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When You’re Capped In Your Business… But Want To Make More.

When you’re capped– on time, on your business bandwidth– but want to make so much more….

This is something that many high performing entrepreneurs have a hard time talking about with anyone. And there are two reasons behind this:

  1. Seeming ungrateful: Many businesses and CEO’s aren’t blessed to have a solid flow of customers and remain at “barely getting by” level. So you feel uncomfortable saying things such as “I have more customers than I can handle” or “I want to make more” because they’ll get salty.

  2. The solutions that you are provided don’t solve the issue in the short-term: Because this isn’t a problem that most businesses go through, and many of the programs / mentorships available don’t focus on the capacity aspect of businesses, the suggestion that they give you to remove that income ceiling (ex. Investing into paid traffic, creating passive income products, hiring more people) do not work fast enough.

But mostly? Almost everyone forget to focus on the core, immediate, issue that happens to businesses that are experiencing the capacity issue.

If a business is “capped”, that means they have to turn away clients.

Even though that really establishes the fact that your business is highly in demand, and there are mechanisms such as deposits and waitlists that you can set up to remedy that… It still also means turning away money.

(I haven’t met any CEO’s that said no to more money– even non profits).

So I wanted to discuss the 3 areas that you should take a look BEFORE going ahead with making any changes. But fair warning, unless your business is already set up with 10+ full time employees with many of them within a strategic operations role, I suggest do NOT delegate this as nobody else in your organization are able to think from a strategic point of view like you can… They’ll miss the mark.

  1. Contribution:
    • When evaluating this area, you want to ask yourself, “what’s going on in my business in terms of the services / product fulfillment? Is it the fastest path to my revenue goal?”. I’ve seen so many service-based CEO’s that claim that they want to scale their businesses to 7-8 figures… Except everything that they were doing was COMPLETELY missing the mark.
    • The types of client projects that they were contributing to, how they were marketing their businesses, where they’re investing their time and money, how they were pricing their services etc… (I’ve seen one brilliant individual that was turning away $100k projects, because they were so booked with $5k projects… ). The time + effort + monetary contributions going in MUST be the most direct path towards the revenue goal. Looking at this aspect solves the income ceiling issues for most of the CEO’s.

  2. Bandwidth:
    • This is something that many done-for-you services agencies have a problem with. But looking at this area involves knowing the number of projects / clients that your firm actively serves at one time, the scopes required, and how much operational resources (time, money, staff etc) are available at your disposal. If what’s supposed to be a 3 month project takes 5 months, that means you need to examine the scope. If projects are getting done in time, your team members are doing their parts, but you find yourself doing most of the work? That means you might need to look at your team members’ roles… And so on.

  3. Demand:
    • This area is about looking at how many clients are actively seeking your services / products, and how many prospects are in the pipeline or on the waitlist compared  to how many clients can be served (which you should have looked at in #2).
    • If there’s a huge discrepancy between how many clients can be served and how many clients are seeking your services… It either means you need to create more room to serve them (create more supply), OR, increase your pricing to reduce the number of people coming (reduce demand). It’s simple economics at play for this area, so don’t overthink it!

Hope this serves you!

(P.S: If you don’t want to go through this alone, my company could do it for you, subject to our availability. Just click on the hyperlink 🙂

3 Lessons You Can Learn From Volkswagen’s New Brand Launch

On February 26th, 2019, Volkswagen announced that JETTA will become a new Volkswagen brand in China. This is the first time in the company history for a car model to be shifted into an entirely new company. will allow the company to expand its market share in China.

 

Here are 3 lessons you can learn from Volkswagen’s new brand launch.

 

(1) Evaluate your target market based on growth potential and track record:

Volkswagen’s sales within the Asia-Pacific region has grown steadily in the last 10 years. In the last year, 3.1 million vehicles has been sold in China alone and allowed the company to gain market share while other automotive companies were not able to.

 

JETTA targets middle-class Chinese millennials that are first time car buyers that are looking for reliable car at an entry level price. 81% of buyers that are buying from the entry-level segment are first time car buyers.

