Thursday, October 1, 2020

Who’s calling?

Park time aside for productivity. You will be interrupted because you are a decision maker. It took us a few years to learn this. Often, we would feel we need to be with the team, say yes to the client’s request for a meet, answer that email immediately all in the name of service.

Your eight-hour day gets torn into 15 minutes here and 45 minutes there. Soon eight hours becomes 15 hours of work. Before you know it even after 15 hours of work you have nothing to show.

We learned that parking time aside is important. Uninterrupted time where I get to write my opinions and papers. Even this book, time was parked aside for it. Time to be parked aside for Wan Hoon to complete checking the invoices and cost estimates before they go out. These are our important and productive work. Work that impacts the business very directly.

Friday mornings are generally parked aside for us to discuss operational and financial issues and plans. Uninterrupted. 

You need productive time.

What did you produce?

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

What are you into?

You are into business. Not busyness. 

Don’t get side tracked by seemingly important things. No matter how tough and how anxious you are in terms of the real work. The real work that makes an impact, get to it. We have a funny way of avoiding the real impactful work by creating all sorts of busyness. It’s that manufactured excuse to take us away from the uncomfortable decisions and actions.

The discomfort of more work, long unending work that brings in the sales. The discomfort of rejection that hurts more than the ego. These are all the discomforts that make you grow as a businessperson. You need it.

You don’t need that additional like on your company Facebook. You don’t need to discuss at length which brand of A4 paper you need for your photocopier.

No matter what you do, the only lengthy discussion you need to have is the one that brings in the sales. Nothing moves until your company sells something, bills for it and gets paid.

Whatever else shouldn’t be your busyness. Get busy getting in the sales.

How long should we talk?

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Why don’t you have it?

It takes time. 

Most entrepreneur types are impatient. Yet, running a business takes time.

Building our business has taught me, no, trained me to be patient in many ways. I often look back and say “Why didn’t we create this service 5 years ago? So many people are asking for it.” “Why didn’t we have this answer for the client when she asked what, at that time, was the most challenging question?”

Sometimes things just aren’t ready. You may not be ready. Bare minimum, you may not even have the experience to see the answer when it was there all along. Things take time to happen. Everything takes time and in its time. Causes and conditions have to be right. For the right causes and conditions to be right takes time.

So long as you make decisions, have deliberate plans even though your path may be side tracked eventually things will happen for you. Do what you need and commit to it. The world has a funny way of sending people and arranging things in such a way that it works for you. So long as you act upon your plan.

When will you be ready?

Monday, September 28, 2020

Can you deliver?

Substance over matter. 

Far too often people try to take the shortcut. Everywhere we turn there is a “strategist”. Seems like most people want the word “strategist” behind their name whether they earned it or not. That’s a “stragedy”.

Wan Hoon and I have never had the word “strategist” behind our names. We have never carried any title that has the word “strategy” or “strategist” in it. But the plans we write, when executed correctly get the results the clients want and pay for.

We aren’t sure if we are great strategists. It’s not important. But only maturity can reveal that to you. Some people tend to focus on the sexy and the romantic.

If you are young now, work the hours, take the longer path or alternatively mature quickly. Learn that certain things like skills and knowledge take time. Building a solid product and service to sell is important.

You can be the most articulate guy in the world, but eventually you will be evaluated on what you delivered.

What is in you?

Friday, September 25, 2020

What’s new?

Be a classic, not a fad. 

We are very down-to-earth in our approach to business. This is perhaps because we were older; at a tender-ish age of 41 when we started our business. The younger ones will probably say we are old fashioned – not open to new ideas, unfamiliar with what is new.

That is, of course, not true. In our line, we cannot afford not to be open to new ideas and technology. We need it. It’s mandatory for us. But we aren’t seduced by it.

Blame it on age. We have seen it. We have done it. We have been there and back. Thrice. It takes a lot for us to get excited.

It should be the same for your business. Don’t be too swayed by the changing winds. Focus on the unchanging. Focus on the demands that will always be a classic. My six years at DDB exposed me to one of my favourite Bernbach quotes, “It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man, with his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own.” 

What is old fashioned?

Thursday, September 24, 2020

How much can you carry?

Do less. Make more.

