Do the Numbers before getting the LOAN

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Most newbie SMEs in Brunei are being mislead with the SME financing facility offered by financial institution. Most bankers or the government servant paid facilitator will encourage you to take the SME loan to either startup or expand or diversify your business. But don’t blame them, because they are being paid for that purpose!

A word of advice here is…DO NOT TAKE SME LOAN if your cash-flow indicate it takes you more than 6 month to get the cash back or generate cash inflow. Because it will silently drain and eventually kill your business progress or operation. Simply because the bank will chase you for the monthly payment a month after you get the loan, no matter how is your business doing. More than 3 month of non-payment, a warning letter will be in your mail box and the longer this things happen will end you being dragged to the court by the bank.

Use only the SME loan or financing for a quick cash or quick turnover business, where you can see the cash coming in at least within a month. SME loan is not good for most business startup especially in the manufacturing or that involves industry like agriculture. It only good for if you are thinking of buying someone else existing business with good customer base or good stream of incoming cash flow.

If you are in the import and retail business, simply use the ‘Letter of Credit’ or normally known as ‘LC’ bank facility. But again you must make some contingency for unsold items, as LC normally has a credit term of 3 month, where by the third month the bank will demand FULL payment.

So before you apply for the SME loan or financing, first do a good calculation on how fast the cash will come back to your account. If it takes longer than 3 or 6 month, refrain from signing the loan application. If not you will only building bad debts instead of good debts.

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Entrepreneurs Not for Everybody

Most people think being entrepreneurs can make you rich in a short time as opposed to being employed by someone or somebody. Most people think they too can become entrepreneurs as they wish. Most people think being an entrepreneurs is far too risky, because an entrepreneur don’t have the luxury or benefits of the public working force, such as gratuity, TAP, easy loan eligibility, housing benefits and others.

I must admit, being an entrepreneur is a hard work and no single task is easy or as simple as ABC. No business plan you write on paper will straight away follow your desire. As an entrepreneur, I must always seeks new knowledge everyday regardless about entrepreneurship, financial strategies & planning, investment, looking for opportunities, analyzing market situation and trends and all sort of things. As an entrepreneurs, one must be creative, flexible, innovative, pro-active, have the stamina to go it alone, never easily give up and much more. Discipline is as well very important.

Recently, I meet an old friend who’s still working at one of the international bank in Brunei. He asked me about my business which I quickly replied back to him as bumpy with occasional hard landing. He look very disappointed at me and asked me to give my quest for running and owing a business. He continued it’s not good for me and my family struggling financially. He advice me to come back to the old job as bank officer. I just nodded my head as physical agreement, but deep in my heart I am very disappointed with him as he don’t have the guts of facing failure. He’s the risk-aversion type of person and of my type being risk-taker.

Over the years of his career as bank employee, he never made it (as to this stage) even becoming a bank supervisor. He is not the kind of person that is proactive but rather as a reactive. And this is not the kind of attitude if you are looking to be an entrepreneur. You will certainly failed if you do so. It’s better to be employed by somebody.

I enjoy creating things and building business around me. I can’t work for so long for somebody of being an employer. Because I am a risk-taker and proactive looking for business opportunities, creating and building one. I also love building a business for someone who’s willing to invest but I like to work with smart investor not the kind of poor investor. Poor investor in my own terms means, a person who have the money but don’t have the intelligence or understanding what he/she wanted the money for or doing. Poor investor only interested in making the big money and ignoring the risk associated with it. I always stay away from the poor investor. Poor investor mostly exist in our community and it is very rare to find smart investor.

If you enjoy working for somebody as an employer, then suddenly you wish to shift your pattern to become an entrepreneur, make sure you assessed your self. Don’t ever thing like this:

Entrepreneur = More Money

If your mentality is like that, then you might only be a day dreamer without action or stamina. A potential entrepreneur must have the stamina to do it alone for a long way, may several years before success, and you must be willing to take the risk and accept defeat. Never give up.

Raising Tilapia?

From my previous post, some of you may asked why I choose to grow tilapia instead of other high value fish for the fish cage farm. Well, I am not going to grow the mass abundant tilapia found in our local water ways or from the local hatchery. I only grow the best performing tilapia that can grow faster than the local version. It is a Hybrid Tilapia that can grow well over 1 kg in just 10 months.

The market? Well it’s everywhere around Brunei or even the world. As most aquaculturist will be aware of, Sugarbun fast food outlet are craving for it. Other than that, you can easily market it for local consumption at most supermarket. And if you have well over 800 gram Tilapia, you may enter the world market for fish fillet. Just make sure you have the capacity to supply for the hungry world market.

All of the tilapia I will be growing in Pelumpong will be for local market to sustained the imbalance import and demand requirements. The local requirements will be of less than 350 grammer, so the grow-out period will be less than 4 months from initial stocking of 20 gram. I projected, the company will be able to supply not less than 500 kg per month year round. How much will the company earn? Well, I don’t think it will complicated for all of you to calculate. Just shop around in the market and find out the selling price…and you do the maths.

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Our Company New Project

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Recently, our company just taken delivery of the newly designed floating fish cages for the Year 2008 project. The project is to develop and operate a floating fish cage at the Pelumpong Spit with over 100 cages.

Unlike traditional and most common floating fish cages found in Brunei waters, we choose to be different and forward thinking. We selected and imported the ETER Model C floating aquaculture frame. It is made from HDPE which can last well over 15 years, rot maintenance free and it is highly buoyant and UV resistant. This will ensure both our operating and maintenance cost at a manageable level.

The traditional wooden frame will need maintenance or replacement every 2 years and can be very costly on the long-run as based on my own experience operating and managing floating fish farm both in Pelumpong and Pulau Keingaran.

