Posts Tagged ‘how to succeed in business’

Money Leeches in the Family?

If you have not yet read Part 2 of this article, please click here to read it now

In the last article, I talked about being aware and effectively stopping your Money Leeches!  Should a Money Leech appear who is NOT Immediate family, I recommend that you only offer P50 and not a Centavo more. Although it may seem very harsh, this is the first real step in getting your money to stay with you. Also remember, if you think you can’t do it, think about the welfare of your immediate family. Money leeches are not your burden, they are not your problem. Instead, think of them as “Money Management Tests”. If you are able to stop your leeches, you pass the test and you immediately get to the next level. Fail the test, then you will stay stuck where you are.

But what if the “Money Leech” is from immediate family? Like a brother or a sister or a parent, what then?

First, let me define what an “immediate family money Leech” is. — This is the brother or sister or parent that will habitually ask you for money. Most of the time, they even feel entitled to it because of the blood relationship they have with you. You know the type right?

Well, this is where it gets very sensitive for a lot of people. Everybody has a different opinion on this, but this is my clear cut view on it. Not all members of your immediate family have the same weight. You must prioritize who within your immediate family to be generous to first.

In my life, this is my prioritization: My first priority is to my wife and children, then my parents and then my siblings. And with that in mind, I give 90% of my money to my wife and children first, then the next 5% goes to me and the remaining 5% goes to a special fund just in case an immediate family needs it.

Side note: If you give 90% of your money to your wife / husband and children, make sure that it is not siphoned off by a relative of your wife/husband because they too may have a money leech or leeches. This is a concern of many married people as well. –Sit down and talk to your wife / husband about this if this is indeed the case with you. Your objective is to teach your spouse about money leeches and have a unified front against them.

Now, should there be a money leech in my immediate family the maximum amount of cash I or my wife gives is only the 5% of whatever we have at the time. Now depending on how much money you have right now, that can be very little or that can be very big, the point is, even if it is immediate family (outside of my wife and children) our cash generosity is budgeted, controlled and managed.

Another side note: If you are single, I do not suggest offering 90% to your immediate family unless you plan to never marry, still budget it to 5 to 10% because of 2 reasons: 1.) If you give more than that, you might not have a money leech now, but if they get used to it, you would have created a money leech down the road; And 2.) You need money for when you get married someday. If there was a major regret I had in my life, it was that, I didn’t plan financially when the time to marry the love of my life came along. Even though it worked out in the end, I could have planned so much better.

Make no mistake; my life’s wealth is meant for my immediate family. Everything I make and have is meant to be shared with them, and to give them a better life BUT if I have a Money Leech problem and do not budget, and control it. The Money Leech will most definitely bleed me dry financially as well, especially if it is family –and let me add, if you are married, a money leech in the immediate family, if not managed will DESTROY your marriage. Trust me; I’ve seen it happen to those very dear to me. This is why I urge you to understand what I am sharing. If nothing else, I want all of you to have a great and happy marriage.

Be Generous in the Right Way

Now some of you who have read up to this point might be having a violent reaction right now saying “I can’t just abandon my brother, sister, parents and just give them 5% if they desperately need the money??? If I do, I am not being a good son/daughter/ brother/sister, I am a Filipino, they are my blood, I must give!”

Okay, calm down before you decide that I am a heartless scrooge.

Remember that we are just talking about Money Leeches in the immediate family who “habitually” ask for money and even feel entitled to it. If they are not “leeching” you dry and they desperately need help and you can afford to do so then give what you can. But I suggest that you only do so once because if you give more than that, you are creating a money leech down the road.

I am a very generous person by nature. The problem that I had before was that I was generous in the wrong way.  Being overly generous with money, especially if you do not know how to manage it, is extremely dangerous and is a clear recipe for money running away from you instead of towards you.

So instead, what I learned to do, and what I want you to learn to do as well is to be extremely generous in the right way, and that is to be generous in “kind”. To explain this further, I will give you 2 assignments today.

Assignment 1: Read my past article entitled “Business Reciprocity”. Click Here To Read That Article. Then Comment on either that article or this one. Complain to me about the problems you have in completing the assignments. Believe me, I will read every single one — even yours and I promise that I will not ban you or even get mad at you when you do. It is all part of the process.

Assignment 2: Set a budget for your Family Leeches and stick to it. Create a script on how you will say it to them. You can email it to me if you want. Email to: markso@zerocapitalclub.com

Good luck and see you in the next article!

Author Box:

Mark So is a fervent businessman, Investor and educator.  He is the Chairman and CEO of Businessmaker Academy—a business, finance and corporate training center.  He is the founder and Chief Forex Trainer of Forex Club Asia, A Trading club of Forex Traders across Asia. He is also the Founder and Chief Trainer of the Philippine Franchise Institute which specializes in training and growing existing Franchise businesses.  A sought after speaker for business, investing, You may email your comments and questions to: mhso@businessmaker-academy.com or call the office at 6874445 / 6873416 / 6874645 for a schedule of his seminars

Today, I want to share a very special topic — How to make money run after you. This is a topic that I have never shared with the public before now. It is I believe something that anyone and everyone can and should benefit from, especially those who have been looking but could not yet to find a job. For those working very hard but still not having enough to make ends meet. For those who are stressed out with not having enough money, and are becoming desperate, this article is for you.

Don’t think for one second that because the world is in financial crisis that there is no more money going around, the truth is far from it. The fact is, the world is literally overflowing with money.  It may not seem like it to you right now my dear reader but read on and let me enlighten you.

Always remember this: Money is never destroyed, only transferred.

