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INFLUENTIAL ENTREPRENEUR TO THE ENTREPRENEURS: TAN SRI DR. TONY FERNANDES TAKES AIRASIA’S BRANDING TO THE SKIES
CHINA’S ONE BELT ONE ROAD INITIATIVE AND ITS IMPACT ON MALAYSIAN BUSINESSES
7 ESSENTIALS FOR BUSINESS SURVIVAL IN THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES
5 OCTOBER 2018 THE 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS (#100 MIYE) acknowledges bold, creative and innovative young Malaysian entrepreneurs below age of 45, who set the standards of Malaysiaâ€™s enterprising spirit. If you are one of these outstanding personalities who run incredible ventures, we want to honour you at The 100 MIYE 2018 Gala Dinner with the publication of our book.
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Influential Entrepreneur To The Entrepreneurs
Success For Women Entrepreneurs In The 21st Century
Chinaâ€™s One Belt One Road Initiative And Its Impact On Malaysian Businesses
Hacking Facebook or Facebook Being Hacked?
What You Need To Know About The Law of Attraction
The 4 Mindsets Of Self-Awareness In Dealing With Unforgiving Clients
7 Essentials For Business Survival In These Uncertain Times
Why Do Startups Fail?
Art As An Alternative And Viable Investment
Effective Public Speaking Can Propel Entrepreneurs To The Next Level
Maintaining A Fine Balancing Act
Understand Your Net Worth To Know Where You Stand
YVONNE YOONG EDITOR
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On The Cover
TAN SRI DR TONY FERNANDES
Group Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Berhad
What an amazing June Entrepreneur Insight issue we have planned for you, our valued readers. This month, we have on our cover, none other than the king of budget travel airline Tan Sri Anthony Francis “Tony” Fernandes who has candidly fielded every challenge that came his way and turned obstacles into sterling opportunities. An icon, having established AirAsia as a homegrown brand that has literally taken to the skies - the jetsetter is the epitome of the entrepreneur extraordinaire in every sense of the word. In fact, his reputation is so synonymously linked with AirAsia not only as far as locals are concerned - but is a byword internationally, which is no mean feat by any measurable standards. By the virtue of AirAsia’s immense popularity, Fernandes has even bought Malaysia’s pie in the sky – by marketing the familiar emblazoned red logo to the skies, so to speak. In the process, he has done more for Malaysia’s branding across the blue skies than one can possibly ever imagine. Brilliance precedes him in how he laughs in the face of adversity and the seemingly impossible. Who will forget the fact that he famously bought over the fledging and heavily indebted AirAsia airline back then for a mere RM1 from the subsidiary of the Malaysian government-owned conglomerate DRB-Hicom which was seeing red. Months that followed saw mind-boggling drop fares that stirred readers imagination as to how profits could be made. As Fernandes would famously now relate – December 2001 to mid 2002 saw AirAsia operating two aircrafts with 200 employees and a debt of RM40 million. Today, after 14 years of non-stop growth, AirAsia has multiplied is operations to encompass 200 aircrafts across five countries, covering over 200 routes comprising 19 hubs, and 100 destination across 21 countries. On top of that, it has been ranked the world’s best budget airline for seven consecutive years by Skytrax. This self-made entrepreneur‘s herculean efforts are in no way miniscule in that he is a self-made businessman whose net worth alone last year was listed at some USD345 million (RM1.35 billion) attempting to go perhaps even where angels fear to tread. Taking to the skies with full-fledged confidence, his dream of turning around AirAsia, a government-linked commercial airline, into a highly successful budget airline public-listed company is legendary. Having met Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in October 2001, he took his advice to buy the existing AirAsia airline instead of starting from scratch. So in essence, Fernandes whose dream since he was six was to own his own budget airline has come true has also made the dream to fly for the rest of the population – as opposed to what it used to be decades ago – being impossibly expensive, and so, restricting air travel to only about 10% of the population. Thriving in the fiery furnace and coming forth when tested as true gold are his signature accomplishments. Testimony to this is AirAsia being lauded as the world’s best lowcost airline nine years running as awarded by Skytrax World Airline Awards which is dubbed the “Oscars of the Aviation Industry” which is the global benchmark of airline excellence. Like David overcoming the Goliath of what could only be defined as expensive airline travel, he has fought for his dream famously intertwined in AirAsia’s resounding tagline “Now everyone can fly”. Read all about the selfmade AirAsia Group CEO’s story, and how he learnt so much from his enterprising mother’s passion for making Tupperware a household name during her time. Through her passion for Tupperware, a young Fernandes traversed Malaysia – spending much of his time at airports – which caused him to love the aviation industry. And, in tribute to Mother’s Day celebrated in May, we also profile women entrepreneurs who juggle work and family life in a healthy work life balance. Indeed, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Till we meet again next month!
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news & events Mah Sing Recruits Top Talents
From The UK
Mah Sing Group recently embarked on an ambitious recruitment drive in the UK via a number of engagements and events spanning over a week to attract top Malaysian talents studying there who are looking to kickstart their career in a fast-paced company. The group also participated in the Malaysian Career Fair which witnessed a record number of first-time applicants from various disciplines including engineering, finance and economics, data analysts, robotics and AI specialists taking part. Rachel Leong, Director of Group Strategy and Operations, who also participated as a panellist headed the delegation at the fair’s corporate luncheon where she shared the company’s philosophy with the student leaders there.
Canon Deepens its Commitment to Make Photography Accessible To Everyone Canon Marketing (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd today launched three new cameras under the brand’s EOS series namely; the EOS M50 mirrorless camera; EOS 1500D and EOS 3000D DSLR cameras as well as the Speedlite 470EX-AI flash. The new imaging products strike the perfect balance between superb imaging quality and supreme usability, signifying Canon’s efforts in connecting with a wider range of entry-level users while maintaining its focus on innovation and sophistication in imaging technology. The EOS M50 stands out amongst Canon’s mirrorless camera models as it is the first Canon camera to be equipped with the latest DIGIC 8 image processor that powers 4K video shooting capabilities, offering superior user experience in capturing life’s significant moments.
Cold Storage Expands
Its Reach In Penang Via Happyfresh HappyFresh, an online grocery shopping service that offers customers the convenience to order fresh food and groceries from a range of supermarkets and specialty stores - and have it delivered to their doorsteps in as little as one hour - has expanded its operations to Penang. The company, representing a food tech start-up founded in October 2014, with the app becoming available in Malaysia in March 2015 is backed by seasoned investors. HappyFresh is now one of the fastest growing food e-commerce companies in South East Asia, with operations in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Bangkok. The app is now available on Apple App Store and Google Play Store and offers more than 120,000 items to select from.
Exploring Strategic Planning In Business At a recent Business Open Day event organised by BNI, various representatives from different organisations and industries gathered to network with one another. Various industry specialists took to stage including business coach Peter Lam who gave a presentation on the importance of “Strategic Planning in Business”. The event was attended by over 100 SME business owners who picked up tips on how to upgrade their leadership and management skills in today’s marketplace.
RM88m Group Purchase for
M101’s Monopoly Mansion M101 Holdings Sdn Bhd held a group purchase signing agreement worth RM88 million with ANB Group for M101 Bukit Bintang. M101 Bukit Bintang will house the world’s first Monopoly hotel, Monopoly Mansion by Sirocco with built-ups of up to 872sqft and units priced at RM1,800 psf. “We are very pleased that in less than a month since we have licensed Monopoly from Hasbro, we have sold more than 80 units internationally. This is a testament of the market’s confidence in our brands: in both M101 and also Hasbro,” says Dato’ Seth Yap, Chief Executive Officer of M101.
BMW Group Malaysia Introduces The All-New BMW X3 BMW Group Malaysia today introduced the All-New BMW X3, which will be locally assembled for the first time in the country. This demonstrates BMW Group Malaysia’s commitment to growing its investments here in Malaysia, a move that further emphasises Malaysia as the hub for the BMW Group in South East Asia. Harald Hoelzl, Managing Director and CEO of BMW Group Malaysia said, “Today, we celebrate a new generation of the BMW X3, which in the history of the premium automotive industry, is the creator of the mid-sized premium SAV segment in 2003. This is a perfect example on the BMW belief that the best way to predict the future is to create it. With over two generations of the BMW X3, we have delivered more than 1.5 million vehicles to lead the segment all over the world. The All-New BMW X3 is set to continue to profile the next chapter in BMW’s success story in the premium segment.”
INFLUENTIAL ENTREPRENEUR TO THE ENTREPRENEURS Famously known for taking AirAsia’s branding literally to the skies – the undisputed king of budget airlines travel Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes’ destiny seems to be written in the stars, as recounted in his fascinating entrepreneurial journey beyond his wildest dreams BY YVONNE YOONG
An entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. A dreamer and go-getter. A rebel with justifiable causes to champion. An overcomer who has emerged from the fiery furnace of adversity unscathed - and in fact lived and thrived, to tell his tale. A dreamer who is not afraid of reinventing the wheel and willing to go where others have feared to tread. And, a true maverick when it comes to branding and marketing.
“We sponsored Manchester United and people used to think before that - with AirAsia, you’ll sit next to a chicken or you’ll be standing on your flight – but as soon as we sponsored Manchester United – people said ‘Wow!’ This must be a very serious airline. So I’ve said it a thousand times – keep some money for branding and Public Relations to build your brand,” shares Fernandes tongue-in-cheek.
“I’ve always said that AirAsia is all about branding so it’s tremendous for me that the Branding Association of Malaysia has recognised us. And, I’m very honoured also to be acting as its adviser,” says Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes, Group Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Berhad in support of the association’s mission for “brand champions to do something for the country”.
AirAsia’s Branding Wasn’t Built In A Day
It was no surprise that he earned yet another significant feather in his famous signature red AirAsia cap when honoured with the Nation Builder tribute during the Branding Association of Malaysia’s 18th anniversary Branding Gala 2018’s “The Red Carpet Affair” dinner held earlier in January. This is following a list of illustrious accolades and acclaims including even the French Government - the Legion of Honour order and Fernandes also being named Commander of the Order of the British Empire “for services to promote commercial and educational links” between Malaysia and the UK. Acknowledging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as being the lifeblood of the country - given their inherent potential to become huge in contributing to the nation’s economy in tremendous ways – Fernandes, 54, attests that AirAsia has achieved its success through its effective branding and marketing strategy. “When we started AirAsia, we only had two planes. We had no money but we had a dream. We had a dream to enable everyone to fly. And, over the last 16 years, we have gone from 200,000 passengers a year to this year when we would have carried 89 million passengers which is a phenomenal story,” shares Fernandes at the event. In retrospect, AirAsia also has to its credit – sponsored Manchester United when it only had six planes to its name – making it a small leap of faith for AirAsia’s branding exercise and a giant leap for the budget airline’ branding. In the end, Manchester United voted AirAsia as the best budget airline – dispelling other preconceived notions surrounding the low-cost airline.
