How to Start and Scale a Successful Business in the Philippines

By - Angela
05/21/21 09:00 AM
How to Start and Scale a Successful Business in the Philippines
Many people dream of starting their own successful business in the Philippines, but they don't know where to begin or how to grow it. It's not as easy as it sounds! There are a lot of steps that you need to take before you can even start your company and become successful. But this article will walk you through some key things that you should be doing to get started with your business.

Maybe you already have a business idea in mind, or have even started working towards your dream. These can be the first few steps that you take. But coming up with a great idea isn't enough. It's all about how and when you do it.

It's a great time to look into starting a new business or expanding your current business. The economy might be challenging, but this can be an advantage for a young business, too.
The Philippine economy is growing stronger in 2021 and 2022. Source:
The Philippine economy is growing stronger in 2021 and 2022. Source:

What You Should Know About Starting a Successful Business

There are a few things you should know before you start working on a new business venture. Maybe you already know the answers to these questions, but it's important to think hard about these first.

You Should Really, Really Want It

Starting and running a successful business is hard work. If you think starting a small business would be something nice to do or try, you should think twice. You need to be totally committed to it.

It doesn't mean that you need to give up everything else in your life for your new business. However, you should be prepared to do everything you can for it to succeed. This can be late nights working on strategy, long hours working on the day-to-day activities, and going out of your comfort zone.

Speaking of preparing to do everything you can...

Find Out How Far You're Prepared to Go

Yes, we just said that you should do whatever you can. But for your own good, you need to set some limits to the risk you are taking for your business.
How far are you prepared to go to make your business a success?
How far are you prepared to go to make your business a success?
If you're planning to start your business as a side hustle, are you prepared to lose your day job if the business demands more of your time?

How much of your savings are you prepared to put into your business? How much can you afford? Are you comfortable with taking out a bank loan if your reserves aren't enough?

If you're starting a family, are you and your spouse prepared to handle the demands of both family and business? Do you have a plan on how to divide the work? What happens if both demands attention at the same time?

Figure Out Who Can Support You

As they say, no man is an island. So too, with business.

We're not talking about financial support, though that can play a part in your business, too. Oftentimes, the support of family members, friends, and acquaintances can make or break a small business.

In the Philippines, our bayanihan culture is something that can help you in your long journey. Maybe lolo or lola can help take care of the kids when you're working on a big order. Perhaps your kumare or kumpare knows someone who can be a supplier for your raw materials. Maybe just having your best friend around to listen to your rants can help you focus better afterward.

It's important that you follow through and do the work required. But don't be afraid to reach out to others for help, too.

If you're ready to get started, you should start taking your first steps in building your new business.

First Steps to Start Your Business

First: Check If Your Business Idea Will Work

If you already have a business idea in mind, it's not enough to just be excited about it. You need to make sure that you can sell your products or services. Just because you like the idea, or know one or two friends who do, doesn't mean that you will be able to turn it into a successful business.

Don't assume that there is a market for your product. Find out! Do some research. Talk to people (who aren't family or friends) who you think might be interested, and find out if they'd be interested in what you're trying to do. Find out how much they're willing to pay for that product or service.

There are many Facebook and Viber groups and communities that you can look into. Try to hang around these places and see what your target customers are talking about, what they like seeing in the things or services they buy.

Is that something you would like to sell, too?

You can also look at your possible competitors. Even if it looks like there isn't any other business that will do the same thing. There are still other products and businesses that your possible customers are using right now. Find out what these are, and what they're doing to keep their customers. Find out what their customers don't like about them, and if you can answer that problem.

Second: Start Small, But Great

Before you invest a lot of money into your business, start with a small scale test. It's important to take risks when you're starting a business, but successful businesses take only controlled risks.

Test your idea on a smaller scale first.

If you're selling a service, make sure the value of your service is solid so that your customers can see clearly how your service will benefit them. The way you talk about your service and any images you provide will be important in how your customers see your service.

If you want to sell a tangible item, focus on one product or item first. Make it the best item that you can produce, from the item itself, the packaging, the photography and how you market it.

In building your best product, you will likely have to start talking to suppliers and partners. It's important to keep within your limits at this stage, but always weigh things carefully. That deluxe packaging material for your product will surely be attractive, but will it drive your product pricing too high for your target market? That amazing application can really do wonders for the service you provide, but do you need it at this stage of your business?

Third: Find Out Where Your Customers Are

Location is important.

Be present where your target customers are
Be present where your target customers are

If you're planning for a brick-and-mortar store for your business, finding the right location with good foot traffic isn't the only consideration. Take a look at the kind of people in the area where you want to put up your place of business. You don't want to start a restaurant in an area where people are primarily vegetarian, for example. If you need to, maybe you can research into how you can make "vegetarian" work well as a concept and menu item.

Consider something purely online for a start. With the current status of the world, everyone is going online to do everything, from the groceries they get to the services they need. An online business can help you avoid high rental costs, though there are fees involved for having your own website or shopfront. But you can keep costs down when you start by starting a Facebook Page and m and Marketplace. You can think about scaling up your business to other online channels (or offline) when you are ready.