Wealth, on a daily basis is constantly being transferred from those who do not know how to handle money to those who know how. Even, and most especially, during financial crisis, does what I just said hold its truest meaning. My goal in this article is to make you one of those people where wealth is transferred to and not taken from.

First let me take the most recent financial crisis, break it down for you and explain how wealth was transferred in relatively simple terms, then let me show you the steps to take today so that we begin the process of “wealth flow”.  This article will be the first of a series, and after each article I will give you an activity or task to do. If you seriously want money to run after you, I strongly recommend that you follow the assignments for every article and give me feedback every step of the way.

In the most recent financial crisis in the US that started June of 2007 and reached its peak in October of 2008, the US stock market and consequently the Philippine Stock market had lost more than 50% of its value. Most people panicked and took out their money, or whatever that was left of it for fear of losing even more. When they did that, they lost half of their wealth in just a few short days, which took almost a lifetime to build. As of September 29, 2008 according to CNN money, approximately $1.2 Trillion dollars was wiped out in the US alone.

Let me repeat: The money was not lost. It was merely transferred.

During the same crisis, there were a few, very few brave souls who bought those stocks at extremely low prices. They held on to it, and became a whole lot richer overnight.

**Warning: Do not get overwhelmed with what I’m going to share next; Even if my examples are in Billions of US dollars, the principles that I want you to pick up, will and can be applied to your situation. Also, and more importantly, do not put in everything you have in any investment vehicle because of this. This is not the point of my example**

In the US, the most notable figure to do this of course was Warren Buffet who at the time bought a significant chunk of shares of Goldman Sachs in September 2008. Despite the odds and the panic, Buffet bought those shares at basement bargain prices, He invested $5 billion, held on to it during the worst of the crisis (which was October 2008), and turned it into $8.7billion just recently. Another similar story, although he did not buy stocks but rather bet against them (a.k.a. short trading), John Paulson of Paulson and Co. made a killing betting against the US subprime mortgage market. He made $4 Billion after the worst of the crisis was over. Although Buffet and Paulson were the few covered by the media, there were more who made a killing as well, the public at large just didn’t know it.

Okay, you might be thinking well those guys are professional investors, how can I ever come close to doing that myself? Well, first let me explain that this is just one of many, many examples of “wealth flow transference”. You don’t have to be in stocks or investments to apply what I will be teaching you in the next few articles. And for those of you who know me and have been following my many articles, you know that I will teach you how to do it in a very practical and “anybody-can-do-it” way, so please, read on.

Also, I will not be saying that you cannot be a billionaire, I will leave that option wide open for anybody willing to try, but before we think about billions, or even millions, let’s first come back down to earth and start with the basics.

How and where do I begin?

I’m designing this and the succeeding articles to be very thorough and slow so that you not just understand it but experience it by applying it into your life, article by article. Of course you can go faster if you wish and I will inform you how to do that in the very, very near future.

In the meantime, this should be your first “realization” for this article– Running after money if you do not know how to manage it will result in forever chasing after money. Get your house in order first, build a strong foundation for money management first and you will see that the money will start running towards you and staying with you!

Now to learn and apply this lesson, here are your first assignment(s)

  1. Go to my blog http://www.markso.wordpress.com and subscribe to it (There is a space on the left side to input your email address)
  2. Search for, read, and comment on the following articles in the search box of my blog (Type it in the search box)
    1. “The Most Important Advice About Money I can Ever Give You” (You may have to scroll down the list to find it)
    2. “Money Management Simplified part s 1 to 3”  (You may have to scroll down the list to find it)

Good luck and see you in the next article!

 

Author Box:

Mark So is a fervent businessman, Investor and educator.  He is the Chairman and CEO of Businessmaker Academy—a business, finance and corporate training center.  He is the founder and Chief Forex Trainer of Forex Club Asia, A Trading club of Forex Traders across Asia. He is also the Founder and Chief Trainer of the Philippine Franchise Institute which specializes in training and growing existing Franchise businesses.  A sought after speaker for business, investing, You may email your comments and questions to:   mhso@businessmaker-academy.com or call the office at 6874445 / 6873416 / 6874645 for a schedule of his seminars

Hello Everyone, It’s been a while hasn’t it?

Well, today I want to teach those who have a Business or those thinking of starting a business a very simple, very powerful, and almost effortless way to increase profits. And although what I will explain is pretty obvious, most businesses would surprisingly go the complete opposite of what I will share. You might even be practicing this in your business or are planning to do this when you launch your business.

So if you want to increase your profits with minimal effort, then my dear reader, please read on.

Almost all businesses I know at one point in time will resort to discounting as a way to increase their sales.  In fact, this practice has become ‘gospel’ to starting and even growing businesses that it becomes the ‘go-to’ tactic when they want to get more sales. I myself have discounted a lot in the past and even though it gets additional sales, I slowly and painfully realized, that it does something that you will not immediately notice, it will inevitably decrease your overall profitability.

So over the years, I have learned how to increase sales and profitability without resorting to discounting. And believe me, this will be a lesson you would want to take to heart and try on your business soon. But first, let me share why you should take this simple lesson seriously by showing you the math.

Let’s say your product’s selling price is P50 with a profit margin of 30% or P15. Now, the number of people buying that product is 10 per day. So, if we do simple multiplication, your total profit for the day will be P150 (10 people X P50 X 30%) or ( 10 people  X P15 profit ).

