Starting and Managing a Business for Profits and Wealth Part 24: Top Ten Business Opportunities in 2014

Part 24: Top Ten Business Opportunities in 2014

by K.C. See

This is the time of the year where I would be asked by my students and members of the Money Mastery community, what the top 10 business opportunities for 2014, would be. I used the same process I used before called Opportunity Search designed by my guru Alan Weiss. The process is based on the concept that opportunities come from change and from the opportunity; we derive the possible business idea. So the three words are Change – Opportunities – Ideas. So lets start by identifying some possible changes in the market place.

  • Higher cost of living and running a business.
  • Crime rate perceived to be growing.
  • Urbanization of population.
  • Health consciousness continually increasing.
  • Work life balance as younger generation wants different life style.
  • Aging population who higher propensity to spend compared with the previous aged.
  • Younger generation willing to spend more.

You would note that these are strictly my opinion and you may not agree with it and further more, the business ideas are primarily for smaller operations. Some of the opportunities I mentioned last year remain so, as I believe the opportunities still hold for 2014. So they are not entirely new ideas.

1) Area of Opportunity: Business Improvements for SME
Business Idea 1: SAAS ( Software as a service) / PAAS ( Platform as a service) / cloud computing for niche areas
Small and Medium size operations in the past are owned and run by baby boomers and Gen X and although investment in information technology has been emphasized, their resistance to change and the cost barrier to entry makes actual adoption slow and in some cases non-existent. Time has changed, with the younger people taking charge and with cloud computing making initial investment lower creates significant opportunities.
Business Idea 2: Business Consulting/ coaching
For the same reasons above and coupled with the fact that organizations are pressured by rising costs, the need to get external help for new ideas and to improve efficiency provides opportunities for consulting and coaching.

2) Area of Opportunity: Mobile Marketing
Business idea 1: Mobile apps for business
I have a vested interest in this being part owner of the largest mobile app developer in this region. The signs are obvious ; the shift is from computers to mobile devices and every business would need to have their own mobile app. The list of reasons is too long to explore in this article.
Business Idea 2: Wechat / Whatsapp marketing
Wechat has grown at such a tremendous pace ( 600 million and counting) that it is simply amazing and from the perspective of Facebook and the other social media platforms; threatening . So as Facebook marketing is the hot area now; wechat or whatsapp marketing will be the future and it would not be faraway.

3) Area of Opportunity:  Organic & Healthy Food
I repeated this from 2013 list. However the idea of opening up cafes and restaurants are increasingly restrictive as retail rental continues to go higher . I suggest the alternatives.
Business Idea 1: Food delivery
Food delivery is common and big in other countries such as China and in a place where going out to eat for lunch is a hassle, food delivery will be an idea to consider
Business Idea 2: Food trucks
For similar reasons food trucks make this opportunity more doable and viable.

4) Area of Opportunity: Health Empowerment
Business Idea 1: Health analysis & information
As health consciousness increases more and more people wants to take charge of their own health and to follow a preventive regime rather then to look for help only when they face health problems. To empower themselves they need three things; Diagnosis, Information and Solutions. They will look for methodologies, systems and devices to diagnose and analyse. They need more information on health issues and better understanding of causes and possible solutions.
Business Idea 2: Anti aging and weight management
These are two areas that will continue to be big and are million-dollars industries.

5) Area of Opportunity:  Marketing Services
Business needs help and will continue to be challenging as they look for new avenues to market their products or services.
Business Idea 1: Online marketing
Online marketing are capabilities that most small and medium size operations may not have but would require in order to remain successful and to be more global. They need to go beyond the traditional ways on how they do business and would now be more receptive. Providing such capabilities as a service especially in a holistic form would be a big area.
Business Idea 2: Lead generation services
With the implementation of the Data Protection Act( different names in different countries); organizations can no longer do random SMS or email marketing. However getting leads is still an important part of the business process and organization that can provide this as a service, would be of value.

6) Area of Opportunity: Contracting and Outsourcing
Business Idea 1: Online market place for services
By market place I mean providing a platform where potential customers can find and choose their suppliers or vendors all in one place. This could primarily be an online opportunity but have existed as a brick and mortar option as seen in wholesales markets, which are thriving in certain sector e.g. fashion. One example would be an online platform for people to find renovators e.g.
Business Idea 2: Niche outsourcing
There are some niche areas of services that organizations are looking for and would require to outsource or to engage people who specialized in these areas. One example would be property management company which would want to outsource their house maintenance service whether it is plumbing, electrical services or minor repairs. Another niche area is home inspection services required by home buyers who need to inspect their newly bought homes and has no idea how to do that well before they sign off on that piece of paper which absolve the developers from future responsibilities.

