Father Sez

From and to parents - parental advice to our children on personal financial management and life.
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Archive for the ‘Side business’ Category

Should I get my book published?

Monday, December 15th, 2008

Last week, I wrote my first book review on this blog. It was on ‘Top Money Tips for Malaysians” written by fellow Malaysian blogger, KC Lau.  

The book is, I think, KC’s first in hard copy print, though he has earlier released e books, including a co-authored one titled “Secrets to Writing an EBook in Three Easy Steps”.  
Holding his book in my hands, I started to wonder if I could get my book published.  

I wrote my book in 2000 whilst I was in Ghana. I spent a fair amount of time on training my Ghanaian colleagues and the thought struck me that many of the lessons I was imparting had been learnt from experience. What if I put my experiences on paper - then my children, at least could learn a bit from my experience and not have to repeat the mistakes I had made or waste the time as I had.  

Having no literary slant, I just wrote the book as I would write anything else. I did spend some time figuring out a title and the best I could come up with was “WE WISH WE KNEW ALL THESE WHEN WE WERE TWENTY YEARS OLD”. 


Here it is. My first book in print!

I got the book printed by my cousin and distributed it to some of my friends as well as my colleagues in Ghana. For my children I made special hard cover editions as it was my hope that they would keep it for the rest of their lives and if possible write an updated one to pass on to their children.   

Unlike KC’s book, which has his original ideas and thoughts, my book is a collection of lessons learnt from my experiences including those from books I had read. I have also reflected on the story told me by quite a famous and accomplished Malaysian who wrote his life story. He got his story published, about 5,000 books and I think failed to sell much.  

Still, now that KC has shown the way the desire to be an author is growing stronger. Maybe I should update the book (after all it has been 8 years) with the lessons learnt since then and also include the journey my wife and I are taking to ensure that the kids learn from our mistakes.  The book is also a little slanted towards Islam. Perhaps I should do some research into the other great religions of the world and include the comparative verses where I quote from the Quran or the Sunnah.  

Well, as at now it is still just a feeling. Let us see how it goes. I am not making any firm plans on this….yet!      

The MLM industry is going to boom

Monday, November 17th, 2008

With so many companies announcing cutbacks and many others freezing new hires it is no wonder that the unemployment statistics are so grim. So many of the laid off workers as well as new entrants to the job market will be looking at other avenues for making a living.  

And a common choice would be MLM. And why not? The advantages of MLM are many: 

-         a low cost of entry,

-         no hassles about keeping and maintaining workers,

-         no need for special premises,

-         no need to carry much inventory,

-         remuneration being closely related to the effort we put in,

-         training provided,

-         tremendous opportunity for growth,

-         being our own boss etc. 

Of course the basic rules of business must still prevail. The product or service being sold has to be useful and meet some clear need and be reasonably priced.  Still this industry seems to have acquired such a reputation that many just slam the door in your face or slam down the phone if you mention MLM.  Some may even be ashamed to admit that they are in MLM. 

I don’t think we should be. And I think MLM is an option that we should not simply write off. If it involves a product or service that we use ourselves and are happy with the price and results, then there is absolutely no reason why we should not recommend it to our friends and family. This is the foundation of MLM.  

Perhaps therein is the problem. Many of the participants are not truly convinced of the product and seek to push it only for the lucrative returns that we get in the form of all those commissions. The low entry barriers also allow for many uninspired participants to get in, try to push the product, fail, and move on to some other MLM company or outside the industry.  

And MLM companies too have had their share of black sheep.  

It’s not surprising that some people have such strong views against the MLM industry and their participants.  

Here is one such view, well written and very well discussed.

Despite all the bad press, I still feel that MLM is an option that is worth considering. As with any other investment or business, we have to do our research and seek appropriate advice if necessary.  

And if you are happy with the company, its product or service, the results that the product or service produces and the price you paid for the product or service, you have a basis for a business.  

Is this an opportunity staring me in my face, or just fools’ gold?

Friday, July 11th, 2008

For sometime now, I have been looking for the elusive online business. The one business that would slowly but surely refill my depleted coffers. 

I have been eagerly reading blog posts that talk about online marketing and making money online. I have often thought about subscribing to those repeatedly appearing ads that promise to detail to me in full and complete detail the secrets of the online rich. Somehow I have held back, so far at least.  

Recently I read about a forum being put up for sale. 

This forum, BicaraJutawan.com, is for local entrepreneurs (seems to include quite a number of  budding and wannabes) to network with one another. It has been around since 2005 and the founder is also the owner of a personal finance blog that I follow. I believe he may also own other blogs.