 

With JETTA’s being known as a great value for money car, the company’s top of volume approach for the brand, and the target segments’ needs combined, this shows that the company picked the best target market possible– that also happens to stay lucrative due to the market’s growth potential. And the sales volume from the last year shows that.

 

(2) Diversify your product portfolio:

 

Volkswagen’s product line is already quite diverse itself to fulfill different buyers’ needs, which allowed their sales figures to rise consistently in the last 10 years without decline.

 

JETTA was designed to be an affordable, compact, mid-high sedan that will contribute to the Volkswagen’s product portfolio revenue through its top sales volume.

 

The new models are being developed under a joint-venture partnership with FAW, Chinese automobile manufacturer. JETTA will be releasing two new SUV models and a sedan model at an entry segment price to accommodate first time buyers– influenced by that the fact that SUV sales account for 50% of total car sales and JETTA’s reputation.

 

This will allow JETTA to be able to cater to different segments within their target audience with the new brand while exploiting possible market opportunities– following the practice that served the Volkswagen umbrella for many years.

 

(3) Create a sales strategy that works for the audience:

Traditionally, sales for mass-produced vehicles have only been initiated by customers– by them walking into the dealership. JETTA is no exception to that. The brand plans to have 200 dealership locations (up and running by the end of the year), and also include a display model in shopping malls, mobile sales trucks and even digital showrooms.

 

According to Deloitte’s 2018 Global Automotive Consumer Study, 60% of car buyers want to cut out dealerships entirely while purchasing a car and buy directly. Such change in buyer’s purchase habits might bring down many car companies’ sales, even if a majority of sales will come from the dealerships.

 

JETTA’s sales strategy is multi-faceted and expands beyond dealerships. This will not only protect the brand from possible loss in dealership sales, but also allow the brand to get in front of potential buyers in both offline and online medium– allowing increased brand awareness and possibly allow the potential buyers to approach the brand first.

 

When Having Team Members Adds More To Your To-Do List (Instead of Freeing it Up)

In a Facebook group that I frequently hang out in, there was this question.

“Every meetings, my to-do list grows by like 30 items, all across different departments. That’s challenging. Team takes a lot off my plate but also adds a lot. Any tips on solving this?”

— A post from Millennial Entrepreneur Community

With systems and team building being something right up my alley, I wrote a relatively long response to this thread and wanted to share it on here as well.


REASONS BEHIND THIS:

(1) Failing at prioritizing

(2) Team does not have enough mechanisms to become completely self sufficient (whether in terms of their authority, quality assurance, their supervisors’ management style etc)

(3) Lack of communication.

(4) Incompetent team members whether in terms of skillsets etc.

THE IMMEDIATE RESPONSE:

As entrepreneurs, we’re being taught to delegate / stick within our zone of genius– and outsource the rest. So many respond by simply hiring more people (whether a “right hand’ such as online business manger or a project manager or even another entry level position). However, if you already have a few existing team members, this should NOT be your 1st go-to solution.

WHY THAT IMMEDIATE RESPONSE DOESN’T WORK:

No matter how good the team member is, for the first 2-3 months, they’ll NEED that consistent feedback + monitoring + time to learn about your vision etc.

You’ll need to make that time to check in and train them etc– which just adds to to-do list as a whole. If you have a few team members already, only hire when you know how to remedy the root cause of the issue (that I mentioned above) + are absolutely sure that existing team members don’t have that skill already + you know EXACTLY where and how you want your team member to contribute…

Know the overall ROI– the impact of their work on your to-do list, on your bottomline etc. 

WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND:

CEO is the visionary + head of the company. And your team, teams, departments etc, should be designed + given enough tools to be able to put you outside of that direct day-to-day supervisor role. (Unfortunately most entrepreneurs end up becoming that direct day-to-day supervisor role and can’t scale as fast as they could).

