Short and Long Term Effects of Enhanced Community Quarantine to SMEs

I joined a webinar recently to talk about COVID19, the impact that we all think it has on SMEs, professionals and freelancers. I was asked the question: What do you think the short and long term effects of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) are to SMEs.

I just wanted to share my thoughts on this so that MSMEs and start-up founders like me can reflect and plan accordingly. If you want to add to the list, please feel free to comment on the comment section below.

Short Term effects of Enhanced Community Quarantine on Businesses

These are what I personally think the short term effects of this quarantine period are:

Feel a huge impact on their Cash Flow. Most of the businesses, no matter the size, are living from paycheck to paycheck. This is where we will feel the full effect of not saving up for a rainy day (Yes, as a business, we should also have an emergency fund or plan to maintain business operations and pay our commitments).

For our personal finances, we always talk about emergency funds and having enough to sustain us when unforeseen events happen. This should also be the case for SMEs. But since not a lot of businesses have extra funds for an unforeseen event like this, businesses lack funds to pay their people, they don’t get to have enough funds for the bills that they have, etc. This will result to layoffs, penalties and interests for unpaid bills or taxes, not having enough funds to pay for offices, machines, equipments, etc. Some of these companies will then have to declare bankruptcy.

Some companies will panic because they are not ready for a “work-from-home” scenario. For the longest time, our minds have been set a certain way by policies and directives about working that have been passed on from generation to generation. We think that people are more productive when they come and stay in the office from 8-5 or 9-6. There are no policies on working remotely. No policies set on which tools to use, when to use these tool, how to best use them, etc. During quarantine, most of the business owners will scramble to set up a system that will work for them “temporarily”. 

It will affect people emotionally and psychologically. This isolation will get to some people. And with the news about COVID 19 and this community quarantine, it will definitely foster low moral, scare, lack of motivation due to lack of freedom (freedom that we are so used to). For business owners, some will be depressed because of the uncertainty of their businesses, thus, possibly leading to making the wrong business decision. 

Long Term effects of Enhanced Community Quarantine on Businesses

The only thing constant in this world is change. So as humans, I think that we will obviously “adapt” to whatever our environment throws at us, thrive and survive. With this, we will be gunning for the “normalization” of things. We will look for ways to bring out the new “normal”.

That being said:

  • Businesses will be keen on visiting policies and creating new policies for situations like these. They will probably create new policies for working at home, dealing with Pandemic like this, etc.
  • Most companies will see that having their Employees “Work-from-Home” is actually possible. I feel that a lot of business owners will see after a while that given this kind of environment, there are some people and job functions that can really be done from home and are even more productive this way. They will also see that there are people and jobs, too, where an office setting is more beneficial. Business owners will be more open to having a more results based environment and see the value for certain types of jobs and personalities. They’ll probably be more open to hiring independent contractors and freelancers who work well in these types of environment.
  • Shifts in business models of some businesses. Business owners will see that there may be a few things that they need to tweak in term of how they generate revenues. For examples, a company that used to do things mostly offline, will think of diversifying and looking at other sources of revenue. 
  • Rise of the new creators and inventors. When unforeseen situations like this happen, they become “seen” and people get to experience a different set of challenges and pain points. Some of us go the extra mile and create solutions for the things that we experience now and for the things that we wish we had at this point in time.

What can we do to battle the negative effects and stay sane?

For Business Owners and Startup Founders: Revisit your business model. Try to look for other ways you can earn. As I mentioned, it’s time to look for new ways of earning, if you aren’t really getting any revenue.

This is also the time do some “cleanups”. Clean up processes. Find ways on how to make processes more efficient. This is the time to quickly work on things that would normally get set aside.

Take care of your people. We are all new to this. As business owners and entrepreneurs, we’ve handled a lot of challenges along the way. From overcoming these things, we’ve become stronger. Let’s step up and be leaders at this time. Make your people feel safe and secure.

For employees: Take care of yourself. Even when in lock down, try to maintain a “balance” with everything that you do. It’s hard to separate working from personal time when both are done in the same environment. Try to set boundaries for each. Take breaks while working. At the same time, strive to be more productive, too, while at home. It’s hard, but you’ll get the hang of it.

