3 Young Entrepreneurs Give Tips on How to Manage a Business Amid a Pandemic

Get to know some of their strategies!
by Madelaine Bernardo   |  Apr 27, 2021
Image: FACEBOOK/CLISSORACOSMETICS INSTAGRAM/GELOADVINCULA
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For some business owners, managing a business could be challenging, especially for those who had to adjust to other kinds of setups and strategies to serve their market well during the pandemic. These three business owners shared their knowledge on the basics of managing a business and their personal experiences.  

Get to know these young entrepreneurs:

Gelo Advincula is a third-year marketing student at the University of Santo Tomas and the owner of The Exquisite. He started his business on July 2, 2020, with a capital of only P15,000. As one of the owners who established a business during the pandemic, Gelo says, "I took a risk even though there are many competitors. I took advantage of the market at that time and conducted promos and discounts." Currently, The Exquisite has 1.5k followers on Instagram and even collaborated with some influencers.

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Candy Rookie, Krystal Dispo, is also a third-year marketing student from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, who owns Label and Prints, which she established with her sister in February 2021. According to her, their business started only for fun since most of their friends on Facebook are doing it. "Sabi namin ng sister ko sa isa’t-isa, why not subukan? Our initial capital back then was only 1,000 pesos, and for our first-ever live selling, we offered branded overruns and trendy shorts." 

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Nix Andalajao is a 24-year-old owner of multiple businesses, including her main brand, Clissora Cosmetics. Nix launched her first product, Sweetener Lip Water Stain, in May 2019. "Clissora came from a failed dropshipping business in the USA," she says, "My boyfriend and I decided to close it and do local selling instead so we could focus on operations." And that's where she found "Get Winged," the first 2-in-1 Left & Right Eyeliner Stamp in the Philippines.

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On starting a business and choosing the right product to sell

Gelo shared, “Just like other students, I couldn’t afford to buy high-end pieces of jewelry before. That’s when I thought, paano yung ibang tao. So when I started my business, I made sure that everyone could afford it regardless of gender.” He also highlighted the importance of looking for the right suppliers and conducting quality control. “You should make time to find the right supplier. Kasi ako, it took me weeks to find one. I made sure that the necklaces don’t easily fade.” 

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Krystal also pointed out the importance of choosing the right target market. “It is not possible for a business to cater to everyone in the market. Important din na pagtuunan ng pansin ang pricing. Given that we are in a pandemic, wherein a large population of the market are financially unstable, to have a budget-friendly product will appeal to your market and prospects. Of course, market your product and business. Post captivating photos or video clips.”

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Nix says, “One of the things to keep in mind is to think about what your consumers need right now. For example: Food Deliveries, Work From Home Equipment, Pet Supplies, etc. Avoid selling products that are seasonal to make it long term.”

On Balancing their Online Business and Personal Matters

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“It’s really important to have time management. I make time to transport orders, answer inquiries on social media.” Gelo stated. He also shared one of his secret strategies, “I make sure that I send the packages ASAP. As much as possible, hindi ko na pinapatagal ng isang araw.”

Krystal, on the other hand, makes sure that the schedule of her classes and online selling are dynamic with each other. “Dapat okay kami to schedule our selling sa ibang araw and oras. Kung kailan free kami parehas. In that way, 'di namin napapabayaan yung studies namin and at the same yung business.”

Nix recommends the Todoist app which helps her focus and finish her deliverables on time. According to her, “I’m setting my daily routine by listing all the necessary tasks—from high to low priority through Todoist so I could do my non-negotiables aside.”

Encountering Challenges During the Pandemic

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“After a few months, siyempre may times na konti yung bumibili. Dumadami na rin lalo competitors sa market," Gelo mentioned. "I lost motivation and took a rest for a few months. Nagbigay ako ng mas maraming time sa sarili ko and looked for more inspiration. When I came back, I posted new designs and had new promotions.”

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Krystal also shared that they were also affected by the strong competition in online selling. "So as for us na start-up pa lang and even I na marketing student, medyo nag-struggle kami. Also, yung pagkuha ng stocks and products. We don’t get to see actual products to check quality before namin bayaran or i-purchase due to restrictions. So kaming magkapatid, we are always mentally prepared sa kung ano man yung ipu-purchase namin and pagaganahin na lang talaga yung creative thinking para still maka earn kami from it."

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Nix shared the biggest challenge she encountered was when she and her family were hit by COVID-19. "That time when I received my result, I immediately closed my businesses in order to prioritize the health of my workers. It’s hard for me to stop the operations because we have bills to pay. However during our 2-week break, I took the chance to plan on how I will rebuild my business system."

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On Staying Motivated

“Find someone that you look up to. Sometimes I watch entrepreneurs on YouTube, and I really learn a lot from them,” Gelo said, “Hindi talaga dapat pilit yung dream mo. If you’re a student, you should not limit yourself in studying. Try to explore new things, widen your connections, and make sure na umiikot yung pera because you can’t predict the future.”

Krystal says, “Set a goal, have a positive attitude towards your business, find an inspiration, and congratulate yourself. Compensate yourself for all the hard work, sleepless nights, and brainstorming for your business and brand. Buy yourself a new pair of jeans, shoes, have a nice haircut or grab a drink!”

“Align yourself with goals. Having goals in life can make you motivated to keep moving forward,” Nix says, “Engage yourself with business community groups on Facebook. I do have a lot of friends in E-commerce groups, and whenever they tell their success stories in business, nacha-challenge ako to do better.”

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On Setting the Right Goal

Gelo also reminded us to live with no regrets. “Don’t be afraid to take risks. Don’t stop if you’ve already reached your goal. Just keep on motivating yourself and always track your earnings.”

For Krystal, setting the right goal should start with identifying the business’ mission and vision. “In this way, hindi malabo para sa isang business na gumawa ng strategies para maabot yung goal.”

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“Set specific milestones to make your goal-setting a success. Write down your short and long-term goals in life and in business.” Nix stated.

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On Finding the Right Support System

Having just one person rooting for you to succeed is already a big help, and the little things they do to support you is already a big enough contribution. Gelo states, “Always surround yourself with supportive people, may it be your family or friends. Everything matters kahit yung pag like lang nila sa posts mo. Don’t forget to show them that you appreciate them.”

Aside from having the family as the number one support system, Krystal says, “Sa business kasi, for my own personal opinion, you can’t force people to support you. Sabi nga nila minsan kung sino pa yung hindi natin kakilala yun ang malaki ang suporta.”

Nix shared her hobby of making a dream board. “Doon ko dinidikit lahat ng images ng dreams ko. Tapos nilalagay ko siya sa room ko para first thing when I wake up, ‘yun agad ang makikita ko.”

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The Key to Establishing a Successful Business

“Set a goal for yourself,” Gelo stated. “It’s also important to be there for yourself. You should not always rely on anyone, even on your parents.”

“A plan.” says Krystal, “This serves as a business’ armor towards the undying competition in the market. A competitive business is a product of a competitive and meticulous business/marketing plan."

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“Your mindset,” Nix shares, “Growth mindset is everything. The way you think about your life will determine the success of what you do. There’s no shortcut to success. In business, you will face a lot of burdens, downturns, and mistakes.”

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*Answers have been edited for clarity.

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