Think about doing less by reviewing your product portfolio offering. What do you offer to whom? List them all down. Now ask yourself, which one do you sell best. Which ones you will never part with. Which ones just drag you down. Most business people need a time like this put aside to do spring cleaning. Free up some space within your operations.

Behind most business peoples’ minds is a secret fantasy to be all things to everyone. Business growth necessitates that option to be on the table. It’s probably the easiest option to be put on the table anyway. Just add. We are expanding. We are getting into new markets. We are leveraging on our strengths. There are synergies to be optimized within the group. We have all heard those mantras before.

My paternal grandfather probably had those in mind too. Except, he didn’t articulate it that way. He ran a sundry shop that sold everything to everyone in the neighbourhood. Years after he wound down his business and many years after he passed on, we still found things in the attic that he used to sell. Nothing wrong in trying to emulate the wise business man that my granddad was. But there are other ways. You know that already. We are just giving you a friendly nudge.

There is only so much a consumer or a consumer group will buy from you. Think through this carefully. What do you sell them? Why would they buy it? Why would they buy more from you? 

It’s counter intuitive for most business people. It’s ok to let some other people make the money. Focus on what you are good at. You can be the upgrade or downgrade. Do your best in not being an all grade. You may end up with a no grade.

Who are you selling it to?

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Why are you selling it?

We meet many prospects that we turn down even during the first meeting. Not because they cannot afford us, not because they aren’t on the same wavelength with us. We turned them down because we do not believe in their products or service. 

We believe we should not help sell it if we do not believe in the product or service. If we will not use it ourselves or allow our family and friends to consume it, then we should not promote it. It's just good ethics.

Every service and product you sell, you should proudly sell it. Never let what you do eat you up inside because you know deep down, it isn’t right.

We dare proudly say every service that we have from our consultancy suites to our masterclass, we will proudly sell, use ourselves and recommend to our loved ones.

Would you buy it?

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Is it fatal?

Mistakes aren’t fatal. Rewards aren’t forever. Decisions, not deliberations.

We see this daily in our work with various parties. Most people are too afraid to decide. Too frightened to commit. Too scared to move on. Because moving on means change. To move on means you need energy to summon courage. So, there are endless meetings. Our thinking should lead us to a decision. Not stop or delay us.

Make a decision with the best information you have now. There will not be a perfect situation when you have all the facts. Even if you have the perfect information, you are apt to interpret it in the way you want to anyway. You won’t be objective. It is better to create a habit of making a decision and moving on.

Making a decision frees you to focus on what matters. Moving forward and acting to make your business work.

What would you do today?

Monday, September 21, 2020

What’s that most important thing today?

There will be countless things you want and need to do as an entrepreneur. So many things to chase, so many exciting projects. We can break this down to two parts.

One is running the company stuff like staff and office administration. You know the operational stuff. What people call, working IN the business. That needs your focus, sure.

But that brand of A4 paper that you are going to buy or which floor detergent your cleaner is using isn’t crucial, really.

Then there is the services and product portfolio that needs your attention. The array of clients that need to hear from you soonest. They may not seem urgent now. But they will become urgent soon if you don’t get on it now.

Always focus on the most impactful goal daily. The one that will make the most difference in terms of profitability a month down the road, a quarter down the road, six months down the road. You take care of these; your annual profitability takes care of itself.

Do that first. Because if you don’t, everything else fails.

You will have no money to buy your favourite floor detergent.

What will deliver impact?

Friday, September 18, 2020

Can you do everything?

You can’t do everything. You can’t have everything. You cannot be good at all of it. Stop trying to be that.

Learn to say “no”. For the first two years of our business, we have all sorts of people asking us to do all sorts of things. Because we needed the money, we would chase down opportunities. We wanted to offer every service we could do. And we truly could. When we started, each of us had 16 years of experience. 32 years combined.

We can do a lot. But we don’t have a lot of time, a lot of resources, and definitely not a lot of energy.

Learn to say “no”. When you say enough “noes”, they lead you to your “yeses”.

Just because you could, doesn’t mean you should.

Do you know your one thing?

Thursday, September 17, 2020

What do challenges do?

The more challenges you have the better. Your challenges are blessings. Blessed are those who are challenged for they shall be stronger and more creative.

