Short but Sweet… I Love You!

I Love You

Hello, world! I love you!

Happy love month, you guys! I’m sorry I haven’t been regularly updating my blog these past weeks. Things have been crazy. How crazy?

Well, let me first start with my business. Manila Workshops has been really active since the beginning of this year. It seems that corporations are now looking for workshops like ours. I’ve been receiving a couple of emails asking for proposals for workshops to be conducted and ran in their place of work. To that I say! SURE! No problem! Just email me.

We have some exciting workshops coming up this year, too, and it’s with the support of one of the biggest tech (or social brands…or probably both. haha!) Can’t divulge that yet, but it’s pretty exciting. I’m sure MSMEs, freelancers, and even employees of different companies would want to attend these upcoming, cool workshops!

My event directors are so busy these days! I love that they are so active in our messenger. We have this internal incentive where I will be giving out a fitness wearable to the winner. But the more exciting thing is that we will be running internal workshops for ourselves. Yup, we will have a Manila Workshops team learning session every month. This month, EJ (https://www.linkedin.com/in/eugenearboleda)  will conduct a How to Test if your Workshop will Fly session. Next month, I am arranging a Human Centered Design workshop with the one and only (and definitely one of the best in design, Edmond Gozo – https://www.linkedin.com/in/edmondgozo). I don’t pay these speaker so the least I can do it give them a shoutout here! Thanks for the support!

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And then there’s Taxumo! We had a pretty busy month also for Taxumo. The number of sign-ups is growing and hopefully, the number of users, too, for this coming February 20 tax deadline. Don’t forget that the deadline of Taxumo is February 15, so please try out the system already.

Hmmm, well, we have had some interesting meetings with different VCs. We are raising our seed round and have been meeting some interesting VCs. We have upcoming meetings with other people also. But enough about VCs! We have made amazing progress and we will already be servicing VAT clients any time soon! Woohooo!

If you have time, please do meet us at Commune on February 11, from 1-4 pm. We are holding this mixer for business owners, freelancers and professionals. Please do drop by and say “Hi!”. This mixer is in cooperation with Payoneer and FullSuite.

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Hmm, what else! Oh, thank you to those who consistently read my blog. I have interesting topics lined up for you in the coming weeks. By the way, the topic for this month is (can you guess what it is? hint: it’s in the box above!)… LOVE. Yup, it’s love.

I can’t wait to start writing, because I have a lot to say about this topic. 😀

So, those are my personal updates. I’m sorry I haven’t been updating my blog, but I am battling to keep my eyes open now just for me to drop this note. I love you, my dear readers, and I haven’t forgotten you!

XOXO,

Mommy Ginger

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Online Tax Preparation with a Heart

Never in million years would I have guessed that I would be a TECH STARTUP company co-founder AND focus on online tax preparation. When I was little, I never liked math. One of the reasons why I chose marketing was I assumed it had a few subjects where I had to compute or use a calculator. When I graduated and helped my dad handle the family business, I would be so bored looking at excel spreadsheets that showed profit and loss statements.

I think I only got to love numbers when I joined a bank. Of course, in the beginning, I forced myself to look at spreadsheets and reports containing mostly numbers — all kinds of numbers and computations. Plus, I had to force myself to understand banking language like ADB, MBR, TPR, NPV, TITF, JA, CASA, FLOATS, etc. But, for anyone who knows me, I am a competitive person. I loved the challenge. So when I started understanding number, I found that I loved it and it was “actually” useful! haha! My almost 7 years of service in that bank was the best years of my life. I learned a lot and challenged myself A LOT!

When 2012 came, I went away to seek the life that I wanted, which was to become an entrepreneur. I would watch videos of Marie Forleo, Tyra Banks, Oprah and other influential women on the internet. I really admired each one of them and how they got to where they were. I saw the millions and millions of people whom they have helped. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to see how I could directly help others with a business. This dream was the foundation of Manila Workshops. When I started, it was a challenge getting our name out there. It was even more challenging to manage the “business” side of everything — from sustaining profits, controlling costs and most of all, dealing and paying taxes! I really hated that part.

