54 Best Small Business Ideas in the Philippines for 2016


The “ber” months are upon us, which means we are nearing the end of 2015. If your business in 2015 yielded profitable returns, then I commend you for your success! You are on your way for an expansive, incredible year in 2016! If things did not work out, do not despair. It takes years for businesses to gain traction.

In the best-selling book Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, Ray Croc, owner of McDonald’s, allegedly did not pay himself a salary until the restaurant turned in a respectable profit, which took eight years!

You can look at 2016 as a new year for other business opportunities in the Philippines. Here’s a massive list of 40 small business ideas in the Philippines you can look forward to in the upcoming year.

Best Small Business Ideas in the Philippines for 2016

1. Online business

With more than 3 billion people online every day, the Internet offers you a vast ocean of online business opportunities. Setting up an online business does not require a large investment. All you need are a computer, good Internet connection, a website, a merchant account with a bank, and reputable suppliers.

As consumers continue to depend on the Internet for their needs, you are always guaranteed a market with an online business.

2. Smartphone repair

Since 2014, 60% of online traffic has come from mobile devices, particularly smart phones. It is estimated that 4 out of 10 Filipinos will own a smart phone by the end of 2015 because of decreased prices and improved network systems.

With the Philippines crowned as the “Selfie Capital” of the world, these smart phones are expected to go through wear and tear! Smart phones start to bog down within two years.

This small business idea can assure you a steady stream of clients who can’t last a day without their smart phones.

3. Computer home repair

Computers, laptops, and gadgets are expected to require considerable servicing, repair, and maintenance, as people have become increasingly dependent on technology.

Having a home repair service gives you two advantages over the usual computer repair stores. One, your rates will be cheap because you do not have to factor in rent. Second, by going to their homes instead of them going to your store, your service becomes convenient.

Most of your small business investment will go to marketing and promoting your services.

4. Entertainment booths

People are looking for creative ways to make events fun and exciting. If you’ve been to a wedding and have seen a photo booth or a karaoke booth, you know what I’m talking about!

These entertainment booths provide guests a round-the-clock fun, and they make events memorable. Other popular booths include tattoo, face painting, caricature, and video gaming booths. You can either act as the marketing arm of a vendor for these booths or start out with one or two booths.

The most popular booths are photo and caricature booths.

5. Photography

Nothing beats a professionally shot image even in the age of selfies. Professional photographers are constantly in demand for weddings, birthdays, and corporate events.

In addition, professional photographers are contracted by graphic and website designers for customized images. Keep in mind that photography is an expensive hobby! The price of a professional digital camera ranges from Php150,000 for the Sony Alpha A99 to Php2,000,000 for the Hasselblad H4D 200 MS.

6. Dog walking

Television shows such as Dog Whisperer have provided pet owners a significant understanding of their dogs. They have become aware that more than just food, water, and shelter, dogs need plenty of attention and exercise.

Dog walkers have become a common sight in gated neighborhoods whose owners are mostly out of the home for work or school. Having a love for dogs is not enough to become a dog walker. Attend seminars, trainings, and certification programs to guarantee owners that their dogs are in good hands.

7. Personal fitness training

A 2011 survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute showed that 22.3% of Filipino adults are overweight, and 6.1% are obese. According to the Department of Health, heart disease has remained the number one killer in the Philippines since 1990.

These data justify the need for Filipinos to start exercising. Personal fitness training services annihilate the “I don’t have time” excuse because you can conduct these services at their own home. Moreover, you don’t need expensive equipment.

To get a good, high-intensity workout, all you need are mats, strength bands, medicine ball, kettle bells, and a lot of dedication!

8. General cleaning

Only few Filipino households hire household help because of increased costs brought about by Kasambahay Law. A common household work is now distributed to family members with heavy tasks, such as laundry scheduled on a day during the week. Despite best efforts, maintaining a cleaning schedule is difficult because family members are either at work or at school.

The best solution is to contract general cleaning services that can conduct comprehensive cleaning once a month. In this business, you need to invest in updated cleaning equipment and tools and a van. Your people can be contracted on a per-project basis.

