Now, let us study the SWOT, I prepared. It is all about Internet café since our topic is about it. This is for those who are planning to start their own Internet Café but is also useful for those already have their own.
Strength is greatly dependent on what you and your group can do to the company. How knowledgeable are you? How clear are your visions for the company?
To obtain strength in Internet Café business you must have a:
- Knowledgeable and friendly staff, or as an owner you must have these qualities especially if you are doing some part of the operation. Why? Not all of your customers are geek some are novice. In my experience there are still a lot of customers who does not know how to type even to open a document. This is one of your greatest strength; it will give your customers the reason to keep coming back.
- State-of-the art equipment. As what I have observed, the customers are becoming more sophisticated. They are not the same as 10 years ago. Before, you can feel their excitement every time they strike the keyboard on old PC's. They are more willing to wait your dial up modem internet connection and pay P60 per hour. But gone are those days. Today you need to have a good processor, RAM, high speed internet connection and LCD monitors. Plus. your per hour rental must be low in price.
- Upscale ambiance. Having friendly staff and high-tech equipments is great but its value will easily be overseen if you don’t have a friendly environment. Clean, Cool and Comfortable. These 3 C’s are important especially for those professionals who make reports as well as students who do research and assignments. No one can work well on a messy place.
- Clear vision of the market need. If you cannot live without listening or watching news, which you should, to keep you aware of what’s happening in your community especially in times of calamities. In the same manner you should keep your self updated on news about your business and your customer’s needs, so that you will be the first one to offer new services. Being the first is really a big advantage. Yes, your competitor will soon do offer the same service that you pioneered. But being always the first to offer new will mold your business image and eventually become your brand. And brand builds loyalty and trust.
Your only weakness in this business aside from not carefully planning it beforehand is, not developing strength as what I mentioned above.
- Technology changes rapidly. This factor is actually your advantage if you will follow Strength number 4.
- Cost factor linked with keeping state-of-the-art hardware. This is the hardest thing that Internet Café owners hesitate to do. And that is upgrading the hardware because of its costs. Some are asking, “Why should I upgrade my hardware if it is still ok?” Ok, is not ok in Internet café business. To excel and to keep your business name unblemished, you should keep your hardware up to date. To bring balance with new software, games and speed. How about its cost? The cost is not as expensive as 10 years ago. If you start your business and buy brand-new units today it will only cost 10k to 15k ($ 300) with proper maintenance it will last 3-5 years, on that time you already received your (ROI) Return of Investment. ROI can be attained within a year. The best thing you should do on upgrading issue is to set goal when to upgrade your hardware (2 years or three years). This will help you plan and look for buyers.
Since technology evolves endlessly it also create eternal opportunities for Internet café owners.
- Rising population of daily Internet users. With technology’s usefulness its users will continue to grow, that is a fact. Therefore your customers also will keep on multiplying if you keep doing the right thing for your business.
- Social bonds. The Internet is bringing people from across the world together unlike any other communication medium. So, you need to capitalize on this area by providing good communication equipments such as, webcam and headsets. Plus provide a staff to help them, especially those new to this kind of technology or provide an internet tutorial, (of course with compensation) simple how to’s to help your customers at the same time you are earning from it.
This is beyond your control but don’t panic, if you are focusing on your strengths this threats are just water under the bridge.
- Falling cost of Internet access. The cost of access to the Internet for home users is dropping rapidly. As what we can see (ISP) Internet Service Provider offers wide options for home internet consumers from prepaid to postpaid in various speed. But still there are millions who are not keen to add such expenditures to their monthly bills. The reason, this development will not directly affect Internet café’s.
- Emerging local competitors. This is the most dangerous threats, competitors. Concentrating or shall we say building your strength is good as what I have mentioned earlier, in fact it is your first defense. But don’t stop there, go roam around, discover what your competitors are doing. As what the old adage says, “You’ve got 50% chances to beat your enemy if you know your strength and not knowing his, but you’ve got 100% chances to dismantle him if you know yours and his."
After reading this simple SWOT analysis; are you convince that Internet cafe is still a profitable business? If you are a current owner, what are the things that you miss doing before reading this information?