Business Interview – Clear Sky Communications with John Groot

Today we’d like to introduce a new interview series to introduce our Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan business members to the general community.

If you’d like to interview with us for our business interview series, please email us at info@cancham.tw with the subject line “CCCT Business Interview”.

To kick off this series, we have an interview for you with Mr. John Groot, owner of Clear Sky Communications based in Taipei.

CCCT: Thanks for joining us today, John. Can you tell us a little about yourself?John Groot

I used to be a journalist back in Canada. I’ve been working here in Taiwan as a trainer for 14 years. Last year I finished a project where I walked around the entire coastline of Taiwan.

CCCT: Can you tell us a little about your business?

We’re a small training and consulting company, a bit of a boutique business. We do customized programs that include business English training for teams with a specific purpose, like marketing teams, IT teams, sales teams etc., as well as some more interesting programs like cross-cultural communication. We also do writing and editing work, like technical editing, online articles, and also some curriculum design.

CCCT: How did you get started with Clear Sky Communications?

Well, I had been working as a freelancer for a while, and had a chance to do a big project for a major ICT brand. But I needed to issue them an official tax receipt, so we incorporated. After that, things just snowballed.

CCCT: Can you describe your customers?

They’re a pretty diverse group. I’ve worked for many of the biggest ICT brands, some less well known Taiwanese tech firms, big pharma companies, and lots of individuals. I’ve had some private clients who were newly arrived business people who wanted to get a cultural orientation to Taiwan. I’ve done training for the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei’s trade assistants. I guess the common thread is that they all have an international focus.

CCCT: Would you mind answering how you set your business up here in Taiwan?

I set up the business with my wife, as it was the easiest way to do it.

CCCT: Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? In the next ten years?

Over the next 2-4 years we hope to become one of the top customized training companies in Taiwan. Our plan is NOT to hire more employees, expand, and compete for market share with established players, but rather to follow the small team approach and go for higher-level training opportunities.

CCCT: Is there anything about your company that you feel makes it special? Clear Sky Communications Taipei

We really take the time to get to know what senior managers want, what HR wants, and what the trainees want. Then when we deliver the program, it is almost always very close to what everyone actually needs. If it isn’t, we can correct course very quickly. This is actually rarer in the training business than you might think.

We can do all this because the trainer, the training program designer, and the contact window are one person, myself. So I can get to know everyone and don’t operate at a distance from decision makers or end users. I think this helps us deliver a special level of customized service.

CCCT: Thanks, John. We look forward to seeing you out at a CCCT event some day soon! Good luck!

Business Links

http://www.clearskycommunications.tw/

https://www.facebook.com/clearskycommunications

If you’d like to interview with us for our business interview series, please email us at info@cancham.tw with the subject line “CCCT Business Interview”.

Common Mistakes Made by New Business Owners in Taiwan

Jumping In With Both Feet – Common Mistakes Made by New Business Owners in Taiwan

Last month, the CCCT Small Business Committee launched its second event, which was aimed at sharing common mistakes that are made by new business owners in Taiwan.

The CCCT’s Small Business Committee’s objective is to host events that are of interest to members while supporting our small business members. Thus, some of our event locations might not be held in a traditional setting, but we are achieving our goal of supporting local businesses in Taiwan. You do not need to be a member or be Canadian to join our events, but if you would like to host an event, you must be a CCCT member.

We had five guest speakers speak to a packed house on October 9th at DV8 in Taipei.

We opened with a great discussion on a few questions that plague new business owners. Is this something I can make money on? Will it work?

No one can just look at an idea and know if it will fly, but we have gathered a group of experienced business owners here in Taiwan that can certainly be able to offer some help and advice.

Market Research – Know the lay of the land in terms of where you want to launch your business. Ask yourself – Is it being done by someone else? If it’s not, there’s probably a good reason for it. Find successful and profitable business models and then add your unique spin on things. A million-dollar idea is typically based on what others have done, just make sure you do it uniquely so you can go farther. Become so familiar with your market research that you know the pros and cons in your field.