9. Gift Boxes

Selling gift boxes is a promising small business idea that slowly gains traction in the United States and Australia.

Gift boxes are received with a monthly subscription service. Every month, subscribers receive specially designed gift boxes packed with goodies based on their likes and interests.

For example, parents can sign up for a monthly subscription for “Toys and Games” for their child. Every month the child gets different kinds of toys and games. Think of Christmas 12 months a year!

The business model is sustainable because boxes are recyclable, and materials can be sourced from local communities.

10. Real Estate Agent

The real estate market in the Philippines is booming. Property developers have been establishing new commercial and residential centers. Many foreign investments are coming in because of business process outsourcing or BPO. Now is a great time to be a real estate agent!

First, you must be licensed by the Professional Regulation Commission or PRC as a real estate broker. Then, you have to network extensively to build your lead list. The industry can be competitive. However, if right connections are established, one sale can make you financially stable!

11. Air-conditioner repair

We’ve read news reports that the Philippines is headed for another El Niño similar to the one that affected the country in 1997. To escape extreme heat and humidity, Filipinos tend to troop to the malls for its air-conditioning. However, it is actually more economical to just run your home air-conditioner than to spend a day at the mall.

Air-conditioning repair and maintenance services are valuable services during summer months. Make sure you can contract highly skilled technicians to do the job.

12. Generator rental business

In the past few years, news reports have highlighted the burgeoning power deficit in the Philippines. With the water levels at Angat Dam below comfort levels plus the threat of El Niño, Department of Energy has advised that the possibility of rotating black outs may happen in 2016.

Small businesses, particularly those located at home, may have immediate need of back-up power. This will create a demand for generators for retail or lease.

Generators are quite expensive. If you do not have the capital to distribute generators, you can offer your services to the importers or wholesalers as their marketing agent.

13. Food delivery

The food business is a popular industry. However, with rental rates escalating and minimum wage increasing, focusing on delivery services is a good option.

Check first with your village association if they will allow you to run the business from home. If not, get a partner whose village allows home-based businesses or rent a small space with limited seating.

If the small business is conducted inside a home, the food delivery kitchen must be separate from the family kitchen and must conform to restaurant standards. Start out by contracting delivery service riders who provide their own motorcycles or sign up with a company. However, make sure to check their minimum delivery orders since they can be on the high side.

14. Car restoration services

With traffic situation worsening, roads becoming saturated with vehicles, and massive floods occurring, cars become highly exposed to accidents and breakdowns. Car restoration services are cheaper and more convenient for car owners than going to a casa.

You can provide the option of doing either home service for minor works, such as repainting and dent removal, or store service for major body repair work. This type of small business will require you to invest in technology and of course to hire qualified and experienced mechanics.

15. Pet care

In addition to dog walking, the pet industry has opened new branches for pet care. These include grooming, pet sitting, and health care.

You need to contract licensed veterinarian, certified pet handlers, and experienced pet groomers. You will also have to invest in grooming kits and a mobile van.

16. Virtual assistance

The demand for virtual assistance services has been increasing. Whether they are referred to as virtual assistants, freelancers, telecommuters, or home-based workers, these people are those who essentially work from their homes.

According to Elance, one-eighth of their freelancers or one million individuals are from the Philippines. Virtual assistance benefits businesses because it is a more affordable option than hiring full-time employees.

Virtual assistant rates in the Philippines start out at $3 per hour. Assuming you work 8 hours a day for 22 days a month, your average income would be Php 25,000 per month. Elance reports that their freelancers earn an average of $8.3 per hour or a potential income of Php67,000 per month!

The only business investment you need to become a virtual assistant is a reliable computer, Internet connection, and a headset.

Related article: 33 Best Home-Based Business Ideas in the Philippines

17. Caregiver home service

Although the Philippines have a comparatively young population, 4.1% of its demographics comprises the elderly. Most families in the Philippines involve two working adults who do not have the time to take care of the elderly.

Retirement homes are always an option, but the cost is high. Moreover, traditionally, Filipinos want to take care of their own parents. Caregiver home service ensures having a licensed health care practitioner who can check up an elderly at specific hours of the day.