Now you feel your sales are low and you want to increase it, and what do you immediately think of?  “let’s give a 10% off promo” or let’s do a “Buy 1 take 1 promo”, etc.  Am I right? Of course I am because I’ve done it myself many, many times 😉

So, let’s take a look at the 10% off promo. 10% off your selling price means your P50 now becomes P45 (P5 discount).  Now, let’s assume that your promo produces 1 more customer or 11 customers for the day, then your total profit will now be P110 (11 people  X  P10 profit). P10 because it used to be P15 but I discounted P5 so my new profit is now P10.

If you get 2 more customers for the day, then profit becomes P120 (12 people X P10 profit)

3 more customers, P130 profit

4 more customers, P140 profit

5 more customers, P150 profit

So what can we conclude in this simple example? If I give a 10% discount, then I would need to add at least 5 more people or 50% more buyers just to have the same profit of P150! What more if you do a buy 1 take 1 promo or a 50% discount? Well, you do the math and you’d be very depressed I assure you.

So here’s my first lesson for you to increase your profit without any effort at all. STOP giving discounts if you really dont need to.

Easier said than done you say? Well, read on as I’m not yet done. In fact, in my businesses, I will go a step further by doing the complete reverse of what most of my competitors will typically do, I increase my prices by at least 20%. Now I know what you are thinking — yikes! Less people will buy from me if I do that — Not necessarily true, but for the sake of argument, let’s take a look at the math again and see what happens when you start losing some customers:

The original profit = P150 with 10 people @ P50 @ P15 Profit. I increase my price to P60 (add 20%) @ P25 profit from P15.

If my volume drops by 1 person to 9 people/day then, my profit will STILL be P225 (9 people X P25)

8 people/day, P 200 profit

7 people/day, P175 profit

6 people/day, P150 profit still

Now even if I lose 4 people or 40% of my volume, I will still get the same original profit.

Okay and I know what you are thinking, increasing prices are in many, many cases viewed by a lot of businesses as “Taboo” or “Evil” or “Un-filipino-like”. And I would agree in some cases, but I do not in many. I do not agree that businesses have to resort to “I’m-a-good-guy-so-I’ll-price-it -just-to-get-by” pricing or “Buy-from-me-because-I’m-the-lowest-priced-in-the-universe”. Thinking that way will surely run your business to the ground sooner or later.

If you are worried about those very thoughts, I want to assure you that you do not have to be a Bad guy when you raise your prices. Far from it actually, and you certainly do not have to be the lowest priced for you to have top sales. What I have learned throughout the years is that price is NOT the only thing that the customer is concerned with.  Customers for the most part are  concerned with 2 other things and sometimes even more so compared to price. 1.)  Quality /assurance and 2.) if it solves their problem.

And so, the 2nd lesson I will leave you with in this article will be this: have the courage and the strategy to increase your price by communicating and even going so far as to guarantee the quality of your product and making sure that it solves a problem that the customer is willing to pay a premium for. If you can do that, you are on your way to increasing your profits with minimal effort.

Author Box:

Mark So is a fervent businessman, Investor and educator.  He is the Chairman and CEO of Businessmaker Academy—a business, finance and corporate training center.  He is also the Founder and Chief Trainer of the Philippine Franchise Institute which specializes in training and growing existing Franchise businesses.  A sought after speaker for business, investing, Sales and Marketing he is inviting you to attend his 2 day course on Proactive Sales and Marketing to give solid strategies on increasing your sales through practical, no-nonsense marketing. To register for this please go call (632)6874645 or 6873416.  You may email your comments and questions to:   mhso@businessmaker-academy.com

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The phone rings in the office at around 10 in the morning and my secretary answers it. It was from a priest, a Monsignor in fact looking for me. I wasn’t around at the time so my secretary asks for his number and purpose of the call. She got the number but the priest didn’t leave any specific reason, just that he wanted to talk to me urgently.

As I arrived in the office later, my secretary informs me of the call and asks if I want her to call the Monsignor back. Of course the natural reaction of anybody when a priest wants to talk to you would be to return their call as soon as possible. (Maybe he wanted to bless me, who knows right?) So I quickly make it a priority to talk to the man of the cloth.

So as the phone was handed over to me, things quickly began to unravel.

“Hello… father?”

“Maaark! (as if he knew me for a long time), how are you? This is Father something-something (I’m leaving the name out as I will explain some more on this later)”

“Yes Father, how can I help you?”

“Well you see Mark, I’m currently involved in community work for some military and police people, you see they have several good projects for their community and they are in need of some financial help…(a deliberate pause)”

“Yes Father, go on…”

“Okay, now I’m selling a few tickets for P5,000 each for an event that will happen on this date, can you purchase a few from me to help their cause?”

Now if this was the younger, naive and inexperienced version of me, I would have answered this way:

“Okay father can you give me some more details for this event? I can probably buy one ticket to help your cause, where and how can I give you my contribution?”

And I would bet that a lot (not all, but a lot) of people who talk to this priest would most likely say the same thing or some version of it if they had the money. Why? Because the mere mention of him being a priest would make most God fearing people instantly want to help the request of a holy man.

But you see, because I’m a little older now a little more experienced I don’t quite buy it just yet. So instead of rushing into giving a total stranger my hard earned money, I ask a few hard and straight to the point questions.

“Ah okay father, by the way what’s your name again? (then he repeats his full name), Okay father, just a quick question before anything else (he says sure!) — is it normal practice for priests to call people soliciting money for tickets?”

“(Pause)… (He was quite obviously surprised to get this question from me)… Uhm…No…it’s not… which is why I’m a little embarrassed to be calling you like this”

Honestly, he would have had a slightly better chance if he answered this way: “Actually my son, yes, when times are tough, even priests have to do what they can to help others.”

