Is It Too Late to Start a Business? Where can I Start?

I was filling out a survey for Fintech companies in the Philippines, and one of the questions there was how old each founder was. In the tech industry, there are a lot of young founders, so I find questions like these to be awkward. Obviously, there was nothing wrong by them asking that question, since it was a survey and they need data. It was my own mind that was making uncontrollable judgements. haha! It was my own self telling ME that it’s too late to start a business. I’m in my late 30s and I just seem old to be starting these very millennial-ish business.

Because of the voice inside me that was telling me to feel ashamed about my predicament, I decided to write about the PROs why it’s never too late to start a business. It can seem scary to start a business at an old age. But, it does offer a lot of advantages. Take for example Harland Sanders, who started Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) at 65 years old and became successful. At an old age, you have a bigger network and gained more experiences and knowledge. You also have more tenacity to make your business venture a success.

A bigger network

At 40s and up, you have already met many people during your professional career. You have already built stronger connections with peers and colleagues. You know who among them are reliable and trustworthy. Tap into their expertise and call them up in case if you need legal, financial, and marketing advice.

A wealth of knowledge and experience

When you’re older, you have gained more experiences and knowledge. You have been through many jobs and experienced failures. These guide you to make better decisions. By this time, you have gained more business acumen and expertise in your craft. Those learnings build you to become more prepared in your business venture.

More tenacity

You are more responsible to handle problems as they arise. You can make a firmer stand on important business decisions. You don’t easily lose heart in the face of problems. You understand that it takes patience and determination to make your business venture a success.

What are the business opportunities for you?

There are a lot of business opportunities for you. All of the things mentioned above make you more likely to succeed even. What really stops you are all of those personal judgements that you make on yourself. No one thinks that! So every day, wake up feeling capable. Each day, tell yourself that you can make things happen.

Believe that it’s not too late to start a business.

Learning Snippets: What is a Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin?

This year, I thought of sharing snippets of information that I get to learn about. The first one that I’d like to share and talk to you about is  CRYPTOCURRENCY and BITCOIN. There is much talk about bitcoins and cryptocurrency. Of course, I also wanted to know and study what these were!

Ayoko ngang magpahuli! Plus I wanted to know why my husband was constantly borrowing my laptop to “mine”.

What I did was I watched Banking on Bitcoin on Netflix. Here’s a trailer:

What is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a virtual or digital currency protected with cryptography. This feature secures transactions that are made online. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency developed by Satoshi Nakamoto back in 2009. It functions like a real money but does not come in printed form. It can be used to buy anything online like book a hotel, buy gadgets, equipment and a lot more. The transfer of funds is much easier and cheaper due to absence of extra fees for wire transfers (more to be said about that, but that was the original intention).

Here is a short video about BITCOINS:

Others trade it. Trading of bitcoin in different currencies occur in marketplaces called “bitcoin exchanges”. Some examples of these marketplaces are Bitfinex, Bitstamp and Coinbase, which is taking the lead.

Bitcoins are stored in the user’s computer or cloud storage. This serves as the “wallet” or “virtual bank account”. It is where bitcoins are being received or transferred, withdrawn or deposited. To transfer bitcoins, just use a mobile application or the computer.

It is not regulated by any institution like the government or bank. It is checked-and-balanced by different people on different computers. Everyone validates everyone else. This is where mining comes into the picture. Mining is basically checking if the ledgers are correct. As for regulation, governments of China, Japan and Australia are now considering to regulate the system and the currency. Others are seeing the possibility of adding tax to it.

Anonymity of the owner of bitcoin is another feature. All transactions that were ever made online using a bitcoin are stored in a ledger called the blockchain. Although transactions are recorded, the personal information of the users is anonymous. Names and addresses are not revealed. It only shows the wallet IDs of the users.

That’s my learning snippet for today! I hope I helped you, even in a little way, to learn more about Crypotocurrency and bitcoins.