7) Area of Opportunity: Human Resource Management
Business Idea 1: Free-lancing providers or sites
Free-lancing will continue to be an opportunity as organization finds it challenging to recruit and employ permanent staff in some job areas. They will have to shift to using free-lancers or similar forms such as contract staffing. Whilst there are online sites that would be a market place for this, niche areas freelancing could be an opportunity.
Business Idea 2: Human Resource and performance monitoring systems
There will be more and more employees working from home and as many organizations and managers are not equipped to manage and monitor this category of staffing; technology and performance management system to do that would be required.

8) Area of Opportunity:  Recreational and lifestyle
Business Idea 1: Specialized sports and niche hobbies
As work life balance is treasured more people would embark on personal pursuits and especially niche and cool areas  such as mountain biking, marathon running or even belly-dancing.
Business Idea 2: Home-based entertainment systems
People spending more time at home will need to find home based entertainments, be it in exotic games and or home based equipments
Business Area 3: Pets Services
Pets are big businesses. Most things that relate to pets cost more than for normal human beings; such as pet grooming, pet hotels and toys for pets.

9) Area of Opportunity: Services for Seniors
Business Idea 1: Tours for seniors
Seniors’ holidays are different from the normal. They can’t do the 6-countries-in-6 days tour, typical Asian style. They need more time and specialized care.
Business idea 2: Retirement planning & homes
This opportunity has often been talked about but more can be done. The elderly today wants to live in a more holiday type resort for their retirement and the market that can afford this is increasing.

10) Area of Opportunity:  Smart Devices
Smart devices go beyond smart phones and Ipads or the like. Technology advances to include wearable technology and over the next few years, no homes would be without some form of these ‘smart’ devices.
Business Idea 1: Repair services
Obviously there is a need for people who will look after these areas as reliance become more. Try to be without your smart phone for a week.
Business Idea 2: Accessories
Especially for the younger generation, personalizing your ‘toys’ is a self expression of who you are, they want to ‘customize’ their ‘toys’ and accessories for these becomes their fashion statements.

You are welcome to write to me at kcsee@masteryasia to discuss these suggestions.
“KC See is the Founder of MasteryAsia an organization dedicated to coaching people for multiple sources of income. He is a serial entrepreneur with businesses ranging from health to mobile technology and runs the renown Money Mastery Mentorship Programme since 1997.”

Starting and Managing a Business for Profits and Wealth Part 22: Deciding on Your Niche Area; The RIM Process

Part 22: Deciding on your Niche Area; The RIM Process.

Helping people find their niche is one area that I work with when it comes to training entrepreneurs. It is also one of the ways I use when I help trainers whom I coach to make decisions on which area of expertise they want to choose as their niche area and especially if they have more than one option.

I get my students to use a decision matrix which involves evaluating each option base on the following criteria; Readiness, Interest and Marketability/Viability. I call this the RIM process. They first go through a process of listing down their experiences and expertise. The next step is to list down their interest and areas that they are passionate about. From these two lists they then list down their possible subject/areas of training (when it come to trainers) or list the business options they have. Then they evaluate each of these options against the three criteria.

Part22_RIM Process

This criterion matches their possible options against their present capability, competencies or experience. If the option is some thing they can start doing tomorrow then they could give themselves high points for readiness. If they are not ready and it would take some time then they would need to put a lower score for this. Low score does not necessarily mean that this option will be eliminated. It just means that more work, research and thoughts need to put on to this idea.

It is therefore possible that we might want to do something that we are not ready for but we are very interested in. In which case we need to put efforts to develop the area. We will need to talk to people in that field or study existing successful models.

When we choose areas we want to work on, interest and passion is definitely an important consideration. The exception is if you are ‘hungry’ and you need to make it work fast or if income is a concern. In which case you may choose to do what you are not interested as a temporary endeavor. However some people might tell you that they don’t really know what their passion is. Not surprising although if you are in that situation, it would be quite ‘tragic’. I would suggest that you would require to go through self-discovery process and you may need help from a coach. Evaluating interest level would help us determine future possibilities.

