MSMEs from all over Cebu had the opportunity to learn more about digital innovation from experts from various fields during the Globe myBusiness Academy Cebu leg. The whole-day event, in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), introduced local entrepreneurs to new digital and online technologies , which were created specifically to make it easier for them to run and manage their businesses, whether big or small.

Here’s what the experts have to say:

Start Your Business On The Right Foot

“Don’t just find a need and fill it; instead, give your clients an offer they cannot refuse.” – Anthony Pangilinan, host of CNN Philippines’ The Boardroom, Chairman and Chief Disturber of BusinessWorks, Inc., and OIC of Called to Rescue

Yes, it’s important in starting a business to find a product or service that your potential market needs. But the key to a successful business is to find a product or service that is so essential for your customers and to match it with your core competence, specifically your strongest skill/s or talent/s, such that when you deliver what they need, you have created it so well they cannot say no to it.

“Test your business with your market, and engage with your market.” – Ma. Elena Arbon, Assistant Regional Director for Region 7, Department of Trade and Industry

Once you’ve developed your business concept, make sure to test your product or service with some customers. Get their feedback, and improve accordingly. Market testing validation is important, as this allows you to develop and grow your business in line with your customers’ needs.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has a DTI Negosyo Center in every regional office which not only implements laws on business and commerce, but most importantly, supports local businesses with their various needs. The DTI Negosyo Center helps micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) develop their businesses and products through continuous trainings and workshops, access to information, market research and more.

DTI highly encourages every entrepreneur to register their business, in particular start-up businesses who may need educational, technical, and financial support. At the moment, Cebu has 28 DTI Negosyo Centers, with almost 50 percent presence in Cebu.

Be Efficient With Your Finances Using Tech Tools

“The only way is to innovate and adopt an innovative mindset for long-term viability of your business. Adopting digital processes is equally important.” – Ma. Elena Arbon, assistant regional director for Region 7, Department of Trade and Industry

Nowadays, there are a number of ways to manage your finances more efficiently through the use of online and digital technologies. The key is finding the right tools to help you run your business. Cathlyn Pavia, Business Development Head of GCash, points out how GCash is “a platform that transforms your mobile phones into a wallet where you can do your everyday transactions using your phone.” This means paying your bills, receiving payment from customers and suppliers, transferring funds, and even managing payroll through a smartphone app. So no more time wasted with bank and payment errands or stressing over delayed payments and fines — just easy and safe money management right when you need it.

Besides, banks aren’t all that easy to access and find in provinces and remote areas. But with myBiz Wallet, GCash for Business, cashless transactions are possible. It supports financial services such as withdrawals, direct bank transfers, and over-the-counter transactions through pawnshops, convenience stores (like 7-Eleven), and department stores, namely SM and Robinsons. In Cebu and the Visayas region, GCash transactions are possible through RD Pawnshop and Palawan Pawnshop.

Address Customers’ Pain Points ASAP

“There are many ways to improve customer experience — online and offline.” – Petrus Carbonell, Head of Business Development, Lazada

Carbonell points out how friction matters in running a business, defining it as “any pain point for your customers,” wherein a negative experience of your product or service can affect growth and profit. Payment and delivery processes are some of the areas where customers often experience friction; thus, it pays to improve on these points. Some of his recommendations include responding to customer inquiries, consistent updates on product inventory and information, and personalization of your product or service to suit each of your customers’ needs and requirements.

Take Advantage of Online Advertising and Social Media

“Online advertising is all about discovery, [about finding] new things coming up. People don’t go to Facebook to look at ads, but to look at what other people are doing and what’s the latest news.” – Joey Flores, Associate Director for Corporate Marketing, AdSpark Philippines

Don’t be afraid to go online to advertise your brand. Social media and social networking sites are very good platforms to reach potential customers, so long as you know how to use them. The not-so-secret formula is finding the right content and the right context when creating your messages online. Keep in mind that the right ad will attract the right person, and that people look up specific things when they are online, so it’s important to use the right hashtags on your posts.

“Gather your customers’ information and build your database specific to your market/clientele.” – Joey Flores, Associate Director for Corporate Marketing, AdSpark Philippines

Social media offers a wealth of opportunities for your business when used right. By utilizing your followers’ and likers’ information, you can create content that suits your market specifically — what they like, what they react to, who they interact with — to attract them to your brand. This enables you to not only to grow your clientele, but also to find out how else to improve your brand.

Be Authentic; Be Audacious

“Don’t make your IG look like a brand; make it authentic.” – Joey Flores, Associate Director for Corporate Marketing, AdSpark Philippines

Gone are the days when a picture-perfect Instagram feed was the ideal. Nowadays, the buzz word is “authenticity,” wherein users and followers are drawn to accounts that are real. While vibrant colors and nice pictures are still eye-catching, it’s important to keep your posts relatable. So tell your brand’s story, and be yourself.