But he didn’t. Now at this point, I remember recognizing his voice from somewhere before but could not place it until now, then it dawned on me that he had called me a year or two ago, I remember his distinct voice pretending to be the head of customs and at that time selling me “smuggled” Johnny Walker for P5,000 per bottle.

So I continued asking a few more questions, but this time a little more direct as the plot became a little clearer:

“Okay father, I have to be honest, I do not know you, and I hope you understand that I do not just give my money to strangers. Also, how did you get this number?”

“Well, Mark, yes you are right, I understand what you are saying, I don’t know you, but my name is Monsignor something-something, you can actually look me up on the internet and a retired General gave me your number”

Now, when he said “you can look me up on the internet” this should have been good enough, but in my mind, anyone on the phone can get the identity of someone already established and claim that that is him / her so I just said.

“Okay thanks Father, but I will have to pass.”

“Really, hindi mo talaga ako matutulungan?”

“Sorry Father, I have helped many people in my own way and through various means, and I still do so until today but I will have to decline politely. Thanks for calling anyway.”

And the phone went dead.

Okay so the reason why I decided to write about and publish this particular incident of my life is to teach you 3 important lessons from it so that you avoid being scammed.

1.)   Do not be intimidated or be awed by titles or designations or positions of people over the phone. You always need proof of the person’s identity especially if it’s just by phone. Now offering of proof on the internet will not be good enough as I mentioned, you need social proof, who knows him/her that you know too? what does that mutual person say about him/her?

2.)   Remember this saying: “To catch a thief, you must think like a thief”. Although this is pretty self-explanatory, most of the time we tend to play a role in the scene that the other person sets up.  In the example above, the person paints the picture that he is a Monsignor, so normally people opposite that person will play the role of the good Catholic constituent. Etc.

3.)   And lastly, if you work hard to make money for you and your family. You must also work hard in protecting that money from people who will constantly try to take that money from you and your family.

Remember, being generous is a good character trait to have, but we must also be prudent and smart.

About the Author:

Mark So is a fervent businessman, forex trader and educator.  He is the Chairman and CEO of Businessmaker Academy—a business, finance and corporate training center.  He is also the Chief Forex Trainer of Forex Club Manila.  A sought after speaker for business and forex, he is scheduled to conduct his signature seminars on Business Start-up and expansion as well as his Complete Forex Trading Course this month.  To know more about these seminars, you may visit www.businessmaker-academy.com or http://www.forexclubmanila.com or call (632)6874645.  You may email your comments and questions to:   markso@zerocapitalclub.com

Over the past year, I’ve written a good number of business advice articles for Manila Bulletin and each of those articles were and still are meant to help as many people as possible. These articles are from my experience and discoveries through a lot of trial and error in “business making”, and to be honest, all of those articles contain a secret or two of mine on being successful in business, so in this particular piece, I’d like to summarize some of the more valuable lessons and what has made me who I am over the years. I do hope that you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Keep things simple

If there is one truth about what works in this world is that the simplest of solutions are all you really need. A lot of times, I find myself looking at an opportunity and immediately start thinking of all sorts of “creative” ways of making money with it. Most of the time, it becomes an exercise in creativity rather than making a decent profit. In my article entitled, “Do Not Overcomplicate Your Business” I talk about this incident where a student from an Ivy League school was over complicating what should be a very simple and straightforward business — printing and selling of t-shirts. (Go to my blog at http://www.markso.wordpress.com and search the title if you have not yet read it) I mean, come on, how complicated can that be right? Well, as the story turns out, you’d be amazed at how our train of thought can be so devoid of common sense.

Find the customer first

When I first heard this line from a successful entrepreneur (a close and dear friend) a long time ago, I was blown away at the simplicity of the logic. This is really not a secret in business making, just find and talk to a successful businessperson, they will instantly validate it, and many a times, that is most probably how they started in business in the first place. So to explain further, I used to think like the throngs of would-be entrepreneurs when it came to starting a business, find capital, put up the business, then make money. The problem with that logic is that in order to be in business, you needed capital first and in many, many cases that was the whole problem, the reason why you want to start a business in the first place was because you did not have money to begin with, so I experimented with that line “Find the customer first”, tried this and tried that until finally I figured it out. I discuss this a little bit more in my article: “How to Make Extra Money with Zero Capital” (again go to my blog and search for it if you have not read it yet).

Learn how to sell

Business in its purest form is selling. So naturally, if you want to be in business, you need to learn how to sell. Now the problem with this for a lot of people is that the mere mention of the word “sell” sends shivers up and down their spines, “can’t do it”, “don’t want to”, “I don’t think I can” would probably be the three phrases that just popped in your head right now. But the truth is, anyone, given the right motivation can sell, in fact, the people who you think can’t sell are actually the ones who can outsell even the most gifted of sales men. In my article series “The Tale of Two Salesmen Parts 1, 2, and 3” I unravel the mysteries and debunk the myth that sales and selling are only for a select few. When you get to read those articles on my blog, you will soon realize that sales is not a position, it’s a way of life.

Manage your money

Now, the thing about selling is that if you do it very well, money comes in. And I used to think that the more money coming in, the richer I will be. Well, it is true, but unfortunately that’s only half right. What I experienced was that, the more money that I made, the lesser there was of it remaining because I spent most of it on useless stuff. It took my wife and a huge knock on the head for me to realize that no matter how much money you made, what mattered more was what you did with it. In other words, how you spend is much more important than what you make. This is another key to my business success. In my article series “Money Management Simplified Parts 1, 2, and 3” I discuss step by step how you can spend properly and of course manage your money. So if you haven’t done so yet, go to my blog now and search those articles.

