Co – Working VS Free Wifi at Kopitiam ? Which is BIGGER, CHEAPER and BETTER?

Firstly, if you can get FAST FREE INTERNET for a cup of RM 1.20 coffee at the Kopitiam, please let me know. Most of the time the internet speed is crawling because there are so many cheap people out there. I admit I am one of them. However I would like to highlight that it isn’t about being cheap. Its about being Street Savvy. (Sounds so much better when i put a tech word in it) But in this article today, I wanted to highlight the potentials of working in a CO -Working Space. I still get so many people asking me what is a Co Working Space, What Can I do there, and Why should I work there? Once I am committed and I do not like it, is it like a contract that I sign and I am stuck for a year?

STORY OF CO WORKING

Coworking has taken off in the last few years as an alternative to working from home or at your own office.
Coworking or “co-working” is defined as any situation in which a person is working with two or more people in the same place.
This gave birth to “Co-working” spaces which spun off from high rental prices of properties in the US, especially the San Francisco Bay Area, which led to people looking to share offices. Startups with limited budgets and other companies who wanted to save on rental costs started to group together to share offices and work spaces.
A coworking space is a serviced space where it is filled with all the amenities that you need for an office space. A basic Co Working Space should have, high speed internet, comfortable work area, coffee, tea and pantry, event spaces and a physical address and phone number should they want to be contacted. (Usually these services are provided for people who are renting hot desks) Hot desks are services that you can rent either monthly or yearly, that comes with all the facilities mentioned above that allows you to work and operate your office from.
Coworking Spaces offers flexibility, networking opportunities, and for some, productivity benefits. Let’s take a look at how you can benefit from coworking.

  1. Flexibility and Costs
    As an individual, instead of having to buy coffee and work at Starbucks or order a packet of french fries just to use the free air conditioning and Wifi at McDonalds ( as most of us Asians do), and by the way Starbucks only allows 1 hour free internet access per order, which sucks. Co Working spaces are mostly open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Which means that you have the flexibility of working anytime, FAST WIFI and also free coffee and tea! And snacks too if they have it.
    Lets do the math.

table

** If you decide to hack the system, by bringing your own Starbucks container, bring your own tea bag and only asked for hot water and hop on a cheap internet package you managed to source or hack into someones nearby free internet. You still would be better off with the Co Working membership because it offers a chance to network with all the other “Smart and Cheap” fellas like you and me. Who knows? Maybe we can all come up with a Cheap, Good, and Valuable Startup?

However if you are a new startup with a limited budget. There are a few things that you might want to consider

  1. Rental costs for a work space.
  2. Most rental agreements are for 1 year minimal in Malaysia.
  3. Setting up costs of office equipment and facilities like internet, furniture and kitchen.

Overheads will just be one of the aspect that you need to consider. The other consideration is how to create a working environment that increases the productivity or any collaboration efforts which has the potential to grow your company faster. This is what Co Working Spaces offer.

87057407-87057503
Images from Scoopoint CO Working Space in Penang, Malaysia

2. HUMAN INTERACTION : Productivity, Networking and Collaboration
The main idea is that individual workers come together in a shared place to enjoy greater productivity and a sense of community.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of coworking is the creative environment and the sense of community from like-minded professionals. As someone who’s worked from home for over a dozen years, I definitely sometimes feel like I’m missing out on the camaraderie others experience when they have a regular office to go to and coworkers to bond with–even from simple acts like greeting each other at the start of the day or sharing a coffee break.

Another benefit of coworking is the potential for networking. The people that you meet at a coworking space could be looking for your kind of work and/or they could be great resources down the road.

Distractions and Downsides of Coworking
co hoots
Co-Hoots – Collaborative Work Space in Pheonix, USA

co3CO3  Social Office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

startup business people group working everyday job  at modern of

TheLaunchFactory  Not your average coworking, shared office space in Charlotte, NC. We aim to enhance productivity and creativity through technology and collaboration.

The main skill to master when working in a Co Working Space is DISCIPLINE. Modern Co Working Spaces which offer a mix of fun facilities like swimming pools, slides, pool tables and a whole lot of ‘Stress Relief’ options are exceptionally dangerous to work in. It is easy to fall prey to join in any invitation to go chill out and forget your tasks at hand.

Coworking exposes you to the same kinds of distractions as you would when working at an office: Interruptions from others, noise, and less privacy. I’m the type of person who gets too distracted by others to work at my best, so coworking is only something I do when things at home are too noisy and distracting (such as during home renovations).

Before you commit to coworking, consider your personality and work style. To try some of these Co Working Spaces out, check out them out during the free Co Working Day

free-coworking-space-SEPT-slider-minimized-700x376

If you want to give it a try, check out websites wework and also coworker.com

If you are in Asia, you might want to check the top 5 Co Working Spaces to work. We are currently compiling the information on them.

Advertisements

How ‘NOT GIVING IN’ to failures made the founder of Naturally Handmade a stronger woman

Addicted2Startup met up with Founder of  Naturally Handmade Miss Bavani Gopala Krishnan recently at the Penang Mini Makers Faire 2017. We at Addicted2startup are always inspired by people who had the courage to step up and take the initiative to start something new, be it a business or start a new talent and have the patience and determination to make it successful. Some of you reading this might smile, shrug and say “Its nothing. Anyone can do it”. Or you might just say, well ‘ I dont know why they dont dare do it’. Having interviewed so many people, 8 out of 10 people will excitingly tell you their dreams, ideas and what they want to do in the future. Only to end up, not starting it due to the millions of excuses they give to themselves.

‘EXECUTION’ is the key. An idea without execution will never see success. An idea with execution will at least have a chance at succeeding.

This is the story of Naturally Handmade.
Naturally Handmade was founded by Miss Bavani Gopala Krishnan who is also working full time as a Talent Aquisition manager in KL. She has previously worked in various Multi National Companies and have been venturing into different side businesses, among which was also to be a Chef. Her relentless spirit of not giving up to pursue her dreams

A2S: You mentioned to us at the start of this interview that Naturally Handmade isn’t your first business venture. In fact you mentioned at some point in time, you were also a chef in the food business then as a property agent and those ventures somehow didn’t turn out the way you expected it to be. Subsequently you started Naturally Handmade. Having go through the entire process of START, FAIL, RESTART, which all entrepreneurs would tell you, is the natural process of having a startup. How do you feel about failure and what advice do you have to the younger generation who wants to startup their own business but who are also afraid of failing.

Miss Bavani: I had my catering business before I worked as a Chef and I left my business when i was given the opportunity to be the Head Chef for another company. I sold all my catering equipment to the same company. They offered me profit sharing with minimal pay for a year. As I was banking a lot on the profit sharing, I was practically living on my savings ( due to my minimal wage) during my tenure as a head chef. After a year, the company went back on their word on profit sharing and things got ugly and I left the company.

Not giving up, I then ventured into the property market as a property agent. At that time the property market started to stagnate due to GST implementation, sales wasn’t doing well. I didn’t have much cash to roll, and decided to find a full time job. But early this year, I caught the entrepreneur bug again, and decided to get my hands busy on formulating DIY bath and body products for my self which involves formulating recipes (kinda like cooking). As get more immersed in this, I realized that the entire process of making your own soap was very therapeutic.
If there is one thing that I have learned over the years is that, if there is anything you want to do. If you are capable, do it yourself with your own skills, energy and time. The harder you work, the more success you will find. My advice to anyone who wants to startup is ” Don’t be afraid of failing. Failure is good as you get to learn from it. And every time you fall down, pick yourself up and strive to go higher”.

A2S: What inspired and made you start Naturally Handmade?

Miss Bavani: I started Naturally Homemade by wanting to cure my own sinus. I use hand sanitizers very often and I found the ones available commercially contain 90% alcohol which was very drying for my skin. One of the things I realized is that as Malaysians , we are exposed to Air Conditioning almost 60% of the time (working in offices) which makes our skin very dry. Therefore I went on to research natural ingredients which I could use to formulate my own moisturizing hand sanitizer.

