Showing posts with label Work & Events. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Work & Events. Show all posts

Monday, April 29, 2024

I have lived in the goodness of God

Wow, I blinked, and it's already the end of April! How did that happen? This year is going so fast, so before I blink again and find it's already Christmas, let me tell you about last year. 

My horrible year. My blessed year. 

Yes, it can be both things at once and I hope one day, when it doesn't feel like a fresh wound anymore, I will only see 2023 as blessed. 

Handa na ba kayo? I don't think I am. So I think this will be a rambling post. It's a year I'd rather forget, that's why I hardly blogged last year. That's also why I'm having a hard time telling you about it. I'm still processing.

Everything actually began months before, in 2022, when I had menorrhagia. I had to have all these checkups and tests and finally a D&C. All that was an unexpected expense so I realized I needed health insurance and a regular source of income. Then nung pandemic, nag-homeschooling kami but yung panganay ko, gustong bumalik sa school so we enrolled him na. He was happy to be back in school and medyo nainggit mga kapatid niya and so we all agreed that in 2023, babalik sila sa brick-and-mortar school. Kaso ang mahal ng tuition. Hindi na kaya ng income namin - my husband's job as editor and mine as freelance writer and editor for a content agency. I loved that job because our clients were fashion and home decor. So easy and so fun. Unfortunately, I was paid by the hour... and I worked fast. 

So I started applying. That was not a happy time for my ego. I kept getting rejected or offered a low salary, but I figured it was okay since I was still homeschooling my two younger sons. The plan was to finish the school year (that's May) and get a job in June. But then in December, an offer came along with a higher-than-average compensation package. I couldn't say no so I got the job, very exciting, and I started work in January.

My office desk

It was supposed to be a good thing, right? But I didn't anticipate the huge shock reemployment was going to be to my system. I've been a work-at-home mommy for 10 years and then quarantine meant I had my sons with me 24/7. Suddenly, I was away for 11-12 hours. I suffered from withdrawal like you cannot believe. I was crying every day of January. Literal na umiiyak ako sa MRT, sa office and then pagdating sa bahay, iyak ulit, then iyak bago matulog. In fact, I cried till September. No joke. Hindi na naman araw-araw, siguro weekly na lang. I was that miserable. It took me so long to get used to not being with my family.

That working-mom guilt? I now know what it feels like. I never felt it before because I worked from home. Now, I'm endlessly plagued by the thought I'm not a good mother. I'll tell you just one incident of several but this was the one that iniyakan ko talaga. Near the end of the school year last year, so in May, liniligpit ko yung school shoes ng anak ko when I noticed sira na shoes niya. I asked him kelan pa and he said mga one month na siguro. Sabi ko bakit di niya agad sinabi and he said, "Because you're busy, Mama."

Naiiyak na naman ako typing this. Hindi ko man lang napansin. For a whole month! And isn't that what makes us good mothers? Our ability to notice everything? To anticipate needs, to be alert to the slightest cough, to swoop in before disaster strikes. Hindi ko man lang napansin. 

Now I know some of you will say I don't have to do this. Well, my kids want to go to school. They don't want to be homeschooled anymore. So here we are. 

Anyway, new job, new life arrangements, new everything - that's what was happening outside me. I'm usually okay with external forces. Anyone who knows me knows I can be a bad bitch when it comes to challenges. I always have a "Bring it!" attitude. I call it my "invincible summer."

Unfortunately, internal forces were at play, too. I was going through perimenopause (let's do a whole 'nother post on that!) and I had begun a hormone treatment for my menorrhagia. I was in hormone hell. Still am actually but my treatment is over so I'm feeling lots better. That invincible summer? Gone. I was suffering anxiety and crazy mood changes. I was worried all the time. Afraid, stressed out. And did I tell you I cried all the time? Baka kasi di ko nasabi na umiiyak ako for 9 months.

It was so illogical and very unlike me. I have been through worse things in my life. An unsafe childhood. An abusive relationship in college. Job losses. Theft. The deaths of my parents. But I was never this deeply unhappy. For what??? If you take away my feelings, ang ganda kaya ng buhay ko. Good job, good home, great family, getting-better health. 

Some days I was happy. Most days I was sad. Some days I was fun. Most days I was a miserable mess. So it was a tough year for me and my family because we never quite knew which me they'd get on any given day. 

Then just for fun, I took this online test and... SURPRISE!

And here I thought I was just going mad and being ungrateful. 

I talked to a few friends about this. My sister recommended her therapist. My husband knew, too, of course. But he was also going through a bad time. Not my story to tell but it was hard for us because we were both drowning and we couldn't rescue each other. 

On top of all that, I got ugly. My hormone treatment made me break out into huge pimples. Chin, jaw, cheeks, nose, temples, eyebrows. Stress made me gain 12 lbs. Perimenopause made my hair frizzy and my skin itchy. My cholesterol skyrocketed and xanthelasma appeared under my eyes. It was bad enough I felt ugly inside, but ugly outside, too? 

Without makeup. This was in December when I actually looked better!

Like I said, it was a bad year.

And yet, I don't want to think too badly of 2023. 

It was my youngest boy's first time in a big school. He started going to chess club, too. My eldest boy graduated from grade school and then he entered high school. I started seeing friends and family again. We went to Manila Zoo, Dreamplay, Manila Ocean Park. I finally got Covid but I didn't die - it was just a bad headache and a loss of smell and taste. I've suffered worse with ordinary coughs and colds. Lean In Manila had its first face-to-face event. And despite my husband and I struggling with our separate issues, together we were fine.  