I would always get stressed it if taxes was the topic. I wished for the longest time that someone would create anything like an online tax preparation system or whatever to make it easier for me. And so, with someone did notice and create a rudimentary system for me. This someone was my husband and my saviour. With this very rough local automation at home, we were able to expand the business of 3 directors to 20 directors.

The TAXUMO Story

taxumo-logo-full-black

And this is where our Taxumo story begins. We wanted to share this process and system with other small business owners, freelancers and professionals. We created a deck of the idea that we had, and started to pitch it to different people and in different competitions. This is where we started, because it seemed that others were doing this as well. With this, we were chosen as one of the 100 startups in Asia for the Echelon e27 Summit. During this time, we were already slowly developing the product. I was talking to different possible partners and was building alliances. EJ was developing algorithm, framework and the other stuff that we had to have before developing the software.

The next chapter of our story started when we were chosen as top 25 for the Ideaspace incubation program. We got some funds to build the prototype. With the money, we hired a freelance developer who would build the working prototype for us (A big shout out to Barry! Thank you! He developed our MVP and was really good, but had to let go of the project because we didn’t have enough funds to pay him.). This is the typical challenge of a startup. If you’re going through a financial turmoil, this is normal. We were bootstrapping as bootstrapping can be. Then, we were chosen as one of the top 10 startups for the Ideaspace Acceleration program. This came in at the right time. We used the funds to speed up development. A competent team is helping us develop the new system now (shoutout to Spectres Solutions! Wooohoo!)

During this time also, we invited people to be co-founders with us. Why and how did we decide on that? Well, we knew that we needed competent people to join our team to handle different aspects of the business. We knew that we needed an accounting and taxation expert, so we invited Mark. We knew that we needed to be covered legally, so we invited Atty. Kevin. And finally, after a few months of personally handling operations and marketing, the four of us decided to invite Evan, a marketing and advertising expert, and a freelancing advocate. So that’s how our team came to be.

Today is a really important day for us — it’s Ideaspace’s Demo Day. This is where we show the world the months of hard work that we have put into our startup (thanks Charz Medoza for the great design work, our new logo and the new UI/UX that everyone should watch out for!) But forget about us, because this is the time when we share the benefits of Taxumo for all of the Philippine self employed individuals — small businesses, freelancers and professionals. You can now concentrate on starting and building your business. This is the time to REFOCUS on what matters. Refocus on your passion!


 

We know that the reason that you started this business is that you want to make a difference. You long for time to use words or photographs to tell a story. You wanted to see the smiles as your customers run their fingers on that dress that you so painstakingly created. Hearing the conversations of people after a workshop session that they are now inspired to take action makes your heart skip a beat. Seeing an email of gratitude from a US client for great VA work done makes you feel that you can conquer the world. Giving business or life coaching advice to hundreds of people on stage or even through a one on one session makes you elated. All of these things make you remember that it was passion and a sense of purpose that made you decide to start your own business or pursue this profession. This is how we feel. This is how we all should feel about our business.

So join the tribe and worry less about taxes! Pursue your passion. Leave all the taxation worries and sign up for Taxumo (http://taxumo.com). It’s should all be about YOU this 2017!

P.S. Thank you to all of our mentors (Ms. Diane, Sir Manny, Prim, Phil, Gabe, Paul, Edmond, Jojy, Jojo, Jay) and to all of those who helped us make this happen! We love you all! #TeamTaxumo

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Startup Marketing Plan vs. Blog Marketing Plan

MG Blog Series

I was about to skip blog writing today for my blog series. A terrible headache hit me the other day. I had to catch up on a lot of things. One of the things that crossed my mind and had to think about was the growth strategy of Taxumo (startup marketing plan, etc.). For those who have been reading my blog, you would know that Taxumo is the startup company that we built. Taxumo takes care of computing, filling out the forms and submitting the data and payment to the BIR, which is the tax ministry here in the Philippines and to an authorized bank. Entrepreneur magazine featured us just this week:

Filing taxes? There’s an app for that

I was inspired to write about marketing plans and strategies for both startups and blogs. Yesterday, I was studying more about Facebook ads and optimizing these advertisements that I create. I am amazed at the numbers and metrics involved. I think this is what people don’t see and get — that marketing, especially nowadays is a “numbers” game.