Crediting a major part of AirAsia’s resounding achievements to effective marketing, the alumni of the London School of Economics who studied at Epsom College boarding school in the UK and Alice Smith School in Kuala Lumpur advocates this tried-and-tested effective strategy for the success of any business. “Invest in a brand. Too many great ideas are killed without good marketing. And, always in a crisis, marketing is your solution. Marketing is key. It is so critical and yet too many Malaysian companies don’t spend enough on branding and marketing. Soaring upwardly is a brand that takes years (to build) and you won’t see the results the next day,” adds Fernandes. “AirAsia is a brand. When we had no money, I wore my cap because that was the only branding that I had and we had no money to advertise. So, I wore my cap and made controversial statements. We always did everything with the brand in our minds. I tell people starting a business – it’s not about the idea so much but about making sure people know about your idea. There are too many great ideas no one ever hears about – so always make sure you have a budget to build your brand upon,” explains Fernandes who is also Founder of Tune Group and Chairman of Queens Park Rangers (QPR). Attesting to how AirAsia built its branding over 10 years, a series of effective public relations campaigns saw him slowly but steadily building a steady fan base locally as well as globally. Besides AirAsia’s many incredulous jaw-dropping price fare advertisements of which one seriously wondered how the airline could stay afloat - who could forget his crazy dare taken with Sir Richard Branson – of which the loser of their bet - which turned out to be Branson saw the latter donning on an AirAsia stewardess’ red dress and serving customers on a flight - just for laughs. MAY 2018
On a more serious note, when the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) broke out, Fernandes did anything but slash his advertising budget when every other airline cut theirs – and instead, tripled AirAsia’s advertising budget spending, and the airline reaped in tremendous profits as compared to its competitors.
profile crowd to have her photography taken with him. So, in more ways than one, Fernandes’ own personal image exemplifies his own personal branding in how he loves his staff and people in general – regardless of rank. His hands on approach also witnesses him on his rounds on the ground or on board AirAsia flights occasionally.
“So, we created something out of nothing. You can do anything you want to do,” he attests in his famous can-do management style as also reflected in how he empowers his army of AirAsia staff.
“I have more than 20,000 amazing staff who never fail to amaze me every day with their drive and energy along with the belief that ‘Anything is possible’. Really, my message is on branding. We cannot really be a nation without great entrepreneurs. While taking photographs tonight, I’ve met people who have built furniture for us, who have a more powerful drink than Red Bull, who have cut hair like Datin Winnie Loo (who does my hair) and those who are making gloves. It is phenomenal,” he relates with pride.
After the infamous Bali bombing in 2002, AirAsia was the only airline which did not cancel its flights there. Not only that – but Fernandes also launched AirAsia’s “We love Bali” campaign in solidarity with Bali at a time when the island needed support the most – offering 500 free flights to Bali that were snapped up by Malaysians who were given tickets to holiday there. And for that, Fernandes received an award from the Bali Governor.
In addition to that, Fernandes initiated flights to Bandung – from his experience having to drive all the way there to record songs during his music records career days. Today, there are 31 weekly flights to Bandung from all across Southeast Asia.
Understanding the plight and courage that comes along with the challenge-ridden entrepreneurship journey, this self-made serial Malaysian entrepreneur with a net worth of USD745 million (RM2.92 billion) as rated this year, whose road to success and riches were built upon being faithful in the small things which has led to an avalanche of success which even he finds it hard to believe - remains open to learning and self-improvement for tomorrow’s success.
In relation to the airline tragedy in Indonesia years ago, Fernandes himself personally walked the talk to visit each affected family. In other simple but practical ways that best exemplify his charismatic charm and appeal with the masses, Fernandes who was quick to commend Malaysia as being in a “very fortunate position with a wide diversity of entrepreneurs” at the Branding Association night also candidly singled out a shy hotel employee from the awaiting high
“It is incredibly hard and takes a lot of courage to leave a comfortable job to start your own business. I would have never thought I would ever do that but I got so fed up of Americans telling me what to do when I was in the music business that I decided to give it a try. And, the last 16 years, it has been an amazing story. Really - a story that’s been hard to believe – even for me when I look back,” he reminisces.
Journey Into Entrepreneurship - Determined By Destiny Sharing on his entrepreneurial journey leading up to the success of today, the impetus that led him on his career path was the seemingly coincidental combination of his decision and career choice combined perhaps with the dictates of destiny. “I started out in the music business but along the way, I got tired of corporate life and its politics. And then, I saw a business opportunity. Everyone wants to fly but before AirAsia, few people could do so because ticket prices were too high. I wanted to change that,” he says.
Fernandes mortgaged his home and used his personal savings to acquire the company consisting two Boeing 737-300 jet aircrafts with soaring debts of RM40 million for RM1. Looking back, he says he sees destiny’s hands navigating his career. “I bought AirAsia just three days before the 9/11 incident – a time when airline were going intro bankruptcy, oil prices went through the roof and people were too scared to fly, or so they said. But, I was committed, regardless what was thrown at me because I felt people had to fly. Life is about risks – life is about not being afraid to fail.”
This brings Fernandes back to his childhood days whereby he used to accompany his mother - who was a music teacher by profession at a convent school flying around Malaysia on her Tupperware mission. This instilled a love for airports in a young Fernandes who had told his father at six years of age that he would like to own an airline to which his father responded in jest that he would be happy if he could make it past the Hilton as a doorman.
In retrospect, Fernandes would agree that his timing was indeed perfect as after September 11, 2001 - aircraft leasing costs fell by 40%. Airline lay-offs also meant experienced staff were readily available.
Sharing how the Eureka moment of inspiration occurred as he was sitting at a bar in London watching the television screen and saw Stelios Haji-loannou of EasyJet talking about his airline then, Fernandes decided the time was ripe to own his own airline.
“You can’t press the rewind button and relive your life. So, I tell everyone - go out there and live your life to the most. Try. If you fail, try again. Because you don’t want to sit there and say, ‘I wish I did it. You’ve got to have passion in what you do. If you love what you do, you’re going to excel!” he offers this nugget of advice magnanimously to young and would-be entrepreneurs.
“I though it was an interesting concept and one that would work in Asia, given than many Asians had never flown in their life,” he says. “When I bought AirAsia (in 2001), it was in operations for five years and (its corporate colours were) blue and green . It had a bird on its tail and that was its logo. And so I thought, why do all airline have animals using lions, tigers, etc. ” says the master branding strategist. “I decided to get rid of the bird and change the colour from blue and green to red, and change the image. Too many companies have different logos and when you don’t have too much of budget, you are spreading your money across two images. The biggest brand in the world like Coca-Cola is recognisable by its italicised wordings and, if I say Nike, you’re thinking of the swoosh. So, I decided to get rid of the bird and just focus on AirAsia as our brand,” he attests to the importance of branding especially as the media world goes digital.
“There’s a very fine line between brilliance and stupidity. It’s very narrow. But, as I tell all you entrepreneurs, you only live once. And, you don’t want to sit there at 55 and say, ‘I wish I did it but it’s too late’.
But most inspiring of all - in him realising his dream of owning an airline touting the tagline “Now everyone can fly” - he has made the dream of the rest of the population - minus six per cent of Malaysians who had ever travelled by air - come true. His rationale was simple:- “I had a dream. Everyone wants to fly. Everyone wants to fly cheaper.” Sealing AirAsia’s pie in the sky - one of Fernandes’ key achievements was to “open up countries within the region to new budget carriers, which previously did not have open-skies agreements.” As a result of Fernandes’ lobbying in mid-2003, Dr Mahathir it was reported brought up the idea with leaders from neigbouring countries. Subsequently, those nationals granted landing rights to AirAsia and other discount carriers.
And, the rest as they say, is airline history.
Chasing His Dreams
“I started the airline with no money. DRB-Hicom owned the AirAsia airline before this. I had no experience in airline and I sold music by Sally Yeh, Sammie Cheng, Aaron Kwok. But, I decided that it was time to try something else,” he says of his decision to end his career in the music industry which he started out with at Virgin Records owned by Sir Richard Branson whom he was working for.
A proponent of chasing one’s dreams - Fernandes encourages entrepreneurs to “believe the unbelievable and dare to dream” . “Never take no for an answer and live your life.”
Admitting to being a risk-taker, he relates how after meeting Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in October 2001, who suggested that instead of starting from scratch, he should instead buy an existing airline. AirAsia was in the red, being a heavily indebted subsidiary of the fovernment-owned conglomerate, DRB-Hicom. A series of coincidental encounters ensued including a golf session during which time he met the owner of AirAsia back then.
Relating how his best friend from school called him to inform him he found his tuck box two years which he hadn’t seen for some 20 to 30 years, he says having it sent over to his house in London and seeing it made him very emotional as emblazoned on it were his dreams which have come true in this lifetime. “There were three stickers on the box and these were the three dreams I had when I was 13 years old. On the left was Qantas Airline - because I always wanted to own an airline; and in the middle was a Williams Formula 1 airline sticker because I always wanted to MAY 2018
own a Formula 1 team; and on the far right was a West Ham United which was the football team I used to support and I looked at it and I thought, ‘Wow!’” relates Fernandes.
Success Lives On The Other Side of Failure As an encouragement to other entrepreneurs, Fernandes says that his life has not all been outlined by success as he relates that there have been many failures as well. “I’ve had a disastrous Formula One (FI) team, semi-disastrous football club but the journey isn’t over with football but we’ve decided to go low cost. And so - watch QPR over the next two years but I’ve done everything that I’ve wanted to do. And so, if I get hit by a bus, and many people want to drive that bus, I would have lived a great life. So, that’s what I tell all you entrepreneurs – don’t get advice from your mother, father, brother, sister, friends – go with your heart. Just go with what you believe in – and, it’s amazing what you can achieve when you put your heart and mind to it,” he adds. In closing, one of Malaysia’s most influential entrepreneurs with charismatic appeal and a heart for the masses states:- “Dreams do come true and so, I urge all of you to live your dreams and go out and do your very best. We live in a country that is far from perfect but here – we can make dreams come true. Enjoy life. Don’t be negative. Go out there and be positive. Don’t blame anyone. If you can do itjust do it. Your heart and soul can make a big difference. Life is great – enjoy every minute of it. Don’t waste time on negative thoughts and always find a positive solution.” “Enjoy every moment. Go out there and be the best you want to be because no one remembers people who come in second. They only remember the winners so go out and enjoy today, and be the best at anything and everything you do, so life will be so much more fun,” he opines. “There is nothing special about me or AirAsia. We had a dream and no one was going to stop us. We’ve gone from two planes to more than 200 planes and I am the ultimate dreamer. I love football, I love racing cars and I love planes. And, I love my new wife,” he says paying tribute to Chloe whom he tied the knot with on 14 October last year who was also present at the Branding Association dinner night. “Keep dreaming, keep building and keep believing.” Spoken like a true champion who has aimed for the skies and emblazoned his dreams among the stars.
LESSONS IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP FROM THE MASTER ENTREPRENEUR You’ve won a string of entrepreneurial awards including that at the recent Branding Association of Malaysia. Which of these are the most meaningful to you and why? Awards are nice and it’s truly great to receive them. However, I would say the most meaningful honour to me is being able to build a company that helps people achieve their dreams - whether that’s flying somewhere or finding a job that makes you smile in the morning.
