Bill Cates Presenting at Next Weeks BBG Gala Breakfast Forum in Sydney , Melbourne and Brisbane.... 10 Complimentary TIckets available




We are delighted to host Bill Cates at our BBG Gala Breakfast Forum's in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane next Week.

There are only a few places available , and we are releasing 10 tickets in Brisbane and Melbourne, (Sydney full). Be sure to enter the promo code is BBG1701 to get your complimentary seat.

Click below to register for the events -



Sydney - Tuesday 2nd May at Doltone House (Hyde Park) from 7-30 to 10am (FULL) 
Join us at one of our breakfast forum's in Martin Place - on Wednesday or Thursday this week (26and 27 April) or next Wednesday (3 May) . Register at www.bbg.business/events

Below is a great snippet of Bill Cates telling us the 3 words to handle objections and get more referrals.





Here at BBG, we support one another's business growth through lead generation and warm referrals. It has thus far been incredibly succesful and has expanded rapidly.

I look forward to seeing you there.



The 3 Ingredients for successful succession

Will Your Enterprise Endure?


As a private client lawyer, I am often asked to advise on business succession. The trigger for this is most often a financial adviser discussing life insurance, and the consequences of death or disability of a person on the business.


 This article summarises the key issues I deal with family business succession.


Whilst life insurance is an important tool in assuring a known financial outcome from the death or disability of a client, it only contributes to a business succession outcome.


If the succession of management and ownership of a business is to occur, the controllers of that enterprise need to manage a large range of factors. This complex task normally includes dealing with the following aspects of the enterprise.


People

Who are the critical people on whom the business depends? Some 70% of all businesses in Australia meet the definition of a family business. This means that in addition to the normal concerns a business may have about its operations and management, the business needs to have a plan to deal with shareholder and stakeholder engagement in the enterprise.

A family business needs to know is it a family first business or operated by a business first family.

Has the family made a formal decision to retain the business in the next generation or is the value of the business needed to be liquidated to fund the retirement strategies of the business founders?

Is there a non-family manager of the enterprise? How is that person to be replaced? Should they become a shareholder? How is exit to be managed for non-family business leaders and managers?

Are there critical skills in the family which cannot be easily sourced from the employment market?

Do next generation family members have the technical skills and education to continue to drive the business?


Strategy

Is there a settled strategy that drives the ongoing success of the business?

In the 2015 KPMG Family Business Survey, 43% of businesses surveyed stated “We stick to what we know to do and do it as well or better than anyone else” (Defenders). A further 43% stated “We are innovators and are willing to take the necessary risks of providing new products or services.” (Prospectors). Understanding the type of ongoing resources a business needs to support its ongoing operational strategies is essential for successful business succession. The business owners need to understand the resource requirements for succession before they can establish a funding model for succession.


Leadership Intentions

In my experience, this needs as to be seen as a duality of leadership that may or may not coincide. The operations and day to day management of the enterprise is normally a part of an executive mandate from shareholders. The business may be led by a family member or a non family CEO or executive. Irrespective of who fulfils that function, the success or not of the enterprise will also depend on the relationship of that executive leader with the family shareholders or stake holders in the business. Balancing the family accountability of the business with its external market forces and internal operational dynamics means that family business succession is a complex task, especially if the business is to be retained across generations.

An approach to business succession

Business succession is rarely an objective that can be achieved just by completing a buy/sell agreement or having a keyman insurance policy.It needs to be seen as a project that will involve the input of a number of professionals including:

• Family Business Consultants
• Lawyers
• Accountants
• Tax advisers
• Financial advisers
• Commercial or business advisers.

Inevitably, the input of these professionals will need to be co-ordinated across the business by a lead adviser or general counsel within the business.

Identifying who will perform this general counsel / co-ordinating role is critical to the success of a business succession project.

No less important is making sure that the business succession project meets the common objectives of the business owners. Defining those common objectives inevitably comes first and so, the most common service sequence for a business succession project remains:

• Consulting
• Advice
• Transactions

Just managing the legal issues, will never be enough if you want to achieve a high quality outcome for the family interests in the business.

 

Michael Perkins

23 April 2017

Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse - an example Australia should take note of!!!

Article by EMMA Young of Mosaic - sourced from Triple J - http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/iceland-teen-substance-abuse/8208214

It’s a little before three on a sunny Friday afternoon and Laugardalur Park, near central Reykjavik, looks practically deserted. There’s an occasional adult with a pushchair, but the park’s surrounded by apartment blocks and houses, and school’s out – so where are all the kids?

