Starting a business does not have an age requirement, there are a lot of successful businessmen and businesswomen who started their ventures when they are still young.
One of these is Bryan Tiu, the owner of Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken. He actually started his business ventures when he was still in college.
His first venture was when he was 18 year’s old. He borrowed money from his father’s retirement fund to buy the franchise of Domino’s Pizza. The business did well during the first few years, he was able to expand to three more outlets. But everything went sour when the economy slowed down in 1998, prompting him to eventually close down the business.
Refusing to give up his dream, he borrowed again. He used the remaining balance of his father’s retirement fund to invest in a Japanese restaurant that he conceptualized and called Teriyaki Boy.
In 2005, he then sold 70% of Teriyaki Boy to Pancake House, Inc. The portion of the proceeds he received from the sale was used to put up a chicken restaurant he named Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken.
Given his track record of 30 outlets of different brands in just a few years, he sure knows what tips to give to those who are just starting.
Here are 5 business lessons that he imparts with us to help us as we start:
1. Respond to market changes
Learn how to adapt to the changes in your market. If you don’t respond to the changes, you just might be left behind.
“After I failed my first venture, I realized that part of me created the failure too because when the business was doing well, I was just relying on the franchise system,”
“Whatever the franchisors want, I just follow them so somehow I developed that comfort zone that made me relax and not to do anything when the business was slowing.”
2. Identify gaps and innovate to satisfy the demand of your market
Gaps in the market are unmet demands that can prove to be beneficial for people who will start to offer services to fill the gaps.
“I had this problem with Domino’s when I was closing it down. I figured out that I can do better by creating my own brand rather than getting a franchise because I can understand the culture and the Filipino taste. Back then, I saw that there was a gap in the market and there was really no casual segment for Japanese food.”
“During that time, the number one seller of all Japanese restaurants was tempura. Since the Philippines is a chicken country and I like to eat chicken a lot, I thought of coming up with a Japanese restaurant that focuses on teriyaki chicken as my flagship product. With the help of a friend, we came up with a catchy Japanese name and logo to reach the young consumer market.”
3. Know when to cash in to leverage other people’s expertise to grow
Sometimes, selling your company does not mean that you are giving up, it can mean that you’ll be joining a more experienced group of entrepreneurs that you can learn from.
“One reason I sold Teriyaki Boy was because the business was already growing to a level I could not handle anymore. I realized that I have some weaknesses as an entrepreneur. I did not know how to bring the company to a corporate level where I need to put in some systems.
“I figured out that if I sold 70 percent majority of the company and simply become a minority shareholder, I could participate in the planning and probably understand how the corporate setting works. After the buyout, I sat in various meetings and learned many things, especially finance, which I thought was boring before.”
4. Know how to develop new products with competitive edge
Sometimes, stepping out of your comfort zone and developing an entirely new product to offer to your market may be the key to your success. Know when to step up and develop one to innovate your success.
“I think I am lucky that I have a strong R&D team who helps me understand the science of how things are being done in the kitchen. I try to understand the formula by working around a particular food concept and see if it works and become acceptable to the Filipino taste.”
“I participate in the research and development process myself. For example, we make sure that there is a stable supply of chicken to control our costs. We try to make our supply chain as flexible as possible so that when we grow bigger, we can benefit from economies of scale.”
5. Do not lose focus when you diversify
Diversification is a way to lessen the risk of losing your business and also to strengthen your product and market reach.
“I think that when you have grown to a certain size and you feel that you already know everything, sometimes your focus is your enemy. Although it is easy for us to create new food concepts because we have one commissary, I try to hold back and just push on two things: chicken and Japanese food.
“There is good and bad in having multiple concepts. We want to focus with some flagship brands so I tried to stop brands that are not growing anymore. The climate has changed in the mall. People suddenly want more global brands so we are constantly realigning and building my team to expand our core businesses.”