 

 

Understanding TRAIN or Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion

A lot of people have been discussing the TRAIN law and how will it affect us. I’ve been reading about it and I’ll be sharing some of the things that I read about with you. Also, I’ll be sharing a Philippines BIR Tax Software that I have been using.

What is TRAIN?

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) into law last December 19, 2017. It’s the first package among the other tax reform measures to be issued by his administration. It expected to make a considerable impact on the prices of goods and services, take-home pay of Filipinos and their purchasing power.

About 70% of collected revenues will go to infrastructure projects that the Duterte’s administration plan to build. His administration has planned to allocate P8.44 trillion for its “Build, Build, Build” program for 2017-2022. They plan to build more road networks and better mass transportation rides for the public.  These will enhance the economy and create more investment opportunities, thereby creating more jobs or income sources for the Filipinos.

The other projects under the 70% collected revenues are the following: infrastructure for the military, drinking water facilities in all public places and sports facilities for public schools. The remaining 30% will be spent on social mitigating measures and investments for health, nutrition, hunger and education.

What is it to Employees?

Under this law, there is a zero percent tax for low-income earners with an annual income of P250,000 and below. Those with an annual income of P8 million and above are taxed with 35 percent. The 13th month pay and other bonuses at P90,000 and below will remain not to be taxed. This new law lightens the financial burden among low-income earners. With the previous income tax law, about 5 percent is deducted from earners with P10,000 and below income. Those with an annual income of P500,000 and above get to have 32 percent of off their income.

What is it to us Business Owners, Freelancers and Professionals?

For business owners, sole proprietorships and licensed and non-licensed individuals, those earning below Php 250,000 per year will be tax exempt. Those who earn Php 3 Million and below per year now have the option to file and pay for a 3% percentage tax + income tax (paid quarterly) or an 8% percentage tax of gross receipts (paid annually).

Although the 8% percentage tax paid annually may seem attractive, you may want to check what is better for your business. There is still a level where 3% percentage tax + income tax (paid quarterly) is a better option.

Here’s how to check:

One – Download this calculator by a my friend Mark Ong, who is a CPA.

Train bill – compare: Train bill – compare

Second Option – This is a blog from Taxumo, Philippines’ BIR tax software.

TRAIN’s New 8% Tax – Does it really save you money?

What else did change?

The BIR placed a higher tax rate on coal, mining, tobacco, sweetened beverage petroleum, and automobiles. Some may not find it as good news. They fear that companies will increase the prices of their goods for consumers to shoulder the higher tax rates.

What’s next? 

Everyone’s awaiting the other packages and the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the BIR. If you want to know more about the Philippines Tax Reform law, join the workshop of Manila Workshops on January 27. Check it out in this link: http://manilaworkshops.com/events/understanding-tax-reform-for-msmes-self-employed-professionals-freelancers

Personally, our team in Taxumo studied the law and thought about how to easily cascade it to our users. If you haven’t checked out this Philippines BIR Tax Software, you should. It really makes your life as an entrepreneur, freelancer and professional easier. How? Taxumo is the first in the industry to have automated calculations of your tax dues. And guess what? The Taxumo Income Tax calculations now uses the formula from the TRAIN law (RA No. 10963).

Once the Implementing Rules & Regulations are released by the BIR, Taxumo will be updating the forms & formula speedily and accurately to make sure that you’re using the latest forms when you’re filing your taxes.

If you want to try out Taxumo, sign up now for a FREE trial.

Mad Hatter: Freelancing Demands Many Hats!

Few and far in between are the freelancers who do just one thing. Because we are essentially one-man (or one-woman!) companies, it means that whatever our specialty, we often are required to do other things, perhaps as additional services for customers, but also marketing our services to potential clients, making bids and proposals, doing our own bookkeeping and accounting, accepting payment for services rendered, and so on.

Previously, I talked about the importance of (and how to find) your niche market and the skill set to succeed in it, which forms the core of your business as a freelancer. But there are also other, auxiliary, aspects of your business that you can’t afford to ignore or neglect if you want to become a successful self-employed professional. And there are skill sets you need to develop to supplement that core business and make it more profitable.