A2S: What makes your product STANDOUT from the rest of the other handmade products in the market?

Miss Bavani: My Unique Selling Point (USP) is that I originally started by making skin products to treat my own skin problems. These products are delicately made with love and made one batch at a time. The ingredients are all natural, individually selected and formulated to give it, long lasting effective results.

A2S:  Let me start with the Malaysian market, as this is where you are currently based. Malaysians are a very price sensitive lot. As you are using premium ingredients, what are you currently doing to ward off competition that are using chemical based ingredients at a cheaper price?

Miss Bavani: In my opinion, it all starts with education and understanding the importance of using good quality products for your skin. I mean lets be honest, the reason we are using skin products is so that our skin looks better. So why not use the best for our skin? By slowly educating my customers on what ingredients are used, how they are being formulated, their uses and applications ( online and offline), I am able to convince and show them how good Naturally Handmade items are. Secondly it is about the target market that you are aiming for. There was once I setup shop in KL, and I realized a stall next to me was selling similar items for half my price. I was nervous at first, afraid I might not be able to sell anything. But surprisingly, I had my own set of crowd. Customers that came to me, told me that they realized the good quality of my products and hence, came to buy from me.
In order for my products price friendly, I produce them in smaller quantities, hence with the smaller packaging, the price is reduced to an affordable price. The beauty of it is that the packaging are all now, travel size and very convenient for people who are always on the go. Also because I am using concentrated Natural ingredients and are PARABEN FREE. Customers will only need to apply small quantities of the product for effective results, which is great because then the product lasts much longer.
**Naturally Handmade products are Paraben Free, the best storing conditions are without sunlight and moisture. Products are good to last for 6 months.

A2S: What do you foresee as a major challenge in the future for Naturally Homemade ?

Miss Bavani: Testing and Scalability

Testing: Currently all product testing and formulations are done in an external Dermatologist lab.  As there are so many different skin types out there, the next challenge is to be able to formulate and test products for a variety of Dry, Combination to Oily Skin and also Differentiate between Asian and European Skin as each skin type needs its own individual care and issues to address.

shea butter

The process of making body butter with luxurious mango butter, cocoa butter, Shea butter and a blend of moisturizing oils & essential oils.

Scalability: Currently I am still maintaining a full time day job, I do all my formulations and packing in my own home at night. Usually between 9-11pm, I am able to make between 25 to 50 small batches of products. When the demand increases, the challenge would be to find a bigger working space to store the products, formulate and pack it. The space would  also have to have good ventilation and properly kept (clean and hygienic) and also maybe we will need to look into a bottling machine and also mixer to assist in product consistency and also increase production. As production goes bigger, then there is also the challenge of quality control. Currently because I am formulating and packing it in small batches, I am able to control the consistency of the product.

A2S: As Naturally Handmade reaches the stage when you are looking to expand, then you will probably need to look at fine tuning SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) , QAQC ( Quality Checks) and maybe automation.

Miss Bavani: That is correct. My current worry is the quality of the products. When you hire someone to do the work, there is always the worry of how to maintain product quality. With skin care items, employees are able to cut corners by missing a formulation step or not mixing a certain ingredient just simply to complete the tasks within the certain working period. Most bosses or founders will only look at bottom line ( which is how many bottles produced in a time period). Once the product is bottled, and the texture and scent is the same, it will be difficult to check each bottles contents. Problem arises when the customer buys the product, applies it and after some time, the desired effects are not achieved. Therefore to complement the implementation of SOPs and QAQC checks into the production line, we need efficient supervision to ensure that these necessary steps are taken.

Aloe Vera Salve

Naturally Handmade’s Best Seller
Aloe Vera Salve – The combination of witch hazel, tea tree oil, eucalyptus and spearmint helps to heal cuts, wounds and insect bites. Tea tree oil is known for stimulating blood and keeps acne at bay. Eucalyptus does its share of protecting you from muscle pain, respiratory problems, exhaustion and list goes on. Spearmint is a natural antiseptic and is good for the brain. Witch hazel is an awesome alcohol replacement, helps to control oil and a popular acne treatment. All in all it still works great as a hand sanitizer. Even safe for pets.

A2S: Who is responsible for creating your logo, product designs and marketing material?

Miss Bavani: My husband created the Naturally Handmade’s logo. I laser printed and hand cut the stickers for each bottle. This makes sense as production is still small and i can save costs by doing it myself. ( Miss Bavani was still labeling her products at 1.30am for the SeeknKeep Event at Bangsar Shopping Center, while we were proofreading this article with her. She will then try to catch a few hours of sleep and then head over to the event).

A2S: How are you currently selling your items and what channels are you using to get your product out to the mass?

Miss Bavani:
Currently I am mostly selling our products via facebook and chat applications. It started off with friends knowing about my products and placing orders with me. Then through word of mouth, the news of this product spread and has helped me build my base clientele. I am also participating more at fairs like this to get the word out.

A2S: An observation that we would like to share, but we know maybe due to manpower limitations, this step hasn’t been implemented, is that your Social Media pages are not fully utilize to fully amplify your business and product presence. Most of the posts on Facebook, do not garner enough engagement from the public and also content are not posted up regularly. And I personally understand the issue at hand, because for our own hotel as well, we get stuck sometimes with what content we should post and whether it is relevant to the business. Most small startups that are mostly 1 man team or a 2 man team, would be looking for affordable and reliable one stop digital marketing services to handle all the marketing and Q&A sessions with the curious customers online.

 

Addicted2startup would like to sincerely thank Ms Bavani for stepping over the line to share with us, her valuable journey. It is our hope that we get to inspire others who are just waiting to start their own business journey but are still happy in their own comfort zone.  Addicted2startup is here to give you that extra push, guidance and network to get your business off the ground.

We would like to take this opportunity to grab hold of all your thoughts and ideas of what you would like us to ask in the future so that the questions are more relevant. Please join us on our Addicted2startup community as we discuss on different startup ideas.

 

Inspiring stories from the Makers Faire 2017 Penang

Over the weekend Addicted2Startup visited the Penang Mini Maker Faire 2017 held at Hin Bus Depot in Penang, and we were amazed with the wide variety of the products offered by the booths. From Robotics to Hand Taught Custom Made Baby Gear to Home Brewed Kefir and many more.

This event was organised by Rent A Space which is a startup that allows people to rent spaces for events. I’ll be sure to catch hold of Joel Lim the Co- Founder to share more on this Startup.

rent a space

The entire space was filled with art and the landscape was family oriented. Set in the middle of Penang’s central business district is a hip urban art and venue space. The Hin Bus Depot is sprawling creative hub with over 15 galleries, cafes, bars, workshops and boutiques.

lawn

Built in 1947 to house and maintain the blue buses of the Hin Bus Company, the art-deco designed depot had its heyday in the 70’s and is the most stylish bus depot in Penang.

With a maximum capacity of 1000 people for cocktail style parties and 600 people for banquet style dinners, the Hin Bus Depot makes for a dramatically chic stage for hosting soirees, dinners and parties.

The contemporary venue also makes for a unique meetings space. Set a boardroom-style meeting in the Gallery, surrounded by outstanding art works by some of the best Malaysian contemporary artist.

Or style your own meeting-in-the-park at Hin Bus Depot’s Lawn and take breaks skateboarding at the mini ramp or bust out some yoga moves by surrounded by the funky street art display at the Lawn.

Originally we wanted to combine the interviews of these 3 amazing products into 1 article and then we thought, because they from entirely different industries, we decided to split them up to better highlight their stories.

These are the stories we wanted to highlight

STYLE

Mini Heroes makes custom baby gear,everything ranging from pram accessories to baby clothes. Mini Heroes was founded by Luciana who was originally from Brazil, has stayed in Australia and is currently now in Penang. The amazing thing we admire about her business is that she is self taught in sewing. She designs, and learned how to sew and craft these amazing products within a year and a half. Read more on how she keeps her entrepreneurship drive going.

