The Art of Deal Making

With this first post in the New Year, I thought I would touch on a topic which has been revolving in my mind for quite a while, and which has been incubating since Boustead announced their Bio-Treat and Big Box deals. I would readily admit that the main content for this post comes from observations and analytical thoughts stemming from the failed investment in Big Box, as well as the investment … [Read more...]

High cost of doing business

I experienced the high cost of doing business in Singapore. I had to pay a professional fee of $3,500 for an engineer to certify that the renovation to my premises is safe. I saw the drawing done by the engineer. It is similar to the drawing that done by me to ask for quotation. A fee of $500 would be more than adequate. My staff faced a lot of trouble in applying for a work permit through the … [Read more...]

Unfair contract terms

We have a law against unfair contract terms. How does the law define what is an unfair contract term? Would the following contract terms be deemed to be unfair to consumers? a) The bank imposes a penalty for late payment that is why above what it cost the bank to process the late payment? If the actual cost is $2, can the bank impose a fee of $200? b) If an personal accident policy require … [Read more...]

Porter’s Five Forces Series Part 2 – Intensity of Rivalry

In this second part of the Porter’s Five-Forces series, I take a look at intensity of rivalry. This is an important factor as the more in-fighting there is amongst companies within the same industry for market share and profits, the more rates of return will be depressed and suffer. If companies practice cutthroat pricing and start under-cutting one another, it will result in a lot of happiness … [Read more...]

Renovating an industrial premise [2]

I had a difficult time to find a contractor to renovate my industrial premise. Most of them quoted over $70,000 to renovate and furnish a premise of 1,600 s.f, of which only 1,300 sf need to be furnished.I finally decided to scale down the work and managed to appoint a contractor at a more affordable cost. It still cost a lot of money, including the fee of $3,500 payable for "fire safety".  I … [Read more...]

Cost of preparing a medical report

A letter was published in the Straits Times Forum page complaining about the high fee charged for a medical report. The Singapore Dental Center replied that the cost of $90 (or thereabouts) represent only a part of their total cost in preparing the report. I consider the cost of $90 to be excessive. An "angry doc" asked me to state what I felt the fee should be. I replied "$30". Another … [Read more...]

Interview with LP part I

A fellow blogger wanted to do a new book and I was invited to be one of the diverse people interviewed for the book. I thought it'll be a good read for those who follows my blog to know more about me. The whole interview is pretty long, so I'll split up into two installments. Here goes: -------------------------------- Specifically what subjects do you teach? I started off teaching secondary … [Read more...]

Travel Investing – Philippines

Last week, I took a holiday in the Philippines. I spent 4 days on the famous white beach in Boracay and 2 days in metropolitan Manila. It is always interesting to observe the foreign country way of life and culture. I have thus pen my observations and thoughts in this post. Of course this blog is about investment, I shall focus the content on the economics and business of the country. Getting … [Read more...]

Value Investing: Why Research In Motion (Blackberry) will unlikely be able to survive Apple and Google’s onslaught in the smartphone war $GOOG $AAPL $RIMM

I always have a good argument with my colleague Ah Wei regarding the smartphone and technology industry. Ah Wei have a point of view that based on past case studies of Dell, Nokia, Microsoft and HP’s failure that there are many things that the CEO or COO should do to prevent that from happening. I would say I am more open minded on things that there are a lot of hidden factors that in business, … [Read more...]

What is the competitive advantage of thrift shops like Daiso

I had a 2 days good break currently from work. Well, make that 1.5 days since there was an emergency meeting this afternoon so I have to freaking be back in office. I went to take a look at another nearby mall in Seng Kang and am surprised to find that there is a Daiso in Seng Kang! What is a Daiso? Daiso sets itself apart from other 100 yen shops by choosing not to sell closeout or factory second … [Read more...]

