Month: October 2018

Burnout From Job

Today I am not talking about my business, but about my full time job. My job was not originally meant to be a deskbound job, but an active one with much physical activity. However due to my position, I am more often than not confined to the desk more than I would like. Administrative paperwork is not something that I enjoy doing, although I am able to do it well. However the irony is that in order to rise up the career ladder, I cannot avoid handling administrative paperwork now and administrative postings in the future.

There are 3 main reasons why I suffer from low morale and motivation:

  1. The general direction that the organisation is going does not fit with my values.
  2. There are a lot of, in my opinion, meaningless paperwork which are done for the sake of doing it.
  3. Top management does not listen to feedback and hence push down policies and work without even bothering about ground sentiment.

The pay is decent, and there are many other small benefits here and there. It is not that I am going to quit in the near future, neither am I going to retire here with this job. The current job is only a means for me to earn and save up resources. This job provides me the work life balance which I want – a result of me focusing and working very efficiently during my work hours. I do not touch my mobile phone during work hours, a requirement of the job. My other colleagues of the same position are doing overtime or even taking work back home to do. I guess this shows my efficiency and how fast I am trying to complete my work during official hours.

This ‘work life balance’ allows me to spend personal time doing my own business after work.

I am looking to quit at 35, when I achieve financial freedom. Who knows whether I will be able to make it?

Don’t get me wrong. I do not hate my job. In my current posting, I have good colleagues and many interesting experiences. But it is also true there are a lot of worthless administrative paperwork and unreasonable demands which I have to deal with. Despite being tired, I suppose I have to endure for a while more.

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Building Up My New Store

If you have been following me, you would know that I am trying to build up my new online store at one of the ecommerce platforms. It is the backup plan to my impending failing business, which I can only drag but not prevent its doom.

There has been limited success so far, and I had applied the advice of people who had been doing business for some time, the teachings of another ecommerce guru which I attended the free seminar of, and basic common sense.

First, I printed 1000 namecards, which can be gotten cheaply. My friend designed the namecards for me for only $50, which is quite cheap and well done. The namecards do not have my name, but contains other basic contact information. I would love to put my name, but my job does not allow me to have a side job. As my name is not a common name, I thought it would be better if I do not risk anything. I have no intention to use a fake name for business anyway. The namecard also contains a thank you message on the other side and a reminder to leave me a good review if they feel that the customer service and products are satisfactory.

For every new customer order, I would send the customer a picture of the product and its packaging. I would also ask the customer to do a one question survey on why he bought that particular product. After that I would invite him to give me his email address for future members only promotions. There are a whole range of responses from totally ignoring me to fully cooperating with me.

Of course, the platform does not allow sellers to contact the customers directly due to some privacy and policy issues. But well, this is business, the real world. I have worked in sectors which have no choice but to follow every rule to the dot, and I know some big companies have to abide by the smaller rules too. But I am just an individual seller trying to provide good customer service and to get an insight to the market. Knowing the reasons why customers bought a certain product is very useful for me to decide the direction of my sales and procurement. Though I know perhaps all it takes is for one bloody customer to lodge a complain and I will suffer. But for now, I will just continue doing that.

Sales are slow, but very slowly picking up. I have tested quite a few products, but only found one main product for my store and 2 other side products. The rest are just sitting at my physical storeroom collecting dust. Ahhh all that money sunk to it. Not much, but still irritating when I saw the unsold goods. What I thought would sell well and hence I bought more, did not even sell a single piece. It was the try-for-luck item which turned out to be the bestseller.

Well hope that things improve further down the road.

 

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Stagnant Stock Market And Sales

So it has been some time since I bought some shares under the advice of an expert, as mentioned here. And I have bought more shares of another counter under the advice of the same expert too, only this time it is a penny stock. Nothing much was put in, just slightly less than a thousand. That being said, the stocks has been stagnant since I bought it, both counters. They did rise a little and then fall back, and repeat this cycle over and over again. But nonetheless I still have the holding power and it is not like it fluctuate greatly.

On the other hand, things in my new ecommerce store has been moving slow. I had tried different ways to engage the customers, with limited success. Advertising on various platforms yielded little results. I have since tried direct Whatsapping my customers to thank them for shopping with me and doing a short customer survey on why they bought the products they bought. Most ignore me, though there are the few who kindly responded, giving me valuable insights for my next course of action.

I have also downloaded Dolibarr, an ERP (enterprise resource planning) software to keep track of things like my inventory, accounts, customer database etc. I was previously using Excel to track customer sales, inventory, profit & loss etc. But one tiny non-consequential mistake while keying in the data made me realized that the number of things involved is too much for me to do everything neatly and properly if my scale got larger.

That made me went back to Dolibarr again (I had previously tried once few years back but gave up as I thought it was too difficult to use). So far Dolibarr is not too bad, although it does not have some of the features I would like to have, like the Profit & Loss accounting detailing cost of goods sold, first in first out inventory management and accounting. Google search over a few days did not help much. I am now sticking to Dolibarr for my half of inventory management and customer database. I still do the rest in an Excel spreadsheet.