An elderly should be assured that they get their exercise, physical therapy, and medicines on time. This type of service is extensive. The best approach is to start small; maybe two to three caregivers within a limited area. You will need to spend for medicine, transportation, and cell phone load for every caregiver.

18. Food carts

Filipinos love to eat! Eating on the go is a viable alternative to a sit-down restaurant. Food cart franchises can range from Php30,000 to Php250,000 depending on the product, equipment, and package.

Franchises have the advantage of having the system, manpower, and brand. However, it carries monthly royalty payments. If you do not want to pay monthly royalties, you may want to start a food cart of your own.

Popular food cart items include items that you can prepare at your own home, namely, siomai, hotdogs, and French fries.

Related: 8 Best Franchise Businesses You Can Start in the Philippines

19. Personal Shopper

Think of the last Christmas and write down the names of people who have complained to you about the hassles of shopping. They are your potential clients as a personal shopper.

As a personal shopper, you provide clients with convenience and a time for important matters, such as family and work.

Your peak season is not just Christmas. Everyday birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions are celebrated. People do not want to go through traffic and to queue at the cashier. You can charge high rates because the affluent members of the society are inclined to patronize this service.

20. Transcriber

Philippines is one of the premiere destinations for transcription services. Of the $12 billion medical transcription industry, approximately 5% is outsourced to Philippines.

Transcription services are required by many industries. Among these are legal firms, movie and entertainment, schools, and sales companies.

If you have a good command of the English language and are well-versed in punctuation and sentence construction, transcription can be the business for you. You’ll need a good headset, a reliable computer, a stable Internet connection, and a quiet place to work.

21. Laundry service

Other than general cleaning, Filipinos hardly have enough time for laundry. An innovative small business idea in the Philippines is a self-serve laundry center.

Start out with a two to three washing machines and a dryer. You only need two people to operate the location. Therefore, it is not a labor-intensive operation. Because it is self-service, you can charge a rate lower than that of other laundry centers.

Add a food cart so your customers can have something to eat while waiting!

22. Event planning

Every day, there are birthdays, weddings, and special occasions that are celebrated. Not everyone has the creativity or capacity to plan these events. Event planners fill in this need and take care of all the nuances that go into event preparation.

Most of your small business investment will go into networking activities. You have to build a database of coordinators, photographers, entertainment providers, hotels, restaurants, florists, and print shops among others.

23. Campaign Broker

Many companies worldwide want to outsource to the Philippines but do not know how to connect to local contact centers.

Conversely, some local contact centers that need campaigns do not have the network to land clients. If you have connections to potential clients and prospective contact centers, being a campaign broker can be a lucrative career!

The most important thing to remember as a campaign broker is, to be honest! The industry has many scammers who take advantage of both clients and centers by asking for upfront payments.

Work for the best interest of your clients and centers. Do not ask for upfront payment. Conduct your profession like a legitimate broker and don’t expect to be paid until the contract has been signed.

24. Head Hunter / Recruitment Services

The BPO industry is growing at an annual rate of 20%. More and more companies are hiring contact center agents, but keeping up with the demand of the industry while assuring quality is difficult.

Recruitment services can fill up this demand. You will spend most of your time networking and establishing connections with different organizations so you can assure your clients of a steady pool of talent.

Recruitment companies charge a hefty sum for their services. Some are charging clients 15% of the total gross annual pay of every recruit. This business requires hard work, but it can be worth your time.

25. Personal grooming home service

If there is an expense that is almost certainly guaranteed every month, it would be barber services. However, it sometimes becomes tedious to make the drive to a mall just to get a haircut.

With personal grooming hair services, the barber or hairdresser goes to the client’s home! Charges for home service may be more expensive than those for in-store service because of transportation expenses. However, clients will be more than willing to pay extra for the convenience.

26. Bakery

Bread is a regular staple in every Filipino’s meal. It is perhaps the most popular carbohydrate after rice. It is also cheap and easy to make.

If your village association allows, you can set up a bakery in your own home and contract a delivery service provider. You do not need many people to run a bakery. The rest of your investment will go to marketing and promotional expenses.