Oh, you will hate it at first. But you will learn to accept it in a Zen sort of way. The moment you do, you have succeeded in one of the spirits of entrepreneurialism – overcoming challenges.

Challenges force you to be creative. They force you to be resourceful. We look back now and think how blessed we were to be with little money and having to think where and how to make it. How lucky we were to be without a writer and discover that we could write. How fortunate we were when we had to work overnights for many nights because we couldn’t afford a planner. We were forced to do planning ourselves and it sharpened our skills. We had no portfolio for Roar Point and we promised we would work hard to create a strong one.

Would you love some challenges?

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Are you committing?

Remember we talked about having skin in the game? When you have that you will be forced to like the game. You don’t have a choice. Do or die. Sink or swim. You have heard that before.

Some business people like to think about how they can sell-off their business. How they can exit. They have five-year plans and 10-year plans. Good for them. Nothing wrong with that. We just hope their assumptions are robust enough to withstand the whims of the business world.

We didn’t have that kind of plan when we started. We only have one plan. Make sure we make money. Here’s the audacious part – have fun doing it even as we know the business world is a combustion of stress waiting to explode on us. But once we accept that business life is no different from the life we live – things arise, things decay, things decease. Then it gets easier. Simple to understand but hard to practice.

Do you want to exit?

Monday, September 14, 2020

Are you making money?

Do the math and make sure that your business is capable of making money. Don’t go cook up some fantasy investment plans to try and con someone into your business. Put your own skin in the game.

We are in a business with literally zero barriers of entry. You can be a fresh graduate in any degree and label yourself a brand consultant from the get go. We believe we are able to survive this long because we have skin in the game. We put everything in and we focus on making money. We see some entrepreneurs busy raising funds for their business when they should be focused on building the business instead.

To be sure, we aren’t against raising funds. We caution you in using your time erroneously. We caution you against selling a dream that you don’t even believe in yourself.

Make it your aim to make money from day one. Your fund raising will be more fun.

How much fun do you need?

Friday, September 11, 2020

Do you need it?

You can get by with not having a lot of things for your business. All entrepreneurs need to learn to save cost and invest intelligently. But if you need it. Buy.

Think through clearly what is a need and what is a want. Only you can answer this. Running a business is rather like managing your household. Sometimes you want to splurge on your family, but perhaps you can’t afford that overseas trip now.

Investing in what is required is important. We bought the best machines that can give us the best quality products our clients will be proud of. Most companies our size do not have this. Some people say we splurged. In our view, it was a need.

Almost always when multinationals send their audit team to our office, they are impressed with the facilities we have.

Do you want it?

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Who’s got your six?


People say don’t get business partners. There will be complications when you get business partners. Wan Hoon and I have been business partners for more than 10 years and counting. We worked as colleagues for six years before that.

Sure, we have our issues and challenges. I would be lying if I said it's been all blue skies and red roses. Like all partnerships, all challenges can be solved if both parties have the intellect and emotional maturity to discuss, debate and de-escalate when necessary.

Values and ways of working can be aligned early on and continued to be improved as the partnership matures. When things are at a deadlock, appoint someone who will make the final decision.

Who’s taking point?

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

What do you believe in?

We have a question in our Brand ViStory tool that asks, “What is your purpose?” What do you believe in yourself so much that you are willing to put your money where your mouth is?

For us, it is the belief in our expertise and experience. So, we do not pitch. Just as a doctor would not pitch you to be treated by her.

We believe in small medium businesses becoming big and great. So we speak to those willing to hear us out even if it means pounding the pavement and only getting a worthy one from a thousand we see. We tell business owners a thousand times more successful than us that we do not pitch.

It can be scary sometimes. But we do not let that stop us. Walk the talk. Eventually you will get a crowd running with you.

Do you believe in yourself?

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Could it be that you are lazy?

Let’s face it. Given half the chance, we all want to chill. Have a drink. Grab a coffee. Eat, sleep and be merry.

Given half the chance, we want to do all of the above and still be rewarded handsomely for it.

If you want something bad enough, go out and get it!

“I don’t have enough __________.” Fill in the blanks with time, money, experience, support and the list goes on. Well, if you don’t have it, go get it. It’s part of the work of an entrepreneur. Who starts out by having it all? Even the guy who took over his father’s super successful business has to go get the experience.

