Business and Initiative
I chose not to be just an employee of some big organization. It would have been easy to work a 5 day/week, 8 hour/day job and get my evenings and weekends free. But I have more original and creative things to do for the world than this.
Supporting my humanistic projects is my main challenge, since there isn't anyone else in the world spending time, money or effort on some of these things which are vitally important for the future of life on Earth. They require resources -- money.
I don't have any inheritance money nor do I come from a rich family, so I must make all my own money, and put some of it into my side projects. I wouldn't have hope of pushing these projects to the next level if I was just a fulltime employee somewhere. I may or may not be successful, but at least it's more possible this way.
If all I was concerned about was myself and my two daughters, then life would be easy.
Having volunteered, in my single youth, for nonprofit organizations, I have learned from others how difficult it is to get donations, how even more difficult it is to make a significant difference, and how not to let executives waste precious money. So I decided to go the creative business route more than 20 years ago, and fund my projects myself, while learning how to do sustainable business, and having hope of becoming a super wealthy CEO someday, with business leadership and management experience, to apply to my humanistic projects in my last few decades of life.
At least I have hope, and I would never know until I give it my best effort.
As a consultant to a wide variety of businesses from 1987 to 2002, I learned a lot about how various kinds of organizations operate, and from their experiences in doing business and managing projects, both successfully and unsuccessfully. The diversity of experience you get in consulting is unbeatable.
I would set up the communications networks, first at the top between leaders and decisionmakers, and down from there, always top down. I took every opportunity to establish and cultivate personal relationships with leaders. I also helped them track communications within, and development of, their projects, and helped with some organization. Often, I went out into the field on their behalf, with intimate knowledge of what needed to be done, and got hands on experience in an ad hoc way.
My current era started in 2002, when I committed to my current company which I founded with my partner Sam, Sam who came in from New Zealand.
(Actually, I had started another company around 1997, but the Asia economic collapse and unpaid bills snuffed that one out, plus the exodus from Thailand of most people I knew. By 2002, the economy had recovered, and we'd saved just enough money to get started in a new business.)
From that point on, people have been dealing with my company with its own continuity, not just me as an individual. This relieved me of a lot of rote administrative work as well as lower level tasks which consumed too much of my time, as well as giving me the hope of scaling up operations.
Anything that others can do, someone else should be doing it, not me, but under my direction and QA. I should be doing only those things nobody else can do.
The challenge is mentoring others so they can step into roles with my standards of quality, completeness, and innovation.
We started with just a little bit of money, putting the rest of what we had into this company at the start, and then living month to month. It was do or die, but it was still better than any fulltime job (I always had offers), and we had hope.
It required a lot of strategic skill, hard work and perseverance.
Marathon man was starting another race against time (and bills).
We started with small, quick pay jobs, many of them quite odd, and worked our way up into major projects with long billable times albeit with reliable customers.
The majority of our income is from a few big customers established long ago, reliable month after month. We have divisions that still employ staff doing odd jobs, but you can spend all your life subsisting on that, so I leave it to staff and managers, and they keep most of it.
Along the way, as part of my company's services offered, I help a lot of other expats set up companies, starting with company registration and work permit, but including a wide range of services including market analysis, office setup and general strategy. (www.ThailandCompany.com) I have really enjoyed this work, because these guys are entrepreneurs, self-starters, and oh how I wish I had employees and managers like this. I feel like I'm getting things done in the world, though I normally don't want to get too involved in their business, just interest in learning from experience and setting them up well.
A few of these company setup people have turned into major strategic partners and repeat business for my company. This is a big part of my company's business.
I've had less time for company setup over the past few years as these and some of my own old business interests have taken more of my time, so I must become very picky.
One of the most important elements for success is sheer perseverance. This is where so many people fail. They quit too quickly and easily. I'm known for not giving up for years, and willingness to work long, hard hours. (Actually, I feel bad if I waste my time on nonproductive things.)