STYLE-2

Naturally Home Made  was inspired by the Founders need to treat her own dry skin. The Founder of Naturally Home Made, Bavani shares with us on how to make your face as smooth as a babys bum.

pmf11

The Pharm Hut makes and sells their own organic Kefir. They have various flavours to choose from, Strawberry, Ginger, Passion Fruit and Original. Personally I love the Ginger as it gives a fiery spicy end to it. A secret tip. Choose the bottle with an older label for a harder kick. As this drink ferments longer, the gas and alcohol produced is au naturale.

We hope these stories will inspire you to have your own personal calling to creep out of your comfort zone and start something. For more information on the faire click PenangMakerFaire2017 

 

FREE WIFI in Penang ! A Digital Nomads Guide to Free Wifi on the Island

digital nomad

This picture is utter bullcrap. Firstly where’s the power socket? How long will the laptop battery last? Where on earth is the FREE WIFI ?

I am constantly in denial. Personally as a Penangite (Born and Bred in Penang), I do not consider my self “KIAMSIAP”, which is hokkien for STINGY. But having to pay RM 13 for a cup of latte at Starbucks just to use Free Wifi is a bit too much for me.

Cutting the story short. I was arguing with my parents as I was trying to get them to install a faster internet service at home. Streamyx 2GB at least. But after losing out to DAD who stubbornly wanted to keep his ASTRO instead of upgrading to a much faster UNIFI. I drove to Starbucks for free wifi. Took my laptop, found a seat and turned on the wifi and it said “Please ask our friendly staff for FREE WIFI’. I was pretty happy, with this at that time. So I went over to the counter and asked nicely for the free wifi code.  This conversation follows:

Me: Hi there, can I please have the WIFI code?

Barrista: Sorry Sir, you will need to purchase a drink for the free wifi code.

Me: Oh is that so. OK can I please have a tall latte ( Grumbling to myself at this moment)

Barrista: That will be RM 13 please.

Me: Here you go (Swearing at why my parents didn’t upgrade their WIFI services)

Goes back and log my phone on to free wifi. WIFI works just fine. Then I try to log my laptop on.

>>ERROR<<<

Me: Excuse me, I can’t seem to connect to my laptop.

Barrista: Oh sorry sir, its only 1 receipt for 1 device.

Me: No *itting me! So what am I supposed to do? You could have at least told me this. So what am I to do now?

Barrista: Sir you can order another cup of coffee.

**THIS IS 11pm now** So anyways. After bitching and moaning to the manager, I finally got a free code.

So I am writing this so that you can avoid this situation that I just went through. So the next time you are stuck in Penang, looking for free wifi.

Heres what you can do. Free Wi-Fi hotspots in Penang are easily found in restaurants, cafes, hotels, hospitals, and many more other locations. This is great for travellers of all kinds who need to access the internet in Penang.

Coffee shops & restaurants

Some cafes and restaurants have their wifi passwords written near the cashier or near the menu stand on the table. Mega chain coffee shops such as The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, PappaRich, and Old Town White Coffee are just some of the places that have free Wi-Fi hotspots. In fact, efforts by the state governments of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor have made it mandatory for food outlets in their respective municipalities to provide a free Wi-Fi connection to customers.  This service extends to eateries such as McDonalds, KFC, and most restaurants throughout the nation. Just pay for a drink and you’ll gain Internet privileges once again.

Government Initiatives

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 6.26.21 PM

 

Surprisingly the speed is really good. I logged on to the wireless Penang Free Wifi and I am using the service to write by blog. So to get my RM 13 back from Starbucks, I purposely am doing this without a drink on front of the counter.

IMG_5536

Sorry, they only give out free water when you ask for it over the counter. They took the flask away from the self service corner.

Heres a list of FREE WIFI places where you can get this similar service

The next challenge is to find a place with FREE WIFI and FREE WORKING PLUG POINTS!

Happy Working

#addicted2startup #freewifi

 

 

 

6 questions to ask yourself before starting a business

Tired of your 9 to 5 job, and want to make a difference in your life. 6 questions to ask yourself before starting a business

Sitting in your cubicle constantly eyeing the clock on the wall, anxiously waiting for the hour hand to touch 5pm. Agonisingly the seconds tick by, and as you raise your hands to celebrate “ITS TIME TO GO HOME”!!! Only to realise it is just Monday and you have another 4 days of the work week to go. (provided you are lucky to work 5 days a week)

Getting frustrated you then surf around on the internet or check out Facebook to de-stress. You scroll and see your friends post up pictures of their own startups or their own products that they made at home and are trying to sell to their other friends. You see #success #happiness #rolex #new car. You feel lagiiii stress!!
You then excitedly tell your family (especially your mum or dad) about your friends success and what they are doing …..and your parents calmly pat you on the back and tell you “Don’t compare Son. You are successful in your own way”.

Each time I hear that (which I do a lot), I feel like slapping someone! or rather just KILL ME !

How much bullshit are you going to buy before you wake up and realise one day that you have wasted 30 years of your prime life?? Then whats the next plan? Withdraw your hard earned EPF only to also realise that the Government has used most of it to pay their bad debt??

IF YOU ARE AFRAID TO FAIL-4

Deep inside, a tiny voice tells you that you want to start something. Sell your own products. You want your own business. Something to call your own.

You find the 9-5 job is slowly killing you. You don’t know how or where to start. Don’t worry, you are not alone.

Jumping into the startup world to some, might seem like a leap of faith. Many are afraid, because all this while they have been shielded, sitting and working in their own comfort zone.

reykjavik

The startup world is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you might be completely convinced you have a million-dollar idea. On the other, you risk a great deal getting started, and there’s no guarantee you’ll succeed.

Addicted2startup recently caught up with the successful Khun Nataree. K Nataree is the founder of a popular make up line in Thailand. She graduated as a chartered accountant and after having worked with one of the Big 4. She decided to start her own make up brand of products. What made her quit her lucrative corporate job and take a leap in to the startup world?

“The biggest challenges was the uncertainty of not knowing which was the best decisions to make, and having to make decisions quickly,” K. Nataree told Addicted2startup. “In a corporate job there are plenty of red tape in place that dilute decision-making to the point that it’s more of a collective decision. Managing your own company, you need to take full responsibility for your decisions and learn how to optimise that decision process quickly.”

When weighing up whether or not to go all in, she asked herself these six questions:

1. What is my motivation for starting a business?

K Nataree constantly stops herself multiple times during the week to ask herself why she wants to start the business in the first place. If you simply hate your job, or you’re following a trend, it probably won’t survive.

“Is it an industry you love and are passionate about?” she said. “Is there a big problem you’re so frustrated about, that you can’t wait to create a solution for it? That sounds like a business worth starting.”

2. Am I solving a problem?
K Nataree’s hometown is in Chonburi, far from the city. As a student, she found it hard to find affordable and reliable make up for students. If you haven’t already noticed, Thai Girls adore make up. They pride themselves in dressing up and looking good for every occasion.

K.Nataree experienced the similar issue when she moved to Chiang Mai to further her studies. And it wasn’t just her that was having the problem. Further investigation proved that most of the girls came from moderate families and they didn’t have access to reliable and affordable products.

“At this point, I knew it was the issue I’ll be addressing as it has massive potential, I know people who feel this issue regularly and knew technology could provide a scalable solution.”

3. Was I willing to sacrifice my lifestyle?

It’s a big decision to give up a high-paying job to follow your entrepreneurial idea. K Nataree left her well-paid job that gave her a comfortable life. It was really important that she understood the ultimate goal that she was trying to achieve before going on board with potential changes to her lifestyle.

K. Nataree says you should ask yourself what kind of life you would be comfortable with.

4. Is your family and friends supportive?
There are the good days and there are the challenging days. This is part of the entrepreneurial life. When the times get tough, you will need people to support you. People who believe in you and never doubt you. Ensure that you surround yourself with people like that and whom can really give you positive and non-judgemental opinions.