So 2024, I believe you'll be better! I already feel better so that's a start. With my hormone treatment done, my pimples have subsided so I look better, too. I'm getting my cholesterol and asthma under control. I'm not crying at work anymore because I really do like my job. I just couldn't appreciate it last year with everything else going on. 

So what got me through 2023? Listening to these songs on repeat:

My co-workers hear me singing this all the time. And when I get to this part, nagdadasal talaga ako for deliverance:

I just want to speak the name of Jesus
Over fear and all anxiety
To every soul held captive by depression
I speak Jesus

'Cause Your name is power
Your name is healing
Your name is life
Break every stronghold
Shine through the shadows
Burn like a fire

I lived through 2023. I am alive and getting better. My family and my friends helped, but most of all, it truly was God who saw me through. I don't think I've ever prayed so much and so often in my life in a year that was, in all appearances, a wonderfully blessed year that I couldn't appreciate because of my hormones. My hormones are still there, wreaking havoc on my body and mind, but I'm taking it one day at a time. I really really hope I've gone through the worst of this perimenopause, but please pray for me anyway. I want to keep living in the goodness of God because He should be my invincible summer, the something stronger and better pushing right back at all the darkness.  

P. S. 
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression or other mental health conditions, please seek the advice of a qualified mental health professional. That's another reason I hesitated to tell you this story because my faith and these worship songs, while they helped me, are not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Empowerment Alert for Moms and Kids: Join the Self-Defense Workshop to Bond and Become Unstoppable!

Lean In Network Manila, in collaboration with Origins Athletics, is excited to announce a groundbreaking event designed exclusively for moms and their children: The Moms and Kids Self-Defense Workshop. Set to take place on Saturday, May 18, 2024, at 3 PM at Origins Athletics San Juan, this event promises to be an unforgettable adventure of strength, solidarity, and empowerment.

About Lean In Network Manila and Origins Athletics:

Lean In Network Manila is part of the global Lean In community, inspired by Sheryl Sandberg's book "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead." It's dedicated to encouraging women to pursue their ambitions and offering them the support and resources to help achieve their goals. 

Origins Athletics is renowned for its commitment to fostering a community of strength, health, and empowerment through fitness training and martial arts like jujitsu, judo, and kickboxing. As a pioneer in promoting physical well-being and self-defense skills among all age groups, Origins Athletics creates a supportive environment where individuals can learn, grow, and thrive.

Together, these organizations are joining forces to empower mothers and children with the skills, confidence, and bond that will serve them in every aspect of life.

Why You Should Join:

Learn Vital Self-Defense Skills! 

In a world where safety has become a paramount concern for everyone, especially children, learning how to protect oneself is a valuable skill. This workshop offers practical self-defense techniques in a fun and supportive environment.

Strengthen Bonds! 

What better way to strengthen the unbreakable bond between mother and child than through learning and growing together? This workshop is designed to enhance your connection with your child, while both of you gain confidence and empowerment.

Join a Community Movement! 

By participating, you and your child become part of a larger movement toward safety and empowerment within the community. It's an opportunity to be influencers of safety in your circles and champions of your own stories.

Who Can Join:

Lean In Manila and Origins Athletics are calling on 15-20 dynamic pairs of moms and kids (ages 5-12) to join this empowering activity. If you're looking for a unique opportunity to bond with your child and learn essential skills that could one day protect you and your loved ones, this workshop is for you.

More than just a class, it's part of a movement towards a safer, empowered future for our community. It's a chance to stand with us, learn with us, and grow with us. Be part of this life-changing experience!

Event Details:

Date: May 18, 2024, Saturday  

Time: 3:00 PM  

Location: Origins Athletics San Juan | 606 General S. De Jesus, San Juan, Metro Manila  

Registration fee: Php 1200 for a pair (Mom & Kid) via Gcash and BPI 

(Session is free for past attendees of Lean In events!)

Sign up here!

Spots are limited, so secure your place in this transformative journey today. Let’s embrace empowerment and make safety a shared adventure!

Join us at The Moms and Kids Self-Defense Workshop and take a significant step towards creating a safer, empowered future for yourself and your child. We can't wait to welcome you into our community of strong, empowered families.

For more information, join the Lean In Manila Facebook community and visit Origins Athletics.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Juggling Kids & an Online Biz? Conquer Both with 11 Proven Time-Saving Hacks

To all parents out there, kudos. Juggling between parenting and running an online business is not for the faint-hearted.

While the internet has created opportunities for various online businesses, allowing many people to work from the comfort of their homes, it is a tough gig. And when you add parenting (another tough gig) to the mix, it can be challenging.

The never-ending duties and responsibilities can consume your physical, mental, and spiritual resources, leaving you running on empty.

Are there solutions to make the gig less tough? The trick is working smarter, not harder. In this article, let's explore proven time-saving hacks to help you along the way.

Back in the day when the kids were small and I was trying to do everything all at once. I made it work, yes, but it wasn't a good idea! I was stressed out all the time!

1. Set daily/weekly/monthly and yearly goals

Setting goals saves you time since it showcases what you must achieve and do at a specific time. Without goals, you run the risk of drifting along without focus.