There are a lot of other ingredients such as a well developed and sound business plan in advance, complete with projected accounting, market analysis, strategy, adequate money invested, quality staff, and ability to understand a variety of other kinds of people and ability to get along and work well with them.
I have a lot of business plans in various stages of completion. What I lack most is good people to partner with or employ to manage or implement well. I usually don't underestimate the amount of work and commitment.
When some people come to us for company setup, I can usually tell whether they will succeed or fail from the start. If I feel they're a waste of time because they won't succeed, then I won't take their business or their money. It's just too depressing. Instead, I will give them frank recommendations without assuming any obligations, i.e., all free.
A lot of will-be-successful-eventually entrepreneurs new to Asia have a lot of things to learn, but I won't go into that here.
The most difficult part of business is finding good partners and managers, as well as just quality employees who you can turn your back on.
I've had a lot of business ideas whereby I was the first, but others elsewhere got the same idea independently, and one of them developed it successfully and got very rich. A big problem I have is in getting ideas implemented and then the necessary mass publicity. It is a combination of not having the time to focus on new projects, not having enough quality management staff, and most of all not having the seed money to own and direct it myself.
I do not envy others, but applaud them, as long as they came up with ideas independently rather than just being a copycat, or at least offered to partner with the person with the original idea in an honorable way.
As I've said for 20 years, good ideas are a dime a dozen, because what counts is all the time, effort, expense, and risk in getting them implemented. I appreciate those who do succeed, even if it's with my ten cent ideas.
One person can't do much, so I must employ employees and managers. Marathoners must be able to sprint at times, too.
A big mistake I made was in trying to get Asian workers to implement innovative ideas. I came to really appreciate the western psychology only after wasting a lot of time, effort and money. However, I also wasted a lot of time and money on westerners when I was in the Washington, D.C., region.
There are innovative people in both Asia and the west, but there are much fewer of them per 1000 people in Asia. Look around at everything around you and ask yourself where it was invented. Not just practically all the technology over the past 100 years, but also including the latest popular websites and software on shareware.com which anyone can create anywhere alone in their own living room.
The majority of westerners are copycats within their own culture just like most Asians, and I would never hire them, so I don't want to imply in any way that I think the mass population of westerners are innovative or good problem solvers. It's a small minority anywhere in the world, and much the same everywhere, as just about any multinational managing director will tell you. However, it's more difficult to find leaders and good managers in Asia who have all the right stuff required.
At one point, I made a paradigm shift. I stopped trying to implement my innovative, cutting edge projects, because my Asian staff just couldn't do enough of the work on their own, and it was too high maintenance. Instead, I asked myself "What can these staff do?" Then I started business divisions to employ them in those capacities on a mass production scale, just improving the quality of service to better than the competition, which wasn't too difficult.
To illustrate some of the differences between American and Asian staff: In the US, if I have a business idea whereby it would be a first, then when I discuss it, many people (albeit a small minority) get enthusiastic and think it's a great idea, whereby the issue is someone running away to "steal" the idea, as has happened to me before. In contrast, in Asia, you mention a new idea and people say "If it's a good idea, then why isn't anyone doing it? Since nobody's doing it, it must not be a good idea."
So, it's a non-starter. There is a lack of enthusiasm and commitment, and even if you pay them, they and the project languish if you're not on top of them all the time. However, show them that others are doing another project, and they get into gear like proper copycats. Sometimes, it seems that all you can do is hire people and pay them to obey orders doing basic things.
However, you don't need to worry much about them stealing any innovative idea and going to develop it on their own. First, they wouldn't choose to, and secondly, they couldn't do it well anyway.
I must emphasize that there ARE good Asia people would could and would, but you normally just don't bump into them nearly as often in your normal environment. Supply is far less than demand here. When I meet them, they get more than the normal amount of appreciation, that they have somehow risen above others in their culture.
Secondly, you can't give general orders and direction here and expect people to figure out the details, unless it is a copycat idea. For anything innovative, you must micromanage and stay involved in the creative process, if you want the project to unfold into providing a reasonably complete, attractive and practical service or product which you can be proud of, and which will succeed.