 

5. How much savings do I need?

K. Nataree believed strongly in creating her own brand without external funding. Without giving out equity or seeking funds, she was able to control the pace and direction of the company. This method requires a lot of self decipline as, without funding, and external pressure and monitoring, the founder is left to dictate and set her individual bench marks and deadlines.
It is always a good idea to have additional funds to fall back on. Addicted2startup would suggest doing up a rough calculation of how much cost it is to run the operation, and have enough savings for at least 1 year in advance should something go wrong. It’s unlikely you’ll start making money straight away, so if you have the chance to save up some money beforehand, then take it.

 

6. Am I in the right ecosystem?

K Nataree says it’s important you get to know the industry and make contacts by going to lots of startup events. After all, nothing is more valuable than hearing the experiences of other people. This can help you work out whether you’re in the right location to create a community.

“A good question to ask is whether you’re in the right city to ‘launch’ your product,” she said. “For example, we’re in the Beauty Line, so a presence in Bangkok, the Capital of Thailand is important for our growth.” Our goods can be easily distributed through out the Kingdom.

We would like to hear more of your thoughts and opinions. Kindly write to us using our contact page.

Thank you for reading and we wish you all the best in your business adventures.

 

 

5 Tips on How to Build Your Startup’s Brand From Scratch

Beauty!-4

Branding is a key differentiator and a major reason why some startups are successful while others are not. Good branding is at the heart of any good business, but most of the branding advice you’ll find online or in person is about making sure that your brand remains consistent in your marketing efforts, or gets improved, if it’s already established. What happens if you’re just starting out, trying to build a business from scratch? Startups need to connect with people and get them to buy into their yet-to-be-proven solution.

Here are five things startups should do to differentiate themselves effectively with branding.

1. Identify your target market.

The first step to branding your startup is gaining a complete understanding of your target market. Who are you trying to reach? Think about who you want to experience your brand.

Once you’ve determined your target audience, everything in your branding should connect back to it. In short, your ideal customers should become part of your startup’s identity—after all, you can’t succeed without them.

A failure to connect with your target market will lead to long-term failure; therefore, it’s important to constantly receive feedback to determine how your customers perceive your brand and product.
Survey your early customers with questions such as:

  • How would you describe our product to a friend?
  • Tell us how you’d feel if you were no longer able to use our product.
  • How can we improve our product to better meet your needs?

Your goal should be building passionate customers who will share their experience with others, and that comes from correctly identifying your target market.

2. Study your competitors’ brands.

Next, start evaluating your competitors’ brands. You can learn a lot about marketing in your industry just by studying these previously established entries. What do their logos look like? How are they different from one another? How do they talk to your shared customer base? It’s important that you not take any of these qualities and copy them for your brand. Instead, look at the motivations behind these choices, and use the qualities themselves for the next step of your process.
If you don’t understudy your market and competition, then your venture has already failed. Here are three reasons why you should study your competitors:

  • You’ll be prepared- You will know what you are up against. By studying your competitors you have an idea of what the obstacles and challenges would be and can plan ahead on how to overcome them should the situation arise. One resourceful way is to improve and improvise on ideas and concepts from your competitors.

  • You don’t have to start from scratch- Finding outlets that are willing to work with you and distribute your product/service is one of the most tasking, time-consuming and completely necessary parts of building a business. That’s why it makes sense to study what the competition is doing so you can improve on that, especially in the area of market research and reach.

  • What works for them, ‘MIGHT’ work for you- In some cases, by studying the competitors’ websites, social media posts and existing ad campaigns you’ll be able to see what they do, what works for them, what doesn’t and what you can improve on or do better than them. There are also quite a few digital, automated tools that you can use if you don’t want to do the job yourself. One amazing free web based tool Addicted2Startup.com uses for its social media advertisements is Canva. You can easily sign up, choose the layout, add the pictures and text and your ready to share.

3. Being unique and selling your story

Identify how to differentiate your brand from the competition. It could stem from your business plan in general: One example is if you have a price advantage over your competition, you would want to emphasize that in your branding. Otherwise, find a way to make yourself stand out. Are most of the other brands more traditional or more conservative? You could inject some fun, add some technological twist to it. (i.e Websites, Viral Video). Are the other brands elitist and pretentious? Shoot for something more down to earth.

Thailand creates very creative advertisements and this is one of them.

 

 

Once you have established your brand, you have to sell your story. A major challenge you will face as part of the startup phase is people may not instantly recognize who you are or what you do.
Building your story not only helps you focus on your company identity and culture, but it’s a memorable way for your clients and customers to identify with your brand on a more personal level. Sell an experience before selling a product.

A company that applies this very well is Soaplab Malaysia. Addicted2Startup wanted to highlight the great work they have done by telling the story behind their startup, their company vision and following constantly through with their marketing campaign.

I specialise in guiding startup Entrepreneurs to create their own handmade skin care product by teaching formulation to create the best premium product right in your own Home.
I also have been in Business line for close to 10 years now (few different businesses) and know the ups and downs when it comes to business. Ive lost close to few hundred thousands of dollars during this time and im here to guide you so that you avoid the mistakes I did.

 

SoapLabMalaysia builds its social media following by creating useful content. i.e online soap making classes, personalised formulations and detailed explanations between the difference of lotions, cream, body butters and more.

18835680_1780621942250750_3018977958742255180_n

Successful branding is closely tied to a successful story, and by using that story as a jumping off point, you add to your own credibility.

 

4. Good Design Matters

If-you-think-good-design-is-expensive-you-should-look-at-the-cost-of-bad-design

How your product looks and is being marketed are very important in branding your startup. When it comes to visual branding, fonts, colors, logos, etc. all contribute to your image and purpose. An example is when you go to a shop, and you have 2 similar products to choose from. Both with similar content, however 1 of them looks visually appealing, colourful and has all great packaging while the other comes in cheap finishing. Which would you choose?

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 7.52.05 AM

Controversy aside, we have to admit that the Mast Brothers really did an excellent job in using great design to visually tell their story and sell their bean to bar craft chocolates.

When applied correctly, these elements can quickly define and communicate the mood and values you want to give your target audience.

Images are easy to share across social media platforms and can offer a first impression of your company. Make sure your visual output is a reflection of your target market and story.

5. Maximize Your Visibility

Once you have created a unique visual and verbal story—now it’s time to leverage assets across digital channels and integrate your marketing campaigns.

The goal is to reach your target market through a coordinated messages across multiple channels. Target marketing to your user demographics, which sounds obvious, but it’s necessary. An example would be, if you are selling durian products, chances are you would want to target the Asian market as opposed to the Western crowd. One marketing strategy that was recently applied by a durian stall in Penang, was that this durian seller tied up with a virtual coin/points company, which enabled you to buy your durians using your coins/points. This was a big hit with the Chinese tourists as they came in bus loads after shopping at this virtual mall. The idea was simple, Chinese loved durians, they were shopping in a virtual mall using points, so why don’t my stall accept virtual points.

Attack your social media outlets simultaneously and use them as a way to reinforce your brand; think about “share-ability”. We talked about using visuals to reinforce your brand, and moments captured in photos are some of the easiest moments for customers to share.

 

We at Addicted2Startup would love to hear your startup stories. Kindly send us your stories or let us know who you want featured here.

Good luck and all the best in your ventures.

How one woman created this amazing Jewellery Brand from scratch

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 10.25.57 AM

Peek&Boo designs, produces and sells bespoke handmade jewellery both online and offline, and actively participates in domestic and international trade fairs.

The ethos at Peek & Boo is to help make a difference around the world by using their wonderfully cute jewellery inspired by Nature to raise awareness in hopes of encouraging new consumers to help against environmental issues. To make their  message go deeper than just visually crafted timeless cute jewellery. Peek&Boo will be donating 10% of the profits to their charitable partners, your purchase does not just help awareness of environmental issues, it helps the people who are on the front lines trying to make our world a better place.