27. Ukay-ukay

Our culture of being thrifty continues to thrive!

Ukay-ukay or flea markets that sell used clothes are still a major industry in the Philippines. Filipinos look for value before they make purchases, and some ukay-ukay places are a source of treasure!

The key is to make sure that your second-hand merchandise is still of reasonably good quality. Some Filipinos ask their balikbayan friends or relatives to bring home discounted merchandise from the US usually bought at outlet stores. Another source for discounted merchandise is China.

28. Website designer

It is shocking to note that in this day and age of online businesses, only 53% of small-scale enterprises own a website. However, given that 60% of online traffic comes from smart phones, the demand for websites should progressively increase.

As a website designer, you will need to have on-board a web programmer, graphics artist, and perhaps an expert on search engine optimization (SEO).

29. Social media manager

Having accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Instagram does not make you a social media expert. You need to hire someone who has experience and expertise to maximize your social media efforts.

As a social media manager, you must have the ability to do research, plan campaign strategies, set up accounts, and have a working knowledge of writing, SEO, and website design. The only business investment you need is a website and a computer.

30. Candle-making business

With black outs looming in the future because of the prevailing power deficit and El Niño, candles continue to remain in demand. Moreover, candles serve other purposes other than providing light during black outs.

There is also a market for scented candles and, of course, churches. Moreover, other places of worship always need a regular supply of candles.

31. Cell phone loading business

The Filipino’s love for cell phones always presents business opportunities in the Philippines market! Cell phone loading business has remained viable in the past decade because 96% of the mobile market uses prepaid subscriptions.

Starting this type of business is easy. Just visit the local distributor of Smart, Globe, and Sun in your area and buy your SIM retailer card. You will also have to stock up on your initial load inventory worth Php1,000.

32. Mixed martial arts (MMA) / self-defense training

With the increasing popularity of MMA primarily because of UFC, the number of Filipinos who want to learn Brazilian Jujitsu, Muay Thai, wrestling, and boxing is growing.

These styles of combat not only are deadly and ideal for self-defense but also provide a great workout. If you are a certified instructor in your martial arts field, this can be a lucrative business opportunity for you.

33. Mobile mechanic services

With all the flooding that happens in Metro Manila, cars are highly exposed to engine breakdowns. A mobile mechanic will always come in handy if a car suffers engine trouble in an unlikely setting.

You will need a vehicle, basic troubleshooting equipment, and arrangements with towing services to provide a comprehensive package.

34. Liaison Officer

Many entrepreneurs want to establish their small businesses as a corporation but have no idea how to go about it. Foreign companies also want to open offshore offices here but are not aware of the procedure.

If you have an experience in setting up businesses, why don’t you try to be a liaison officer and extend your services to start-ups? Remember that 98% of all new businesses are small businesses, and most prefer to establish a corporation.

35. Interior Designer

If you are a licensed interior designer, you have many opportunities to showcase your talent, given that the real estate market is surging.

Developers always look for interior designers who can give a fresh perspective on designs that can give them an advantage in the market. The need for good design applies for commercial and residential properties.

If you have an eye for innovative design, you can have a brilliant career as an interior designer.

36. Blogging/writing services

There is a single reason why blogging has become in demand: it works!

Statistics show that businesses that blog generate 126% more leads. That is just one of the several fascinating figures that validate why blogging is good business.

Becoming a good blogger requires consistency. The more you blog, the better you become. All you need are a computer, Internet service, and a work area that inspires creativity.

Related: How to Make Money from a Blog through Selling Adverts

37. Party materials

This is another business that has survived the test of time because Filipinos love to party! The Philippines is a young, growing population so you can expect parties to happen every day.

Party materials, such as hats, loot bags, and balloons are cheap and available wholesale. Maintain a network of wholesalers and suppliers of other amenities, such as tables, chairs, entertainment, and tent covers for outdoor parties. Moreover, remember to be creative at all times.

38. Money changing business

The US dollar has continued to appreciate in the last few years. The industry of business process outsourcing and the market for OFWs also continue to grow and increase. Thus, money changing business is a great venture.

