Top 15 Small Business Tips in the Philippines for 2017


2017 figures out to be a challenging year for many businesses, especially for small-scale enterprises and start-ups.

Economic fundamentals are not at a point whereby conditions are ideal for business success. The Peso is deteriorating, and petroleum costs are rising. This means the repercussions for an import-dependent country like the Philippines will be more difficult. That is why we have offered more small business tips in the Philippines in 2017 compared to 2016.

Top 15 Small Business Tips in the Philippines for 2017

1. Make Decisions Based on Right-Fit

For some time, many of the entrepreneurs and company heads I knew placed too much emphasis on the details of the Curriculum Vitae. What they failed to recognize is that – given the right program and environment – anyone can excel.

But a person who cultivates behavioral patterns that disrupt productivity and creates dissension within the organization should never be tolerated. It doesn’t matter how intelligent or accomplished he or she is, sever the ties that bind.

If you associate yourself with people who are not aligned with your values, you will lead your business down the road to ruin.

The same goes for clients and customers. If you meet a prominent prospective client who shows no genuine concern for your interest and is averse to adapting a win-win proposition, halt the pursuit.

Antagonistic business practices are outdated; they died with the Cold War. Globalization is about opening new doors of opportunity. It is about bridging differences and forging strategic alliances not creating new barriers.

Right-fit will help you find stakeholders with shared interests. Whether they are employees, business partners, clients or end users, everyone pulls each other up.

2. Focus Only On What You Can Control

The last six months have not been kind to the Philippines:

  • Political instability
  • Increasing social discord
  • Depreciation of the Philippine Peso
  • Increasing prices of petroleum
  • Worsening traffic conditions
  • Increasing prices of commodities
  • Collapse of the equities markets

Other countries in Asia have recovered, but the Philippine markets are moving on their own, unfortunately in the opposite direction.

Readers have been asking me what the outlook of business would be if circumstances continue to get worse.

My answer to them is to focus only on what they can control: their business.

Engaging people in political discussion is a waste of time. You cannot influence foreign exchange or the equities market. Traffic, gas and commodity prices can only be solved by the right combination of fiscal and monetary policy which is not your forte.

Focusing your energy on these issues is a waste of time. While you’re ranting or arguing with a dissenter in Facebook, your business is calling you. It needs you. Give it your full and undivided attention.

3. Diversify Your Investments

There are opportunities everywhere. You just have to know where to look. The collapse of the Philippine stock market to below 6,800 points opens up opportunities for bargain hunting. Focus on blue chip companies but keep yourself well-informed of developments.

Prices of real estate have also stabilized especially in Southern Metro Manila. Look for development projects away from the metropolis which is overly saturated. Even worn down areas can be gentrified to attract more investments.

You should also consider the US Dollar as the US Federal Reserve is planning to hike its lending rates. Expect a stronger dollar when Donald Trump becomes President.

Try to maximize the returns on your money. It’s not a good idea to keep business revenues only in savings accounts. Find ways to make money work for you.

4. Study Your Numbers

You don’t have to be an accountant to appreciate the value of numbers. Don’t just keep track of your income. You should also closely monitor your expenses.

You may want to hire an accountant on a retainer basis. Some self-employed accountants charge 5,000 Pesos per month to maintain your financial records and provide you monthly reports.

To keep track of your money flows you need the following:

  • Projected Income Statement
  • Cash Flow Statement
  • Balance Sheet

Your accountant can help you understand and interpret the numbers on the spreadsheet. In time, you should become proficient enough to do the accounting on your own.

Understanding your company’s financial position will guide you in designing business development strategies.

5. Work on Your Strengths

The usual advice you probably get is “Set aside your strengths and focus on your weaknesses.”

However, in business, time is a valuable commodity. If you have to allocate valuable time to shore up your weaknesses, you are diverting attention from the key functions that will make your business profitable.

In business, it would be best to dedicate your time on your core competencies. This way you would be able to increase productivity and improve the quality of products or services.

6. Outsource Services

Instead of focusing on your weaknesses, why not outsource them?

Outsourcing is a proven strategy for developing business for the following reasons:

  • Lowers costs – If you outsource services to a Virtual Assistant, you only pay for actual hours worked. Because they are contracted, you don’t pay benefits, rent, Internet service and other costs of business.
  • Increases productivity – You free up time to attend to the core functions of the business.
  • Enhances the quality of work – You outsource work to those with the experience and expertise to consistently produce high quality of work.