Keep investing in yourself

I said this once, and I’ll say it a thousand times more. The real secret to becoming a success is to never be content to just stay where you are. You are a product of evolution, when times change, so must you, when times get tougher, so must you. In this world we live in, it is the strong that survive, and so the most basic and yet most potent advice I could ever give you my dear reader is to never stop investing in improving your self, expanding your knowledge, practicing until you understand, making mistakes and boo boos along the way are all the things that you need to do constantly to keep on growing and succeeding.

In the end, I hope that my business advices through my articles and my blog have helped you in some way, hope or form. If it has, do leave a comment on my blog on any or all of the articles that you read there. Good luck and God bless!

Author box:

Mark So is a fervent businessman, forex trader, marketer, sales consultant, and educator.  He is the Chairman and CEO of Businessmaker Academy—a business, finance and corporate training center.  He is also the Chief Forex Trainer of Forex Club Manila. Mr. So is slated to conduct his 7 Point Formula for Business Start Up and Expansion this November 13, 2010. If you are interested in attending this seminar, email Mark directly at markso@zerocapitalclub.com. To read more of Mark’s interesting and life enriching articles you can go to his blog at http://www.markso.wordpress.com

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In my earlier years, I never really thought of myself as a manager of people, truth be told I never really understood how important managing people really was until I became an Entrepreneur. And even when I embraced entrepreneurship full time, I made many, many mistakes in this field which taught me huge lessons not just in business but in life over all.

You see, back in the day as an inexperienced Entrepreneur, I thought that people management was simple: “if you want your business to succeed, you must hire people who have the background to run your business for you.” Little did I know that those thoughts were the most devastating thoughts ever to cross my mind. Why? Because no matter how good the people you hire, or how much money you offer them, the truth is: No one can ever run your business better than you.

I learned the hard way that being a business owner did not mean that you hired people to think for you and run the day to day operations for you, it meant that you needed to first know what you really want your business to become, and to do that, you need to be Employee number 1. Because and remember Murphy’s Law: If something can go wrong, it usually will. And if you are not there to steer the business clear of problems, you should never expect Employee number 2, 3 or 4 to do it better than you.

The greatest mistake I made with my first business was to hire a General Manager and her managers (Employee number 2 and 3 and 4) to run the business. I was still working for a big multinational company back then and had the excuse of “I’m too busy to handle my own business”. So I relied on the salaries that I was paying my people to make them grow my business, solve problems and make me rich!

Of course, reality is never that easy. Because people that you pay but do not manage usually result in the people taking their salaries and end up making excuses for why things didn’t go as planned.

To read more about my problems on my first business and how I solved it, Click here to read: “Business and the start of a beautiful relationship parts 1 to 3”.

In hindsight, I realized that my biggest mistake was that I “abdicated” instead of “delegated”. Abdication is what happens when you are not there to guide people and as a result fail to fulfill your responsibility as the founder of the business. Delegation is when you slowly give some responsibility to the people you hire so that they can eventually do the work for you over time. Take note, the operative words here are “slowly” and “over time”.

So in my next business, I tried “delegating”. I was more hands on in the business. But there were still big glaring problems. The biggest problem of all was my attitude. I was either too nice, or too strict, or too tyrannical or all of the above. So as you can imagine, some of my people were complaining behind my back. I wasn’t consistent in my approach and my moods got the best of me, because and this is not an excuse: as an entrepreneur you are faced with an extreme amount of stress on a daily basis.

So how did I learn to manage my people better? Well, three things.

First I had to learn to be better than the normal guy. As an Entrepreneur, you will really face a lot of hard and stressful times but even during those times, I had to learn how to become more “presidential” which meant I needed to stop being dramatic, learn to act from my head and not from my heart. It wasn’t easy, but I (with my wife) realized that the solution to achieving this was to slowly and painstakingly build a system to address the needs of our people. This is where my wife, Jhoanna really excelled, she built our Human Resource System almost single handedly which did not just address concerns of our people but also replaced impulsiveness and drama with solid procedures for addressing our people’s problems.

Second, and simultaneously, I had to weed out the bad apples in the bunch. You see I believe that the business owner has to do his / her part in becoming better at managing people but the people themselves must be willing to be honed to become even better for the sake of the Business. Unfortunately there are those who just do not have the right attitude and the only answer is to remove them from the equation. Once I cleared the ranks, replacing them with “better” people was the next task, and to do this, we created a criteria for hiring people, and that criteria was the most important of all, it was to hire those that believed in what the business wanted to achieve. This unified belief is what bonded our people together to act as one with the owners themselves. Without this bond you can never really build a team with a common purpose.

Third, and finally, I realized that the first two things will not matter at all if I did not show them exactly what it was that the business wanted to achieve. So the last and final ingredient of how I learned how to manage people is to lead by example. I am Employee number 1 and as such I must show the rest of the team how to do it the first time, the second time, the third time, until they can do it on their own. Today, I can honestly say that I have come a long way when it comes to managing people. Today I can honestly say I together with my wife are better managers of people.