Who do you think is a successful entrepreneur? Any role models whom you emulate? My mother. I believe I inherited my entrepreneurial spirit from her side of the family. After completing school, my mother went on to become a music teacher at a convent school. Then one day her sister introduced her to selling Tupperware and her entrepreneurial spirit was triggered. My mum was really good at it and she rose through the ranks from being a Tupperware sales agent to running the Tupperware business in Malaysia. I have always admired my mother’s outgoing personality and infectious energy.
What are lessons learnt from being an entrepreneur that you could pass on to young entrepreneurs? Don’t believe someone who says you can’t do something. I have failed terribly at Formula One but I have no regrets because I got to be on the starting grid with great names like Ferrari and McLaren. The second would be, if you have the greatest idea in the world, spend on marketing. Without marketing, even the best idea will never be heard. Remember, marketing is not only about how much you
spend. It is also about public relations. When we started AirAsia, we didn’t have money to spend on marketing so instead I wore a red cap with our logo on everywhere I went, and I made controversial statements. That got me into the press and gave our brand publicity.
Behind the successful Tan Sri Tony Fernandes that the world knows, what is the lesser known traits about you? While no one believes me, I’m actually a pretty shy, introverted person. When I was launching my book, it was weird for me because suddenly I had to talk about myself when I have always been used to talking about my business. My Head of Communications, Audrey, had to push me to post about my book on my Instagram which was kind of odd for me. But, we are all influencers and we have to speak up for what we believe in and that’s what drives me to be vocal.
Having achieved what could once be considered an impossible statement - “Now everybody can ﬂy” - what is the next impossible mountain you intend to conquer for your personal life and AirAsia? There are two industries I still want to change. Healthcare and education. Private healthcare is beyond the means of most people. From the way I see it, the current system has some inefficiencies because hospitals try to do everything themselves. The truth is, 80 percent of people who visit hospitals have 20 of diseases out there. The other 20 percent of people have more complicated problems that need the attention of specialists. There should be hospitals set up to deal solely with the 80 percent of patients, instead of having the state system having to deal with everyone, which has caused inefficiencies. Technology should also be used to help address those inefficiencies. Education is similar as private education is way too expensive. I want to explore different models and try to open private education up, because in the long run it will reduce the burden on the state system.
ONE BELT ONE ROAD INITIATIVE AND ITS IMPACT ON
Much has been said about the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative by China but just what is OBOR all about and what will it bring to entrepreneurs in Malaysia? In a nutshell, OBOR is a massive infrastructure project mooted by Chinese President Xi Jinping back in 2013 whose initiative is linked to 65 countries with an overall estimated USD5 trillion (RM19.65 trillion) in spending. This is to enhance connectivity and trade between China and the continents in Asia, Europe and Africa. In short, China is taking the lead in globalisation via this OBOR initiative. By definition, this can translate to Chinese businesses emerging from China to expand their footprints internationally as well as
Let China sleep, for when she wakes she will shake the world,
- Napoleon Bonaparte
is Head of Asia Pacific for the BPP Education Group, the UK and concurrently serves as Education Advisor to Bakewise Academy, a vocational training institute in Malaysia. His passion is in education policy, planning and development. The BPP APAC business experienced a 400% growth in three years after he joined. Email him at email@example.com
businesses from other countries going into China to tap into the vast Chinese market. Malaysia, with its historical trade ties to China dating centuries ago, looks set to be at the front seat of the OBOR initiative in Southeast Asia. In 2015 alone, China invested some USD2 billion into Malaysia and bilateral trade stood at around USD100 billion. And, the numbers are growing year-on-year (YOY). For budding entrepreneurs and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia, OBOR heralds a much welcome boost for the local economy. Given the scope and OBOR’s overarching reach, it is difficult to narrowly define it. What can be extracted from OBOR initiatives is that in the Southeast Asia region, due to its geographical positioning and the fact that these countries
have been welcoming Chinese investments on a grand scale over the past few years - Malaysia is certainly a key country in the OBOR initiative. Narrowing this further, what this means is that there are many opportunities for our entrepreneurs and SMEs to jump on the OBOR bandwagon in order to escalate their businesses. Let us first look at Chinese businesses and the Chinese population as a whole and how we can benefit from it. With a burgeoning middle class and an ever expanding number of high net worth individuals, these two groups would be looking at coming to Malaysia which will be a boost for tourism promising both leisure activities such as experiencing and purchasing exotic local produce (durian and bird nest as well as other local delicacies and more) as well as MAY 2018
Source: Financial Tribune
and medical tourism. Then, there’s the education aspect as well a property investment to consider - just to name a few. Malaysia has lots to offer for both businesses and consumers in China. Thus, local entrepreneurs and SMEs would do well to create good links and networks in China. They can then partake in the task of fulfilling the demand for goods and services related to Chinese businesses and consumers. Malaysia’s multilingual and flexible adaptability will be able to put us in good stead in dealing with the Chinese. When need be, these traits will be very useful in setting up partnerships with the Chinese. This works both ways - in attracting Chinese consumers while encouraging Chinese businesses to invest here. In fact, the Malaysian government has even invited Jack Ma and his Alibaba Group to establish Alibaba’s regional distribution hub at the former low-cost carrier terminal, and Geely has already invested and now owns 49% of Proton. At the entrepreneur and SME level, we already have major travel agents promoting Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H). The medical tourism division specialises in attracting Chinese citizens while many local institutions of higher learning are also aggressively courting Chinese students to study in Malaysia. Therefore, for local entrepreneurs and SMEs venturing into China, what should they do? Firstly, let us not be naïve and think that whatever we bring there will be a hit. Before venturing into China, we need to get our heads around how the Chinese think and what the consumer trends and patterns would be like. There are some obvious industries whereby Malaysia has great expertise and experience in such as international schools, private higher education, accounting and finance (including Islamic finance), halal products and certification, low-cost air travel, aviation repair and/or maintenance, oil and gas, motor sports and hospitality, etc that can be marketed to China. Being at the forefront of OBOR initiatives will also help greatly in the branding of Malaysia as a whole to Chinese consumers and businesses. The OBOR initiative and infrastructure investment by
China into Malaysia has generated a healthy buzz of enquiries and curiosity amongst Chinese businesses about what businesses in Malaysia can offer in China. Therefore, now is the time for entrepreneurs and SMEs alike to act quickly to venture into China, develop links, conduct viability studies and form joint ventures (JVs) with Chinese partners whenever possible and act quickly. There is also the possibility of leveraging on available Chinese funding for some of the priority projects like renewable energy, scientific research, logistics, financial services, etc. Before the OBOR initiative, Parkson had already ventured to China in 1994 with its first store, and now has 60 outlets in China covering 37 cities. With OBOR, I have no doubt that many more Malaysia brands will be charging into China. AirAsia is already building its Chinese hub in Zhengzhou, China. A private Malaysian University has also already inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a campus at the ChinaMalaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park. This industrial park is developed jointly by none other homegrown S P Setia and Rimbunan Hijau with their Chinese partners. On my part, I’m on the verge of setting up a leadership and training programme in Shanghai with my partners in Shanghai. Thus, there will be more and more businesses from Malaysia aiming their guns at this lucrative Chinese market so doing your due diligience and conducting your own market research will be crucial in penetrating this market. Napoleon Bonaparte once said “Let China sleep, for when she wakes she will shake the world,” China has now awaken and the OBOR initiative is only one of the many ways that China will shake the world. Startups, SMEs, entrepreneurs, local conglomerates and even our GLCs would do well to hop on this OBOR wagon as this will bring about both tangible returns in terms of profits as well as intangible returns in the form of brand building and market access to the future world’s largest economy.
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What You Need To Know About The
Law of Attraction The Law of Attraction (LOA) likens people as magnets attracting what they think and feel from the Universe. It is a physical law that works for everyone - whether one believes in it or not. There is so much proof of the LOA working amongst successful people which can be seen reflected in the way they seem to attract more and more abundance into their lives. Once you know how to work with the principles of the law of LOA and apply it to your life - you can benefit from its fruits and elicit wonderful, life-changing experiences. There are many testimonies from people who claim that their lives have been changed after learning how to apply the techniques of LOA to their lives.
Here are some examples of the things you can gain by using the Law of Attraction the correct way:• Attracting endless wealth and many resources of abundance • Finding true love • Having a sense of happiness, joy and peace more often and not only on special occasions • Getting a break from anxiety, stress and pressure in your daily life • Attracting positive experiences from “out of the blue”
There are entrepreneurs - especially those the startup stage who constantly need to meet clients. Amongst the challenges I hear about is:- “Why can’t I get the clients that I want?” Entrepreneurs continually share that their clients are fussy, demanding and do not listen to their suggestions, besides always asking for discounts. Sounds familiar? So I ask them:- “What do you want?” And, they will answer back saying “I don’t want this, and I don’t want that.” LOA matches your feelings or vibrations that you give out! There are only two kinds of vibes - either the positive or negative. Your feelings create those vibes. The word “vibration” simply describes the mood we are in or a feeling that we have. The universe receives these feelings and sends back the exact vibrations that match the ones you have. That is why it is so important to feel good, so you can get back positive vibrations that match the vibrations you are broadcasting. Therefore, when you say:- “I don’t want fussy and demanding buyers!” Guess what type of clients you will most likely attract? Yes, exactly that in really fussy and demanding clients! So instead, what you can say is, “I am attracting buyers who are easy-going and accept what I offer to them happily!” The principle of LOA suggest that when you use negative words, you will start getting the exact things that you don’t want. We think with words - therefore, it is important to know what words you should not use. Start by eliminating these three negative words that cause you to attract what you don’t want - like ‘don’t’, ‘not’, ‘no’ as well as other words with negative connotations.
CHIN KANG WEI
A Certified Law of Attraction (LOA) facilitator, he is passionate in helping business owners in Perak by teaching and organising proper self-development programmes including sharing the principles of LOA - “Three Steps Using LOA to Attract What You Want” with them to grow their business so that they can create more jobs and future Perakians don’t need to leave to other states for employment.
Pattrick, an active proponent of LOA who is in the financial industry, shares with us that after eliminating negative words from his thoughts, he now has a pool of clients who constantly refers clients to him that he wants. Another important note to consider is to avoid using the word “want” when you focus on your goal as this sends out the message that you have to continue looking for something. Instead, use sentences like: “I am excited about the thought of… I like the idea… I am attracting… I love how it feels when…” What happens when you find yourself attracting negative results? That great! When this happens, we term this as “contrast” (things that you don’t want) which instead you may need for “clarity” (things that you want). Once in a while, we may get some negative thoughts and results or something that we don’t want. Therefore, you need to observe negative results; albeit briefly. Do not get frustrated for a long period of time. As I have mentioned earlier, LOA matches your feelings or vibrations and will give you more of the same. When you are getting negative results - you can always reset and reverse this, simply by asking “So, what do I want?” Focus positively on what you want to achieve - then, you will change your “contrast” to “clarity” - and get what you want! You don’t always get what you want - you get what you “vibrate”.
