Posts Tagged ‘Personal growth’

A long time ago, I used to think that the true way to success is to outwit and outmaneuver competition. Truth be told, I am a very competitive person by nature and I hate losing to competition. And I’m sure that a part of you feels the same way deep down inside, it’s called the “competitive spirit”.

In fact I would wager that a lot of people who want to venture into business have a very healthy dose of competitiveness and most of the time think of starting a business as similar to going to war. You start to buy and read books such as the “art of war” and numerous business strategy books to beat your opponent(s). You have in your heads that to be in business, you must focus on “Killing Competition”.

Through the years of teaching business, I’ve encountered a lot of start-up businesses and even growing businesses that do not focus on what is really important, and that is learning how to make profits regardless of competition.

A lot of businesses that I’ve encountered will typically price their products lower than competition so that they can “steal” the clients from them. They feel that the more clients they are able to take from other businesses, the more successful they become.

For Example: You just opened a water refilling station just a few blocks away from an existing one who sells their 5 gallon jug at P50 each, you decide that for the opening promo you are going to price your 5 gallon jug at P45 each so that the customers of the existing business will switch to buying from you.

If you are starting to think this way, let me say right now that this is faulty thinking. Why? Because:

1.)    Your competition will most probably match or even price their products lower than yours and a price war may start. A price war is never good for business, not for you, not for your competitor. If you go down this path I guarantee, no one will win.

2.)    Competition will ALWAYS be there, even if you manage to destroy one or two today, 10 more will spring up tomorrow. It’s a losing battle that you will never win. Plus, this is the sure fire way to attract more enemies and possibly bankrupt you.

3.)    You are not acting in your business’ best interest because your profitability suffers and you are running your business not like a merchant but like a warrior.

So instead of thinking like a warrior let me give you now a few insights that will help you think more like a merchant whether you are just starting a business or have been in business for a while.

First, let’s re-focus you, repeat after me: “Businessmen are merchants, not warriors”. Business is not about going to war with your competitors, it’s about being profitable first with your customers.

There are many methods for pricing your products and services to be profitable with customers which I discuss fully in my Business seminars, but for this article I want to focus on a very important philosophy of profitability and that is to start learning how to

“Price for Profit, never for war”.

Here’s a real life example on how I did that. A couple of years ago I was invited to speak on “How to Start and Manage a Food Cart”. At first, the organizers wanted me to price it at P500 / seat since their other speakers (talking about other topics such as catering and baking) was offering that price. I said no to P500 and ended up negotiating the price to P2,500 / seat, 5 times higher than what the other seminars were going for. Though the organizers were reluctant at first, they finally said okay. You should have seen the poster. My seminar was the only one that was priced at P2,500 and the rest of the seminars were all P500. It stuck out like a sore thumb.

When the seminar day came, there were three seminars going on at the same time, mine and 2 others. The other 2 seminars were jam packed with about 60 participants each, mine had only 30 participants. Here’s the math:

Seminar A had 60 participants x P500 = P30,000.

Seminar B had 60 participants x P500 = P30,000

Sub Total                                              = P60,000
My seminar had 30 participants x P2,500 = P75,000.

Even if you add up the sales of my 2 “competitors” I still produced P15,000 more. Another way to look at it is that even if I only had 12 participants, I would have made the same amount compared to seminar a or b’s 60 participants, in my example above I only had half of what they got but I won over them in profits by an astounding 150%.

So you see, as businessmen, if you focus too much on increasing your customers by lowering your price, it is not at all as profitable as getting a smaller number of customers at a much better price. I never try to steal the customers away from my competition by lowering my price, instead I focus on giving more value to my customers with the price that they pay, regardless of what competition does.

Knowing this is the most important first step to becoming a merchant and a true Businessman.

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.

Today, I want to start coaching you again on becoming a greater success in whatever you do. I will share with you a simple but powerful truth: “If you want to increase your success, you must:

1.)    Know what you really want in life

2.)    Have the will and desire to go for it; and

3.)    Learn from the experience your journey will bring

So let me ask you: “Do you Really Want to Succeed?”

