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.

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!

Synergizing Products and Services

By Matthew Kwan
Principal Consultant, Adams Company Limited
© Copyright. October 10, 2007

Many entrepreneurs I know are never short of business ideas. I am not exaggerating but they can literally come up with new product or service ideas everyday if not every minute! However, I think this is a frightening phenomenon as I see a lot of the ideas are very demanding for resources in order to develop market opportunities and they cannot leverage with each other at all.

One very basic theory I want to share here is products and services must synergize with each other in a same business in order to maximize your return on investments. Otherwise, you will have a big chance of wasting unnecessary resources (time, money and labor) and duplicating your effort to grow your products or services market(s). If you can really synergize your products and services, you may also experience an exponential rate of growth.

Below are some of very useful synergizing techniques on how to synergize your products and services that I learnt throughout my sales & marketing career:

  1. Door Opener Product
  2. Multiplying Effect
  3. Packaging
  4. Consumable & Repurchase

1. Door Opener Product – In order to lower the barrier of your customers’ buying action, you must choose a “Door Opener Product” among all of your products and services. This Door Opener Product must be very attractive both in terms of features and pricing. You have to be very aggressive about your pricing strategy of this product in order to win over your competition. As long as you are not loosing money in real term, do not worry too much about your profit, yet! You will be surprised on how much more of other business you can get through this Door Opener Product.

  • Example: A not so famous Shanghais restaurant is offering $1 for half a dozen dumplings. People are queuing outside for a long time in order to eat in such restaurant and of course I was one of them. When I observed such interesting scene, nobody in the restaurant was actually ordering just $1 dumplings but a table full of food and I mean nobody! By now, you should get what I mean. Though the other food is just average, the Door Opener Dumplings are bringing huge Profit to the Shanghais restaurant.
  • Comments: You must ensure the perceived value of the Door Opener Product is at high cost and it can achieve good customer satisfaction. Otherwise, the door will never be opened!

2. Multiplying Effect
– When all of your products and services are inter-related or inter-dependent, your customers are likely to buy from you the second product/service than your neighboring shop in order to minimize risks and complication. Also, Convenience is a big governing factor for customer buying behavior. A supermarket is a very good example of convenience buying. You maybe buying a pack of gum in the beginning but you may end up buying a trolley of items! Therefore, even you maybe selling something with a small value in the beginning, the Multiplying Effect can be huge for potential or future sales from the same customer if you can build up the Trust. Trust is very important in business and it will eventually turn into “Brand Preference” or “Customer Loyalty”


  • Example: Beauty and Hair Salons are often using such multiplying effect to increase their sales. You may originally ask for a simple treatment but you may end up spending a huge sum of money you would never thought of when you first walk into the shop!
  • Comments: Multiplying Effect may only happen if products and services are related which can be “Cross-Selling”. Otherwise, the buying desire of your customers may not be so easily influenced as you would with the same product category.

3. Packaging – there are 2 ways of Packaging your products and services that you can consider. First, you can put different but related products to produce a Package for sale and sell for a higher value though it is still discounted. The advantage of this is that you are actually helping customers to mix and match ideas that they may not think of at the time of buying without the packages. Automatically, you are creating a Multiplying Effect. Second, you can Package the same raw materials to produce multiple combinations of products. The advantage of this is that you can ensure your raw materials will not be constraint by certain products when demands are not reaching their goals. In both cases, you can increase sales of the slow moving items as well as expand your overall sales per purchase.

  • Example: Set lunches or set dinners are classic examples for Packaging in sales and marketing terms. Diners maybe given a couple of choices for appetizer and main entrée but they do not need to choose a la carte. The restaurant is actually selling more food at a lower price but sales amount is higher than just selling the main entrée!
  • Example: A very popular dessert shop, there must be over 30 different kinds of drinks and sweet soaps they are selling. When I look carefully on their menu, no matter hot or cold, more than half of their offerings are merely different combinations of the same ingredients. This is a great example on how to Package your offerings!
  • Comments: You have to be very creative when you come to do Packaging. You will be surprised by how much your customers may enjoy by your Packages! You just need to follow your own desire in imaging how would you like to see the Packages if you are a customer.

4. Consumables & Repurchase – Repeatable business is a key success model to many businesses. If you can make your products or services to become re-purchasable or with recurrence payments, this will bring you not only growth but compounded growth. The classic example is ink or toner for printers. The selling price for printers are decreasingly lower than the early days but ink and toners are still significantly expansive when compared with the price drop of printers. Other examples can be paper towel mops, staples & staplers, paid channels on Broadband TV services.