We all meet marketers and all of them look like extroverted individuals, who probably just love talking to people and hate math. Haha! I know how people think and have been branded to be such also. I took marketing in college, but ended up in banking, which made people wonder A LOT. But after years of marketing different products and services, as a marketer, the lesson that I learned is we gotta love numbers! Metrics show the real picture. Conversions, engagement, leads, sales — all of these are all measured using numbers.

Now, since we are talking more about blogging in this blog series, how do you effectively market your blog. Obviously, one is to tell everyone you meet that you have a blog, but that would take forever. If we talk to each one, multiply it by the number of minutes, that would take forever to reach a goal of having just 500 visitors a day in your site. Now, this is why I thought about startup marketing plans.

The objective of a startup is to have speedy and steady growth especially for the first year or so. They employ strategies that would result to achieving this. Of course not all strategies are “one-size-fits-all”, but some should be evident in each of the marketing strategies of different startups.

1. Among all the people in the world, it SHOULD BE ME!
People love being the first to tell their friends about this cool thing, this new place, this great deal, etc. In the startup world, we seek for beta testers. These are usually our early adopters. Our early adopters should be able to validate that our guess of who are market is is correct. An example of this is how my friends at Cape marketed their product. I actually want to conduct this experiment and test who among my friends and readers value cheap flights!

IF YOU WANT CHEAP FLIGHTS AT AROUND 50-70% OFF, CLICK ON THIS IMAGE AND SIGN UP!

cape

Now, obviously, I will be able to tell how many of you signed up for Cape’s service because I was given a code to track down how many signed up. Sometimes, these codes can also monitor sales. And if sales are monitored, commissions can also be monitored. This is the reason why there is such a thing as affiliate marketing. This is the gist of what affiliate marketing is (but let’s discuss this topic for another time).

You can employ the same strategy with you blogs. You can announce that you are giving some readers access to something valuable in your site in exchange for their emails. In this environment, emails are very valuable. It allows you to connect with your readers again and again.

2. STAND UP, BE HEARD AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Since early this year, for Taxumo, we have been conducting a lot of FREE taxation workshops. We do this, because we genuinely believe that all you need as taxpayers is an entity who will understand and listen to you, know what your going through, and actually take time out to explain things that you don’t understand about taxes. Once you get it, it’s up to you to use or not use our system. But most of them really do use the system, since the Taxumo team is genuinely there to help them!

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If you want to increase engagement in your blog, take time out to reply to your readers. With the plethora of things that I have to do, I still find the time to talk to people who chat me up on messenger, email me, etc. Seriously! You can ask different people. I always try to find time to answer if time permits. Actively engaging with your readers make them loyal followers!

3. Understand the CUSTOMER JOURNEY

Intimately know what they want and what they need. If it’s a blog, intimately know what they want to read about, where they read, when they would read or search for an article and then be there! Bloggers are mind readers. We should know exactly what our readers want even before they search for it!

These are just some of the things that I thought of when thinking about the similarities of creating a startup marketing plan and a blog marketing plan. As for the latter, I think I’ll try to expound on that more in the next posts for this series.

If there is anything you would want to add, please feel free to leave your comment below. Have a great day, peeps!

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Online Tax Preparation SaaS Taxumo

I was always busy and worried at certain times of the month, and it was always because of tax preparation. I have already paid a cumulative amount of probably Php 20,000 worth of penalties. My previous freelance accountants would forget to pay (because of the multitude of clients that they had to service). I, personally, would forget deadlines, because of my busy schedule. For some forms, I didn’t get to file because I didn’t know that I needed to file them. I do love math, but I really don’t get  how taxes are computed.

My husband wanted to help me. He would see me suffer and he saw that the stress was killing me. Being the programmer that he is, he found a rudimentary way to automate the tax preparation that I did from home. From there, we saw the benefits of the automated process. We then wanted to share this with other business owners, freelancers and professionals.

