Entrepreneurship is an Attitude

By Matthew Kwan

Principal Consultant of Adams (www.adamshk.com)

Copyright © 2010.

awardYou do not need to start up your own company to gain entrepreneurship, and in fact, you need to be an entrepreneur to be successful in business.  Entrepreneurship is an attitude, a mindset, a way of thinking and something you need to internalize.  So, are you an entrepreneur?  Here are some questions you may ask yourself?

 

1.          Do you enjoy in solving problems and seeing the (desirable/undesirable) results at the end?

2.          Do you enjoy hearing new ideas?

3.          Do you enjoy building new business processes?

4.          Do you enjoy learning how other organizations work?

5.          Do you enjoy thinking win-win proposals?

6.          Do you enjoy working with other (internal & external) parties (departments/companies)?

7.          Do you think negotiation is a way to achieve win-win?

8.          Do you think calculated risk is bearable?

9.          Do you think performance improvement is mandatory?

10.      Do you think alternative route is an answer to a dead end?

 

If you get mostly “YES” to the above questions, then the chance is that you are already possessing qualities of entrepreneurship.  There are a number of qualities you would look for if you are determined to pursuit entrepreneurship:

 

1.      Problem Solving Capability – It is a process which you need to go through before you can see desirable results.  You need to be discipline enough to follow the right procedure of thinking if you want to solve problems.  The way to solve big problem is to break your problem into little problems.  Your job is just to solve the little problems one by one and you will solve the big problem at the end!  Problems may evolve but you can always apply the same treatment.

 

2.      Explorative– We are too easy to get used to the best practices and formal procedures.  New ideas always sound strange at first but if we are open minded enough to compare thoughts, there are always insights from new ideas that we can adopt to make better ideas!

 

3.      Organization– Operational excellence is built on effective business processes.  However, clear definition of business processes takes thoughtful planning and flawless execution.  The only success factor to this is continuous review and refinement.

 

4.      Continuous Learning – You can always learn from the successful and disastrous organizations stories to shorten your path of success and help yourself in falling into the same traps.  It is both motivational and gauging to your own business endeavor.

 

5.      Think Win-Win – Business world is a network of ecosystem, there is no absolute winner in this world.  The way to be successful in your ecosystem is to collaborate.  One very wonderful word is Co-opetition! (Cooperation + Competition)

 

6.      Teamwork– Working in team(s) is an art!  Not only you need to be fully aware the politics behind of each internal or external team members, you also need to appreciate the strength and weakness of each player before you can built a successful team.  Teamwork is always built on trust but trust will never build in short time!

 

7.      Objective Driven – How well and clear do you know your objectives?  Without knowing your priorities, you will never know how to trade off.  Return-On-Investment is just a matter of trade off!

 

8.      Risk Taking – In order to advance, you need to take risk.  Taking calculated risks is a very mature business act.  Without taking risks, organizations will never advance to new heights.

 

9.      Pursue of Excellence – Complacency is a poison to any growing organization.  Measuring performance and finding ways to improve should always be a responsibility of a professional.

 

10.  Never Give Up! – You will hit dead ends for sure on your road of success.  Though it may look like running in a maze, by systematical back tracking and learning by mistakes, dawn will always come!

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Matthew Kwan is Principal Consultant of Adams Company Limited (www.adamshk.com) responsible for business consulting and enterprise training.  He is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, lecturer, consultant working with enterprises and organizations in both commercial and Christian communities.  He served many years in multi-national companies including Intel, JP Morgan, Jardines with broad experience of Sales & Marketing and Management in multicultural and international settings.

Start something you are familiar!

By Matthew Kwan, Principal Consultant, Copyright (c)  2009 Adams Company Limited.

Financial Tsunami is sweeping the economy with so much terrible effects.  A lot of people especially those who are in middle management have become the victims of the downturn.   I personally know a number of people already looking for jobs and opportunities.

