This guest post is part of the #BehindTheBiz series. It features creative Filipinos who started a business during the pandemic, whether out of necessity or just pure passion.
As a writer who does a lot of research work as part of my day-to-day work life, I couldn’t help but come up with a lot of project ideas from the new things I learn every day. But, I’m also someone who would sit and ponder a lot before actually starting. I’m also that person who collects website domains (busted!). And I feel like I’m not the only one who does this. Tell me if I’m wrong, but many of us are serial “wantrepreneurs”, people who always fantasize about starting a business but rarely start anything.
That’s why I’m so happy to bring you Nian Ellao. Nian’s a former 9 to 5 employee who left her cushy corporate job and took the leap to entrepreneurship. She started a mini branding studio and quickly grew the business into a startup digital marketing agency.
What I really love about Nian is that she also helps fellow creatives to start a freelance or agency path if it’s something they really want to do. I believe that the fear of going solo is what stops most of us from actually working on our dream business, whatever that may be.
So today I would like to share how Nian started, her business approach, and how she plans to grow her digital marketing agency, and I hope her story will motivate you to just do it!
Hi Nian! Welcome to #BehindTheBiz, tell us about you, and what business did you start during the pandemic?
I started a mini branding studio that turned into a boutique digital marketing agency. I’ve also expanded into helping co-creatives, aspiring creatives in establishing their own business.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Well long story short, I left the corporate world to give myself a chance to work on the things I love and try to do it for a living. Fortunately, everything has been materializing and even better!
Take us through the process of designing/prototyping/sourcing/manufacturing your product or service.
Well basically, when creating a brand identity, or any other creative project— we always begin with the goals of the business and we have to figure out how branding can enable, strengthen and support those goals and actually bring them to life.
So it’s basically my ABCD Process,
- Identifying of Goals
- Problem Solving
- Knowing What Gaps to Fill
- Creative Brief Curation
- Ideas Come to Life
- Outputs Release
- Moving Forward
- Continuing Plans
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
It’s being genuine in all possible ways. Genuine branding, genuine in the work process, genuine with intentions, genuine with people connections, genuine with collabs, etc. It’s basically putting your work and everything else involved in the work you do in good faith.
How are you today and what does the future look like?
I’m doing well, I’m great actually. There are a lot of difficult days but I always remind myself that I did sign up for this and I get stronger everyday. Challenges after challenges but I guess that’s just how it is. The future— I envision myself to be helping & enabling more businesses.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Choosing your tribe well. That’s it for me. You can be so good at what you do, you may be knowledgeable and really intelligent, or very gifted in creating effective business strategies— these may all go to waste if we are not surrounded by the right people.
What platform or tools do you use for your business?
We use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Gmail & Telegram!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to start a business during these challenging times?
Trust your instincts. If you feel like moving forward in business during this time, just go for it already. If something is hindering you then identify what is it that will make you want to take the risk, is it growing your savings before starting? Building more connections? Whatever it is, that’s your call and trust your own pacing. Or if you want to start safe then begin with a side hustle instead. There’s nobody rushing. Do not let anybody’s progress and timeline direct yours.