Structure is extremely important, such as documenting standard operating procedures (SOP), and following up to make sure people follow them. It's sometimes like herding cats.
Thirdly, I have learned from experience that the employee probationary period is very important. Paper credentials are merely a first cut that gets someone an interview, and their given references are often slanted as well as having language and cultural barriers to my assessment. Besides, so many important things must be self-taught and not learned in school. Many people interview well yet perform poorly or inefficiently on the job. You need working experience on real projects in order to learn about peoples' strengths and weaknesses.
I've had countless frustrations with employees who take on responsibilities but then are negligent and somewhat careless, causing problems. What's even more amazing is when some of them are shocked when they are fired, even after warnings.
I can accept incompetency more than I can accept carelessness.
If someone cares about the customers, or cares about the company, then they are kept, even if I must trim back their roles and responsibilities due to incompetency. I can always find something for people to do which is profitable for the company. I or a manager may need to define their jobs in much more detail, but if they care, then they are kept. I don't like to fire people, and am patient when I give people a chance, often more than reasonably so. I believe in human capabilities, and am willing to do my best to invest time into dealing with psychological and sociological issues.
In fact, I'm often told that I'm too good to employees. However, if they take advantage of it, or just don't care, then I tend to chop quickly. It's their decision much more than mine.
How much time and effort to invest in training them? First comes an assessment of what they are capable of. If you push people to do things they aren't capable of, then they fail and it's a bad situation for everyone. So you must make adjustments, and decide what to train them for, who should train them, and how much to invest in money and time.
We have never had a longterm employee quit, who we were were happy about. We take care of employees who care. (However, after the probationary period, we've smoked out some employees, rather than fire them and give severance pay to a careless parasite.)
My partners and I have wasted so much time and money hiring, training, and eventually firing employees that we have learned the importance of spending more time interviewing more people. When hired, we give them enough rope to hang themselves, but if they take that rope to climb up to the next level, then they're in.
In some management circles over the years, I discussed with the groups the tradeoffs between competency and "loyalty". I've always thought that the word "caring" is more important than "loyalty". Anyway, government sorts have preferred loyalty over competency, whereas company directors have been split, depending on their dependence on contract labor (competency) vs. fulltime employees (loyalty). Over time, I have come to value "caring" more than either competency or loyalty. I can always teach skills to less competent people, but you just can't teach the value of caring about others. It's a personality trait, and personalities are ingrained and can't be changed.
An employee moving up into management is a whole different matter. It requires a combination of skills and abilities, and a whole lot of time and effort of those at the top.
I give a lot of people chances by turning my back and hoping things will go well, but too often I am alerted of crises and other serious problems which requires me to go back and get involved. People must learn from trying, sink or swim, but until your confidence in someone is very high, you must keep an eye on them as they are learning to swim.
Unfortunately, we have only about 15 employees, as of the end of 2007. Fortunately, they are all proven employees, our best. We have shed our last questionable ones already. None of our good ones have ever left. The good ones have stayed with us, some from the difficult first years. We learned long ago not to hire mediocre employees because they just waste our own valuable time and that of our best staff. However, we've got to find more good people somehow, and this will take more time.
This is the big challenge in business -- quality and time-efficiency. If the employees care about the customers and the company, then we can find something for them to do, and we can train them and turn our backs. You must know peoples' limits and assign tasks they can do and succeed in, not let them fail. As long as employees are not careless, then we can find something they can do.
As much as I disdain the masses of people who don't care about the world and care only about themselves, I still give everyone the benefit of the doubt at first, and have compassion for customers so that I make sure our company does its best, for good customers.
For employees, it's different. They must prove themselves first.
No matter where someone starts in our company, I give everyone enough rope from the start to either hang themselves (carelessness) or else pull themselves up to the next level (caring, initiative and engagement). Better sooner than later to find out.
