Business Ideas for Morocco and Europe – Episode #29


Alright welcome to the Business in
Morocco podcast this is episode 29 we’re gonna be talking about economic trends
in Europe and here in Morocco but first let’s do a little update Ryan how have you
been? Been doing well it was a hot week last week I think it was the hottest of
the year so far got up to around 30 in casablanca not too hot our Marrakech
listeners are thinking oh if only right it’s all relative yeah when we were
driving back from Agadir through the mountains I think it got up to 42 so
thank goodness the car made it through we had the air conditioning
going the whole time and other than that my family’s been sick this week so
they’ve been under the weather a summer cold that’s a little annoying my son
was sick on his birthday Saturday but he still has as much energy as ever
he just doesn’t sleep well which is the worst part is for my wife so she’s got
to be up during the day and not sleeping during the night but I continue to
work and I feel like I’m in a boxing match it’s life versus me and who’s winning
well it’s a draw right now we keep knocking each other down and then we
both keep getting back up so I think this is true for everyone
there’ll be times when it feels like you’re losing the match and there’ll be
times when it feels like you’re winning you’re landing some good punches you’re
making progress you think you’re winning another challenge comes along but you
just got to keep fighting you got to keep moving forward and not giving up I
keep bringing this up looking for an office it has now become my least
favorites issue in Morocco since I’ve moved here it was more enjoyable
applying for the carte de sejour, which if anyone has ever done that they know
exactly what I’m talking about it can be a painful process
very frustrating I keep finding places and making offers and negotiating and it
just doesn’t work out sometimes I’m too late to make an offer
sometimes the owner doesn’t understand zoning laws so they offer a business
rental but really the zoning only allows for residential leases and renting and
I’ve probably wasted six weeks waiting for owners to figure that out before
they tell me oh the Cindiq — the homeowners association does not agree to
a commercial lease and so that’s sort of frustrating I have found
another place which the story I want to tell our listeners is this place was not
for rent online there were no publications of any kind
there was no agent representing this place there was just a sign hanging out
the window and I happened to be walking in the neighborhoods well let me say
that again I didn’t happen to be walking I intentionally went out walking
looking for places and talking to Guardians about whether or not there
were empty offices in certain buildings because I knew that if I could find
places like that I would be more likely to get a deal because there wouldn’t
be a lot of people calling and asking about these places because they weren’t
available online right so you have no competition exactly there wouldn’t be a
lot of demand for the office so I figured if I could find a place like
that I might be the only one applying and I could be the only one who’s shown
any interest in several weeks or months right and I did find a place like that
and the owner does not live in Morocco lives overseas and we’ve been going back
and forth for several weeks communicating texting negotiating and
it’s been an interesting process because the way that he marketed his office or
didn’t really or didn’t showed a lack of enthusiasm a lack of motivation a lack
of sophistication in marketing his empty office but when it comes to
negotiating the rent and the contract he’s being very very diligent and he has high
standards for who he wants to rent his place so to me there’s sort of a
mismatch right in the way that he advertised his place and the way that he
is negotiating his rent so right now we’re still in negotiations and I’m
hoping that we can come to an agreement sounds like the the legal contract
Department is a lot better than the marketing department in his enterprise.