** I always tell my clients to systematize + automate first BEFORE hiring new people– often, through putting these things into processes + some research, they realize they might actually be able to promote internally, or actually end up automating things to a point where they can divert the team members’ hours onto something else more revenue focused.

WHEN SHOULD PROJECT MANAGER COME IN THEN?:

Project managers (PM)”s are best suited to manage multiple different PROJECTS– budgeting, planning, scope determination, quality check for each projects etc… They might have the skillsets to be able to do the same for overall organization but it’s not recommended as project management is just a small discipline of operations management; and they’d need to shift back and forth between different lenses

(We’re talking the details for a few major projects / launches VS overall organization’s budget, hiring etc. That’s a very different scope and degree of thinking required. The latter would be more fitting for a director, COO etc.

YOUR GAME PLAN:

(1) Go back to your drawing board, and look at your quarterly goals, the projects you had in mind etc. Break it down into different tasks, deliverables, SPI’s. Assign the appropriate portions to each team members. THIS IS WHERE YOU CONSULT YOUR PROJECT MANAGER.

(2) You’ve taken care of projects. So let’s look at the organization itself. Make a list of every single tasks + activities around everything. Mark down any recurring tasks. There should be ranges across different functions (HR, marketing etc). 

(3) Start putting these major tasks into processes / systems. Whether a checklist, SOP, a recorded tutorial… DO SOMETHING. While documenting these, make sure to list out what role is involved in each part of the process. Design these in a way where you or any “supervisor” comes in only at the end or for quality check. And also put some sort of evaluative criteria within these systems as well so that you know the standard they should go for. 

(4) By now, you know what special projects that your team members are working on– along with their daily tasks. Look at what kind of tasks they’re taking on a regular basis. Start introducing them to these SOP’s. Ask them to make any modifications as needed. Also, feel free to interview any of the team members just to get to know their background or the skills that they’re learning. 

(5) Evil laugh as your to-do list starts to shrink. Observe the progress as needed. Feel free to bring on more people as needed.


Hope this was helpful!

What should I set up first? Systems? Teams?

For entrepreneurs that are ready to truly scale with the help of right systems, automations and team, the question of “what am I setting up first? Systems? Teams?”  seems like a chicken and a egg dilemma. So I wanted to take this mini post to share my take on this.

This’ll apply mostly for the

My take? You systematize first. Period.

Here’s why.

Delegate what you don’t know” might not always work without a few things:

  • You hired people BEFORE setting up proper systems with the hopes that they’d figure out what you need, create them for you… So that you don’t have to worry about it– to stay in your zone of genius. This makes sense in a theory if it’s around something that just would not be within your zone of genius or you have no idea how it works. However… Here are some of the many things that you might not have accounted for:

    • Delegation plan: What kind of tasks and what portion of the project am I going to be delegating? How would I communicate this to them?

    • Tools for success: Did I give them enough resources and tools to be able to succeed at their job? How much do they know about the tasks and projects that they’ll be working on? How do I keep them in loop? Are they clear on the standards that they have to meet?

    • Commitment: What’s their existing workload like with their own projects but also for the other people’s projects? Is my information and other aspects of my business that I want to keep confidential, safe with them? Are they looking to just build their own business?


It’s much easier to track quality.

  • You (and/ or your right hand person who’ll oversee these matters as your company grows) NEED to know what you need done and what’s required to complete the job so that you don’t get screwed over. With everything systematized in advance, you’ll be able to:

    • Track the completion of any involved tasks
    • Estimate the duration
    • Find rooms for improvement (whether in terms of the number of components involved in task completion, or duration etc)
  • As well, it’ll give you a better bird eye view to help you make better decisions. Whether it’s about briefing your team members, displaying a line of communication, or explaining a big vision to your team member, there’s a minimal guess work involved in terms of relaying of the message.  

However, the biggest reason? You’ve already made a mistake before. You’ve already went with the “hire the team first” approach before– except it didn’t quite work out in a way where you wanted it to be for various reasons (whether you felt more stressed about figuring out how to delegate what you want them to do, baby sitting etc).