I have been doing "internet" based businesses since the 1980s, but I consider my business as old fashioned at the core. While a lot of people are still flocking to the internet with dreams, I understand the limits of the internet and the importance of the same old fashioned human side of business. Don't misunderstand: There are great internet applications I want to develop, but real internet businesses with real offices and real people, not half-baked ideas or one-man-show automated systems.
Let me give another angle of my history, focusing on my "internet" based businesses.
Before the internet became popular, I ran something called "BBS" or "Bulletin Board Systems", starting in 1985, which were modem dial-in systems. I set up my own BBS, and helped the people working for humanistic nonprofit organizations collaborate from around the USA, and eventually around the world, as discussed elsewhere on this website. BBSes were fairly new back then, but normally techie, and I made the most user friendly BBSes.
Part of my own BBS was on applications, the other part on user friendly tutorials on how to use these systems, and how to utilize them.
After a couple of years of that, I started switching on purely commercial customers for the same services.
In late 1987, I quit my fulltime job. My initial business came from a combination of my BBS and personal referrals, and I had plenty of offers from both.
When I quit my job, I had to add purely commercial (nonhumanistic) things to my BBS at that time both to support myself and in order to diversify my experiences, offering to set up communications networks for businesses and other organizations for remote collaboration, offering to build computers for people and businesses, and general computer consulting.
Internet existed, but it was too techie, and most people used BBSes plus an inter-BBS system called "FidoNet" (for which I eventually became a backbone hub as a volunteer) and clone private networks. The internet didn't really hit until Windows and World Wide Web graphical interface came around about 1994, and faster modems came around in response at around the same time to support the graphical interface.
The vast majority of 1980s BBSes were hobbyist, and the general consensus was that you couldn't make a decent living running a business depending on BBS customers because the vast majority of them were just kids and hobbyists, and business people didn't use BBSes.
I went against the conventional wisdom of the day in many ways, and proved myself right and most people wrong, but this was just one example.
In fact, my BBS was the first BBS that many people ever accessed. I got more than enough demand from businesses to not only build computers but also provide consulting, as they read my bulletin board and got familiar with what I could do for them, and a lot of my visitors came from verbal referrals.
Things are different today, because I'm no longer one of the first.
I had to turn down some work because I was working alone, with no employees. Also, I much preferred to deal with people referrals than BBS inquiries from new people, because referrals came presold already with trust, and there was much less explaining and other "time overhead" than with BBS cold inquiries.
I still have these issues with internet based businesses. Referrals are far better than stranger inquiries. You can waste so much time on the latter, when they don't buy from you but just tap your expertise and then go to the cheapest guy in town.
Times have changed. I had practically no competition back in the 1980s. Today, people now know that there is business on the internet, and it is much easier to go on-line, resulting in oversaturation of suppliers. Every business has countless competitors on the internet now, and the vast majority of inquiring strangers are contacting many others, too, including a lot of competitors promising great service at cheaper prices (who doesn't?), and by the time the potential customer learns that others don't provide the same quality of service, it's already too late.
Internet is very different from the early years.
The point is that you've got to get in at the beginning to make money. After it becomes popular, and competitors flock, then you must move on to something else more innovative. The first wave makes a lot of money. The second wave can subsist, and the third wave of shiftless copycats usually loses.
However, if you are at the beginning of a new idea that just doesn't exist much, if at all, in the marketplace, i.e., is not proven in the mass market, then most other people won't see its profit potential, and it's a lonely world.
By the time the masses of competitors do recognize it and flock, you'd better be a well established leader or else it's too late.
I have stayed away from some areas that others dove into.
One is domain name speculation, i.e., buying domain names for cheap just to sell them to other people at high prices. I thought this was morally bad. People with legitimate businesses could not buy their domain name because someone else took it with no intention of developing any business around it. They just bought it for $50 (in the mid-1990s, or under $10 now) and then put it on sale for extortionate amounts, thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Some domains went for a million dollars or more. What did they contribute to the GNP?