Let’s take my life as a blogger for an example. Apart from MommyGinger.com, I also blog for ManilaReviews.com, so one way or another, I’ve been blogging for several years now. It’s all too easy to think that setting up a blog only requires that you be a good writer, but you’d be wrong about that. Here are a few basic skill sets every blogger should have:

  • Writing: You don’t have to have perfect grammar, but having the skill to effectively communicate what you want to say is vital to attracting and keeping readers. You also need to develop a particular voice and style for your blog, one that helps you connect not just with your readers’ minds but with their hearts as well.
  • Photography: In this day and age, not many people will read a solid block of text on a blog without any pictures to speak of, so you’ll have to know what attracts the eye so you can take or select good photos. This becomes even more important for food, travel, fashion, and other lifestyle blogs.
  • Technical: Yes, you can hire a designer or buy a template for your blog, but while you don’t need to learn to code, you still need to know enough to make small tweaks and adjustments to make your blog your own and troubleshoot when need be. It can be time consuming and expensive to go to a designer for every little change you want to make.
  • Marketing: If you want your blog to pay for itself, you’re probably going to be looking at advertisements and sponsorships; for personal blogs, endorsements are great too. If you want to maximize earnings and preserve the integrity of your blog, you need to have the marketing savvy to understand how the content you publish as well as the products and services you endorse fits your brand.

So just from this one example, you can see how I need to wear many hats as a blogger—and my blog is not my only business, so you can only imagine the madness that results if I don’t manage my time and my clients’ expectations properly!

Still, this multi-hatted nature of freelancing presents a two-layered challenge if you’re just starting out. First, you need to determine which skills to hone so they do you the most good and you earn the most money, and second, you’ll need to actually learn and sharpen those skills.

For the first, think of drawing a flower the way we learn it in kindergarten. The center is your core competency or specialization — your niche in the market place. Inside that “center” are the skills you absolutely need to keep your business robust. Then draw the petals around the center. Each can contain a skill set that attaches to that specialization and makes it more appealing to your clients. Now, you may need to focus on certain “petals” over others, but it’s still good to know what those other aspects are—and where to source people with those skill sets should you need them. One way to do that is to expand your network, to talk to people who are experts in those fields, join meet-ups (the Freelance Blend monthly meet-ups are great for these) or online groups.

To get a crash course in necessary skills, you can do your own research or look into workshops. In fact, you may want to check out the PayPal Freelancer Community Workshop series—more on this later. Apart from workshops like these, you can also join online courses such as those offered by Udemy, Coursera, and more. You can also find lots of video tutorials on YouTube as well as informative and inspiring information from TEDTalks and the many, many podcasts produced around different industries and interests. In this day and age, you don’t need to go back to school to go back to school, if you know what I mean!

I will always encourage exploration as a freelancer: Learn a little about a lot of things so that you can make an informed decision about the few things you want to learn a lot about. And you never know when those little bits of knowledge will come in handy when dealing with a new client or business opportunity.

And yes, you may find yourself feeling like the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland from time to time, especially if you’re a mom! We are constantly putting on and taking off different “hats” or roles, sometimes even wearing more than one at the same time.

But one of those skills you’ll have to learn is organization and time management—to find a method to the madness. In the same way you try on many different hats, then settle down with a collection of headgear that complements your looks and personal style, you should also explore the different skill sets that relate to your career, then develop the ones that you are comfortable with (or which you actually enjoy), as well as the ones that help you grow your business.

Do you have any tips or resources you’d like to share with me and other Mad Hatters reading this? If you’re keen to learn more about things that you’ll need to flourish as a freelancer, i’ll be having another session on November 18, 2017 for the PayPal Freelancer Community Workshop series. The details are on this link: http://bit.ly/PayPal5thFreelancerWorkshop

Continue to follow also the other freelance experts Fitz Villafuerte, Abe Olandres, and Liz Lanuzo. Check out the full schedule below, and join the PayPal Philippines Freelancer Community group on Facebook for updates on the venues. Hope to see you there!