19807193_10154686088061570_173556098_o

We managed to have asit down with Kaze Ng the Founder of Peek&Boo as she shares the secrets that makes her entrepreneurial hunger growl;


A2S: What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in your life? How did the idea for your business come about?
KAZE: This was back a few years when I was studying in Germany, and every one was so conscious about going green and saving the planet. It was a culture shock compared to back home in Malaysia, although we were slowly progressing to the Green Concept and idea but it wasn’t so widely accepted. And as a student abroad, I was also struggling with expenses which got me thinking, “Why don’t I use the skills I have to make some money in order to make a change and help others to create Environmental and Civic awareness”.
One of the key trades as an entrepreneur is that you need to be resourceful. By observing my surroundings and experiences from my travels, I was able to assimilate this with my background in Jewellery and Design to create PeeknBoo.

A2S: When you first started, how or what did you do, to get the word out for Peek&Boo? Could you share with us on where you got your funding to start your own project?
KAZE: It was a DO or DIE situation for me, when I decided to take on this project. Initially when I first launched Peek&Boo, I decided to put the project on Kickstarter to crowd fund and promote the brand. Adopting a simple “pay and promote’ strategy, I withdrew all my savings to buy myself a marketing package from a US company to help me market the campaign. But the package was a complete failure. I did not manage to pull a single customer from it. Having only 30 days to promote and I was already broke, it was a stressful period for me. By the time I had 15 days left and only 20% goal achieved, I was mentally broken down as I had no idea what to do. No money for marketing. Knowing that I can’t give up, I went and start doing what I ‘think’ I can do ( at that moment ). I went on Instagram and start liking every single picture that are related to my post ( nature / wildlife picture ) , I started sending them a private message promoting my Kickstarter. I did that on Instagram, also in Pinterest , Facebook , Twitter. I spent countless hours every day doing that and even Email and private messaging the companies. Slowly but surely, I saw some progress, as the 15 days slowly pass, my % of funding slowly increase. And in the final dash for the finish line, the very last 2 days, a company found my campaign, they like my idea on how the concept of my brand is , they funded 80% of my campaign with nothing in return. This was how I got Peek&Boo started.

A2S: What would your 3 best advice you would give to newbies who wanted to start their own business?
KAZE: If I had to sum it up, it would be

  1. Make sure you have done extensive research to ensure that your product and concept is unique. Its a ‘Dog eat Dog world” out there. So make sure you are able to differentiate yourself from the competition.
  2. “Cheong” ! Which means ATTACK or GO FORWARD! in native Hokkien. If you are constantly on the go and moving forward, I believe you will always see progress. If you stay put however, then you would never move.
  3. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. You make a mistake, you learn from it and then you move on. You will become stronger with time.

Beauty!

A2S: What have been some of your failures and what did you do to overcome them?
KAZE: One of the things that I have learnt in the course of starting up a business, is to ensure that you have a strong product concept. Some people start a business by thinking that the only ingredients you need is just money and product. I have learnt that without a concept, I was unable to sell as there wasn’t a valid selling point.
Just to elaborate more on product concept. Product concept is the understanding of the dynamics of the product in order to showcase the best qualities and maximum features of the product. Marketers spend a lot of time and research in order to target their attended audience.
A2S: How did you manage to address this problem?
KAZE: Picking the right mentors and brainstorming with them always works for me. Finding the right people who has similar entrepreneurial experience and learning their mistakes and how they managed to overcome these hurdles have helped me with my own.

A2S: How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
KAZE: NEVER. That is why it is so important to ensure that your initial idea is valid and you have done all your homework on the back ground and scalability of the idea. Once I start, I will tell my self ‘My idea will always work”!!

ONCE I START A PROJECT, I ALWAYS TELL MY SELF THAT MY IDEA WILL ALWAYS WORK

A2S: How many hours do you work a day on average? And what are your tips on staying productive and efficient? Because being busy and productive are 2 very different things that people often get confused with.
KAZE: I have my full time job from 9am til 6.30pm. I tend to work on my own brand after dinner which is 7.30pm til late ( usually til 11-1am). On weekends, i work 7-9 hours on my own brand. I try to give myself a day off per week and a weekend off per month just to reward myself for working hard. I go to the gym, swimming and morning hike. I believe working out and maintaining a healthy diet helps give me better focus.
To keep track of my productivity and efficiency, for every task, I will set a specific deadline to complete it.

A2S: Jewellery is a very niche and specialised product. Could you share where you get your inspiration and ideas for your designs from?
KAZE: Haha, ideas pop out after coffee, but most of the time I have some sketch on what I want to do. like if I know I am going to Japan, I would search on places I want to go (reference places : cafe , wholesale place , textile area ), the meaning of Japanese symbols, so when I am there, I take photos of it and then brainstorms my way to my collection.

A2S: Protecting Peek&Boo as a brand and its designs would or course be your utmost concern. In this modern world of technology where information is shared so freely, as a designer yourself, do you have to deal with copyright and infringement or ideas/designs?
KAZE: Copyright and patenting costs a lot. This is one of the challenges you will face as an Entrepreneur.  Even if you have a written agreement with your retailer (pertaining to copyright issues) and somehow the designs are copied. Both of you would have to go to court, and go through a lengthy legal process which takes time and money. And maybe at the end of the day, the compensation isn’t enough to cover the legal fees. You need to ask yourself if you are ready to go through this. For now, I just have to continue innovating Peek&Boo’s designs and hope no one copies them.

A2S: When you first launched your product and while you were trying to make your first sale, what are the hurdles both emotionally and physically did you encounter and how did you overcome them?
KAZE:I was mentally and emotionally prepared for the hardship of starting up a brand that nobody knew about. When I first started, different days had different problems that needed different solutions. There were some days that I had a handful of sales, and some days I didn’t have even one. I didn’t allow this to make me sad or pull me down or give up. For every sale I made, I reminded myself how lucky I was, and that I was doing something correct. I just had to continue doing what I was doing. Keep on pushing forward.

A2S: What are the top 3 must have marketing app that you would recommend ?
KAZE: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram

  • Facebook – By far is the largest social media platform on the internet, Facebook boasts more than 700 million active monthly users. If you’re looking to reach the masses, this is the best place to start. It’s also the most credible platform. Any healthy and established business has a Facebook page, and a lack of one is a warning sign to potential customers.
  • Pinterest- Pinterest is of supreme value for many businesses. It’s the fastest growing social media platform and is particularly conducive to startups with physical products.
  • Instagram- You have a blog–great. You tweet your posts, and you update your Facebook page–that’s great too. But Instagram lets you brand like nowhere else. Only 123 of the Fortune 500 companies have adopted Instagram, and plenty of startups too are guilty of not using Instagram as a core part of their content marketing strategy.

While corporate Instagram adoption may not be overwhelming just yet, big companies are learning quickly from more marketing-savvy peers. Check out the growth in the chart below. This is the number of Fortune 500 companies using Instagram between December 2010 and August 2013.

Why are they betting on Instagram? Well, if you want to put a piece of content in front of someone, 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text.

A2S: As an entrepreneur you would have your share of ups and downs. When you are feeling down and out, as some of us normally do. How do you dig into the extra energy and keep yourself motivated?
KAZE: Failure is not an option for me. The margins for error is so small, that I need to be really precise in my execution. I take great pride in my planning and detail in my products. This is exceptionally true, when designing and producing Jewellery Pieces. As each piece is small and delicate, and needs to be produced with care. We cannot afford any mistakes especially in the moulding stage. (When the master mould for each design is created. Otherwise all the subsequent products will have defects).
Traveling works best for me. Being in a different environement helps to distress me, and by experiencing various sights and ideas, I am able to refresh myself with new concepts. Each time I come back from travelling, I have so many new ideas that I would want to start.  

Peek&Boo was also recently featured on Taiwans lifestyle magazine JUKSY.

PnBoo

All her items are made with plenty of care and love. Below are some of her processes while making the beautiful pieces.

Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 10.37.02 PM
Finished moulds of her products
Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 10.39.03 PM
Voila!! Our finished products!
chicken
Did you know…..
Roosters were very important in people’s daily lives in ancient times. They were not only treated as food, like today, but in ancient times people regarded them as a mascot since they ate harmful insects.
———————————
D E T A I L
———————————
Dimensions: 8mm x 8mm
Metal: Brass with 925 Sterling Silver needle
Enamel
**limited pieces
bull terrier
Did you know…..
Bull Terriers love attention and do not do well being left alone for long periods of time?
The lifespan of an average Bull Terrier is 10 to 12 years, but sometimes longer?
————————————-
D E T A I L
————————————-
Metal: Brass
Plating : 24k Yellow Gold
Material : Enamel
Size : Adjustable from S – L
*If you have a certain size you want me to adjust, please drop me a message.

You are able to shop for Peek & Boo items direct from their website www.ipeekyouboo.com
( also available in Etsy, Dawanda and Pinkoi )

We at Addicted2startup.com would like to wish Kaze all the best in her ventures and may she be successful in bringing Peek&Boo to the international jewellery scene.
Like us, share and follow us for more inspiring stories. Do tell us what you want to hear or if you have an inspiring story to share. We would love to hear from you.

 

 

How this man successfully made Airport Lounges accessible to everyone

Rewind back 10 years ago, I could still remember lounging my carry-on bags in the airport trying to look for a place to rest, while waiting for my plane. Plastic chairs that had those weird curved bottom seats that prevented weary people from lying down and sleeping on the chairs, crowded walkways, faulty or insufficient plug points to charge your electronic devices, expensive and crappy Airport food to ‘ON OFF WIFI’ signals.

I used to stare in hope through the glass panels into the air port lounges that one day I too, could be able to enter, sit down on the comfy sofas, sip my latte, read the papers and relax.

NOW I CAN and SO DO YOU!

The Plaza Premium Lounge provides this privilege to all passengers regardless of travel class and airline they fly, at a fee.

Founder Song Hoi See started the first Plaza lounge at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and at Hong Kong International Airport where the company has its headquarters in 1998, and he has since expanded the business worldwide to airports in India, the Middle East, Canada and soon the UK at London Heathrow and Australia at Sydney Kingsford-Smith International Airport.

Image Courtesy of Plaza Premium Lounge
(Credit to Plaza Premium Lounge)

Through his initiative and vision, Mr Song has broken the stereotype that airport lounges are for premium travellers only.

Aspire: Tell us a little about your vision of the airport lounge business when you first started. What made you think this would be a growing business when generally airlines prefer to manage their own lounges?

Song: The creation of my concept of airport pay-in lounges stemmed from my bad personal experience at the airport. Many years back when I worked for an American bank, I enjoyed travel perks such as limousine service, business class flights and use of airline lounges. When I left the bank to start my own business, I flew economy class and started comparing the experiences. At one point, I found myself ‘stealing’ electricity from airport sockets to charge my laptop, always dreading the long and dreary transit time. Then I thought to myself, how nice would it be if I had the option of enjoying lounge access, and the more I travelled the more I saw a pressing need for this facility. When the opportunity presented itself, I shared my idea with the world. Today, we design, build, operate and manage lounges, with the goal of enhancing the airport experience.

Song: I’m not sure if airlines enjoy managing their own lounges! Airlines operate a transportation business and I imagine they would much appreciate someone else taking the burden of managing a lounge off their shoulders. That’s where we come into the equation. We’re specialists, creating not only a lounge space that is comfortable, efficient and tailored, but also a product that raises the bar for airport lounge standards – today, lounges aren’t just about chips and nuts, it’s a facility cum service that improves the travel experience.

wp-content-uploads-2015-01-93plazadelhi

Aspire: You have expanded the business beyond Kuala Lumpur where you set up your first Plaza Premium Lounge – to airports in Singapore, Hong Kong and China in what looks initially like an Asian phenomenon. How has this changed with your business expanding to Canada, the Middle East and soon the UK and Australia?

Song: We’re very happy with the response the concept has received. We are a leader in the business, developing and evolving this concept for 15 years, longer then anyone else in the industry. Initially, a lot of people asked, ‘Why do we need another lounge when the airlines already have a lounge?’ But you must understand that the majority of travellers fly economy class; that is not to say that they would not appreciate an enhanced airport experience. While we have seen year on year an increase of travel numbers globally, travellers in the past had come to accept as a fact that airport experiences were to be dreaded. It’s all part of the package, but they have wizened up to realising that it doesn’t have to be like that. There has a major shift in the quality of services in airports in the past few years on a global scale. Airports can see that an airport lounge can by and large improve the airport service quality, which will in turn encourage more people to fly through these airports. The environment is dynamic and very exciting. This is why I love this industry and what I do.

Song: As the concept became more popular and airport authorities began to see how it could add value to the airport’s facilities, it opened up opportunities for us to expand our business beyond Asia. You can say the concept has global applications.

Aspire: Which is your best selling lounge and why?

Song: I couldn’t tell you which one is the most bestselling lounge as it’s like picking favourites among children. The circumstance for each lounge is different; remember that each lounge is carefully designed to tailor to the needs of the travellers who come through the airports where they are located. We take everything into account, everything ranging from types of travellers, their cultures, transit time, flight times… the list goes on and on. It is important that we’re detailed and meticulous in our research.

Song: We have recently opened three lounges, one in Bangalore, Hong Kong and Vancouver. They boast what we call the 5th generation lounges, where we introduced a new lounge design and boosted the concept of interactivity, creating touch points and interactive opportunities for our guests and team members. Sometimes travelling can be very lonely, with no one to speak to in the span of 12 hours or more, so we find ways to change that experience for travellers. We even introduced made-to-order dishes, so the food is fresh. There are local dishes that our guests can try the food one last time before they fly out. By the way, at each of these lounges, we have also introduced a fantastic signature dish. Building a lounge is not a difficult task, but how to sustain consistent quality of service by a dedicated team is the challenge.

Aspire: At the height of the economic crisis in 2009/2010, airlines were doing badly and continue to suffer from the slow recovery in air travel, in particular premium travel. You would expect this to have a negative impact on your business, yet your brand thrives and expands. What is it that holds up your business in good and bad times?

Song: It is true that the economic crisis heavily affected everyone across almost every industry. However, we must look far and into the long term. At that time, in spite of concerns from HR, I decided not to lay off a single person in our team. I made sure the team stayed focus on refining and defining the lounge product, strengthening the service, facility and ambience that we provide to keep us standing strong. I have a fantastic team and I’m very proud of them. We have developed an operating culture by which we pride ourselves to provide the best lounge service.

Song: We saw a change in travel patterns, that while some travellers may have reduced their travelling budget, they in turn opted for lounge use to complement their revised travelling habits. We are able to help travellers to maintain a certain level of comfort at the airport.

Aspire: Who are your competitors and what makes your facility different from others?

Song: There are some isolated lounge operators, but we are not so concerned about the competition as we know that we have developed a strong brand supported by the economies of scale, an excellent training system and a dynamic management team focusing on providing a quality of service that is world-class. In fact a lot of people have asked me about competition from airlines, but I see this as a misconception as airlines in fact complement our lounge services and vice versa. We work with many airlines to take care of their first and business class passengers, and we also manage the airline lounges of our airline partners. Being specialists in the field, they are happy to leave the management in our hands. In Hong Kong, we manage the airline lounges of Cathay Pacific (The Bridge), Thai Airways, Air France/KLM, United Airlines, and we continue to lead and grow this leg of the business internationally.

Aspire: Give us your take on the outlook vis-à-vis new, emerging trends in air travel.

Song: I see the growth of the middle class, especially in China and India, and with this, the demand for travel will grow in tandem. In the past two years alone, this market has grown exponentially, and has in fact shifted the travel trend beyond many people’s expectations. I believe it will continue to do so in the years to come. The Brookings Institution predicts that by 2030, the middle class will grow to 4.9 billion from its current figure of about 1.9 billion, and the bulk of it will be from China. In Asia alone there are 46 low-cost carriers. I believe this number will continue to grow and there will be more low-cost carrier terminals.