7 ESSENTIALS FOR BUSINESS SURVIVAL IN THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES
In the past couple of years, we have seen the ringgit plunging to new record lows while oil and gas prices have come crashing down coupled by weak commodity prices. Together with the Goods and Services Tax (GST), all these factors have led to weakened consumer spending, among others. Items which have to be imported - including raw materials and components, have become more expensive and with all the political uncertainty, the less optimistic among us could very well say that we are living in very troubled and uncertain times. So, what are some things that we can do to protect our respective businesses and to survive this current crisis? Here are 7 things that every business owner should do to ensure business survival in these uncertain times.
STEP UP ON YOUR MARKETING EFFORTS
PROTECT YOUR CASH FLOW
Build up your reserves and make sure you keep an eye on your receivables. This is a good time to focus on your best customers and keep your credit and collection policies tight. Slow down or eliminate your poorpaying customers (more on this in point 5 below). Make as much of your sales in cash rather than credit as much as possible. Obviously, you should also be prudent in your spending, especially those related to inventory spending. Also, watch your stock levels as this is not the time to have your cash tied-up in slow-moving stocks or heavy over- stocking. Try to free up your cash flow and hold off on your capital expenses unless they are critical for business continuity or delivery of already committed orders. One more thing - Make sure that you maintain a good relationship with your banks. Remember the story of the umbrella being taken away when it rains? Maintaining good a relationship with your lenders in times like this is always a good idea. Keep them updated on your proactive steps to keep your business running in these troubled times. Forewarn them that you may need more working capital.
PROTECT YOUR MARGINS
In times like these, you are bound to experience cost increases. You have to pass on such cost increases as soon as you can. You have no choice as when push comes to shove, it is far better to have slightly fewer but good customers rather than many customers who are not in good standing, not creditworthy or risky paymasters. Unless you are currently operating on exceptionally high margins, you have to protect your margins if you are to pull through this crisis.
Most businesses will pull back on marketing in times like these while cutting back on their marketing spending. However, that’s not the right thing to do. If anything, you will need to do more marketing - not less so as to generate more leads and increased customers as well as to keep them coming back. I’m not suggesting that you just spend impulsively though. No, but you need to make sure that your marketing strategy works harder than ever. Make it low cost and even more effective - and ensure that you are measuring the results that you are getting. This is the time to get really creative in your marketing strategy as each marketing dollar you spend has to generate results. Now is not the time for image or “brand-building” type of activities. Instead, direct response marketing is the order of the day.
SCRUTINISE YOUR CRITICAL NUMBERS
Your marketing numbers are your goldmine! Study your best customers’ buying patterns and monitor the size of their purchases. Understand what are your best sources for leads and which are your cheapest lead generation strategies. Track your conversion statistics from each lead source plus the conversion or closing rate of each of your sales people. Also, be sure to test which promotional strategy works harder for you. All these factors will help you drive more powerful and increased effective marketing for your business.
SLOW DOWN OR ELIMINATE POOR-PAYING CUSTOMERS
Like I said above, this is the time to weed out your poor-paying customers and nonperforming customers. This is the time instead to focus on your good and loyal customers. This mean customers who are willing to pay you on time and who themselves have a good and strong business potfolio. You have to move away from the paradigm that any business is good - and is better than no business at all. That is not true as your poor-paying customers will rob your business of cash flow that will eventually leave you starving - like starving the body of oxygen. So, make sure you focus on your best customers instead.
GET RID OF DEADWOOD
Be lean but not mean. Now is the time to make sure you only keep your top performers. The poor or non-performers will have to go, no matter how long they may have been with you as they are draining your cash flow. And, more importantly, they are sapping the energy from the rest of your team. You don’t want a bloated and unproductive work force as you need to ask this question- Is it fair to the good performers that they have to carry the burden of the poor performers?
LEVERAGE BY TRAINING YOUR TEAM AND INCREASING THEIR PRODUCTIVITY
With the good people that you keep, make sure you train them well so that they can be even more productive. Work on their communications, time management and telephone skills. Better yet, improve their sales skills. Investment in such training will always give you a good return. To quote Abraham Lincoln who famously wrote:- “If I have six hours to chop a tree down, I’ll spend four hours sharpening my axe!” So, do consider how sharp your axe is and how sharp your team’s axe is. Do these seven things and you’ll have a good chance of getting through this difficult period. It won’t be easy but it’ll be worth it. Stay positive and mentally strong. Be in the company of like-minded positive people. All the best! With over 22 years of corporate experience with leading Multinational Corporations (MNCs) like Unilever, Kraft Foods and Ogilvy & Mather, Peter Lam is a highly sought-after Business & Executive Coach, high-impact Master Trainer and Keynote Speaker. He is also the Author of the upcoming book ProfitMAX Your Business. Get in touch with Peter at www. peterlamcoach.com or via linkedin.com/in/ coachpeterlam
ART AS AN
ALTERNATIVE AND VIABLE INVESTMENT Wealth creation takes on a whole different meaning this time around - with urban art taking centrestage as an alternative investment as opposed to more conventional means of generating returns from rental of properties or investing in stocks and bonds BY YVONNE YOONG Wealth creation has taken on many forms - with the wealthy investing in premium luxury properties overseas as well as in luxury yachts and so on. Besides investing in luxury watches, toys of the ultra rich span the length and breath of the imagination and whilst investors have traditionally turned to property investment as well as gold and silver - investing also in currency and the latest Cryptocurrency - increasingly, investors are looking to invest in other forms of money-yielding returns. Even as snapsots of studies conducted show that in cosmopolitan cities such as London, New York, Sydney - although respondents globally have increased their allocation in property even in normalising interest rates - with equities coming in a close second place - there are those who are also looking for safer asset class bonds to invest into. Besides investing in gold and silver, which may have lost its lustre given the slower performing returns, as opposed to the risks of uncharted and relatively unexplored Cryptocurrency, art looks set to take centrestage as a new emerging trend that tends to appreciate with time. And indeed, of late, art seems to be on the radar and has been catching on slowly but surely as a viable form of investment returns. Once considered among the toys of the wealthy - in the league of luxury watches and premium vacations abroad, art is now increasingly finding its place among the asset classes of equities - coming close to sitting comfortable in place of bonds and stocks as investment alternatives that is able to hold its own and also increase in value overtime. An example would be the case even of urban art, as discovered in the revelation of amounts its collection could fetch once transferred into the hands of collectors, as witnessed in the case of this alternative swanky art gallery in London, the UK.
URBAN ART AN ALTERNATIVE INVESTMENT â€œWith the poor interest rates at banks and the slowdown of the property market in the UK, investors are increasingly looking for alternative investment opportunities and along with wine, art is certainly proving itself as a hot prospect,â€? affirms Oliver Cox, Founder and Owner of Graffik Gallery in London.
With the poor interest rates at banks and the slow down of the property market in the UK, investors are increasingly looking for alternative investment opportunities and along with wine, art is certainly proving itself as a hot prospect
- Oliver Cox
Sharing how Graffik Gallery has a “history of spotting up-andcoming artists”, he shares how the paintings sold at the art gallery’s Stik Solo Show in 2011 for just over £1,000 (RM5,450) now commands well in excess of £40,000 (RM218,000). The studio’s two current prospects of Catman & Dotmaster are well worth considering as “buy and hold investments”. “Both artists’ works are increasing in value and solo shows for both this year will give investors the opportunity to buy primary new works from each artist and small limited edition print runs will also be available,” adds Cox. Graffik Gallery he adds has a reputation for being London’s prime street art destination having carved a master status in “the movements and trends of the urban art genre.” Established in 2008 by Cox, this year marks Graffik’s ten year anniversary which is seeing the business growing from strength to strength. Through an unparalleled combination of ability to foresee emerging talent and expert investment advice, the gallery has earned itself a strong collection of loyal followers and client base. “We feel the gallery has always been about offering a two-way street between artists and clients. On the one hand, it offers street artists a place to sell art as they paint for free on the streets. And, on the other hand we exist for people who love street art and want to hang it in their homes” he elaborates.
Today the gallery divides its focus between the primary and secondary art market whilst at the same time being the only gallery in London, which provides its own in-house Graffiti workshops. The workshops are a very important aspect of Graffik which give the public an opportunity to fully engage in the street art experience. “We teach in two hours how to cut a Banksy-style stencil and participants can learn spray can techniques and practice these on the outdoor walls. Each guest ends up spraying their own canvas to take home. The workshops have also proven to be very popular with corporate clients who use Graffik for their ‘team building away days’,” he attest to the every growing client list including the likes of Nike, Facebook, Google and Amazon to name a few. “Our work on the primary market is still the favourite part of our business as we get the opportunity to work directly with exciting emerging artists. A huge part of what we do is searching for new talent and artists who we feel would fit,” he says adding that this year Graffik has produced a limited edition run of screen prints for Catman and Dotmasters to release at Art Basel Miami which both sold extraordinary well. The 2017 Moniker Art Fair was another great success for the gallery and a great example of Graffik’s primary and secondary market balance. “We gave Dotmastersa free reign to create his amazing installation (pictured above) on one half of our stand and had a section of Banksy & Stik prints and originals opposite this.”
international insight Here’s a little about each artist furnished by Graffik Gallery in London, the UK:-
CATMAN Catman is a street artist based between London and Kent in the UK. He studied architectural model making at The University of Creative Arts Rochester (UCA) where he gained his fine scalpel skill while producing scale architectural models, a skill used today in the stencil method used in his paintings. Listed as a finalist for the stencil art prize in 2014 and 2015 in Sydney, Catman exhibited alongside some of the finest stencil artists in the world at the aMBUSH gallery in what is regarded to be the most renowned stencil art competition in the world.
DOTMASTER Born and raised in London, the UK, The Dotmasters is the offspring of C6.org, a new-media based collective of artpranksters. Active throughout the 1990’s, they bridged the gap between art and activism with attention-snatching events that pulled no punches. As at home in the ghetto as he is in paradise, The Dotmasters work can be found anywhere from a pikey trailer park to the penthouses of Europe and have been featured in both Banksy’s Cans Festival in Waterloo and his Oscar-nominated feature film “Exit Through The Gift Shop”.
