Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Business Lessons picked up (Part 3)

I think I am addicted to writing this, so shall add a part 3

It's never easy
No one ever says starting a business or running one is easy.

Which is why when I felt like giving up, I don't. I look for alternatives and look for better systems to achieve the targets and goals.

If needed, I will pay for external help. If there's anything I learned, there's no necessity to do everything myself.  Hire help. Outsource. As long as the costs are managed, spending to increase productivity is the way to go.

Which brings me to the next point....

Learn to delegate
Delegation is something that is easier said than done.

In the past, when I was still working as an engineer, I had to delegate some stuff to the engineering assistants to carry out. My first time doing it was a mess; the assistants were totally lost on what to do. Basically, I gave the final result I wanted, and not the steps to doing it.

So, I learned to list everything in steps, before sending my instructions on what to do.

I also once asked my sister to help me convert my handwritten physics notes into MS Word format.
The result was horrendous. Graphics weren't done well, nor was there proper formatting and font usage. I had to redo almost 90% of the stuff.

On hindsight, it was my fault. I learned over time that I should have done the following:
1) Provide a template
2) Include examples
3) Do up a metrics of performance
4) Detail out what needs to be done

Delegation is best done if the steps and systems are well laid out. Not many people know what you want, because most do not possess the unique skill of mind-reading.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

More business lessons I picked up over 2013, first hand

As I plod on, I realised there are few more business lessons I have learned and personally experienced. Thought I should be writing on them to help consolidate my thoughts as well as share on the public domain, although these are pretty cliche.

A team of different skills is needed
While most of the time, there are many things I can do alone, I realised the time and effort that are spent may not be worth it. The the speed of execution is important.

In additional, I recognize that I lack a number of skills to make a business succeed.

This is where a team comes in. Not a team of people, but a team of skills. Lots of people I see form teams just for the sake of forming teams. Or from what they learned from schools, formed teams because the teacher says so and so will make a team.

I remember the time I was in NUS, where we had to do this project called EE2001 at the second year. Right from the first year as a uni student, I was already opening my eyes and judging fellow students as potential team mates for this project. Needless to say, I chose the best I know, and they know too I will contribute the best I can. Eventually our project clinched A. Sounds great! Until I know another team that clinched A+. That team was not as good as us individually I believe, but as a team they worked great! Each of them has different skillsets that were crucial to the success of the project, and together, they did it better than us!

The true meaning of teamwork lies in forming a team where people with different skillsets can come to work in synergy.

A great team helps to bring a project forward. While deep pockets can pay for teams, small pockets like mine could also go into partnerships with people who have these skills to bring things forward. But the ultimate goal is the same, to bring projects one step further ahead.

Think and live and breathe the business
A business cannot be handled as a "by the way" thing, even though it may be a sideline. No one ever starts a business by chance. No one wakes up one day and says "Hey I have a business!". No one.

By thinking about the business, living and breathing it, I mean to say that one must think as a business owner, to constant think and improve and innovate to first match, then reach above competition.
==> Sometimes, I really wonder about small retail investors who claimed that they buy the business are hence a business owner, when they aren't even involved in the process of thinking, improving and innovating for it.

There is no point having a business that is the exact duplicate of the one next door. What makes a bubble tea shop better than the other one down the road? What makes this tuition centre better than the other one just beside? 

In essence, one must be always thinking on how to improve the business, make it better, and more helpful, more value, to customers. This distinguishes the business in the long run.

Initially, the constant thinking portion may be tough, but persist in thinking and over time, human brains will adapt, and eventually be constantly thinking about the business. Right now as I'm typing out, I'm still thinking how to bring my projects forward and make my tuition more effective and be able to reach out and help more students. It has been conditioned this way for over a year, and it is now second nature.

Instead of investing in a business with a economic moat, why not create a business and create your own economic moat?