Business

Talks about Mommy Ginger’s business tips and advice for momtrepreneurs. She shares valuable knowledge on topics like branding, marketing and consumer insight.

Business Potential Behind Your Passion For Home Decor

According to Google Keyword Planner, home decor searches are popular. Keyword phrases “interior designers near me”, “home interior”, and “interior design” gather the majority of the online audience. The pandemic has dramatically increased interest into home decor, as a lot of people find themselves struggling in self-isolation. 

For a creative individual who has a passion for interior decoration, the pandemic provides a unique opportunity for a side hustle business. There’s a huge demand for decor inspiration as people are spending more time at home. Home improvement projects and decor updates are on the rise. For a solo-entrepreneur, it’s a chance to make the most of your passion for design. 

Photo by Manja Vitolic on Unsplash

Treat it like a business

You need to think of your home decor side hustle as a business from day one. As a result, you can’t afford to skip essential business tools that will establish your professional profile. Google Analytics is a free tool that monitors website traffic. You will also need to invest in a CRM solution to capture customer data and keep track of all interactions. Paired with an emailing tool, you can set up your marketing activities and communication. Some email marketing solutions are free for small businesses, such as Mailchimp that’s free to use if you’ve got less than 2,000 contacts. OmniSend is another handy emailing service that sets no limit to your list of contacts. 

Focus on your USP

Your Unique Selling Proposition is the thing that differentiates your business from competitors. It’s a valuable addition that can attract customers. If you are still in the process of launching your side-hustle business, you may want to consider what your competitors are offering. What can you bring to the market that customers don’t already get from someone else? When it comes to home decor businesses, you could consider curating unique items and furniture from vintage markets and places like Etsy and eBay. Keep your costs low and find cheaper alternative to move that eBay bargain to your storage facilities. This would put you in the best position to provide unbeatable furniture offers. 

Build an online network

How do interior decor experts get noticed in a busy and crowded market? The answer: They maximise their social media place. Instagram is a great platform to get noticed and build a huge follower base. You can take inspiration from some of the most popular home decor accounts on Instagram such as US-based @em_henderson and @the_seasoned_home. You can focus a palette of colours or an atmosphere like these accounts do. Alternatively, you can also check trendy hashtags and learn a few tips from their photo captions. 

Streamline some of your services

Working alone, you can’t afford to waste time on activities that are not directly income-generating. That’s where automation can make a huge difference. You can create an emailing workflow to capture new subscribers to your newsletter and share dedicated content with them. It’s a great idea to have unique content that is only accessible to your customers or subscribers, such as online tutorials for furniture painting or choosing the right wall paint colours. 

Photo by Harrison Kugler on Unsplash

Can your home decor passion become a full-time business? There is only one way of knowing! Home design can be a profitable side-hustle business, which you can grow by focusing on your unique selling proposition and creative eye. It is also a rewarding business that encourages you to embrace your creativity and personality. 

Tax Morale: What Motivates you to Pay Taxes?

Being the business/tax geek, non-CPA that I am, I stumbled upon this news article today: https://mb.com.ph/2021/01/25/house-panel-oks-ease-of-paying-taxes-act/ I won’t talk about the bill specifically (you can read about it or I’ll write one article in the future on this). What caught my attention though is the term TAX MORALE.

According to an article of the OECD, tax morale is the intrinsic motivation to pay taxes, as most tax systems rely on the voluntary compliance of taxpayers for the bulk of their revenues. In the Philippines, the tax ministry or the Bureau of Internal Revenue rely heavily on what is declared by the tax payer.

There are some findings on where tax morale is higher in OECD’s report.

My Thoughts on Tax Morale

If you read through the findings of OECD, you’ll notice that trust plays a big role — trust in the government, trust on the plans and projects of the nation, trust in the tax institution, etc.

I honestly believe that the BIR is really trying its best to fix things internally and gain taxpayer’s trust again. But in my opinion, there are a lot of things that we, as individuals / business tax payers can do also to help one another boost our economy.

Support Legit Local Businesses: Taking taxes into consideration in our pricing and setting rates can really jack up our prices if we sell products and services. Our products and services may seem more expensive as compared to others who are not paying taxes. If we can, let’s try our best to support those who have legit official receipts and sales invoices even with the price difference.

