Things I Wish I Knew Before Series Part 2: Starting a Business [Students Edition]
In the previous article, we went through the narratives of some of our beloved Enderun teachers and staff in regards to starting their own business. In this continuation, we feature the various college students within the campus that have grinded their way to create their own businesses while still managing their academic and organizational responsibilities.
This article is part of Ink Enderun’s series titled, ‘Something I wish I knew before.’ While the first article focuses on several hacks that students may benefit from in their college experience (click here to read), this article highlights the stories of the pains and gains of starting one’s own business.
For this second part of the series, we asked our fellow Enderun students all about how they conceptualized their businesses, what their journey towards executing their visions was like, and most importantly we asked them,
“What is something you wish you knew before starting your business?”.
Louise Rivera is a junior taking up BS International Hospitality Management, majoring in Hotel Administration. She is also the woman behind Damhin, an online business that curates personalized gift boxes for all types of occasions, for all ages. Rooted from the meaning of the Filipino word, ‘Damhin’ means ‘to feel’. The business allows its customers to share their feelings and sentiments of love and gratitude for their significant other, through a box filled with their favorite goodies.
In the interview, Louise shared her initial fears upon starting her business and how she was able to push herself to do it despite these doubts. “To be honest, it actually took me months of planning before I actually launched my business because I had a lot of fears and doubts…but then I remembered that we miss 100% of the shots we don’t take…After that, I got inspired and motivated to go for it.”
We then asked her how she came up with the concept of Damhin, and she explained how this idea was inspired by her love language of giving gifts to her friends ever since her childhood years. The joy of seeing the gratitude her friends felt over these boxes was what encouraged her to start her own business. “I saw how happy it made them feel and how good it feels to be the one to give it to them… also I know not everyone has the time to curate one with materials, which is why I pushed through with Damhin.”
After learning about the origins of Louise’s business, we then had to ask, What is something that you wish you knew before starting a Business?”
Her Answer: Do not be afraid to ask for support.
Upon starting Damhin, Louise explained how much she worried about how other people perceived her business. After the launching, however, she found herself amused with the positive feedback and support she received from the Enderun community “I used to be so shy promoting my products and business…but I realized in Enderun alone that everyone was so supportive. They started reaching out to me for partnerships and even orders. The support was really great.” This made her realize how irrational her fears were, which made her more confident to pursue her business.
With this realization, she shares the importance of having confidence in your own products and services as this would allow for more opportunities for growth.” I think the main gist is to put yourself out there and believe in your products… As long as you put yourself in the shoes of your target customers, and ask yourself if you are willing to buy your own product, everything will turn out fine.”
- Make a Business Plan.
Rooted from Louise’s experience of studying ABM in senior high, she discusses the value of a business plan in assessing the feasibility of a business and to ensure that cost is used efficiently. “Start first by making a business plan, ask for insights and suggestions…Because if you go for it without planning sayang lang time, effort, and money (it’s a waste of time effort and money)”
- Do something that you really want to do and at the same time provide value for your customers.
Louise here explains how passion should not be the sole factor of creating the business.
“Sure you might be passionate about what you do, but if it isn’t valuable to other people, they won’t buy it.”
- Do the costing of your business beforehand!
She shares here how costing is a crucial aspect of any business and should not be taken for granted in order to sustain its operations. “it is important to know that a business is still a business. You should know how to make it grow so that you can enjoy the fruits of your hard work.”
Before ending the interview, Louise shared some insights and advice to students aspiring to start their own business.
Noella Cuevo is currently a Junior taking up BS International Hospitality Management, majoring in Culinary Arts. In May 2020, she officially opened C’s bakery with the aim of spreading a little happiness to her friends and family amidst the Pandemic. Well known for its #aesthetic cakes and delectable pastries, C’s bakery has established itself well within the online market, gaining attraction on all their social media platforms.
In the early beginnings of conceptualizing C’s Bakery, Noella shares how the Pandemic gave her the opportunity to experiment with her recipes. “The thing about me is that I easily get bored and if I don’t do anything, it’s like I’m missing out on the opportunity to learn during this time of the quarantine. So I started my business by experimenting with different recipes almost every week during the lockdown.”
We asked her about her main inspiration for opening C’s bakery. To that, she explains how her mother’s subtle push encouraged her to start a business and how doing so would allow her to spread joy and reach out to her loved ones.
“My mom was actually the person who kept convincing me to open up an online bakery…after a few discernments, I took on the challenge and went for it…
Finding joy and happiness despite this time is rare. I was thinking, how else could I bring joy to others when I’m far away from them? And what better way to reach out to my loved ones than food?”
Inspired by this purpose, C’s bakery went off to a great start. Within just 2 weeks of opening, Noella has baked and sold 53 cakes and has since added many more well received inclusions to her menu such as her creamy Gouda Cheese Cake, Ube Cheese Halaya bread, and much recently, her Oreo Overload Cake.
Having understood the processes that C’s bakery underwent and how it’s visions came to reality, we finally got to ask her, “What is something you wish you knew before entering or starting your business?”