Walking with me are Gudberg Jónsson, a local psychologist, and Harvey Milkman, an American psychology professor who teaches for part of the year at Reykjavik University. Twenty years ago, says Gudberg, Icelandic teens were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe. “You couldn’t walk the streets in downtown Reykjavik on a Friday night because it felt unsafe,” adds Milkman. “There were hordes of teenagers getting in-your-face drunk.”

We approach a large building. “And here we have the indoor skating,” says Gudberg.

A couple of minutes ago, we passed two halls dedicated to badminton and ping pong. Here in the park, there’s also an athletics track, a geothermally heated swimming pool and – at last – some visible kids, excitedly playing football on an artificial pitch.

Young people aren’t hanging out in the park right now, Gudberg explains, because they’re in after-school classes in these facilities, or in clubs for music, dance or art. Or they might be on outings with their parents.

Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 per cent to 7 per cent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 per cent to just 3 per cent.

© David Imms

If it was adopted in other countries, Milkman argues, the Icelandic model could benefit the general psychological and physical wellbeing of millions of kids, not to mention the coffers of healthcare agencies and broader society. It’s a big if.

“I was in the eye of the storm of the drug revolution,” Milkman explains over tea in his apartment in Reykjavik. In the early 1970s, when he was doing an internship at the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in New York City, “LSD was already in, and a lot of people were smoking marijuana. And there was a lot of interest in why people took certain drugs.”

Milkman’s doctoral dissertation concluded that people would choose either heroin or amphetamines depending on how they liked to deal with stress. Heroin users wanted to numb themselves; amphetamine users wanted to actively confront it. After this work was published, he was among a group of researchers drafted by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse to answer questions such as: why do people start using drugs? Why do they continue? When do they reach a threshold to abuse? When do they stop? And when do they relapse?

“Any college kid could say: why do they start? Well, there’s availability, they’re risk-takers, alienation, maybe some depression,” he says. “But why do they continue? So I got to the question about the threshold for abuse and the lights went on – that’s when I had my version of the ‘aha’ experience: they could be on the threshold for abuse before they even took the drug, because it was their style of coping that they were abusing.”

At Metropolitan State College of Denver, Milkman was instrumental in developing the idea that people were getting addicted to changes in brain chemistry. Kids who were “active confronters” were after a rush – they’d get it by stealing hubcaps and radios and later cars, or through stimulant drugs. Alcohol also alters brain chemistry, of course. It’s a sedative but it sedates the brain’s control first, which can remove inhibitions and, in limited doses, reduce anxiety.

“People can get addicted to drink, cars, money, sex, calories, cocaine – whatever,” says Milkman. “The idea of behavioural addiction became our trademark.”

This idea spawned another: “Why not orchestrate a social movement around natural highs: around people getting high on their own brain chemistry – because it seems obvious to me that people want to change their consciousness – without the deleterious effects of drugs?”

By 1992, his team in Denver had won a $1.2 million government grant to form Project Self-Discovery, which offered teenagers natural-high alternatives to drugs and crime. They got referrals from teachers, school nurses and counsellors, taking in kids from the age of 14 who didn’t see themselves as needing treatment but who had problems with drugs or petty crime.

“We didn’t say to them, you’re coming in for treatment. We said, we’ll teach you anything you want to learn: music, dance, hip hop, art, martial arts.” The idea was that these different classes could provide a variety of alterations in the kids’ brain chemistry, and give them what they needed to cope better with life: some might crave an experience that could help reduce anxiety, others may be after a rush.

At the same time, the recruits got life-skills training, which focused on improving their thoughts about themselves and their lives, and the way they interacted with other people. “The main principle was that drug education doesn’t work because nobody pays attention to it. What is needed are the life skills to act on that information,” Milkman says. Kids were told it was a three-month programme. Some stayed five years.

In 1991, Milkman was invited to Iceland to talk about this work, his findings and ideas. He became a consultant to the first residential drug treatment centre for adolescents in Iceland, in a town called Tindar. “It was designed around the idea of giving kids better things to do,” he explains. It was here that he met Gudberg, who was then a psychology undergraduate and a volunteer at Tindar. They have been close friends ever since.