Jot down your big 3 to 5 daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. Analyze them and break them into small steps achievable daily and build up monthly until you achieve your yearly goals.

With these goals down, you gain clear objectives that push you to create more time since you know what to tackle daily. It also minimizes jumping between different and unnecessary tasks.

2. Batch, anchor, and block schedules

Batching your time, anchoring various habits, and blocking schedules is a series of productivity hacks that enable you to juggle your online work and parenting.

Anchoring is where you tie two important tasks together. So, you do one while doing another.

For example, I can anchor drinking water and checking my email. Yes, I don't like having my inbox/Viber/Messenger all open and my notifications are off. The ping of new messages distracts me from work! So I set a time for checking email and when I do, I drink water, too. This ensures I stay hydrated while staying updated. 

Batching your time allows you to concentrate on similar tasks within a dedicated time and without interruptions. This means organizing similar tasks and concentrating all your energy in a specific time setting. Block scheduling means setting aside a specific time to perform a specific task.

For example, I try to block schedule my afternoon for the specific tasks of meetings. That way, I can get writing and researching tasks done in the morning and I can just focus on my meetings after. 
3. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!

What is most important to you? Does this task or activity get you closer to achieving your goals? If yes, then that is a priority; focus your energy on it.

Embracing prioritization and categorizing tasks according to their urgency allows you to focus on what is needed now while moving non-urgent and less important tasks for later.

4. Set a timer

When you schedule a task, set a timer. Setting a timer keeps you focused on the task at hand by concentrating your efforts to finish before time is up.

You can also try the Pomodoro method to increase your focus and productivity. My friend Mommy Ginger gave a talk on this in one of our Lean In Manila Circle Sessions! The pomodoro technique works as follows:

- Pick a task you need to work on.
- Work on it for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break
- Do 4 sessions of pomodoro, and then take a longer break

The pomodoro technique has been proven to increase focus, and productivity and help you beat procrastination.
5. Let everyone chip in

Chores are not simply the purview of one parent working from home. You cannot tackle every single chore by yourself, while running an online business and parenting. Divvy up the tasks and chores fairly. Do not become the family martyr.

If you have older children, create an age-appropriate chart and divide simpler chores for them to do. Letting your kids help with various chores gives them a sense of responsibility and allows them to develop life skills.

This is also something I learned from our recent Lean In Circle Session, "Reclaim Your Time." Involve the family, make them realize that everyone contributes to everyone's success. It's a team effort always!

6. Embrace a morning routine

A morning routine sets up your day for success. Embracing a morning routine enables you to structure the day, keeps you organized, and allows you to tackle more challenging tasks while you are still fresh. 

My weekday mornings go like this:
6-6:30 - Drink water, prepare breakfast and baon
6:30-7 - Wake the kids (I should get them to do this on their own actually), drink coffee while the kids eat breakfast
7-7:30 - Kids leave for school, I shower and get ready for work
7:30-8 - Check messages (personal and freelance work) while on commute
8-8:30 - Put on makeup while I check my work email, then jot down my tasks for the day.

7. Have a weekly cleaning schedule

A clean home is a comfortable working environment and a safe playing ground for kids. Cleaning, when not well planned for, can become hectic and tiresome. Plan to do light duties at certain times, while for deep cleaning, you can opt for it once per week, thus keeping the house clutter-free.

Here's a sample list of basic cleaning that can be done daily:
Make beds
Tidy up and pick up any clutter
Clean the kitchen surfaces and any food prep areas

Laundry, deep-clean of bathrooms, grocery, batch cooking - these can be done on weekends.

8. Use auto-pay systems

Paying bills can be a hectic, but easily forgotten chore. Whether these are your household or business bills, it pays to remember and settle them on time.

You can avoid penalties and inconveniences by setting up automatic payments.

Autopay allows you to pay bills online without remembering the due dates or checking your emails and mail all the time. It's an excellent hack for parents to save, reduce stress, ease bill pressure, and increase your credit score.

9. Embrace meal planning

Create a weekly menu, make a grocery list, and then order your groceries online. I use Metro Mart, but not often, only when I'm super busy. I still like going to the grocery and planning what I'll cook based on what I find.

Knowing the kind of dinner to prepare each night and buying groceries in advance saves time and, of course, money and cooking stress.

Additionally, you can embrace batch cooking and batch prepping. On weekends, make a large pot of stew, curry, casseroles, or other easy-to-freeze food. Freeze it in smaller batches, and defrost and make meals as needed.

You can use online meal planning apps like AnyList, Mealine, or Pepper Plate, or make one yourself and store favorite recipes, thus making it easy to plan which meal for which day.

Alternatively, try meal delivery services such as HelloFresh, to make meal prep time a little easier.

There is no one size fits all, do one, two, or all the above meal prep ideas, as it suits your family and your schedule.

10. Have a regular bedtime routine

A constant bedtime routine enables you to get enough rest and embrace the next day in a relaxed and calm manner. Some bedtime routine ideas may include taking a bath, picking the next day's clothes, packing lunches, and meditation.

I used to have a hard time getting to bed but now I just set my watch to remind me it's 10 pm, time for bed! I write down things I need to do for the next day, do a face massage while praying, then I'm asleep! 

11. Embrace professional help

Nothing beats a little help. This is the one tip I haven't been able to do! But I think moms shouldn't; be shamed for asking for and hiring help. If your budget allows it, embrace babysitters, cleaners, and other home help as needed.

