!