By systematizing first, it’ll even pinpoint out where things didn’t work out the first time– and give you ideas on how to do it better. In fact, you might even find the ways to automate certain tasks and find out that you can make your team members do things that make much bigger impact to your revenue generating activities– accompanied by much more concise plan of how you’ll leverage their talents (which helps them to understand what you want them to do, and do a better job as a result).

It’s a win win.

3 Things Gurus Will Not Tell You: Scaling Your Business

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They don’t tell you what it REALLY means to have an automated business.

If your business is TRULY automated, your business should be able to run– without you being a part of the picture and not take a hit on the revenue: EVEN IF you have to step away from your business for a long time.

If you can’t walk away from your business for a week, 2 weeks or even a month WHILE knowing that your profit will generally be the same (or better), emails will be answered, and things will be done etc… Then it means your business is NOT automated– regardless of what you’ve been told in the past.

Passive income products (memberships, funnels, courses etc) does NOT mean automated business. It simply means that the promotions + sales + offer delivery process itself is passive (as it doesn’t involve you being on livestream 24/7). It doesn’t mean your workload will be passive. In fact, you’ll be putting in a LOT more time, energy and monetary resources in creating these passive income products (figuring out the funnel, making the product / service, testing, investing $ into audience building). As well, if your business is 100% based on launches… What happens if launch fails?

They don’t tell you what it REALLY means to be a CEO.

People are comfortable enough to say “I run my own company”, “I’m self- employed” etc— but do not fully embrace the term “CEO (Chief Executive Officer)” due to company size, not a strong business background etc. By not embracing the term “CEO”, even if you’re aware that you’re the head of your company, you aren’t recognizing your responsibilities of making sound managerial decisions that comes with the title.

Many gurus and mentors only focus on the upsides of being a CEO on their social media platforms and marketing materials such as first class flights, working by the beach with a laptop etc. This representation does a good job of showing the “perks” that come from having a successful company after YEARS of hard work.

Most people don’t show (nor want to discuss) the responsibilities involved in being a head of a company— and when asked, they shrug off as they say “I just do whatever I want, and let everyone else take care of things”. They do not mention the “dark sides” at all. This means they leave out details such as:

  1. They often need to work outside of regular business hours to execute their ideas (and if you take the approach of “no planning / do whatever”, even if you might enjoy the work, you won’t be able to predict your work hours).
  2. There are situations where what they’d personally do VS what they should do as a good CEO is completely different (firing a team member, letting go of a joint venture partner, horrible customer experience etc).
  3. When your business grows too fast WITHOUT back-end processes that allow your business to be self sufficient.. It’ll destroy your business’s long term growth… and business as a whole. 
Kauffman Foundation and Inc. Magazine’s follow up studies of companies that appeared in 5000 fastest growing companies showed that 2/3 of the companies that made the list gone out of business, shrunk in size or were sold disadvantageously.

The system they tell you to put in place are NOT enough to get you to where you want to be.

Regardless of what way you are taught to run your business, these are the systems (or “automations”) that you’re taught to have: sales funnels, calendar, email sequences, checkout pages, facebook advertisements, launching systems and a virtual assistant.

These are all great and needed. The systems that they tell you to put in place are lead generation and marketing systems. They are crucial as it boosts your bottom line— but are a small part of an equation. But 99% of people you follow (even the ones who works with systems / automations) will end at these. They won’t go further. This is a quick screenshot (gif) of one of our systems checklist that we use to perform business audits. There’s a LOT!

There are many reasons behind why many gurus don’t tell you these (wanting to keep things positive, marketing strategy, they themselves not being aware of this etc). However, for someone that needs to go REALLY big in their business, it’s important to have a full picture of what’s involved to build a successful business that runs by itself. Hope this helps you!

How it all began…

Quite frankly, entrepreneurship was NOT a part of original life plan! I just wanted to be a musician– but I realized that the likelihood of me “getting discovered”, get a smashing record deal, and all that fun stuff… Was very likely not going to happen for a very long time.