It is an increasing trend people would consider startup their own business.  However, my personal recommendation is to do only something you are familiar with in order to minimize your chance of failure.  According to “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, you should focus your effort on things you are passionate with economy effect and something you can do better than others.

Though finding the sweetspot is difficult and this should always a strategy we should bear in mind when we plan out our business.By Matthew Kwan, Principal Consultant, Copyright (c)  2009 Adams Company Limited.

Financial Tsunami is sweeping the economy with so much terrible effects.  A lot of people especially those who are in middle management have become the victims of the downturn.   I personally know a number of people already looking for jobs and opportunities.

It is an increasing trend people would consider startup their own business.  However, my personal recommendation is to do only something you are familiar with in order to minimize your chance of failure.  According to “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, you should focus your effort on things you are passionate with economy effect and something you can do better than others.

Though finding the sweetspot is difficult and this should always a strategy we should bear in mind when we plan out our business.

7 Most Important Steps for Entrepreneurship

By Matthew Kwan
Principal Consultant, Adams Company Limited http://www.adamshk.com/
© Copyright. April 10, 2009

Starting up a business is not difficult and failing it is more than easy. What are the most important steps entrepreneurs should take in order to stay above the water is the most critical question one should ask well before actually forming a company. I have summarized the our own experience as well as gathering some good practices that are available to ensure the chance of success for entrepreneurs as described below:

  1. Business Ideas
  2. Sales & Marketing Planning
  3. Cash Flow Calculation
  4. Business Registration & etc…
  5. Website Building
  6. Promotion & Advertising
  7. Execution & Continuously Review

1. Business Ideas

Whenever you think of any business idea, you need to start from the TAM (Total Available Market). Without knowing how big the demand of your products or service is, it is impossible to estimate how well you will achieve your sales goals in time. Even knowing your TAM, you should ask also how well is your potential competitors are doing in such market as they are a very good reference for you to evaluation the potential growth of this business in future.

2. Sales & Marketing Planning

I have written before about the 5C’s Business Planning idea and I would like to recap the idea here as it is too important to do this analysis to ensure you are not too far off from reality. Moreover, I think it is a very simple and effective way to plan & measure your sales & marketing effort. I have used in many customer cases and they work extremely well for them to position and re-position the overall business plan and idea. So, what are the 5C’s, they are Customers, Competitors, Complementors, Channels and Costs. Our of the 5C’s, I personally think Complementors is the most important of all. For details, please refer to The 5C’s of Business Planning in Adams’ Business Advisory Blog.

3. Cash Flow Calculation

Cash Flow is Everything! (as written in Adams’ Business Advisory Blog) If you cannot manage well you cash flow, you are dim to fail in time. A lot of companies fail not because of not having enough sales but not enough of cash flow. The most important question to ask is when can you breakeven your running expenses each month. If you cannot maintain a stable cash flow, your feeling will just like riding a roller coaster! The other important question to ask is how much initial capital you need to have to sustain throughout the period before breakeven. Obviously, the earlier you can breakeven, the less capital you need. Oppositely, if it takes too long for you to breakeven, you will very soon loose your momentum and your energy level and sometimes faith in yourself or your partners!

4. Business Registration & etc…

The process of registering a company in different countries are different but typically it is a lot easier to work with company secretary companies or certified public accountants and sometimes business centre companies to get these processes done with reasonable costs as there are too many nitty-gritty’s that you need to pay attention at for just once when you form a company. Personally, I think it is not justified at all to spend time to learn it through but not helpful for your business

5. Website Building

It is an internet age, if you are not building a website, you will never survive a chance to win in this extremely competitive world. In terms of building a business effective website, I recommended that there is a 4C strategy. (Please refer to Websites are so important to make e-Marketing campaigns successful!) The 4C’s are Customer Oriented, Contextual Contents, Call to Actions and Community. Since Converting Clicks to Sales Leads is the most important consideration, you really need to try every effort to make sure whoever visiting your site would take action to call you, email you, fill in a form or forward your information to friends. These would ensure you have a very good chance to succeed.