well we’ve talked about this before many many owners would
rather leave their space vacant than rent to the wrong person that
happens because it’s incredibly difficult to evict someone from your
property if they don’t pay the rent and so anybody who has any sense that
someone is not going to pay or may be poor or abuse the property they’re not
even going to be considered for rent you have to essentially be rich or be a
relative or a friend there’s got to be some kind of confidence you give to the
owner knowing how difficult it is to evict yeah so I’m trying to overcome
those challenges right now on another front I’ve talked about the painter that
I’ve representing and we’re making progress there towards exporting these
paintings to Duty-Free and I think once we can get that started the airport has
thousands of customers that go through there every day and this painter that I
represent can only produce about a hundred per month so if he sells in
Casablanca and Marrakesh he would essentially sell out all of his capacity
if he could sell one and a half paintings a day yeah which is a pretty
low conversion rate yeah if you have a thousand people going through a store
and you sell one or two paintings that’s one-tenth of one percent conversion rate
yeah that’s pretty good so we’re hopeful that we can get that worked out
and get that started what about you well I just got back and so this past
week has been fantastic it’s good to be home
Good to be back in Casa and I’ve really taken to heart what you said on the
podcast last week which when I was presenting different ideas and goals I
had for the end of 2019 you said well I see no reason why you can’t do all of
this and so that’s inspired me and I thought okay yeah if I meticulously
planned this and I’m organized and I’m motivated and I’m disciplined I can pull this off so I had a meeting at one of the schools I want to teach at
that went well it looks like it’s gonna be set for this semester and somebody called me asking about a team building they saw a video I posted on
LinkedIn and we have a meeting set up even if it’s not a good fit even if my
pricing is too high for his clients or I don’t seem like the right person for the
job after we’ve connected it’s still a really positive sign for me because it
shows that people are seeing this video I’m establishing myself and my expertise
is becoming known I’m building a reputation and people are reaching out
to me to fulfill the need so that’s super encouraging I do need to
review my Darija, I’m a little afraid of meeting up with my tutor again because I
haven’t been as disciplined as I should have been but I do want to continue
progressing and learning the local language and being able to speak to
everyone I meet on the street so yeah I’ve got to get back started on that
as soon as I can but it’s good to be home well let’s get into the topic of
the day which is our personal observations of the health of the
Moroccan economy and some of your observations from your time in Europe is
there anything that jumps out at you from your time in Europe a big
difference between Europe and Morocco or something that specifically caught your
attention I mentioned previously about the amount of automation that I
witnessed and you know I drove all over southern France
they have all these tolls on the highways just like we have here in
Morocco but not a single person never was there a person and at one point
because I had a roof rack it spat out a ticket for a truck I had to reach way up
high as if I was in the cab of a truck to get that ticket and I thought oh no I
don’t know what the rates are for trucks is this going to be more expensive or
less expensive so at the next toll when it was time to pay I thought I gotta
get out and look for somebody and there was nobody there was no person around
and that’s the direction that things are going I took my sons to a football
match and we just had like a QR code on the phone and when you get there you
just put the phone up to a little machine it spits out a ticket right at
the gate that tells you which seat you’re in which section you’re in this
kind of thing I know is going to be a trend here in Morocco as well mobile
payments automation that’s the direction that things are going another
cool business that I saw we went down this one river in kayaks and there’s
certain sections where the river gets very narrow and there’s rapids you know
the water is moving really quickly and there’s rocks and it’s kind of a time
where you’re really concentrating trying not to flip over and there was several
different people that had set up a business where they were sitting in the
river with a camera and just taking pictures of everybody who goes by and
then there’s a website and you go to this website you go to the date that you
were there and you just scroll through and you’re seeing all sorts of strangers
going through that section of the river until you find yourself and they’ve
watermarked the photo so it’s not something you can just necessarily
download and keep but it’s something you might want and so by paying a fee you
can have a copy of this and I thought this would be a great business in
Morocco I see tons of Moroccan photographers on Instagram and that’s a
really tough industry to monetize even if you build up a whole bunch of
followers on Instagram you know 10,000 20,000 how do you
monetize that how do you turn that into a business but if you’ve got skills as a
photographer this could be a real simple way
now obviously tourists would be a great way to monetize it you go to some place
like Paradise Valley or Ouzoud waterfalls and you just take shots of people and
you give them a little card that says you know check out the shots on on the
website they might pay to download that or you monetize the traffic people just
come to the site to see their pictures and all those visitors are something
that you can advertise to but you could be doing this with surfers you could do
this at skate parks you could do this with the tourists that are riding camels on
the beach this incredible experience but who’s taking your photo you know you
want to capture that, you know you got to get some credit on Instagram
if there’s no photo it didn’t happen so that’s a great idea for someone to
monetize but the larger principle here is you’re offering value for free but