  • Comments: Not every product and service may use this kind of synergizing technique. However, my recommendation is to be open to your business. Sometime, you just need to take a simple action in order to create your repeatable business.

Synergizing your products and services are very important if you want to grow your sales with highest Return On Investment (ROI). If you can master these techniques even you are a new comer to the market, you can still create a very competitive position for yourself! So, Get Synergized!

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!

Magical Top Three Things – Priority Setting for SME

By Matthew Kwan
Principal Consultant, Adams Company Limited
© Copyright. May 14, 2007

Managing time and priority in SMEs is extremely challenging as it is largely due to the fact that resources are limited and things have to do are so many. SMEs have no exemption from doing Sales & Marketing, keeping Accounts, managing Personnel and Office Administrations and yet at the same time keeping all Operations running smoothly.

One very simple way of priority setting I learnt during my Intel days is to always ask ourselves which are the most important Top Three Things (I call it as 3T from here on) at any given moment. Why it is so magical about 3T is once you ask this question, then you don’t have many choices in setting your priorities. Naming your top 3T does not mean you need to ignore all other important things you have to do, but rather keeping yourself stayed above the water with all the things needed to be accomplished in a timely fashion.

I understand that every opportunity is important to SMEs but if we cannot even handle 3 things at a time, we just have to simply “say no” or push out things to allow enough time and resources to deal with 3 things first.

Before I go in details, there are some rules that we may follow when we are using this 3T approach:

We only select the most important 3 things at a given moment; hence the list will change subject to the change of moment.
The given moment can be within next hour, next day, next week, next month, next year and so forth…
Before we can decide which are the most important 3 things, we should have a clear idea in mind what are things are required to complete by when across the board including Sales & Marketing, Accounting, Personnel & Admin and Operations…etc
Deadline is a good indicator for setting priorities of things but I would rather use “Impact of failure” to decide the priorities. The bigger the impact, the higher the priority it should be!

With the above rules in mind, now I want to list a few sample questions that we may ask ourselves when choosing our 3T in different aspects of our business affair. I am sure you can add other relevant questions to the list!

- Which top 3 customers or market segments that will bring majority of our revenue?
- Which are the top 3 deals in this moment can bring higher income to the company?
- Who are our top 3 competitors in the market in the specific product segments?

- Which top 3 products/services of our company have higher growth potential?
- Which top 3 media are most cost effective to support our sales?
- Which top 3 marketing channels can help our products/services get more awareness in the market?

Finance & Accounting
- What are the top 3 accounting gaps that our company is facing most challenges?
- What are the top 3 financial issues in our company may hinder our growth most?
- What are the top 3 areas that we can improve our accounting accuracy?

Personnel & Office Administrations
- What are the top 3 requirements we want most in an opening job position?
- What are the top 3 problems that may deteriorate our working environment?
- What are the top 3 areas that can motivate our workforce?

- Which top 3 top 3 processes may need attention in order to improve efficiency?
- What are the top 3 issues that may hinder our overall productivity?
- What are the top 3 areas may need to increase resources?

The ability of identifying our 3T is not difficult to learn but whether we can master this art is a matter of discipline. It is so easy to make a plan without any desire of execution. I have experienced this fact myself and witness many other fellow SMEs failing in doing so very often! Therefore, my advice is making your 3T list as open as possible to your stakeholders including employees, business partners and to certain extends your customers. In such case, we may ask our stakeholders help and safe guard our 3T as well as to avoid false expectation or false understanding of our priorities. 3T may not solve all our priority conflicts but it should give us a good guideline when to distinguish our top 3 priorities when we are so buried in our work with confusion!

Effective target marketing skills for SMEs

By Matthew Kwan
Principal Consultant, Adams Company Limited
© Copyright. March 29, 2007

No matter companies big or small, marketing is always not cheap. Not only money you have to spend, but also resources to execute. Moreover, it is extremely hard to measure your success and return-on-investments (ROI). Therefore, it is very important for SMEs to have very clear ideas in mind what they need to do with marketing in order to remain competitive and yet maximizing their return with limited money and resources.

