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7 Steps for Starting an Online Business in the Philippines

Main / Blog / How To Start An Online Business
Many people are attracted to the idea of starting their own business, creating a company that they are passionate about, and being their own boss - but not all of them do it, and out of the ones that do, not all of them succeed. The path to starting your own online business is guaranteed to be a winding one. However, with a detailed guide to some of the most important steps in the process, and tips that will simplify many of the tasks, the journey to online business success will be much more attainable. This article takes a deep dive into the most important steps in getting your business off the ground and offers valuable advice that is far too often overlooked.

Step 1. Identify Your Product and Business Profitability When Starting a Business

The traditional path to starting a business involves coming up with a business idea, creating a strong business plan, using investors or personal savings to fund the business, and then waiting to see if it survives in the market. However, this method does not have the best success rate, with most businesses not withstanding the test of the market. For better success, many entrepreneurs are now turning to a different method for starting their business that turns the traditional process upside down. If you want to create a business that is guaranteed success and profitability, pay close attention to these four key methods:

Identify a customer you want to serve

Do you have a specific idea of the type of person you'd like to serve with your business? Do you know more about your ideal customer than you do your business idea? Unlike previous business-planning methods that would demand you developed a business idea before imagining an ideal customer - starting at the customer is actually an incredibly smart way to start your business today.

One of the most surefire ways to create a successful business is to start with the customer. So begin by imagining the type of person you are interested in helping, serving or selling to. Not only does this first step help you create a financially successful business (as you are targeting a specific consumer and identifying what they need), but it will also help you create a rewarding business that you feel happy to work for each day.

Talk to your customers

Once you have identified the type of customer you intend to serve, the next step is to figure out what they need and want so that you can sell it to them. One method of doing this is just to take an educated guess based on their personality and behaviours, however, when it comes to creating a successful business - why leave it to guesswork? Get out there, talk to your ideal customer and ask them what they want.

This may seem like an obvious step on the path to creating a successful business, but many businesses simply think that they can guess what their customers want, and end up failing as a result. When you talk to your ideal customers you should be paying close attention to identifying a problem that is shared by the majority of them, and that they would urgently like to find a solution to. Once you have identified their problem, you can begin working on the solution.

Let your customers help you to create your business

When talking to your ideal customers, it shouldn't take long to find that they themselves have ideas for how to solve their problems - they're just waiting for a business to create it. The key is to listen to their ideas for solutions, and let them shape your business idea - you might be surprised how much better their ideas sound compared to your original one!

Presell your product

If the previous steps have gone smoothly, you should now be sitting on a business idea that already solves a common problem among your ideal customers. The next step is to settle on a price, and once again, your ideal customers should have a say in shaping this.

Continue communicating with your ideal customers and ask them how much they'd pay for a solution to their problem. Then the aim is to presell the product. Sometimes, the promise of having their urgent problem solved will be enough for customers to pre-buy a product. However, for other products, it may be necessary to offer beta-users an additional incentive. One popular incentive is to offer your product or service at an introductory price and allow beta-users to have exclusive access to this introductory price for life. Find an incentive that works for your business, and get to work preselling your product.

Step 2. How to make a business plan

Business plans are a traditional part of creating a business, and they are still considered important for securing funding and establishing a long-lasting venture. However, today, a business plan is not always necessary, and some entrepreneurs are swapping them for pitch decks. Keep reading to find out which is the best option for you.

Why do you need to make a Business Plan for?

A business plan is a huge project to embark on, and it can turn out to be a huge waste of time if it is not going to help you reach your desired business goals. A business plan can be a great tool for organizing your business journey on a personal level, as well as showing investors your commercial potential. It shows that you know how to use investors money to establish a long-lasting, successful business.

Some business loan applications or spheres of influence may still be more comfortable with a traditionally-formatted business plan. However, if you are not planning on raising money, applying for a loan, or bringing in a partner, it may not be necessary to write up a complete business plan. Although, some sort of detailed plan is always beneficial in helping a new business succeed.

Business Plans vs. Pitch Decks

A pitch deck is an alternative to a business plan that may be the better option depending on your type of business. If you're selling a product, many high-profile investors agree that they're simply looking for functional prototypes, customer development and scalability - which is better suited to a pitch deck format. A product pitch deck like this simply needs to include prototypes, expense projections up to 12 months, a marketing plan, the cost of customer acquisition, customer value, results of testing, proof of consistent improvement, and that you know your burn rate.

When to Create a Business Plan

Whether you've opted to create a traditional business plan or a pitch deck, it's typical for entrepreneurs to spend far too much time, energy and resources on them. The truth is, spending too long working on your business plan can lead to your product missing a vital moment to hit the market, or missing the best funding opportunity. A report by Harvard Business Review found that those who write their business plan 6-12 months after deciding to start a business experienced 8% more success. And those that spent no longer than 3 months on their business plan experienced 12% more success.