Milkman started coming regularly to Iceland and giving talks. These talks, and Tindar, attracted the attention of a young researcher at the University of Iceland, called Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir. She wondered: what if you could use healthy alternatives to drugs and alcohol as part of a programme not to treat kids with problems, but to stop kids drinking or taking drugs in the first place? 

© David Imms

In 1992, 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds in every school in Iceland filled in a questionnaire with these kinds of questions. This process was then repeated in 1995 and 1997.

The results of these surveys were alarming. Nationally, almost 25 per cent were smoking every day, over 40 per cent had got drunk in the past month. But when the team drilled right down into the data, they could identify precisely which schools had the worst problems – and which had the least. Their analysis revealed clear differences between the lives of kids who took up drinking, smoking and other drugs, and those who didn’t. A few factors emerged as strongly protective: participation in organised activities – especially sport – three or four times a week, total time spent with parents during the week, feeling cared about at school, and not being outdoors in the late evenings.

“At that time, there had been all kinds of substance prevention efforts and programmes,” says Inga Dóra, who was a research assistant on the surveys. “Mostly they were built on education.” Kids were being warned about the dangers of drink and drugs, but, as Milkman had observed in the US, these programmes were not working. “We wanted to come up with a different approach.”

The mayor of Reykjavik, too, was interested in trying something new, and many parents felt the same, adds Jón Sigfússon, Inga Dóra’s colleague and brother. Jón had young daughters at the time and joined her new Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis when it was set up in 1999. “The situation was bad,” he says. “It was obvious something had to be done.”

Using the survey data and insights from research including Milkman’s, a new national plan was gradually introduced. It was called Youth in Iceland.

Laws were changed. It became illegal to buy tobacco under the age of 18 and alcohol under the age of 20, and tobacco and alcohol advertising was banned. Links between parents and school were strengthened through parental organisations which by law had to be established in every school, along with school councils with parent representatives. Parents were encouraged to attend talks on the importance of spending a quantity of time with their children rather than occasional “quality time”, on talking to their kids about their lives, on knowing who their kids were friends with, and on keeping their children home in the evenings.

A law was also passed prohibiting children aged between 13 and 16 from being outside after 10pm in winter and midnight in summer. It’s still in effect today.

Home and School, the national umbrella body for parental organisations, introduced agreements for parents to sign. The content varies depending on the age group, and individual organisations can decide what they want to include. For kids aged 13 and up, parents can pledge to follow all the recommendations, and also, for example, not to allow their kids to have unsupervised parties, not to buy alcohol for minors, and to keep an eye on the wellbeing of other children.

These agreements educate parents but also help to strengthen their authority in the home, argues Hrefna Sigurjónsdóttir, director of Home and School. “Then it becomes harder to use the oldest excuse in the book: ‘But everybody else can!’”

State funding was increased for organised sport, music, art, dance and other clubs, to give kids alternative ways to feel part of a group, and to feel good, rather than through using alcohol and drugs, and kids from low-income families received help to take part. In Reykjavik, for instance, where more than a third of the country’s population lives, a Leisure Card gives families 35,000 krona (£250) per year per child to pay for recreational activities.

Crucially, the surveys have continued. Each year, almost every child in Iceland completes one. This means up-to-date, reliable data is always available.

Between 1997 and 2012, the percentage of kids aged 15 and 16 who reported often or almost always spending time with their parents on weekdays doubled – from 23 per cent to 46 per cent – and the percentage who participated in organised sports at least four times a week increased from 24 per cent to 42 per cent. Meanwhile, cigarette smoking, drinking and cannabis use in this age group plummeted.

© David Imms

“Although this cannot be shown in the form of a causal relationship – which is a good example of why primary prevention methods are sometimes hard to sell to scientists – the trend is very clear,” notes Álfgeir Kristjánsson, who worked on the data and is now at the West Virginia University School of Public Health in the US. “Protective factors have gone up, risk factors down, and substance use has gone down – and more consistently in Iceland than in any other European country.”

§

Jón Sigfússon apologies for being just a couple of minutes late. “I was on a crisis call!” He prefers not to say precisely to where, but it was to one of the cities elsewhere in the world that has now adopted, in part, the Youth in Iceland ideas.

Youth in Europe, which Jón heads, began in 2006 after the already-remarkable Icelandic data was presented at a European Cities Against Drugs meeting and, he recalls, “People asked: what are you doing?”