But you should still look into the various social media networks and see what services your customers frequent. Are they on Facebook or Tiktok? Perhaps the Instagram user base is more of a fit for your business. You can also take a look if you can find your target customers on online marketplaces like Carousell, Shopee, or Lazada.

Even if you are planning a service-oriented business, if you customers don't see the services you offer, they won't come. So be mindful of where your target market is and focus on one or two of them to start.

Fourth: Start Your Business Plan

Having a solid business plan will help you not only get your business started. It will also help you figure out some things that you might not have realized while you were thinking about your dream business.

Your business plan needs to answer the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of your business?
  • Who are you selling to?
  • How would you like your business to look like 3-5 years from now?
  • Where will you get the money you need to start your business?
  • What should the first few months of your new business look like?
  • What does failure look like for the business? Outline your plans on what to do when you need to exit your business.

Taking the time to answer these questions instead of rushing into starting your business will help you in the new few months. Many of these questions you probably have an answer to already. After all, you've already researched your business idea, tested your idea out, and scouted out the best location or platform for your business. You're simply putting them down on paper so that it's easier to refer to it later.

Fifth: Register your Business

Before you can operate legally, you'll have to make sure you're registered in the appropriate government agencies. This will help avoid penalties and confusion further in the future.

Thankfully, it's become easier to register your business over the years since many government agencies now have online services.

There are five agencies you'll have to approach for your registration:

  1. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), to register your type of business ownership (between Single Proprietor, Partnership, or Corporation)
  2. Your Barangay Hall for your Barangay Clearance, depending on your place of business
  3. City Hall for your Mayor's Permit, depending on your place of business
  4. Bureau of Internal Revenue for tax filing
  5. Social Security System (SSS) for your employees (and you!)

Sixth: Carefully Execute Your Plans

You've got your best product, and you're there where your potential customers are. It's time to get down to business and do the actual work of selling your product or service.

Once you're running, don't be disheartened if you don't get immediate wins. We always hear about the super successful businesses that seem to have exploded overnight. But the vast majority of successful businesses take a little time to get into their stride.

Take this time to get to know the ins and outs of your new business. Get to know your customers better. Find out better ways to do things. It is easier to improve your business and product now while you're small, than when orders are coming in so fast that you're always playing catch up.

Seventh: Review How Your Business is Doing

When you start, give your business a small goal. Maybe it's five sales a month. Maybe it's one project every week.

Even if you don't hit those goals, having a set goal will help you review how your business is doing. Was your goal too high, or is there something you can do to better reach it?
Regular analysis how your business is doing can help you stay profitable
Regular analysis how your business is doing can help you stay profitable
These first goals and how your business is doing against them is a great way to find out if your business has the potential you suspected. This can also show you ways to improve on your product, your service, or your marketing. It can also show you how and where to expand to in the future, so always take note of how your business in changing over time.

But once you've started your business and have a few customers, it's time to keep moving forward.

When to Start Expanding Your Small Business

If you're always reviewing how your business is doing, no doubt you've come up with many ideas on how to grow your business further. You can also look at your reviews and seeing what the most common requests are.

This will help you identify where to expand next for your business. It can be through adding a new product or service line, or widening your customer reach geographically. Maybe even adjusting prices according to demand in different provinces, or being able to serve more customers in a shorter period of time.

How you expand your business depends on what kind of business you are running.

But when should you start expanding? The answer is not so straightforward. But going through the following questions can help you decide if it's time to expand:

  1. What does the day-to-day operations of your business look like? If you have a streamlined process already set in place, it might be a great time to expand. If you're still figuring out how to make your business more efficient, adding another product or service can be more challenging than it needs to be.
  2. Are your customers asking for new services or products? Maybe a particular service keeps coming up with conversations with your clients. Maybe you're seeing customers pairing your products with others. This can clue you in that you customers might be ready to see new products or services coming from you.
  3. You're getting too many orders to handle. Maybe you're turning down customers because you don't have time to service them. Perhaps some customers are leaving because they've waited too long in your shop or for an email from you. When that happens, it's time to get some outside help. While taking on freelancers and contractual work is one way to solve this problem, you should also consider taking on more full-time employees. You can also look into using websites and services that can automate your workload. These can be customer relationship management systems, Messenger and website chatbots, automated social media management tools, and the like.

Because expanding your business doesn't come free, you'll need to plan where you'll get the capital and how you'll do it. Make sure you have an end goal in mind so that you know what you're working towards.

Final Thoughts

Starting a successful small business is hard work. It can take many days or months before you see a return on your investment. You may have to endure many sleepless nights and long hours working.

But a successful business can provide you and your loved ones employment and financial security, if run well and taken care of. 

Here are some final thoughts to keep in mind about successful small businesses:

  • Invest as much time, effort and money into your business as you can afford. Don't go overboard!
  • Don't be afraid to take risks; they may pay off big! But know when to back away.
  • Surround yourself with people who will support you both personally and professionally.
  • Be patient: don't be disheartened if you're not seeing record sales immediately.
  • Don't be afraid to accept help from other people or use applications and websites to help you manage your business.

A successful business can be in your future, but the future won't wait for you--so get started as soon as you can.

What's your dream business? Share it with us in the comments below!