Examples of business plans

Writing a business plan can be a daunting prospect, but making the most of the great range of samples out there can really help. Utilizing sample business plans from your industry or niche can inform you on what to include in your plan and how to format it.

Step 3. How to Register Business in the Philippines?

One of the most important steps in starting a business is getting it officially registered. However, this is not always the most straightforward process and it can help to have a guide that walks you through the process.

Prepare the required documents for SEC Registration

To operate a business in the Philippines, it is necessary to obtain a certificate of registration with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). To do this, you will these specific documents:
  • Name verification slip - which can be obtained at the SEC office or via their website.
  • Articles of partnership (if you are registering a partnership business).
  • A Joint Affidavit (required if you are registering a partnership business, establishes that partners are to change their partnership name).

Additional documents that may be necessary depending on your business include:
  • Endorsement or clearance from other government agencies (check if this is relevant to your business).
  • FIA form 105 (if you are partnering with a foreigner).

Obtain a Certificate of Registration with the SEC

The first step to obtain a certificate of registration is done on the SEC website where you can check the availability of your business name. Once you know that your name is available, you can apply to register it on the website. You will then be provided with the next steps, which typically involve visiting an SEC office.

Get a Barangay Clearance

Local government code dictates that all businesses must have a Barangay Clearance. You can get Barangay Clearance by visiting the Barangay Office that is local to where you will be conducting business, and the small fee will vary slightly depending on your business location. This will act as an assurance that your business adheres to local community and business standards.

Register with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)

Gaining registration with the Bureau of Internal Revenue means that your company has permission to issue official receipts, register books of accounts, and obtain a Tax Identification Number. You'll need a Mayor's Permit in order to register with BIR, and then the process usually takes a matter of days or weeks.

Step 4. Tips for Managing Small Business Finances

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One of the biggest challenges that faces small business owners is finance management. Often entrepreneurs are passionate about running their business, but not so much about the side that involves managing the finances - which can easily result in bad financial habits that can prove harmful in the future. There are a lot of skills involved in running a business, and it is a business owner's responsibility to educate themselves in all of these areas on a basic level.

Invest in growth

Any successful small business owner will always have one eye on potential for growth, so it is important that you keep some money aside to support this. You should always be willing to invest in the future, and having a growth-focused outlook will help you attract the best opportunities and employees.

Have a good billing strategy

If your business will rely on payments from clients, it's a good idea to establish an effective billing strategy right from the start. Otherwise, you'll risk having to deal with consistently late invoices and payments from clients who don't take paying you seriously enough. In fact, it's a common problem that small business owners end up spending more time chasing up late payments than getting on with growing their business. Experts have recommended that small businesses take a creative approach to billing, such as offering those who pay within the first 10 days 2% off the total.

Spread out tax payments

Don't let your taxes become too intimidating and opt to pay monthly instead. This means that tax payments blend into all of your other monthly operating expenses and you should never have to worry about not making payments or falling behind.

Focus on expenditures, but also ROI

We've already covered why investment is so key for your new business, and measuring your expenditures and ROI will help you make sense of which investments will work best for you and your business. The most successful small businesses are careful about where they spend their money, and measuring the ROI on each expenditure means that you can prevent losses in the future.

Plan ahead

Ultimately, there are lots of ways to manage your finances as a small business, but one general rule to live by is to plan ahead. Always assume that your competition is focusing on the future, so make sure you're doing the same. The present will always bring issues that need your immediate attention, but you'll have more peace of mind knowing you've got a long-term plan in place.

Step 5. How to create your own website

51% of small businesses have a website, and among those without one 58% say they plan to build one. Consumers have come to expect that businesses will have a website, and this is often their preferred way to find out more about your company. Creating a website has never been easier and can be done in these 4 steps:

Register your domain

Your domain name will be the address for your website and how many customers will find your business, so it is something that you should think about carefully. Come up with a domain name that reflects the name of your business, or reflects the product you sell - whichever will be easiest to catch your ideal customer in their search. You can check the availability of your chosen domain via an accredited registrar and they will require a fee to secure it.

Find a web hosting

Before you launch your new website with its new domain name, you'll need to enlist a web hosting service. It's easy to find convenient and affordable web hosting companies online, and they typically offer email hosting services too. The cost of your web hosting will vary depending on how many hits you are expecting your site to get, but most providers will bill you monthly.

Prepare your content

The content of a website is critical to how long a browser will stay on there, and how likely they are to buy your product or service. Pay close attention to the customer journey, and the information they will likely want to know in order to trust you and desire your product. The structure of your website will also be important, as you want your customers to be able to find everything they need. A clear and concise website with useful information and relevant imagery is more likely to secure a purchase.