Marketability/ Viability:
This criterion would best be evaluated with help from experts or coach. I always tell my students that when you are hooked on to an idea it would always be a good idea. Simply because it is YOUR idea. Must be good. Getting a second opinion from the RIGHT person is necessary. I emphasis- the RIGHT person. Some of us may choose to consult our friends. Nothing wrong with that except that some people have this ability to talk as if they know some thing when they actually don’t.

Once the evaluation is done; putting points on each of this criteria saying 5 point for high level and 1 for lower, it is can be assumed that the one with the highest score would then be the best choice. However this is an indicative exercise not conclusive. The other point to note is the assumption that all criteria are equally important. Of course this is not necessarily the case. If there is no weightage given that the assumption is as such. However if it is not the case e.g. if Readiness is more important than Interest because you are hungry then we should assign more weightage to Readiness by putting a multiplier.

This RIM process is at its best help to provide directions and guidance It is certainly not a magic answer to entrepreneurs with too many options to choose from or a trainer looking to find niche area.


Starting and Managing a Business for Profits and Wealth Part 19: So What Really Works?

Part 19: So What Really Works?

The Crown Plaza in Shanghai was crowded but we have a nice pleasant room in a quiet part of the hotel. A group of CEOs, senior managers and a couple of directors gathered for a morning session to discuss management issues. They come from a wide variety of industry ranging from chemical and manufacturing to construction and consulting. I was leading a discussion on “ What really matters in management? “  With reference to a research carried out by Harvard professor Dr. Nitin Nohria. The central question which is “ What management practices actually contribute to performance? ” was the subject for the group.

We had a rather energetic discussion on this and although there was no complete consensus but three factors came out as being important factors in the China scenario; “Low Cost Operations”, “Well defined strategy” and “Having a great Leader”.

The first point was quite easily agreed to as China is often regarded as the factory for the world. However most of the participants agreed that this advantage will be fast disappearing as labour cost escalates. The general agreement is that low cost can no longer be relied on in China for organizational performance in the future, in entirety and has to be supported if not replaced by Quality and Customer Satisfaction as a key determinant.

Most of the participants agreed that Clear Strategy is another key factor and we went on to discuss Asian companies that has clear well defined strategy and those that don’t. It was pointed out that Asian companies are generally opportunistic and especially family-owned companies traditionally  has a tendency to jump into a great variety of businesses with no clear strategy and “as  long as it makes money”. On the other hand we have organizations that appear to have clear strategy if you ask them but it resides mostly in the minds of the management. The challenge in most Asian organizations is communicating that strategy in a clear simple way to the rest of the work force so that the organization would be aligned in terms of directions and efforts. Otherwise it would be tantamount to the scenario of the head of an animal moving forward but having to drag the rest of the body to follow.

The discussion on leadership in Asia produces a wide variety of opinions. The agreement is that the charismatic and the authoritarian leadership style are common in Asia. However the more effective consensus-building leader and the team-building leader is required in today‘s fast moving business environment which requires the fast responses that the traditional hierarchical companies are unable to produce.

I suggested that leadership today is really more about bringing the work force from a compliance state to a committed state. So the question raised by the group is “How do we get a committed work force?”  and if getting a committed work force is about empowering them, “Can Asian workers be empowered?”We seems to agree that unlike the  western work force the Asian workers generally are less receptive to being empowered and tend to be content to be told what to do. But then we also agree that the Gen Y workers today  is unlike the previous generations and would want to be given more freedom and are more vocal. The change obviously comes from the different ways in which the different generations are brought up. Today’s managers have some challenges in managing the GenY work force because of that difference.
We went on to explore Dr. Nitin Nohria’s extensive research on 220 management practices across all 160 companies in forty different industries over a ten years period. His findings came out with 18 key factors that contribute to organizational performance; the key measure of performance being total returns to shareholders.
Professor Nohria outlines the primary and secondary factors that winning companies have in common. His findings provide a template of practical and useful tools for getting ahead in today’s competitive business environment.
His research provided four primary factors and four secondary factors. He suggested that having the four primary factors are critical and having two of the our secondary factors would b significant ion becoming a winning company.

The Primary factors are
1.    Clear, focused, well-understood strategy
The emphasis is on clarity of strategy not only to the work force but also to the customer and that it should be shaped by the external market rather than internally generated.

