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How to Start a Business in Cebu in 2024

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Have you taken an interest in starting a business in Cebu?

Cebuanos are hardworking and resilient people, even more so when it comes to earning a little extra income on the side.

If this is something that you’re interested in, then maybe it’s time you start your own business in Cebu! 

Whether you were born and raised in Cebu or you just moved to the island, all you really need is a great idea, a strategic location, and enough resources to get things in motion.

Did you know that Cebu is one of the best places in the country for business opportunities? Even tourists who are traveling to experience the island’s pristine beaches and natural wonders can get in on it too.

To start off, you’ll need to know which important documents and what type of lucrative business will be most successful in a particular area on the island.  

This short guide will provide you with some tips and ideas that might inspire the entrepreneur in you!

INDUSTRIES FOR A LUCRATIVE BUSINESS IN CEBU

Before thinking about operating your own business, you need to know what kind of business you’ll be running. 

Here is a list of business opportunities that have a good chance of being successful in Cebu:

  • Bed and Breakfast

Cebu is one of the most active tourism hubs in the Philippines, so creating a safe space for locals and tourists to have a relaxing time would be a great idea for a business in Cebu.

A bed-and-breakfast in a local tourist spot makes it easy for travelers to go home and rest after exploring several attractions around the area. It will save them time and money from having to travel far to their hotel or airbnb.

You can find an open lot strategically located near a beachfront and have a rest house constructed. This makes for a great summer getaway for fellow Cebuanos who are taking a trip around the south or north, or foreigners who are exploring the best parts of the island.

  • Tour Services

Aside from the island’s pristine waters, there are many eco-tourism spots in the provinces and mountainside neighborhoods of the city. Tourists will benefit a great deal from hiring a local tour service or guide. 

If you’re familiar with the premier hotspots in the city, you can bring groups of tourists there through large capacity vehicles like vans or even taxis.  

Tour drivers can serve as mini tour guides for guests, so you can do your research to help them learn more about the places you’ll be taking them. Learn some tips and tricks for taking photos as well. This will come in handy when guests ask you to take pictures of them during the trip.

  • Food 

Whether it’s online or at a static kiosk in a food park, selling food will always elicit interest. There are many food business ideas to choose from – whether it be snacks, rice meals, or even special delicacies from a certain part of Cebu island.

The culinary industry is a great place to start a business in Cebu, especially with how social media makes marketing your business pretty easy. You can even bring products to food parks, which draw in large crowds of foodies every day. 

However, there can be tons of competition with the number of small-scale food businesses operating nowadays. Make your business model stand out by having a great product, a unique take on it, and a memorable marketing campaign. 

BUSINESS TYPES 

Once you’ve figured out what business you want to operate, it’s time to determine the type of business it will be. 

In the Philippines, there are many types, but the most common are the following: 

  • Sole Proprietorship

This is a business managed by a single individual. The main advantage is you get to market and sell your products the way you want to. 

You have full control over your business, but there are bound to be liabilities as well, since you have to be responsible for its legal and financial status. 

  • Partnerships

This is the default business model for companies run by two or more individuals. 

Similar to SPs, Partnerships are only taxed once. Each member contributes one way or another, depending on the type of business they agreed on. 

In General Partnerships, both partners have equal financial and legal liabilities, while Limited Partnerships have partners with limited liability based on the amount of money they invest.

  • Corporations

Lastly, corporations are large companies of smaller businesses under one group. This offers the best personal liability protection, since owners are separate legal entities from the business itself. 

This is one of the easiest business models for fundraising, as owners can issue shares of stocks. Unfortunately, there is a pretty extensive registration process due to the drafting of by-laws and the appointment of the board of directors. 

Subsequently, corporations are taxed twice, once for the business itself, and another from the personal taxes of the members and shareholders.

STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE

With all that out of the way, it’s time you secure important legal government documents to have your business set up. 

Submitting these to the appropriate offices will ensure that your business runs smoothly.

  1. Barangay Clearance

The first document you’ll need can be acquired from the barangay hall in the neighborhood where you will be setting up your business. A barangay clearance certifies that your business complies with the local regulations set up for that neighborhood. 

REQUIREMENTS NEEDED:

  • Fully accomplished Barangay Business Clearance Application Form
  • Valid government-issued ID 
  1. Mayor’s Permit (Business Permit)

The Mayor’s Permit, on the other hand, is taken from the city or municipal hall. Fees charged are calculated through the initial capital, with small-scale operations paying around Php4,000 to Php6,000. 

Once you provide all the necessary documents and payments, the certificate will be issued immediately.

REQUIREMENTS NEEDED

  • Fully accomplished Business Permit Application Form
  • Certificate of Business Name Registration from DTI or SEC
  • Barangay Clearance
  • Location Clearance from the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO)
  • Fire Safety Inspection Certificate (FSIC) from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)
  • Sanitary Permit from the City Health Department
  • Real Property Tax Clearance (applicable for certain businesses only)
  • Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for certain types of businesses
  • Fire Insurance Policy (for businesses with more than 50 employees)
  1. BIR Certification

Getting a BIR Certification is a critical step towards paying taxes for your business in Cebu. You should be able to get one right after you secure a business permit. 

Companies should get a Taxpayer’s Identification Number (TIN) by submitting the following documents: 

  • Fully accomplished BIR Form 1901 for Sole Proprietorships 
  • Fully accomplished BIR Form 1903 for Corporations and Partnerships
  • Mayor’s Permit (Business Permit)
  • Certificate of Business Name Registration from DTI and SEC
  • Proof of address (e.g., utility bill or lease contract)
  • Valid government-issued ID

Additionally, you may have to register with the following government agencies depending on the type of business you will be running: 

  • Social Security System (SSS) 
  • Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth)
  • Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) 

With all this in mind, you can finally have a startup business in Cebu and earn extra money on the side. Do some additional research as well to make sure you’ve got everything covered.

This lucrative venture will be beneficial not just for you, but also for potential customers looking for something new to try and experience.

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