Understand our Responsibilities as Business Owners and Professionals: When I started a business several years ago, I did not take the time out to understand how taxes work. I did not check on the financial viability of my business, especially when taxes are imputed. This resulted to me having fees and penalties that I needed to pay. At the end of the day, I realized that I was to be blamed for my ignorance. I relied on other people when I carried all of the risk.

Know how taxation works, ask questions and don’t just shove the topic away. It’s better to ask (even if you ask multiple times about the same thing) than to not know how taxes are. If you need to pay Philippine Business taxes, feel free to consult with one of Taxumo’s Accountant Partners: https://www.taxumo.com/taxumo-consult/. At the end of the day, ignorance of the law excuses no man.

Be a Good Example to Other People: It’s so nice to see people posting on social media that they have filed and paid their taxes. To be honest, a lot of people still feel scared to register and file their taxes. Posts like these help a lot. It lessens the fear of not being able to do things legitimately, or probably not being able to sustain the business after legitimizing it.

We need to celebrate business and professional failures. Let’s be supportive of people whose businesses have failed and don’t judge them. Celebrate wins, too! Celebrate things like being able to sustain a career for a few months, getting your first customer, being featured in a vlog or podcast, etc. Those things keep our entrepreneurial spirit alive and help eliminate the fear of all of these uncertainties that businesses bring.

To add to this, paying our taxes is our duty regardless of where the money goes. I brought this up since I’ve been seeing posts of people saying that their money just goes to waste because of corrupt officials. I’ve learned not to generalize. We have really great projects of the government. Some of our fellow Filipinos were given scholarships in schools. Some of our roads and infrastructure are well maintained. And I bet there are many other projects that are actually great and help a lot of people. Paying our taxes, also, (I feel) gives us the right to voice out our opinions if things need to be changed. Wouldn’t you feel like a fraud if you pushed for change and yet you weren’t actually contributing to nation building?

Embrace Technology as an Enabler: Looking at my daughter, I am always amazed at how they can easily understand how to use new apps. learn how to code, play a new online game, etc. They just “get it”. It made me wonder why is it harder for us. Looking around and asking around made me realize that these are just limiting beliefs that stop us. Most of us see a new tax app, and we immediately see how hard it would be for us and expect the learning curve to be steep. What we can do is just shift our mindset a bit and think like a child — be hungry for knowledge and constantly curious.

Be curious about tax apps like Taxumo. Don’t be shy or scared to ask for help (kids always call on Mommy and Daddy for help). Focus on the potential benefits of technology and embrace it.

Taxumo has daily FREE online onboarding sessions for those who want to learn more about filing and paying taxes. You can reserve a slot here: https://calendly.com/consultnow/onboarding

These are some of the things that I feel we could do that would boost tax morale and also help in our own little way boost the economy of our country.

Feel free to share with me what your thoughts are on this.

We can do it, Philippines! 🙂

Whatuuup?! Learning about Game Streaming

Learn more about game streaming
Mommy Ginger learns about Game Streaming

I found a new hobby! Once in a blue moon (or more often than that actually), I discover hobby, then I get really INTO IT. When I say I get into it, I become obsessed with it on a different level. LOL! Yes, I am that kind of person. Scary right?

I was just kidding. The word that I wanted to use was that I grow to love some things and I become passionate about it. A few of months back, I stumbled upon game streaming. Let me share with you first how we (hubby and I) got into this.

Separation of Work and Play

Like other people during quarantine, we shifted to a work from home arrangement for all our employees. As EJ and I work in the same company, live in the same house, and so happened to have a child together (again… kidding! Obviously we are married 😄), we found it initially difficult to draw the line between work and personal / family life. So we did what any geeky couple would do, we experimented.

We needed to find a way to turn off “work mode” when it was time for family and we needed to shift back when it was time for work. So we started with designating spaces in the home for work and spaces for family.

Game streaming room
Office Space at home
Our Daughter’s Study area and dining table

It helped a little but that didn’t stop little ol’ me from still talking about work in areas of the house where we shouldn’t. So that made me realize that I needed something that pre-occupies my brain, because I am that type of person who suddenly gets ideas on how to improve processes for work while in the middle of watching Crash Landing on You, It’s Okay Not to Be Okay or SNL. I needed to find a hobby that needed brain power.