Paying taxes should be something we do and we should see as our duty. We should do it because it will greatly help our country. We will do our share by making it simple and easy for each and every one of you. This is the reason why we created Taxumo. Taxumo is a do-it-yourself web application that computes, fills out forms and send the data directly to the bank/BIR. You don’t need to start loving math! haha! You don’t need to line up at the bank or the RDOs.

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What makes our team the best people to talk to is that we genuinely understand the pain that you are going through, because we have been there. We know that BIR has been trying to come up with a way to have a robust online tax preparation process and to automate collections. We are here to help both the end users and the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Taxumo is a web application that helps in online tax preparation and filing — so we take care of computing, filling out the forms and submitting it to the BIR/Bank.

Although, right now, we don’t handle payments that needed to be paid in the past. What you could do is to use this online tax preparation application for your payments moving forward. Right now, we cater to percentage or non-vat payers. By December, we will also be ready to cater to VAT taxpayers. If you don’t understand these terms and if you want to know if you are a vat or a percentage/non-vat taxpayer, you can check out your certificate of registration of Form 2303. Here is a sample:

cor-sample-for-taxumo

cor-sample-for-taxumo

All of the information you need to complete your profile page is in this document. If you lose it, you can visit your Revenue District Office or RDO (usually in the area where your business address is) of the BIR to secure a copy.

I also created this video so that you have a guide on how to use Taxumo.

The next deadline is on December 20 for Percentage Tax payers! 🙂 I hope you can sign up now while the system is FREE. Just go to http://taxumo.com and see how easy paying taxes can be!

If you have questions, feel free to write it on the comment section below!

 

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Show and Tell Session with Solopreneur PH, Horsepower.ph and Taxumo

What do you think makes a startup succeed? Is it the brilliance of their idea? Is it the team and their skills/personality mix? Is it the constant inflow of Investors and funds? Is it proper timing?

With this, I am sharing this video from TED. Listen to this interesting talk of Bill Gross, the founder of Idealab.

The reason why I brought this up is because a lot of us are scared to tell others about our amazing startup or business idea. We are afraid of being copied. We do everything in our power to protect our idea, and when competitors enter the arena, we become overly sensitive about the issue. The fact of the matter is, what you have is just an idea. You and probably 50 other people all around the world may be thinking of the same idea (probably even simultaneously!).

My opinion is that the startup team who defines, listens and understands the market well wins. The team who is open to tweak their idea based on what the customers want (tweak features, processes or event the timing) succeeds and has nothing to worry about. Now, where do you start validating the idea.

First of all, thoroughly think through everything — all possible scenarios that you can think of. Create a presentation so that you can also visually see your “thoughts”. Then look for people who can help you think through all of these things.

I am a believer of mastermind sessions. Mastermind sessions are mini meet-ups where like minded individuals come together to discuss certain topics. This month, our startup, Taxumo, is teaming up with Solopreneur PH and Horsepower.ph for Solopreneur PH’s end of month Show and Tell Session. This session will be on August 31, 6:30 PM at BlastAsia, Inc. in Ortigas!

Show and Tell Sessions - Taxumo

What is Show and Tell?

Show and Tell is a venue where you show off your new project to people and tell them how you started and what you learned from building it. If you want to be part of our Show and Tell, please go here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/solopreneurPH/permalink/471767093031426/

It’s a good venue to for the following:

  • To gather feedback from the attendees. Most of the attendees are solopreneurs or aspiring solopreneurs with their own businesses. If they are not your market, they can probably introduce you to some people who are. Also, you can ask them about their previous experiences.
  • To practice your presentation skills. Presenting to possible investors can be intimidating and practicing in-front of friendly faces is good preparation.
  • To gain friends and possible business partners.
  • To relax and unwind! We’ve all been working so hard. We deserve a break!

 

This event is FREE and if you just want to come to listen, feel free to drop by!

Again, the events page for this meet up is: https://www.facebook.com/events/1602233543408756/

Hope to see you there!

 

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