So I had to think of a backup plan– something that’d allow me to control my own schedule and make my own living with.

That’s when the idea of entrepreneurship sparked up, and when it did, I dove right in without any hesitation. I was 19.

I began to read up on every single articles, books that I could find. I began to download every single freebies that I could find. I began to follow a lot of successful online business figures. And when I was told to do something, I did it.

I was told to work 70+ hours a week. And focus. So I did that.

I was told to spend HOURS in Craigslist, Upwork etc, while charging extremely “competitively”. I did that.

I was told to do X, Y and Z. So I did.

ANNNNND….. Guess how much I made in that first quarter of business?

$29. (Yah… You can bet that some of my friends mocked me a bit– like I was working all the time and only made $29?!)

I felt crushed. I looked around, and felt even more miserable. It seemed as if I was the only one spending time, money in trying to make this all work. Was there something wrong with me? My mind went off into those endless trains of “maybe”s with the thoughts such as, “maybe I’m too stupid”, “maybe I’m not smart enough” etc. And I hated myself for not having enough academic brains to be able to get A+ average, and land great internships like most of my friends were.

My first year of business was endless cycle of those “maybe” thoughts, and feeling inadequate.

And eventually, I just stopped trying. It didn’t feel like it was all worth it.

So I gave up both my musical aspirations and entrepreneurship– I just wanted to stop chasing the impossible.

I went back to trying to do the regular university student thing. And in the process, I somehow landed a part-time corporate gig as a project administrative support at a non-profit. I kept on thinking in my head, “I won’t be able to do this entrepreneurship ever again. And probably not music either…”. And I decided to just settle with my new reality.

But who would’ve ever thought that my new reality, which involved one of the best corporate jobs that someone my age could ever ask for, would show me the way BACK to entrepreneurship? And music?

I was exposed to all sorts of theories and methodologies from all disciplines of operations (management information system, project management, management science, human resources, process management etc) and all the tools and processes involved in managing multi 6-figure projects. As well, I got to learn what needs to happen in order for an organization to run efficiently, as well as its projects.

I learned how different projects, and an organization as a whole, can operate and execute its projects in the most streamlined, and the most efficient way– and especially in a way to do it without breaking bank, without hiring an army of people and under huge time crunch. (#NonProfitProblems)

That’s when I realized… The whole “not working hard enough”, “not serious enough”, “not smart enough”.. The whole MAYBE and NOT ENOUGH thing? That was just all a ducking BS.

It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with my intelligence, work ethic etc. It was just that I had no idea how to run a business efficiently. At all.
I absorbed all these information from my job and my operations courses. Then, I transitioned into starting my own communications consulting firm, and spent countless hours to apply these principles in operating my own business.

Streamlining everything through workflows and processes. Picking up on tech once again. Automating as many things as possible. Outsourcing. Delegating. And rinsing and repeat that process.

That was the only solution I could think of- so that I can go through my undergrad (20-30 hours a week), keep my commitments as a musician (10 hours a week), work my corporate job (20 hours a week), stop telling my friends or family off because I’m working, run my business without losing my sanity during leftover hours, AND start making money.

I stopped having burn-outs. I no longer felt overwhelmed. I stopped spending so much money and time as a whole. I started having much more time in my hands, to a point where my friends were asking how I’m always so available.

I made peace with the friends I told off because I was so busy (we’re very close to this day). My family stopped feeling that they were being neglected. I even started doing better in school, in my corporate gig (they gave me a 25% raise), and even in my music career (my audience following doubled in 7 months on Instagram even though I was on it only 15 minutes a day).

Having a streamlined and automated business ecosystem changed everything. It saved my financial situation. My business. And it made my life much less stressful.

Product VS Service: How Each Businesses Should Run Differently

In this live stream replay, I discuss the difference between running a product-based business and service-based business. Too many times, I’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurs get confused as to how they should be running those types of business, or when to be adding in either aspects of the business. So I talk about what should be the first to work on, revenue strategy and all of that.

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