Banksy, a street artist whose identity remains unknown, is believed to have been born in Bristol, England in the UK around 1974. He rose to prominence for his provocative stenciled pieces in the late 1990s. Banksy is the subject of a 2010 documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop”, which examines the relationship between commercial and street art. Journalist Max Foster has referred to the rising prices of graffiti as street art as “the Banksy effect.” Interest in Banksy escalated with the release of the 2010 documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop”. The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was nominated for an Academy Award. Another great example of street art’s proven investment record is the work of Banksy. “Girl with Balloon”, Banksy’s most iconic image retailed in 2004 for £100 (RM545) and now sells for £100,000 RM545,000 onwards. Unsigned Banksy prints can still be purchased for around £6000 (RM32,700) and is steadily increasing year by year. Potential investors can refer to the auction results.
women entrepreneurs Increasingly, women entrepreneurs are stamping their mark in various industries. In tribute to Mother’s Day, we profile three women who juggle their career and family life and quiz them on how they manage to achieve a healthy work life balance Dr. Renesial Leong who founded her own company called Right Lifestyle Sdn Bhd for one, has proven that being a woman entrepreneur well-versed in sharing her passion for property investment - she can have her cake and eat it – icing and all. There is no glass ceiling as far as this veteran property investor is concerned. The Ipohborn lady who has stamped her mark as Asia’s Queen of Property lives by the saying, “You don’t need to be rich to invest – you need to invest to be rich”. To date, she has conducted endless property investment seminars on stage both locally and abroad and has address bankers as well. She is also credited with the launch of “Property Jewels” – Investment Guidebook written in an Asian context by a Malaysian Author – and, a female at that! Stamping her mark as a member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants
and Certified Practicing Accountants of Australia, Leong Kit May who is the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director of Axis REITS Managers Berhad. Leong, who learned the ropes of managing financial and investment portfolios related to office and industrial “reitable-properties” at Axis REIT Managers when she joined the company in 2006 was promoted to Chief Financial Officer in 2008. In the same year, she also spearheaded the project overseeing the converting of Axis-REIT into the world’s first Islamic Office/Industrial REIT. At 35, she was appointed to the Axis-REIT Board of Directors as Executive Director. In 2012 and 2013, she helped launch AxisREIT’s first Islamic Medium Term Notes “Sukuk” issuance programme and, as part of the Board’s succession plan – she was groomed to be the next CEO of Axis-REIT. In late 2014, she upsized the Sukuk issuance programme further. One year later, she assumed the Chief Operating Officer’s role in addition to her responsibilities as the Finance Director whereby she continued to manage financial matters of both the company and the fund.
Leong also anchored the capital management function of the fund; from that of equity capital raising, treasury as well as fund raising to Sukuk. She has been responsible for the four successful equity placements of Axis-REIT. In 2016, Leong assumed the role of CEO. With her vast exposure in Islamic finance and capital management, she regularly speaks at seminars and conferences in the country. Last but not least is Ashley Pang-Wilhem who founded her first company E-Health2u Sdn Bhd in 2007 together with her husband Bruno Wilhelm and her second company WIPA TEC in 2011. Her company E-Health2u is the leading Gym Planner and Smart Solution Provider for Fitness Clubs while WIPA TEC provides Smart Lockers for Corporate Offices and Themed Parks. Three years after the formation of E-Health2u, her son was born and diagnosed with Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome). Here, these three amazing women entrepreneurs share their life’s experiences and how they manage to achieve a healthy work life balance in their own words.
Maintaining A Fine Balancing Act In tribute to Mother’s Day, three female entrepreneurs share their tips on how they manage to achieve a healthy work life balance BY YVONNE YOONG
women entrepreneurs DR. RENESIAL LEONG
Through her care, I saw unwavering love and impeccable life values and I hope that my children continues to learn from her.
CEO of Right Lifestyle
My motherhood journey has been magical, filled with joy but peppered with the occasional emotional turmoil too. I’ll never forget the hearing each of their first cry and the amazing first sights of all my beautiful children in my arms. The joy is beyond words to describe. They have brought so much of happiness into my life since. My first-born arrived in our family at a time where we are facing challenges in our career and business. Realising that we were strapped for time and could not provide our first-born with the necessary care, we had no choice but to send him to a nanny. All my children spent the first four years of the lives under the care of a nanny. Choosing the right nanny is crucial for the development of a young child. Not only should the nanny be able to provide the basic needs of the child, she should carry the right life values as these will have great impact on the child’s life. With our children being taken care by the nanny, we took on multiple jobs to make ends meet. I also started to build my capital for property investment. I already knew that property investment is our best bet for a better living moving forward. Soon, life became better and we immediately brought our child back one after another, as they began their nursery education. Furthermore, I strongly believe that spending quality time with the family is imperative for a healthy childhood. Since then, every Sunday was family bonding time whereby all our children would get our undivided attention. Many youngsters today cannot imagine hardship as most have much easier lives. Some are simply not too keen to sacrifice to achieve their dreams. Being a mum, one of the biggest challenges is to get my children grounded and to become worthy individuals.
Ultimately as a Mum, nothing matters more than having nurtured worthy individuals with good values and ethics who would in turn, leads healthy and happy lifestyles. With these in place, success will come naturally. I have seen many friends who “over-provide” for their children in the early years, making them complacent, overly dependent and lack the drive to strive. Not wanting to fall into the same whirlpool, I try to ensure that my children work for what they want. They have to “earn” their own pocket money and help with household chores, etc. My hope is that they will grow up to be resilient and responsible adults. From young, I’ve also nurtured my children to be kind towards others, to give without expecting and work hard towards their goals without taking wrongful short cuts. They are taught among others, to value what they have, appreciate life and be responsible adults when they grow up. My children were shown at a tender age how I would greet the guards, our part-time gardener and the fish monger who delivers fishes to our house. They were encouraged to do the same and nothing pleases me more than when my older son bought several pairs of gloves for the guards when he noticed how the ropes they were using cut into their palms. Come Chinese New Year, we made sure that all of them, including the school bus driver received a goody bag each and an ang pow to show our appreciation. These are qualities I saw through the eyes of my parents, particularly my mum. My mum has been instrumental in my motherhood journey and my personal development. Seeing our struggles to balance career and putting food on the table as well as keeping the family together, she stepped in to help care for my children when we could not.
I wish to take this opportunity to say “I love you Mum!” and to my children “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a Mum!”
LEONG KIT MAY
Chief Executive Oﬃcer/Executive Director of Axis REIT Managers Berhad I am the eldest to my three younger siblings. We grew up in a household whereby we were taught that everything was possible if we would just put our minds to it, and that gender was not a barrier to our dreams. Thanks to our parents’ guidance and convictions that anything was possible, made us quite fearless. Also, from young, it was instilled in us to always be of service to others and were always involved in reaching out to those of need. Today, I have a family of my own, and my spouse and I always go back to the basics with the kids to remind them of the fundamental values in life that is respect, honesty and compassion. Being in the corporate world, and as a CEO of a Company – things can get hectic. I like to come home to spend some quality time with the kids before they go to bed. This is made possible with the support of a good team that I have at Axis-REIT. My colleagues remain steadfast in their commitment to achieve Axis-REIT’s mission. To young women planning a career in the corporate world or to those that are already in it – my message to you is “Think positive and be thankful always”. I am thankful that the support from family,
as a business partner and wife to my husband. We have a part-timer who comes three days a week. 4. Planning home menus one week ahead. I believe in home-cooked meals and I cook seven days a week. I plan ahead and cook pasta, stew and soups in large portions. On busy days, we simply defrost and heat up the frozen food and have it for lunch or dinner. spouse and colleagues has made it possible for me to achieve a healthy work-family balance whereby both my partner and I can go to work with an easy frame of mind knowing that our kids are in good hands. It is crucial that you establish a sound network of support within your family and the outside circle. This support will play a huge role in life. I do believe that good family relationships can create a rewarding career. As they say, the “outside is a reflection of the inner state of one’s being”.
Executive Director of E-Health2u Sdn Bhd Women entrepreneurs or entrepreneur moms specifically, represent the new (embodiment of ) self-empowerment for women and mothers especially as seen in the context of the 21st century. This is my story - being an entrepreneur mom and a mother of a child with Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome). I founded my first company E-Health2u Sdn Bhd in 2007 together with my husband Bruno Wilhelm and my second company WIPA TEC in 2011. E-Health2u is the leading gymnasium planner and smart solutions provider for fitness clubs while WIPA TEC provides smart lockers for corporate offices and theme parks. Three years after the formation of E-Health2u, my son was born and diagnosed with Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome). It is not easy to look after a child born with developmental delay and health issues
while being an entrepreneur at the same time. My daily life begins around 5am daily with a sonorous prayer of hope followed by two hours of home school programme for my son before I go to work. I work from 10am-5pm at the office. After 5pm, I am a cook, cleaner, mother and wife.
5. Get a dish washer and a dryer! These items will simplify your life!
When my son was younger, I worked three days at the office from 11am-5pm. On other days, I worked from home and was a full time chauffeur for him to two different schools as well as up to three - four therapy centres plus frequent visits to the hospital and clinic. During this period, I worked very often at night after he retired to bed and on weekends too. Life was quite stressful back then.
7. Find time to have a siesta! I am not a super power bionic woman and I do feel tired sometimes. Therefore, I will have my 20 minutes’ power nap during lunchtime if required.
One might wonder how I find the time and energy to do what I am doing. Well, here are some of my life hacks:1. Good time management and setting priorities in life. 2. Train your child to practise a good routine. My son has a fixed schedule for meals, activities and sleep. I train my son to sleep between 7:30pm-8:00pm daily. After he goes to bed, I have my own time and couple time with my husband. This is a very important element of my work life balance. 3. Outsourcing the housework to a domestic helper so that I can perform my duty and role for my son as his cook, teacher, therapist, driver and a loving mother while providing support
6. Read, learn and apply! I read a lot of self-help and life management books. Learn from the experts so as to save a lot of time and precious limited resources.
8. Create value in your life and the lives of others. When you give your time and resources to create value in the lives of others and make contributions for the betterment of society, this will make your life richer and bring about value creation opportunities to enable you to breakthrough your own limitations. Among the value-creation organisations I am active in are Kiwanis club of Kuala Lumpur, Business Network International (BNI), i-Authors Club, and Dreamhomes @ Cyberjaya. My philosophy in life is to deliver happiness. 9. Love yourself. Believe in yourself. Continue to inspire others. I am currently writing a book about my son and our journey together. This book will be my gift to all the parents and children with special needs, my family and my mentor in life – Dr. Daisaku Ikeda. 10. Begin and end your day with grateful prayer and great determination to win in your life.