“Be proud of what you do; it will pay off.” – Dennis Ng, founder and CEO of Mober

Owning and managing a business is tough and demands hard work and perseverance. It takes more than a certain business acumen to be successful; one needs guts to take risks, make bold decisions, and ask for what you need.

Mober founder and CEO Dennis Ng took a risk when he boldly asked a roomful of entrepreneurs and business experts in an APEC event which of them would invest in his startup business. He asked the speaker, “What would it take you, a Singaporean, to invest in a startup like me in the Philippines?” His audacity impressed SM’s Tessie Sy-Coson who approached him after the event and offered to partner with him.

Find The Right Partners & The Right Tools

“It’s not what you know; it’s who you talk to. Rely on the experts that you can trust.” – Anthony Pangilinan, host of CNN Philippines’ The Boardroom, Chairman and Chief Disturber of BusinessWorks, Inc., and OIC of Called to Rescue

Putting up a business and running it successfully means having to rely not only on your own know-how, but to trust the advice of experts who may know better.

Growing your business requires growth in knowledge as well, and you can’t learn everything on your own. Find a teacher who can show your better ways to do things, or a mentor who can guide you through the unknowns of your business. Find experts who can do certain tasks essential to your business well enough that you can continue to focus on developing your own core competencies.

Embrace Digital Solutions

“Technology empowers your business so long as you’re willing to market your product on social media — the possibilities are endless.” – Petrus Carbonell, Head of Business Development, Lazada

Online and digital technology aren’t just about marketing or advertising your product or brand online; it’s about embracing digital solutions that can help you manage your business more efficiently and almost effortlessly.

Globe myBusiness, for instance, caters to MSMEs from many industries. Globe myBusiness helps entrepreneurs develop their brand and customer experiences through different means and at various areas of their businesses — from learning about your brand to completing a product purchase to after-sales service. It also allows entrepreneurs to run their businesses efficiently by giving them real-time access to their records such as sales reports and inventory, if necessary.

“Learn to take the dive and take your business to the next level.” – Juan Antonio Andres, Samsung

Elevate your business to the next level and transform your workplace into one that’s future-ready. The workplace of the future no longer requires an actual physical space; it utilizes tools that we already have on hand — like our smartphones.

For instance, Samsung and Globe myBusiness have developed a work environment that takes place within the palm of your hand. With the Samsung Galaxy S10 and a Globe myBusiness plan, you can easily and efficiently run and manage your business operations without a laptop or desktop computer. Simply connect using your smartphone or tablet and do business with via mobile. It’s a fast, affordable, and practical way of doing business anytime, anywhere.

Samsung also allows entrepreneurs to integrate their devices with one another, while enhancing the work experience with next-level features such as the S10’s Infinity Display, a 4100 mAh battery and wireless power share feature, and 5 HD cameras.

Grow your business and expand your reach. Sign up to Globe myBusiness Academy.

Papa Diddi’s, a four-year-old ice cream business, is young by industy standards, but it has stayed strong in a saturated food market. Its success may be summed up into three factors: the dedication to creating fresh, new flavors; a penchant for innovation while keeping product quality at its core; and adopting learnings unique to the business.

Paul Perez, founder, owner, and chief ice cream developer, shares some of the lessons he’s learned since putting up Papa Diddi’s:

Professionalize your business, regardless of its size.

“I got a message on the Papa Diddi’s Facebook page — it was a good, long review — from one of the leading food editors in the country. They really liked it, so I knew I had to take [the business] more seriously. That’s when I started to professionalize the ranks, hired better people, and applied systems and procedures [from] my advertising background.”

Papa Diddi’s can be found in four key locations in Metro Manila. While this may seem limited in terms of accessibility for its customers, the brand has managed to maintain its clientele in a saturated market in the past four years. More importantly, this allows Paul to be able to carefully monitor and assure that product quality and standards are maintained at all times.

No matter how big your business gets, stay hands-on.

“A lot of times, people overlook how important some things are: HR, accounting, and finance. One of my key learnings is that it will still end up with you, so you have to be ready to do it. That readiness to take on [anything that needs to be done] should always be there.”

Another lesson for Paul is that he should always be hands-on with his business. This gives him the opportunity to know first-hand any issues or concerns that may arise from the customer’s perspective, as well as from his staff’s, and allows him to find solutions immediately.

Explore the opportunity only when it’s there.

“Given that we are 100 percent natural, we don’t use artificial flavoring. When fresh produce are hard to come by, it’s difficult for us [to make more.] So we only keep on expanding in terms of the number of flavors. We just take the opportunity while it’s there.”

