Uncategorized

Wechat Advertising

Most of us knows that Wechat is the most popular chat app in China right now. In it there is the Moments section, which acts a bit like Facebook. Imagine Google Wallet, Whatsapp and Facebook all in one app – that is Wechat. Over the past few years there are more and more people doing business in Wechat, which works for people in China, be it the locals or the foreigners living there.

For people like me, who has very friends in China and even lesser business contacts there, Wechat advertising has been a failed attempt years ago. I did not bother trying much anymore until recently, when I advertised out of a random feel. I had created an Instagram account, where I advertised in a half-fucked manner. My namecard even has my Instagram information there. Surprisingly, Wechat had more response than I expected and Instagram is still the expected bots liking my posts. But I think I will give up on Instagram again. It is just not suitable for me.

My Wechat posts had garnered a few likes each time I posted something, but had no sales. As my main business mainly deals with Singaporeans who use Wechat, I thought maybe why not give it a further push? I had long ago identified my target market as Singaporeans living in Singapore, and what better than to use my existing customer base for my next business? So I began advertising for my second business and other side business. It was in Wechat I got my first painting project from an old customer.

Subsequent advertisements did yield questions from customers, but had closed no other sales so far. I had learn from another person that when people look at our posts, they did not want to just see you selling them stuffs. They want to see interesting things. That is why I have also begun to post unrelated funny things to get people interested in what I am posting up.

Hopefully through this experiment I will be able to get more customers and sales. My main business which will collapse sooner or later now has become a tool for me to expand my customer base for as long as I can, and of course for the extra income it brings in in the meantime. To be honest, my backup plan is still far from stable and is currently only a fraction of what my main business can bring me in terms of income. But I know that time is running out and I have to do something to bring it to the next level.

Well, for me, Wechat is somewhat effective now. Hopefully as time goes by I will find my niche in the Singapore market which uses Wechat.

Posted by pencil-leads, 0 comments

Supply Crunch Again

Recently I suffered the same supply issue as last time. My new supplier whom I thought is somewhat reliable has no stock all of a sudden. There was the 11.11 Single’s Day sales earlier, which is basically now the world’s biggest shopping sale.

2 of my businesses suffered. The old one was already low on stock, but coupled with the 11.11 sales, I had more demand than supply. As a result I had to turn away a few customers, which meant money which was almost mine flew to other people.

The new business which I am also building to replace the old one also suffered. As it is still a new business, I am hesitant to import large numbers of stocks for fear that I could not sell well. I imported only a few stocks of each variety to test it out. Well it did sold out and I am out of stock. Good bye to more money which I could earn. I have heard, but could not verify elsewhere, that if my product is out of stock it will be bad for my store. The system will somewhat read it as a non-suitable product and for me to get back my old traction again, a lot of effort has to be put in.

I am now trying to find another interim supplier. Previously I had a customer who needs to sell his goods, and his goods happened to be my supply which I need. While we had a business relationship once, we did not manage to get through a pricing agreement later on, and subsequently did not proceed with the transactions we were having. I texted him today, with the intention of compromising to his pricing because I was already desperate. However the reply I got was one which asked who I am. It was surprising because although we did not manage to come to an agreement on pricing and hence the deals were called off, I did not expect him to delete my number away.

I did not proceed to introduce myself further and he replied that he had changed his phone but forgot to import the numbers. That to me is the standard cliche excuse which anyone would have memorized. It seems that from my profile picture he gathered who I am. But still I did not reply him because to be honest I was quite disappointed. But this is reality and businesses always show you an ugly side of reality.

I rejected him partly because of ego issues. And now I have more issues finding the next supplier.

Posted by pencil-leads, 0 comments

Painting Projects

I had my house painted for a relatively cheap amount. It was an unexpected bargain. My house was doing upgrading works, supported by the Government. I privately paid one of the foreign workers who were doing the works to do a side job for me for $30. He told his friend about it, who later approached me regarding painting my house for me. The house upgrading was only for the toilets and the refuse system and excludes painting.

At first the deal did not go through, because I thought I could paint the house on my own and it felt just a little expensive. My house has a horrible colour left behind by the previous tenant. Then he reduced the price further, which attracted me. So I agreed with the deal and they spent one day painting my house. I was there supervising the works for almost one whole day and saw for myself that the quality was good. I was immensely satisfied.