Many successful entrepreneurs have outsourced work to third party service providers. It is a valuable service especially during times of economic turbulence when conditions become unpredictable. If the business isn’t picking up, at least you could streamline costs.

7. Capitalize on the Internet

If you want to take your business to the next level, capitalize on the advantages of the Internet:

  • A wealth of information to support business research.
  • Wide reach and coverage (3.3 Billion people are online every day).
  • Availability of tools and processes to make your business more efficient.

In fact, if you don’t have a website, you are undermining your business or serious profit opportunities.

And it’s not just enough to have a website. It must be mobile-responsive, fast to download, accessible to multiple browsers and has fully functional features.

By using Internet-based tools and processes you can cut down business costs:

  • Save up on mobile charges by using Skype, Slack or Viber.
  • Save up on regular mail and paper costs by using e-mail.
  • Save time and on transportation by conducting online meetings via Skype, WebEx or Bitrix-24.

It’s not for the sake of being “cheap.” The technology exists to make business and life more efficient. Not only will you save money but you will get more things done.

8. Develop Flexible Business Strategies

Have you heard the saying “analysis leads to paralysis”? That is what would happen to you if you spend too much time strategizing and coming up with a perfect plan.

The “Perfect Plan” no longer exists. Consumers and competitors have more access to information and are more capable of making competent decisions than ever before.

Tastes, preferences, and demand patterns are very dynamic and difficult to predict. People can easily be influenced by a post or a share.

Instead of aiming for the perfect strategy, focus on developing flexible business strategies. You should have contingencies in place once the desired outcome does not materialize.

You should not waste time weighing the pros and cons of your decision. In today’s business, success can be measured in seconds, minutes, hours and days. Every second you waste trying to achieve perfection is one more second your competitor gains on you in finding opportunities.

9. Customize Your Approach

LinkedIn is one of the best networking sites for business. I receive a lot of invitations to connect. But it will almost certainly be ignored if a member sends me a default invitation, “I’d Like to Add You to My Network.”


Unless you can answer that question in your invitation, it will not be accepted.

Technology is a big part of people’s lives. Somehow, we believe that we can’t live without it, but there are days where we wish we didn’t have it. Case in point, whenever we get a sales pitch from a phone company.

I know it’s their job, and I respect that but can’t they at least customize and personalize the approach? Make me feel special as a prospect, and I may consider your offer.

Instead of using default templates, scripts and spiels, take a humanized approach to your business. Instead of wasting time coming up with scripts, research on your B2B or B2C prospects and customize your approach.

If you try to control the risks of making mistakes, the trade off will be worse. Your market will not connect with you. And besides making mistakes is what makes us human. So run your business like one!

10. Think Big But Act Small

Every small business wants to grow big someday. From humble beginnings, we all aspire to have hundreds of employees, a burgeoning portfolio of clients and phones ringing off the hook asking to meet with us.

The problem with big business is exactly that. They got too big, and they forgot where they came from. Organizational hierarchies expand and before you know it, the founders are too far off center. The business becomes less connected and involved in the process that got them this far.

The result is a more disconnected organization. Passion has been diluted, and the hunger has been curbed. This is why in the United States many big businesses want to think like a small business.

Small businesses are highly driven. Their passion has not wavered one bit despite the level of success achieved. Why do you think Mark Zuckerberg continues to refer to Facebook, a company that grosses over US$2 Billion every quarter, as a “small business”?

Small business is a state of mind.

When you’re growing, think big but act small. But when you’ve achieved growth, think small but act big!

11. Don’t Stop Networking

I never forgot how hard it was to land my first client. When you’re starting out, you get bypassed by everyone with experience. But you can only keep trying and move forward.

When I finally landed my first client, I thought business would gain traction, and things would be easier. But that wasn’t the case. It’s a competition out there. And the better you get, so does the competition.

Even today when I’ve built up my businesses beyond expectations and despite the rewards and accolades, I simply cannot let up on my networking activities. The reason is simple.

Every day there are opportunities. Clients will be looking for the best providers for their business. If I take my foot off the gas pedal, someone else will get the opportunity first.

Always dedicate a time for networking. Set goals for you business such as:

  • Target 2 to 4 job posts every day.
  • Connect with 1 to 2 influencers or resource persons every week.
  • Get 100 new followers every month.

