I’m in the air flying from Manila to Bangkok and had a nice 3 hour flight to share some of my biggest revelations on spending 2 months in the Philippines focused on my online business, handshakin.com.
For context, the purpose of my trip was to meet my existing team, as well as hire for two additional roles as we continue growing.
I arrived April 11th and it was startling!
Here’s a couple things anyone from US is going to notice right away.
1. Guards have big guns, but they’re actually amazing at customer service and answer your questions. Plus, they love taking pictures with foreigners.
2. Driving is pretty stressful the first time you get in a car in Manila, but as long as they’re a professional driver, you can trust that they know what they’re doing. I ended up renting a scooter a week later and survived, so you’re probably fine in your Grab (Uber of the Philippines).
PS Here’s free credit on Grab if you’re planning to visit Philippines this year.
3. It’s hot! Especially in April. Be prepared to wear multiple sets of clothes each day and don’t forget to plan your 2nd shower each day--something I generally didn't think about back home in Colorado.
Anyway, on to the business side of the trip.
The experience of meeting 'the team.'
After spending a few days in Makati City (my top pick for a specific location in Manila), I flew to Cebu where I would meet my at the time only full-time team member. Twelve months ago, we had 5 people working full-time for Handshakin’, however, one was a temporary position, one was let go and one became a contractor. Our contractors were invited, but could not make it. Uzzel arrived on a Thursday with her sister who also works for another online company.
I waited over 2 years before having the opportunity to meet Uzzel, and it was amazing to finally meet in person! Any other founder should know how important the people are who stay with you as your company grows and don’t leave after 1 or even 2 years. If you are a remote and outsourced team like us, save money and make time to visit them!
You can’t beat the efficiencies of working side-by-side in person.
After we met on Thursday evening, Uzzel and I worked all day on Friday from a co-working space in Cebu City, and it’s like a meeting that we had been waiting to have for years!
Finally I could show her what I saw on my screen, see the problem she had on her phone with that one app, and we addressed many other inefficiencies that a growing business always needs to work hard improve!
I feel that working together in person allowed me to also learn more about her level of dedication to the business, and thankfully, I think she’s very committed to the business! I wasn’t surprised since I knew she was committed, but I see her wearing more of the employer hat for new hires than a team member wearing a fellow employee hat. I can trust her with the businesses’ best interests.
From a business perspective this is incredibly valuable, as a higher level of trust can decrease security risks, save costs on hiring and training new team members, and keep each team member more focused on their specific tasks.
Next, we met up with her sister and we went to Sky Adventure, where we walked on the top floor of a building in downtown, zip-lined from that building to another one and thankfully survived.
Uzzel and her sister flew back the following afternoon, and I went back to Manila for 6 weeks looking to hire for an SEO Manager and a Phone Sales & Account Manager.
Proof of ziplining:
Now my focus shifted from talking about details of the business to refining our job posting and finding the best places to recruit. I found this facebook group that is for startups in manila who are hiring, and met many people in person who wanted to help, but honestly weren’t really sure where to point me.
Hiring the SEO Manager
Normally when we hire, I go to Online Jobs, and pay for a one month subscription, and you can learn more about our hiring process here. This position was filled ironically with a candidate in Cebu City who I was unable to meet while I was there, but who consistently followed up as we juggled hiring in addition to the team traveling and implementing several new business improvements.
Head over to Online Jobs to hire your next filipino virtual assistant.
Hiring the Phone Sales & Account Manager
This role, I am excited to announce was the first role we’ve ever hired for that wasn’t a candidate from Online Jobs. I met this candidate because he saw my job posting in Startups PH: Jobs, the facebook group I mentioned earlier.
I interviewed several people in person (so nice to actually interview in person instead of skype or sometimes just via email), and it really came down to two candidates. Adam was a follow-up champion with a perfect track record. He sold to the same customers we have started to make the most revenue off of (real estate contractors), he had sales experience on the phone with US businesses, and most importantly, he chatted me what felt like every day, and attended the same events I was going to in Manila. That’s follow-up and that is how you get a job.
PS That’s also how you raise funding according to Pat Riley.
Anyway, I’m about to land in Bangkok so I’ll cut this blog post off here. Thanks for reading and if you want to join me in Philippines next time, make sure to join Startup Denver where I’m considering hosting a retreat for other US entrepreneurs who want to hire and visit in the Philippines.
How to hire your first VA
My favorite airbnb in Manila
Grab (Uber for when you’re in Philippines)