Her Response: In starting a business, it’s important to understand proper costing and outsourcing.
Similar to previously shared advice, Noella acknowledges the difficulties that came with learning how to cost and how her sister came to her aid to teach her some basics. She is also glad now that she finished her Food and Beverage Management and Cost Control class, as it helped her improve her methods of costing.
“I wish I knew more about proper costing! Thankfully my sister was able to help me…but through time and experience, I was able to understand how to do it.
She also explains how challenging learning to outsource materials was for her business, yet how she remains grateful for the obstacles she had to overcome in order to learn how to better manage C’s bakery. “When I started my business, I failed to outsource my ingredients (well due to quarantine restrictions), I mostly got mine in grocery stores… I’m continuously trying to find ways to improve management and so far, the progress has been fulfilling”
By the end of the interview, Noella was willing to impart her wisdom and share 4 key tips to students currently aspiring to establish their own businesses or maybe even their own online bakeries.
Noella makes it a point to mention the importance of contemplating one’s readiness in actually starting and working on a business. According to her, it is crucial to ask yourself the following:
- Would you be able to balance school while running a business?
- Are you willing to commit long hours at work, get tired but still able to get up everyday and enjoy what you do?
She also mentions that an aspiring entrepreneur should think wisely about their decisions if they truly want their business idea to succeed.
- Form Effective Habits
In the interview, Noella reveals how she disciplines herself to fulfill the orders she would receive per day. Having effective habits linked with a clear and set schedule allows her to be responsible for her time and her tasks within the day.
“When I have orders I tend to work on them in the morning and then I have school during the afternoon. I have also learned over time that the earlier you start, the more time you can rest afterwards. But if ever I am too tired in the morning, I bake and prep my orders after class”
Third, she explains that organization is key in managing time effectively and becoming more productive with the goals she has for both school and her business.
“Of course, it’s difficult to manage my time for school since I am mostly taking up my majors already. With the bakery receiving more orders than usual, the great thing is that I love to organize. This helps me gauge the amount of orders I will take for the bakery.”
- Have fun and enjoy the whole process.
Last but not least, she reminds students the importance of enjoying and finding passion in the process of establishing a business so that it does not necessarily feel like work.
“Love is all that makes my work enjoyable. It was enjoying the long process, sharing my products in my accounts, thanking the people that support me. I realized that if you love what you do, it would feel like you never worked a day in your life”
April Joie Castro is a current Sophomore taking up BSBA Operations Management. She is also the owner of an online business selling Internet service technology and equipment called ISP Supplies PH. Aside from selling these products, the business also aims to empower small businesses and players in need of these internet services especially during these times of the Pandemic.
We asked Joie what inspired her to start her business. She explains that she saw the opportunity to provide these ISP’s when she witnessed the complexities of applying for Internet services especially within Rural areas. Due to the Pandemic, she also forecasted that implementing this business would become a necessity for most households.
“When you buy ISP’s, usually there are a lot of requirements…and not all people can provide that, especially small businesses…and because of the Pandemic, most of us need to do online schooling and online work. We then decided to start the business and I just knew then na magbooboom yon. (I just knew it would be a hit)”
In the interview, Joie also shared that before she started her business, she had her own humble beginnings. She narrated how she has had several jobs since the age of 17 and how being an undergraduate led to a lot of discrimination towards her. Despite this she continuously pushed forward, with the same eagerness to learn.
“During this time, I met all sorts of people. Some cursed at me, yelled at me. It was really part of it… Here in the Philippines, If you are an undergraduate, they assume you don’t know how to do a lot of things. So sometimes you get degraded, but of course you have to prove yourself of what you can do, and my mindset before was always, you don’t need to be a graduate to learn.”
Being inspired after listening to Joie’s story from working multiple jobs to starting a business, we then asked her the essential question. “What is something that you wish you knew before starting a business?”
Her Response: Hiring People
Joie shares her realization that loyalty and initiative are great characteristics to look for in hiring people and how this would be beneficial for a company.
“I wish I knew better how to hire someone loyal to me as a boss. It is nice to have people take initiative when you have a business.”
She also expresses in the interview that as an entrepreneur, you must also be willing to set limits as a leader and establish what needs to be done.
“I am generally nice because of everything I have been through. You will rarely see me mad because I know what it feels like to be tired, but have a boss mad at you. But, it is also important to set boundaries.”
Joie then leaves her own words of wisdom to impart to students that may want to establish their own business. She explains the importance of ‘Diskarte’; how being resilient in finding new solutions to the obstacles you face will take you far in life along with being humble and making connections.
“Ang kailangan talaga sa negosyo Diskarte. You can’t depend on intelligence, kasi you’ll think too highly of yourself and that will stop you from being open to learning…So syempre kailangan street smart ka. Pakiusap or good approach establish connections with everyone you meet”
(What you really need in a business is strategy. You can’t necessarily depend on Intelligence because you will think too highly of yourself and that will stop you from being open to learning…So of course, you need to be Street smart. The ability to ask for help or good approach to establish connections with everyone you meet”)