With the upcoming deadlines set by BIR, I suddenly wondered about the journey that has been since Mirth and Yift started - from an Instagram business page to a fully operational business with retail locations in just 2 years from inception.
They say "you have to start before you're ready". Looking back three years ago, this was a relevant quote at the time. When I took a pause from working in a corporate setup and shifted to being a freelance marketing consultant, it was like falling from a cliff head first. I was not ready. I only knew that I would never be able to start something if I kept on delaying it.
In 2015, I made a list of "35 Things I Want To Do When I Turn 35" and was pretty pleased with how I ticked off one thing at a time throughout that year. There were ones as easy as a piece of cake, ones that I had to really work on (and for) and there's one that lingered on my list (which later became part of then new year's resolution) - I wanted to start a business.
Disclaimer: I am only speaking from experience.
Could one be really prepared? Apart from a fervour desire to start one, I didn't know how to actually start.
If it helps, here are key aspects/steps I considered when Mirth and Yift was just starting out:
1. Research is key. In my case, I spent years reading and researching: processes involved in business registration, DTI/BIR requirements, suppliers and many other aspects of the process. When you start reading up, one thing leads to another; and another leads to another.
2. Decisions have to be made. Small businesses, no matter how small, are still businesses. One has to make a plan and a plan comes with crucial decisions to be made: choosing the business structure, nature of business, range of investment and even personal sacrifices one has to make to make things happen.
For a full-time employee like I was, the decision to shift into being a freelancer was a huge risk. The upside was the significant amount of time that I was able to dedicate as I immersed myself into the many aspects of starting a business. I was able to learn (and experience) firsthand the different steps of business registration.
Your options on business structures are sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation. Whichever business entity / structure you choose, your decision impacts certain factors from choosing your business name to the extent of your liability to understanding the correct taxes to be filed.
3. Plan your investment. It is beyond money talk. Lucky for those with resources in terms of money and manpower, but if one has limited resources, the "investment" part is a major element of the whole deed. Not only will one determine how much money he is willing to put in as an investment but this also involves time, people and courage.
When planning your investment, money still is the number 1 aspect. It would be helpful to keep a neat stack of spreadsheets containing cost estimates and actuals for licenses and permits, professional fees (accountant/bookkeeper), advertising (in Mirth and Yift's case, I put aside budget for Instagram and Facebook ads), production materials and inventory, website and internet plans, promotions, in-store branding materials and property leases (should you decide to get any). This list grows infinitely.
Once set, planning on "how to fund" pulls up a number of ways to fund your investment such as finding investors, bank loans (banks such as BDO and BPI offer schemes for SMEs to choose from) or other financing formats. And when you finally decide on which way to go, you can get into the more detailed part of your business plan.
4. Business registration is a heck of a process. First off, registering your business name is tricky. With my business name, I wanted it to be unique. It had to be. Prepare this ahead of your visit to designated agencies.
Sole Proprietorship: Register with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
Partnership / Corporation: Register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
If headed to DTI, you may check the availability of your business name via its Business Name Registration System (BNRS ).
You also need to secure your permits/licenses from the Local Government Units (LGU), Barangay and Mayor’s Office, and lastly, secure a certificate of registration from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
5. Run your business like it's your passion. Speaking from personal experience, getting into business is the same as indulging in your passion. You have to love what you do. It's not always colorful like rainbows nor sweet like candy.
When Mirth and Yift was finally offered a retail space in Edsa Shangrila in 2017, it was an opportune time to have it officially registered. With all the excitement and energy I could muster, I fell into sweet tongue and learned the first hard lesson ever. Unfortunately, the business spent more than it earned.
It took almost a year to get back up again and refocus the brand's portfolio featuring handcrafted mother of pearl earrings. Fortunately this time, Mirth and Yift tapped the niche market and joined exclusive trunk shows. Series of events made it all worth the effort.
Last year, the brand entered the country's premiere department store, Rustan's, and in just a matter of months, it gained presence in four major locations.
Sure, the processes and experiences in setting up a small business could be quite different from one individual or company to another, but that's the beauty of it. So if you are set to "start before you're ready", let me take you back to step # 1.