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.

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!

Sales
- 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?

Marketing
- 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?

Operations
- 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?

Summary
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!

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!