Song: Airlines will also begin to form closer alliances, and perhaps we’ll also see larger mergers. This is a dynamic environment and the aviation business will move rapidly forward as the economy recovers worldwide. All this can only be good news for Plaza.

Plaza-Premium-Lounge-London-Heathrow-Terminal-21

THE world largest independent airport lounge network Plaza Premium Lounge was awarded “World’s Best Independent Airport Lounge” accolade from Skytrax at the 2017 World Airline Awards at the Paris Air Show.

Plaza Premium Lounge reaps a harvest of hard work in 2017 as its Hong Kong, Brisbane, London Heathrow Terminal 2 (T2) and Vancouver lounges are ranked the world’s 10 best independent airport lounges by millions of travellers.

This is the second time in a row that it has racked up a string of recognitions bestowed by Skytrax, with Plaza Premium Lounge in London Heathrow T2 and Hong Kong having clinched two of the world’s top three positions together, reflecting their exceptional lounge facilities and service standards.

Mr. Song hoped that his story of developing Plaza Premium Lounge, the Group’s flagship business pillar, could inspire young entrepreneurs to have confidence in themselves in moving a local business concept successfully into the world arena. Our younger generation should continue to have faith in entrepreneurship and innovation. Following his example, it was possible to start with nothing, as long as they have a unique idea, courage, perseverance and passion.

Mr. Song highlighted that the accolade was a testament to the company and very much attributed to the dedication of his team. Plaza Premium Lounge would not have been what it is today without our colleagues’ full support and faith in sharing his vision.

Since 1998, Plaza Premium Lounge has evolved substantially into Plaza Premium Group, a global service brand offering premium airport services, with over 3,500 employees in more than 130 locations across 35 international airports, serving over 7 million passengers around the world annually.

Plaza Premium Group provides Premium Airport Services in more than 150 locations across the world, serving more than 12 million passengers annually.

Apart from airport transit hotel, airport meet-and-greet service, as well as airport dining businesses, the group also owns Plaza Premium Lounge, which runs the world’s largest independent airport lounge network.

 Article courtesy of AspireAviation

Costs that make or break your hostel business!

3 storey hostel

Once you have your hostel all set up and running. Its time to sit down, assess and document down your costs. This is when you identify your Fixed Costs, Variable Costs and any other hidden costs that you might have missed.


Identifying your Hostels Fixed Cost and Variable Cost

Total cost of an operation is divided into 2 types.
Fixed Cost : Compulsory Commitments regardless of any fluctuation of sales. No significant changes to costs when sales increase or decrease.

Examples of Fixed costs are:

  • Staff wages
  • Land/ Building taxes
  • Building Maintenance fees
  • Premise Rental (This should be negotiated prior to any renovation. The fixed rental should be stated in the term lease)
  • Permits
  • Yearly auditing fees
  • Accounting fees
  • Company Secretary Fees
  • Outsourced services – i.e Security, Food and Beverage, Laundry
  • Fixed internet and phone bill (This does not include cases, when your internet quota is exceeded, and there is a need to top up credit to restore internet and phone services)
  • Fixed TV cable entertainment fees
  • Monthly/ Yearly Subscriptions
  • Other fixed costs

Variable Cost: Variable costs are clearly related to hotel occupancy and business volume. As business volume or occupancy increases, variable costs will increase; as hotel occupancy decreases, variable costs should decrease as well.

Examples of variable costs are:

  • OTA (Online Travel Agent) booking fees. i.e Booking.com, Agoda, Hostel world Fees (Comparing OTA effectiveness and commissions)
  • Government levies on services. **Recently the Malaysian Government imposed additional tourist tax**
    The cost will be set at a fixed rate and will depend on the level of accommodation.
    Tourists staying in non-rated accommodation will be charged an extra RM2.50 ($0.80) per room per night; tourists booking stays in one, two and three star hotels will have to pay an extra RM5 ($1.55) per room per night; four star hotel guests will be charged RM10 ($3.10) and those booking five-star accommodation will have to pay an extra RM20 ($6.20) per room per night.
    This is on top of a 6 per cent GST.
    Read more on (Tourists to pay more for accommodation in Malaysia with new tourism tax). It is advisable to double check and stay updated with the country’s tax and regulations. Also beware that Local State or Provincial Tax might defer from National Tax.
  • Fuel expenses to run generators for remote locations
  • Maintenance of machinery
  • Guest room amenities and consumables
  • Breakfast costs
  • Any beverage or snacks at the common area
  • Stationary used in front desk
  • Washing liquids/ Softeners and misc for laundry
  •  Petrol and subsidies for staff
  • Telephone usage
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Flowers and decorations

Both types of costs will contribute to the total cost of the operation. Reducing any costs without affecting the quality of the service or rooms will be your ultimate challenge. Generally before doing any purchasing, or signing any contract with a supply company, it is best to do a market survey to compare prices, quality and reliability of the company. With this comparison chart, you can compare and make a decision. Bear in mind, that the final decision will not only be based on costs, but the overall rating.

Take note: Non operating expenses include loan payments, depreciation, and income taxes. (Read: Should i pay personal tax or company tax)


Here is a real case scenario from a hostel owner

James owns a hostel in a busy and strategic beach front location. His survey around the vicinity found that his competition was providing similar quality rooms for  a much lower price during the low season.
At this junction, he has a few options. Among the most likely would be

  1. Lower the rates to compete with his competition
  2. Figure out how to increase value to differentiate  his hostel from competition. One of the ways was to include quality breakfast into the room as the rest of the hostels were either not providing breakfast or just providing the normal breakfast.

When you have stayed in enough hostels and managed NOT to get a hangover from partying the night before and take advantage of the Free Breakfast, you will start to notice that most hostels that offers dorms/rooms inclusive of breakfast  will offer a very similar breakfast menu. Toasts with a selection of jam/margarine (real butter is expensive) and eggs. 3 in 1 coffee or tea and if they are generous, a selection of locally available fruits.

A survey recently conducted by Online Travel Agents found that customers voiced out the 3 main factors to giving a good rating online are

  1. Room cleanliness
  2. Toilet cleanliness
  3. Quality of Breakfast

Highlighting the importance of a Hearty Breakfast, we will discuss this in detail.
You would want to be able to provide quality breakfast, fast and hot to the customer with the least hassle. What Breakfast To Serve?

(Cover photo is from FB COVERSDIRECT.COM)

Creating a Kick Ass Business Plan

Here is why we create business plans

To start any business, you will need a Business plan that acts as a map leading you to your GOAL.Close your eyes and imagine the entire business idea, step by step starting with the initial process and then slowly create a flow chart of all its possible alternative results. Each possibility should have a set of positive and negative results. Then for each result, try to map out how you are going to fix it, and what is the next step forward. Remember that once you have prepared it, it isn’t cast in stone. Make sure you have the map printed out on a big sheet of paper and stick it next to your life GOALS. Some motivational gurus, will tell you to read it out loud in the morning to achieve a mental winning setting. Positive Mental Setting. Always keep the plan fluid, so that you can rapidly react and adapt, should something go wrong.
One of the steps to creating a business plan is to conduct a SWOT analysis. To give you a better example, lets look at this case study. SWOT CASE STUDY

get-standard-business-plan

Your business plan is essentially your road map of possibilities to a comprehensive list of questions. The first and most important question is this: where do you want your business to go? and what should you do when things go wrong?

You should be asking yourself questions like

  1. The problem that your business will be solving
  2. Is it a NEED or a WANT
  3. What type of business are you planning to run?
  4. How do you imagine/want your business to look like in 2,5,10 years or more?
  5. The expected costs and revenues of the business. Make sure the numbers are supported by realistic and detailed assumptions and projections.
  6. Exit strategy for investors, partners and yourself.
  7. Are you going to expand within the same business or branch out to other supporting businesses? 

Try to set achievable goals to give you a gauge on how you are progressing. Not only does it alert you if you are deviating from the master plan, but by celebrating these short term achievements,  it provides you with the positive motivation to strive on.

5732589_orig

This living document generally projects 2-5 years ahead and outlines the route a company intends to take to grow revenues.