3 Things that You can do to Find Your Freelancing Niche Market

I’ve worked a lot of different jobs in my life. I originally worked as a banker, but I’ve also been a dog breeder, makeup artist, product/fashion stylist, and social entrepreneur. I’m the founder of Manila Workshops and Taxumo. And of course, I’m a blogger too! Apart from this blog, I am a lifestyle blogger at ManilaReviews.com and a health and fitness blogger at ManilaFitness.com.

I’ve done styling and make-up…

So no one knows better than I do how life and a wide variety of interests can pull you in so many different directions. But while diversification can keep your life fun and exciting, it can also make it easier for you to get frazzled and spread yourself too thin. When that happens, especially when you’re freelancing, it can push you that much closer to burnout.

This makes it all the more important to find your niche as a freelancer. It’s not just to improve your own life, either—it will help you find and serve quality clients who are willing to pay more for your unique set of skills.

Still, finding the market and skill set to specialize in can be tough. In my case, it took me years of doing different things before I settled into the roles I have now, but I don’t regret any of them—in fact, I highly recommend doing the same. It’s good to explore the many avenues that are open to you because it helps you find the best fit. Think about how it works when you go to college, where you take mostly general subjects in your freshman and sophomore years, which gives you the option to change your course before you go into the subjects related to your major, which you take more and more of in your junior years, so that you have the right knowledge and skills for your chosen career path by the time you graduate.

Most freelancers find that finding their niche markets require quite a bit of trial and error. Still, there are ways to make sure there are fewer “errors” than there are trials. Here are a few things I’d suggest:

Do some exploratory research. Talk to other people. Join meetups not just for freelancers doing the same thing you’re doing, but other kinds of freelancers and professionals as well (if this is something you’d like to do, I can recommend joining the Freelance Blend group by Marvin de Leon and also the PayPal Philippines Freelancer Community. Immerse yourself in an industry you find interesting. Read books, watch videos, subscribe to podcasts—there are so many things you can do!

Do a SWOT analysis. You might have learned about these in school or at work. Outline your strengths and your weaknesses, and identify opportunities and threats for your freelancing business. You’ll want to play to your strengths and maximize your opportunities, but also find ways to improve on your weaknesses and protect your business from threats.

Do a little soul searching. Not to sound cheesy, but the better you know yourself and what you want to do, the easier it will be to find a place in the freelancer market that fits you. Ask yourself a few probing questions. What do you want to achieve as a career goal? What do you love doing most—and love learning? Or conversely, what do you hate doing? Where is your network? Who are the people who support you? And on a more social note, where can you do the most good?

At the end of the day, and even when you have found your niche and made a name for yourself, you’ll likely still find that you’ll still need to know a little about a lot of things, as your clients’ needs may vary. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to spend lots of time and money getting professional-level competencies at skill sets that aren’t your primary business focus, but you need to know enough to be conversant and to make sure what needs to get done is done—more on this in my next post! And at the basic level, you’ll need to develop good communication and productivity skills, as well as the know-how to use tools like Taxumo and PayPal to make sure all your earnings are properly reported and received.

But don’t forget that you should have one or two things you should know a lot about, in order to be an expert in your field or career track. Once you know where your priorities lie, you can focus on working smarter instead of harder. And that just means more time for travel and, more importantly, for friends and family!

 

What I Learned from a Korean Drama

I’ve been too nice. I know that sounds chauvinistic, but just hold on for a bit.

If you know me, I will say yes to a lot of things. I will offer to meet up and coach a person for free. I will sometimes offer free advertisement on my blog for small business owners. I will offer financial resources for things to push through, even if I won’t exactly benefit from that thing. I will even offer brands free stuff from my blog and from my own time, if I want to help out.

And mind you, these things are things that are of value to me, whether it be because of the time spent or the financial resources that I spent. I know that these are valuable to many others, too.

And I did not build my brand overnight. It took blood, sweat and tears.

Where is this going, you may ask?

