Are you worried about the process of registering your business? Rob Afzelius, co-founder of Karton.ph, has some words of wisdom for you.
Whenever we see a successful business, looking so well-put-together, it’s sometimes hard to imagine how they started. Looking at Karton.ph, that’s pretty much how I feel about this online bazaar now one-stop-shop for Pinoy products.
While other businesses tend to suffer from crises like a pandemic, Karton would always find a way to become busier than ever. According to its co-founder Rob Afzelius, crises like the COVID-19 pandemic ironically helped Karton leapfrog three steps forward.
Karton used to carry items that you would only usually find in bazaars because one of the co-founders loved going to those.
“He would ask sellers where he can find the products again. Their answer would be in the next bazaar, which was either months away, a year away, or never. E-commerce and online selling were new at the time so these sellers wouldn’t have any place to sell their products aside from these bazaars,” said Rob.
“We wanted to build something that would allow customers to buy Filipino products conveniently and not have to go to every bazaar to find them. It kinda hit two birds with one stone as it gave the merchants a new venue to sell that was really meant for small businesses like theirs.”
Rob shared that when Karton’s customers started looking for essential items such as rice, meat, and fresh produce, they had to rethink the way their business works. That wasn’t really the thrust of Karton but Rob and his team knew that this was not just an opportunity for expansion but also a way to serve both their loyal and new customers.
Pivoting and moving around, and continuing their operations during a pandemic would’ve been difficult, if not impossible, if they weren’t a legitimate business. They would’ve lost this opportunity to evolve Karton.
That’s why Rob knows well how important it is to formalize a business no matter how difficult or tedious the process can be. Here he shares some ways to overcome these challenges.
Rob and his partners have registered Karton even before they launched. This is because they already know their purpose by heart.
Though Rob was (and still is) working another full-time job and they were just operating from an apartment with only 3 employees – an operations manager, a salesperson, and a graphic designer – they knew that their purpose was to help Filipino small business owners.
Since they were so excited about the possibilities for Karton, they also had the energy to go through even the less exciting but important parts of building a business.
“I have to admit that it is very challenging. It really all boils down to your WHY? Why are we doing this? Why do we want this platform to succeed? Our clear answer to that is because it helps our small Filipino entrepreneurs and gives them a chance to scale, it helps promote Pinoy products which are truly world-class and it provides access to people who are looking for these products,” said Rob.
When you know that you’ve got a winning idea, the first thing you do is to protect it. And business ideas are no different.
Even though the team behind Karton was not well versed in the business of registration, they knew they had to go through a lot of consultations, processing of requirements, processing of permits, working with lawyers on crafting merchant contracts because that’s what’s best for the business and the merchants whom they would be working with.
“Formalizing a business gives you credibility and encourages trust among partners. These are very important for both merchants and sellers,” said Rob.
“It also helped in a way that we were able to expand our services and broaden our reach. We are able to join events and bazaars that require business permits. This helped us a lot with marketing and client base. We were able to tap into providing gifts for corporate clients since we are able to provide the necessary requirements that these companies have.”
Becoming an entrepreneur also means dreaming big. We don’t put time and effort into building a business if we only want to see it grow to a certain point. We want the possibilities for it to be wide and endless. That’s the way Rob and his partners saw Karton. So they know that being getting the necessary permits is what would take them one big step closer to this dream.
“Our intention from the beginning was to always make Karton a formal business. We saw a lot of potential in e-commerce and in selling local products. We also want to be compliant with our government regulations. Since our platform will represent all these merchants, it is our responsibility to ensure that we comply with regulations.”
Being government-compliant doesn’t only protect Karton legally, it also allowed them to grab opportunities and expand in a way that a non-registered business wouldn’t have been able to do.
“Being a formal business opens more doors. Big customers, multinationals, for example, have stringent boarding and accreditation process. If we were not a legal entity, chances are we would not be even entertained.”
Rob understands that a lot of things may be stopping some entrepreneurs from formalizing their business. It could be the costs, time, and resources. Especially if you’re a business who’s just starting out and not yet making a profit, going out there to spend more money and take the time that you could be spending on running your business might not seem like a good idea.
“If you are a small and new entrepreneur and you are just one person handling all the paperwork, it can be very challenging, especially if your business is being juggled along with a day job,” said Rob.
“But if you see your business growing into something bigger it is important to formalize it. It is always good to be prepared and organized when putting up a business. Your chances of growing bigger are higher when your business is registered and formalized.”
So, if you are an aspiring entrepreneur who’s already thinking of legitimizing, you’re already on your way to growing your business and reaching your dream. Don’t let the challenges stop you from achieving your goals.
For more information on registering your business yourself, visit Globe myBusiness for a full DIY guide on how to formalize.
Need help with business registration? Sign up at the Globe MyBusiness Taxumo portal and use the code GmBTXMBiz to get up to 50% discount on different Taxumo services*.
*This service is only available in Metro Manila, Cavite, Tarlac, Rizal, and Laguna. Promo duration until December 31, 2020.
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