2.    Flawless Execution that consistently meets Customer Expectations
The challenge for organization is how to consistently deliver the value to the customer. There is also a need to empower the frontline to respond quickly to the changes and to eliminate wastages.

3.    High-performance and high-values culture
Organization need to establish and religiously follow its core values. Work culture need to align with the values of the today’s work force; fun challenging and satisfying.

4.    Simple organizational structure that is easy to work with and work in
Simplicity of structure seems to be the answer and promoting synergy and alignment across the whole organization is important.

The Secondary factors are
5.    Extraordinary talent throughout the firm
An organization is only as good as its pool of talents; and the challenge is to recruit, groom and retain.

6.    Superior board and leadership team
Two things came out as critical; ability of the leader to connect with this work force and the ability to see things before others do.

7.    Transforming innovation
There is no doubt that in a fast changing market place; innovation and technological advancement are key determinants for success.

8.    Disciplined Mergers & Acquisitions capability
This is a surprise but the research shows that this competency is significant although rare and it is known that M & A that are mismanaged could destroy an organization.

Although the research is American-based., the forum agreed that the factors discussed are generally relevant in a changing Asian business environment. We finished with lunch in an American hotel franchise crowded with a multi-cultural patrons served by largely Chinese workers.

This article is based on a management forum discussing Professor Nitin Nohria’s book “What Really Works, William Joyce, Nitin Nohria, and Bruce Roberson”, and the notes of his lecture on “What really matters?”

Starting and Managing a Business for Profits and Wealth Part 18: Falling in Love… with a Business Idea

Part 18: Falling in Love….. with a Business Idea

Entrepreneurs are generally passionate people. Once they get hooked onto something they believe in they will go somewhat blindly and fervently towards that dream regardless of whether it sounds plausible or not. This is especially when they start falling in love with an idea.

I often tell my students never to fall in love with their ideas but rather that they should fall in love with the intended customers, the target market and who they want to serve. Having said that I still admire the steadfastness of some of these passionately driven people when they can’t stop talking about that great idea of theirs. They would keep on pounding on that “next great thing”, only to have people around them smile to themselves thinking “they must have gone nuts to think this would work”. In Asia you might not get anyone who will be honest enough to express their skepticism and doubts, even friends. They might just acknowledge the idea and might even say it sounds great (even when is it a pretty silly one). In some cases their enthusiasm is fueled by others around them who are just merely diplomatic and don’t want to kill that energy.

Having said that isn’t true to say that some of the so called silliest ideas become great products or services like, trying to deliver a parcel any where in the States by the next morning( Federal Express) or trying to build a phone with only one button (Iphone) or selling silly yellow paper with some not-so-sticky glue on it (yellow pads).

So what about Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Fred Smith who when they first started pursuing their ‘silly’ dreams of theirs, probably faced the same reactions? They were probably flooded with skepticism, disbelief, sniggering and even ridicule. But they came through. So how would you draw a line between a simply crazy idea and one which become the Facebook , the Apple and the Federal Express of tomorrow?

Yet we also know that while they are those who against all odds make it big with ideas nobody believed in, there are also thousands who never made it and their idea just got buried in the Mountain of Dead Ideas. When do we put that would-be-great entrepreneur on his feet and wake him up and when do you encourage him and support him? I could not really tell … and some times I have work hard to hold my self back and suppress my own biasness and tendency to become discouraging when the idea they share with me seems incredulous.

At best I would ask a series of questions to help validate that idea including the following:

1.    What problems are you or your product or service solving and for who?

2.    What exactly is the value you provide with your product or service?

3.    Why would some one want to pay for your product or services?

4.    Why do you want to do this business?

5.    Who exactly would you be marketing your product or service to?

6.    Is some one else doing this? And if not why do you think no one is?

7.    What make you different from someone else out there providing something similar?

8.    What kind of resources do you need to get this off the ground and do you have any ideas where to get them?

9.    What makes you the right person to do this?

10.    What has changed out there that make this idea works now and not before?

For the person with a Business Idea: Here are some of my suggestions if you want to know if the idea you have is worth putting all your money in it and quit your job for:

1.    Find 5 persons who are not related to you in any ways to be willing to pay you money for your product or services, or

2.    Find at least one person who will be willing to put money into your venture and would be ready to sign a check for you to buy a piece of your intended business, or

3.    Try convincing at least two persons who would be willing to quit their job to join you in your business.

If you can’t get any of the things above done it still does not mean that your idea is not do-able.  But if you do get one of that done it sure add fuel to that fire within you.


