Photo by kanegen

Photo by kanegen

During the Chinese New Year festive holidays, I managed to catch an episode of a new TV series called “Sun Tzu – War On Business”. It is hosted by a very prominent and prolific entrepreneur called Mr. James Sun (“James”), who made a name for himself as the only Asian to have appeared in the finals of the reality TV Series “The Apprentice”. In 1995, at just the tender age of 18, he set up his own investment firm Sun & Associates and invested US$5,000 of his savings into popular auction portal eBay. Six months later, he was staring at a huge profit of US$150,000. This and other instances of savviness has made him a successful entrepreneur and investor, and next on the cards is a hedge fund he plans to set up, targeting an annual return of 35% per annum. The Sunday Times also did an interview with James which was published on February 14, 2010, and it features some of his money habits and also details how he built his wealth.

What was intruiging, though, was his new TV show which was a sort of reality TV show in which James looks at businesses from top down and advises on how to improve the business, by focusing on aspects such as Management capabilities, division of labour, human resource, technical skills, operational details and financial management. James will then meet with the CEO/owner to discuss aspects of the business, what’s wrong, what’s good and what’s bad; as well as what is needed to improve or enhance the business. Throughout the half-hour show, James uses a lot of quotes from Sun Tzu’s actual “Art of War” Manuscript; and though I cannot remember the word for word references as I only watched the program once, I think it’s the lessons learnt and issues dealt with which resound in me the most.

This episode focused on an F&B business located in Singapore called Prince of Wales pub. Essentially, the owner is an Australian Mr. Malcolm Davies (“Mr. Davies”) who owns a pub cum hostel – the top floor had beds and acted as a backpacker’s hostel, while the bottom floor (of the shophouse) was a pub cum dining area. The concept was one where foreigners could get good drinks, entertainment, relaxation as well as cheap accommodation. James was then called in to assess how to improve the state of affairs at the pub, as there were lingering issues with operations and also some customer complaints.

To cut a long story short, I will summarize the main learning points I picked up from the program (not in order of merit) from memory:- Read more…