Banks normally buy US dollars at a price lower than that in the grey market. Thus, US dollar earners look to money changers first.

To establish a money changing business, you must have a good, visible location. You also need to be registered with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or with Department of Trade and Industry and of course Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

39. Singing coach

The Philippines have always been a haven for world-class singing talents. It should not come to a surprise that singing contests have been greatly received and widely patronized.

If you have a singing prowess, experience, and disposition to develop untapped talent, then you can be on your way to finding the next Charisse or Sarah Geronimo!

As a singing coach, you can offer home service or set up a small studio in your home. All you need are great acoustics, recording equipment, and a lot of patience! It would help if you have connections to people who are willing to showcase your talent in their events as a means of exposure and training.

40. Day care center

At present, most families have both parents working. Thus, they need a reliable day care center, in which they can entrust their children while they are at work. If you plan to start a day care center, you must register your business with SEC and apply for the necessary permits with the city government.

The city government will inspect your facilities for safety and the qualifications of your personnel. Make sure that the people you hire to watch over the children do not have criminal records and have a reputable standing. Teachers should have the required training and, most importantly, the disposition to handle children.

41. Advanced study tutorial services

In addition to day care services, there is also a market for tutorial services for children.

In the past few years, we have seen several tutorial centers open up in the Philippines. Because of their schedule, parents do not have enough time to oversee the study of their children.

These tutorial centers offer top-notch instruction and services to ensure that the children can consistently progress in school. You will need to open the tutorial center in a high-traffic area and hire good teachers with a reputable background.

In this type of business, your results will determine your success. If your students consistently score high marks, your tutorial center will be heavily patronized.

42. Furniture making/repair business

Buying new furniture can be very expensive.

Having furniture made can be cheaper than buying it from a store because you are only paying for the labor and cost of materials without the overhead of commercial establishments. Furniture restoration or repair is another viable option for consumers because it costs less than buying new ones.

43. Carpet cleaning and restoration

Are you aware that 100,000 dust mites can populate 1 square yard of carpet material? And that these dust mites are responsible for releasing allergens into the air? And that these allergens are made of excreted dead skin fragments and hair follicles?

Unless carpets are cleaned regularly, a home can become hazardous to health. Most people are not aware of how to clean carpets properly. They think that vacuuming and shampooing are enough to keep carpets cleaned. To clean carpets thoroughly, you need the right equipment, such as truck mounted steam cleaners and various cleaning agents.

Carpet cleaning has a large market because of many residences and commercial establishments, such as hotels and restaurants, use carpets.

If you are serious about getting into this industry, you should get a certification from the Institute of Inspection Cleaning Restoration Certification.

44. Counseling services

Among the other interesting possibilities for an online business is counseling. In the last 21 years, depression rates in the Philippines have increased. Most of these depression-related incidents involved young people averaging 24 years of age.

Depression occurs when an individual has no outlet to release pent-up emotions, cannot find a resolution to ongoing issues, or do not have acceptance in his/her unfortunate state of affairs. For the most part, these people just want someone to talk to.

Counseling services provide these avenues to troubled individuals. Your responsibility is less toward finding resolution and more on gaining acceptance of a situation so that a course of action can be undertaken. You can set up a website with chat services or create a network with agents online to handle calls.

If you have a degree in psychology, this venture can work out for you.

45. Business consultation services

If you’ve been working for the last few decades, have strung up a long list of accolades, achievements, and have built a strong, solid reputation for developing businesses, it may be time to share your expertise with others.

Your largest market comprises small business owners who comprise 98% of all enterprises and whose success rates decline right after the first year. You can also position your services toward large corporations who want to be competitive in heading into ASEAN Integration.

If you have a good track record in the business world, you can command a high pay for your services.

46. Leadership training

The increasingly unpredictable and chaotic business environment results in the need for leaders to step up and navigate businesses through turbulence and turmoil.

The focus on developing the behavioral component is greater than that on developing the technical and fundamental competencies because businesses want people who are willing to be accountable for their decisions and take action. However, even the best people have blind spots and self-limiting beliefs that they cannot overcome.

