Experts advise that a crisis is not the best time to launch a business. As in our current COVID-19 situation, times are uncertain and a startup venture is highly likely to fail. One Pinay mom, however, is going against that philosophy.

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Mom of three Laila Opina Briones, 37, is the brains behind TinaPay Online, which delivers neighborhood bakery favorites to your door. You may have heard about it during the early days of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), as satisfied customers, including celebrities, have given it good reviews.

But Laila says TinaPay Online was only a happy accident. 

"The online business was not intentional," she tells SmartParenting.com.ph

"My in-laws have a 26-year-old bakery in Sta. Mesa, Manila, and it so happened that before the ECQ, I sent out some tinapay to a few friends who ordered.

"Some of my blogger friends also ordered and they posted [photos] on social media. From there, people started inquiring through my personal Facebook page."

Since Filipinos are fond of eating bread (next to rice), Laila thought she could hit two birds with one stone: deliver goods to those who cannot go out to buy food, while helping out her in-laws with their business, too.

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She had good products to market, including the bakery's bestsellers ube cheese pandesal and Spanish bread, aside from the regular bakery fare of pandesal, pianono, and ensaymada (they don't use preservatives, Laila says). All she needed was to get creative.  

Because the bakery was already existing, it was quite easy for Laila to build on the idea. Seeing that there was a demand for bread delivery, she quickly took the opportunity and put plans into action.

"I needed to have good internet connection because all transactions and communications are done online — through chat, calls and text only," thus, the business name. Soon she had to make a dedicated Facebook page for the brand to allow easier tracking of inquiries and orders, all within two weeks from the implementation of the community quarantine. 

Business challenges

Laila's business idea may not be unique in itself, but the circumstances around which it was built makes it noteworthy. Because mobility was restricted, and the business is a delivery service, one of the challenges Laila encountered early on was getting the goods to her customers on time.   

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"One of the challenges in the beginning was in booking a Grab or Lalamove to deliver the orders. It wasn't easy," says Laila. 

This problem presented an opportunity to help those who are in need.

"I met three Grab riders who had no income because of the ECQ. They needed to earn for their families, so through TinaPay Online I am helping them by getting their services."

According to Laila, her profit varies largely, but on a good day, she earns up to Php 7,000 per day on deliveries alone. "Wala pa 'yung walk-in doon."

Starting a business during a crisis

Laila currently juggles the roles of wife, mom to kids Kyle, 10, Luke, 5, and Zach, 1, and an entrepreneur working from home. She offers these tips to those who wish to start a business during the time of the ECQ:

Do what you love.

Essentially, Laila is marketing an existing product. Her 12 years in the public relations field and the network she has built over the years have certainly helped the brand become popular in record time. "You also need to have passion [for the job] for you not to feel stressed and tired," she says. 

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Work hard — and smart.

"It’s not just about the selling itself. Because I sell food, I need to be extra careful, especially in handling feedback or complaints." 

Be in tune with what people need. 

"Choose one that is in demand," she says. Food is always a good choice because even in a crisis, people need to eat. 

Lastly, Laila attributes the success of her "accidental" business to a desire to help others — her family, those who lost their jobs. 

"It's not only about profit, but also how you can help in this time of crisis." 

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