Participation in Youth in Europe is at a municipal level rather than being led by national governments. In the first year, there were eight municipalities. To date, 35 have taken part, across 17 countries, varying from some areas where just a few schools take part to Tarragona in Spain, where 4,200 15-year-olds are involved. The method is always the same: Jón and his team talk to local officials and devise a questionnaire with the same core questions as those used in Iceland plus any locally tailored extras. For example, online gambling has recently emerged as a big problem in a few areas, and local officials want to know if it’s linked to other risky behaviour.

Just two months after the questionnaires are returned to Iceland, the team sends back an initial report with the results, plus information on how they compare with other participating regions. “We always say that, like vegetables, information has to be fresh,” says Jón. “If you bring these findings a year later, people would say, Oh, this was a long time ago and maybe things have changed…” As well as fresh, it has to be local so that schools, parents and officials can see exactly what problems exist in which areas.

The team has analysed 99,000 questionnaires from places as far afield as the Faroe Islands, Malta and Romania – as well as South Korea and, very recently, Nairobi and Guinea-Bissau. Broadly, the results show that when it comes to teen substance use, the same protective and risk factors identified in Iceland apply everywhere. There are some differences: in one location (in a country “on the Baltic Sea”), participation in organised sport actually emerged as a risk factor. Further investigation revealed that this was because young ex-military men who were keen on muscle-building drugs, drinking and smoking were running the clubs. Here, then, was a well-defined, immediate, local problem that could be addressed.

While Jón and his team offer advice and information on what has been found to work in Iceland, it’s up to individual communities to decide what to do in the light of their results. Occasionally, they do nothing. One predominantly Muslim country, which he prefers not to identify, rejected the data because it revealed an unpalatable level of alcohol consumption. In other cities – such as the origin of Jón’s “crisis call” – there is an openness to the data and there is money, but he has observed that it can be much more difficult to secure and maintain funding for health prevention strategies than for treatments.

No other country has made changes on the scale seen in Iceland. When asked if anyone has copied the laws to keep children indoors in the evening, Jón smiles. “Even Sweden laughs and calls it the child curfew!”


Across Europe, rates of teen alcohol and drug use have generally improved over the past 20 years, though nowhere as dramatically as in Iceland, and the reasons for improvements are not necessarily linked to strategies that foster teen wellbeing. In the UK, for example, the fact that teens are now spending more time at home interacting online rather than in person could be one of the major reasons for the drop in alcohol consumption.

But Kaunas, in Lithuania, is one example of what can happen through active intervention. Since 2006, the city has administered the questionnaires five times, and schools, parents, healthcare organisations, churches, the police and social services have come together to try to improve kids’ wellbeing and curb substance use. For instance, parents get eight or nine free parenting sessions each year, and a new programme provides extra funding for public institutions and NGOs working in mental health promotion and stress management. In 2015, the city started offering free sports activities on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and there are plans to introduce a free ride service for low-income families, to help kids who don’t live close to the facilities to attend.

Between 2006 and 2014, the number of 15- and 16-year-olds in Kaunas who reported getting drunk in the past 30 days fell by about a quarter, and daily smoking fell by more than 30 per cent.

At the moment, participation in Youth in Europe is a haphazard affair, and the team in Iceland is small. Jón would like to see a centralised body with its own dedicated funding to focus on the expansion of Youth in Europe. “Even though we have been doing this for ten years, it is not our full, main job. We would like somebody to copy this and maintain it all over Europe,” he says. “And why only Europe?”

§

After our walk through Laugardalur Park, Gudberg Jónsson invites us back to his home. Outside, in the garden, his two elder sons, Jón Konrád, who’s 21, and Birgir Ísar, who’s 15, talk to me about drinking and smoking. Jón does drink alcohol, but Birgir says he doesn’t know anyone at his school who smokes or drinks. We also talk about football training: Birgir trains five or six times a week; Jón, who is in his first year of a business degree at the University of Iceland, trains five times a week. They both started regular after-school training when they were six years old.

“We have all these instruments at home,” their father told me earlier. “We tried to get them into music. We used to have a horse. My wife is really into horse riding. But it didn’t happen. In the end, soccer was their selection.”

Did it ever feel like too much? Was there pressure to train when they’d rather have been doing something else? “No, we just had fun playing football,” says Birgir. Jón adds, “We tried it and got used to it, and so we kept on doing it.”

© David Imms


It’s not all they do. While Gudberg and his wife Thórunn don’t consciously plan for a certain number of hours each week with their three sons, they do try to take them regularly to the movies, the theatre, restaurants, hiking, fishing and, when Iceland’s sheep are brought down from the highlands each September, even on family sheep-herding outings.