Here, I am summarizing the most important areas that SMEs should consider when they plan and do any marketing in an effective and target way:

Alliances – run marketing activities with your partners and maximize costs & resources
Benefits – always highlight your product/service’s benefits and values
Concentrate – focus 80% effort on the most strategic 20% of products/services
Dynamics – leverage your products/services strength to gain the maximum return
Environment – ready to adapt changes of business environment and ecosystem

It is so easy for anyone to think and act in silo. However, with SMEs money and resources are limited, we really need to look out and find partners that are complementary to our business and do co-marketing activities with them. Not only it is a cost-effective thing to do but also it creates synergy and excitement to our customers as they may get better and more complete solutions to fulfill their needs. With combined forces,

  • We have much stronger bargaining power with the advertising agencies & channels
  • We present a much more prominent presence and image to our customers
  • We may broaden our reach to potential customers that are previously covered only by our partners

If you do not know where to start, just try to work with some professional organizations, chambers of commerce and some other associations that your potential customers may belong to.

Too often we market our products/services with functions and features without really telling our potential customers the benefits and values of our products/services. Customer buying behavior typically is based on how fulfilling is the product/service to their immediate needs. Any good product/service need to address the needs of the customers by their values and not the functions or features. Customers are generally willing to even pay more if they get the perceived values and benefits they want. One simple way to check your marketing message to see whether it is addressing the benefits and values is to ask if the customer would miss anything for not buying your products/services. Some examples of the answers should be:

  • The customers are missing the opportunity to solve their problem or address their needs
  • The customers are missing the chance to save money or to earn time
  • The customers are missing the wave to catch up with the season or the trend

It is not easy at first when you try to write your marketing message and addressing your customers’ needs but it is absolutely essential if you want to differentiate your products/services with so many competitors out there!

Many of us have learned about the 80-20 rule but always do not know how to apply in real lives. I have seen many cases with SME’s they are trying so hard to get every possible income for the company but losing their focus to get maximum return from their core competency. Let me be a little bit more elaborate on this, we should really focus 80% of our effort/ money/ resources on top 20% of our products or services that are helping us to gain 80% return of our income. Obviously, it is just an indication but not an absolute rule, some may use 65% effort to gain 80% return…. etc. However, when we find ourselves using 50% effort in dealing with or promoting the bottom 20% of products/services, there must be something wrong with our time and resources management. It is a very loud alarm that we should be alert! So some basic questions to ask are:

  • What are our top 20% strategic products/services that are generating 80% revenue? How much time, money, man power are we spending in promoting this 20%?
  • What are the bottom 20% products/services we can put aside and not market now?

If we can master this 80-20 rule well in our business both sales and marketing, I am sure we can progress our business at a faster rate than we can imagine!

When we market our products and services, we should really try to leverage the strengths of all different products and services, so that our customers can relate them easily without thinking. It is very expansive to build individual brands for different products and it is an art to manage brands well. My recommendation to SMEs is to avoid as much as possible of introducing new brands unless absolutely required. However, the whole process should start when product/service managers and research & development managers decide which products/services to be launched to the market. Hence, when we launch new products and services, we should ask ourselves that:

  • Whether the new products/services are complementing the existing products/services? Can we do bundled sales?
  • Can we use an overall umbrella brand to cover both existing and new products/services?
  • Do the new products/services differentiate themselves well enough that customers will not be confused?

I can guaranteed you that creating dynamics for your products/services is very exciting especially when you see they are really helping each other to sell and grow.

Business world changes every second, we have to be ready and adapt changes as soon as required. We cannot blindly repeat what we have been doing in the past. We should be willing to change according to the environmental changes. The ecosystem of the environment changes so fast, our customers, competitors, channels, complementors may not be there forever. We have to keep our eyes open and keep reviewing our marketing strategy by challenging ourselves to see if our marketing strategy really fitting to the real world! Here are some of the principles:

  • We should stop using the same advertisement or we should make changes to the advertisement if there is no response from customers for a period of time
  • We should use different marketing channels to test out the best responses and cost-effectiveness
  • We should pay extra attention if there are seasonal effect to customer buying behavior…e.g. beginning and end of fiscal year, major holiday seasons…etc

The business environment is so volatile, no one can completely grasp the real situation but if we are diligent enough to notice, monitor and apply changes accordingly, we can make crisis to opportunities!