To motivate you to work from home, you can (1) go back to your company’s mission and see if you can help achieve the mission that they have. In Taxumo, our mission is really to help people compute, file and pay their taxes anytime and anywhere. We are working doubly hard now to reach more people so that they don’t have to worry about paying taxes during times like these. Our government uses these (our taxes) to fund public hospitals and other initiatives that can help our countrymen in times like these.

Another thing that you can look at to motivate you is (2) look at your own personal goals. Who are you doing this for? Going back to the reason why you’re working can help you out at this time.

Let me share with you a video that I shared with some of my employees and hopefully this will help. It talks about looking for the FLOW.

We’ll all get through this. We must get through this. I still believe in the human spirit and how we can turn situations like this into something beneficial for all of us. Let’s help one another, and probably, after all of this has died down, we’ll all be super humans.

P.S. I read this article that I had written 6 years ago when I was “about” to start working from home: https://mommyginger.com/work-at-home-me.html Just brings back a lot of emotions 🙂

My COVID 19 Personal Prevention Tools

We spent my daughter’s birthday at Marco Polo last weekend, and we got home last Tuesday. And since Tuesday, our entire family have stayed at home. We never stepped out since then.

Like our fellow Filipinos, we’ve been monitoring the news and the DOH website: https://www.doh.gov.ph/2019-nCoV Please get information from them. There are a lot of fake news that’s being circulated at this time. Like this morning, Ate Len (who helps us take care of Zeeka) told me, “Maam, sabi nila, saging lang daw katapat ng virus na yan (All we need to do is to eat bananas to prevent the virus)”. I told her if that were the case, then we wouldn’t have all of these COVID 19 cases! haha! I then told her to just check information from the Department of Health and not to readily believe information from elsewhere.

So anyway, today, I wanted to share with you what my COVID 19 prevention tools are here at home.

Xiaomi Mi Air Purifier 3H (White)

I actually got this from EJ last Christmas. No, I don’t have any psychic powers. I wanted it for my allergic rhinitis. I heard that this helps alleviate allergies. It just so happened that we (the Philippines) had that Taal volcano Ashfall concern to deal with after, and now this, Corona virus.

It’s primary filter removes the basic dust that’s in your home. Then it has a HEPA filter that eliminates smoke, household dust, mold, pollen and other fine particles up to 0.03 microns in size.

It also has an activated carbon filter that removes toxic substances.

Its pPurification Capacity (CADR) is at 380 sq. m per hour. We actually placed it inside the Master’s bedroom, but I transferred it this week to the sala. This is because we’ve been having a lot of deliveries lately that it made sense to put it there.

Does it work?

I hope so. I’m not sure if it works on virus, but it definitely helped me reduce my allergies.

Meo Mask

As for the mask, we didn’t hoard masks or anything like that. We got this super cool mask from https://www.mightybaby.ph/meo. The thing is though that they don’t have stocks of these anymore. What I like about it is that it’s washable.

It fits snuggly also on the sides. At the same time though, because of its design, you can breathe comfortably. The design protrudes in the middle so you have space to breathe. You can also change the filters every week. I forgot to buy the filters from them (although it came with two filters), so I just place the PM 2.5 filters that I got from Lazada.

We don’t use it as much anymore since we don’t go out of the house.

USB Charging Portable Creative Mini Air Purifier Necklace Air Cleaner Pendant

When it comes to being the best at discovering unique finds like this and protecting the family, my mom and sister probably would probably make it to the list.

They bought air purifier necklaces like these for the entire family.

So researched about this air purifier made in China and it works to purify indoor air, remove fine particulate matter (PM2.5), formaldehyd, odor and dust, bacteria.

These necklaces also release anion groups, improve air quality effectively. It only has one button to either turn it on or off. It also has a rechargable lithium battery. The working principle around it is it being an air ioniser. According to wikipedia, Air ionisers have been used to eliminate the occurrence of airborne bacterial infections and to reduce static electricity build-up in electronics.

