Our neighborhood of Casco Viejo is one of Panama City’s most dynamic business scenes. Because the district is developing so quickly with regards to infrastructure, there’s been a paralleled flurry of commercial activity over the past few years: specifically in the hospitality, dining, entertainment, and retail industries. In this blog posting, we take a look at what differentiates those Casco Viejo businesses that succeed, versus those which end up withering away.
- Location: It would be safe to say that, at this moment in Casco Viejo development, location is very defining for a business. Unlike a developed neighborhood where any commercial space is ripe for success, there are general rules when it comes to favorable locations in Casco Viejo: low cross street numbers, plazas, and main street (Avenida A, B, and Central) positioning are the three most important factors today. While this is not to say that it’s impossible to succeed as a commercial business located somewhere contrary to these coordinates, it is a fact that businesses abiding by them tend to have longer Casco Viejo shelf lives.
- Overhead: Perhaps the greatest killer of Casco Viejo new businesses is the inability to keep up with rent (which, in many cases, started off quite high). The businesses we see flourishing tend to either a) own their own commercial space or b) have scored a great deal on it: both scenarios keeping overhead low. When a business starts off with a high rent, businesses in Casco Viejo have lowered chances.
- Role of owner: The most successful businesses we see in Casco Viejo are occupied full time by their proprietor. Whether it means schmoozing your restaurant guests or manning the cash register on Sundays at your deli, we believe that there’s a direct correlation between face time of the owner and said business’ success. Which is to say, if an owner is always in the shop, it has better chances to succeed in Casco Viejo than a company whose owner is AWOL.
- Product: It would be naïve of us to overlook the basis of success for any business, which is the quality of the product. We find that new products to the Casco Viejo market tend to do better than “repeat” ones: also that the first business to arrive to an industry tends to capture market share.
As in many emerging markets, lots of businesses open up and close down shop in Casco Viejo. Sometimes the idea isn’t unique enough, sometimes the concept is too early. Sometimes a business’ location is too risky whereas other times, it’s simply a factor of sub-par dedication. It can be idealistic to believe that any business will work in a sure-fire growth neighborhood like this, but in reality, nourishing a successful business takes an inordinate amount of planning and passion. Email us or comment on the form below for some feedback about your Casco Viejo business idea…