Success For Women ENTREPRENEURS IN THE 21ST CENTURY When I was invited by Entrepreneur Insight to share about what it takes to be a successful woman in the 21st century, I was taken aback as the last time I wrote formally as a contributor was during my university days. My first reaction was that I will not have the time, with so much on my plate already. But then again, having just graced the magazine’s March issue cover:- “Mi-Ki Choong - Asian Steel Magnolia continues to Shine” in line with International Women’s Day, I felt the responsibility to have some sort of opinion during the month whereby the world celebrates the most important person who has carried us for nine months and gave us all life - our mothers respectively - representing the all-important fairer sex ... Women. So, what does it take to be a woman in the 21st Century - and, being a successful one at that? How does a woman have it all - juggling a successful career, having love in her life and then, starting a family and maintaining all that while taking care of herself as well in terms of her health, looks and having internal fulfilment? The daunting task of building a successful career, finding the love of your life, being a good wife and thereafter mother, and contributing back to society seems impossible. Obviously, women’s tasks seems a lot harder if they want to maintain a successful career. Can she have it all without giving up one or the other? Well, I say it is possible - if you set your priorities right and manage your time effectively and efficiently without wasting time on what is unnecessary. So what are the unnecessary items in one’s life? Only each individual can answer that question for himself or herself, and please do not fall prey to the opinions of others
and the generic masses who feel that it is their place to tell you how to live your life. If you want to be successful in your life, only YOU can answer to yourself all the important questions. So the FIRST key is to find out who you are and what you want out of your life. For some women, their priority is to have an amazing career first. In order to have that, you need to do something that you are passionate about and love to do everyday. When you find that, it is no longer work but doing something that feeds your soul, and you will need it like the air you breathe in order to live. Some may say that the person may somewhat sound like a workaholic, but I say it is the lucky few who find their calling in life. When that happens, give it your all as life is meant to be lived to the fullest. So the SECOND key is to have passion and love for the work you do - so much so that it then becomes a deep part of you, which will bring the kind of happiness that only a person on a lifelong mission can understand ... I must say, it is worth finding what that lifelong mission is that is within all of us. When you have found out what it is you want to spend the rest of your life doing, then it is important to have the THIRD key - which is that of a positive mindset. A positive mindset means nothing if you do not translate that into actions. Start by setting up a routine lifestyle that can help you achieve the goals you want. Wake up early, eat a healthy proper diet, work hard but smart and do not forget to regularly exercise to keep your energy levels up with the all-important “happy” hormones. Focus on achieving happiness for yourself first on your own and the rest will just flow into your life, whatever your priorities may be. Think about the good things in your life as it will also help you to maintain a positive mindset. If you believe your dreams are possible to achieve with a positive mindset, then work for it and stop complaining about how difficult things can get in the process of getting there. Also, surround yourself with positive people who encourage you and not people who give you bad energy to begin with. When you have found your mission in life, then you need the FOURTH key which is commitment to make it work and last (and, I’m still talking about career here). The commitment here is not just a guarantee to see things through - but to work with elements of honesty and integrity in executing your role. We cannot control how the male world treats us, but we can stand up and support womanhood.
Mi-Ki Choong - Entrepreneur / TV personality / Global Ambassador Malaysia WED United Nations
That is why accepting the role as the first Global Ambassador Malaysia for Women Entrepreneurship Day (WED) for the United Nations is an important cause for me. WED celebrates, supports and empowers women entrepreneurs around the world to alleviate poverty. With this current mission in mind, I created ArteSpree, an online art platform to democratise the arts. ArteSpree is a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project under the Centurise Group to support the arts community in Malaysia to go global and vice versa. I hope I will be able to fully deliver what I started for ArteSpree. This will take time and is not an overnight mission, which comes to my FIFTH key which is determination. This represents the willpower to be persistent, innovate and change the status quo. As with any successful projects these are crucial points to have, as you will encounter many challenges along the way. The key is not to give up and keep going. Remember, never take shortcuts in anything as this may hurt your ego and emotions even more than the time you saved to get there. What I am trying to do for ArteSpree is only one of many other responsibilities that I have in my life, and yet I do not take the easy route to achieve what I need to. The SIXTH key is sacrifice and the willingness to take risks. Women should make their own choices on how to invest their time according to what they want. In my personal opinion, the traditional route to a woman’s fulfilment and happiness may no longer be valid in the 21st Century. You no longer need to find a life partner as soon as you finish university, get married and have children so early, as technological advancement has made having children much later in life safe and possible (The latest example is Janet Jackson who had her first beautiful and healthy baby at 50). But then again, it depends on what your priorities are - as you may or may not want marriage and/or children at all - if you do not encounter “the one”. For some, their priority may be getting married and having a family but for others, it may be their careers and devoting their life to the causes they believe in or just giving their life back to society. But, there will be the ones who will want and have it all. Sometimes, it may be better to focus on yourself first to find out what makes you happy and complete. That way, when you do decide who “the one” should be, you can give the best version of yourself to him and the family, should you start one. But whatever your choices may be, there are no longer any rules for women anymore. The only rules are the ones you set for yourself,
and let no one or society dictates the way you should live your life, as only YOU will know what makes you happy and complete! Spend time on your rewarding careers but also spend time on your personal life as well, as balance is the SEVENTH key. Balance your mind, body and soul with hobbies you love to destress and to centre yourself, and do not forget to pamper yourself once in a while as well. Remember, how can you make others happy if you are not happy with yourself? Last but not least, the EIGHT key, is to be grateful for whatever you have in you life and give back or help others to succeed. Whether you give to charity, do some community work or mentor others ... You will find that when you see the plight of others, whatever you feel is difficult in your life becomes minute in comparison the to problems and issues the world is facing. So learn to be unselfish in your ways and you will find that you can achieve and overcome anything. I would like to highlight that many of the people movement from the turn of the 20th Century provided unprecedented liberation and opportunities to women. In fact, the last three generations has seen the rise of women in many fields. For instance, in terms of religion and humanitarian - Mother Teresa; politics - Angela Merkel; business and entrepreneurship - Zhou Qunfei, Meg Whitman, Sheryl Sandberg, Indra Nooyi and Sara Blakely. In the area of sports - Serena Williams; mathematics and computer science - Ada Lovelace; physics and science - Marie Curie; space - Mae Jemison; anthropology - Dian Fossey and the list is endless. The above is just a short list of great women who are successful in their avenue of choice - with most juggling having a family too. Not forgetting women like Queen Elizabeth I of England, Coco Chanel, Oprah Winfrey and countless of other successful women; who never got married nor had children by choice. The above are all women, in my view, that have it all in terms of a successful professional and/or personal life. The definition of professional and personal success is set by these successful women themselves, and not by what others or society dictates either, during their period in time. So yes, anything is possible and achievable. Do not be bound by the beliefs and limitations of others, go forth and set your own rules for 21st Century career, business and life success!
HACKING FACEBOOK OR FACEBOOK BEING HACKED? Are you hacking Facebook or is your Facebook being hacked? The definition of the word “hack” can be confusing. Traditionally, we used to understand that when a computer, an application or an account is hacked, it means an unauthorised person has broken into the system, and typically with the intention of causing damages of some sort. “Hack” also carries another meaning according to Dictionary.com though. A “hack” can be definted as a “tip, trick, or efficient method for doing or managing something”. Examples include hacks for holidays, entertaining and tips for parenting, etc. Hence, when it comes to Facebook, the word “hack” either makes you love Facebook when you discover the wonders it affordas or hate Facebook when your privacy or account has been compromised. Although we are aware that Facebook is a software and the hacker is not Facebook but a person
- somehow or other - the blame still falls back to Facebook. Whether it is Facebook’s inability to protect the users or our own ignorance (for instance, giving large sum of cash to strangers) - it is normally still someone else’s fault but seldom ours right?
Hence, our goal should be to learn how to fully capitalise on the world’s largest social media platform while getting educated instead of staying away due to its risks. We still ride in cars and travel on the roads despite knowing the risks, don’t we?
Some choose to stay away from Facebook to prevent potential damages or losses. However for me, I choose to fully capitalise this platform but will get myself welleducated and prepared because Facebook is still the most effective tool to me in:-
Of late, Facebook has found itself intermingled in various issues including a controversy about the misuse of user data by a third-party developer - Cambridge Analytica.
1) Connecting with long-lost friends and friends living far away 2) Getting instant answers from my friends be it ranging from advice to simple help 3) Marketing my business and myself as well as generating new leads for my business 4) Reaching a very wide yet targeted audience when I pay for advertisements 5) Receiving the latest news and updates
Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg has done a rare series of interviews with the press including a televised interview with CNN and printed media such as Wired, Recode and The New York Times. He even apologised publicly for the scandal involving a major breach of trust. Facebook’s stock prices too have dipped of late as well. What has such news got to do with Facebook users in Malaysia? For one, it is expected
that Facebook users who have read the news will get worried over the privacy of their personal data. When you register to use an apps for instance, are you aware that users have to tick a checkbox to indicate that they agree to the terms and conditions? Rarely do users read these lengthy terms and conditions that can really help people with insomnia fall asleep. Most users will instead just click “Accept” and begin using the application - not knowing much about how data is handled, used and shared. Do you also know that when you login a new apps via your Facebook account, you are also granting access to these third party apps to collect data about you that Facebook has? They are tracking your movements and behaviour online without you realising, with the intention to help advertisers to generate higher return on investments (ROI) by getting you to make purchases online. Understandably, Facebook - as it is free being a commercial entity, needs to generate profits somehow from us, the users. You can choose to protect yourself with a higher security setting while displaying less information on yourself. Here are the different types of culprits we need to be aware of to protect ourselves and our loved ones:-
Sometimes, all of a sudden, you may notice a friend posting on Facebook or sending messages in WhatsApp groups claiming “My Facebook account has been hacked. Please do not respond to any request from the hacker”. If your account was indeed hacked, then you most likely would not be able to login as yourself anymore because a hacker’s immediate task in taking over your “hacked account” is to change your password. When you see another Facebook account using your profile photo and posting as if it was you - whether using the same name as you or a modified name - you have been impersonated not hacked. Now, there is a duplicate account which may confuse your friend as this impersonator will then make his or her next move. The impersonator may start asking for cash with a well-crafted story - trying to convince you to bank in cash into an account. In some
circumstances, they will ask you for your phone number first. Then, a code is sent to your phone number and you will be asked to share the code with the impersonator.
social media user by being savvy.
Once this code (normally in digits) is shared, it gives the impersonator access to charge you and you will see an amount in your next phone bill. The amount charged commonly is not large - between RM50 and RM200 so it is an “affordable lesson”. Therefore, always double check before releasing any kind of information online. If your friend forgets your number - instead of just giving the number away, give your friend a call to verify.
1. Add Facebook friends only when you really know the person 2. Always verify and confirm authenticity before taking any action - especially when it comes to transferring money 3. Share only photos and information that you are comfortable letting strangers know. Otherwise, avoid sharing on social media altogether 4. Use safe and secure passwords and avoid sharing them with anyone 5. Post events and activities after they are over so strangers do not know your current location and activity
They are technical specialists who fall on the dark side divide. Through complex algorithms and capitalising on security loopholes, they are able to login and hijack your account. When this happens, you are no longer able to login anymore. You could attempt to change the password - but an experienced hacker would have already changed your email address and phone number so you no longer have access to anything Facebook sends to you.
Here are five tips to help you to continue to enjoy using social media:-
Whether you use Facebook or not, all social media platforms still has their pros and cons. Accept the fact, adapt to technology innovation and activate your Facebook account to help you achieve your goals! Focus on what can do right instead of what can go wrong.
What they do with your account varies from asking your Facebook friends for money which could be a substantial amount. One way to minimise the risk of being hacked is to use a strong password - one that is not easy to guess. Google “How to set secure passwords” for more tips on this.
