Wow. I cannot believe it has been 13 years already!! In 2004 we opened Redline with only one desk and one computer in a small shared office in Puerto Banus. We were just two girls with ambition, energy, and many years of marketing experience, but almost no money to invest. We could only invest our time and dedication - to begin with. Today Redline is one of the leading marketing agencies on the Costa del Sol offering our services to a variety of companies both locally and internationally, with our own international team of experienced marketers.
The Costa del Sol is very different than other markets and we have worked very hard to get where we are right now. We would love to share these 13 golden rules with you on how to be successful on the Costa del Sol.
1. Know your market and your target group
As we mentioned before, business on the Costa del Sol is different to other areas around the world and you need to know if there are enough people in your target group to make your business profitable. You need to figure out who your ideal customer is and if that group of people is big enough to make your business profitable – all year round preferably. Once you know your potential clientele, you can focus on their demands and needs. On the Costa del Sol there are a lot of different nationalities and you need to keep in mind that there will be cultural differences, language barriers etc.
27% of the expat population is retired, so this is a big sector with time and money on their hands! The average age of this population is 52 years old.
2. Know what you are talking about
A lot of people come to the Costa del Sol and think it would be a great business to open a bar, for example, but they have never run a bar before. They soon realize it is a lot of work and that they are in over their heads and so they quickly close. If you don´t have the knowledge and experience in a field of business, then you could ask for help from professionals who are experienced in your industry to see what they can do for your business. If you don´t know what you are talking about, then it is difficult to survive here – or anywhere. Knowledge is key.
3. Know your weaknesses and strengths
Make a list of your weaknesses and strengths and then you can understand what you can improve and what you can maintain. If you cannot speak Spanish for example, then this is your weakness if you are going for the Spanish market. To overcome this barrier, you can try to learn the language or hire people that speak fluently. If you have a clear view of your weaknesses and strengths, then you know what you are good at and the things that could be improved need a bit more attention. This is vital to your survival and to your success of your business.
4. Get the Spanish market
The first step of being successful in business on the Costa del Sol is first of all to understand that you are in Spain. On the Costa del Sol approximately 87% of the registered population is Spanish and it is true that many expats aren´t registered, but this percentage gives an idea of the size of the Spanish market. Furthermore the current population of Spain is 46 million people, so it is definitely worth tapping into this market. You should do research if your product could be of interest to the Spanish market and If you don´t speak Spanish, then we strongly suggest you learn! If you learn the language, then this will help you with all of the aspects of your business and you will not lose out on valuable information.
Did you know that companies on the Costa del Sol can get a fine if they only have information available in English. For example, if you have a restaurant and you only have the menu in English, then you risk getting a fine that can be around a thousand euros. So, it is vital that you understand that you are in Spain and prepare properly.
5. Remember the temporadas (“seasons” in English)
It is important to remember the temporadas (seasons), because they are not like home. You have to make sure that your business can handle these different seasons. The months June, July and August are the busiest periods on the Costa del Sol; around 10.5 million people visit each year and 37% of the total number of tourists stay here during these three months. If your target market is the expats for example, then it´s smart to create a business model that ensures that you earn enough money during the peak season to make it through the whole year. It is also possible to focus on the Spanish market of course, because they will be here the entire year and not only for a particular season. So you need to make sure that your business model suits your target market and that you keep in mind the different seasons and the peaks of the year.
6.Attract international clients if possible
If your business model can attract international clients, this can be a mayor plus if you are based on the Costa del Sol. Maybe you could set up a web shop allowing you to expand your target market internationally or you could offer a service here that would be attractive for the many multi-cultural business people that lives here. If you succeed in both attracting the Spanish market and the international market you will rise above the seasons of the Costa del Sol and ensure both your survival but more importantly your success.
Networking is vital on the Costa del Sol, especially with the fairly small expat business community. It really helps to know somebody that knows someone – more so in Spain than in other European countries. Here the business model is more personal. Maybe the person you just met knows some people that are in your target group and then you have an opportunity to offer your services.
80% of professionals consider professional networking to be important to career success.
8. Be honest and transparent in your business model
You might have heard that The Costa del Sol is also known as “Costa del Crime”. Over the years a lot of not so legal business has taken place here and it has not helped the reputation of the coast. This makes it even more important for you to be honest and transparent in your business model.
9. Create a long-term philosophy
After reading the previous tips, you will understand that these golden rules really apply to people who want to set up a business here for the long term. Convince people that you are here to stay and that you will do everything to make that possible. If you are going to plant a tree, you don´t expect it to grow in just a few days, do you? No, so it is the same as setting up a business; you need to keep up the hard work and be patient, watering your tree, feeding it, allowing it to grow roots and become strong.
10. Be consistent
I have never seen so many businesses disappear as here on the Costa del Sol. For some reason people arrive to the coast, think, “ah wouldn´t it be lovely to open a business here”, without realising the amount of work that goes into any successful long-term business. It takes time, dedication and a lot of effort to create something worthwhile. Once you have set up your business, decided on a name, a logo, a brand strategy – you need to be consistent in everything you do. If you change any of the key elements, people might think you have disappeared, like so many other companies before you. In this market, more than anywhere else in the world, this is vital to your success.
11. Be professional- that is what the coast is missing
We have said it in a couple of ways already but we cannot stress this enough… It is really important to be professional if you want to start a business here on the Costa del Sol. You need to make sure you have the knowledge and experience of the industry you are operating in.
Do your research and make sure that you set up your business as a professional. People can easily see through you, sooner or later, if you don’t know what you are talking about. We see it here time and time again. Many people arrive in Marbella and think it is a wonderful idea to create a real estate company, but they have no prior knowledge of real estate, the different areas of the coast, the legal issues etc and time and time again, these companies close because their clients can see through this.
12. Be realistic about your expectations
Please keep in mind that your business will not be successful immediately and you need to give it time. What is your budget and what are your objectives? Once you have decided, you can work out how long it will take to realise those objectives. Be realistic in setting your objectives within a proper timeframe. Rome was also not built in one day. If you want to create something great, try to be realistic, allow it to grow, give it time and enjoy the ride.
13. Be grateful
Let’s face it: The Costa del Sol is the perfect place to live. The lifestyle we have here is unique. We have 320 days of sunshine a year, beautiful beaches, very good prices on wine and food and you can go skiing at resorts just two hours in the winter or you can just enjoy the general outdoor lifestyle that makes anyone smile. Our advice is to first and foremost be grateful that you are here, enjoy it and try to make your business successful here. We know the business environment is not as high pitched as in the UK or northern Europe and that there are a lot of different markets, but if you are grateful, the chances of success are greater. By sending out positive grateful vibes, many more things to be grateful for are presented to you – that is just how it all works.
Good luck with your business.