Jón and Birgir may be exceptionally keen on football, and talented (Jón has been offered a soccer scholarship to the Metropolitan State University of Denver, and a few weeks after we meet, Birgir is selected to play for the under-17 national team). But could the significant rise in the percentage of kids who take part in organised sport four or more times a week be bringing benefits beyond raising healthier children?

Could it, for instance, have anything to do with Iceland’s crushing defeat of England in the Euro 2016 football championship? When asked, Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir, who was voted Woman of the Year in Iceland in 2016, smiles: “There is also the success in music, like Of Monsters and Men [an indie folk-pop group from Reykjavik]. These are young people who have been pushed into organised work. Some people have thanked me,” she says, with a wink.

Elsewhere, cities that have joined Youth in Europe are reporting other benefits. In Bucharest, for example, the rate of teen suicides is dropping alongside use of drink and drugs. In Kaunas, the number of children committing crimes dropped by a third between 2014 and 2015.

As Inga Dóra says: “We learned through the studies that we need to create circumstances in which kids can lead healthy lives, and they do not need to use substances, because life is fun, and they have plenty to do – and they are supported by parents who will spend time with them.”

When it comes down to it, the messages – if not necessarily the methods – are straightforward. And when he looks at the results, Harvey Milkman thinks of his own country, the US. Could the Youth in Iceland model work there, too? 

§

Three hundred and twenty-five million people versus 330,000. Thirty-three thousand gangs versus virtually none. Around 1.3 million homeless young people versus a handful.

Clearly, the US has challenges that Iceland does not. But the data from other parts of Europe, including cities such as Bucharest with major social problems and relative poverty, shows that the Icelandic model can work in very different cultures, Milkman argues. And the need in the US is high: underage drinking accounts for about 11 per cent of all alcohol consumed nationwide, and excessive drinking causes more than 4,300 deaths among under-21 year olds every year.

A national programme along the lines of Youth in Iceland is unlikely to be introduced in the US, however. One major obstacle is that while in Iceland there is long-term commitment to the national project, community health programmes in the US are usually funded by short-term grants.

Milkman has learned the hard way that even widely applauded, gold-standard youth programmes aren’t always expanded, or even sustained. “With Project Self-Discovery, it seemed like we had the best programme in the world,” he says. “I was invited to the White House twice. It won national awards. I was thinking: this will be replicated in every town and village. But it wasn’t.”

He thinks that is because you can’t prescribe a generic model to every community because they don’t all have the same resources. Any move towards giving kids in the US the opportunities to participate in the kinds of activities now common in Iceland, and so helping them to stay away from alcohol and other drugs, will depend on building on what already exists. “You have to rely on the resources of the community,” he says.

His colleague Álfgeir Kristjánsson is introducing the Icelandic ideas to the state of West Virginia. Surveys are being given to kids at several middle and high schools in the state, and a community coordinator will help get the results out to parents and anyone else who could use them to help local kids. But it might be difficult to achieve the kinds of results seen in Iceland, he concedes.

Short-termism also impedes effective prevention strategies in the UK, says Michael O’Toole, CEO of Mentor, a charity that works to reduce alcohol and drug misuse in children and young people. Here, too, there is no national coordinated alcohol and drug prevention programme. It’s generally left to local authorities or to schools, which can often mean kids are simply given information about the dangers of drugs and alcohol – a strategy that, he agrees, evidence shows does not work.

O’Toole fully endorses the Icelandic focus on parents, school and the community all coming together to help support kids, and on parents or carers being engaged in young people’s lives. Improving support for kids could help in so many ways, he stresses. Even when it comes just to alcohol and smoking, there is plenty of data to show that the older a child is when they have their first drink or cigarette, the healthier they will be over the course of their life.

© David Imms


But not all the strategies would be acceptable in the UK – the child curfews being one, parental walks around neighbourhoods to identify children breaking the rules perhaps another. And a trial run by Mentor in Brighton that involved inviting parents into schools for workshops found that it was difficult to get them engaged.

Public wariness and an unwillingness to engage will be challenges wherever the Icelandic methods are proposed, thinks Milkman, and go to the heart of the balance of responsibility between states and citizens. “How much control do you want the government to have over what happens with your kids? Is this too much of the government meddling in how people live their lives?”