In summary, we must be ready to adapt changes in our business environment and willing to work with other alliances to create the maximum effect in marketing of highlighting the benefit/values of our most strategic products/services with most of our effort by leveraging the strengths of different products and services. It is a very exciting and interesting game we are in!

The 5C’s of Business Planning – Essentials for SME

By Matthew Kwan
Principal Consultant, Adams Company Limited
© Copyright. February 21, 2007

After having talked to many SME owners, I found a cruel phenomenon is that a lot of them are often ignorant for not going through any structured business planning process at all even having started their businesses for sometime. I am compelled to share this article as it is dear to my heart and I hope it may help SME owners in general.

As SME, you just cannot take chance to waste your limited capital on any undesirable investments. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to go through your business planning in a structured fashion in order to ensure you are making the right business decisions.

The 5C’s of Business Planning is actually a model that I combined from different business planning ideas and models. I think it is simple and easy enough to any SME owner to use without much effort. You just need to follow the steps and answer the questions honestly. Even you do not know the answers for the time being, you may just put “ACTION TO FIND OUT!” to continue and follow up later.

So, what are the 5C’s, they are Customers, Competitors, Complementors, Channels and Costs.

1. CUSTOMERS – It is not surprised to see this to be the first on the list but questions you should really ask are:

  • What are the industries or business segments that identify your customers?
  • What age, gender, education and income level that identify your customers or do it matter at all?
  • What countries and national boundaries that your customers operate?
  • What are the common characteristics that identify your customers? e.g. size of business, years of operation, number of employees…etc.
  • How big is the Total Available Market (TAM)? i.e. How many potential customers are there in your targeted market across the board?

COMMENTS: You should spend as much time as possible to go through this analysis of your customers as it will help you to uniquely identify your desired customers. Any future sales and marketing effort and resources should only be spent on your desired customers but not any customers.

2. COMPETITORS – As stated in Sun Tzu’s Art of War, “You will win every battle by knowing your enemies as well as yourself!” Just knowing the names of your competitors are not good enough, you should also ask:

  • Who are your direct competitors? i.e. they have similar products/services to your offerings?
  • Who are your indirect competitors? i.e. they have substitute products/services to your offerings?
  • What is the price ranges of your direct and indirect competitors?
  • What are the success factors of your direct and indirect competitors?
  • What additional product features or services areas that your competitors are offering over yours?
  • What marketing or promotion are your competitors doing?

COMMENTS: You should focus on those direct and indirect competitors of your desired customer segment. Some companies maybe doing similar business of yours but not necessarily are your competitors at all as they maybe focusing on very different customer segments.

3. COMPLEMENTORS – Alliances is a topic getting more and more attention in the business world. The way Steven Covey’s “Seven habits of highly effective people” put it is “To Think Win-Win”. For example, a digital camera company is a complementor to battery cell companies as well as digital memory companies. So the basic questions to ask are:

  • Who are the companies or organizations that your products/services will benefit from the sales/growth of their products/services?
  • Who are the companies or organizations that their products/services will benefit from the sales/growth of your products/services?
  • COMMENTS: Working with other companies requires a lot of effort and sometime you may even have to give in for relationship building but strong alliances will definitely help you to grow your business in a faster rate than you could do it on your own. So it is worth spending time and effort in finding and building your complementors!

4. CHANNELS – Without properly identifying your channel players even you have great products and services, they can only be sold in a contained environment! The idea of channels is very abstract and you have to have a clear mind when answering these questions:

  • Who else can help you to sell your products/services to your desired customer segment? (Typically, these are your resellers but sometimes your customers can be a very effective selling channel of yours!)
  • Who may already have strong relationship to your desired customer segment that they can market your products/services for you? (Very often, your complementors and your field workers are your very strong marketing channels!)

COMMENTS: You need to build a very good framework and sales kits in order to manage your channels well as channels are very often opportunistic as your business is not necessary their primary priority!

5. COSTS – Pricing is an art and it governs everything about your profit and loss accounts in your books before you sell any product/service to your desired customers. You really have to be extremely sensitive to this topic and careful to take a balance to ensure your success in sales. So you should ask:

  • How much is the maximum can your customers afford to pay for your products/services?
    b. How much is the minimum you are willing to selling your products/services to your customers?
  • How much more/less you want to charge over your competition and why is so?
  • What discount rate are you willing to give to your customers if they are buying in quantity?
  • What margin or percentage discount are you prepared to give to your channel resellers?