you’re attracting an audience you’re gaining attention and then you can
monetize that audience so that was just something I’ve been chewing on that’s a
great business that could translate here in Morocco yeah that’s a good
idea catching people in a moment that is completely unique and that they can’t do
themselves going in a kayak down a river especially
from a different point of view getting that photo that’s something
definitely a value that I think people would pay for and clearly they are if
they’re still sitting out there in the middle of the river taking pictures
somebody’s paying for it yeah that’s a good idea I think our listeners to try
to apply that to some of the tourist places you think about carriage
rides in Marrakesh yeah you know if your family was going by koutoubia the big
mosque tower in Marrakesh and someone snapped a photo from a great angle and
then handed you a little business card that said go to the site and see your
picture I think a lot of tourists would would pay a few euros to download that
image are you looking for books in English in Morocco
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three days or less many of the books we have recommended on this podcast are
available so check out englishbooks.ma and start shopping and reading now back
to the show you had mentioned that during your trip you had stayed in some
Airbnbs and maybe some hotels what was that experience like yeah my family and
I we prefer to stay in Airbnbs and the main reason well there’s two main
reasons one is because a lot of hotels are one room and what that means is when
it’s time for the kids to go to bed mom and dad have to go to bed and so that
makes it really difficult especially when your kids are young because you’re
operating on such a different schedule but if you’re talking or the lights are
on or the television’s on it keeps the kids awake but the second reason is
because we like to make our own food as much as we can when we travel we get
really tired of eating at restaurants all the time not only is it super
expensive but it’s unhealthy and you start to just feel feel gross so having
a place with the kitchen is a preference so we use Airbnb all the time we’ve used
it all over Europe we’ve used it in North America we’ve used it here in
Morocco and this is something that I think could definitely be used by
several of our listeners number one if you’re listening to this podcast
you’ve got English and that is the number one language used by tourists
around the world if you’ve got somebody coming from China you’ve got somebody
coming from Germany you’ve got an American coming over you can communicate
with all of them using English and there’s a million tourists a month that
are coming through Morocco and not all of them want to stay at some big resort
or hotel a lot of them want to stay in a more local environment for the reasons
that I described but also because they want to experience more
of what the real Morocco is and so they’re interested in being in a
neighborhood where their neighbors are real people and they see actual life
happening not just tourists like themselves shuttling to and fro so
that’s an opportunity. I think a lot of Moroccans would be surprised to know
that they could rent out their apartment or even just a room in their apartment
there’s a lot of tourists that would love to live with a family and not just
because it’s more affordable but because they want to eat local food they want to
experience local life and Airbnb also has a couple other potential revenue
streams for our listeners one is Airbnb experience so this is not related to
accommodation it’s related to your activities so I can go into a city like
Casablanca or Marrakesh and see what kind of experiences are offered through
the Airbnb platform things like having a local meal or getting a tour of the
local market or just having somebody that brings you from place to place now
I know there’s laws in Morocco that govern the tourism industry there are
certain requirements and licensing that’s necessary but again our listeners
have the asset of English and so there’s got to be a lot of licensed tour
operators out there that they maybe have transportation they maybe have deals
worked out with some of the tourist sites and doing guided tours but our
listeners could act as like a middleman that helps bring in customers and direct
them to these various tour operators so Airbnb experiences is a fantastic way to
make money especially because the pricing is so different when somebody’s
coming from Europe North America China their mindset of what’s a good price for
something will go a long way in dirhams and then the other potential revenue
stream through Airbnb is this idea of being a professional host or a manager
on the site you want to talk about that because I know you know about that too well yeah a lot of the listings on Airbnb are just done by
the owner and they’re not necessarily done as well as they could be when you
talk about the average Airbnb guests they are making their decision based on
a couple of factors one is how much does it cost two how much space is there how
many beds and bedrooms are there is there Wi-Fi is the space available but
then what really seals the deal is the quality of the photographs and the
reviews, if you have a few reviews that say that you’re a good host and the
place was comfortable and clean and accommodating and you have good pictures
of what the actual space looks like you could have a much better chance of
renting it out unfortunately a lot of the owners who have spaces on
Airbnb they just don’t do a good job of taking photos so if you can use your
phone or get a cheaper camera and go and help these owners take pictures and use
your English to improve their listing in terms of the details and the layout and
the information you could be providing a valuable service to these owners you can
go right under the Airbnb application and you can contact these owners and say
look your listing is not as good as it could be I’m offering to help you
improve it and that could be a service that you offer as an auto entrepreneur
I’ll take photos I’ll help you write in your the details of your listing in
English and I’ll help you do some best practices here are some best practices
