In the first session of #MentoringMonday, John Chung addressed the concerns and inquiries of the Leapreneur Community on the topic how to start a business.
Having started several successful businesses himself, John is definitely a pro in starting a business. He is the owner of Acquasuisse Perfume Bar and currently the vice-president for Marketing of the Association of Filipino Franchisers, Inc (AFFI).
In 2004, John started Suisse Fragrances Incorporated. In the same year, he created a concept for the franchise industry called Buy the Liter, wherein he supplies perfumes and other personal care products (in liters) to different micro entrepreneurs. He also offered packaging materials and sticker labels to his clients for them to used in customizing their own products.
After the success of Buy the Liter, John conceptualized another business idea — a perfume bar. From there, he created a brand name that would fit in the retail market. He named the brand Acquasuisse after the origin of the fragrant oils which are from Switzerland.
Here are the top 5 learnings on how to start a business:
1. Start a Business You are Familiar with or Passionate About –Nothing feels better than doing something that you love. That is why it is always advisable to work on a business which you are knowledgeable at and passionate about. Whether it deals with your favorite pizza, cars, stylish clothes or even animals, as long as you are committed to it, then you can turn it to a good business. Remember, it is easier to sell the things that you believe in and enjoy using.
Aside from that, it is also a safe move for you to start a business that is associated with something that you love, because you can avoid losing so much money from changing to one business idea to another. Perhaps, you can even keep yourself away from possible setbacks, because you already have a profound knowledge about the business. This allows you to enjoy work, without burning out. And when you encounter failures along the way, quitting is not in the option (or not on top of the list). Because, you don’t just easily quit on the things you love and you believe in – right.
2. Look for Investors – There are a lot of brilliant ideas that are put to waste because of the lack of capital to start the business, but don’t let yours be among them.
Find potential investors who can fund your concept and make it happen. This will require a lot of confidence and perseverance from your end. That is why you have to make sure you’ve made a thorough study about the business idea you will be pitching.
Present a concrete plan on how the business would operate, how it would earn, how much is the investment involved and when will be the return of investment. It is always a plus if you can show to the investors that you know what you are doing and that you can execute the plan you are presenting.
3. Evaluate Whether You Will Need to Get a Business Loan – “Do I really need a loan?” Ask that question to yourself over and over again. If your answer is yes, then ask yourself again; “Are you comfortable of borrowing money?” If your answer is a yes, then imagine this: you finally got the loan and you’ve started your business. Yes, the business may be doing great – but can revenue cover the amortization and your desired income? If yes then go ahead and get that business loan.
But what if things go the other way? What if your business fails? Do you have other means to pay back that loan? Think about it.
Getting a loan when you are still starting a business can be very risky. Remember, you can never be sure that everything will come on your way. The only certain about this whole thing is you will have to keep on paying for that loan. That is why before getting a loan, you have already weighed its pros and cons.
4. Get the Necessary Permits for the Business – Starting a business is not just a walk in the park. It’s more like, a lot of walking from office to office. Yes, you’ve read it right. You will have to do a lot of walking just to get those necessary papers for you to start the biz.
Required permits may vary depending on the type of business that you have. But the common documents you will need to secure are: BIR Permit, Barangay Clearance, DTI/SEC Registration, and Business Permit. Note that the expenses to acquire these permits may also vary.
Aside from these important permits and licenses, you will also have to get other permits such as: location clearance, fire safety and inspection certificate, sanitary permit, certificate of electrical inspection, mechanical permit, and other clearances or certificates required depending on the nature of business. For corporations, you will have to secure SEC permit and not DTI. Remember that taxes and steps on getting the permit would vary depending on the city you plan to establish your business, as well as the fees depending on the nature of business and land area occupied by the proposed corporation or business.
These licenses and permits must all be secured first before you start your operations. Or else, you can be subjected to penalties or sanctions.
5. Connect with Your Customers – A good customer relationship is one of the crucial keys for a successful business. That is why it is important to establish a connection with them. But how? Well perhaps, the use of social media is just the right answer for that.
With the advent of social media, reaching out to consumers has been easier and way faster. Social media such as: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, has become a very convenient platform for businesses to send a message to the public. It can be used to promote a product and also to respond on customer concerns. It allows businesses to address criticisms, as wells as express your gratitude towards loyal supporters of the brand.
You can also seek continuous feedback from the consumers, which can help you improve your service and your business as a whole. However, you need to be cautious in using the social media, especially when handling customer complaints. Remember, their concerns can be valuable help you in the areas of your business that still needs some improvement.
How about you? Do you have a question that needs an expert answer?
Join the #MentoringMonday session with Atty. John Paul Gaba this April 18, on the topic: Protecting Your Logos and Trademarks.
**Please see Q&A forum on the comments section below.