6. Promotion and Advertising

In order to be cost-effective, you don’t have choice but use e-Marketing as it is proven to be one of the highest ROI (Return On Investment) ways in promoting your company products and services. There are many ways to promote your products and services using e-Marketing and largely they may involve sending emails, doing search engine optimization or marketing, advertising online with banner ads or registering to directories…etc. However, if you don’t have any idea to start, you can use my proposed 6 Simple Steps to Start e-Marketing with a Success. More importantly you need to Maximize your dollars on e-Marketing in order to gain the best possible ROI.

7. Execution & Continuously Review

Doing plans and generate business ideas is very easy as it is comparatively less effort than execution. When you actually execute your plans you will soon find them difficult to realize as some of the ideas or methods would never work in the real world. With limited time, money and resources, you often end up dumping the whole idea all together. Therefore it is extremely important to do reality checks and review what is really happening with all your effort in executing your plans in a quantitative measure. I found many clients have a very ambitious start with lot of energy and so passionate about their dream in success of your business, however they fail to review the progress constantly and sidetracked by many things and challenge. So they were not able to re-focus and re-prioritize their effort early enough to regain the momentum to move forward.

Finally, I wish all the best to all entrepreneurs who have wonderful dream of success may achieve great result with their business plan and share with us the joy of Entrepreneurship!

Cash Flow is Everything for SME

By Matthew Kwan
Principal Consultant, Adams Company Limited
© Copyright. July 12, 2007

Many entrepreneurs and small business owners have great business ideas and this is reflected in their products and services. These great business ideas are mostly sound but lack one very important element of good business strategy — Cash Flow. Many businesses fail not because their ideas are flawed but they just could not maintain their Cash Flow well.

Any good business plan must provide you with a reasonable forecast (or estimation) of the breakeven point. Even it may take time before breakeven point can be met you should at least ensure that you have available cash on hand to sustain the business throughout its life. Cash Flow must be maintained at a comfortable level at all times. By comfortable, I mean it should be at least more than 2 to 3 months of your total expenses and sales costs.

If you are coming from a finance background, this is definitely nothing new to you but if you are not, then here are some simple steps that you can take in order to start managing your Cash Flow with your business plan:

  1. Set a period of 24 months as your scope of planning. If you can not breakeven within 24 months, I would recommend you to really reconsider whether you want to proceed with the business idea.
  2. Forecast your monthly regular expenses with enough headroom for all unforeseeable items. You may just include an item called “Miscellaneous” if you do not have a clue for the time being.
  3. Forecast your monthly sales with a progressive growth rate. You need to be extremely conservative in order to ensure you are not over promising yourself the sales revenue before you have real data to support these forecasts. You can always revise it up and evaluate when the plan seems to be working or after running the business for a period of time. One thing to note is that even you have sales orders in each month; you may only receive payment after 30 days (or more) depending on credit terms you give to your customers. Accounts Payables always tests a company’s finances.
  4. Forecast your monthly sales cost in relation to the forecast sales. You have to bear in mind that sometimes higher sales volume means you have to increase labor; so labor costs or salaries have to rise proportionately.
  5. Calculate monthly profit (or loss) by totaling up sales and subtract expenses and sales costs. You will instantly see on which month you start making profits. The initial months will mostly be negative figures (i.e. losses) until total sales are higher than the sum of expenses and sales costs (including cost of goods).

After doing the above steps, you now can probably answer the most important question before you start any new business. That is, how much cash or capital should you invest in order keeping your business running until profit starts to build up? It is a relatively simple calculation as you just need to add all your losses in the initial months together plus two to three months of regular expenses (and sales costs) to make up the total capital required for your new business investment.

For example, you estimate it will take eight months before you can make a profit from your new business and the total loss is $700,000 during this period. You also calculate your monthly expenses and sales costs to total $100,000. Then your minimum cash required to invest at the beginning should be no less than $700,000 + ($100,000 x 3) or $1,000,000.