Starting and Managing a Business for Profits and Wealth Part 17: Choosing Partners


In my years of working with entrepreneurs from startup to going IPO, the most common challenge faced by most of them is not necessarily external. Most of the time the problems that wreck a business and some times to the point of self-destruction are internal. A large part of this comes from conflict between the owners or partners. Often, businesses break down not because the business is not doing well or that it is not viable. In fact it has been said that when a business makes money the owners turn their attention to each other and bicker over the spoils of their success. So choosing partners is a critical step in business; as important as building the business itself. Here are some suggestions:

1.    Don’t confine your choice of partners to your best friends only
I am of the opinion that best friends do not always make best business partners. There are exceptions of course but I am sure we have come across so many cases of friends going into business and ending up as enemies. So not only do they lose their friendship, they also lose money. If these friends of yours are merely investors and does not get involved in the operations of the company ,it will probably stand a better chance of success.
A partnership last because there is inter-dependency; there is a need for each other and that there is a role for each person to play. Hence my second suggestion….

2.    Choose people who have what you don’t have; Leverage
I define leverage as finding people who have what you don’t have and work with them. This applies to alliances, collaborations and to partnerships as well. I teach my students the RICE formula; R: Resources which cover Time and Money, I: for Ideas, C: for Contacts and E: for Expertise.
So when we choose a partner we need to be clear which part of the equation the person is contributing. When every one of the partners has an important part to contribute; interdependency is fostered and that is the strongest glue that would bind people together.

3.    Set clear expectations from the very beginning
Partnerships breaks down when the partners feel that what they want (expect) out of the partnership is not fulfilled. They begin to feel that they are getting the short end of the stick. This feeling of being unfairly treated or not getting their fair share or doing more than the others are the virus that start the disease.
It is paramount for a successful partnership to start with clarifying the partners’ expectations from the very beginning. Unfortunately, most Asians have a tendency to keep things in their head and feel ‘not nice’ to bring these stuff out in the beginning. After all, it looks like a happy union of good people.
The issue of expectation is not only when the business start but also when it is doing well. When a business do well, expectations can change. So constant communication and openness amongst the partners are ingredients to maintain a long-term partnership.

4.    Nurture the partnership and pay attention to the other person’s needs
As the previous point states, there a need for certain ‘ingredient’ to maintain a long-term partnership. There are as follows:
a.    Constant communication and openness
Keeping each other informed of what we do help to build trust and a culture of openness. This would enable the partnership to clear misunderstanding and miscommunication early. I always say: Silence breeds suspicions.
b.    Give in order to receive
Be willing to put your partner’s interest as important as your own or even more important. This is one sure way of building strong partnerships. Long-term relationship comes from every one winning. Nobody can sustain a relationship if he keeps on losing( or feel that he is losing). So the perennial question we should ask ourselves when we go into a partnership is whether our partner is getting what they want rather than whether we are getting what we want. If every partner in a partnership gives; every one receives. Be the one to start giving.
c.    Emphasize brightness of the future
If the realization that the future is great, if we stick together rather than to do it otherwise, the thoughts of breaking up will probably reduce. Having a vision and constantly driving the partners’ energies towards a common vision will take their mind from small petty stuff, which tends to get in the way. Hence when business is successful and there fore sometimes become complacent, that is when the problem begins. It would be better to set big audacious goals that would challenge the partners and there fore harness their focus.

5.    Carry out periodic reviews.
It is important for partners to sit down and do periodic reviews to give each other an opportunity to bring any issues of concerns out for clarification and for resolution. The faster these are taken cared of, the better it will be for the business. Pretending that these concerns do not exist will not help. So when we allow operational priorities to be more important; these problems will grow and undermine the entire fabric of the partnership.

So you think partnership is troublesome and you want to do alone? Well you can if you think you can do everything by yourself. However you will need to wear your underwear outside.


Starting and Managing a Business for Profits and Wealth Part 11: Top Ten Business Opportunities in 2013

I learn a process called Opportunity Search from my guru Alan Weiss years ago and he wrote a book titled “Entreprenovation”. Using the process, I came out with 10 business opportunities for 2013 for SMEs. As you go through the list you might not agree with every one of them, but please note that these are meant for the startups and does not include those that requires big capital and where only the bigger organizations can consider. Some of the areas brought up are not new, but I am of the opinion that 2013 will be a year of growth for these areas of opportunities. Nevertheless you are welcome to add to or minus from my list.