This is going to a lesson that is applicable in all of your freelancing careers (and entrepreneurship lives! haha!). And I was reminded of this lesson while I was watching White Nights, a korean drama on Netflix.

I was reminded that to keep a Client/Partner happy, the relationship that we have should be a “win-win” situation for both parties. Although, in that K-drama, they laid things out in a blunt manner.

But seriously, why do I NEED to keep giving if I feel that I don’t get anything out of a relationship. Why is it my fault that I have to step back when I feel that I’m no longer valued? Why do I always need to understand people around me, when it was I who was the one in the losing end all along?

So before you make decisions, or feel things, assess the situation. Ask yourself, were you fair to your client? Did you give it your all during the times that they needed you? Did they value you as much as you valued yourself?

If you did the best that you could, then that’s what matters.

And if you’re on the other side, before you judge, think. Did you really give as much value? Why do you feel that way? Is it the other party’s fault or was it a lapse on your end. What could you have done to keep the relationship alive?

Walang forever if walang effort para maging forever.

RISE OF THE FREE: Freelance Professionals for the Win!

I have much to say about the Freelancing community in the Philippines, and most of these things come from actual experiences and close contact with people in this community.

Not a Raket Anymore

There have been a lot of misconceptions about being a freelancer, one of which is that freelancing is merely a side business that you do, and since it’s something that you do in your FREE time, freelancers don’t take their work seriously. Another misconception is that Freelancers should be cheaper or FREE. And a common one is that Freelancers have so much FREE time, since they don’t really do anything.

Now being with freelancers for the past 7 years of my life, I’d like to share my experiences of dealing and being a freelancer. For the first point, most freelancers really take their work seriously, and most of them get into freelancing doing the “thing” that they love doing. For what I have seen, even when these freelancers still have day jobs, they enjoy the time that they spend doing these extra jobs, because it is where they find fulfilment.

Next, freelancers may be cheaper than other alternatives, since they don’t have much overhead expenses to pay for, but they definitely are not free. Yes, they may give exceptions especially when they are building a portfolio, but let’s not abuse them. And if companies and brands want to stay competitive, it may even be advisable to hire freelancers to bring down your overhead expenses as well. Monitoring work and payments from them is not an issue, too, because these freelancers use tools that monitor the delivery of project, hours of work spent on a project and even send online invoices via PayPal to charge for the work rendered.

Lastly, when you become a freelancer, you will notice that you actually spend more time now working. What used to be 8-10 hours of working in a corporate environment, now extends to 18 hours of work. What freelancers love though about being a freelancer is the flexibility of time spent working. Freelancers can choose to wake up later than everyone else, but they work to deliver results. Results is top of mind and not time spent working on a project. They make sure they deliver!

Part of a Strong Community with a Deep Faith in Humanity

*Picture taken by George Buid

Last week, I visited one of the schools that I have been eyeing for my daughter. My daughter is 4 years old, and she’ll need to go to “big school” next year. The administration officer left my husband and I inside the classroom of 4-6 year olds to observe. It was a school that allowed each child to explore — to see what they found interesting in the room, to tinker with it, to feel things, to hear things, to really “get into it”. Some were intensely building a tower using bricks. Some were counting beads on a chain. Some were pretending to have a tea party with another friend. Another child was mopping the floor out of whim. Some of them were writing words on a piece of paper, and one was just staring at a fish in the aquarium. And in this kind of environment, the children were happily wandering and wondering. It was, at least for me, the perfect environment for growth and learning.

While thinking of what to share with you, this was the kind of environment that crossed my mind. This is the kind of environment and community that we, at Manila Workshops, envisioned to help build for our country’s freelancers. We want to help build an environment where freelancers and solopreneurs will discover more about themselves, discover passions and discover talents that they never knew existed. It will be an environment that they can always run to, their safe haven where they feel safe & secure as they grow as individuals.