The forum apparently attracts a readership of about 50,000 monthly and with the current increasing interest in entrepreneurship, I am sure the membership is likely to rise and quite steeply at that.  

I have often read the postings in the forum and many of the posts offer sound and useful information based on the personal experiences of those posting. The discussions are mostly in our National Language, Bahasa Malaysia. As it can be expected, the postings once in a while drift away to some irrelevant issue, but in general, I would say that the forum founder does have a strong community. 

I remember reading in Caroline’s blog about the 3 revenue models for making money online. The membership site model (one of these 3), was further elaborated upon by Caroline in a subsequent post.  

I am still a newbie to the online world and still floundering. Yet this does look like a good opportunity. An opportunity to apply to buy over the forum and try to further enhance it with useful resources and later slowly change it to a membership site.  Perhaps also to seek ads which would be relevant and useful to this community without being pain in the neck pop-ups?  

All these would take some time.  

The present owner, Pakdi has almost an iconic presence and it is clear that the community respects him tremendously. He has mighty big shoes that may not be that easy for the next guy to fill.  And not to forget that people in general would rather sign up for a public speech than to pay for information. 

I have not done any research to seek out forums that are successful and that could be used as a benchmark for me to learn from.  

In the meantime, I suggested a joint venture proposal to Pakdi who declined interest, preferring an outright sale.   

This thing is still tingling in my mind. The goat farm has started and the “opening kenduri”, (already postponed twice in April and June) is tomorrow. Let me get the kenduri over and come back to this again. 

In the meantime, if you have any ideas or suggestions it will be very much appreciated.    

2008 – the year for earning more

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

I have acknowledged that 2007 was a year of a paradigm shift for me. 

With this has come the drive to be a lot more frugal, a lot more organized in managing our finances, and a stronger drive to earn more money. 

Two plans have been set in motion in 2008. 

Launch our goat farm 

My wife and I have long wanted to start this. Procrastination came naturally as we consoled each other that we had not found the “right piece of land”. In late 2007 all the pieces fell in place. 

A piece of land owned by relatives of my wife came available. This was the only “asset” the family had, so we did not make any attempts to offer to buy. Rather we proposed a joint venture and it was accepted. 

My wife and I provide the capital to start up and operate the farm. Zai, my wife’s cousin brother, (who had been planting mangoes on the land before this), will be handling the work on the ground and manage the farm when completed. 

The farm is taking shape now. The land has been cleared, fenced, access roads improved and the goat sheds are now in progress.  

We have targeted 1st April 08 as the completion date and have marked 5th April 08 as a date where we’ll have a small “kenduri or thanksgiving prayers” to launch the farm. 

A little on Zai and his family.  

His family consists of his grandma, his mother, his 3 sisters (one elder and 2 younger), his nephew and his children(two boys and a girl). His family has always been very close to us. His grandmother stayed with us and helped nurse our son and the little girls when they were born, whilst his mother is one of my wife’s closest confidants. (They have kindly agreed that the farm be named after my mother). 

My wife and I both know that Zai will do his best to make the farm a success. On our part, we have to make sure that there is adequate funding for the farm, and assist in marketing etc. 

Once a week, I drop by (about an hour drive from our home) to see the progress. So far it is looking good. 

The company in which I was literally gifted a 25% stake, has secured a  project in Indonesia. (I am writing this post from Jakarta).

This project is for the building and leasing of common telecommunication towers for the telecommunication operators in Indonesia.  

There are still a number of issues to be resolved, and the prospects look great. God Willing, we should be starting work around the same time as the farm is launched, i.e. beginning April 08.  

We have done our business plans for both these projects and there are some spin offs that can be created once these two take off. There is a lot to be done and 2008 looks like it is going to be a busy one. And also looks good for the wallet.  

All we employees, shouldn’t we be starting our side businesses NOW - Part Two

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Overcoming the fears that hold us back. 

Earlier we have put forth our arguments on why every person with one source of income (employment income) should start a side business, whilst early in their financially growing years.  

What are the fears that hold most of us back from starting a side business? Fears that actually freeze us, till we do not even try to search for solutions.  

I believe that these fears should be listed and torn to shreds. Then the potential of so many wage earners to start and to excel in their side businesses can be “defrosted and unleashed”. 

Coming back to these fears.  The main culprits (I really think that it would be more of a combination), would be: 

a)  No idea what side business to do

This should rank up there as one of the principal fears, or maybe mental block to our starting. Many of us simply cannot formulate an idea of what we should do as a side business. This is indeed surprising, given the tremendous number of resources, (many of them free), giving ideas on what we can do to create another source of income. Websites such as ,

Startupnation.comEntrepreneur.com’s low cost business ideas,

and blogs such as

Dane Carlson’s Business Opportunities WebLog,  Yaro Starak’s Entrepreneur’s Journey,  Brian Armstrong’s blog on how to get out of the 9 – 5 grind,  Dmitry Davydov’s Uncommon Business Ideas that Work are,

but the tip of an iceberg of highly relevant and most useful resources when it comes to getting advise on what businesses we can do.  