Author box:

Mark So is a fervent businessman, forex trader, marketer, sales consultant, and educator.  He is the Chairman and CEO of Businessmaker Academy—a business, finance and corporate training center.  He is also the Chief Forex Trainer of Forex Club Manila. Attend Businessmaker Academy’s Business Operations and People Management this August 7, 2010 at Businessmaker Academy. If you are interested in attending this seminar, email Mark directly at markso@zerocapitalclub.com or call 6874445 / 6873416 / 6874645 and look for Kenneth Dalen

My wife and I used to live in a condo unit when we were newly married. At first, the condo was pretty spacious and needed some furniture so we got a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, then gifts would come from friends and family on special occasions and over time the stuff we had would pile up. I remember one time feeling claustrophobic already, I literally couldn’t breathe anymore and no matter how many times we would donate, or purge we would feel that the condo was magically getting smaller and smaller.

Now this is not because we keep buying stuff, we actually live (then and now) a very simple life. We do not buy anything we do not need and we donate and “purge” regularly, the fact is everyone will eventually have more “stuff” over time. This is what I call “the power of accumulation” and what I wanted to share with you today is how I use this power in businesses. And how you too can build something small first then slowly, over time, accumulate not just “stuff” but wealth.

Before I start, I’m sure you are thinking right now: “I can’t start a business yet, I don’t know anything about businesses”. So I want to let you know one powerful truth:

“Everyone starts at ZERO.”

Every successful business owner starts by not knowing much about business. Sure, some of them might have studied about starting a business whether in college, grad school, books and even through seminars. And I wholeheartedly believe in education, but let me tell you another powerful truth:

“Experience is the best teacher of all”.

Let me explain further. If I were to tell a 5 year old child to stay away from the stove because he/she might get burned, then show the child pictures of what a burn looks like and tell her that it is very, very painful then the child has been educated on how not to get burned right?

Now, the child will listen to you…for a while that is.  But when you are not looking and the stove is on, chances are, the child will still go near the stove and accidentally burn her hand anyway. Because the child needs to fulfill her curiosity on what the word “burn” is and understand what you meant about how painful it can really be. Now, the moment she gets hurt and realizes that she never wants to get burned again, she has gained experience.

Likewise, the best way to learn about business is to experience doing business and find out first hand what it is like to go through the pains and gains of being in business.

So are you ready to gain experience and accumulate businesses? Alright then here’s the simple formula / plan that you must start doing now to start accumulating wealth through businesses: “S+R+A” = Power of Accumulation

S = “Start small”

There are many ways to start a business, but my method is the one that you can do right now. First off, know that no one can ever be sure if a business will succeed or not. So, common sense would dictate that you start small. If you have a small business already, good! If you don’t, then start one now by starting a sideline or racket. If you need some suggestions on creating a business without adding any costs, go to my blog at http://www.markso.wordpress.com and search this phrase: “Money Management Simplified Part 3”. In that article are two incredibly simple ways to start a small sideline business with Zero Costs. I would also suggest that you read the whole series (parts 1 to 3) to learn how to manage your money for businesses.

As my readers already know, when I start businesses I start them with Zero costs, to me that is the ultimate way of starting small.

R = “Remain Small”

When I start a small business, and it becomes a success, I do not hire a lot of people, I keep it small and manageable. But I do something “special” inside the business to make it even more profitable. I call it “Multiple Streaming”. It’s a technique that I teach in my 7 point formula seminar. What Multiple Streaming does is that it takes an ordinary sideline or racket and it “doubles” the income streams of that business every year. Now, if I increase my income stream per business and keep my staff small and manageable, the business becomes a lot more profitable even without becoming too big. Why do I like keeping my businesses small? Well, lots of reasons but the most important reason is that small businesses can move a lot faster than bigger businesses and the relationship between the customers, the staff and me are more direct and personal, no red tape.

A = “Accumulate”

Now, once my small business’ income stream stabilizes. I do it all over again with the same process, I start another small business, then I “Multiple Stream it” until profitable, then add another when ready. I simply keep adding small, profitable businesses over time that accumulate into true wealth. Imagine money coming in from multiple sources — when you wake up, when you are asleep, when you are eating, when you are on vacation. It’s an incredible feeling I assure you.

“The Power of Accumulation”

So going back to the introduction of this article when my wife and I started out in a small condominium, the fact is, you will always accumulate more “stuff” no matter what. So I learned to apply this incredible power into businesses and instead of the awful feeling of Claustrophobia, I achieve something else- “freedom from financial worry”. So now, you too can accumulate more wealth by just following the simple plan that I just outlined for you and of course gaining as much experience in the process. All the best! Good luck and God bless!

Author box:

Mark So is a fervent businessman, forex trader, marketer, sales consultant, and educator.  He is the Chairman and CEO of Businessmaker Academy—a business, finance and corporate training center.  He is also the Chief Forex Trainer of Forex Club Manila. Mr. So is slated to conduct his “7 Point Formula Seminar” this July 31, 2010. If you are interested in attending this seminar, email Mark directly at markso@zerocapitalclub.com. To read more of Mark’s interesting and life enriching articles you can go to his blog at http://www.markso.wordpress.com

Happy New Year! It is now 2010 and I hope you are looking forward to a great and wonderful year ahead. This is the time of the year when I am often asked, what’s a good business or investment to get into?

So for my very first column of the year, I wanted to share something basic but very often overlooked about succeeding in Business or Investing in general and that is, before you invest in anything, you must  invest in yourself first.

Sounds simple enough but many times, we place all our efforts and even our hard earned money in opportunities that come our way without knowing what it is we are getting into. Most of the time, we hear and see a new business or investment fad and immediately start thinking of putting money into it. And because we so badly want to progress in this world, we let impulse and greed take control over reason, raise our hopes and inevitably shake our heads later when the opportunity turns out to be another dead end, or worse, another scam. Is this the cycle that you continuously experience every year? So if you are asking what’s a good business or what’s a good investment to get into this 2010? My answer is start investing first in the one thing that you have probably overlooked for so many years…Yourself.