Who is the best? What are the mistakes people are making? What are customers asking for? Knowing the answers to these basic questions means avoiding less mistakes down the road.

Find out what the need is and if it’s within your ability to do so. Make sure you provide an excellent customer experience, offer amazing customer service, and make sure you show that you care about your customers.

John Kellenberger, Owner of Reach To Teach Recruiting – Topic: Financial ConsiderationsTeach in Taiwan with Reach To Teach

John has set up two businesses through JusRegal. He has also advised a number of individuals who are interested in starting a small business here. Here are some of the points he touched upon during his presentation:

  • Not having enough cash reserves
  • Sustaining your business through an unexpected difficulty (Example: Dealing with the Georgian Ministry of Education
  • Doing careful projections for your business (preparing for it not to go right – profit projections)
  • Shorting yourself on compensation
  • New owners tend to put everything back into the business and short themselves if the business hits a hard patch. If you plan properly like we mentioned before this hopefully won’t be necessary. Shorting your own income can lead to a whole host of issues.
  • Not realizing all of the cost of setting up a business
  • Registration costs – $30 to $40k,
  • Capital – APRC 100k, ARC 500k (ARC also has revenue standards for 1 year)
  • Office Rent – virtual, service, separate
  • Employee costs (health, pension, labor, employment insurance)
  • Insurance for business goods
  • We recommend using Vincent Kao at JusRegal CPA Firm. JusRegal JusRegal 200is Taiwan’s Exclusively Licensed Immigration CPA Firm.

John Groot, Founder of Clear Sky Communications – Topic: Mistakes Made Because of Cultural DifferencesClear Sky Communications logo

John talked about losing an important business friend. Having friends in business is important everywhere, but in few countries is this truer than Taiwan. But when a business contact, especially a VIP, says that they are your friend, what does that mean? I had and lost such a friend in Taiwan, a C level IT executive for a large enterprise that helped me set up training contracts among his contacts.

He could have helped me a lot more, had I not made a fatal mistake. Not a blunder, it was a culturally based misunderstanding. But it made me realize that it is not just important to know who your friends are, but what that friendship means to them. Hopefully this example can help entrepreneurs avoid similar mistakes, and have better relationships with their key business partners and patrons.

Josh Yang, General Manager, Able-Intl Products – Topic: Mistakes made with import and retail businesses in Taiwan

  • Employ a scientific process for selecting potential products (i.e. the look, features, price) This will enhance the likelihood of introducing a successful product to market.
  • Keep reasonably small inventory when products are still new on the market. I can’t stress enough the importance of having cash reserve.
  • Ask around for the market price before joining a trade show. If you don’t know what the average prices people are paying for a booth, you might end up paying more than others.
  • Have a good mix of chain store and independent store customers. Independent stores give you the cash you need, but chain stores might give you the sales volume, but longer terms of payment and takes you more resources.
  • Differences between importing Canadian vs American goods. You have more US suppliers / products, better prices, more boats coming from the US, better freight rates etc., but, more consumers here have better perception about Canadian products.

Joe O’Brien, Managing Director White Fox Global Co. Ltd – Topic: Timing and scheduling of imported items

Joe will talk about timing and how to figure out when things need to be processed for importing and exporting.

Andrew Lunman, Restauranteur, Owner of Coda, Bongers, Forkers, and Eat Smart – Topic: Setting Up Your Restaurant Legally

Andrew touched briefly upon the topic of setting up a restaurant correctly and which license to apply for, as well as stressing why you should set your business up in your name.

NOTE FROM THE CCCT SMALL BUSINESS COMMITTEE

We are always looking for guest speakers, so please get in touch with us at info@cancham.tw. If you’d like to get involved in future small business events through the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan.

Would you like to be a speaker at one of our events?