If you follow what I have to say, I guarantee that you will be successful sooner rather than later.

Tell me if you can relate: Too many times, we get distracted with all that’s happening with everything around us. We run around like headless chickens and most of the time we spend all our energies on things that get us nowhere. It can’t be helped, that is what Life does, it provides you with challenges and distractions which you have to figure out what to do.

What I’ve realized early on and what Life has taught me is that you can’t handle everything without going crazy.

So lesson number 1 to be successful is to “simplify your life”. Every now and then, when I begin to feel overwhelmed, I undergo a “Life simplification” ritual. This basically means, I remove and let go of all the things that are weighing me down. I choose what I really want to be doing and achieving and I focus on (at most) only 3 of them at any given time. I become obsessed with the things I choose to focus on and nothing else matters until I achieve the goals that I set.

Are you overwhelmed right now? Then it’s time to simplify your life and figure out what you want to achieve.

Once you figure out what you want to do. Here comes the next step: Have the will and desire to achieve it.

If there is one thing about me, it is that I will never give up a goal that I set in my head. If I “suck” at that particular area in my life, and I truly want to improve that area, I will keep at it until I get it right. I call it “Stick-to-it-ivity”. In other words, I finish what I start. I guess it was how I was brought up. When my mom would tell me “finish your food”, I obeyed. But kidding aside, it is a trait that you have to develop for yourself, there is one very successful entrepreneur who also has this quality and he goes by the name of Walt Disney. Disney did not start out as a success story immediately, in fact there were huge set backs in his life that if he did not “stick to it”, where would we be?

The trick with never giving up a goal for me is what I learned about life early on. Life will always test your resolve. Life will throw you obstacles and problems that you never thought of. You will be discouraged by people that you love. You will feel frustrated and ignored by the people that you set out to help, you feel that life is hard and are inches away from giving in and giving up. At this point I tell myself 6 very powerful words:

Never give in, Never give up.

Because the true secret about the hardships of life is this: “Life’s purpose is not to make you fail, life’s purpose is to make you succeed. (Even though it does not seem that way). Life is a great teacher, the obstacles are how it teaches you to be better. “when life seems to want you to turn around, it is actually a signal for you to keep going. When things get tough, it is the most critical sign that you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing.”

Trust me on this because every time I achieve a goal, the larger the success I become.

Are you having a hard time with what you are trying to achieve right now? Remember NEVER GIVE IN, NEVER GIVE UP. I guarantee that if this is what you really want in life and you follow what I say, you will succeed sooner rather than later.

Now the last step is the most practical step of all: Be willing to invest the time and effort in increasing your skills to achieve what it is you are trying to achieve.

I’m a fervent believer that learning never stops in the classroom and that Life will teach you things that you never thought possible. However, the problem with learning with life alone is that it is learning by trial and error. So if you can avoid trial and error altogether and learn from someone who has achieved more than you, then that would even be better don’t you think so?

So before I get into something that I have no clue on, I always make it a point to “invest in myself” first. Meaning, I will never hesitate to buy and learn from books and seminars, learning events, and spending time learning with people more knowledgeable than me. And once I listen to what they have to say, I apply the lessons immediately and start to really learn through a little trial and error of my own. And although I will still make mistakes, I drastically reduce the errors and the time to achieving my goals.

So if you want to really succeed in anything that you want to do, follow the three things that I do. And you will see that you can be a success sooner rather than later.

The week before I let go of my Makati office, I wanted to say goodbye to it by taking my wife (girlfriend at that time) there for a surprise candlelit dinner. I had my one remaining staff put up about 20 candles and a soft romantic melody playing in the background before she left for the evening. I had everything planned out and when we walked in, the candles took her breath away. I sat her down in the corner of the office where it overlooked the light-filled city below us. Needless to say the evening was picture perfect and utterly romantic, until the part when I showed her what was for dinner.

Because I was still in debt at that time, we dined on 1 order of Mc Donald’s French Fries, 1 box of Chicken Nuggets and a glass of Orange Juice.