It helps purify the air surrounding the person up to 10m². It’s light weight and safe to use around children and infants. Just don’t put it near any heat source, since it may break the device.

Hand Sanitizers

Since we frequently wash at home, if we do use sanitizers, we want them to be as mild as possible. These are the two hand sanitizers that we use at home for Zeeka, our daughter.

Aromavibe Essentials Defense Hand Sanitizer with Essential Oils 50ml

  • Aromavibe Essentials Hand Sanitizer are made from Ethyl Alcohol and Essential Oils. It contains the combination of cinnamon, clove, rosemary, lemon and eucalyptus essential oils that is really know as a germ protecting mix. Inspired by the mix of Thieves, On Guard, Fighting Five and Germ Destroyer of essential oil brands. Effectively removes germs while non-drying on the skin.Non-sticky 
  • Pocket-sized 
  • Can be used to clean toys and surfaces 

This is the link to order the product:

https://www.lazada.com.ph/products/aromavibe-essentials-defense-hand-sanitizer-with-essential-oils-50ml-i599152581-s1642796157.html?spm=a2o4l.10450891.0.0.752ff777ra1x3w&mp=3

Belo Baby Hand Sanitizer

I got this from the grocery. Zeeka loves it because of the scent.

So there you have it. These are the “tools” that I have at home. How about you? What do you have at home to prevent the spread of COVID 19?

Summer Online Activity for Kids – Learn Filipino

For those looking for an “online” activity for their children where they don’t need to leave the house, I want to share with you this online Filipino class by The Learning Library.

This summer, they launched their course called Wika’y Galing! Online.  It’s the very first online program for children learning to speak Filipino as a second language. 

When Zeeka was 2, she was really good at speaking Filipino. For some reason though (and I heard a lot of kids are in a similar situation), they forget how to speak Filipino and would rather speak in English. I guess it’s because a lot of the content that we see online are in English. I also think that we haven’t really exposed her enough also to Filipino content.

This summer, I decided to enroll her to this online class of The Learning Library. She had her assessment already. She knew how to read and say Filipino words like our body parts, but when it came to words like Maaliwalas or Maaraw, etc., she had to practice more.

This course was created by The Learning Library in cooperation with Adarna. Once your child is enrolled, s/he will have access to over 100 Adarna books. Also, the course will have a teacher that your child will interact with. You will need to choose a schedule so that you’ll have a teacher who can guide your child.

For more information, you can visit www.wikaygaling.com 🙂

Happy learning!

Creative Writing for Kids: 5 Surefire Ways To Boost Skills

Creative writing is an important skill for our kids. 

In this age of smartphones and handheld devices, creativity and writing remain as top requirements to ensure our kid’s future.

I should know. In my years as an entrepreneur, it took creativity to resolve issues I’ve encountered.

It also takes creativity to get people to be interested in you and your product.

That’s why I also try as much to increase my daughter’s creative writing skills.

Creative Writing Benefits for Kids

Our kid’s generation may be tech-savvy, but science backs up the fact that the act of writing is more beneficial for the brain.

Writing on pen and paper can keep our brains sharp and can also influence us into more positive thoughts. Hand movements during writing activate a huge part of the brain responsible for healing trauma, language, and working memory.

Here are other benefits of handwriting and creative writing for our kids. 

1. It helps manage stress. 

Stress is a natural occurrence in everyday life. Children, for example, go through the pressures of school, their homes, and relationships with their peers. 

Writing poems, short stories, or creating cartoons can unload a lot of stress for kids.

It also helps release unwanted tension and encourages them to divert their attention to something more productive and creative.

2. It encourages deep thinking

I love it when Zeeka does her drawings and shows them to me. Watching her draw and create a story out of it is such a great joy for me.

Every story she tells lets me take a peek into what’s going on inside her head. And I’m really glad to hear how much her stories are growing.

Check out our drawing time here: 

Now that she’s six years old, her stories are becoming more complex.

Her characters are becoming more intricate. And I’m really glad I’m getting to witness her progress.

3. It increases comprehension and learning 

Creative writing also helps kids do better in Math and Sciences.