Paul admits that it’s tempting to grow one’s business. However, Paul neither wants to compromise the quality of his products just to be able to reach a certain sales target nor put the business at risk when sales are low. While his preference to take advantage of opportunities that are present may seem conservative for some, he believes that it’s more important to look ahead and prepare for lean days.

Go beyond your product’s “seasonality” and find a lasting quality about it.

“As a marketing person, I tried to see the trends, and I realized that [customers] — after the rain — just want to go out. But why ice cream? Maybe because ice cream makes people happy or solves everything. Maybe it’s infused with something magical that creates that kind of vibe within you, which is great.”

After observing his Maginhawa store’s customers’ behavior, Paul discovered that people liked to go out after a downpour. His observation led him to believe that Papa Diddi’s ice cream goes beyond a season, and this drives him to create not just more flavors but also enhance the ice cream eating experience.

Find new ways for customers to experience your product.

“We keep churning out new flavors [and experiment how] we apply the new flavors – from [serving our ice cream] with brioche, churros, in rice crispy bowls, etc. We look into the food trends happening now, and we link it into what we’ve got. So we’re quite current in many ways, but at the same time, the product quality stays solid.”

Papa Diddi’s produces a variety of new flavors every so often. In fact, it has recently launched six new flavors for the summer. This year’s summer flavors were inspired by the outdoors and nature.

Summer Lei, for instance, is infused with the flavors of Sampaguita and white chocolate, while Roselle’s Embrace is flavored with the hibiscus flower grown in Negros, complemented by bits of salty cheddar cheese. Butterfly pea, a flower usually used in teas, has been added to carabao’s milk to create a visually delightful blue ice cream in Blue Butterfly.

For a true summery treat comes Manguavo, which highlights two locally grown favorite fruits for Filipinos: mango and guava. Honey Sunflower Seeds brings to mind road trips, while Squash Blooms offers a fresh take on vegetables in your ice cream.

But apart from the new flavors Paul creates, he also knows how important it is for customers to be able to enjoy the ice cream in many different ways. This elevates the ice cream eating experience from a simple one, to a whole new level of enjoyment. This creative use of innovation also gives a playful take on ice cream, evoking a heightened feeling of delight for a product that is already often associated with bringing joy.

Always remember what made you start your business in the first place.

“We’ve always been very true to the soul of what we do, true to the story of what Papa Diddi’s is all about: sourcing locally, never shortchanging our customers with the quality of the products. The moment you keep that, people will see that — and despite all the [competition] coming out, at the end of the day, they will remember you.”

Any business faces challenges and obstacles, but what’s important is that you never lose sight of what made you decide to put up your business. Staying aware of your core values strengthens the foundation of your business and keeps your focus. At the same time, your customers will always remember your brand because you have remained true to your core values.

Don’t ride on the trends. Stay relevant.

“[Creating a new flavor] is all about what’s around you — your history, your story, your experiences, your culture — and that’s where I draw out inspiration. If you know your past and you know where you’re headed as well, you have a good balance. Then you’re able to create something that’s relevant, that’s up-to-date.”

At the heart of Papa Diddi’s was Paul’s desire to share with others his love for ice cream and a desire to help local communities. This has remained his objective throughout the past four years of his business, and this has kept his business on steady ground since. This stability gives him room to fearlessly create new flavors, explore new ways for his customers to experience his products, and discover other means to reach more potential customers.

Innovate using emerging technology.

“There’s always pressure to open up different branches all over, but I was looking into a business model wherein I didn’t have to open so many for the simple reason that Manila is so traffic and I didn’t want to be visiting all these shops. So I asked myself, ‘How can I bring my product to [the customers] instead?’”

While Paul keeps his business within a manageable size in terms of scope and manpower, he has expanded it in terms of reach, without having to add much to his operational expenses. He utilized existing smartphone app technology to his advantage by making sure that Papa Diddi’s products are available in food delivery services (accessible through mobile apps such as Grab and Honest Bee) which are becoming more popular these days. This eliminated many problems he might encounter should he put up more branches around the Metro — including added costs to manpower, rentals, etc. as well as losses brought about by traffic, among others. This strategic move has made Papa Diddi’s available to customers throughout Metro Manila.

“I’m the first to offer ice cream subscriptions. The basic mechanic is we churn out a flavor just for the subscribers and not available at any of the branches, and it’s delivered to your doorstep. That’s very tech-based, because you have to apply online, pay online.”

Papa Diddi’s, like most businesses nowadays, has an online presence through its social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram. Paul took it a step further and saw the value of having an online community.

“I write my story on what inspired me to make the flavor. Ice cream making to me is very personal, and through the letters I send to the subscribers, they feel the heart behind every pint we make.”

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