It may sound very simple but as others will tell you, business is very dynamic and no two companies will experience exactly the same conditions. What is certain though is that dynamics of the market are the same and so be prepared for uncertainties. Still, it is extremely useful to do such exercise in order to have a quick reality check of your business idea. This is the very reason why I did not start up my business early in the process as I could not shorten the loss period to minimize my investment risk!

I have prepared a sample of cash flow template and it can be downloaded from this link here: http://www.adamshk.com/download/SampleCashFlow.xls. You may have to adjust the key items to reflect the nature of your business but it should be intuitive enough to show you the idea.

Enjoy and be mindful with your Cash Flow!

Starting a business in 3 days

By Matthew Kwan (c) Copyrights. All Rights Reserved.
Principal Consultant, Adams Company Limited
January 12, 2007

Being an entrepreneur may sound a challenging thing to do. However, starting a business is not as difficult as you may think. There are actually ways that you can start a business up and running in 3 days. Before we go into details, I would like to share some basic rules that one may consider before starting any business:

  1. Cash flow is everything: a good business plan must provide you a reasonable forecast of the breakeven point. Even it may take time before breakeven point can be met, you should at least ensure the cash on hand should maintain a comfortable level at all times. E.g. cash should be more than 2 to 3 months of total expenses and running costs.
  2. Focus on your core competencies: small business owners are often side-tracked by spending too much time on doing administrative tasks without really spending time to focus on selling products or services of their core competencies. In many cases, you can just spend very little money by getting services from service providers to handle those small tasks for you, which you can save a lot of time to focus on the higher priority tasks.
  3. Simple is beautiful: sometimes we are all so fond of our business ideas and may go too far into very complicated business models. No matter you are a startup company or a well established company, my reminder to everyone is simple is beautiful! We should try our best to keep our business model as simple as possible.

So with the above recommendations in mind, I am going to show you some tips and tricks in starting a business in just 3 days.

Day 1 – A company is born!
This is certainly the most exciting day in the first 3 days of your company. Planning and market research on which service providers maybe the better choices for your case is required in order go smoothly with your business plan!

  1. Registering your company – you may have thought of a very good name for your own company but one of the ways to avoid all the waiting required for government company registrations processes is to buy a ready-to-use company, or otherwise known as “shell company” from a business service agency. Most Business Centers and Accounting firms do offer such service in helping you to buy Shell Companies which can be more or less ready instantly. The price of a Shell Company (Limited Company) may vary from HK$1000 to $2000 plus government fee of HK$4,330.
  2. Getting your company address – You don’t need to sacrifice your privacy even you are working from home as your office when you start your business. The easiest way to do is to register your company under a Business Centre or Accounting Firm which mails from government and any business correspondences can be sent to such address. Most Business Centers should offer such service less than HK$100 per month if you are not particular about the areas of the address. Personally, I think it is optional to subscribe a secretarial phone service but it is always nice for your customers to hear a real person to answer the calls when you are busy than a voice mail recording!
  3. Setting up your company website and email domain – Having gotten a company name from the pre-registered Shell Company, you are now ready to apply for a website and email domain for your company. It is actually cheaper, easier and faster to apply for an international (US) domain, i.e. “.com” domain through a Web Hosting company which they can apply the domain on your behalf and set up a default website including email addresses (POP3) ready to use within hours. My fastest experience only took 6 hours before everything was up and running. The prices of the most basic package may vary from HK$450 to HK$800 including domain registration and web hosting for 12 months depending on the storage size and other additional features required.
  4. Getting an appointment with a commercial banker – It actually takes a couple of weeks before you can complete all the procedures. However, it only takes a few days before you may start depositing money into the accounts.

Day 2 – Getting Ready for Business
With a new company registered and website/emails setup, the next important thing is to setup a commercial bank account and start marketing your business.