If you really want it bad enough, you put together a plan. You park time aside for it. You do the work. DO THE WORK.

Are you good at cooking up excuses?

Monday, September 7, 2020

Are you a Skeptic?

Do not let all the new sexy terms seduce you away from what you should focus on. Learn the basics and the principles. Then learn to apply them. Get good at them and learn the lessons along the way. Old things are still being used now because they work. For example, the good ol’ marketing mix. Yes, your 4Ps. It’s been around for a while. Use it. And the advertising effect model? Yes, the AIDA model. It’s old fashioned but use it well, it works. 

Don’t give in to temptation. Stay the course.

Can you be Stoic?

Friday, September 4, 2020

Are you ready to go?

No. Really. GO!

Go do what you need to do and want to do! Enough talk already. 

We even wrote a “Do-It Manifesto” back in 2013. It was mainly because there were a lot of people around us who talked a lot about a lot of ideas. 

We didn’t have a breakthrough idea. We had a small stupid idea. We wanted to be our own boss. Chart our own course. 

You? Go do it! Ideas are worthless. Action is priceless. Don’t worry if your idea will work or not. Make some assumptions. Write them down. Get some cash and start.

Lights, camera, action?

Thursday, September 3, 2020

What are your plans?

Your plans are only as good as your assumptions. But that doesn’t mean that you do not plan. Working without a plan is irresponsible. Sure, things change. If you assume wrongly, you will be punished for it by the market. But that’s where the lesson is. 

Write it down. It doesn’t have to be very long and comprehensive. It does need to be written. We are fanatical about writing things down. As your plans are your assumptions, so be aware of this fact and be flexible enough to let certain assumptions go when necessary. 

What are you assuming?

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

What did you win?

Yes, you can learn from your mistakes.

Yes, you can learn from your successes too.

Note the both of these. The better you study them, the more you will succeed. That means writing them down. Spending time doing your homework. Parking time aside to learn. More importantly, parking time aside to implement. It’s much better to fire, ready, aim. I am sure you have heard that before. It’s true. Fire, ready, aim.

Have you fired yet?

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

What did they say?

Haters will be haters. That you know. People will pass judgement even when they know very little about the subject, or even when they know very little about you. Go ahead and do what you do best anyway. Imagine if Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet cared about what people said. 

These people who mouth off without expertise are miserable. Ignore them.

What did you do?

Friday, August 28, 2020

Can you take it?


The kind of success that you crave comes with an equal amount of resistance and pressure from the opposite end. If you dream of small success, well, the pressures are small. But if you covet maximal success, then the pressures come exponentially as well. 

If you want it bad enough, turn up, do the work, don’t complain.

Doesn’t matter if you are a business owner or an employee. 

What are you made of?

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Who should you rely on?


Yourself. That's the cold hard truth.

Worth saying again. Rely on yourself.

Friends. Family. Clients. Colleagues. Suppliers. Acquaintances. You will get some help from some of these people some of the time. But eventually, at many points of your life you need to dig deep to surmount those challenges.

Doesn’t matter if you are a business owner or an employee.

How deep can you go?

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Is there a way out?


Creativity in business is a consistent variable you need to keep close to your heart. You need to keep it burning in your team. It’s what keeps businesses alive. From being able to offer a unique product or service to being able to say it in such distinctive manner that it differentiates you. To being resourceful when faced with challenges. 

Business demands creativity.

What skills do you need?

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Can you do it?

 

Of course, you can. You can do anything you want. Anything you choose. The only thing is, as an entrepreneur; you need to choose what to do.

So, while you can do anything, you may not want to do everything. 

Evaluate the time, money, effort and cost of possible mistakes when doing everything on your own in the name of saving money.

Some money is meant to be spent

Can you afford it?

Monday, August 24, 2020

Is it scalable?


“Scalability”; that’s a sexy term in business.

When someone says to you, “Your business is not scalable.” Somehow it is meant to be bad. As if you are a bad business person.

But what if you don’t want it to scale? What if, turning up for work, meeting clients you love to serve, being paid well for it keeps you going and energizes you? 

Forget what people say. These same people are looking for the nirvana of the rat race themselves. Scalability isn’t the only way to business heaven.

Waking up, looking forward to go to work and making a respectful living is.

Do you see heaven every morning?