Studies show that writing helps the brain create the same patterns one needs to learn Math and Science.

One needs sharp observation and documentation skills when it comes to learning Sciences and figuring out equations.

Both can be improved through systematic approaches and observations which can also be developed through creative writing.

4. It helps them process big emotions. 

Children go through a lot of stress even as kids.

Every now and then Zeeka tells me she feels sad or angry, even frustrated when she doesn’t get what she wants.

Sometimes she tells me she’s lonely without her friends.

Even if it doesn’t sound as serious to us, it’s a big deal for them.

That’s why it’s also important for them to learn how to recognize, process, and handle their emotions.

Creative writing helps them write down what they feel through stories, characters, and situations. 

Child psychologists have used similar techniques in therapy to help children open up and share details about them or their trauma.

Doing so helps kids focus on their strengths and the good side of things rather than dwell on their negative emotions or trauma.

5. It increases focus 

Children are naturally curious. And it’s perfectly normal for them to have concentration issues because of how they’re exploring the world. 

They get bored easily when things aren’t fun and they shift their attention somewhere else. 

While creative writing may not be a part of your kid’s priorities yet, there are some exercises that can prepare them for writing. 

These include doodling and drawing.

Drawing helps them visualize their materials better. This is a great exercise in developing characters and settings.

Harvard Health Blog also confirms the health benefits of doodling, especially for kids.

Doodling, it turned out, is like our brain’s last attempt at staying focused and awake.

It also eases psychological distress and activates the brain’s “time travel machine”.

Doodling puts us in a relaxed state where our minds attempt to find lost pieces, make sense of the present, and help us visualize our future. 

Gamifying Creative Writing for Kids

Gamification has been a huge buzz word not only in the tech industry but also in other areas like education.

Educators from all around the globe have turned to apps and games to help students maximize learning and make it fun.

But did you know that board games also help in boosting creativity for kids of all ages?

Yep, you got that right. Board games. And I must admit, I’m a board game fanatic.

In fact, we hold regular board game sessions at home with friends and family. 

Here’s what it usually looks like at game nights… 

What I love most about it is the challenge of quick thinking, and the strategies it takes to win. 

I’ve been reading a lot about how old school role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons help improve children’s creativity through storytelling. 

Even the world’s greatest writers and novelists acknowledge the impact that Dungeons and Dragons have on their writing skills. 

Goerge R.R. Martin, Dan Harmon, and even Stephen Colbert admit that a huge part of their creativity stems from playing the game in their youth.

The game can last from three hours or three years.

How is it played?

A ‘dungeon master’ gets to run game and create critical situations where the players respond with their own narrative.

Players can also choose the characters they portray. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the characters respond to crises according to their powers. 

Check out this fun tutorial from The Try Guys:

So how exactly does playing board games like D&D help in boosting creativity, especially with kids? 

For one, it’s an endless story with unlimited possibilities. Children get to come up with their own stories and characters. 

It also develops quick wit and enhances situational awareness. 

Playing the game encourages teamwork and promotes complex problem-solving skills.

So how does it make your kid become a better writer? 

Studies show that the highly social and collaborative nature of role-playing games has a huge effect on learning. It helps improve crucial soft skills, like listening intently and responding to the challenges set by the game master.[1]

It also taps into the player’s abilities like decision making, invention, calculations, negotiation, active spatial visualization, and storytelling.

UEC Philippines: A Unique Way to Teach Creative Writing

One of the reasons why I like UEC Philippines is because they make writing fun. 

Unlike traditional schools, Unique English Classroom provides kids with a chance to run wild with their imagination.

Children learn the basics of reading to the intricacies of storytelling, reading, and writing through four progressive programs. 

UEC also focuses on the more important aspect of communication: reading comprehension and confidence in communication. 

Headed by Catherine Khoo, children under the Unique English Classroom program get to explore the English language through practical application. 

They also use different ways to fire up your kid’s imagination and improve their storytelling and creative writing skills.

Younger kids learn reading and writing through storytelling activities.

Later on, they progress to drawings and illustrations to tell their stories. 