This is the reason why I probably loved playing boardgames with friends on Friday nights prior to pandemic. I had to strategize. I admit… I’m pretty competitive. Gosh, I miss those days when we can just sit for hours while playing.

How I stumbled upon Game Streaming

But I digress. So going back, I tried playing Animal Crossing on Zeeka’s Nintendo Switch. And, I loved it! I would play it everyday. I would join groups and to this day, I am a member of several communities and Discord groups. EJ and I met great people there and they became friends — whom we never met in person and only interacted with online (yes, that is possible… haha! I say this to people who are skeptical about meeting friends online.)

We were so into it that we also created a Mystery Game on Animal Crossing called the Arbolandia Mystery Series:

Case 1: Arson in Arbolandia

Trrrutttt…. (my attempt to make a fast forward sound) fast forward to months after. I started Animal Crossing Island tour videos on YouTue. I started watching streamers and saw different games. Then stumbled upon a game called Phasmophobia (Shoutout to my friend Kat… follow her here: https://www.facebook.com/mayorakatstream) that got me interested. I told EJ about the game and we played it. We also tried to stream it! haha!

For those who don’t know, Phasmophobia is a deduction game where you find what type of ghost you are dealing with and try to achieve certain objectives. Players are professional ghost hunters looking for contracts. You can play solo (solo runs) or you can look for teammates (again friends or people who you have never met).

Check out our first attempt to figure out how this game works:

EJ and I loved it and we started streaming regularly. We go live and stream on weekdays at 7:30PM (GMT +8) and longer times on weekends (usually after 12:00 noon (GMT +8).

We just love it. I had to say that again. We’ve met amazing people and streamers like Von https://www.facebook.com/Dsector123, Psyver, Shredz https://www.facebook.com/ShredzPH, Epic Delta (https://www.facebook.com/EPIC.DELTA.EP) and other gamers from the Philippines, MandyMermaid from Glasgow, Spinal (https://www.facebook.com/gaming/spinalgaming138/), SoreFeet (https://www.facebook.com/SoreFeetLive/videos/225912582461858), Bytes (https://www.facebook.com/BytesGigGaming) and other people!

What I plan to do!

So, you will be seeing a lot of gameplay videos from me. If you haven’t followed my steam yet, please click on FOLLOW on this page https://www.facebook.com/teamarbo/ (switching from Mommy Ginger) I am also on Twitch (I just started so please do send some love my following me: https://www.twitch.tv/teamarbogaming and on Youtube.com.

I plan to keep on streaming, and it’s for us. It keeps us sane during these times. It’s ironic that a horror game can give us that.

I also plan to study how game streaming works in terms of monetizing the channel. That’s interesting for me. I also plan to build my own PC this year! I’ll see if I can do it by myself.

So stay tuned for more learnings on this blog. I will definitely share what I discover and uncover when it comes to monetizing this.

If you are earning from game streaming, feel free to drop tips below! 🙂 And to those who want to learn how to earn from playing games, stay tuned for more content.

Have a great day and see you in one of our sessions!

What I Learned about Finances, Tax Planning and Myself

All about tracking, tax planning, effort and perseverance!

I am so motivated to fix my finances this 2021. I’ve learned so much from diligently tracking both my personal and business income and expenses. So for today, I’d love to share with you what I have learned and hopefully, these learnings can help you, too.

You can’t do away with LEARNING Finance Topics if you want to be Financially Independent

I have friends who turn a blind eye and a deaf ear when you start talking about finances, investment, taxes, accounting, etc. To be honest with you, years ago, I was like that, too. And when I was young, I abhorred Math. I never really understood why we were studying it.

I started enjoying finances when I worked for a bank, and I love it even more now that I’m running a startup. I started seeing why we need to learn how to compute (even just for the basic stuff) and why we need to “read and understand” numbers. The thing about these topics is that you can’t really do away with these if you plan to be financially independent later on.