In fact, when we read some of the success stories, very often, a spark will go off in our head, saying, “hey, I could have done that!” 

Well, the difference is we did not.   

b)   Lack of Capital 

This is another biggie. Thinking of a business, side or otherwise, often conjures pictures of the boss needing oodles of money to set up and run the business.  Since we are just starting off in our financial lives, and not having oodles of money, the wish or desire to start the side business just dies off.  

c)   How do I survive without my regular salary

It is immediately assumed that we have to leave our present jobs and work full time. Without the safety net of the employment salary to pay our daily and monthly bills, we just tune out. 

We end up saying to ourselves, “once I have $XXXXXX, I’ll start this business of XXXXXX.” And never ever start.

How do we overcome these fears? 

Just face them and eliminate them! 

All we have to do is to find a side business that :- 

i)                  Is based on a doable idea that we think up or even copy from someone else who has done it successfully, (I am certainly not talking about copyright violations here). Examples of these would be a successful side business done by someone else in another neighbourhood, State or Country, which we can emulate. 

ii)                Is based on skills (whether through our hobbies or formal training) that we already have. 

iii)             Has a demand in the area where we are. 

iv)              Can be done in the evenings or weekends when we are free, hence not affecting our day jobs. 

v)                Needs little capital. 

 Harrison in his Journey to Financial Freedom asks us bluntly if we have what it takes to start a side business. Whilst he acknowledges that external factors like capital etc., may be issues, the key requirements are all internal. He lists these as energy, desire, willingness to learn and take action, self discipline, a business plan, and family support. 

The history of personal financial management is filled with success stories of people who started off as gardeners, newspaper boys, drivers, tuition teachers, baby sitters, dog walkers, cooks, handymen, electronics equipment repairers, etc. All of which can be side businesses that fit the requirements listed above.  

Can’t we set up a side business along these lines, and make it our first step to diversifying our employment income? 

And to close off this post, please read this inspiring story about “How to build a four million dollar business with a hundred bucks”.

All we employees, shouldn’t we be starting our side businesses, NOW - Part One

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

We must diversify our investments and income streams – I am sure no one will have any issue with this statement.  In case you have any doubts, you can read almost any book on investing or perhaps just this article, to refresh your memory.  

And it is not by idle chance that the wise people of olden times, have come up with the often quoted “we should not put all our eggs in one basket.” This sums up the concept of diversification perfectly. 

Surprisingly, while almost any discussion on investing will include at least some references to diversifying, people do not have the same stand on jobs. 

Almost all of us plan our financial future along these lines: 

a)    Work and earn money, 

b)    Spend less than we earn, 

c)     Invest the savings and make it grow.  

d)    Repeat till we feel we don’t need to anymore, or don’t want to anymore. 

Hence at the earlier stages of executing this plan, we only have our “work income.” This work income is the very foundation of our entire scheme for financial independence. (You can see why, FMF keeps reminding us that our career is our most important asset). 

This begs the question. Should we then not immediately work towards diversifying this “work income”, and hence reduce risk? 

This risk can come suddenly and in so many ways. Just ask any of the people who have lost their jobs in this sub prime mess, or read this story of an unfortunate, gutsy lady of ex-Taco Bell.

To be sure, we are diversifying this work income by investing and creating investment income. But this income stream comes only in trickles in the beginning.  

Lazy Man and Money has an interesting and very motivating post on side businesses. (Though he calls it alternative income). He likens ideas for alternative income to a virus that spawns itself and multiplies. One idea soon becomes two and this becomes four and so on. Thus setting  us on the way to financial abundance. 

The Lazy Man further reminds us not to sneer at ideas that result in what may seem to be small amounts, like $10 a month. This idea could be the bedrock for the next biggie. 

Brad Isaac’s blog, Achieve-IT, presents this same view with an interesting twist. He starts off by asking us “How to add some fun and excitement to our evenings and weekends and make some decent money too?” This is a powerful way of getting anyone to sit up and listen.

What can we do to diversify our work income at the early stages of our financial lives? 

Why, one good way is to start a side business of course.  A side business that meets most or all of the requirements for a business, except for those things that we, most probably, will not have at this stage in our financial lives………..example, ample resources.  

What, then are the fears that hold us back? We shall explore this in our next post.

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