This peculiar group of people are following and monitoring you closely - some with malicious intent. Normally, you do not know their of existence. It is just like a private investigator tailing you without you knowing it until something happens. Scary as it may seem, as long as you are not revealing too much or any sensitive information online - including your daily or travel routines -your family members’ whereabouts or posting any sensitive data from documents such as your identity card, passport or bank details - you should be fine. Simple common sense always apply to keep ourselves safe just like us travelling out from our homes, who we interact with and what information we share. Be a responsible
is the Author of “Now or Never – Start A Business with Only RM199” - MPH Bookstore’s Top Ten Bestseller for 20 weeks and Best Business Nominee in 2017 alongside books by Richard Branson, Jack Ma, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and Tony Robbins. He teaches on how to use Facebook to market businesses without budget at his workshops. Email him at marcus@marcusteoh. com FB/Instagram: marcusteohmy
The 4 Mindsets of Self-Awareness In Dealing with Unforgiving Clients
“When you are bound for failure, do you give up or do you end it with a fight?”
Running a regional digital project within Malaysia
I have multiple departments to run within my company, and amongst them is my digital marketing team. The good thing about digital marketing jobs is the fact that we can manage any Facebook or Google account just within the constraints of our own office. I take pride in what my team has accomplished thus far in the Facebook & Google space. The team grew very rapidly through the constant dedication and hard work that everyone puts in throughout the long days facing our monitor screens and watching tutorials from marketing gurus. From dealing with small time businesses, we then grew on to handle regional based projects for multinational corporations (MNCs). Our latest undertaking was one of the largest ever with a high-profile client which made all of us extremely excited. However, what we did not predict was that this job will be one of the biggest hurdles the team will ever face to date.
Complexity of dealing with MNCs
The parties we had to communicate to fulfil our latest mission was of a global scale - something which we have never experienced before. The collaborative effort we had done with the global departments have not been fulfilled as the demands for updates didn’t fall through due to time zone constraints. Execution orders were delayed by half a day with the global team, and unfortunately, the core “king” of the project shares the same time zone with our team. A time zone where we look towards the future while missing updates from the past. Delays like these are very crucial when it comes to handling big projects as the initial six-figure budget can just be easily used up without any clear understanding of what has happened. During times like these, your client would typically be very easily agitated. The tendency is for them to unleash their wrath ever so conveniently on the only party they can take it upon - which is you. So, the only thing I could do was to swallow it up and grit my teeth through it all.
The 4 Mindsets of Self-Awareness for Unforgiving Clients
Entrepreneurship as we all know it has not always been a bed of roses. Many would think that being a “Boss” would equate wielding authority and power. However, what these people do not realise is the fact that at the end of the day, you are just another human being who is working within the whims of the one true boss who holds your salary. If you are operating within a Business to Consumer (B2C) model, your consumers are your king. If you are, like me, involved in a Business to Business (B2B) client servicing model instead, your clients then are your king. Some being highly notorious as merciless majesties indeed.
It was a chance meeting with another person that inspired and motivated me into dealing with grim situations like these. Her simple yet powerful words struck me into looking at things with the perception of the future, rather than the present. She says that when situations are turning into a downward spiral - do you go around in circles to meet your inevitable doom or do you put your hands down at that slippery slide to fight your way back up? That ever-fiery advice was one I needed to hear - which pushed me out of that hole called depression. After that incident, I took matters into my own hands, constructed new contingency proposals and fought my way into securing our positioning and maintaining the quality of that campaign. Therefore, here are the 4 key mindsets which I have developed along the way which would enable you to keep your back straight and look forward towards a well-fought war.
Nothing in life is finalised until it ends:
This may seem to be one of the most cliché and overused motivational terms out there. However, experiencing it firsthand for me was something totally different. When I almost gave up that day, something that rarely happens, happened. What I felt was piles of overwhelming problems coming upon me which seemed unsolvable no matter what I did. However, it is during times like these that you have to face your problems and break them down into tiny little fragments and take each fragment of a problem, and infuse your solution to counteract it. Have your team manage the various other little fragments and collectively, you will have a contingency plan to save the day - just like how Tony Stark did in Iron Man 3 with a newly developed element for his Arc Reactor.
No matter what the outcome is, you will strive for the wining goal and winner’s outcome:
An agency’s business model is simple:- Clients hire you to execute, and execute you shall. No matter whether it is at the end of the day or if a job has succeeded or failed - the client must fulfil their end of the deal, which is making the payment. However, just by taking their money and not actually providing constructive solutions will have its consequences. Any business in this world is built on trust and relationships. The stronger and more trustworthy your business is - the better the reputation of your company that will grow alongside it. Losing your will to fight for your client not only damages their impression of you but will also damage your business at its core.
Always be the bigger person:
A strong sense of empathy is needed in this case. Your client needs to pay you at the end of the day no matter whether the job is a failure or success. What have you achieved by then? Money in the form of payment. What could they have achieved? Not only a losing campaign - but maybe, serious issues which could escalate within their own respective companies. Jobs might be lost and revenues that can never be gained back again. Is this what you truly aspire for your client to feel or achieve even after you have sold them your best service and promised to help them? I do not know about you but I would willingly take in a couple more stressful situations if it helps them in getting out of their current predicament. The ability to empathise with your client’s distress and figuring out solid solutions to aid them is what I believe all agencies should ideally strive to achieve.
is the Founder of Malaysia’s first Augmented Reality merchandise and is currently a Partner and Director of an integrated marketing agency that focuses on making brands exciting through on-ground and online strategies. Email him at email@example.com
What kind of legacy do YOU want people to remember you for?
Having people to remember your team as the one that solves problems and giving the right solutions which could lead to a business being saved from bankruptcy are all legacies that can be created if you genuinely fulfil your effort for your clients. I believe no one in this world would want to create memories of a failure in which they gave up and ran away when things got tough!
Afterthoughts : Working towards an economy of strengthening each other
Many people do not seem to acknowledge that anything one currently does will be considered one’s legacy in years to come. Be it helping a colleague in need, putting in the overtime work to ensure a project’s completion or always conducting extra research to ensure your credibility - all of these items will allow your peers or current superior to have the right perception and recognition of you as the person that just decided to do more. The most important thing at the end of it all is to always have the will to carry on, and never give up.
Why Do Startups
The success of some startups (especially tech startups) have painted a really nice picture to youngsters these days. As a result of this, everyone wants to jump unto the startup bandwagon, hoping to be the next Grab or Alibaba. While we applaud to those who have made it to the top, we must also look at those who didn’t make it and consider whether they are still struggling or have completely dropped the business. You may not want to be copying any strategy from them but at least don’t repeat the mistakes they’ve made.
AVOID PRODUCTS/SERVICES WHICH ARE NOT IMPORTANT
Good products/services are those that are solving existing problem(s) and/or delivering additional value to customers. Many startups are overly passionate on their product’s features but have failed to understand the difference between “good to have” and “must have”. If your products and services fall under the “must have” category, congratulations! Your customers are willing to pay any price to either get rid of their current pain or to secure the value addded benefits of your product (until your next stronger competitor comes in). A typical example is UBER which was once seen as the best solution to those who were struggling with the public transportation system. They did so well until GRAB came in and took over their market share.
luxury to one customer but is essential to another. Therefore, it really depends on the scenario. For instance, branding services may not be the priority of small businesses which are struggling with cash flow issues but are critical to the big brands within the automotive industries that spend millions of Ringgit to reach out to their target segment(s). One must also understand that it is not the quality or features of your products and/ or services that determine your business survives - but whether your products and/services are needed by the market. Therefore, validation of your ideas at the beginning stage is really important.
However, if your products and services fall under the “good to have” category, you are not dead but need to do a lot more in order to stay in the game.
If you have a bit more budget, I suggest that you do a small market survey instead of designing your products and/or services in your own cocooned silo manner.
“Good to have” refers to products and services that give superficial value which are not essential nor are they of top priority. Typical examples are luxury products or entertainment. Some services may be of
Social enterprises are certainly mushrooming these days, and I’ve seen many social entrepreneurs sharing their ideas and dreams at various talks and events.
However, when I sat down with them, most of them look exhausted. Besides running the business with limited manpower, they are busy running around looking for sponsorships and/or donations. The profit they have made from their businesses are then channelled back to support and/or solve problems - thus, leaving them left with very little working capital to run the operations. The general perception that “social enterprises should not make a profit” is probably one of the main reasons why many social enterprises are struggling. However, “social enterprise” is a business. It exists as a business to generate profit in order to solve social problems. Relying on donations or sponsorships alone are not going to make them a “business”. Therefore, social enterprises should create a business model that allows monetisation from their day-to-day business operations rather than relying on fundraising.
1. CREDITOR’S TURNOVER PERIOD (Measured in days)
How long do you take to pay your supplier upon receiving of goods?
(Assuming 30 days)
2. INVENTORY TURNOVER PERIOD (Measured in days)
In cash flow management, we pay attention to the cash conversion cycle. This simply means the following:-
How long do you take to sell off this product?
(Assuming 90 days)
GAN TECK HOOI
3. DEBTORS’ TURNOVER PERIOD (Measured in days)
How long do you collect from your customers upon delivery of goods?
(Assuming 60 days)
In order to do this, they have to think like a business, study the market, design products and/or services that are needed by the market, rationalise their costs and marketing strategies, etc. Also, if there is one thing that they should change - it is to stop thinking like a charity organisation.
POOR CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT
Many startups are overly focused on the profitability ratios, Return On Investment (ROI), valuation and so on but have forgotten that most businesses collapse due to cash flow issues. I used to ask this question to startups:- “If you purchase a product at RM10, will you sell it at RM8?” Not surprisingly, the majority answered with a firm, “No!”
The Founder and Managing Consultant of ICFO Solutions Sdn Bhd is also the President Elect of the International Council for SMEs and Entrepreneurship, Malaysia. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.captainamerigan.com
However, when I continued asking them:“What if this product has been in your store for more than a year?” To my surprise, half of them will still say “No”.
Using this example, assuming you received your goods on 1 January and sell them 90 days later on 30 March, and then collect payment from your customer on 30 May.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not proposing a hefty discount to cut losses but to gauge how much business owners pay attention to cash flow. It’s very naive to be protecting your Profit and Loss (P&L) account when you don’t even have money to pay your utility bills and salaries.
You have to take note that you need to pay your supplier by 30 January, so technically speaking, you have paid your goods 120 days before you can collect money from your customer. So, the question is very simple can your business survive without incoming funds for 120 days (of which you still have to pay for the product in terms of your commitment.
The big boys can afford to keep inventories simply due to the cash reserve they have so they won’t mind keeping the inventories for years. Worse comes to worst, they can convert these inventories to donation expenses without affecting their gross profit margin - but can startups or small businesses afford this?
If your business has a conversion cycle of 120 days, the bare minimum you would need is to have a working capital to cover your fixed expenses for that 120 days. Without this, you can’t expand your business without the ability to settle your business overheads.