Last 2020, I tried to learn as much as I can about all of these, and I got to learn more on how “money” can work for you. One of the things that I learned is that you need to look at each Peso or Dollar as something or someone who works for you. Is their task to pay a bill or pay for a particular expense, or is their task to grow themselves?

For most of us, it may take a while before you can send some of your funds to grow themselves. Most of your money will really be spent on paying bills, etc. but take your time and enjoy the process. That’s another thing that I learned.

Know what your Constraints are

I learned to make more informed decisions last year, and this stemmed from the fact that I learned to know and realize what my constraints are. I know myself really well and one of my personal challenges is saying NO to things that don’t really matter. The PROs of this weakness is that there are a lot of opportunities that come to me and I get to widen my circle, but the CONs are I have less time for myself and less time for the things that really should matter.

So last year, I made a conscious decision to prioritize. The pandemic really slowed down Manila Workshops’ business, but what I realized is that handling Manila Workshops, Taxumo and Blogging / Vlogging really is a lot to handle. Although the purpose of Manila Workshops is great, I realized that I can also fulfill that purpose when I do the other things on my plate (like grow our startup and enjoy vlogging and blogging).

As for blogging, vlogging and streaming, I plan to work on understanding and learning more this year. People also think that Blogging and Vlogging is easy. You just create content and people will come. Well, that’s not the case really. You need to treat it like a business, so you will need a little bit of capital and lots of effort and learning. Nowadays, the learning curve for being a content creator is steep IF you really want to earn from it. It’s easy to learn tools that simplify content creation, but there are a lot of things to learn if you plan to earn from it.

This year, I am also officially announcing that I will keep the Manila Workshops brand, but we will be keeping it as a community instead. I won’t be monetizing it again yet. I’ll still look at a more scalable business model. Oh, that’s another thing, too. Growing Taxumo has made me realize a lot of things about how I handled Manila Workshops, which was actually pretty cool. I think I have grown more when it came to handling a business.

Learn how to Track literally EVERYTHING and do Tax Planning

People, I have realized that the first step to financial success is really knowing where you stand. You need to know your numbers — your personal income and expenses, your household income and expenses and your business revenue and expenses. Making decisions base on gut feeling (at least for me) isn’t the way to go.

Hard decisions are “hard” to make (like getting married, shifting careers, starting a business, etc.) because you obviously haven’t been to the FUTURE. Any path you take will be hard, unless you intentionally decide to take a one year break from making any life decisions, and just “Eat. Pray. Love.” your way through life that one year. In any case, you need money to sustain you that whole year.

So if you want to get on track to fixing your finances, start the habit of tracking it. You will realize that this simple habit will help you discover things that you haven’t discovered before about yourself, your spending, your behaviours, etc.

This is how I track my personal finances

For business, it’s really the same thing. I remember having this conversation with Nicole Alba, a young finance vlogger, and I mentioned that in order for people to run sustainable businesses and freelancing careers, they also need to know how to handle their personal finances.

For my business, I use Taxumo to track both my revenue and expenses.

It super easy and not at all complicated to learn how to use the system. Taxumo has FREE onboarding sessions here just in case you want to learn how to use it: http://txmo.co/onboarding.

What I have learned also by consistently tracking my business revenue and expenses, I can do tax planning. I can easily identify how much I should set aside for taxes early on. I have all of my information in Taxumo, so it makes it easier for me to know the amount of taxes that I need to pay. I also get a feel of what I have spent on significantly on the previous month.

As a self-employed individual, tax planning for me begins with just tracking really. How can you plan if you have no idea on where your funds are going or how much are you earning.

As for the tax rate that you can choose at the start of every year, before your first filing for the year, Taxumo has this notification bell that recommends what tax rate is best for you based on your cashflow entries.

Tax planning recommendation tool in Taxumo!
Machine learning tax planning tool of Taxumo
Sample of what is seen in the recommendations tab

You can check this out after inputting cash flow entries.

I have so many things going on in my life right now, but what I can say really is that I know where I am heading this 2021. It’s clear to me where I want to go and I am happy with the things that are happening to me and my loved ones.

I wish you all the same feeling. I wish that you find enough motivation and will power. I wish you find clarity. I hope that the path to being financially free will be clearer and I hope that you find your life’s purpose.

Cheers to a great 2021!