For those who want to start businesses, educate yourself first. The following areas are where you should start:

  • Sales and Marketing Skills

This is perhaps the most important skill to learn first. I often say that Sales is the purest form of business. Without it, you can never be in business. If you are a shy person and don’t think that selling is something you can do, think again. In my Sales and Marketing seminars you’d be happily surprised to know that the shy persons will always outsell the outspoken ones.

  • Capital Raising Skills

A lot of people think that they need capital to start a business, although that may be true for some businesses, would you know how to source capital without getting into debt?  Increasing your knowledge in this area will help you in your business ventures.  This is an important skill that every aspiring entrepreneur needs to learn.

  • Cash Flow Management Skills

A business is like a car.  Sales is money coming in or the gas that fuels the business while Business Expenses is what will deplete the money coming in. Cash Flow management is simply about knowing how to keep your business running smoothly even when the money coming in is not enough to sustain the business operations for a few months as sometimes experienced by many entrepreneurs.  If there is one skill that is critical to the survival of your business, this is it.  That’s why I make it appoint to equip my students with the proper tools and systems for cashflow management—it can make or break your business.

  • Human Resource Management Skills

As your business grows, you will need good people to help you run it. Forming your dream team is a must and improving your people handling skills will help you build this team.  For this, you will need to know basic knowledge in Human Resource Management.  From there, you will be able to develop systems to guide your employees, as well as programs to develop and motivate your team.  Applying what our HR training consultants have taught in our seminars, many companies including my own have greatly benefited from the best practices shared.  I’ve learned over the years that it pays to invest in your people too.

For those who want to do better in financial investments, the following areas are where you should look at:

  • Money Management Skills

The most important part of investing is not about how good you pick what to invest in. It’s about what you do with your money when things go bad. In other words, what is your exit strategy and what’s your plan B? As an investor, this is the most crucial thing for you to learn first.

  • Fundamental Analysis Skills

When you decide on what to invest in, you have to understand the underlying reasons for choosing that investment in the first place. For example I chose to invest in real estate because fundamentally, this particular area is a prime area and also because 5 to 10 years from now, this area will continue to increase in value due to continues development improvements by the private and government sectors.

  • Technical Analysis Skills

An important part of investing is also knowing the past price movements of whatever it is you are buying (or selling) Investors use these past price movements to determine trends in the markets which when properly combined with fundamental analysis can greatly improve your investments and the timing of when you get in and out of them.

  • Discipline in following a plan

Lastly, one of the hardest things to master about being an investor is to develop the discipline to only invest when the probabilities of investing is optimal. Too many times newbie investors will have no discipline and will invest based on gut feel and intuition resulting in catastrophe more often than not.

So you see, when you start asking yourself what’s a good business or investment to get into in 2010, do not just look at what people tell you to get into. Instead invest first in educating yourself and developing your skills in these areas. Then determine for yourself if these business or financial investments are indeed worth it.

Invest in yourself in 2010 because you are worth it.

Author box:

Mark So is a fervent businessman, forex trader and educator.  He is the Chairman and CEO of Businessmaker Academy—a business, finance and corporate training center.  He is also the Chief Forex Trainer of Forex Club Manila.  A sought after speaker for business and forex, he is scheduled to conduct his signature seminar series on Business Start Up and Entrepreneurship this January 16 to February 13, 2009.  To know more about these seminars, you may visit www.businessmaker-academy.com or call (632)6874645.  You may email your comments and questions to:   markso@zerocapitalclub.com

Aside from building businesses, another passion of mine is investing in assets. Both of them are a means to make more money if you know what you are doing, but how money is made between the two are very different.

I’m going to simplify the difference for both of them for you right now by sharing my perspective: In business, to make money you need two critical assets: Customers and Employees. While in Investments, to make money you need two different kinds of assets: Money and Experience.

Let me elaborate, the key to making money in business is that you have to concentrate on selling to your customers. Even if you have no money to begin with, even if you have no experience to begin with, as long as you can find a customer willing to buy something from you (emphasis on buying from you) then you are in business. And the more customers you have, the more business you have. If you have no customers, then you are not in business regardless of how much products / services you have to offer or how many branches you have.

Next, you can not properly maintain a business on your own, sooner or later your business will grow, you will have more customers and you will need help, and so the next critical asset in making money in business is to have very good and very loyal employees.

Now finding and maintaining really good employees is very critical to your business’ success. It is not easy but once you have assembled a great team of superstar employees, trust me, your business will be making money during good times and even bad times.

Now, let’s explore the world of Investing. Let me ask you, do you think you need customers and employees as an investor of say paper assets like stocks, mutual funds or bonds? What about real estate? Or more liquid assets such as currencies? Think about it, and you’ll realize that you don’t.

What you should know in the world of investments, is that instead of customers, you will need money and instead of employees, you will need experience. Why? because the main way to make money in investments is to “convert” your money into “something else” that will make you even more money. This is the world where the now famous line of Robert Kiyosaki comes in: “The rich do not work for money, the rich make money work for them”. But to make your money work for you, you need to find that “something else” that will make you money without you having to work for it, and to do that without being scammed or duped requires experience.

In my business classes as well as my investment classes, I ask my students if it is really businesses that they want to pursue or would they rather pursue investing because I explain to them that you do not have to be a business person to be an investor nor do you have to be an investor to be a business person. The two roads are mutually exclusive and you do have a choice to pursue one or the other (or even both).

