Market Gaps

“In the States,” explained a fellow reader named Tracy traveling with us here in Panama last week, “I have a business called ‘Serve It Right.’ I train service industry staff…help them to get it right, as it were.

“Do you think there’d be an opportunity for me to start a similar kind of business here in Panama?” Tracy asked.

“Would there ever!” came the unanimous response from the bunch of us.

“I can think of two places in the entire country,” I continued, “where service meets international standards–the Hotel Bristol in Panama City and the Hotel Villa Camilla outside Pedasi in Azuero. Both are five-star. Everywhere else, you’re lucky if you enjoy what might be considered three-star standards. Restaurant food served hot, enough towels in hotel bathrooms, friendly, helpful staff at the front desk…in this part of the world, you learn to appreciate these things when you find them, because you don’t find them often.

“That’s how it seems to me,” Tracy continued. “That’s why my husband and I are thinking that, when we move down here, that’s the business we’d like to start.”

Spend a little time traveling around Panama, and the business ideas come fast. Everywhere you look, you notice another gap in the market.

Somebody needs to come down here and help train staff (Tracy and her husband are on this).

The country is in dire need of a reliable messenger service. Getting something from one place to another right now is a big challenge.

Do you have experience building or maintaining swimming pools? Developers and property owners would line up for your counsel.

Know something about designing, building, and outfitting high-end bathrooms or custom kitchens?

In fact, if you have any First World construction experience, your services are required straightaway down here in the Hub of the Americas

There’s an expanding market for antiques but only one good shop in all Panama City.

Lief and Harry think the country needs a Taco Bell.

No, it’s not a simple matter of showing up. You’d need to research and understand the market potential…then you’d need to create a business plan, just as you would anywhere.

There are resources to help, though, and, most important, there’s a hungry, growing marketplace waiting to be tapped.

Panama is an entrepreneur’s playground these days. That’s why we’ve made Business Opportunities a featured topic for our Premier Live & Invest in Panama Conference planned for May 14-16. Expat entrepreneurs will be on hand to share their real-life stories and school of hard knocks words of wisdom.

Kathleen Peddicord