Additionally, consider a digital marketing agency to help take your business to the next level. They can assist with your social media, web design, PPC, SEO, and other essential marketing tasks for an online business.
Juggling kids and an online business is not easy at all. Life pulls us in different directions, but the most enjoyable one for any parent is earning a living while being able to take care of their little ones. The hassles of working and parenting can take a toll on any parent. Try some of the above hacks to save time, improve focus, and increase productivity.

Liked any of my tips? I hope you did! I'm planning to write a book on how to juggle everything and still be happy. I don't know if I can write it yet, though. I don't have the time haha! But if you encourage me and promise to buy the book, I'll do it!!!

Saturday, January 13, 2024

6 Tips for Establishing a Strong Online Presence for Your Next Job

 Whether you’re a fresh graduate from college or a veteran professional, a solid online presence can do wonders for your career. Many professionals have begun to rely on digital interactions to scout for jobs and, on the flip side, many recruiters are also utilizing the web and social media to get to know viable candidates. In a survey by The Manifest, 98 percent of businesses surveyed admitted to using search engines and social media platforms to perform a background check on job applicants to their companies.

If you haven’t already established a noteworthy online presence for yourself, now’s the best time to work on it. Way before you get interviewed, you’ll want to communicate to the professional world that you are a tech-savvy individual who isn’t afraid to showcase their potential and who cares about the impression they’ll make on their prospective employer.

To that end, here are some tips for establishing your online presence and attracting the attention of headhunters and recruiters for Davao jobs or jobs based in other major cities in the Philippines:

1. Assess your current online presence.

Back then, it may have seemed embarrassing to “Google yourself” and to see what kind of footprint you may have already left on the web. But times have changed, and if you want to guarantee a good impression for those who’ll be looking up your credentials or professional history online, you should already expect to take this necessary step.

Be ready to conduct a thorough audit of your existing online profiles, including those on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or even your personal blogs. The idea is to look for inconsistencies, outdated information, or any content that might not align with your desired professional image. This is the first step you should take towards building a more polished and authentic online persona—one that will be instrumental in your pursuit of a successful career.

As you assess your current online footprint, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Does your online presence accurately reflect your skills, experiences, and aspirations?
  • Are there any areas that need improvement or updating?
  • Are there any beliefs or aspects of your personality that you’ve outgrown and that might get in the way of your job-hunting prospects?
  • What kind of information about yourself should you leave public, and what kind of information is best made private?
Taking the time to answer these questions will guide your efforts in refining your online image.

2. Consider creating a personal website.

While this does not apply to every job and industry, having a personal website will often give you an edge over your competition. In the survey mentioned above, 80 percent of employers said that a personal website is important when it comes to evaluating candidates for a particular position. As such, you should consider creating one to showcase your past work experience and to declare your skills and interests in particular fields, for example, web design.

For content writers, photographers, and designers, in particular, a personal website will be a powerful tool for consolidating one’s portfolio, expertise, and personal brand. Think of your website as a digital business card—a centralized hub where potential employers or clients can freely learn more about you.

If you’re thinking of building one, design the website to reflect your unique style while also keeping it professional, visually appealing, and easy to navigate. Next, include sections highlighting your professional achievements, a portfolio comprising your best work, and a brief bio that encapsulates your philosophy for your career. Ultimately, a well-crafted personal website will enhance your credibility and provide you with a sufficient platform to express your individuality and professionalism.

I have a website just for my work! I should update it. See why in #4!

3. Level up your LinkedIn profile.

In the past decade, LinkedIn has emerged as the go-to platform for professional networking. There are currently 67 million companies listed on the platform, and more than 1 billion members seeking to make professional connections. For these reasons, any professional based in the Philippines should optimize their LinkedIn profile so that it can ably support their online presence.

Is your LinkedIn profile as good as it can be? You can level it up, starting with a professional photo—one that exudes confidence and approachability. Next, craft a compelling headline for your profile that succinctly captures your expertise and aspirations.

Take the time to fill in each section of your profile, as recruiters and headhunters would love to learn more about what makes you a good candidate for a certain position. Leave enough detail about your work experiences, and emphasize the accomplishments and skills you’ve attained.

I have a day job (the one that matters to companies) but I decided to keep "author" as my real work.

4. Update your online information.

Keeping your online information up-to-date is a perpetual task that will directly influence your professional image. Outdated information can create a negative impression on potential employers or collaborators. In that vein, you should regularly revisit your online profiles to ensure that they accurately reflect your current skills, experiences, and achievements.

Consider setting a schedule for updates, either on a monthly or quarterly basis. It depends on your preference or availability. You could also make changes to your profiles as you hit significant career milestones, such as closing an important deal, getting promoted, or being assigned important projects.

As you grow professionally, your online presence should evolve with you. Treat your digital properties as dynamic representations of your career journey, always staying true to the growth you continue to achieve.

5. Optimize the online content you put out there.

Content optimization is not just for companies looking to boost their presence on search engines. You can use a similar strategy to enhance your individual online presence and build an audience for yourself even before you secure your next career opportunity. For instance, you can share your expertise for a particular field or niche online through various channels, like blogs, videos, and social media posts. Create content for a community that also involves fellow moms, artists, aspiring entrepreneurs, yuppies, and the like.

