Why do some businesses work out and others don’t, no matter how hard they try to succeed? Learn from the story of a young Chinese-Filipino businessman.
At one point in time, the businessman struggled—his family’s business literally saw itself nearing permanent closure. The food products that used to work before—tikoy, hopia, among others—didn’t just seem to click anymore. Debts exploded to unbelievable heights.
One day, the young businessman went to a grocery store and, out of curiosity, asked an employee about… ice cream! Specifically, he asked what ice cream flavor people frequented. Seems pretty useless, right?
Turns out customers frequented ube-flavored ice cream, and what the businessman did after changed delicacy history. He bought some ube, added it to some hopia, and behold, the birth of ube-flavored hopia.
Yes, dear reader! The story of Gerry Chua and Chinese deli Eng Bee Tin never ceases to amaze! The way they innovated and thought outside the box saved the business.
Innovation. Look no further. Innovation serves as the key ingredient to all successful businesses!
Why is it so important? Josiah Go, Chairman and Chief Innovation Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders Inc., eloquently answered that question in a Zoom webinar entitled “Innovation and Marketing for Business Recovery” on October 10, 2020.
Go poses this very important question for all business owners: “If you close your business today, what will your customers miss that they cannot get from your competitors or elsewhere?”
In other words, what makes your business unique? What makes it special?
As an extension to those questions, what’s something that your business has to “start doing”? And what’s something your business has to “stop doing”?
All of that, according to Go, boils down to innovation; the ability to think outside of the box, the ability to adapt to certain situations, and the ability to be different and unique from others. Innovation makes so much sense—if your business literally does the same thing as others, people won’t be incentivized to buy and invest in it!
“During the pandemic, they (Chooks-to-Go) have [had] over 100 rolling store[s]. They did it so fast. Over 100. Why? Because people were working from home,” says Go. “Before, they were targeting people who would drop by the store on their way home. But nobody was dropping by their store because they’re now working from home.”
In a week, Chooks-to-Go “rolled out 100 rolling stores.” In other words, they maneuvered through the pandemic. They knew that people wouldn’t be going to them, so instead, they decided to go to the people. They innovated, they adapted to the situation, and therefore, they made it.
Another thing: “We all know Chooks-to-Go is about no sauce, and if I were to tell you, ‘Well, let’s open a chicken restaurant there’s no sauce,’ many people would probably have resisted and said: ‘No, no, no, no! Filipinos… they like to eat chicken with sauce!’”
But Go continued: “Well, look at Chooks-to-Go. Chooks-to-Go sells 100,000 chicken[s] everyday… Why? Because if you look at Chooks-to-Go, they say: ‘Nasa loob ang sarap. Everything is already there… It will not harm you if you don’t give the sauce’.” The result: Chooks-to-Go’s profit actually increased by a whopping 63% on the first half of 2020 versus that of 2019.
Don’t be afraid to be different and innovate. It might actually be your difference that will not only save your business but make it thrive.
The example of Chooks-to-Go seems very large scale, and small business owners might be discouraged and see themselves as less.
Truth be told, though: the big and successful businesses had to start from somewhere. Be not discouraged. Don’t be afraid to question the reason why you do the things you do and re-examine your brand purpose. Think outside the box and innovate!
Above all, though, treat your employees charitably. Treat them as co-creators in innovating and not just as followers. Your greatest legacy lies not in how much profit you make but in the lives you change in the process of making a profit.
The author of this article:
An accomplished young Chinese Filipino writer and media personality, Aaron S. Medina is associated with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Ateneo de Manila University Chinese Studies Program, the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies, and CHiNOY TV. He has a passion for truth, justice, and Pokémon, too! Follow him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aaron.joseph.s.medina/