That was literally all I could afford at that time, so rather than starve, I decided to go with it and give my best smile while I gave it. And before I could even show how deeply embarrassed I was, my wife without hesitation and with the most sincere smile looked at me and told me that this was the best dinner in her life. And that was all it took to make me want to give her better food and a better life for all her life. That night, she gave me the ultimate reason to want to be a “better man”.

Within 6 months from that night, my troubled business had turned around and we had recovered 90% of my losses thanks to the virtual office that my wife had recommended and the sales coming in. However I was still not making any money because I did not have the right attitude towards money

My problem was that I never really managed the money coming in versus the money going out. Up until that point, I just concentrated on the money coming in, and never really minded where it was going. And worse still, like many men, I was never comfortable talking to women about finances. Like many men, I preferred to keep it a secret.

But my wife would have none of this “male money secret” nonsense, she told me point blank “If you really want to marry me, you’ve got to shape up your finances. I’m willing to help you, but you have to get with it.” Now, when your wife speaks like that, you never argue, you just do. Besides, I really did want to marry her.

So together we explored what I was doing wrong and found solutions that guide me till this day:

1.)    I should have given myself a salary – I used to think that the business is mine anyway so why should I salary myself? My wife’s practicality made sense, she said: “Well even if the business is yours, you still have to eat right? How can you eat if no money from the business is going to you?” So I gave myself back then a small token salary of P5,000 per month. Today, I always make it a point to give myself a salary for all the businesses that I build. Even if it is my business, I’ve learned practically what it means to “pay yourself first”.

2.)    My credit card bills were through the roof – Every time my bill came, I only paid the minimum amount due and worse I would say yes to every single “insurance” offer from my credit card. So I was paying a HUGE amount in unnecessary expenses plus interest every single month. My wife almost freaked out when I finally revealed this to her. But calmly she explained to me that insurance is good, but the terms they gave me were 10 times more expensive than others. And when it comes to paying only the minimum—that was the worst sin of all for her –“Never ever do that” she scolded, “Did you know that when you pay just the minimum amount, you are just paying in essence the interest payment and only a very small amount is removed from your overall balance?” So I had the credit card company first remove all my “card loaded insurances” which immediately lightened my monthly bills. Since I couldn’t pay the entire credit card bill all at once, I did my very best to pay 4 times more than the minimum amount every month. This drastically reduced how much I still had to pay. When I finally had enough money, I paid off the entire balance. Today, all my credit cards are debt-free.  I always pay in full and ON Time. There are no “useless” expenses on any of those cards and my credit line is extremely healthy.

3.)    I never recorded my expenses – Who has the time, right? Wrong. It’s the most important activity in managing money. My wife once again pointed out, “How will you know if you are making enough money if you don’t even record what you are spending on?” So with lots of help from my wife, I started a simple recording system where I record money coming in, money going out, and how much money I have left. It helps tremendously because it makes you more aware of how much money you have at any given time.  Today, I am very hands-on in managing my personal funds, investments and business cash flow.  There is not a day that goes by that I do not know exactly my finances. All of my businesses are debt-free and profitable.

It took me 9 years to get to where I am today. But I wouldn’t have made it if I have not learned early on that: “All of your success in making money will mean nothing if you do not know how to manage your money properly. If you do not know how to manage your money get help from someone who does, better if it is your spouse.”

 

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.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article entitled “The Best Advice I could ever give you about Money”.  I received a lot of feedback for that article and I thank everyone who read and wrote back. If you were not able to read that article yet, please read it here

This post is the story about how I started in business, the hardships I faced, how my wife was instrumental in making me succeed and the most critical decision I made in my life. If you are in debt right now, facing a failed business endeavor or starting to feel down, don’t give in and never give up.  Instead, read on as I hope that through this, you and others like you may know what it takes to win and succeed in anything you do.

In my “Best advice” article I mentioned that generating money for me was as natural as breathing. But after college, I decided to work for someone else and the pay was very good. I put my entrepreneurial ways aside because the salary, benefits and perks were just too convenient and hard to let go. As a result, I became complacent, over confident and cocky which made me careless about managing whatever I made. I spent it all on useless stuff. I never thought about the future because I honestly never saw that far. I was single, lived like there was no tomorrow and always thought, “I’ll spend my money now because I do not want to scrimp and save and be a slave to money. There is no reason to start thinking of the future. Live today because tomorrow you may die.”