After creating and posting content, optimize it further by incorporating relevant keywords, using engaging accompanying visuals, and maintaining a consistent posting schedule. The goal is to position yourself as an authority in your field or someone worth listening to. This will make your online presence a valuable resource for anyone seeking insights into your expertise and what you stand for—including the people who could be considering you for a job.

6. Separate your private and professional social media.

While your personal social media can offer a glimpse into your personality, it's essential to draw a clear line between your private and professional online presence. As soon as you can, adjust your privacy settings on your personal accounts and curate visible content to maintain the most professional image.

Potential employers often scrutinize social media profiles, so you’ll want to do your best to present a polished and focused online persona. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 70 percent of employers check the social media profiles of potential candidates, and 54 percent of companies have taken candidates out of the running based on their social media content.

If you haven’t done so already, it’s a smart idea to create separate accounts for your professional networking and personal interactions. This way, you can freely express your personality on your personal channels while keeping your professional profiles tailored to industry expectations.

I've changed my Instagram from mom lifestyle to a writer/editor/reader theme.

A strong online presence is a necessity, especially now that companies are looking for candidates who know their way around new technologies and who are well-versed in “netiquette.” Use your online presence to show potential employers that you understand the roles they need you to play—and that, by way of your credentials and personal comportment, you are an exceptional candidate for the position they have open.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Tips for Choosing the Right Coworking Space as a Digital Nomad


Now that modern technology has begun redefining the nature of work beyond the traditional office-based 9 to 5, the life of a digital moment is becoming increasingly appealing to many people. Embracing this lifestyle gives you the freedom to work from anywhere in the world and to choose spaces that maximize your productivity. The quest for the right coworking space is akin to finding a second home whose environment is conducive to doing your best work.

Of course, it’s no walk in the park to find the ideal coworking space. You want more than just a workspace that looks pretty—you’ll need an environment that aligns with your personal working style and also meets your professional needs. This choice becomes especially important when you consider the amount of time you’re likely to spend in your chosen coworking space. Fortunately, this handy guide offers some expert tips for choosing the right one.

1. Consider Your Internet Needs

The internet is an indispensable lifeline for workers in pretty much any industry today, but it’s especially important for digital nomads. A fast and reliable internet connection will make it that much easier to complete your tasks and communicate with your clients and colleagues. Hence, making quality internet one of your foremost considerations when choosing your coworking space is imperative.

While most coworking spaces boast high-speed Wi-Fi, it's always prudent to test the connection yourself. Additionally, consider supplementing the coworking space's Wi-Fi with your own mobile internet solution. In this regard, you’ll need to choose the right postpaid mobile plans. These plans can provide a backup for when Wi-Fi is less reliable, or you find yourself working from a location where the coworking space's internet doesn’t reach. This is to ensure that you always have a seamless online experience that allows you to work without interruptions or connectivity issues.

2. Choose a Conveniently Located Coworking Space

Ideally, you should choose a coworking space that’s situated in a convenient, accessible, and secure area. Think about how you will commute there. Can you reach it easily by public transport? Is the area well-lit and safe if you find yourself working late? Proximity to essential services like cafes, eateries, and even leisure spots can also enhance your workday experience by providing opportunities for breaks and informal networking.

3. Look for a Workspace Environment That Suits You

The ambiance and environment of a coworking space can significantly influence your productivity and well-being. Different spaces cater to different work styles: some are buzzing with activity and collaboration, while others offer a more serene, focused atmosphere. It’s important to consider what environment makes you most productive. Are you someone who thrives in a lively, social setting, or do you prefer a quiet corner where you can concentrate without distractions?

Try to visit any coworking spaces you’re considering before committing to a membership. This gives you a firsthand experience of the noise levels, the ergonomic comfort of the workstations, and the general vibe of the place. Some coworking spaces also offer additional amenities such as standing desks, private phone booths, or outdoor areas which can contribute to a more comfortable and versatile working experience. Remember, the right environment can fuel your creativity and motivation, turning the coworking space into a catalyst for your success.

4. Consult Reviews and Recommendations

When searching for the perfect coworking space, don't overlook the power of reviews and recommendations. These can provide valuable insights into the experiences of others and help you gauge what to expect. Look for reviews on independent websites, social media platforms, and coworking space directories. Pay attention to comments about the internet reliability and the atmosphere, as well as the responsiveness of the management team.

You can also expect to get equally helpful information from word-of-mouth recommendations. Reach out to fellow digital nomads or local online communities for their experiences and suggestions. They can offer unfiltered opinions and practical tips based on their own usage of the spaces. While a coworking space that works well for one person might not necessarily be the right fit for you, understanding others' experiences can guide you in making a more informed decision.

5. Check for Flexible Membership Plans

Adaptability is essential for digital nomads, whose work locations can change frequently. Therefore, it's important to find a coworking space that offers flexible membership plans. These plans can range from day passes to monthly memberships and provide the freedom to choose based on your current needs without the commitment of a long-term contract.

When evaluating membership plans, consider the cost in relation to the amenities the space provides. Does the plan include access to meeting rooms, printing facilities, or complimentary beverages? Is there a provision for accessing the space during weekends or outside of standard business hours? These factors can greatly affect your daily working experience. It’s also worth considering if the coworking space has multiple locations. It can be a huge advantage if you travel frequently, as this provides you with a familiar environment in different cities.