1) Area of opportunity: Organic and healthy food.

Idea: Hot healthy food delivery.

This is not a new area but the specific idea is to do lunch delivery of organic, vegetarian or healthy food in locations where finding such food would be a challenge. There is quite obviously an increasing population in this region who are getting more health-conscious and concerned about what they eat.

2) Area of Opportunity: Recreational and leisure area

Idea: Provide products and services catering for those who want to embark on a healthier pastime such as biking, running and the outdoors.

There would be specific target groups who would spend time and money to find healthier pastimes beyond work and the traditional indulgences. This group would be growing and the appetite for specialized services and products will grow be significant. Mountain biking and marathon running are examples worth looking into.

3) Area of Opportunity: Mobile Apps

Idea: Provide Mobile Apps for Businesses

By 2014 more people would access the internet through their mobile device than through the computer. Small businesses will realize that the way to beat the big boys is to get into inexpensive technology faster than the bigger players and get a bite of the market share before they wakes up. Mobile apps for business have been proven to increase customer retention and acquisition. The year 2013 will see the growth of mobile apps as the cost of developing mobile apps becomes more affordable.

4) Area of opportunity: Environmental Health

Idea: Provide products that keep homes environmentally safe and healthy

Recent reports of more than 800,000 people in China who died from pollution related ailments and disease in 2012 and more of such similar reports, strike a chord in the increasingly health conscious society. As people begin to realize that the first line of defense for a healthier body is what they eat, drink and breathe, products that serve to ensure pollution-free air, healthier drinking water and toxins-free and chemical-free food would see a boom.

5) Area of opportunity: Home Renovation and interior design.

Idea: Provide highly customized renovation products and interior design services catering to specific needs of individuals

The affluent will continue to spend money on their home renovation and interior design. However there is a trend of people who want to have a home that is their ‘Own” creation, using their own concept and ideas. There is a growing aspiration of people to design their own homes and be able to claim that. Their home becomes their ‘art’ and they want it to be special and unique to their style and personal preference. The term “co-creation” comes into play; so interior designers should consider how to make that happen.

6) Area of Opportunity: The Pet’s business

Idea: From Pet grooming to Pet funeral services

More and more young people are rearing pets and would spend lavishly on their pet’s needs. From cats and dogs to exotic pets, the market is growing continuously. The key is to take one specialized area and expand to be the market leader in it. I have a dog in my house recently and I am convinced that he gets better care than me.

7) Area of Opportunity: Self-Development and Self-awakening

Idea: Provide education and services catering to the needs for personal self-development as well as self-awakening.

The wide and varied personal needs of individuals looking for more meaning in their life and for finding self-fulfillment opens up a whole range of possible programs and products for individuals from numerology to self-hypnotism to DNA profiling to Passion testing. The internet platform makes these areas more viable and more financially sensible. I have a student who specializes in happiness training and I believe that he will soon be quite happy as this will soon  be a fast growing area.

8) Area of Opportunity: Temp staffing and free-lancing

Idea: Set up a platform to link people who don’t want a full time job with companies desperate to get competent help even if it is not permanent

As organization struggles with fresh graduates who are mostly not ready or capable to take on the jobs at hand as well as a Gen Y workforce that is extremely challenging to retain, the need to find new and creative ways to get the job done becomes critical to organizational success. Companies not used to engaging temp staff, free lancers and part-timers will have to begin to do so. This will be the nature of the workforce in the near future in this region.

I am aware that this is already available but I am suggesting that there are opportunities for specializing in the specific areas of help or skills including areas like graphic artist, copywriters, maids, Facebook marketing specialist, accounting and many other specialized areas.

9) Area of Opportunity: SAAS/ PAAS/ cloud computing for niche areas

Idea: Find pockets of process weakness in specific industry and develop software and IT infrastructure to help increase throughput of businesses or reduce cost.

There are still a lot of organizations particularly the SMEs in the region that have not fully tapped the power of IT and technology to improve business. There are two things happening which will make 2013 the year of growth. First is the fact that more and more SMEs are now taken over by the next generation who are more educated and open to using IT s a business enhancer. This coupled with the advent of SAAS(software as a Service) , PAAS( Platform as a Service) and cloud computing thus making the initial cost of entry lower and more plausible.