  1. Setting up a commercial bank account – the process of setting up a commercial bank account is not very difficult but you should consider applying Credit Cards, getting insurance for your employees and registering mandatory provident funds all at once to save you a lot of time to deal with them individually later. A number of banks actually do have such services under the same roof. So for the sake of making it simple, you should consider those banks can provide one stop shop!
  2. Refining your company website ready for marketing – even your company website domain is ready to use, a lot more effort is required in order to make it perfect. However, my personal opinion is that you do not need a perfect website before you can start selling your services and products. The most basic information you really need is to tell your customers what are your Products and Services and how to contact you if they are interested. The simplest way to start is to create your first draft by using some existing templates provided in Microsoft Office (Word or PowerPoint). The advantage of using these templates is that you can actually use it as briefing document to your website designers. Professional website designers can deliver basic 5 pages websites with flash graphics in 2 days with prices between HK$2500 to HK$5000.

Day 3 – Doing Business for Real
Unless you have existing customers on hand, otherwise, marketing your company is the mandatory action you need to do before you can get any business.

  1. Registering your company website on Internet Search Engines – customers nowadays use Internet to search their desired products and services become a mandatory action. Therefore, registering your company website on Internet Search Engines is extremely important. Though you maybe listed for free if you go and register under the web directories of Internet Search Engines, it might take a very long while before your company could be appeared. My recommendation is you should in parallel go and do sponsor links on some popular Search Engines like Yahoo, the minimum requirement is to deposit HK$240. Then more or less instantly within an hour, your company website and description can be listed as sponsored links on Yahoo when matching keywords are searched. Obviously, it takes time to learn and get yourself familiar with the tool but you will get it if you are willing to learn. My personal experience it only took 45mins after my initial posting to get the first sales enquiry call. That was impressive! However, this can be a very expensive act. So do it with care!

In summary, I have only shown you some best know methods and they are not the only way to start a business. Everyone knows entrepreneurship requires a lot of energy and risk taking. The beauty of it is you will get the positive reward if you are willing to trade off your time and effort with the right methods. There is no short-cut and we just need to continue to learn and change according to the situations as required. All the best to those who want to be an entrepreneur!

三天創業秘笈

關廣智
白武士有限公司首席顧問
2007年1月12 (c) 版權所有

成為創業者── 這聽起來很有挑戰性。不過,開展新業務也不如想像般困難。事實上,有好些方法可以讓你在三天內開展新業務並投入運作。在我們作詳細討論前,我想先和大家分享一些基本守則,而任何人在開展新業務前都應先考慮這些守則:

  1. 一切在乎現金流一個好的業務計劃必須能合理預測收支平衡點。即使可能要有段時間才能達至收支平衡,至少任何時候你都應該確保手頭現金充裕。例如手持現金要能應付兩至三個月或以上的整體開支和營運成本。
  2. 專注核心事務:小企業東主很多時都會花太多時間在做行政工作,而沒有真正多少時間專注於銷售他們的核心產品或服務。在很多情況下,你只要花些少錢,便能聘請服務供應商代為處理這些瑣碎事項,騰出時間集中處理更重要的工作。
  3. 簡單就是美麗:有時我們過份喜歡自己很多的商業想法,結果走得太遠,墮入了非常複雜的商業模式之中。無論你的公司是新成立,還是體制已相當健全,我要提醒各位,簡單就是美麗!我們應該盡力保持簡單的業務模式。

現在我要向你介紹三天內開展新業務的要訣。

1 天:一間公司誕生了!
這肯定是你公司成立頭三天中最刺激的一天。你必須進行規劃和市場研究,看看哪些供應商適合你的公司,以便順利實現你的業務計劃!