In conclusion, the journey to find the right coworking space is as unique as the lifestyle of a digital nomad. It's about balancing practical necessities with personal preferences to create an environment where your productivity and creativity can thrive. Hopefully, the tips above should provide you with a solid checklist of things to consider when choosing a coworking space that fits your needs.

*photo by Jason Goodman from Unsplash.

Monday, September 04, 2023

7 Essential Financial Skills Every Aspiring Small Business Owner Should Have

Last week, a co-worker asked me what I was doing before I joined the company. I said, "I'm still doing it. For the last 10 years, I worked as a professional blogger, freelance writer, and editor. It's a real BIR-registered business. And she was surprised because apparently, she doesn't know anyone who owns a small business. And it was my turn to be surprised because Filipinos have an entrepreneurial streak, especially when the pandemic hit. Online sellers, freelancers, sari-sari store owners, etc etc. So she asked me how to start a small business and what are good home-based business ideas. Click the links to find out!

My small business is writing! I enjoy being a writer and interviewing celebrities.

Meanwhile, I also think aspiring entrepreneurs in the Philippines are facing a dynamic business environment that demands a solid understanding of financial principles. Don't just start a business without thinking of the financials! To maximize your chance of success in such a competitive environment, soon-to-be business owners like yourself need to develop sound financial skills.

A clear grasp of different financial processes and best practices empowers you to make well-informed investment decisions and confidently negotiate with clients and stakeholders. If you're thinking of starting your own small business or startup, here are seven essential financial skills you should hone to build a strong foundation for your ventures and increase your chances of long-term success and sustainability:

1. Debt Management

Understanding debt management is vital for an aspiring entrepreneur who may need to apply for a business loan to start their venture or support its growth. Developing this skill enables people to assess their borrowing needs, choose suitable financing options, and manage debt responsibly.

In a business context, effective debt management helps entrepreneurs avoid overleveraging, minimize interest expenses, and maintain a healthy credit profile. A startup company, for instance, might be presented with the option to apply for a business loan Philippines banks are making available to their commercial clients.

A startup or small business like yours may find a good fit in the Maya Flexi Loan, a business banking loan that offers low fees and enables entrepreneurs to divide Php 2 million worth of funding into separate loans. Someone with excellent debt management skills will be able to use this flexible financial product to grow their venture and create a repayment plan that aligns with their business's cash flow.

2. Budgeting

Aside from being able to manage business banking loans well, aspiring entrepreneurs should also aim to develop strong budgeting skills. Knowing how to budget your finances and the funds that you’ve received through loans allows you to effectively plan and control your resources.

If you know how to create a well-structured budget as a small business entrepreneur, you can estimate your income and expenses, allocate your resources strategically, and avoid overspending, thus ensuring your business remains financially stable. You’ll also be able to identify cost-cutting opportunities, make informed decisions about investments and marketing campaigns, and set realistic financial goals for your organization.

3. Financial Forecasting

Financial forecasting refers to your ability to predict future revenue and expenses based on historical data and market trends. When you master financial forecasting (a skill I have sadly not mastered, hence here I am, an employee again - sigh!), you can anticipate potential challenges and opportunities and make proactive decisions to stay ahead of competitors.

Business owners who’ve developed the skill of financial forecasting can play a pivotal role in creating strategies, setting achievable targets, and guiding inventory management. It’s possible to build up this skill by analyzing historical sales data, conducting market research, and employing financial modeling and scenario analysis to project different outcomes.

4. Cash Flow Management

Effective cash flow management is essential for the survival and growth of any business. If you master this skill (again, a skill I failed at because of the pandemic), you’ll likely always have cash on hand to cover daily operational expenses, manage debt, and seize growth opportunities.

The skill of effective cash flow management also helps entrepreneurs avoid shortages that may lead to missed payments or disruptions. During periods of positive cash flow, on the other hand, this skill enables businesses to invest in equipment, hire skilled employees, and fund marketing campaigns.

5. Record Keeping

An accurate and organized financial record should serve as a solid foundation for your business decisions. It’s a must, then, for aspiring entrepreneurs like you to make a habit of keeping clear records of all your business transactions, including profits, accounts receivable, and the loans for businesses that the establishment has acquired. Doing so will allow you to get a clear overview of your business's financial health at any time, thus enabling you to assess its performance in the most accurate manner.

Proper record-keeping simplifies financial statement preparation and supports evidence-based decision-making, and it also facilitates smooth audits and financial reviews. Consider learning how to use accounting software to streamline record keeping and ensure that your business always has consistent and accurate records.

It’s also a sound habit to regularly reconcile bank statements, receipts, and invoices. If you aren’t confident about your current abilities, invest in financial training or hire an accountant to ensure that your records are accurate and up-to-date.

6. Pricing Strategy

Pricing strategy refers to the ability to set the right prices for products or services, and it’s also something aspiring entrepreneurs should learn or pick up. Business owners who are able to master this skill can maximize their profitability and maintain their competitiveness. This is because a well-crafted pricing strategy can attract customers, create perceived value, and boost sales.

You’ll be able to determine optimal pricing schemes by understanding production costs, competitor pricing, and customer demand. Boost your capability to optimize pricing, and strike the right balance between profitability and customer satisfaction, by conducting market research, analyzing competitors' pricing strategies, and considering customer feedback.

7. Financial Analysis

Lastly, entrepreneurs should also be able to assess the profitability, liquidity, and overall financial health of their businesses. This skill is called financial analysis, and it allows business owners to gain valuable insights into their venture’s performance.