Then an idea struck me. Not everyone knows these workers. But I have them willing to paint at a cheap price. So I advertised the painting services and had 2 people asking, 1 of which eventually went through today. I had a bit of apprehension, firstly because painting is totally out of my area of expertise. Due to my unfamiliarity with the whole business, I worry that I may screw something up. I also do not know enough painters to have a backup. Then comes the issue of me not being able to work extra jobs or having businesses at the side. My job does not allow me to do that. So far all was ok because I hid behind the veil of anonymity, using the internet to conduct my business.

But for this case I have to go down to the site personally. While the chances of meeting someone is rare, there is always that one chance which is enough to strike me out. All it takes is for one person who saw me and decided to sink me. Of course, apprehension remained as it is, and I have decided to risk it and go ahead with it. It was a calculated risk.

For my first deal I thought I offered the worker a slightly higher price than I could bargain for. My friend told me that the price I quoted was a little on the low side too. I had to quote a low price to the customer because I need to establish myself first, and if it is the same price as the market, there is no incentive to come to me. I quoted a little on the high side for the painters because, well it was a small mistake.

The quote should have been lower and for him to bargain. It does irks me a little but I am trying not to be too affected as these painters really have a hard time trying to make a living in Singapore. I do also earn a bit at the side, just maybe not as much as I would like to. Either way for a first deal I thought it was pretty not bad.

It does remind me as a human that although the deal meets my expectations somewhat, I am still not satisfied fully knowing that I could have gotten more out of it. This is sinful thought. I am a Christian by the way, not that it is related to what I am posting.

So tomorrow I will be going down to site for a recce. It was something unexpected for me too, that a site inspection would be good. I learnt another new thing today. But for now, what I need to learn most is to see a house and decide how much I should charge and how much I should pay the workers.

Posted by pencil-leads, 0 comments

The Business World Is Competitive

I was preparing my shop for the upcoming 11.11 (11 November) sales. For those who do not know, 11.11 is the sales event created by Taobao to mark the Single’s Day. Long story short, they created a day out of nowhere and made it into a sales event. Now that South East Asia has become the next battleground for ecommerce, Singapore is also positively impacted as well.

My shop is also affected by the 11.11 mood, and there is a need to stock up for the event. If you ask me, this is my first time joining this thing too, and have no idea how it will turn out. I took a bit of risk, and imported a bit more goods. My shop has only 5 goods – A, B, C, D, E, all of which I got from different suppliers.

Yesterday the supplier of A rightly guessed (although I did not really confirmed that) that I also buy B and C, as they are related goods. He offered a good price to me, which made me hesitate whether to get from him next time or not. On one hand, not concentrating your goods into one supplier will diversify out the risk. What I learnt from my previous lesson was that relying heavily on one supplier will cause a great deal of trouble if the supplier abandons you. Yet concentrating on one supplier will save you a lot of trouble and you are able to get additional perks such as discount or credit.

That being said, the supplier this time is more easily replaceable than my other business, which makes it less risky. Such is business. Everyone is trying to steal customers from each other. And on my side I will have to weigh the risks of each decision.

As for me, I am always constantly poaching customers from rival businesses. People are also poaching my customers.

Back to the topic about supplier A, he approached me 2 days later to follow up. Given his enthusiasm to do my business and his repeated assurance about the quality of his products and the services he provide, I thought I might just throw all B and C’s business to him. The cost savings far outweigh the risks.

Posted by pencil-leads, 0 comments

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.

Posted by pencil-leads, 0 comments

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.

 

Posted by pencil-leads, 0 comments

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.

Posted by pencil-leads, 0 comments

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.

Posted by pencil-leads, 0 comments

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.

Posted by pencil-leads, 0 comments

Back To Posting

I was away for slightly more than a month, because I attempted to transfer my website to a cheaper webhost. But I had failed to do so, as there were some installations and databases in my current system which was way too old. Never got to update them during my years of neglect, and if I attempted to do anything now it will just screw up everything. I got my friend to help, but there was no success as he is also a half-professional. Gratitude to him for spending hours to help though.

Anyway updates before I go on:
1. I have set up a new small business because my main one was dying. There has been very small success which I will not grumble about.
2. The main one has slowly been recovering but still a long way to go.
3. My stocks went down (at its lowest point I had a paper loss of about $250) but now I have a paper profit of about $600.

Well these are the updates so far. I will post again.

Posted by pencil-leads, 0 comments