Permit to Use Loose-Leaf using Taxumo

I really have bad hand writing, so I am not sure why the Bureau of Internal Revenue or the BIR wants to see that. All of us, business owners, freelancers, and professionals, need to maintain books of accounts with the BIR. I’m glad though that I have constantly updated (and on a monthly basis) my books of accounts, because I have Permit to Use Loose Leaf, and I use mu Taxumo reports for this.

Yes, I am OC that way. Everything needs to be in order.

All About Books of Accounts

Some of us, like professionals, are given two books to maintain, while VAT entities, like my own sole proprietorship business are required to maintain 6 books. Some Sole proprietorship businesses maintain 4 books. The BIR Revenue District office stamps these books for us once we register our businesses and professions and have secured a Certificate of Registration. We can just buy columnar books in a the bookstore (4 pieces x 8 to 12 columnar books) if we are a non-vat entity… which is really most of us. For those VAT entities, you will add two books: the Subsidiary Sales journal and the Subsidiary Purchase journal. Check out this photo:

To report our entries / submit our books of accounts, these are the two options that I have done and tried:

a. Manual Books of Accounts: Basically, we write entries on our stamped books of accounts.

b. Permit to Use (PTU) Loose – Leaf books of accounts: The BIR allows you to print pages of entries / reports that can be used to submit or report to the BIR.

For B, you need to apply for this.

For this particular blog post, I will share with you how to apply for Permit-To-Use Loose-Leaf Books of Accounts

My Books of Accounts: I have Permit-to-Use (PTU) Loose Leaf Books of Accounts

My business is a Sole Proprietorship (as mentioned) and I personally use Taxumo to keep track of my cash flow and to file and pay taxes. To understand how to use Taxumo, you just need to book a FREE onboarding call here: http://txmo.com/onboarding. You don’t need to have any accounting background to use Taxumo. You just need to know how to use a computer or a mobile phone. You also need to have internet connection.

Okay, so to activate a Taxumo account, you need to subscribe to a plan. You can check out the plans here: https://www.taxumo.com/taxumo-pricing/ If you don’t know the plan that suits you, the sign up process (which if FREE) will help suggest the plan that you should activate.

Again, signing up is FREE.

For the Books of Accounts Reports of Taxumo

When you have 1. ACTIVATED a PLAN and have 2. added your Revenue and Expenses in your Taxumo CASHFLOW Tab, you can now generate reports from the BOOKS tab of Taxumo. These reports are already in the format that BIR requires you to follow. To generate the report, simply choose the type of book you need to submit. Enter the date range. Click on Generate.

Books Tab of Taxumo

It will show you a report that is already in “columns” so you can just easily copy it row per row and column by column on your books of accounts. You can click on EXPORT too and save the file in your computer.

But if my handwriting is bad? What should I do?

Using the reports generated by your Taxumo account, you can apply for Permit to Use ore PTU Loose-Leaf books of accounts. This will allow you to just print the reports and then book bind them at the end of the year and have these books stamped at your BIR Revenue District Office.

How to do you apply for PTU Loose-Leaf Books of Accounts

Loose Leaf Accreditation Process:Step 1: Prepare the following requirements

  • Photo of your COR
  • Filled out Letter of Intent
  • Filled out Form 1900
  • 1-month sample report of each of your books (4 books total for Non-VAT / 6 books for VAT)

Step 2: Visit your RDO and submit all of your requirements.

Step 3: (Based on what I have experienced and seen) Wait for 6 weeks or more (honestly though, last year this even took a longer time to be approved as this depends on the availability of the BIR RDO officer who approves it) for the approval and release of the Permit-To-Use (PTU) Loose Leaf from the BIR.

Once approved, you’re done!

Some of the things that you need to note:

  • As long as you don’t have your Permit-To-Use (PTU) Loose Leaf from the BIR, you will need to write on your books first.
  • If you have PTU Loose Leaf Books of Accounts already, every January 1 of every year, export and print all the pages of your books. Make sure that it is readable. Have each book of account hard-bounded (as seen in the picture above).
  • Have your books stamped at your RDO before the 15th of January every year.

That’s it! If you have questions, feel free to comment on the comment section below. Happy #Adulting!