Financial analysis informs decision-making by helping entrepreneurs identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement. In a business setting, this skill aids in evaluating investment opportunities, measuring financial efficiency, and formulating growth strategies. Go into your new business venture with the desire to improve your financial analysis skills over time.

By developing these skills, entrepreneurs can create strong financial foundations for their businesses, make the most responsive business decisions, and navigate future financial challenges and growth opportunities with confidence. Knowing that continuous learning and applying these financial skills will be instrumental in achieving long-term success and sustainability for your business, aspire to hone these in your journey as an entrepreneur.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Questions you should ask at your job interview

Hi, mommies who are looking to go back to work after years as a homemaker! Yes, I've been getting your questions about what it's like to jump back in the rat race and I'm taking my time to respond. I'm not ignoring you! I just really don't know how to answer the question because my experience is wholly mine - the industry, the salary, the hours, the coworkers, the way I'm adjusting, the way my family is adjusting. 

There are so many aspects to being employed again so it's a complicated question to answer. What matters to me may not be important to you. What makes me unhappy may be something you're praying for. So since my experience may not apply to you, I don't know how to navigate the subject. I'll write a blog post about it once I figure out how I feel.

I've always been a working mom, but for the last 10 years,
I was a work-at-home mom with my own business.
Working for a company is a whole different animal.

So you asked me 3 questions: 
  • "What's going back to work like after all these years?" No answer yet. 
  • "Where do you work?" I know I promised to reveal my new job as soon as I get regularized, but I just quietly decided that I want to still be known for my work as a writer, editor, author, and Lean In co-founder. My job isn't a secret. I just don't think my day job needs to be broadcast.
  • "How do I answer the interviewer when they say, 'Tell me about yourself'?" Answer below! And I'll add tips on how to ask questions, too!   

Company: Tell me about yourself.

I'll be honest. Every time I hear this, my first reaction is, "Did you not read my CV?!" My HR friend said they scan dozens of CVs so, no, they don't recall anything about you at all. So a succinct introduction helps them mark your application as a go or a no.

Here's how I answer: 
1. I give them a brief background of what I've been doing,
2. I talk about something I'm passionate about,
3. I list a few of my skills and strengths that are relevant to the position,
4. I say what I hope to achieve in my career, not necessarily in their company but it helps if you can connect them.

So here's an example: 

"Hi, I'm Frances. I'm a writer and editor. I've contributed to and edited content in magazines, websites, and e-commerce sites for the last 20 years. I do this very well and quickly, too. I live for deadlines! I have also led teams, and managing people is something I'm good at and truly enjoy. Even my hobbies are about writing and people. I wrote a book about marriage and motherhood. I also have a blog where I try to empower and inspire other moms like me because I'm passionate about helping other women. That's why I co-founded Lean In Manila, which supports women in their work. That's also why the communications manager position you have open interests me. Not only is communications my specific skill set, but I also know your company has helped thousands of Filipinas improve their lives and I want to see how I can be part of that."   

That's tweakable. Like I said, I just say what's relevant to the position. Now go, try it out. Write down your answer and rehearse it a bit. It's not so hard because you're talking about yourself, but you want to write it down so you won't ramble. 

But what about if you didn't work at all because you're a homemaker? Own it! Don't be ashamed. I always tell companies that I'm a mom. It's my most important job! Here's a good article: "How to explain the mommy gap in your resume"

Oh, another tip. Be relatable. If I'm speaking to a Filipino, then I speak in Taglish. I know I have to be professional but I also want a friendly vibe. Check also how the person interviewing you is like - are they friendly, nice, kind? Or are they short, condescending, rude? That already tells you a lot about that workplace! 

I also talk about myself in a happy, proud way because, yes I need a job, but I also want them to see that they need someone skilled, talented, and great to work with - me! That's a first impression you want to make.   

You: So tell me about your company.

Yes, mama. Return the favor! Ask them why they're a good idea. Remember that this job is taking you away from your family for at least 9 hours a day. Is this a place you want to spend that much time in? My work, for example, requires us to be at the office for 10 hours. 


My youngest boy told me last week, "I did some computing, Mama. You leave at 7:15 and then come home at 6:40. Sometimes even later. That's almost 12 hours you're away. You spend more time at your job than with us." 


Yeah, mamas. I'm doing a lot of thinking. Please pray for me.


Back to the topic. Job interviews are very much like speed dating and you shouldn't forget that you need to get to know who you're going to spend the best hours of your day with. You have power, too, mama. Don't ever let any HR person make you feel desperate.

So when they start winding down the interview and they ask, “Do you have any questions for us?”, please lay them all out!

Ask the important questions!

Here are a few: 

Why is this position open? What happened to the person who used to hold this job?
Very important! Was the person fired - why? Did the person quit - why? They actually won't answer this honestly, unless it's "The previous manager was promoted to director. In our company, good work is recognized and rewarded." 

Why is this a good place to work in? Do you like working here? What's keeping you here?
This is you exploring the work culture and the benefits they offer.

Where is the company headed in 2 to 5 years? 
You want to know their plans and see if these align with yours. Remember, you're a mommy. Things change with every stage of the kids' life, so you want to gauge if your family life will be affected by the company's future plans.

What kind of employee are you looking for? 
Red flag if they say someone who's willing to work beyond their hours!

How is conflict handled? 
Always, always ask this. Sigh.