I was a fool. I became careless and my debt began to pile up.

Then I decided to revert to my old entrepreneurial ways to augment my income. I thought that because of my high pay, I now have capital to start a serious business. Never mind if I was getting deeper and deeper into debt, never mind that I didn’t know how to manage the money that I earned, I’ll just do it.  I was young, handsome and stupid.

At that time, I was working full time in a multinational company. Because of the time constraints and pressures of my day job, I decided to just “let my money work for me”. I could not personally oversee the business on a day to day basis, so I hired a general manager and she convinced me to hire her cohorts with disgustingly high salaries. BIG MISTAKE. I ended up putting in 90% of my salary and bonuses into this business. Within 8 months, my debt had soared to close to a million pesos.

During the 6th to 8th month, I was already feeling the money drain away from me. I was always waiting for payday to come, this time not to enjoy the luxuries of life but to pay off whatever debt I had accumulated and the needs of the business which up until that point did not produce a single cent of income. My General Manager and her cohorts were milking me for all that I had and although I knew it, I was too arrogant to admit it at that time.

It was exactly like a dramatic movie scene where the room was dark and only the faint moonlight was peeking in, and in the corner of that room was me sitting, crying, and feeling the world falling apart. I couldn’t even think straight, I was close to a million pesos in debt. My job was my only lifeline and I was getting really tired of seeing all my hard earned money go away. Why and how did I get into this mess in the first place?

I asked myself repeatedly if I should close down the business and just pay off my debt slowly through my salary or if I should continue it and try to turn it around. The easy way out was the first option, and it was very, very tempting to just give in, to just give up.

Now I rarely find myself wallowing in self pity, it has never really been my style so after a full hour of drama alone in that dark room I made the most critical decision in my life.

I said to myself in a stern, scolding voice. “Get up, fix this and get it done. You have never been a loser Mark, don’t you dare start acting like one now” That night was the first turning point in my life which no one else could do for me, except me. So I got up, washed my face and started to feel better. So for those who have serious financial problems: “Get Up, Fix It and Get it Done. The first step is for you to first help yourself.”

HOW I GOT UP AND FIXED THE PROBLEM.

1 month before I met my wife: At that point, I had made a decision to fix the business, turn it around and get it done. Problem is, you will never get it done until you find a good enough reason to. For a month, the only reason that was driving me to fix the business was my ego but it was not enough. I found myself ready to give in and take the easy way out again.

I needed a stronger reason to stick to my decision. I prayed religiously for a month, and on October 9, 2000, that prayer was answered. The reason came in the form of my wife. You see I met my wife because I wanted to make a deal with her company to turn my business around. She was an entrepreneur herself and being more seasoned than me, she quickly turned down my business proposal. These were her exact words: “Your deal doesn’t make any sense for us to get into it.” That line, harsh as it may seem to you right now was actually the start of a beautiful relationship. …(Click here for the continuation.)

Click Here To Download the File!

Click Here To Download the File!

One of the top questions that I get from people is “What’s a good business to get into?” If you’ve asked this question yourself then you are in luck because in this article I will not only teach you how to choose one that is right for you but I will also give you 100+ Business Ideas for you to explore further.

So here are the instructions to download the list of 100+ Business Ideas

1.)    Click on the Icon above (Or Click Here)

2.)   When the Page refreshes, type in your contact details and Click “Register”

3.)    Check Your Email Immediately — The file will be emailed directly to your inbox.

Now let’s get started with the second part. Below are 5 questions that will help you tremendously when choosing and pinpointing the right business for you. If you can say YES to all 5 questions for any particular business in the list of ideas, then congratulations as you may have already found the business that you’ve been looking for.

Now, if after going through the list, you still can’t determine what business to get into, not to worry. Through the 5 questions below, I will hopefully clarify for you where you should start in your quest to find the business that you have been searching for.

The 5 Question Test:

Question # 1.) Am I really passionate about the idea? Or am I just joining a Fad?