COMMENTS: Cash flows should be your topmost concern. Under this consideration, you should really be aggressive enough to establish a good size of customer base by offering an attractive pricing over your competitions if you are new to the market. A good pricing strategy with channel support should help you to reach your goals in a faster pace.

In summary, the 5C’s of Business Planning is just a model for you to go through your business planning in a structured way. You should use it to ratify your business decisions. There are no model answers to the questions being raised above but definitely the answers will change over time as your business progresses. Therefore, constant review of your business using this model is required in order to reflect the changes of the kind of dynamic market situations we are in today and ever!

5C而後行: 中小企業務計劃絕招


2007年1月12 (c) 版權所有


那麼,甚麼是5Cs?這是指客戶(Customers)、競爭對手(Competitors)、輔助者(Complementors)、渠道 (Channels) 和成本 (Costs)。

A. Customers 客戶:- 這項首先出現在名單上是毫不讓人感到奇怪。你需要問以下的問題:
1) 你的大多數客戶是來自哪些行業環節?
2) 你能確定你客戶的年齡、性別、教育或收入水平?這是重要的嗎?
3) 你的客戶是來自特定的國家或地區?
4) 你的客戶有沒有共同特點?舉例來說,業務的規模、開業的時間和員工人數等。
5) 到底目標市場有多大 (Total Available Market,TAM)?在你的目標市場中到底有多少潛在客戶?

B. Competitors 競爭對手:- 孫子兵法有云:「知己知彼百戰百勝」。知道你競爭對手的姓名並不足夠,你亦必須問:

1) 誰是你的直接競爭對手?他們有否提供跟你相類似的產品或服務呢?
2) 誰是你的間接競爭對手?他們是否有替代或媲美你提供的產品或服務呢?
3) 你直接和間接競爭對手的價格範圍是多少?
4) 你直接和間接競爭對手的成功因素是甚麼?
5) 甚麼額外產品功能或服務領域是你的競爭對手正在提供超越你的呢?
6) 你的競爭對手在做甚麼的市場促銷活動呢?

C. Complementors 補充者:- 在商業世界裡,搭配越來越受到更大的關注。Steven Covey的「高效人士的7種習慣」將它形容為「想像雙贏」。舉例來說,一間電子數碼相機公司可以是電池公司,以及數碼記憶體公司的補充者,因此一些基本問題要問的是:

1) 誰是公司或組織受惠於你的產品或服務的銷售或營業增長?
2) 誰是公司或組織受惠於他們的產品或服務的銷售或營業增長?
D. Channels 渠道:- 如果沒有適當列明你的所需渠道,即使你有極好的產品和服務,這些亦只能在一個狹窄的環境中銷售!理想的渠道是很抽象的,而你在回答這些問題時必須有一個明確的態度:

1) 有誰可以幫你銷售你的產品或服務到你的目標客戶群?(在通常情況下,這些人都是你們的經銷商,但有時候你的客戶可以是你一個非常有效的銷售渠道。)
2) 誰可能已經跟你的目標客戶群有了牢固的合作關係,這樣可以使你的產品或服務有了市場定位?(很多時候,你的補充者和你的前線員工會是你非常有力的營銷渠道!)

E. Costs 成本:- 定價是一門藝術,它主宰一切,在你銷售任何產品或服務給你的目標客戶群前,定價會決定你的盈利和虧損帳。你對這個題目真的要非常敏銳,並謹慎地尋求平衡,以確保你的銷售成功。因此,你應該問:
1) 你的產品或服務在你的客戶承擔能力內最高能叫價多少?
2) 你願意將你的產品或服務賣給你的客戶最低價是多少?
3) 在有競爭之下,你想賺多些還是少些,為甚麼會這樣?
4) 如果你的客戶大批入貨,你願意給與甚麼折扣率?
5) 你準備給你的渠道經銷商多少折扣率或幅度?



Maximizing dollars on Web marketing – SME primer

By Matthew Kwan © Copyright. All rights reserved.
Principal Consultant, Adams Company Limited

January 26, 2007

With the advance of Internet and broadband connection, shopping behavior of most people nowadays has changed dramatically over the last decade. Suddenly, your company’s Web presence has become the gauging factor to the success of your company, SME is no exception!