Through incredible but typical corruption in Washington, D.C., a monopoly was granted to Network Solutions to provide all domain name services. In the initial contract, it was stated that buying domain names for the sole purpose of reselling them was not allowed. However, this was not enforced, and indeed insiders were doing it themselves rampantly.
I was an internet idealist, who was both outraged by the Network Solutions monopoly as well as the domain name extortionists.
Domain names are like virtual "property" in that only one entity can own a domain word or phrase. Big entities were going thru the dictionary and phrase books.
In retrospect, maybe I should have just bought up a lot of domains myself, because if I didn't do it, then others would anyway. I could resell them at much less than extortionist prices, more fair prices, and start up a brand development and public relations firm. But that's hindsight.
Instead, I got permanent.com for my space website and stopped at that, one domain that I wanted to develop. I also ran my businesses as subdirectories off that domain, since I was open about my businesses supporting my main purpose in life. That was an idealistic mistake.
Also in the early years of the internet, there were IPO's (Initial Public Offerings of companies that went onto the public stock market quickly), most of them paper and electronic internet companies with little substance. They took down the US stock market in the 1999 crash, but stock buyers and investors could only blame themselves, and I think most IPO people were not scammers but really had a dream, albeit there were a lot of inexperienced dot com business leaders and countless copycats.
I don't want to negatively judge people who got rich those ways, but I do not feel good making money without contributing economic value to the economy, or contributing to the world some way. The world is full of parasitic hedonists who just don't care about anyone else.
When space development opens up, I want to make sure things like scam IPO's and corrupt space property schemes don't happen again. (Already, there are people claiming ownership over land on the moon and entire asteroids ...) There needs to be some kind of checks and balances system set up right from the start.
I should emphasize that I was an internet idealist in the 1990s, and didn't forsee the problems of internet, such as spam, search engine spamdexing, and the magnitude of internet fraud. Governance of the internet is quite poor, and those established in power are not very responsive or effective.
In the 2005-2008 period, there is a rapid rise in pay-per-click advertising such as Google Adsense is its emerging competitors. I've also gotten a big jump in requests for paid advertisements on my websites, as well as from other websites to do reciprocal links. I reject most of these, because I just don't feel good about referring people to advertisers who I don't know, nor spamdexing Google and other search engines.
There are a lot of people looking for "passive income" by all sorts of internet schemes, as well as just ramping up bottom line cash flow without regard to quality of service, just run of the mill sales and marketing operations, without caring about after sales service. Just look at the overwhelming numbers of complaints at the FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center. This is reflective of a big chunk of the human species: life is all about easy money and selfish indulgence in materialism ...
Anyway, in Thailand, I was cut off from decent internet until around 1997 when the very few monopoly concessionaires (by under the table money to government ministers in power) got their quality of bandwidth to the USA to be at least tolerable and workable, so I was once again connected to the internet and could see what was going on in the USA and other places around the world.
After the 1997 economic crash in Thailand (unrelated to internet), I ran out of work, so I got back into internet, specifically offshore outsourcing, helping some multinationals stay alive by exporting engineering design services overseas, retaining their best and most proven Thai staff. This was a very good experience for me in the interface between Thai people and overseas customers. Usually, the only thing which worked well as a western expat doing all the interfacing, and the expat managing the Thais and carefully reviewing all design work, in this technical field.
(I also got into property development at this time, consulting to some investment companies, just driving around surveying properties ... which formed the basis for another company of mine later, but the property market was dead in the late 1990s for various reasons.)
After the year 2000, I eventually got into offshore outsourcing for programming and artwork (and myself doing content writing and editing), but I was many years too late, as India had so many suppliers at cut rate prices for the programming and artwork, and as CEO I couldn't be doing just the writing. I was way too late in entering this market. Not even close. The time to do that was 1995.
We got a few good customers who valued quality, but forget about the mass market.
This is actually the story of my business -- a few good customers, and forget about the mass market.