10) Area of opportunity: Health empowerment

Idea: Provide education, information and self-administrated products or services that would enable the user to take charge of their own health

As health becomes a major concern in society and skepticism of traditional methods of health care and medical care escalates, there is an increasing demand for more information and education on health as it can been seen by the numerous amount of health periodicals and seminars. This coupled with the fact that the typical filial son and daughters who would hope to diminish their sense of guilt for not spending enough time with their parents by buying expensive products and gadgets to help improve the quality of their parents’ life, especially their health.

This list is by no means exhaustive and I am sure there many more hot areas of opportunities in the market. If you need to explore any of the areas listed and like to find out more, you can send me a note through

Starting and Managing a Business for Profits and Wealth Part 10: The Learning Entrepreneur

North America, Asia and Europe have been undergoing an entrepreneurial renaissance. These countries are moving from being nations of managers to becoming nations of owners. Until 1990 North America’s economic engine of growth centered in the Fortune 1000 companies. Today the economic growth is driven by the small and the mid sized enterprise.

Almost everywhere in the world, entrepreneurship is not only alive but thriving. That is the good news. The bad news is worldwide 60per cent of all new business fail within the first two years and 70% fail within the first five years of their existence. Of those that survive many never reach the success level expected whilst some are still struggling at its growth stage never to reach the maturity stage. This is even more challenging in an uncertain economic situation.
Anyone can start a business but it is a different story when it comes to taking it to a successful level.

The top 10 common mistakes made by entrepreneur are;

  1. The inability to anticipate and deal with change.
  2. Failing to manage the growth of the organization and expanding beyond the financial capacity of the organization.
  3. Lack of appropriate financial controls.
  4. Product rather than market or customer orientation.
  5. Not realistically understanding competitive advantages and disadvantages.
  6. Inability or reluctance to groom a successor.
  7. Running a company that is dependent on people rather than systems.
  8. Not setting and documenting processes and systems.
  9. Trying to be everything to every body instead of focusing on specific target market.
  10. Concentrating on tactics and become operational bound and in the process forgetting strategy.

You will note that out of ten common mistakes, three are marketing related. In some cases, some entrepreneurs literally believe that if you open your shop, people will come. No they don’t…not if you don’t know how to get them there.

It is now widely recognized that entrepreneurship can be learnt. Whilst they may be the few who have the entrepreneur’s instinct or business acumen as some called it, most of us have to learn by making mistakes. However making mistakes in this fast moving and unforgiving world can be expensive and in some cases may be permanent and beyond repair. It is much smarter to learn from others who has already make mistakes than to learn from your own mistakes. It is certainly less expensive.

In a research done by our Quest office in Shanghai on the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and those who run organizations in China the results shows the following:

The biggest Challenge in your Job/Business :
20.00%       Managing Staff
11.25%         Recruiting good people
21.25%         Increasing Sales
5.00%          Controlling cost
21.25%         Expanding market
1.25%           Financing the business
16.25%         Improving Quality and customer satisfaction
3.75%           Others ( specify)
1 – how to assign my own time
2 – how to make training gives better result
3 – explore unknown technique file

Once again you notice that 42.5 % of the challenges are marketing and sales related. Here is an extension of the research covering their wishes. The other conclusion you may derive from our China research is that working and managing people is another huge challenge faced by Chinese entrepreneur.

Biggest wish related to your work :
3.75%         Wish I have more time for my work
11.25%        Wish I have more time for family
12.50%       Wish I have more good people to work for me
5.00%         Wish I am able to speak more languages
36.25%       Wish I have more management knowledge
10.00%       Wish I know how others run an organization similar to mine
8.75%         Wish I know what are the developments in my industry in other parts of the world
11.25%        Wish I know what my real passion is
1.25%         Others ( specify) : A position that demonstrate my managerial skills and leadership

Base on our research it is obvious the Chinese has a great desire to learn and to acquire more management knowledge and know how. We came to a conclusion that there is a need for learning entrepreneurship and management and in particular marketing.. And that this need to learn is perhaps directed towards improving the ability to get more sales and get a bigger market as well as to manage people better.

The question we have is whether the results in our local Malaysian environment are different or the same. I believe very strongly that it is not entirely different; but lets find out. To participate in a local research log on to and your participation will reward you with a complete report.