Friday, April 28, 2006

Tips in picking the right Business Coach

Business Coaching seems to be the latest watchword for Malaysian SMEs - and, judging from the number of ads in the Star, it appears to be a flourishing industry.

What is a business coach you ask? Well, it is the SME equivalent of a professional consultant except you don't pay them as much and because of the lack of standards, you may get some duds.

In my line of work, I come across coaches quite often and I feel that I have seen enough of them to be able to give some useful advice. Here are 6 tips for you:

No. 1: Decide whether you need one in the first place.

Some of these coaches pay exorbitant franchise fees to operate under an international brand or use 'proven' management systems. It is in their interest to secure as many accounts as possible to cover these costs. They will be eager to identify so-called gaps in your business which may actually just be short-term challenges (e.g. cashflow, supply disruptions etc.) that over time would solve themselves anyway.

No. 2: Check the Coach's background.

I have seen a number of so-called business coaches who have very little working experience or are new graduates. I can't foresee getting much useful advice from people who have not been exposed to the 'real world' as much as I have.

No. 3: Get someone who will listen.

There are coaches who believe they are Malaysia's answer to Anthony Robbins. If they like the sound of their own voices more than hearing out your problems, drop them.

No. 4: Get a Coach who complements you.

If you are weak in numbers, get a coach with a Financial or Accounting background. If marketing is not your forte, then get someone who has demonstrated skill in that area.

No.5: Chat with their other clients.

Insist on a list of clients from the coach and then call them to discuss their experience. Be careful to screen those who may be friends or family members of the coach - which should be easy enough to spot - they usually go overboard with their praise.

No.6: Negotiate a performance-based element in the fees.

With the number of coaches in this country growing, you will be in a good position to negotiate a fair deal for yourself. Most will want you to pay a monthly retainer or a lump-sum contract fee but you can always try asking for a percentage of that to be pegged to measurable numbers. After all, if their coaching really works, they should be confident of the results anyway!

Technorati tags: business coach, SME, Malaysia,

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Malaysian SME's are not very competitive threats la

If the latest UPS Asia Business Monitor is to be believed, other SMEs in the region don't really think Malaysian SMEs are much of a competitive threat to them.

Instead, the crown goes to China whose SMEs are considered to be the greatest competitive threats followed by Japan, Hong Kong and Korea.

Malaysia comes in at a lowly 10th spot, above the bottom two economies, Indonesia & the Philippines. When asked whom they considered to pose the greatest threat to them, Malaysian SMEs rated China, Korea & Taiwan as their Top 3. Trust us Malaysians to rank Singapore SMEs as less of a threat than faraway Hong Kong and even Thailand!

Perhaps as a vindication of my earlier posting, local SMEs cite lack of innovation as the main obstacle to their competitiveness.

Tags: SME, competitiveness, Malaysia, UPS, Asia business, innovation, China

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Singapore looking to lease land from its neighbours for its old folk

If you have some land in Johor and you're not doing anything with it, you could think of leasing it to the Singapore Government which is apparently looking for land to build retirement villages.

Land on the tiny island is expensive and scarce, prompting the Health Minister to announce that "the Government had shortlisted a few potential sites" for this purpose.

From my point of view, Johor, Batam & Bintan would be good locations to start with although I'd dare say that with the recent trouble over the bridge, our southern neighbours would probably have more luck with the two Indon islands.

Having said that, I also think our smes have not really geared up to address the growing number of healthy, older people in our society who will enjoy a whole range of services that could be designed for them - holidays, entertainment, healthcare, investment products, and yes, even retirement villages.

Technorati tags: retirement village, Singapore, Johor, Malaysia, Batam, Bintan, smes

Monday, April 17, 2006

An Italian World Cup Win would have the most impact on the world economy

The Star today talks about the negative impact of watching World Cup football matches on the average Malaysian worker's productivity. Yet, there are economists who spend a lot of time analysing the positive impacts the World Cup can bring to the world economy.

This particular report from ABN AMRO, actually concludes that an Italian win would have the greatest benefit for the global economy. This is based on several reasons, mainly that the winner must be European as it is the laggard market - the logic is that if European domestic demand improves as a result of this win, then it will be a big boost to Asian exporters, who can now focus on another market besides the forever-in-current-account-deficit US.

