Friday, August 14, 2009

Situations Facing An I-Café Owner in the Philippines - Part I

By: Gener Morada

My involvement in the internet café business started out in 2006. Looking for a new business to set up since our old family bakery business was already failing; I saw that the internet café business offered new possibilities in earning a living during that time. So with very little knowledge in internet café operations since I was just an average computer user at that time, I set up a small internet café business with two computers.  As time went on it has grown to five but that was it. I really did not have the space to add more computers since I was occupying a small space in the family store and I was always in need of money to sustain my operations. It was thought but at the same time it was a learning experience from me for I have learned a lot of things during these three years that I know I would need in my lifetime.

From this experience I would say that the first problem that internet café owners have is the lack of training programs that would aim to improve the way he manages his business.  The internet café business is such a diverse field and since most of the players in the industry are sole proprietors of the business, the owners are expected to do numerous tasks. An internet café owner is supposed to do the following:
  • Technician – he must have sufficient knowledge in computer hardware and software that would guide him as to the purchase of computer units that he needs in his operations.  One of the common mistakes of an internet café owner is purchasing computer units that is way below the specifications needed to run the software properly.  This is most especially true if he wants to engage in gaming since this requires the purchase of high end computer units.  He must also posses sufficient knowledge in computer maintenance since relying on the services of a computer technician is relatively expensive.
  • Marketing Man – once he has his internet café set up it does not necessarily mean that people would come and start patronizing the business. It is true that he might be able to attract customers when he opens but sustaining their interest is relatively another matter.  This is where most of the internet café business falters since the owner does not possess sufficient marketing skills to sustain his business.  Most of the time his solutions to a weak market is lowering his prices on computer rentals and other services. Thus we end up with an internet café industry that offers as low as Php8.50 ($0.18) computer rental rate per hour and a charge of Php2.00 ($0.05) for photo printing
  • Budget Officer – sustaining an internet café is one of most difficult job.  With computer rental prices going to its lowest levels in years and the low market demand for computer related products due to the global crisis it is really a challenge just to stay open during these trying times.  Fixed cost such as electricity, rent, salaries, and payment for the internet connection has been rising but prices of computer related services have been decreasing these last couple of year.
  • A Loving Parent to the Family – engaging in the internet café business is really time and resource consuming.  When I started out in the internet café business i though that it would be a great business since unlike operating a store wherein we have to put long hours of operations but I was wrong.  Just to earn enough in this business is that I had to devote longer hours than what I have devoted in the store.  There were times that I awaken by knocks of children wanting to play early and had to stayed late at night to cater to customers who wants to chat with their love ones in another time zone.  Most of the time the internet café owners does not have enough time to spend to attend to his family affairs and his world is just locked up in his server.

To be continued . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment

Read This Before Leaving a Comment

1. Use your real or username, not keywords
2. No signature links in your comments
3. No foul language (please)

Comments not adhering to these rules will be deleted