So how can you maximize your dollars on Web marketing to get the best return on investment? Is there any ways that you can ensure the money is right spent? I am going to share here an “IDEAL” model that you may consider to follow:

  • I – Identify Your Customers
  • D – Decide Your Budget
  • E – Experiment Your Options
  • A – Assess Your Results
  • L – Leverage Others

1. Identify Your Customers
Any marketing books will tell you this same thing – first and foremost, you need to know who your customers are. That may seem obvious but sometimes we are just missing the target without really thinking through the process. It is not so much who exactly your customers are but what are their shopping behaviors and desires on prices, trends, attributes of products/services, other complementary products/services that will help your sales…etc You really have to spend time to analyze your customers, even getting market data to support your analysis. Without these data, I can guaranteed you that you will waste money on your marketing effort!

2. Decide Your Budget
Your marketing budget should not be fixed and it should be as dynamic as possible. Deciding your budget should be a process with reference to the return of sales enquiries through the use of the budget. For new start up companies I suggest to go a little bit more aggressive for the initial period until you are comfortable with the good sales pipeline. By aggressive, I do not mean to spend a lot but allow good amount of money for you to use with caution. The right amount should be relative to your company cash flow, you just should not spend more than you can afford. My hint to this is to include your marketing budget of your initial period to be part of your initial capital investment and the subsequent budgets to be part of your sales expense. In this way, you do not have to worry too much of you initial marketing budget becoming a burden to your expense in your overall cash flow planning.

3. Experiment Your Options
There are just too many options for Web marketing. You need to list them down and give them some priority and assign budget according to their priorities. However, with SME’s, I suggest to spend your dollars on proactive searching rather than mass advertising as it is too expensive to do. So here are some of the proactive searching options for your reference:

  • Search Engines: Yahoo and Google is the most widely used search engine these days in Hong Kong. Actually, you do not have to pay a lot in order to get started. For example, you just need to deposit HK$240 to Yahoo and start your keyword search sponsor link instantly. However, deciding which keywords to be used does required some good thought. My personal experience tells me that you are better off by including your city and product/service category in a phrase to avoid paying unnecessary amount of money to compete with the big company with tons of marketing budget. In such a way, the charge will be a lot cheaper than a standalone keyword. E.g. “cheap business service in Hong Kong” This actually makes a lot of sense as more and more people are searching by phrase rather than simply a keyword. Do remember that the keyword list must be revised constantly to get the best results.
  • Web Directories: most portal sites would have business directory sections that you can post your company information on them. A lot of these sites are still free of charge and welcome your postings. E.g. Yahoo, Timway, Trade Development Council, SMEcare.com…etc. However, it may take longer time to get your company information posted depending on each portal’s schedule.
  • Auction Sites: Yahoo, eBay, Red-dots, Go2HK are some of the popular auction sites in Hong Kong. Some SME companies are actually operating entirely using these sites to generate their sales. You may just need to pay very little per transaction to start selling.
  • Blogs/Discussion Groups: Blogs are getting very popular and if you can identify your customer interests, you should try to become members of their Blogs and Discussion Groups communities. After joining, you can post messages and point people to your websites for product/service information and etc. Most of these communities are free to join. On the other hand, setting up a blog of your own is very easy and it takes no time. By doing so, you are setting up a community of your own. The only matter is to maintain the content and keep it alive. It is very labor intensive to keep it living if you are not good at sharing thoughts!
  • YouTube: YouTube is a video broadcasting website and it has become so popular that you should consider using it as part of your web marketing strategy. There are actually SME companies using it as a mean of product introduction, training and even customer service due to its popularity and free of charge nature.

4. Assess Your Results
As mentioned above, you should spend your marketing budget wisely by assessing the results regularly. Most Search Engines will have tools to help you to generate reports for your analysis. However, these reports are only meaningful if you are tracking in parallel how your sales and enquires are being done through which web channel. It takes good discipline in doing so! To start with, I suggest to do daily and weekly review to ensure money is wisely spent.

5. Leverage Others
No matter your business is selling products or providing services, you will always have companies which may complement your products/services. My recommendation is that you should try your best in getting these companies to list and link your company website in their website as partner or show in related links. You should also do the same thing for them vice versa. In this way, you are building a network of alliances and I find it a very effective way to build both awareness and credibility.


Web marketing is an art and it takes time and effort to perfect. In this Internet age, we just do not have an option of opting out of Web marketing. However, if you are willing to try, practice will make perfect and you will certainly find reward f

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!


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。


1 天:一間公司誕生了!


  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

  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!