But alas, the punters' favourites are Brazil,who being South American, would apparently not bring that much benefit to the global economy.

Technorati tags: soccer, World Cup, global economy, Brazil , Italy

Thursday, April 13, 2006

It's Official - Working for Yourself DOES Make You Happier

Those of us who have always had the sneaking suspicion that owning our own business would make us happier, may now be proven correct by this study conducted by Durham University.

According to the report, people who run their own businesses have such flexibility and independence that they enjoy far greater job satisfaction. And, this is despite the fact that the self-employed tend to earn lower pay and work longer hours!

However, before you storm into your boss' office and slap him/her with a resignation letter, do bear in mind this was conducted in the UK with a sample size of 500 respondents. Things might be different here, though I'd bet it's probably the same situation.

Technorati tags: sme, business owner, malaysia, entrepreneur

Monday, April 10, 2006

This village bans children

Interesting article about the village of Firhall in Scotland that officially bans children! Apparently it has been designed as a place for people who "feel that they have done their bit [of caring for children] and now want to be free of the problems that living among them can bring". The official website is quite interesting.

Places like these make the news in politically correct societies like the UK & US but for us Malaysians, who are regularly bombarded with job ads or accommodation classifieds that specify gender, race, religion and even marital status, it may look like a non-event.

Having said that, maybe some enterprising Malaysian could think of setting up a retirement community along similar lines.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Technology Park Malaysia - a mini autocratic kingdom

Those of you who work in the lofty-sounding Technology Park Malaysia or TPM at Bukit Jalil, will know how the CEO there runs it like his own mini-kingdom. Some of the strange things he has imposed has been to seal off an entire lift lobby for himself and some of his staff. This means that tenants who have rented offices near this lobby (and effectively pay his salary), are not permitted to use the lifts that most conveniently serve their office units.

In addition, he has had the gall to close off a road leading to the Enterprise 4 building (where his office is located) which only gives access to himself and the Chairman, whom one would imagine doesn't come to TPM on a 9-5 daily schedule. This road used to be a useful pick-up point for tenants, particularly pregnant ladies.

Also, if you so much as point a camera at any of the TPM buildings, security guards will appear as if by magic and ask you whether you have sought permission from his royal highness. One of my foreign guests experienced this treatment when he innocently took some external scenic shots. I can't imagine what national secret or nuclear project we are doing in this park that makes picture taking so sensitive.

Just today, a new rule has come into play. No taxis are allowed to drive up to the main entrance of Enterprise 4 to drop off passengers. The taxi I was in this morning was waved away and directed to drop me off at the road. When asked why, the guard could only answer 'orders from above'.

This is so typical of Malaysian figures of authority/GLC's. Give them an inch and they take it as license to lord it over everyone else. In this case, a park set up to advance the cause of technology SMEs and incubator labs has been hijacked by a politically connected personality who sees it fit to run it like his own feudal kingdom.

Wake up lah CEO. The private sector does not owe YOU a living.
Technorati tags: despots, malaysia, sme, feudal

Saturday, April 01, 2006

9th Malaysia Plan - Private enterprises encouraged to restructure employment pattern to reflect racial composition

This ominous looking paragraph appears in the 9th Malaysia plan:

During the Plan period, more intensified efforts will be undertaken to ensure that the employment pattern at all levels of occupation and in all sectors of the economy reflects the ethnic composition of the population. The private sector is expected to be involved in accelerating the growth of Bumiputera employment and restructuring their employment pattern. Public and private sector cooperation for the advancement of Bumpitera employment will be initiated and implemented. The progress in employment restructuring to reflect the racial composition of the population will be closely monitored at various levels although targets will not be micro-managed and will primarily be viewed on an overall basis.

You can read it in context here.

Basically, if you are a non-bumi SME business owner and it is a family-owned operation, the Government is saying you might have to start retrenching some of your siblings and hire some graduates from MARA to replace them so that it 'reflects the ethnic composition of the population'.

Oh come on, give us ALL a break PLEASE.

Technorati tags: race politics,malaysia,bumiputra,SME

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