Effective Public Speaking Can Propel Entrepreneurs To The Next Level Fear of public speaking, as the tongue-in-cheek statement goes, can rank higher than the fear of death itself. But certainly, when it comes to this subject matter, ask the regular man in the street and one would rather plummet down a ravine than stand before a crowded hall to speak. However, public speaking has always been heralded as an essential skill to have to go further in life and in advancing one’s career. Everyone you meet will likely have pondered on the importance of public speaking despite not having the courage to orate in public. In recent years, public speaking workshops have become a hit especially among corporations. However, in the digital age whereby online transactions are become more and more commonplace and, in some instances, face-to-face meetings aren’t even necessary - how important is it for an entrepreneur to acquire such a skill in order to succeed? The answer hinges on this skill being even more important than ever. In a digital world dominated by “text communication”, having the edge in terms of public communication skills will position the entrepreneur over and above the competition. Furthermore, with the advent of YouTube, with billions of ongoing viewerships worldwide and other video channels, having a visual representation of your business can give you immeasurable advantage. This is because
cross-border businesses are also conducted visually through Skype and other means, hence making such skills all the more invaluable. So, how will this help you? Establishing yourself as a good public speaker in promoting your business will ultimately create good branding for you as well as your product and services. Steve Jobs’ public appearances successfully established the brand name of Apple. Even Jack Ma did not shy away from pitching in public to create a strong branding for himself and for his multi-billion dollar global business. Here are some of the reasons why having public speaking skills can create good branding for entrepreneurs and raise the profile of their business:-
Unlocking Multiple Opportunities
As a business owner, an entrepreneur must take every opportunity to take to the stage and make public presentations. This is due to the universal fact that people and potential customers are generally more attracted to individuals who are confident in representing who they are and what they do. When an entrepreneur takes to public speaking – either on stage or on a digital platform – they can never really know who among the audience will be truly watching and paying attention. Among those could be potential investors or people with connections to heavy industry players who could likely look to form some sort of collaboration. Displaying confidence in yourself and passion for your product and services create trustworthiness and increases the chances of people wanting to do business with you.
In 1962, US President John F. Kennedy visited the NASA Space Centre. He met a janitor and asked what he was doing. The janitor replied, with a broom in his hand, “I am helping to put a man on the moon”. The morale behind the tale is that everyone holds a greater purpose regardless of how big or small that person’s role is. When an entrepreneur makes a passionate pitch to potential investors, clients or customers, their skill in public speaking determines the level of enthusiasm in the audience and whether the message sent across is either “I want your money” or “I want you to be part of a bigger picture”. Having good public speaking skills help can help you to close deals at a much higher rate. Being inspirational is also important in delivering motivation to your staff. When they believe in your vision and understand that their roles go beyond simply keeping books, typing reports or answering
is a TV personality, master of ceremonies, protocol consultant, voice-over talent and emcee skills trainer and/coach. He runs his own business under the name of Adi Afendi Management primarily focusing on engagements for conferences, seminars, corporate dinners, beauty pageants and more.
telephones, they will feel inspired and enjoy working for you even more. You will then witness a marked increase in productivity.
When an entrepreneur grows as a person, the business will also grow. The more an entrepreneur exposes himself or herself to communicate his or her ideas effectively through public speaking, the more self-esteem he or she will gain. The more self-esteem is gained, the more driven the entrepreneur will be in seeking progress within his or her business. Having courage in public speaking does not, in any way, mean having zero fear. Having courage in public speaking however, is all about having the ability to overcome those fears. The same can be said of businesses. To be successful in business does not mean having zero fear in making decisions. It only means having the ability to make prudent decisions despite having fears - especially of failure. It does not mean totally eliminating the challenges in business - but learning how to face such challenges and pull through. Public speaking mirrors this. A person who gains self-esteem and courage through public speaking can be a successful entrepreneur and confident business owner. Public speaking helps an entrepreneur to understand people, emotions and the environment which could be translated into good business decisions.
Becoming An Expert
When an entrepreneur gets opportunities to appear in public - either on stage, YouTube or TV, it establishes them as a trendsetter. Their opinions will then matter. They will get to establish their brand, be a brand builder and major lead generator. The implications to business will be tremendous. Air Asia is arguably the most popular no-frills airline in the region simply because of Tan Sri Tony Fernandesâ€™s penchant for public appearances in establishing himself as a trendsetter and a brand builder. As an accountant, one would never peg him as an expert, but constant public appearances establishes himself as the authority in budget airline management. He is one of the many examples how having good public speaking skills can establish an entrepreneur as a subject-matter expert which would then give them an advantage over their competition. When Malaysians think of budget airline, his image immediately pop up in their minds. When people talk about electric cars, Elon Musk will invariably come into the picture despite having heaps of competition from other auto makers in the world. Similarly, having good and
constant public speaking engagements will put an entrepreneur at the forefront of their industry. Even within a small community, having good public speaking skills when talking passionately about your business to a group of people at a gathering will have you be seen as somewhat of an expert in what you do.
Whether giving a 90-minute presentation on stage to a crowd of 700 people, sharing a five-minute video blog on social media or giving a 60-second pitch to one potential customer in an elevator, displaying passion in what you do will help send the message across more effectively. This creates an aura of credibility. And, when visibility through constantly meeting people on various platforms is added with credibility in your ability to elucidate your business effectively, this will lead to profitability to your business. A marketing agent who is being paid to sell a product will give a different vibe as compared to a business owner who speaks about his or her own product passionately. To build passion, a clear understanding of products or services and how they can be invaluable to customers are key. When an entrepreneur gives a clear and crisp description of the business and what they are looking for, it creates a connection with the audience at a different level. Having good public speaking skills can enables entrepreneurs to project a sense of sincerity which could led to a higher success rate in closing deals. In a digital age where the world is dominated by computers, television, tablets and smartphones, where deals can be made at the comfort of oneâ€™s own home, the power of face-to-face human interaction is becoming more and more important in business. Intimacy and human contact will be at a premium. The ability to deliver information effectively in a more personal and direct manner will be the game changer. Spoken words can motivate and inspire people more than written texts on websites. As such, if wielded properly, having good public speaking skills is essential for those who wish to make a difference in business and in positioning themse lves as a brand. Mastering the art of the gab is an indispensable skill in business leadership. And, while the prospect of acquiring such skills may seem daunting, there is no escaping this. In an era where people are talking about disruptive technologies and radical business changes, the ability to convince others into believing in your ideals and passion for business will open up a new world of possibilities.
A prospective client once approached me to ask me how he could determine if he is good or bad at managing his own finances. My first question was if he has a plan of what he is doing now because chances are - if he were to answered “No” to this, then he may need to know more than just how he is doing. He would also need to know the state of his financial health. To ascertain that information, I helped him to determine his net worth. Basically, your net worth is your total financial worth – measured in Ringgit Malaysia and is a good indicator in terms of measuring your financial health. Net worth can be a positive integer value or negative integer value. And surely, a positive value is what everyone desires to have. Generally speaking, one’s net worth is what one actually owns. Or, after paying off what one owes, it represents what is left for ourselves. Hence, the formula is as simple as:-
Three steps can be taken to determine one’s net worth:-
1. SUM UP YOUR ASSETS:Generally, we have three asset classes:• Cash and Cash Equivalent - Money in the savings and current accounts as well as money market, etc. • Investment Asset - Money in the stock market, mutual funds, property, alternative investments and businesses, etc. • Personal-Use Assets - Items such as jewellery, car, residential home and furniture, etc. We will add up the current market value of all your assets (determining this takes experience and skill as well as a willingness to be realistic).
2. SUM UP YOUR LIABILITIES:-
NET WORTH =
ASSET - LIABILITIES (DEBT) Your asset is what you own while liability denotes what you owe.
Generally, we can classify liabilities into:• Short-Term Liabilities - Debts such as credit card debts, overdraft and loans, etc. • Long-Term Liabilities - Debts such as mortgage, PTPTN and hirepurchases, etc. • Those loans that you have signed up with as a direct guarantor can be considered a contingent liability too.
3. SUBTRACT YOUR TOTAL LIABILITIES FROM YOUR TOTAL ASSETS:For this prospective client, he was shocked when he saw that he had a negative net worth. What this means is that if he has to repay all his debts today - even after selling all his assets, he would still not have left. If he were to pass away, his next of kin would inherit nothing because there was nothing to be distributed, to begin with. This was despite the fact that he had some wealth in the stock market, unit trust and property, which led to his thinking that he should have his head well above the water-line instead of being told he would be insolvent if he has to repay all the liabilities on that day.
To Know Where You Stand In order to help him explain this finding, I pointed out that as he accumulated his wealth via various investment vehicles, he would have also accumulated credit card debts. Besides, he put in minimum equity (down payment) for his car and mortgage, hence resulting in an increase in his debt level. As a result, the liabilities outweighed his assets, hence resulting in the negative net worth.
Reducing “leakages” from our financial system is a main key method to help increase net worth because when we limit or contain the spots where money is spent mindlessly or could have been saved the money is then available to be put to work and earn some returns. This will in turn - increase the value of our assets and help to reduce our liabilities.
As you may be aware, it does not matter if the value of our assets keep on growing - if the value of the other side of the net worth statement as in the liabilities also keep on adding its weight at the same time. If your asset grow by RM100,000 in year 2017 but your liabilities increase by the same quantum - you will in fact - have a status quo situation.
The “leakages” could come from exotic fees that you are paying to your investment advisors, penalty and expensive legal suits, costly mistakes or investment portfolio that is not optimised to fit in to your overall objective and risk-reward profile, etc. When these areas are properly planned and strategised, the money could then be retained in your financial system. And, instead of ending in other people’s pockets - your money can now start to work for you and help to add weight in elevating your net worth or the lowering of your debts.
Overtime, what we want to see is our net worth growing - very much like our financial muscles. Having said that, if a person has a very high and positive net worth value say for example, RM1,000,000; can we say this person is healthy financially? Not necessarily because it could have originated from assets that are not liquid or can be readily converted into cash. It may be good for us to ensure that we have already established a proper asset allocation and that our net worth comprise different asset classes.
After working with him for the past year, he is now well on track with his net worth experiencing increase, albeit gradually. This illustrates the importance of knowing your own net worth. It is a good benchmark for gauging whether or not your assets are increasing over time and hence, if you are making progress financially.
One of the most common mistakes or misconceptions people have is that they could take out money from their savings to pay off or reduce certain debts - thinking that this move will increase their net worth. For instance, if I have RM100,000 in savings, and RM10,000 of credit card debt, then my net worth is RM90,000. Paying off the RM10,000 debt with my savings will reduce my savings to RM90,000 and credit card debt to zero. However, my net worth will remain as RM90,000. (RM90,000 – RM0 = RM90,000). However, it is a good financial discipline to pay off our debts on time - especially when the debt in question is unsecured debt such as credit card debts which attract a very high interest rate expense. I also pointed out that in order to solve the root problem - we should also take a look at his cash flow as in how he manages his income against expenses - as it is possible that the credit card debt was a result of an uncontrolled, indisciplined way of spending. Hence, as we move forward to establish his cash flow statement and run through it, we helped him to create additional positive cash flow and make the necessary adjustments on his balance sheet.
KEVIN K.M. NEOH
is a licensed Financial Planner by Securities Commission and Bank Negara Malaysia. He is a member of VKA Wealth Planners - Malaysia’s fast growing home-grown Financial Planning Firm. Kevin can be contacted at KevinNeoh@vka.com.my
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