have enough towels toilet paper and tissues how about a garbage can in every
room how about a mirror in every bedroom the place needs to be swept and clean if
you have a kitchen wash all of the dishes and utensils and make sure that
it’s adequately stocked there’s nothing extremely crazy here
that I’m talking about, but a lot of owners fail to do
this and if they have one or two or three guests come through who leave
negative reviews that could be the end of your business because people don’t
want to risk spending their money and their time on a place that has given
other people a bad experience so as an auto entrepreneur you have the
ability to download the app you have the ability to contact the owner and you
have the ability to create a list of best practices by looking at other
properties that are always booked you have all this information at your
disposal where are the properties in marrakesh
that are always booked they always have a guest and then look at the properties
that are always available and just take the best practices of the places that
are always booked and suggest making changes to the owners of the places that
are always available and you can look at the availability of an Airbnb on their
calendar all of this information is at your fingertips you just have to have
the courage to take a risk whether it’s buying some camera
equipment or just sending a message to these owners and being willing to be
rejected one of the things that I’ve done in my
business a lot of people when you talk about sales
they have sales goals I’m going to sell this many clients this month or I’m
going to make this many calls in my opinion that’s the wrong metric your
goal should be a certain number of rejections and I will not stop until
I am rejected 15 times today and if you start that way and you know that’s your
goal you won’t be surprised when you’re rejected and you won’t be discouraged
because that was your goal right your goal was to be rejected but it will
force you into the conversations with your potential clients so I
completely agree I think the future of travel looks a lot more like
Airbnb and a lot less like a hotel yeah can you think of any other sharing
economy type platforms that that could be leveraged I mean I know that there’s
car sharing is something so people allow their car to be used by somebody maybe
when they’re away or maybe it’s just in their best interest to take the tramway
or ride the bus or catch a ride with a friend when their car can be rented
we’ve done that before where we’ve been traveling and rather than going through
one of the big companies and paying top dollar we just rented through some sort
of car sharing website you’re basically like borrowing somebody’s car can you
think of any other sharing economy type businesses that could work here in
Morocco well we already know that Careem is working and they were
of course bought by Uber earlier this year I think and I think they are
the future as well as soon as they can overcome the challenges that they face
from the taxis and from the government but I think that that driving
for Careem is a good way for someone to make extra money and to have
a flexible schedule for example if you are going to part-time help
Airbnb property owners improve their listings at other times during the day
or during the week you could drive for Careem when I just looked at the
employment statistics for Morocco the official statistics are pretty bad 20%
of university graduates are unemployed ages 25 to 34 14 percent across all of
Morocco are unemployed and in the big cities it’s almost 20 percent and these
are the official statistics right which means that it’s probably much higher
yeah I think the future for a lot of our listeners and for a lot of young people
especially in light of the automation that you were talking about earlier and
the future of automation and artificial intelligence and robotics
the future is as an independent worker as an auto entrepreneur as someone who
has the ability to be flexible in their work to be dynamic and creative to
identify the jobs that need to be done in society the problems that need to be
solved I think a lot of our listeners are gonna find their future is as a
small business owner as an independent and not necessarily as an employee for a
big company that just happens to be my opinion I think it’s one of the
great ways to reduce unemployment but I think too many people think that working
for a big company is the only way to move forward in life and to succeed I
think for a lot of people there are better options and options that are more
hopeful as an auto entrepreneur and we’ve mentioned one today as being an
advisor to an Airbnb host the main questions you need to ask yourself is
what job am i helping to get done what problem am i solving how am I gonna help
someone else make money how am I gonna help someone else have a better life if
you’re always looking at the world through that framework then you have a
much better opportunity to get paid for what you’re doing for example I was in
discussions with a potential client last week and he has a business and he is
offering an affiliate program meaning you could sell his product and he will split
a commission with you and that type of relationship everyone is motivated and
everyone is happy right he’s happy to give me the rights to sell his product
and I’m happy to sell it because I’m going to get a commission it’s
those types of arrangements that can be very powerful and very long-lasting
because everybody wants everyone to succeed and I’m even at the point
where I’m motivated to help his business grow without getting paid so
that my affiliate opportunities are even greater when you think about starting
a small business or offering a service think about a problem that you
can solve or a job that can be done let’s take for example a restaurant what
job is a restaurant doing well for some people it’s providing a tasty meal for
some people it’s providing a cheap meal for some people it’s providing a
convenient meal it’s right next door it’s right downstairs it’s right across
the street for some people it’s just providing a cool air-conditioned place
to sit for a while for some people it’s providing an excuse to get out of the
house for some people it’s provided a place to meet a way to impress a girl