Executive Summary
Your executive summary is usually a 1 page summary  of your business plan as a whole and touches on your company profile and goals. You have 30 seconds to attract the interest of the reader/ investor. The first 30 seconds will usually determine how impressive your plan is. Whether the investor will continue listening or set up a mental block.   

Below are the main criteria’s  you need to include

Company/Business Description
Provide concise information on what your company does.
Is your business unique in its services and offerings?
If yes, then how so?
How big should your hostel be?

Market Analysis
Before launching your business, it is essential for you to research your business industry, market and competitors. What are the travelers needs?
If this is a new hostel concept or category

  • Find out how many customers will be interested in this concept
  • Potential of this number growing over time
  • What is the Potential pricing for the rooms/dorm. This will help you work out your costings later on. 

Identify all your competition within the area. This covers all hostels, AirBnb lodgings, budget hotels, and hotels. It is better to identify all the competitors than have the investors discover them afterwards. 
Find out what they are offering, and how can you use this to your advantage?
How to make a Concise Search

Organization & Management

This depends on the size of your hostel. Basically the more rooms you have, the more staff you will need. You might be able to survive with a skeleton crew and maintain a minimal front staff, but you will need to increase your housekeeping team.

  • Would you be managing the place or will you be hiring a manager to do the work?
  • Would you setup different departments to run the hostel?
  • A bigger hostel, also means, more space to cover.Additional security cameras for security?
  • Additional inventory, i.e bedsheet, breakfast items, toiletries?
    SOPs and monitoring sheets you need

Service or Product Line
The thing that most people over look is, Ancillary Income. How does it benefit your customers? What is the product lifecycle? Get tips on how to tell the story about your product or service.Ancillary Income Earns 30% of Revenue

Marketing & Sales
How do you plan to market your business? What is your sales strategy? Read more about how to include this information in your plan.How will your reach your target customers? What promotional tactics and marketing channels will you use? How will you price your products and/or services? What brand positioning do you desire for each?
Is Guerilla Marketing for you?

Funding the project
Are you self funded, or do you need external funding? If you are seeking funding for your business, find out about the necessary information you should include in your plan. If you plan to raise money, you need to interest VCs (Venture Capital) or angel investors with the elevator speech ( capture attention within 30 seconds) and PowerPoint presentation, but you only close on the money after the investor reviews, questions, and buys in to your entire business plan. So you must spend a significant amount of time drafting a coherent and persuasive executive summary or business plan that sets forth, among other things.

Financial Projections
Preparing your financials and making sure they are in order, is essential to track your company’s

  1. Profit and Loss
  2. Cash flow
  3. Encourage transparency which is important for declaring tax and when you sell the business. 

Why you should forget Profit and focus on Cash Flow?
Quick guide to know if it is a profitable business

You want others to read and/or fund your business, your plan has to read well and be formatted properly. But it’s the content in the business plan, your strategy and reasons why you’ll succeed, that will prompt others to invest or otherwise join you in your conquest to build a thriving business!

Appendix

An appendix is optional, but a useful place to include information such as resumes, permits and leases. Find additional information you should include in your appendix.

Good luck and All the Best in Captivating your readers.

6 Habits of Successful People To Overcome Failure

a

Have you ever noticed that most successful people have a common trait? They managed to overcome their failures. They are not afraid of failures. In fact, they anticipate failure and use it as a learning opportunity to perform better. In Robert T Kiyosaki (Author of Rich Dad,Poor Dad), one of his book series, he mentioned that successful people strive to achieve financial freedom. Financial freedom = sufficient passive income to cover all your daily expenses (in simple terms). Financial freedom, is the ability to have time to do what you always wanted to do without worrying about bills, and other costs. Money is a tool that enables us achieve that lifestyle.

What sets successful people apart is their ability to maintain positive habits, so they can maximize their time (even when hardship hits). This skill of turning failure into success is key, and although it may seem like these successful people are superhuman, they are not.

Successful people anticipate failure, and always learn to overcome it. Like you and me, they make mistakes. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, but this doesn’t stop them from achieving their potential. They don’t overcome this with money, power, or fame. They don’t have a secret you don’t. But they do have a set of positive habits that sets them apart, and with a little tweaking, so can you.

Let’s have a look at the 6 habits that successful people use to overcome their failures

1. They cultivate a positive mentality

The most powerful tool we have is our mind. The thoughts, dreams and reality that we form in our mind, will determine and influence the outcome of our lives. One big difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is they always say ” It is a minor hiccup in my plan,  i will find a way to solve this ” as opposed to “Its too hard, i think i cant do it”. Your words do become flesh.
There for, you yourself are responsible for setting your self up for success.

If you think it is a small problem, then it is a small problem.
If you think there is no problem, then there is no problem.
It is up to you, how you change your reality.

2. They take time to ‘reflect’ each day

Successful people take time out of their day (every day) to reflect on their life. Reflect on:

  1. What’s working, and what isnt?
  2. What is important to me now?
  3. Am i doing the right thing and is there anything i can do to make it better?
  4. Time is precious, Don’t waste it. Appreciate it!

The art of meditation is a growing culture. It is a upcoming trend among high performing athletes, entrepreneurs and celebrities, to help them relax, and refocus on their life.  This is one positive habit anyone can do, and all it takes is 5-10 minutes each day.

3. They start the day early! 

Nearly 50 percent of the self-made millionaires got out of bed at least three hours before their workday actually started. Many of them use the free time to tackle personal projects, plan their day, or make time for exercise.

You won’t meet many successful people who sleep beyond 7am. If you listen to motivational speeches and talks, you will

No matter if you are a morning person or not, there is huge value in waking up early (even if you spend this time reflecting, instead of working).

“Life is too short,” she panicked, “I want more.” He nodded slowly, “Wake up earlier.”- Dr. SunWolf

Planning your day ahead will enable you to create a mental system that is systematic of which is priority and what you need to do during your day. This decreases your stress levels because everything is planned out. Imagine your productivity levels, if you begin your day stress free, happy and goal orientated?

4. They focus on the work they need to do

There is always a thousand things that you will need to do. Successful people focus on the priorities and clear the tasks one by one. They focus on getting the job done.
Do not procrastinate! Do it, and get it done with. People usually tend to set aside or put off any hard jobs or things that they do not like to a later time. Does the phrase “It’s ok, ill do it later” sound familiar with you?

Believe me, once you get it done with, when you look back, you will realize that it wasn’t so bad. Success lies in focus, and getting what you need to do done (as in, right now)!

5. They spend time with people who inspire them

‘We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with” Jim Rohn (Motivational Speaker).

“You are only as successful as those you frequently associate with” 

If you don’t have highly-motivated people in your personal network yet, fear not. Self-made millionaires volunteer, which is a great way to meet other positive, motivated individuals. When you volunteer your time, skills and knowledge, you are sharing. This cultivates and promotes positive attitude and energy. Positive people will attract other positive people.

Choose who you spend your time with. Time is a limited resource. Successful people make a point to limit their association with negative people.

When you are staring failure in the face, consult your positive friends and associates and with their input it makes the problem or failure smaller. Always remember, if you think it is a small problem, then it will be a small problem. It is all in the mind. You yourself have the ability to change your own reality.

6. They do not fear mistakes or failure

As human beings, we all share something in common: we make mistakes, and we sometimes fail.

Successful people are no different to you and me, but they do approach failure different to most. They prepare for failure and do not fear it. They do not let failure hold them back. They ensure that it leads them to greatness.

failure 1

This is how successful people think. This is how they approach each day. They appreciate failure may occur today, but they do not allow this to stand in their way

The only time you do fail is when you allow this fear or failure to take control of you.
It is a constant battle to be successful, but these 6 successful habits will ensure that you stay on top of your game and will be able to handle failure in a positive way.  Whenever you see the success of successful people, whether world class athletes or successful business entrepreneurs, always remember the “THE REAL WORK IS BEHIND THE SCENES’

 

What habits are you going to implement into your life today? We would love to hear from you!

Advertisements