They also do comic books with their own stories.

They even play Dungeons & Dragons and learn how to develop their own world and characters. Dungeons & Dragons will be available in all UEC Centers this coming summer. This activity is for kids ages 9 to 16 yo. I told Zeeka about it and she said she can’t wait to be 9 years old! haha!

Check out the kids of UEC San Mateo as they play it here: https://www.facebook.com/UniqueEnglishClassroom/videos/1486421058176426/

Help your future writer excel in creative writing. Learn more about UEC Philippines today. 

For inquiries, check out their website here: https://uecyoungauthors.com.ph/

How do I file my PH Annual Income Tax Return?

It’s that time of the year again when we all have to pay our Annual Income Tax Return, popularly known as ITR. And with this, I see a lot of posts online asking how to I file an Income Tax Return or ITR and where should one start.

So, let me give you at least some information, based on what I know and how I do it. Again, I am not an accountant, but having Taxumo as a business have made me understand how taxation in the Philippines work for MSMEs, self-employed individuals and PRC licensed/non-licensed professionals.

Who needs to prepare their ITR by themselves?

Most of us are employees of a local company that are registered with the BIR. The company that we work for withholds a certain amount that they pay to the BIR (on our behalf). This is called substituted filing. And as proof of that, employees get a form 2316 around Jan to Feb (start of the year) so that you can use this when you apply for VISA, get loans, etc.

So for employees, MAKE SURE you get a 2316 form and KEEP IT! That form is very important.

Now for employees who have side businesses or freelancing / professional services that they do on the side? How do I file an Income Tax Return?

Friend, you are called a Mixed Income Individual. This means that you earn from being an employee and from your business or profession. So what you need to do is to file a Form 1701 (Annual Income Tax Return Form). Let’s talk about how to file it later on in this article. To file a 1701 for mixed income individuals though, you will have to have your 2316 by your side. And if some of your clients also gave you 2307 forms, you have to have them, too.

How about for full time freelancers, professionals and sole proprietors, what do we file?

Now listen up! You can either use 1701 or the newest form to the ITR family, which is 1701A. Now when do you know which of the two you will have to file?

  • Form 1701 – Please use this form if 1) you are a mixed income individual, meaning you are an employee AND also earning income from a business or side profession (ex. consultancy work, freelance writer, etc.) or 2) if you’ve chosen Graduated Tax rate with an Itemized Deduction Method
  • Form 1701A – Please use this form if you are earning purely business income or income from your profession. This is a new form released by the BIR for those who chose the Optional Standard Deduction Method (OSD) or opted in for 8% GRT in the previous year

I’m ready to file my ITR. I know what form I should fill out. What do I do?

First thing that I did was I created an account in Taxumo. Just follow these screenshots:

A. https://www.taxumo.com/blog/taxumo-how-tos-creating-a-user-account-in-taxumo/

B. https://www.taxumo.com/blog/how-tos-setting-up-your-company-information

Once you’re done setting up your user account and company information, the next step is to feed Taxumo with information. Note that the system COMPUTES for your taxes, so you don’t have to manually compute or compute using a spreadsheet.

So, there are two scenarios when we get to entering Revenue and Expenses in Taxumo. Scenario one is that you’ve never filed anything before (even manually). This is your first time. And scenario two is that you’ve actually filed manually before and you want to try using Taxumo this time around.

Perfect! I will guide you for both instances.

Scenario one’s cash flow entry is basically adding your revenue and expense entries into Taxumo. Click on your CASH FLOW tab and add entries one by one. Things to note:

  • For revenue that you key in, it has to pair up with an OR that you have written for a client
  • For expenses, enter expenses that are related to your business. It has to pair up with an official receipt (it’s usually indicated in the receipt).
  • Taxumo has standard and suggested categories already in the system. If you’d like to add a few categories, it’s best to consult with an accountant to know if it’s a direct or indirect expense. You can book a consultation here: https://www.taxumo.com/taxumo-consult/

Scenario two’s cash flow is basically adding your revenue and expenses for the 4th Quarter of 2019 (or applicable year for your ITR) — October, November and December. This is because we assume that you have your 1701Q-Q3 (3rd Quarter Income Tax Return) with you. Just keep it by your side when you file.