Build your website

Many businesses opt to have a professional web developer build their website as this means that they'll have a seamless site, and the required ongoing maintenance is done for them. However, there's a wide range of DIY services on the internet that will make it easy for you to make your own website. If you are tech-savvy and have the time to spend building it and updating it regularly - you could have great success building your own site.

Step 6. Delivery for online business

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Customers are becoming increasingly dependent on courier services to receive their goods, and as we move further away from face-to-face transactions, a courier service may be a necessity for your business to succeed.

What is courier service?

A courier service is a service that will deliver parcels from A to B, typically offering faster speeds, special delivery options, and increased security and tracking when compared to traditional mail services. There are courier services that cater to smaller parcels and more local delivery, as well as ones that provide international services for larger parcels.

Types

In the Philippines there are five types of courier service:
Standard - This is typically the most affordable courier service, and packages usually take a few days to arrive at their destination. The service involves being collected, sorted and transferred to a warehouse, before being delivered to their destination via a delivery vehicle.
Overnight - This service takes parcels from A to B in the same way as above, however it is more expensive as it ensures parcels are delivered by the next day.
Same-day - This is one of the most expensive courier services available, as it delivers the goods from A to B on the same day.
International - Just like it sounds, this service is for delivering goods overseas, and the price will depend on the size of the goods and how soon it needs to get there.
Pallet - This service is for delivering goods that are placed in pallets or boxes, offering affordable rates and a strict delivery schedule.

MrSpeedy is a relatively new courier service that offers express delivery, including same-day delivery options and cash-on-delivery. These options are ideal for businesses looking to keep up with modern demand. The prices start at Php60 and charge an added 6 pesos for each kilometre after that - which are small business-friendly prices.
Lalamove offers delivery services for small and light packages such as paperwork, in addition to much larger, bulkier items such as furniture. This company uses motorcycles and vans to complete their deliveries, which may not be suitable for all items.
Grab Express is a popular logistic solution among the middle-class, insuring all packages up to P10,000 and offering highly trained riders. Delivery is organised through an app, and this service is currently only available in Metro Manila.

Step 7. Steps to Successfully Implement Your Marketing Plan for your Business

A smart, well-thought-out marketing plan will help you grow your business, and here we've covered some of the most important steps to achieve marketing success.

Set the right expectations

No matter how good the marketing plan, marketing is never a quick fix to bring in instant sales. When drawing up your marketing plan, remember that a little bit of patience will be key and it can take 6 months to a year to begin seeing significant results. However, if you put in the hard work and effort in the initial months, your campaign could gain enough momentum to drive easy sales further down the line. Set the expectations before your marketing campaign begins, and make sure everyone working on your business is on the same page.

Build the team

Consider who will be involved in implementing your marketing strategy, ensuring that you have enough manpower to fulfil all of the necessary tasks. Your strategy may require a dedicated marketing manager, a sales representative, or customer service - make sure you have a team in place and enough resources to get off to a successful start.

Build out timeline and tasks

Marketing strategies should include a detailed timeline of each and every task involved, who each task is assigned to, and the resources necessary. Sometimes the most efficient method for creating a marketing timeline is to work backwards from a launch event, considering the steps you'll need to go through to ensure a successful launch. There is a wide range of project management software tools available that will make it easier to create a clear timeline and assign different members of your team tasks, such as Asana or Trello.

Monitor and check-in regularly

Marketing isn't something that you can just launch and forget about, it will be vital that you keep checking in each week, fortnight or month to check that you are hitting targets and making progress. Plugin any necessary information along the way and gauge how successful your marketing actions are. Check-in on your efforts at the very least once a month and larger marketing projects should be checked every week. It's also a good idea to share these results with your team so that you can all understand what will need to change moving forward.

Be willing to adapt

When you're monitoring your marketing efforts regularly, it will become clear that some things will work for your business and others will not. This is why any business should be willing to change and adapt. The world, trends and technology are changing constantly, and your marketing plan will have to be updated regularly to keep up. If your monitoring shows that some of your marketing efforts aren't achieving the desired result, don't waste money by leaving it running, but don't throw it out the window either - spend time tweaking it to better suit your target customer. Treat your marketing plan as a rough roadmap that will require real-time edits along the way.

Conclusion

This article took you through a detailed step by step of starting an online business, offering valuable insight into business plans, business registration, finance management, courier services, and marketing. Hopefully we helped you find out more about the process of starting an online business from scratch, and learnt that the key factors to achieve business success are:
  • To shape your business around your ideal customer.
  • Remain flexible throughout the process.
  • Know that patience and consistency will be rewarded down the line

Creating your own business can be hard work, but it is some of the most rewarding work that you can do. The initial months of starting a business are a learning curve that demands you to be flexible and open-minded, but by following the tips and information provided in this article you should be off to a more informed and optimistic start. We wish you the utmost success as you take the plunge to start your own online business!

MrSpeedy Team
For Business with ❤️
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