exactly these are all jobs that a restaurant is doing if you originally
think about a restaurant you may think oh that’s a place where you eat but
there are actually a lot of jobs that are being done in a restaurant
sometimes a restaurant is providing a place to watch a match all of these jobs a restaurant does and if you can think about the economy in terms of
the jobs that need to be done and what you can do and how you can get jobs done
you’re getting closer to providing value and either getting hired as an employee
or as an independent yeah I love that idea of solving a pain point
sometimes it’s a problem that you identify yourself you think I can’t
stand that this is so frustrating run with that thought and think what would
potentially solve my pain right now what would provide a solution to the problem
that I’m facing because that’s often a great business opportunity if you’re
experiencing this pain and frustration probably a lot of others are too now one idea I don’t think I’ve shared it on the podcast before but it’s this time of
year where students are getting ready to go back to school
and a lot of schools parents are responsible to purchase the books and
school supplies of the students and the schools provide this long detailed list
of books in often three languages and very very specific editions of different
books and it’s up to parents to go and source all this material so bookstores
are very familiar with this they take the list and we’ve been living in
Morocco long enough that we handed in the list in June or July and then are
hoping that when we show up at the book store a couple months later they hand us
a box and everything is exactly as the list described all the supplies are in
there but that’s often not the case often a bookstore says oh sorry we’re
out of that or this is on backorder or they give you the wrong Edition and or
sometimes bookstores say look we’re not taking any more orders
we’re swamped we’ve got all the customers we need at the moment and
right around the end of August early September all these bookstores are a zoo
you just can’t seem to get service so I always think man this is a
strong pain point and the customer is willing to pay especially for private
schools where these parents are paying very very high fees they don’t want to
be going around from store to store trying to find these materials so if the
schools are supplying these lists then this would be an incredible summer job
for a motivated ambitious university student that they take the list from
multiple private schools they go around and source it and they put together a
package they say here is all you need for this level at this school and then
you promote it to the parents you put it on their Facebook pages that they
have these group whatsapp’s and things and you just let them know I’ll give you
the entire package here’s the price and you’ve got a nice little tidy profit
margin in there for yourself and there’s opportunities for economies of scale if
you’re buying you know 20 copies of the same book you can work out a deal with
the bookstore to reduce those prices I mean this would be a nice little small
business and it would be seasonal if for a student this is something you would
focus on in the summers but you’d be solving a pain point and there’s an
opportunity to make money there absolutely and for a little explanation
of supply and demand if you wanted to take some risk and you wanted to test
the market you could even put together ten sets of these books and show up in
front of the school on the first day of school and you could offer these books
at a very high margin yeah a complete set to the parent who has just come back
from vacation and is completely unprepared for their child’s education
to start on the beginning of school and you could charge a hundred percent
markup yeah and you could probably sell out those books and make a nice profit
however there is the risk that every parent is completely prepared and you
would have no one to sell the books to but that’s capitalism that’s the market
that’s the economy you take the risk you get the reward you don’t take
the risk you don’t get the reward imagine if you noticed there was a
common book that was demanded on multiple private schools
lists and so you went out and bought just a huge amount of that book with the
understanding of supply and demand recognizing if I have the supply and
demand is steady across all these schools I can charge whatever and then
you’re there the opening day you have your little cart
with a few books on display and you say here it is
you know don’t send in your kid unprepared I can provide you what
they’re missing right here I love it if you had it if you had ten sacks of
books that had met the entire requirement for college each year of
college that would be a very attractive offer I’m sure the first day and
there would be parents that would be fighting over buying your sack from you
yeah either because they couldn’t find all the books or they didn’t take the
time to go and look for them or they figure they just do it
in the month of September I think the way to wrap up the episode is
just to remind people that the economy is always changing no matter who you are
you’re gonna face challenges there’s going to be difficulties but you have to
just keep moving forward keep working hard
I don’t want our listeners to think that everything is great for us all the time
we are constantly encountering challenges language challenges cultural
challenges sometimes our ideas don’t work
my ideas have failed in Morocco several times you just have to keep
learning and keep moving forward and not give up and that’ll be the
difference between a lot of people who are so-called success stories and those
who sit at the cafe all day complaining about being unemployed don’t give
up keep moving forward keep thinking about things in terms of jobs to be done
problems to be solved and of course keep listening to this podcast you’ve been
listening to the Business in Morocco podcast my name is Ryan Kirk here with
my co-host Ryan Maimone. If you enjoyed this episode be sure to subscribe and
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you’ll have a lovely day doing business in Morocco

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