 

  1. 登記你的公司 ── 你可能已為自己的公司想了一個非常好的名字,但是政府公司登記程序需要很多文件,而且等候需時。其中一個毋須等候的方法便是向商業服務公司購買一間現成公司,即所謂的「空殼公司」。大部分的商務中心和會計公司都有這類服務,協助你購買這些即時可用的空殼公司。一間空殼公司(有限公司)的價錢大約在港幣 1,000 2,000 元之間,再加上港幣 4,330 元的政府費用。
  2. 取得公司地址 ── 即使你是在家工作,當你開展業務時,你也毋須犧牲個人私隱。最簡易的方法就是到商務中心或會計公司登記地址服務,這樣所有政府函件或商業通信都可以寄去那 個地址。大部分的商務中心都應該有這樣的服務提供,假如你沒有特別要求地址區份,那每月費用應少於港幣 100 元。至於秘書電話服務,我個人認為不是必選服務。不過,當你忙得未能接聽電話時,我想你的客戶會喜歡聽到真人回覆多於留言錄音!
  3. 設立公司網站及電郵域名 ── 取得預先登記的空殼公司名稱後,現在你隨時可以為你的公司申請網站和電郵域名了。事實上,最便宜、容易和快速的方法便是透過網頁寄存公司申請一個國際(美國)域名,即「.com」域名。這些公司可以代你申請域名,設立一個包括電郵地址(POP3)的預設網站,而且幾小時內可用。我最快的經驗是只用了 6 小時便搞定了所有東西。最基本的套餐價錢由港幣 450 800 元不等,服務包括域名註冊及 12 個月網頁寄存,價錢視儲存容量和其他額外功能需求而定。
  4. 預約銀行開立商業戶口 ── 事實上你需要兩三個星期才能完成所有程序。不過,只要幾天你便可以開始存錢到你的帳戶中。

2 天:準備營業
公司登記好,弄好網站 / 電郵,下一個重要步驟就是開立一個商業銀行戶口和開始推銷你的業務。

  1. 開立商業銀行戶口 ── 開立過程並不困難,但你應該要考慮一次過申請信用卡,為你的員工購買勞工保險和登記強積金。比起稍後才作個別申請,這樣可為你省去不少時間。事實上,許多銀行都有這些服務提供。為了簡單方便起見,你應該找那些能夠提供一條龍服務的銀行!
  2. 改進網站準備推廣 ── 即使你的公司網站隨時可用,但仍需盡一點努力使之完美。不過,我個人認為在開始銷售你的服務及產品前,你不需要有一個完美的網站。網站最基本的內容就是要告訴顧客你賣的是什麼產品和服務,假如他們有興趣的話,可以如何聯絡你。最簡單的做法就是使用Microsoft OfficeWord PowerPoint)提供的一些現成的範本去建立你的網站初稿。這樣做的好處是你可以用它作為給網站設計師的工作簡介。專業的網站設計師可以在兩日內造出 5 個有 Flash 圖片的基本網站。收費大約在港幣 2,500 5,000 元之間。

3 天:真正開始做生意
除非你手頭有現成的客戶,否則,在取得任何生意前,推廣你的公司便是你需要做的指定動作。

  1. 登記互聯網搜尋器 ── 時至今日,使用互聯網搜尋想要的產品和服務已經是所有顧客必定會做的事。因此,在各互聯網搜尋器登記你的公司網站是極為重要的。雖然你可以免費到互聯絡搜 尋器的網頁目錄登記加入,但可能要等上一段相當長的時間,你的公司才會在名單上出現。我建議你應該同時在一些受歡迎的互聯網搜尋器購買贊助連結,Yahoo!,其最低按金要求為港幣 240 元。假如公司的關鍵字與被搜尋的字相符,你的公司網站和描述便會作為贊助網站列出。這可以在一小時內實現。當然,要熟用這些工具是需要時間的,但只要你願意學習,你便會學得到。根據我的個人經驗,由我最初貼出資料到接到第一個銷售來電查詢只是用了 45 分鐘。這的確是很吸引!然而,這也可以是一個花費非常昂貴的舉動。所以要小心行事!

總括而言,我只是告訴你一些最好的方法去開展業務,而這些方法不是唯一的。所有人都知道要成為企業家需要無窮的精力,並要冒很多的風險。但其美好的一面是, 只要你願意付出時間和努力,並且使用正確的方法,你便能獲得正面的回報。成功沒有捷徑,我們需要持續學習,並隨形勢作出改變。祝所有希望成為創業者的人成功!