In Iceland, the relationship between people and the state has allowed an effective national programme to cut the rates of teenagers smoking and drinking to excess – and, in the process, brought families closer and helped kids to become healthier in all kinds of ways. Will no other country decide these benefits are worth the costs? 

This article first appeared on Mosaic 

Insites that made Nadhir Be recognised on Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list

How did Nadhir Ashafiq be on the 30 under 30 Asia list #forbesu30asia and build lorry.com - below are some insites

Nadir thank you for sharing your spirit of generosity 

By Nadhir Ashafiq... 

It has been close to a year since I wrote Making TheLorry.com: A journey from idea validation to being VC-funded.

As 2016 comes to a close, this article will highlight our hits, misses and key learnings for upcoming entrepreneurs.

The Chilli’s Summit

Fresh from receiving our Series A funds (USD1.5 million), Chee and I had dinner at Chilli’s early January 2016 to discuss top-level strategy and our plans for the year.

Quite simply, the goal was to grow x% by December 2016 in terms of revenue, number of bookings and gross profit.

We also discussed division of labour – I was to handle our bread-and-butter B2C business while Chee took on the fast-growing B2B department.

Some other points of our discussion:

  • Creation of new products to drive revenue growth
  • Automation of systems and SOPs
  • Setting up and strengthening organisational structure
  • Territorial expansion
  • Hiring for growth

We tie all of these to-dos by using a framework called Objectives and Key Results (OKR) for each of our departments.

I sent out an email to all our team members and it looked something like this:

With all this set up, it was time to stop talking and start executing.

Learning on the go: hiring the right people

Our team back in January 2016 was structured as follows:

  • B2C
  • B2B
  • Operations
  • Vendor Relations
  • Tech
  • Accounts
  • Warehouse

To achieve the said OKRs, we needed to hire across the board with emphasis on Tech and B2B.

We also had to look at hiring candidates in Penang, JB and Singapore as part of our territorial expansion.

Chee and I had managerial experience in our previous employment (we were ex-colleagues). But it was managing one or two people.

We projected that we’d double our headcount for the next 6 months. That’s an addition of 20+ new staff.

We didn’t have that much experience in interviewing and selecting the best candidates. We knew the basics, in theory.

What did we do?

Learn as we go.

I remember googling “Questions to ask during interviews” and “Questions Google ask on interviews” to help me out. Didn’t really know what to ask the interviewees.

It was really the case of learning by doing. You pick up a few things on the first interview and used them on the second interview and so on.

You just wing it.

By the 50th interview, you get a pretty solid understanding on exactly what to do to filter out good candidates from the bad.

You will also find yourself getting pissed at candidates who have poor interview skills.

Credit: The Star

I remember baffling a few candidates, to test their critical thinking skills, by asking them:

“How many traffic lights are there in Puchong?”.

A few gave an acceptable response. A few were just stunned.

Me? I just laughed inside.

I also learned a lot of hiring tips from Karl Loo, CEO of ServisHero who is a “been there, done that” entrepreneur.

I strongly suggest you PM him if you need help! Whether he’ll help or not that’s up to you.

If we could summarise our hiring approach (in order of importance):

  1. The Big Why – why do they want to join us and not other companies?
  2. Communication skills – can they communicate their thoughts well in clear concise manner?
  3. Technical, qualification and work experience – The CV stuff
  4. X-factor – the “umph” in their application

Nevertheless, its not all science.

We have made so many hiring mistakes.

There are instances where:

People who did amazingly well during interviews – underperformed.

People who did just fine during interviews – outperformed tremendously (gotta say this in Trump tone and the finger gesture)

Good thing we have a probation structure – 3 months where either employer or employee can decide to call it off. A good number of hires did not make it past probation.

In hindsight, if it were to do it all over again, I’d probably plan our hiring more systematically and perhaps hire a HR executive to do all the filtering and first round interviews.

My days used to be filled with 10+ interviews for all kinds of positions – accounts, customer service, operations. Couple that with team meetings – it can get pretty hectic.

By the time I get home, I’d tell my wife: “Yang, I tak berhenti bercakap for 12 hours”.

Not long after, perhaps in Q2, we decided that all first round interviews must be done by HODs whereas the second interview will be done by either Chee or I.

Much, much better system.

Building TheLorry culture

I used to scoff at the word “culture”.

I thought it sounded like brainwashing (well, it is kinda true) and a process of creating humanoid robots.

I no longer think that way.