I took a look at Smartsheet but they require me to pay, something which I am not inclined to. I am sticking to the best free method to do my things.

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Ecommerce Course

Today (28 Sep 2018, reposted because I originally published in the wrong place) I attended an ecommerce course which I signed up for few days in advance. It was pretty useful, none of the fluffy crap you hear in some seminars. None of the feel good factor that makes people go rara for 2 hours then deflating after they reach home. Just practical tips and advice. Of course, after doing business for a few years, there were certain tips which I already knew. Some I implemented, some I did not. There were also things which I do not know before. Things that separate the A grade seller from me, a C grade seller. The trainer also made the statement that no successful people had it smooth sailing.

There were 500 people there, but unfortunately due to my more introverted nature I only managed to get to know one person, and it was he who talked to me first. Anyways listening to the trainer speak made me realize of so many more things I need to be doing. I just opened a new business, as mentioned in my previous post, and the amount of effort I need to put in sometimes turns me off. But every bit of success requires every bit of effort, strategising and calculated risk taking.

On my store side, I am getting every friend I can to buy products from my store so they could write a positive review for me. Luckily the commission charged by the platform is not much, and I am able to treat that as advertising fee. Some of you may not agree with this, but let’s be realistic. This is business, not playing house. There is nothing illegal nor immoral about it too. Just a marketing technique which I have to pay too.

On another note, the stock which I bought fell back again. Though I am still on a profit, it moves in a typical stock market manner, up and downs. That being said, I do hope it crosses the target price of $10 (I bought it at $6), where I will cash out my profit of $4000 for the 1000 shares.

Business for my main business is starting to pick up, which I hopefully will hit the levels back in the peak. That being said, the issue of inconsistent supplier is worrying me too.

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Tenant Issues

Just last Sunday I took back the flat I was renting out. Would have wanted to continue renting but something unexpected happened. While unrelated, the tenant apparently also had a lot of pent-up frustration with me over the past few months, which I don’t know about. As far as I am concerned, with all conscience (I know some of you jokers out there gonna say conscience is a subjective shit worth nothing much) I have did my best to be a good landlord.

This tenant is a 49 year old man with a 35 year old wife from China, who was divorced and brought along a 10 year old kid into the marriage. The wife has also just given birth to a new baby girl fathered by the tenant. I am currently 31 this year, while my wife is 35. The situation is that this Chinese woman refused to allow her husband to buy a HDB flat in Singapore as she would not be able to include her name in the property since she has not gotten her Permanent Residency status.

HDB stands for Housing Development Board, which is an agency by the Government of Singapore to provide mass public housing to commoners like me who have no money to buy private housing. It slightly differs from the overseas concept of public housing as most Singaporeans live in HDB flats. While public housing overseas are meant for the really poor people, in Singapore’s context such housing are meant for the general public.

As HDB flats are by the Government, the Chinese women without her PR status could not be allowed to add in her name should her husband decide to get one. Just because she got married to a Singaporean man and have a baby here does not automatically mean she meet the criteria for a PR. As a result of her actions, their family has to move from place to place renting houses.

It has been my long time suspicion that they have been jealous of and unhappy with us over our apparent success over them despite the huge age gap. That the tenant, 18 years older than me, has to rent a flat from me and have me as his landlord. The wife, despite the same age as my wife, has a lower level job and married a much older husband she does not really love.

To give some background to the story, the man is the youngest of all his siblings. There have been many Chinese women marrying single Singaporean men in their 40s, who also happened to be the youngest among their siblings, in an attempt to jump over to Singapore. Of course I am not saying everyone is like that, as there are also many capable Chinese women.

Apparently these men had been pampered their whole lives by their parents and perhaps siblings, such that they have awful characters which no Singaporean women could stand or accept. As they slowly age and still unable to settle down, they turned to Chinese women with lower statuses who are willing to accept them for the opportunity to come to Singapore.

Anyway both the man and the woman had issues, and they decided to move out. On that day I was working, so my wife went down to settle the taking over of the flat. There had been a big quarrel, with certain small value items missing. As my wife was not a very difficult person to deal with (she only screams at me and no one else) she returned the security deposit to the tenant, only to have him threatening us after that that he will create more trouble for us. It made me regretted not changing my shift duty to accompany her. Part of the reason was me wanting to let my wife becoming more independent in handling matters without my presence.

When I returned home I warned him not to create further trouble or face consequences. I do not think it works, but I will certainly not let him go if he tried anything funny. It is one thing to quarrel, it is another to sabotage people with the intention of sinking them. Fortunately, my situation is such that his threat will not work against me, but what I have against him might work. I do not usually go all out to cause trouble to people, but I am unable to tolerate people who bully my wife and attempts to sink us. What I have against him would probably cost his wife her residency status for a long time to come. Given their situation, they would probably have to spend much more money in her child’s education and continue to rent houses for a long time to come, wasting money on rental which could otherwise become housing loan repayments.

For now, one of my streams of income is being cut off.

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