New Year Resolution: Be a sponge for all ideas
For business, a new year always comes with the promise of new challenges. The pressure of competition is always there, and is constantly necessitating new directions and ideas to capture new demands and fence off rivals from our territory.One question I think every business gets asked at the beginning of each year is how it expects to sustain growth. I believe that each enterprise has its own key business drivers as the answer.
For us, one of the key drivers for this year is provincial markets. At the stage when the market in a specific location is saturated, it is time to look for other opportunities. This might not sound uncommon for other businesses, but it is quite a challenge for real estate. We are not talking about expanding distribution of existing products to other provinces and then pulling them out and replacing with something else if they are unsuccessful. We are talking about something long-lasting, something that will exist there along with local people and their centuries-old histories and cultures for a long time.
I believe there are basic rules and common thinking when it comes to entering provincial markets. Many of these rules and ways of thinking have proved successful and effective in many instances for many businesses. Some rules will ensure a quick and successful entry while some facilitate long-term strategies.
I insist that my organisation and its people look at this challenge as a long-term one. We are obliged to understand fully the effect - environmentally, psychologically, socially and economically - we have on the whole context of the province, and carefully engage in each aspect as if we are to be permanent residents as well.
This direction allows us to look beyond our business opportunities. It also clearly sets the tone, making sure our people always try harder to see the bigger picture.
One issue I see as very important in understanding the local context is that we must get rid of stereotypical perception of provincial environments, as people who have spent all our lives in the capital of Thailand. Equality is the key word. We must not judge anything based on our own biased perception and block any ideas we find irrelevant.
What we must do is act like a sponge and let surrounding information seep into our thoughts without blocking it. We want to settle in with the context, not overpowering and superimposing it with our stereotypical ideas.
It is about time we adjusted to fit in and be a part of the communities.
By doing this, we will be able to form our strategies and directions in ways that are opposite to the "hit and run" mentality that businesses are sometimes susceptible to when entering uncharted territories.
Also, if we can encourage everyone in the organisation to look at it this way, actual execution will be more effective, because we are talking about unfamiliar markets where local interaction is crucial in attaining critical information that will be used to decide what is the perfectly sustainable model for all parties.
This kind of thinking should be instilled in staff, making them feel part of the local populace and feed the information from the bottom up to top management. By doing this, we could avoid biased data and insights that, in the end, lead to biased decision and unhealthy co-existence.