Phase 2 Of An Entrepreneur’s Journey
I’m reaching the end of my 4 1/2 years struggle in building my business centre. After a few more touches, I shall be progressing to Phase 2 of this programme that is the operation side of this particular business.
I cannot say what it is but I can only say that it is an education based business of which everybody needs. I’ll stop at that.
In my reflection of the past 4 years, I realised most importantly is that patience is paramount. Even when the odds are stacked high against you, always remember that those stacks have to fall at some point because nothing lasts forever. Stormy weather don’t last forever, no matter how bleak the situation is, there’s always other ways to solving problems. All we need to do is to be patient and never stop believing in ourselves and God.
I can say that I have matured in this single process. The experiences that I’ve gathered in these past few years are invaluable and has changed and improved me as human being living in God’s creation. I am now well-aware of my surroundings. I learned and finally I’m convinced that the world is grey. Black and white are just concepts and limitations imposed by the past lawmakers of which were necessary at that particular time.
When people say bribing an official is wrong, on whose rule that is a sin? My opinion is that if everybody is doing it then that should be the right thing to do since the law making process is at this moment shaky. For instance, if I need to run some errands, let’s say, at the municipal council, there’s a lot red tapes that we would need to get past through. They would then slap you with a ” your application is not complete, you still need to do this,that and this before I can help you on that, this and that” which is almost an impossible feat to accomplish if one wants to follow through with their procedures of that they themselves have been slack in following. That’s why most business people had no choice but to resort to substantial gifts and promises in order to get their projects done.
The sad thing about this process is that everybody loses. The businessman will reduce the project material’s quality drastically in order to make himself a just nice profit to offset the actual profits that he was initially making and ended losing because his company’s real cut has ended up in some government official’s and politician’s bank account. And because of the government officer’s or politician’s obligation and dependence on the businessman’s sweet favors, this in turn can lead to mediocre performance and sometimes total disregard on their part of the government’s administration. The most capable and qualified contractor will be bypassed simply because he does not or cannot share with this group of people. I suppose that’s why our government administration system is so messed up due to unscrupulous individuals throwing the welfare of the rakyat away in favor of the ever-popular kick-backs.
When a person plays this dirty game, that person will get what he wants quite quickly because he’s willing to share his cake (even though parts of that cake were meant for his partners and workers) with the powers there be. But how long will this practice last? This business practice is the norm in doing a project; everybody has got a cut.
What if you’re dealing with an education based kind of business? Are you gonna make everybody your shareholders and to make money for them, you cut down your quality of teaching for something mediocre? What will the students, their parents and the general public would think? Would these people ever come back to support you?
Personally throughout the years, I’ve been taking a lot of hits. One of the them, a favorite, was ‘ what’s taking you so long? If you want to get something, then just pay them what they want!’ It went on for quite awhile until they finally grew tired of waiting and started leaving me.
I didn’t take too many staff. I only had one and last year I’ve added another. So I got 2 staffs running around doing errands to set up our business. I was working within my budget. No point having a lot of people that just end up becoming deadwoods.
My method is painfully slow because I follow procedures. Nobody can wrong you if you follow proper procedures. There are indeed times when you’d come across situations where-by since you lack certain particular items that you are forced to negotiate amicably with the other party. While following procedure one also has to consider the deplorable state of our government departments’ efficiency. I came across one hard working officer who was let down by his lazy, lazy subordinates. I also discovered the actual working week is 4 days from Monday to Thursday because it is almost impossible to find anybody on Friday because of prayers (even non-Muslim officers are very hard to find) held once a week. Having a lot of holidays also does not help very much as this will damper the working spirit in people. On February we had Chinese New Year, on March we had Easter and on May we have the month long Kaamatan season.
Anyway, if we try to apply the fast and furious KL style on sleepy and laid-back Sabah, these guys would get very upset and won’t speak with you for months. So when doing business just follow the pace of the culture here.