A total of 7 ocean going containers arrive in September and November of 2007 respectively for the delivery of our new floating fish cage frames, with a total investment worth well over B$400,000. We would like to thank BIBD and the Fisheries Department that has helped our company to do so.

It is expected by February of 2008, we will began our first operation with initial stocking of Asian Seabass (Ikan Selungsong) and Hybrid Tilapia for the local market. Then it will follow with Grouper (Ikan Kerapu) sometime in March or April (subject to seasonal fingerlings availability) for the export market.

Another project in the aquaculture is also well underway for the setting up of Seabass hatchery, in which I have been selected to lead the project for another company.

I believe with my experience both in the freshwater and marine fish farming, in hatchery and grow-out phase, will be able to move the project ahead and to make Brunei one of the leading aquaculture players in Borneo after Sabah. I will also use my experience in exporting Mouse Grouper (well over 2,500 kg) to Hong Kong (2005) to market the grouper for the lucrative Chinese export market.

No Paper No Dealing

From my past failure experience i would like to share my business sour experience for the new and the established businesses. Never do or deal a business without written and signed paper on hand exhibiting the terms & condition of the business dealing. Never put any body words as trust and legally bonded to the business.

Have everything written on paper as clearly as possible, including failure to deliver and pay for the products or services offered. If you don’t have this simple ingredients, NEVER ever do the business! It will kill you softly. Even if it involves someone you have been dealing for so long with very good tight relationship. In the business world and in business money does not appreciate words of trust.

If you just going to start-up a business, do the business planning carefully and if possible ask for some written agreement (sort of LOI or MOU) with either your supplier or buyer or better still from both parties. After you have those in place, then you can proceed with the business. Don’t try to gamble that everything will be going your way as you wish on the business plan. It only good on paper and will only look so ugly in reality.

So have everything on paper with clear terms & condition and each party roles. Only then you can part your money and do the business well.

Emotion & Ego Is Blind = Disaster

I have friends of all walks and sometimes do the same course of business. What I will share with you will be a lesson for all of us, including me. In any business we undertake, as far as possible please do not mixed it with emotion and ego. Because this 2 attitudes have no eyes and will take you blindly into unknown or known territories that will spell disaster.

One of my trading friend in the forex trading business have the 2 attitudes, which until today never made him a good forex trader. He keep losing on most trades. Whenever he make money on a particular day(s), he will certainly loss it the same week.

I have reminded him and continually teach him the best way of doing trades. In any trades, no matters it is forex, stocks, commodities, energy, precious metals or the similar financial instruments we must do it systematically. Sometime we have to create the system to suit our own personal trading style or type and the risk exposure we willing to take. A good trader is not about making the millions. A good trader is all about not to loss the trade.

Whenever I keep reminding him of this, he always make ways of his emotion and ego to trade. Today I observe his analytical trading approach. Last Monday I remind him to take the trade by following the market trend and never trade against the market. But today to my surprise he continually move against the market and enter the market by his emotion to catch the wave. In trading with limited equity strength, never try to catch the big wave. It is better to follow the wave. Catching the big wave can be fatal, with the unexpected current it will drown you. This is emotion of GREED and to get RICH quick.

Eventually he almost drown losing most of his profit the past week. Then he call me and blame the trading platform provider of being lousy and unfriendly. I try to remind him about the trading system I mention to him a few days ago, but he insist his analysis is correct and his trading style not the same as me. This is EGO.

As you can see, emotion and ego will never make you a successful trader nor a business person. Emotion and ego never have eyes nor does it learn the feeling of pain and guilt. Emotion and ego will secluded you from hearing any opinion. However, it can bring a person closer to blink of a disaster. It will make a hero to be a loser!

TREE: One of the most precious investment

A few months ago, I come across one investment article which I research the whole world about the best investment vehicle. One of the professional investor urged potential sophisticated investors to look at tree as one of the best investment.

First I laugh and wonder why on earth we want to invest in trees. It’s just trees and we in Brunei have a lot of untouched trees, except for Rambutan trees, Mango trees and the like. And it took time to grow a tree.

Well, after I read further and continue my search about trees then I understand the high investment values of tree. In today’s rapidly growing population and economies, people need to expand and occupied land that was once before populated by the animal kingdoms. Hence, we need to cut down a lot of trees. We need trees as one of the world eco-system and we need trees to provide shelters. Most wood furniture derived from trees.

If you have a deep pocket you can start a company, look for vast vacant land and start planting trees as many as possible. Have a good estate programs to manage the business or you can possibly start outdoor leisure activities as part of the business development. It took considerable amount of time frames to realize the investment return for this sort of business. Maybe 10 or more years before you can cut down the trees and start selling it to the saw mill factory or furniture factory.

Alternatively, you can (for the average or small investor) buy a share in a company that do the similar business. When you choose this path, don’t expect for immediate income like sell the shares when the share prices increase in value. This is a long-term investment and look for only dividends.

Make your own research over the web, look for good stock brokers that will help you enter the stock exchange and make your way for good investment. Most of the companies engage in the tree business are listed in the NYSE.


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Wise Words

A man to carry on a successful business must have imagination. He must see things as in a vision, a dream of the whole thing.
- Charles M. Schwab -

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Many thanks to all the links that I have provided in this personal blog of mine which reflects as examples and for general information purposes only. Thousand apologies for any misunderstanding and non-permission queries that may arise. Please contact Author for any inquiries.

Disclaimer

The information in this blog is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. The content of this site is my own personal opinions and based on personal accounts. My thoughts and opinions often change and, as a blog is intended to provide a semi-permanent point in time snapshot, you should not consider out of date posts to reflect my current thoughts and opinions. All code samples (if any, ever) are provided "AS IS" without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose.
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