We set up Export Quality Services Co., Ltd., in 2002, but one of the things we learned again over the first year, even with hired sales people, is to stop wasting time on the mass market and start focusing on specific customers who seem promising for developing a solid longterm relationship with, with recurring income at a good monthly rate, rather than constantly dealing with inquiries from strangers, and a series of one-offs among those closed.
That is what has kept us going since 2003 -- a few main customers.
It also gives you a lot of freedom because once you've trained staff on how to serve these customers with repetitive tasks, then it gets you free time. You mainly mentor and quality control.
Also, with guaranteed constant monthly income, you can budget a little bit of money on other projects without worrying about immediate cash flow. Most projects take a lot of money up front ... and a lot of time ... before they start generating revenue, and even longer before they turn a net profit, considering all past expenditures (and not even considering opportunity loss by not spending that time on other things).
We have some little projects like this, which will take another year to break even, if we work hard and are lucky. However, PERMANENT will take more than 5 years... and that's my target.
In more down to Earth business, the sector I most want to expand in is exports. I have customers and associates who have done very well in this realm. You choose a few particular products, you make the best quality for the price (it is easy to beat China in value) -- which can be either a significant improvement of an existing product on the market or else an entirely new product, you establish a few customers overseas, and they will place repeat orders for the same products, giving you recurrent and reliable income. In fact, good distributors will result in rapidly expanding business.
I know many people in Thailand who I have helped and who have eventually done incredibly well in exports.
We have a few divisions of our company which aren't doing well. For example, property always has its ups and downs and is an unstable business, but it is one we enjoy doing, our staff are happy with their commissions, and I like to keep on top of things in this sector, as I've done since the mid-1990s. However, what has kept the company going and profitable month-to-month is a few old customers in other (non-property) sectors with repeat business.
The military coup of 2006 and some subsequent changes in laws resulted in a major downturn in arrivals of expats, and the election of December 2007 does not appear to have resolved the problems or resulted in a stable civilian government, as is required for a nominal business environment. This has adversely affected our property business, and there's not an end in sight.
For my business, what I want to expand is the old style repeat business customers, and the best area is import-export.
For exports, the best way to find customers is to visit them overseas with samples. The problem with this is the expense of travelling. Setting up a website to fish for customers would take a lot of time and expense in order to compete with established entities, so it seems left to targeting specific products and suppliers, and emailing targeted distributors without spamming.
However, on my last trip to the USA, I saw a lot of products which I would like to import to Thailand from wherever they are made, because I don't see them in Thailand.
Anyway, this is an areas where I see potential for the future of my company.
It is the best business of my best customers. They got their import-export businesses started by travelling and finding customers in their home country and suppliers in Thailand (with the help of myself and some of my staff).
Some details missing from above:
In 1994, I had an opportunity to travel in my communications networking business. I would go to an Asia Regional Office (in Bangkok, Thailand), because Asia was so far behind, depending on fax and voice calls. You could see this in the FidoNet international nodelist, too, in that there were precious few nodes in Asia. Internet seemed set to boom there like everywhere else.
I was bored with Washington, D.C., and burned out running hubs for everyone, spending too much time in the techie stuff which nobody else could do. However, I could see that things were changing with the advent of the World Wide Web and simple HTML standard. Finally, there was standardization, simple and universal. Everything was changing, my systems would becoming obsolete, and I'd need to retool ... except server farms were coming up, which other techies could run, at economical prices. Yeay! I could move back to applications.
All I had to do was find people who could do basic HTML, and I could design concepts.
I had outsourced to Russians in the past, and found them much more reliable and quality than computer guys around me in Washington, D.C., who seemed to be here today and gone tomorrow. Demand far outstripped supply of computer guys, and I needed reliable labor, so I had to go offshore. (I also studied the Russian language and culture before.)
