Rose among the thorns

The Mobile App Team of Search Opt Media, Inc is now mobilized (no pun intended) and yes I am the only female in the group. I must admit that I am the “newbie” here in terms of project management, development and implementation. Yes I have implemented an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system years ago but with this fast changing field, I now feel obsolete.

You might ask why I allow myself to go down the hierarchy when I am already the wife of the CEO, uhm I mean the Vice President and Corporate Treasurer who basically handles everything except Marketing and Operations. Plus I have my coffeeshop to attend to.

Simple. It’s the challenge of really learning the craft and being able to say that I am one of those few people who developed a (successful) iPhone/iPad App. And yes, because I am a daydreamer. :)

Search Opt Media, Inc. gets an International Award

Running a business with clients from US and Europe is an achievement itself. But receiving an INTERNATIONAL ARCH OF EUROPE AWARD is far from what the Founder (Francis Gary Viray) and I ever imagined.

Ok enough for drama. So what is the award all about and how did we get it?

According to the Regulations of the IAE;

1. The award is presented in recognition of those companies or organizations in different countries throughout the world that further their reputation and position by implementing and promoting quality culture.

2. The award recognizes and encourages the contribution of companies and organizations to quality, continuous improvement and customer satisfaction as well as improving relations with employees, suppliers and all those associated with the company.

3. The jury which designates the companies awarded will be formed by the leaders of those companies having received the award in previous years for their merits and contributions to quality and excellence in those companies which they direct. (We still have no idea who voted for us).

We were supposed to receive the award at Frankfurt tom (April 30). I’ve already asked for plane itinerary from our trusted travel agency and checked the hotel at Frankfurt where we stayed when we were there last year.  Unfortunately, we overlooked the participation fee amounting to 3,900 euros! All in all we would spend more than half a million pesos to personally receive the award. It would have been nice to be part of the awarding ceremony but it wouldn’t be practical. Anyway, present or not we already have the certificate. Indeed a milestone for the company!

Business with a heart

I always thought of business as a faster way of making more money, well it is. But I realized that it’s not as simple as that. If that’s your main goal then you’re dead.

I had management subjects in Industrial Engineering that taught me about risk management, financial management, work simplification, reducing cost, managing people, etc. but they still do not guarantee success.

I realized that coming up with a business is another way of serving God and others. Through that business, you can hire more people and help them cope with daily financial struggles. Again, blessings are meant to overflow to others.

My prayer these days is for the company to grow bigger and for the coffee shop to be profitable that we can hire more people and give them competitive compensation. A way to make them realize God’s generosity. Of course I told God that a convenient life for me and my family hopefully comes with it as well.

Running business is earning money while providing for others for God’s greater glory. This, I know, is an assurance that the abundance will continue.

First quarter of 2012

This is definitely not a financial report! Just a summary of how I started 2012.

Sometime last year I wrote this blog, Be Still because I feel that I am not maximizing my time, energy, skills and knowledge.  And because God loves answering my prayers, I am now juggling quite a number of things. On top of my motherly/wife duties, Financial and Admin work for Search Opt Media, who would have thought that I’ll be managing a coffee shop that started literally from scratch. I am also expected to deliver an iphone App in a few months time because the course that I started attending last Nov 2011 is about to end. (Again, finish a working iphone app, *shivers*) It’s not an impossible dream though, it just requires a lot of time practicing codes we discussed and coming up with my own, and time is a luxury for me.

We also transferred our head office, so we no longer enjoy the convenience of working at home. We have to do it because it’s part of ‘growing’ as a company and we really need a place where we could receive our clients. And now I miss staying at home and doing nothing because even during weekends I have to be at the coffee shop.

I am not complaining though. I may be tired and all, I am still thankful for all these opportunities. Besides, I feel that God is helping me manage everything and that if everything is settled already, meaning I have enough people I could delegate work to, these will all be a piece of cake.

Lesson learned, when God asked you to relax and do nothing, enjoy that opportunity because the next thing you know, you don’t even have time to comb your hair. LOL

Quick notes on setting up a coffee shop

We had a soft opening of our coffee shop last Valentine’s day. Setting it up wasn’t easy, I barely had time to rest. On top of it I got colds and had no voice at all. Lucky for me the place is fully furnished, my sister gave me her cake chiller and freezer and husband took charge of the wifi. So what’s left for me to do? Here’s the list.

1. Scout for quality but not so expensive Espresso Machine. The supplier provided training for creating hot and cold coffee plus smoothies. Good thing the supplier partners with another supplier of coffee beans, syrups, sauces, packed creamer and sugar etc. They also supply plastic cups, take-out coffee cups etc but if I find time I’ll look for another supplier because I know I can find cheaper supplier of these take-out plastics.

2. Bought blender, coffee maker, microwave and water dispenser.

3. Bought plates, cups, spoon and fork, containers, cake server, measuring cups, apron, towels and so so much more.

4. I had to go to the cake supplier to check out (meaning try it myself) their cakes and pastries.

5. Bought inventory of canned and bottled softdrinks, juices and mineral water.

6. Prepare the menu which includes the list of items to serve and their corresponding price (of course pricing is another story).

7. Employ a barista and another one to assist.

My sister-in-law helped me with setting up. She also does the accounting (spare me!).

I call this my baby. So far we have more expenses than income (expected). We haven’t done much advertising. I still have a lot of other products to include. I am still thinking when’s the grand opening. We’re still getting the feel of it. It’s quite tiring but I am enjoying the whole idea. To God be the glory!

