Getting stung by a jellyfish was certainly not on my ‘Things to do’ list when I came to the Philippines but I feel energized by the realization that I have changed (Read: improved) myself to the extent where this ceases to be a hurdle. The group visited the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve last Wednesday which was exceedingly beautiful with its pristine beaches. One of the destinations on our island-hopping trip was a floating Nipa hut which exuded an air of serene tranquility. The oft-repeated quote about judging a book by its cover comes to mind as I recall how the razor wire-like tentacles wrapped around my right foot. Although I certainly wouldn’t recommend this method to anyone else, getting stung actually removed the fear of jellyfish that had prevented me from swimming freely in the sea. My only regret now is that my scars will probably heal before I can reach Hong Kong and regale people with tales from my battle with Cthulhu.
Joyee and I have been working on a comprehensive three-pronged plan for the future growth of Z-Network. Targeting individuals is a more expensive and potentially less fruitful objective as opposed to marketing to organizations so our first goal is to work on improving the business’ marketing materials and to then pilot promotion strategies that Mr. Gamarcha can replicate in the future. Joyee’s host mom, who is a former Barangay Captain, was kind enough to introduce us to the President of the Association of Barangay Secretaries in San Lorenzo (quite a mouthful). After toiling away in our visits to different Barangay offices, this was quite a major lifeline as the President’s position would allow her to reach all the Barangay in the municipality of San Lorenzo. The overarching lesson that I have learned from our interactions has been the importance of building and maintaining relationships. I mentioned in my last post that our foreignness was aiding us in our work but that hasn’t proved entirely true. Once the initial novelty factor wore off, our success in getting a positive response depended very strongly on the fundamentals of our product and on how Z-Network can offer its clients a better proposition than its competitors.
Our second goal integrates the necessity of relationship building by creating a customer database for the business. The clients will be categorized according to type, size and location. Apart from strengthening existing connections, this will aid Mr. Gamarcha in targeting those who possess similar characteristics but have till now evaded the (Z-)Net(work). Although a systematic approach like this may not always be congruent with the image of the enterprising businessman, we believe that our database can help reap new clients at almost zero cost.
My time in Guimaras has helped me internalize the idea that an entrepreneur absolutely has to take the initiative. While going out and striving doesn’t always yield results, the sense of achievement when one’s privations produce a new deal or sale is sufficient reward for the venturer. HKU is a relatively gentle environment but success in the real world requires spirit and the ability to fight every day. I understand now that I shouldn’t settle for the first job or internship that I get. In the future, I want to do something which excites and pushes me forward every morning. Securing employment is not a goal any more as I look for work that gives me pride and satisfaction.
Z-Network is considering an investment in equipment which can help it enter the T-shirt and souvenir printing business. Our third goal is to evaluate the practicality of such a step as we consider the related challenges and opportunities. Guimaras has a growing young population that increasingly interacts with the outside world through a variety of mediums. With expected growth in the local tourism industry, this venture could pay dividends for Z-Network.
We visited Mambukal Resort in Negros a couple of days ago. It would be an understatement to say that the course instructor has spared no effort in making this course an enjoyable and simultaneously very rewarding experience for us. Leaping into the waterfall from the approximately 15 foot high ledge was a little daunting at first but, as my experience in Guimaras has taught me, the first step is always the hardest. He who dares, wins.