Many times people start a business based on fads and not what they really want to do. They get into it because their friends or people that they know are getting into it. Instead of thinking this way, try to figure out what you really want to do with your life. If you find a business that allows you to do this, that’s the first positive sign. Scan through the list and just let yourself gravitate towards an idea or two in the list.

Question # 2.) Do I have a Customer / Customers who are willing to buy from me?

In my business seminars I always tell my students that the first step to making money is to find the customer first then build the business later. I also wrote a little bit about this in my article in Manila Bulletin last September 27 “How To Make Money With Zero Capital” but this question goes a little further, ask yourself. “If I get into this particular business, do I know of any one or groups of people who would be willing to buy from me, emphasis on the word me.

Question # 3.) Do I have any experience or skills in this particular business industry?

A very big plus before you start a business is to already have experience in a particular industry whether it is in sales and marketing, finance or operations, inventory management because one of the secrets of Entrepreneurship is to know how to add value to anything that will make it sell better. Your skills and experience matter. So ask yourself, do I have the experience or skills to allow me to carry out this business idea?

Question #4.) Can I commit the time and energy in getting this business started?

It is a myth to think that you can just hire someone to open and run a business for you from the start. I know because I did that before and it ended up horribly wrong. Abdication especially in the beginning will be disastrous. There is no other way about it — You will have to make time to work on developing this business even if it means working on it when you go home after your day job. So ask yourself, “Am I willing to sacrifice a bit of time and effort into getting this business started?  Can I stay committed to it as the going gets tough?”

Question # 5.) Can I see myself leaving this business to my children or the next generation?

Will you be proud of this business if you make it a success? Because believe it or not, 99% of people who want to start a business, want to start not just a racket but a legacy that they can leave their kids and generations to come. So ask yourself, can I see myself passing this business on to my children if they want to take over someday?

Enjoy and Good luck!

Feedback appreciated: I’d like to hear from you directly whether through my blog or email if my articles have helped you, if you have implemented any of the advices I’ve given and what is your most pressing question is about business. Your feedback will help me come up with even more relevant articles in the future.

Hi All!

I decided to start this blog to share my business and investing experiences for those who want to help themselves.

So for those reading this post right now, welcome!

Let me first start by saying that I did not take up commerce, business school or any formal financial training, my experience in these fields come from the school of “hard knocks”, which to me is the best school there is. I do however have a college degree from De La Salle University but what I finished is no where near business or finance, I am a licensed (but non-practicing,) Electronics and Communications Engineer.

Like many people I know, I ended up pursuing a passion different from my formal schooling and i’m happier to have done so. Which leads me to talk about one of my (and my wife’s) best ideas that became (and continues to be) a thriving, profitable, and helpful business: Businessmaker Academy, Inc

Before I continue about Businessmaker, let me first introduce my wife, her name is Jhoanna and it is because of her that I am who I am today. Perhaps one of the best advice I could ever give you is for you to find someone to marry who loves you, teaches you, and supports you, AND for that person to be willing to be loved, be taught and be supported by you as well. Find that person and your dreams will come true, I know because I married mine.

So Businessmaker Academy was actually Jhoanna’s dream which became a reality sooner rather than later. She wanted to teach people the practical art of Money Management because as you may have noticed, this is not taught in any school, at least on a practical, do it yourself level. So Jhoanna and I began this idealistic and what we believed to be a “noble and very necessary” pursuit. But we knew that we needed help, so we found and recruited our very dear friend Cindy to become our business partner. The three of us then embarked on a mission: “To create a company to help those who want to help themselves”.

That was 5 years ago, today, the three of us are still at it. But instead of just teaching people money management, we’ve expanded into a ton of different practical courses for anyone to take at their own time. Our courses now range from Business Start-Up, Forex Trading, Human Resource Managment, Team building, and Corporate training

So if you’re like me and the many people out there who want to pursue a passion other than what you were trained to do, a passion that you are unclear about the first steps in achieving it, or a passion in just helping yourself be better, know that you are not alone, Businessmaker Academy is here.

All the best!
-Mark So