A role to play

“The dreamers need the realists to keep them from soaring too close to the sun. And the realists, well, without the dreamers, they might not ever get off the ground.” – Modern Family

Gary is the dreamer and I am the realist. We used to treat this as an obstacle. I think of him as a risk taker because he grabs any opportunity, even those not knocking at his door. He looks at me, on the other hand, as control freak who always sees risks and ensures that it could be managed properly else we should not invest at all. So imagine our conversations which usually end up in an argument.

Needing to “grow up” for the business’ sake, we did a few changes that we think worked for us:

1. Acceptance is the first step. We come to realize and accept that we have differences, to the extreme that is, and we can’t force each other to change.

2. We talked as matured business partners. We agreed to talk about things first. I tell him how I feel about a “prospective” client or investment but I gave him the authority to decide whether to pursue or not. I realized that at the end of the day it’s still his responsibility to provide for the family.

3. We read informative books on business and money.

I learned that net income (gross income – expenses) should be divided into the following; savings, investment account, educational acct, entertainment/leisure acct and charity. Where the investment account should only be used when there are “opportunities” for investment. In this way, you’ll have money to “play” without sacrificing your savings. Education on the other hand is for trainings, seminars or even books that will help you grow as a professional or businessman. (In our case I just have one account for Investment and Education). Entertainment/Leisure account is for anything that will make you feel “rich”. I highly suggest that once in a while you treat your family in an expensive restaurant, travel, shop for expensive jewelry or anything that will make you realize how good it is to have money. This will make you strategize on how to make more money. Those who say that money is not important doesn’t have money. The charity account is obvious, just have an account where you can pull out funds when there’s someone in need.

While Gary learned that one way of increasing net worth is through Simplification. Simply put, we should not allow ourselves to have an expensive lifestyle.

Among others…

4. Finally, we realized that being different is actually an advantage to us as business partners because each of us has a role to play. He sets the vision while I prepare the road, something to that effect. :)

SkyLounge Coffee Shop

I remember last year I blogged about Starting-up a business. There I mentioned that I want to have a business that I’m really good at or have passion for. When the opportunity to set up a coffee shop was opened to me, I thought this might be it. I love coffee and cakes and I think that’s a good start.

The coffee shop will be located at the penthouse of Cypress condominium in Taguig. It will be just beside our company’s new head office. Target market will be condominium residents, though guests and outsiders can also be accommodated. We plan to operate Tues to Sunday 10am to 10pm.

We will offer high quality coffee, tea, hot choco, cakes and pastries at a very reasonable price. We will also sell canned softdrinks, beer, bottled mineral water and chips. Additional products that we find in demand will also be included. Free wi-fi, reading materials and a cozy environment is provided to customers. There will be smoking and non-smoking areas.

I am not expecting so much but I am hoping for the best. It will be additional work but I am excited to learn another craft. Thank you Lord!

The Fraud Triangle

I have been trained in Risk-based Audit and one of those things that really struck me was what they call the ‘Fraud Triangle.’ Simply put, it explains the three things that makes any person commit fraud. I want to share this because for sure anyone of you doesn’t want to be intentionally deceived.

1. Opportunity
Remember this: Where there is unrestricted access to assets, there is opportunity. Assets can be characterized as cash, goods, inventory, personal records and so on. So you need to have an adequate set of internal controls to prevent fraud from happening.

2. Pressure
Pressure can be as petty as peer pressure or wanting to be on top of everyone in terms of material things to serious matters such as extensive debt, drug addiction and gambling.

3. Rationalization
Some rationalization examples are as follows;
“I don’t know how to face my family when they learn that we’ll lose our home, car, everything”
“I really need this money now and I know I can pay before anyone notices”
“I deserve more than what’s in my paycheck”

So you see, the perpetrator doesn’t have to have a ‘bad reputation’ because with these 3 factors present, even the best person you know can be one of them.

Starting-up a business

If you are expecting to read a blog that talks about the 4 W’s of starting up a business, sorry to mislead you. I am just like you wondering where I could invest my money. I know that most of us dreams of that day when we no longer work as an employee. We save as much as we can so that one day we can be our own boss. Unfortunately, our impression of having a business is almost always beyond reality. We equate business to success, which is not the case. A successful business does not only mean earning a couple of bucks. Earning, for instance, 30k a month is good but can it make you sustain the cost of living for you to finally say goodbye to your employer? I think not.

Our online business now Search Opt Media Inc is something else, it’s 99% knowledge and expertise and 1% admin and support (I do the 1%, haha!). I want to invest on another business. Something I’m really good at or have passion for.

So where am I leading you? Well, since I haven’t found yet the business that I am looking for, I just want to share what we’ve learned over the years about coming up with a business. We lost time and money, but well, we gained experience. But then again, what will you do with experience if you’re struggling to provide your family with a decent meal thrice a day?

Let me start;
1. Business requires transparency. You should not be too trusting even if you work with family, close friends and relatives. Small to medium sized businesses are not excused from good governance.

2. Know your business. You don’t just invest your money on businesses that you don’t have knowledge about. Why start a restaurant business if you can’t even cook? Or at least learn the craft.

3. Understand how business works. At least learn that business has it’s market, technical and financial aspects.

4. Don’t jump on the bandwagon. Don’t invest on something because it’s popular, because most of the people you know invested on it or because some people you know became successful. Again, go back to #3.

5. Don’t depend your future with only one business. Invest. Pull-out your earnings. Invest again.