Do you find starting up a business overwhelming?
Well, here’s a story for you.
Back in 2003, when we were just starting, we had all these ideas but unsure how to put them into action.
Where to start?
How do I do get clients?
What if they don’t like the product?
What makes the startup successful?
There were way too many questions.
Despite all these confusions, however, one thing was clear: We want to start up a business and we can’t mess it up.
So, we asked our entrepreneur friends how they managed to survive, and they gave us various startup business advice. But what’s common among them is:
Take advantage of all FREE things.
So we did.
Pero hindi rin pala ganun kadali mamili nang gagamitin.
There were many options, but not all fit our business needs. We learned the hard way.
Nag-trial and error kami nang naaaaaaapakatagal. In fact, there was a time we became counterproductive because of the wrong choices we made.
We installed a free version of a chat app on our site. Two or three months in, we realized that it doesn’t support multi-chat function and the chat history gets deleted after 30 days!
So when our business started gaining traction, naturally, more and more people inquired via chat.
But guess what happened.
Yup, they eventually left (and never returned) because we couldn’t respond to their inquiries immediately. And they’ve been coming back from time to time, only to experience the same thing.
In other words:
Yung tools na akala namin makakatulong, hindi pala.
Situations like this happened more than once. So we decided we should be more careful when choosing a free app.
After a few months, we figured out how to fast track the selecting process (finally, di ‘ba?).
And poof! Ang bilis na namin makapili ng tools, which resulted in better productivity; hence, profitability.
What’s the point of this story?
Not all tools are for you.
Choosing the wrong ones may do more harm than good for your startup.
“But how do I know it’s for me?” You ask.
Well, here are the top four on our list.
The app should come with human support.
An application may be very easy to set up and use, but let’s admit that it’s not perfect.
Bugs and issues will happen along the way.
What are you supposed to do then?
Some apps provide a knowledge base, where you can find topics related to your concern. But not all problems are similar.
Minsan kasi limited pa English mo, hindi mo alam kung pano i-describe yung problem mo. Ang ending, hindi mo makita sa list of topics.
Chatbots are not reliable either. They are programmed, and if your question is not in the coded program, you’ll just be going back and forth without any solution to your problem.
Also, as much as possible, the support should speak your language. We read reviews of popular software on Capterra, and the most common complaint they have is the language barrier (plus the fact that its human support is not free). The language barrier caused plenty of misunderstandings. In the end, the support was not able to help.
The app should grow with your business.
This tip applies particularly to handling your finances (and probably the most neglected startup business advice).
As a startup back then, it’s tempting to use spreadsheets to record financial transactions. We did too, and it was the most practical tool.
Until it was not.
As our business started gaining traction and as we offered more services, our spreadsheet contained more and more information, which translates to more complex formulas.
The more data our sheet contained, the bigger the file gets. As it did, the spreadsheet became laggy and would crash frequently.
Alam mo yung feeling na makita mo yung “X has stopped working” sa gitna ng pagiging busy mo?
We tried free accounting software after that, but the lack of support and a whole lot of other features we need turned us off. These circumstances inspired us to make our own.
The app should be compatible with all devices
There were several apps we tried both on our desktops and mobile devices. They worked well, but the problem was when we have to upgrade devices.
Most of the time, it’s either our data were not backed up and transferred to the new device or the software and the machine were no longer compatible.
Either way, nawala pa rin mga data namin.
So when cloud storage and cloud-services were launched, we grabbed it although at first we were hesitant for some reasons.
Mostly, it was because of security.
We had to make sure our data won’t appear somewhere else, so we scrutinized the companies’ privacy and data policies.
Nung sigurado na kami na safe ang data, we stuck with the apps.
It was then we also saw the advantages of cloud-based systems over desktop ones.
The app should not be asking for payment details.
All the apps we tried that asked for payment details did NOT charge anything during the trial period. Because that’s what should really happen.
However, when the trial is up, that’s when the problem begins.
Most of these programs do not tell you your free subscription is over. Bigla ka na lang i-cha-charge ng walang kalaban-laban.
The fees may be small, but anything not 0 is still an expense, ‘di ba?
So what’s the startup business advice to live by?
Taking advantage of free services and products definitely helps startups for this main reason:
Sa madaling salita, nakakatipid kayo habang na-so-solve ang problema nyo.
But the real key to what makes the startup successful is scrutiny.
Make sure the apps will actually ease you, not add to the problems your business is already facing. The tips above should help you.
This startup business advice may not be revolutionary, but they worked for us, and we hope they help you too.
If they do, please comment below or share these so we can help more people.