I totally forgot Scenario three. Scenario 3 is basically when you have used Taxumo and have filed at least your 3rd Quarter 1701Q with us and have consistently been logging revenue and expenses for 4th quarter. You have nothing to worry since all fields will be filled out (assuming you are not a mixed income individual where you need to have your 2316 form by your side).

So I have encoded all of my revenue and expenses in Taxumo. Do I need to encode anything else?

If you have 2307s, please take a picture of each of the 2307 form and go to the WITHHELD TAXES tab. Encode and copy each one under the RECEIVED tab.

If you are a withholding agent and need to pay withholding taxes (0619E,1601EQ and 1604E), be sure that you have done and paid all of these already.

Hmmm, that’s about it.

I have done all that. Am I ready to file my Annual Income Tax Return now?

Yes, you are! You have done all the prep work. All you need to do is to watch these videos and follow it. If this is the first time you are using Taxumo, be sure that you have your past filings of 1701Q beside you. If you are a mixed income individual, have your 2316 with you while filing your ITR in Taxumo.

Visit this link, watch and follow the videos:

https://www.taxumo.com/blog/how-do-i-file-an-annual-income-tax-return/

Oh, this sounds easy! Aside from the actual tax dues that I will need to pay, how much is processing in Taxumo?

Taxumo has 3 subscription plans to choose from and the plans are based on the tax forms that you need to file. To know the forms that you need to file, check your Certificate of Registration and look at Tax Types. You’ll normally see the following for a self-employed individual:

  • Percentage (Non-VAT taxpayers) / Value Added Tax (VAT taxpayers)
  • Registration fee (this is the yearly BIR fee that you need to pay every January)
  • Income Tax (this is paid by everyone)
  • Withholding Taxes – EXP/OTH (This means you are a Withholding Tax Agent and you need to withhold taxes for each payment that you make)

Okay, on to the plans, you can check out Taxumo’s plans here: https://www.taxumo.com/taxumo-pricing/

The cheapest is Php 700 per month (if you get the annual fee). It’s Php 888 if you get the monthly fee. This is for those who opted to pay the 8% flat income tax rate (so they need to file forms 1701Q, 1701A and usually the registration fee or 0605). Taxumo’s pricing already includes filing form 1701A and all of these mentioned forms. You SAWT or 1701Q/1701A attachments are also submitted to the BIR! No need to be penalized for missed submissions of attachments.

The next plan is at Php 1500 per month (if you get the annual fee). It’s Php 1888 if you get the monthly fee. In this plan, the forms Percentage tax (2551Q), Income Tax Forms (1701Q, 1701, 1701A), Withholding Tax (0619E, 1601E, 1604E), Registration Fee (0605) and submission of attachments QAP and SAWT are also included.

The last plan is at Php 2300 per month(if you get the annual fee). It’s Php 2888 if you get the monthly fee. This is what VAT taxpayers usually need since in this plan, the forms Percentage tax (2551Q), VAT forms (2550M and 2550Q), Income Tax Forms (1701Q, 1701, 1701A), Withholding Tax (0619E, 1601E, 1604E), Registration Fee (0605) and submission of attachments QAP, SAWT and SLSP are also included.

*Note that for all plans, Taxumo gives you additional 2 delegate access and access to your Books of Accounts view.

A lot of people are asking if they can just avail of Annual ITR (1701 and 1701A). Yes, you can!

Here are the rates:

1701A 8%  at ₱ 888.00 
1701A Graduated (Optional Standard Deduction) at ₱ 1,888.00 
1701 at  ₱ 1,888.00

Usually, the deadline is on April 15, but it was extended for this year due to COVID 19. BIR deadline is May 15,2020. Taxumo’s deadline is May 10, 2020.

Always file early, peeps, and #TaxItEasy!

If I missed anything that you’d like to ask, please feel free to comment on the comment section below. Also, check out the videos of Taxumo in their YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/taxumo

Happy filing!