You don’t need much time networking. 2 hours a day should be sufficient.

12. Find a Mentor

As good as you are, you’ll never be the best at what you do. Do you know why? Because you will never know the answers to everything; you can never be sure that your decisions will be 100% correct.

Why do you think the greatest athletes in sports history like Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, and Sergio Garcia continued to look for mentors?

Jordan regularly consulted with his late father. Federer hired tennis great Stefan Edberg as his coach while Garcia sought the counsel of golfing great Jack Nicklaus.

On the other hand, Mike Tyson went off the tracks when his mentor Cus D’Amato died.

Mentors are there to guide us. Their value is just not on the technical and fundamental aspects of work and life. The greater contribution is to set us straight; maintain perspective on why we do what we do so we can remain honest to who we are.

Find someone you can trust and only has your best interests at heart. Good mentors are hard to come by. When you find one, don’t let go. And the truth is with good mentors; you will never have to.

13. Professionalize Your Business

This was number one on last year’s list, but it should be worth repeating that you should professionalize your business by having it registered as a legal entity.

There are pros and cons to becoming a corporation, partnership or proprietorship. Regardless of which organization types you choose, by legitimizing your business, it will make it easier to find clients and associations for your value chain.

Related: 5 Essential Business Permits and Licenses in the Philippines

Clients prefer to deal with legitimate businesses. It shows your desire and intent to grow your business and build a career. It also removes stumbling blocks and mitigates trust issues:

Can you imagine asking a client for a down-payment and having it deposited to a personal account instead of a company account? Sure some clients will have no reservation. But some may see it as a red flag.

They’re doing business with your company and expect transactions should be under the name of your company. It doesn’t matter if you own the business. If you’re not registered, what is your proof of ownership?

14. Exercise and Stay Healthy

Isn’t it ironic that the most popular resolution every New Year is also the most broken? The reason why people cannot lose weight or put on muscle is that they are doing it for the wrong reasons.

People want to exercise to look good. What about the more important aspect of exercise; to be healthy? Exercise is just one of the three important components for overall health. The other two are nutrition and rest.

If you are not healthy, you will not be able to function at a 100%. Business can be very stressful, and if your body is not able to handle the rigors of day-to-day problems, it will break down. Your vital organs must function efficiently to cope up with stress.

Having 6-pack abs or “buns of steel” are not evidence of health. I’ve seen people at our gym take cigarette breaks during rest periods. They often brag about eating pizza and fries every day.

They may look good, but I’m sure their vital organs are screaming for help!

Exercise, follow a sound nutrition plan and get at least 7 hours of sleep to be healthy. Approach health from a holistic point of view: your mind, body, and soul must always be fit and in shape.

15. Have Fun!

Trying to grow a small business during these times of great uncertainty will be hard. If you have an online business that retails fashion apparel, the news the Philippine Peso hit 50 to US$1 will not be pleasant.

In the first place, you can’t do anything about the situation. Unless you make US$3 Trillion a day, you cannot influence the forex market. When I face these types of predicaments, I view them as challenges and not obstacles.

Regardless of the situation or the predicaments you face, never forget to lighten up and have fun. Life shouldn’t be all about work. If a problem has you stumped, putting more effort will only diminish returns.

When I get the blues, instead of getting down, I take out my guitar and sing about them with my family and friends! Sometimes I go to the gym, lift some heavy iron and imagine myself getting this burden off my shoulders.

Little things such as a nap, a mall crawl with your loved ones, a funny movie or comfort food can lift you up and get you ready for the next round of challenges.

Here is a quote from Tsunetomo Yamamoto, a samurai who lived in the 1700s and wrote the “Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai”:

“Nothing is impossible in this world. Firm determination, it is said, can move heaven and earth. Things appear far beyond one’s power because one cannot set his heart on any arduous project due to want of strong will.”

Take a break from the challenges. There will be other days to be victorious!

Onward to a new year!

With 2017 just a few months away, do not feel intimidated by the challenges in the New Year. In all honesty, 1 January 2017 will just be another day.

Recommended read: 60 Best Small Business Ideas in the Philippines for 2017

On January 2, you will simply pick up from where you left off on 29 December 2016. The significance of a New Year is a new beginning, but it is largely symbolical. For you, it is another opportunity to grow your business for another 365 days and damn be the storms that lie ahead!

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