Sun Tzu – War On Business Part 13 (Palate Palette)

We have come to Episode 13, which is the final episode of the Sun Tzu series, and it’s one which brings us to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; a country which has not been covered so far in this series. Here, James Sun meets up with a lady called Sun-Ann Wong (“Su-Ann”) who runs a café cum pub called Palate Palette. There is a reason for the phonetic play on the two words, which we shall see later! … [Read more...]

Sun Tzu – War On Business Part 12 (Diploma)

We have come to Episode 12 of the Sun Tzu series, which brings us to Suzhou, China. James visits a company called Diploma which provides cleaning and logistics services (yes, it is a rather strange name to be associated with cleaning, as cleaning is generally a menial, blue-collar task which is not associated with educated graduates, but oh well). Diploma provides essential services to … [Read more...]

Sun Tzu – War On Business Part 11 (Ultizen Games)

Episode 11 of this highly successful series brings James Sun back to China, Shanghai. In this episode, he meets up with entrepreneur Lan Hai Wen, who heads a video-gaming company called Ultizen Games. Ultizen is in charge of producing and marketing games for adults and children, but the Company recently was awarded a contract (thanks to the CEO’s networks and contacts) to produce and develop a … [Read more...]

Sun Tzu – War On Business Part 10 (Digital Academy)

We have now come to Part 10 of this 13-part series for Sun Tzu, War On Business. So far, it’s been a good journey with yours truly learning a lot of business lessons by observing and watching this half-hour program every week. Hope readers have been enjoying the posts so far as there have not been many comments on each post (could it be people are not bothering to watch this series?). … [Read more...]

Sun Tzu – War On Business Part 9 (Meru Cabs)

Part 9 of the very interesting and insightful Sun Tzu series brings us to Mumbai, India, where James meets up with a budding entrepreneur called Neeraj Gupta (“Neeraj”), who is tackling the bustling city’s transportation issues by setting up a luxury taxi service called Meru Cabs. Meru Cabs is a modern taxi service which relies on clients calling up the call centre at Meru to book a taxi in … [Read more...]

Sun Tzu – War On Business Part 8 (Skoda Cars)

Part 8 comes back to Singapore again, and James Sun tackles a very “hot” issue amongst Singaporeans – that of cars. With recent news that COE prices have sky rocketed, this has not made it easy for cars to get sold, especially the smaller, lesser known brands. Though I suspect that this episode could have been filmed some time in 2009, when COE prices had not yet increased to such crazy … [Read more...]

Sun Tzu – War On Business Part 7 (Zak Surfboards)

Part 7 of this series is an interesting one, as it focuses on a sport which is not very familiar to me and can be considered “niche”. This sport is surfing and the business in question is one of selling surfboards in Melbourne, Australia. The business is owned by a guy called Zak Koniaris (“Zak”), who is an avid surfer himself. His shop sells everything surfing related, from the surfboards … [Read more...]

Sun Tzu – War On Business Part 6 (Witchmount Winery)

Part 6 of this series features James moving on to Australia, where he checks out a winery business and visits a vineyard owner. The scene is set in Melbourne, Australia and the vineyard is called Witchmount Winery (WW) and its owner is a man called Tony Ramunno (“Tony”). The background on this business is that it is a family business founded in the early 1990’s. The vineyard occupies many … [Read more...]

The entrepreneur financial adviser

Many newbie financial adviser joins the industry without really knowing what they are going into. Prior to joining a firm, they are often given many promises but what they do not know is that a financial adviser is an entrepreneur providing professional service. Why entrepreneur? It is because many financial advisers are self-employed and they are to run their own business like a businessman. … [Read more...]

Sun Tzu – War On Business Part 3 (Plastered 8)

Part 3 of Sun Tzu is also set in Beijing, China; but this time it focuses on a T-Shirt retailer called Plastered 8 (“P8”). This small business is located in a shophouse near a popular tourist belt and is headed by a Briton called Dominic Johnson-Hill (“Dominic”). He has been living in Beijing with his wife (Laura) for the past 17 years and is reasonably fluent with the Chinese language, so this … [Read more...]