Culture is ABSOLUTELY important if you’d like to build, retain and grow a high-performance team.

Credit: The Business Insider

Richard Branson and Tony Fernandes figured this out years ago.

They know that by treating their people right and having a conducive and fun work environment, it will trickle down to their customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.

Their formula:

Happy employees = Happy customers = More revenue = More profit

Back when we occupied a 1,600 sqft shop lot with a skeleton team of 10, it was easy to round up everybody and for Chee and I to speak our mind.

Most of the “departments” comprised of one or two individuals. There was no need for “team meetings”, so to speak. Have lunch together and you’d have a team meeting.

As we grew in size (to about 25-30), we realised it was important to have more formal meetings for ease of communication and decision making.

We quickly set up:

  1. Weekly department meetings between HODs and team members
  2. Weekly HOD meeting
  3. Monthly Town Hall

Our Town Halls are meant to be a relaxed, not-so-serious events where Chee and I would talk about our vision, outline strategies, talk about key wins and make jokes.

We also created a Culture Book and distributed it to all team members.

The goal is to ensure that everyone behaves in a certain manner and to get everyone on the same page.

When this is done – THEN we can talk about growing the company.

The Culture Book contained our 7 Key Guiding Principles.

  1. Speed & Aggression – Do things now, not later.
  2. Only Performance Matters – Don’t care whether you’re Malay, Chinese, Indian or Bajau. Show me performance!
  3. No Finger Pointing Policy – Operational screw-ups happen. Don’t finger point!
  4. Open Communication – Be honest and open with each other
  5. Appreciate One Another – Say thank you and buy each other lunch!
  6. Always be Experimenting – Experiment on new features/products that will drive company growth.
  7. Work hard, play hard – Have regular sports and karaoke sessions!

Every Town Hall Chee and I would talk about these 7 principles and repeat until our team gets it and they can repeat it in their sleep.

That reminds me to repeat it again next Town Hall.

Creating brand awareness

Early on, all digital marketing efforts was done by yours truly, which includes all our Google and Facebook ads campaigns.

I pretty much taught myself how to run Google & Facebook ads through sites like Quick Sprout and Backlinko. Spent hours devouring their content.

It was pretty much set to auto run from mid-2015 till around mid-2016. I didn’t even log in to the platform during this period (except to adjust the credit card details when it breached credit limit).

Not much optimisation was done too in terms of click throughs, funnels and copywriting.

This changed when we hired Dan, our first Digital Marketing Manager – who overhauled our whole digital marketing campaign and made it better.

Through his constant adjustments and A/B testing, he doubled our clickthroughs and conversions by 50%. He did some stuff I didn’t quite understand but it worked.

Lesson learned: Never do everything yourself! There will always be someone smarter than you.

Credit: Victor Rook

Additionally, one of his many KPIs is to create a Facebook post that gets at least 100 shares, on a monthly basis.

This led to many experiments on how best to generate shares which in turn leads to brand awareness.

Us getting $2,500 free FB credits from FB Start definitely helped in these experiments.

Previously, Facebook ads was just a way to boost our boring and promotional post – something that talks about how great and fantastic we are in a post.

Probably had a stock photo of a Asian-looking person holding a box. These posts used to get us RM0.20-RM0.30 cost per engagement.

In Q3-Q4, we experimented with something called Long Form Ads.

What this means is instead of a simple ad with body text of about 50-75 words, we created an ad with 500-600 words of content complete with headline, copy and call to action.

To our surprise, it worked!

Our cost per engagement was consistently below RM0.10. Sometimes as low as RM0.01.

Why did it work? Not quite sure.

Perhaps users felt “convinced” when we explain in detail what our product is all about.

But I urge all of you to try it in your Facebook campaigns today.

You may start with this basic formula we use for Long Form Ads:

  1. Catchy headline that states the problem
  2. Reaffirm the problem
  3. Mention the solution
  4. Soft sell with call to action
  5. Provide customer testimonials
  6. Remove customer objection
  7. Provide bonus/money back guarantee, if any
  8. Hard sell and provide call to action

Special thanks to Haryzat Zulzahary for this formula.

Additionally, to further improve user experience and conversions, we made improvements to the overall look and feel for the website and app.

We moved from a dark-themed page to a more “happy” page with a lot of white space.

Before:

After:

Still a lot more to be done to further improve conversions and we are tracking this on a daily basis through our funnels and UX tools such as Hotjar.