I thought the big market was supply of labor, and Asians would do a great job. I had always wanted to go overseas and run an outsourcing center myself, managing people on-site, doing the quality assurance, and offering the best quality for a given price. I could easily pay them better than the local economy since I had American customers. Like the Russians, Asians would be loyal since they didn't have so many alternatives in pay or modernistic job quality.
I had been invited to join the board of a group called WDSG, on a very friendly basis, and the plan was for them to do marketing in Washington, D.C., and me to supply the work from Asia.
When I left, I handed over to them a major contract I had been working on with ARPA.
However, shortly after arriving in Thailand, I got a notice that they had cut me out of the business, and did it in such a terrible way, e.g., sending a letter to the US Embassy in Bangkok to give notice, and simply cutting all communications with me. So much for friendship and the last few years of my making another project of one of theirs successful.
It was obvious what was happening. The ARPA contract was worth a lot of money, and the greedy SOBs wanted to take that money and run. I never got even a penny from that. They had the power and they took it.
Never mind the plan for the future. Cash in for now.
It was a major lesson about people. Nobody had ever ripped me off so badly either personally or businesswise.
Nonetheless, I had good, honorable experiences with most other businesspeople for the previous 7 years, and I saw the WDSG as an exception which I wouldn't allow to damage my attitude towards others out of proportion.
However, it cut off a major expected source of income, and I had left my customer base in Washington, D.C.
Also, I found that in Thailand, there was a monopoly on communications, and the infrastructure was terrible, but it was illegal for anyone to provide any service except that monopoly, the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT). There were no internet service providers, though there was the CAT's "ThaiPak" which didn't work well at all. However, it was illegal for anyone to set up an email gateway and charge for it.
I had never dealt with a monopolistic legal environment like this before. Then the first ISP came out, a crony monopoly, and it was terrible. The corrupt wanted to get all the money from the internet boom, but weren't competent in providing it (long story). I was basically cut off from the internet, except by direct dial modem calls to ISP's in the USA.
My government related consulting in Asia went very slow, but there were so many multinationals around that wanted to hire me at good rates that I quickly jumped ship. From the beginning of 1995 up until the 1997 Asia crash, money was easy. It was general computer consulting, not much internet and communications.
It was a huge mistake for me to not return to the USA or somewhere else with internet.
Internet came to Thailand in 1995, but performance of the international link to the American internet backbone was terrible until 1997, when the link to the USA was finally stable and tolerable.
I tried selling websites to companies in Asia before 1997, but they just didn't get it, nor did they seem to understand that cheaper local people couldn't create the value and success which I could.
However, the overriding mistake I made was just taking an extended holiday travelling around Asia. Work was so good that I could choose my customers, take big periods of time off between customers, and travel around. It was actually two of the happiest years of my life. It was also a long overdue break from endless work from 1987 to 1994.
And in my spare time after the 1997 Asia economic crash (for the next few years mostly unemployed), with money I had saved up in 1995-1997, I wrote my PERMANENT book and self-published it, selling it on the website, starting in 1998.
However, by 1999, with practically no work, I eventually became broke, so I started my business life over from scratch, reinventing myself. And that brings us back to the beginning of this article, with the company eventually formed in 2002 (based on websites I created in 1999-2001). It's been all uphill since then.
There is a lot of overlap between this article and my life history written elsewhere, but this article got more into my business details.
However, I'm always trying to move forward in new and different ways. I think that tends to be the male way among our species, and why there are far more male CEOs than females. But not many guys are like this, either, so it's a small minority of guys who make CEOs.
It's also like some of my business associates who are complacent with their current repeat businesses (e.g., their current export product line) and don't want to do any more work. I can't sit around watching football, drinking beer, paying pool, and so on, in-between orders and factory visits. I enjoy working and getting out into the world.
I have a lot of business projects which I know would be profitable. What I lack are more partners willing to commit to implementing new projects all the way to success. I don't want to be picking up the slack, as usual. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss this seriously.
My best ones on a grand scale I haven't even started (except PERMANENT.com), just a business plan. Someone special is required, with certain personal values, principles, and commitment of leadership.
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