So I’ll ask you my dear reader the same question. “To make more money right now, and given a choice, would you like to start a business, would you like to learn how to invest?, or would you like to learn both?”

To help you decide on which road to take first, let me share some more practical advice. If you love people (customers / employees), if you do not have a lot of money to spare but you have time and a willingness to make sacrifices as well as learn along the way, then I suggest that you pursue the road of business ownership. It is a tough and challenging experience but should you overcome the many hurdles and obstacles, I assure you, you will be a cleverer person because of it.

On the other hand, if you have a job that you love and that pays you well, or already a business owner and you have some money to spare. (money that you can afford to risk) I suggest you pursue the road of the investor. There are many seminars on investing out there right now, most of them free, but be careful on which seminars you attend as it may cost you more in the long run.

For me, I am both a business owner and a seasoned investor. It has taken me a little over 10 years to get to where I am, and having traveled both roads, and exploring both worlds I would like to wish upon you the same rich experience that I have and the kind of success that you deserve.

About Mark So

Mark So is the Chairman and CEO of Businessmaker Academy and Forex Club Manila.
He regularly holds seminars on Business, Finance and Investments.
P.S. Click Here To Attend Mark’s Seminar where 2 of his students made 170,000+ right after
P.P.S. Click Here To Know More About Other Seminars from Businessmaker Academy

A few months ago, a friend of mine requested if I could help her nephew (an undergrad student from an Ivy league school) with his business practicum project that he was becoming frustrated with. Their business practicum’s goal was to produce and sell as many “uniquely different” T-Shirts as possible and she requested if I could just help him out a bit and get him back on track.

When we met, I asked him what the problem was and he said “well you see, my team mates do not want to shell out the capital that the group needs to produce the T-Shirts”. So I asked him how much capital he needed.  He said, “Well, we need 200,000 pesos…” I raised my hands to stop him in mid sentence and said: “Whoa, back up there a little bit, 200,000? Why do you need that much money to produce and sell T-Shirts?”

“Well sir, because to ‘market test’ and produce the shirts, we’ll have to purchase the machine to print on the shirts…”, “Who said that?” I asked. “My adviser” he replied, “Does your adviser have a business?”  He said, “No, but she’s been teaching this course for a while now, and she says that in order to know if your business venture will make money, you must learn how to do a break even analysis, and to do that, you must know the costs…”

“Okay”…I said, “…now I understand why your team mates are not willing to put up the capital. Well for one, you are asking for P200,000 and two, because it is not necessary. Let’s simplify things for you, forget the costs of the machine for a while, how much is the cost of a plain non-printed T-Shirt?”

He grabbed several spreadsheet print outs from his bag  and began searching for the costs of the T-Shirts.  Five minutes later he still could not give me an answer and said “Sorry sir, to get the costs, I have to reverse-engineer the calculations that I did…”  Needless to say, I was a bit surprised to hear that he had to “reverse-engineer” anything to come up with the costs because in my mind, to know the price of a T-Shirt, you simply have to ask the price from the supplier of the T-Shirt. Apparently, he did not do that but instead was taught to calculate costs based on some sort of theoretical model.

After a few more minutes of waiting, I said “Okay please listen for a moment, I’m going to estimate right now that the price of a plain white shirt is about P100 give or take, so to get you and your team started, you don’t need P200,000. All you need to do is to buy maybe 10 shirts x P100 = P 1,000 then add the cost of printing of whatever design you have. So I’ll assume that printing the design will be another P100 give or take, so with these top of mind estimates your initial costs will be about P2,000, not P200,000.”

“But 10 shirts only, that’s pretty small isn’t it?” he asked. “Well I said, since you are ‘market testing’ the shirts, you just need samples of the shirts initially. Then what you do is to get pre-orders and get a down payment for those orders from your customers. You can also sell the shirts immediately and produce more of them after, based on demand.  Once you get the down payment, you can then purchase the materials (shirts) needed to produce and deliver the T-shirts.”

“But how do we go about producing the T-shirts when we don’t have the machine to produce it” he asked.  I then answered, “there is no need for you to buy the printing machine yourselves to produce it, doing so would be ridiculous because this is just a project for you. Also, we are no longer in the Industrial age where you have to produce everything yourself.   We are at an age of outsourcing jobs to avoid huge capital investments.  You can simply outsource the printing of the shirts to a company that does that.”

“But Sir, what about the design and price of the T-shirts? We were taught that we have to have a unique design and that we should price it very low so that we can sell a lot of shirts.” I responded “If you can come up with a unique design that people want, then I do not recommend that you price it low, in fact quite the opposite, you should price it at a premium because of its uniqueness.”

“Listen,” I said to the student, “Business is simple.  It need not be based on theoretical mathematical models, nor does it have to be over analyzed and over complicated.”

Even though this story just involves a college business practicum, the common misconceptions about business is just as true with most start up businesses. A lot of times, people feel that if they are doing something “sophisticated” or with big capital, or with common phrase clichés, that they are doing it right. The fact is, Business is not complicated at all.  Just find the simplest way to make a profit. If it is simple, trust me, it is right.

Authorbox:

Mark So is the Chairman and CEO of Businessmaker Academy and Forex Club Manila.  He regularly holds seminars on Business, Finance and Investments.  To read about past articles from the BIZMAKER column, you may visit www.markso.wordpress.com.  For more information about his seminars, you may contact Tel Nos. 6874445, 6874645, 6873416 or visit www.businessmaker-academy.com or www.zerocapitalclub.com