But we’re getting there!

New products and markets

Credit: Joid.tk

Circa Q1 to Q2, many enquired why didn’t we build a mobile app.

Quite simply the answer was we thought that nobody wanted to download an app for one-time use (house moving).

However, in Q2 we laid groundwork to roll-out a new product – 4×4 (Hilux, Ranger).

4×4 is a very interesting space and an uncharted territory for us (I find myself reciting the “Where no man has gone before” quote while typing this).

Using lorries and vans are somewhat legal as they are commercial vehicles. But 4x4s are a different animal – they are private vehicles of which we are using them for commercial applications.

Very “Uber” like.

With the roll-out of this 4×4 product, we saw the need for consumers as well as small and medium/mom-and-pop shops to use them on a more regular basis. Perhaps to deliver stock to clients and inter-branch movements.

Perhaps, they need an app to book these regular deliveries.

We started hiring for talent and proceeded to build our mobile apps.

Took a few months and Android was finally launched in August.

iOS – two months later in October.

Results?

Super surprising.

4×4 now comprise about 1/3 of all our bookings. While lorries & vans 2/3. A year ago 4×4 did not exist.

We created a new market and a pool of dedicated, hard working partners who now earn additional income using their 4x4s.

And overall, for the most recent month, almost 50% of our bookings comes from both the apps! Our friends at CARPUT too have been surprised by their mobile app engagement.

In hindsight, one of the better decisions we made for 2016.

Knowing our numbers and a costly mistake

“Guys, I don’t think you know your numbers.” 

Early in 2016, we were WHACKED by one of our mentors for not knowing our numbers.

Critical operational numbers such as GP per customer, customer acquisition costs and revenue broke down by division.

We immediately took steps to create a daily Dashboard (now managed by our lovely Data Analyst).

Having this allowed us to understand our numbers more intricately, track our performance, view trends and to sound the bells if a trend was off.

But knowing our numbers doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes.

We made one – a costly one.

Can’t really dive into details on this particular mistake, but safe to say – we would be better off if we had NOT taken the business opportunity.

It was one of those situations where an opportunity knocked and Chee and I, being entrepreneurs, took it on without question.

But it was a field we had no experience in and a clear plan to go unit economics profitable.

Our attitude: “Do first. Think later.”

Credit: Naitsirhc

An attitude which has served us well previously. But in this particular case – not so effective.

We were attracted to the potential growth in top line revenue but did not quite think about the costs.

Oh, we did do financial models to calculate our cost structure and break-even point.

But at the end of the day, things and circumstances change and the model you built 3 months ago were no longer applicable.

Perhaps it’s also our weakness we did not see those changes.

In the end, we ended up in a situation where we selling our service for RM1 and our cost was RM2.

And there was no way for us to increase the price to RM3.

In Q3, we decided to exit the business.

But with more knowledge than ever before.

A year for personal growth

Personally, 2016 has been an amazing year. I’ve learned so much from TheLorryexperience.

It is a year where I got rid of my fears for public speaking – something I used to hate.

But through practice and after doing it a number of times this year, that fear is perhaps 95% gone.

I still get butterflies prior to going on stage, but the moment I’m on the stage – I feel confident as ever.

Side note: I’m only confident if you ask me to talk about TheLorry or entrepreneurship. These topics I can talk till 3am. If you ask me to comment about government policy or politics – don’t think I can do it.

Credit: Anecdote.com

It is also a year where I really learned about people management and leadership, a topic I’ve read so many times via reading John Maxwell’s books but never quite practiced it.

This year, I got to the chance to put it to practice via managing 40-odd people.

If you asked me what is the biggest pain of running a startup – it’s managing your people! It’s a headache, I tell you.

However, with proper delegation as well as clear communication as to vision, goals and KPIs – I’m sure the headache can be reduced. 🙂

Final words

To our partners, thank you for the support given. Without you, there’s no TheLorry today.

To our customers, thank you for the heartfelt reviews, support and recommendation. We truly appreciate it.

To our One Tonners, thank you for being amazing people. I only wish you continue to achieve greater heights next year and please know that Chee and I will be here continue to support you.

Hope you enjoyed this article and do let me know in the comments if you have any questions/feedback. I can be also reached on my Facebook at Nadhir Ashafiq.

Finally, I thank Allah everyday for giving me the chance to build this company and make a difference in people’s lives.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Bring on 2017.

Allah knows best.

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