How do you retain employees? Is there an annual merit increase? How is the promotion process like? 
You want to know if the increase matches inflation. You also want to know how they promote employees - is there tenure required, for example, or will you be required to take on projects that aren't in your job description, or will they ask you to work extra hours?

What are the KPIs?
Don't ever forget this! We all think when we see the job description, "Oh, this is right up my alley. I'll be promoted in no time!" Then you find out your KPIs on your first day of work and you realize they set you up for failure.

What are the next steps?
You want to know if they're going to tell you if you got the job or not, especially if it's a not. Some companies just never let you know.

What else? What else? Let me know in the comments! There’s a lot more, depending on what matters to you. For example, if you're a mom of just one kid and he's old enough and he's doing well in school and has great friends, then maybe spending 10 hours at work isn't such a big deal. But when you have 3 kids and the youngest says he still needs his mama, then...

Sometimes, when I get home and I'm not so exhausted, I cook! My family misses my cooking.

In my case, I asked about medical benefits because I have 3 kids and I got sick last year. Suddenly, health benefits became a priority, which is the second biggest reason I went back to the rat race (the first is regular income - running a business was hard during the pandemic). I liked what the company offered - it was a really good HMO package! - but joke's on me because when I finally got regularized and qualified for HMO, all our family doctors and dentists said they were not affiliated with the particular HMO of our company. So that really, really sucks. 

Some questions should be asked as soon as they come up in conversation. You don't have to wait till the end of the interview to take out your list! But, yes, write down your questions and let them know you want answers. This lets them know you're serious about the job and yourself. 

Remember, a job is a relationship. You're not a slave and your employer is not a dictator. Ask your questions because you need to know what you're walking into. Yes, you want to make a good impression but they need to impress you, too. Will they actually be honest with you? I dunno. But trust your gut.

And then even after all the questions and answers and you finally get hired, you walk into the office and meet your coworkers and you get that sinking feeling in your tummy. "Oh shoot. I've made a mistake." That's okay. There's a probation period of 4-6 months for you... and the company! Yes, you should work hard and give your best, but keep your eyes and ears open and see if the company is giving its best to you, too. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Do’s and Don'ts sa iyong unang small business

I'm a sole proprietor of my writing and editing business. I had no idea how to start a small business but thanks to my friends in Taxumo, they helped me. So if you're dreaming, hoping, and wanting to start your own negosyo, research, ask around from entrepreneurial friends, and take the leap! Here's a guest post that I'm sure will be of help!

Let your money grow!

Ikaw ba ay nagpaplano na magbukas ng iyong small business ideas? When it’s your first time starting a business, it is better to start small. Lalo na kung limited lang ang iyong puhunan, magandang panimula ang small business ideas para matuto sa paghandle ng iyong negosyo.

Kung ikaw ay desidido na magbukas ng iyong small business, ito ang mga tips at mga do’s and don’ts when starting your small business!

DO: Research your market

Ang pinaka-mahalagang step when starting your business is to research your market. Mahalagang alamin kung ano ang wants at needs ng iyong mga customer. Ang mga tanong na mahalagang sagutin ay “Sino ang iyong target market?” “Ano ang mga kadalasang needs at wants ng iyong target market?” at “paano mo maaaring punan ang mga pangangailangan na ito?”

This first step is the important part when making the decision on whether to open your business, what services or products to offer, at kung ang iyong posibleng branding.

DON’T: Skip business planning

Never skip business planning! Mula sa market research, ang sunod na step ay to plan your business and have an outline. It is important to specify your goals and vision for your business, para rin iyong malaman ang possible steps and methods kung paano mo aabutin ang iyong mga goals.

DO: Get your business permit

Common misconception sa mga small business owners na hindi na kailangan ng permit para magsimula ng negosyo. Pero alam mo ba na mahalaga itong step para sa iyong negosyo?

Bukod sa makakaiwas ka sa komplikasyon dahil legal ang iyong negosyo, isa rin itong mahalagang factor para mapalago ang iyong negosyo sa future. If you want to expand your business in the future, kailangan mo ang mga permit na ito to get your loans and fundings sorted out.

DON’T: Be shy when promoting your business

One of the traits you should have is confidence and trust in your business. Huwag ka dapat mahiya na ipakilala ang iyong bagong negosyo sa iyong mga kamag anak, kakilala, at mga kaibigan! Sabi nga nila, ang tunay mong mga kaibigan ang siyang susuporta sa iyong business venture.

Mahalaga rin na gamitin mo ang social media to promote your business. Hindi mo agad kailangan gumamit ng paid ads, mahalaga lang ay alam mo ang kiliti ng iyong mga customer.

DO: Keep track of your financials

A small business is still a business. It is important to respect your hard work and your goals by keeping track of your finances. Make sure to take note of what goes in and out of your finances. Dito rin makikita kung tunay na mabenta ang iyong mga produkto, malaki ba ang losses, o kung anong specific products and services ang pinaka gusto ng iyong mga customer.

DON’T: Give up easily on your plans

Owning a business is no walk in the park. May mga panahon na hindi mo mare-reach ang iyong goals, o may challenges na makakasalubong. Pero ang mahalaga ay maniwala ka sa iyong goals at ang iyong pangarap. Do not give up on your small business dreams!

Are you ready to start your small business? Milk tea business man iyan o sari-sari store business, your first negosyo is the start of your big dreams!