*Picture taken by George Buid

For the past years, we have seen this ecosystem grow stronger, bigger and better. And personally, I believe that the reasons may lie in our deep faith in humanity. Now this may sound so “super-heroish” or like a line from a sci-fi movie, but this is what I think. Let’s go back to what humanity or being humane means (according to Merriam Webster online!). Humanity is the quality or state of being human joined by their common attributes and qualities. Being humane is being compassionate, sympathetic, exhibiting generous behavior and disposition.

If you take a closer look at what is happening in the freelancing community, you’ll see that freelancers naturally flock together. They look for people with common interests, and most especially, the same way of thinking. This is what drew me personally into being part of this community. The generosity, kindness, support and patience knows no bounds. You feel that you can quickly leap from being a novice freelancer to a successful one in no time at all just by the cheers and the rah-rah-rahs of your fellow freelancers.

Professionalizing Freelancing

Because of these things and the relentless support which is so evident in this community, people now are seeing freelancing as something that one should consider looking into, as a source of livelihood. They also see freelancing as a way to efficiently operate a business or even as a source of inspiration for our country, where talented and highly skilled people live.

*Picture taken by George Buid

And as freelancers continue to build and cultivate relationships, they become stronger and more confident. In these relationships lie the strength that freelancers need to continue to grow and persevere. Let’s help everyone be better versions of themselves.

If the remarkable turnout in every event, the constant increase in members of different freelancing groups and increased engagement in different communities and the increase in revenue from foreign clients coursed through PayPal are indications, my fearless forecast is that a LOT more FIlipinos will turn to freelancing inspired by you – pioneers of this continuously growing field of expertise. Its proponents unencumbered by the conventions of a bygone era of strict work hours and boss-driven development. Soon we will truly be witness to the RISE OF THE FREE.

*Note: This is the longer version of my speech during The Freelancer Fair

Where to hire a freelancer?

Do you feel like you are doing everything for your business and need an extra hand with tasks, but don’t think your ready to hire an extra head count just yet? Hire a Freelancer!

As a small business owner, there are times when you need an extra hand to do chores that are not your expertise (such as graphic design or accounting tasks) for a quick project. Some of these tasks don’t necessarily require a business owner to hire someone permanently that’s why its such a relief that the freelancing industry is now growing and its so much easier to find a freelancer that can fit your job requirement and get things done right away!

For those of you who want to understand what freelancing is, here is a web episode of RISE OF THE FREE. Rise of the Free is a web series that give you information about the freelancing industry and how it is to be a freelancer.

There are so many freelancing sites today and to make it easier for you, we’ve listed the top 5 sites for you to kick-start your search for the best staff fit for your requirements.

Upwork

Widely known in the Freelancing industry in the Philippines and in the world! Upwork has established their reputation of getting quality freelancers since 2003. They have their own tracking application that makes it easier for both boss and client to have transparency when working.

Freelancer

Freelancer is one of the leading freelancing sites since 2009. It has the same functions as Upwork.com though its interface may seem more complicated to use for first timers. It has a unique chatting option when used via desktop. It also has a wide array of job categories that makes it easier for you to find the proper staff.

Onlinejobs.ph

A Filipino freelancing site with over 250,000 resumes where you can easily search for the right person fit for the job, interview them then offer them a job and negotiate salary. This is a website for those who want to hire only Filipinos for their tasks.

RareJob.com.ph

RareJob is the top English school in Japan and it aims to encourage 10,000 Japanese to speak fluent English. They started in 2007 and focuses on solely teaching English to Japanese students. It has no other job categories offered and application seems easy. All you need is to register, undergo an assessment and open lesson slots where your future students can book classes with you.

Bizmates

Bizmates is the number one online Business English School in Japan catering to Japanese professionals. Their goal is to help their clients succeed in global business by enhancing their communication skills.

199Jobs.com

199Jobs.com is platform where you can hire freelancers for as low as Php 199 pesos. Although, price may go up depending on the work that you will outsource.

Fiverr.com

Fiverr is an Israeli company where you can get jobs down for as low as $5. Here is a link that will show what Fiverr is all about: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1456762414351137/

Do you have experiences with any of these sites? Which one would you recommend to a client looking for a freelancer? How about for a newbie freelancer?