Leadership training aims to identify these blind spots and overcome these behavioral patterns that hinder the natural ability to lead. Before you enter this type of venture, you must be certified by a world-recognized leadership training proponent, such as John Maxwell or Light-Core. You should develop a team of likewise certified leadership training coaches.

47. Landscaping business

What crowns your residence better than beautiful landscaping? Unless you have landscaping done, your garden is just grass and a few plants.

Landscaping gives your home character and life. If you have a green thumb and know other people that do, you can set up a home service business. You have to invest in equipment and build a network of suppliers for plants, ferns, and garden fixtures.

48. English instructor

Demand for English instructors in the Philippines continues to grow for three reasons.

First, English is the second language in the country. Our proficiency rating is among the highest in the world. In 2012, the Philippines was ranked number one in the world for Business English, that is, beating out even the United States!

Second, we speak straight American English, which is in demand in global business.

Third, our rates are cheap! A rate of $500 per month can get you a 60-hour course in English.

If you have taken advanced courses in International English plus certifications through Test of English as a Foreign Language and International English Language Test System, you can make good money from teaching English online or as a private instructor. There is a consistent influx of clients from Libya, China, Japan, and South Korea.

49. Jewelry / Accessory Designer

Jewelry and accessory designing is a stable business in the Philippines. Filipinos love to accessorize and constantly search for unique and interesting jewelry designs.

If you’re good at what you do, you can market your talent to other Asian countries. South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan are huge overseas markets for jewelry export.

50. Preserves Making

You can set up this business at home. It presents a little risk because preserves last a long time.

Of course, your products have to taste good! Filipinos are also attracted to great packaging. You can offer your products at trade fairs, conventions, and flea markets.

If your products get discovered by a foreign buyer, you may have an opportunity to export your preserves to other regions outside the Philippines.

51. Tax Adviser / Accountant

Many people are clueless about tax payments. Updating ledgers and journals and keeping track of receipts can be cumbersome. If you have a background in accounting, you can surely have clients lining up for your services.

Your services not only cater to businesses but also to families and individuals who need to stay updated on tax payments on the real property. You do not have to be a certified public accountant although having the authority to sign documents is a big plus.

52.  Massage Therapist

You see their ads occupying almost every page of a village newsletter. Sometimes, you see their colorfully designed vehicles, which are used as mobile advertising collateral.

However, people constantly look for good massage service providers. Chronic pain afflicts many Filipinos. This condition can be debilitating enough to miss work and lose a valuable pay.

Massage home services have been increasingly popular in villages. However, you can also practice your service at home, where you can have therapy equipment available. You can market your services to competitive athletes as well.

53. Translation Services

Another growing segment in outsourcing is translation services. If you are at least Level 7 in a foreign language, you can parlay your skill into a business. Level 7 means you can carry a conversation in a foreign language fluently, and you can write grammatically correct sentences.

The pay level for bilingual service is much higher than that for a standard BPO work. Bilingual services fall under knowledge process outsourcing or KPO. The rate for KPO typically falls between $25 and $35 per hour.

Foreign languages that are in demand in the Philippines are Spanish and Chinese Mandarin.

54. Vending Machine Rental

Vending machines have been around for the longest time in the Philippines. You see them everywhere: malls, hospitals, and offices.

However, these vending machines have been thus far catering the same thing: coffee, soft drinks, and snacks. Why not build a niche and introduce vending machines that offer unconventional products?

Here are a few ideas:

  • After-party shoes
  • Healthy food
  • Toiletries
  • Publications
  • Toys and games
  • Sunglasses

Make success happen

In one of the entrepreneurship conventions I attended, the host speaker said, “There is no such thing as a bad idea; only poor execution.” After all, who would have thought that duck whistles, flavored water, and form-contouring undergarments would turn people into millionaires?

If you have an idea for a business that you are committed to and believe in, then go for it! Every idea is an opportunity waiting to be discovered.

All you need to do is to make success happen.

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Past article: 29 Best Small Business Ideas in the Philippines for 2015
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