Experts are Dangerous

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Experts connotes superiority and credibility. When the source of information comes from expert, we are very inclined to believe them, even more so when the expert’s last name is followed by a long list of credentials

And we would be foolish to question the experts. They’ve gone through so much trouble to produce the facts that you are reading now- extensive research, long period of observation and funded heavily by well-established corporations

Only problem is we don’t often get to evaluate or read about these experiments, or at least it’s not explained in a way that it’s easy for the average Joe to understand.

When in doubt, we always take the expert’s word for it. Even Mum could sometimes be wrong.

2016-11-24T02:53:54+00:00 November 24th, 2016|Daily Observations|0 Comments

Reboot

It’s been quite a while since I wrote anything on this space.

There’s always an excuse for not doing something, but let’s just say writing on Meshio.com has become a low priority. And why am I getting back here now? Maybe I find Facebook too much of a distraction. And Twitter is too restrictive. But I find that I do need to get back to writing, as part of a mental exercise.

Let’s see how this goes.

2016-11-22T14:38:07+00:00 November 22nd, 2016|Daily Observations|0 Comments

Charting the Future

Though not much of a business plan writer, I recently realized the importance of having a plan for what you want to achieve in your entrepreneurship journey. While it’s true that we cannot predict what will happen tomorrow, that doesn’t mean we can use it as an excuse not to chart the path of where the enterprise will be 10 years down the road.

And while I was fantasizing about where to bring the company, I begin to think along the line of life goals and business goals. I believe we should always put the life goals before the business goals. Not that business goals are less important, but if your business goals are not supporting what you want to with your life, what’s the point then?

To create a valuable business, at least in monetary terms, it could easily take anywhere between 5 to 10 years. And if I am to live to 60 years old, that would be about 8% of my life allocated into this pursuit. My grandpa lived to a ripe age of 98 years old though. So, it becomes pretty obvious that there should be some correlation between what you want to with your life as well as your business.

If one of my goals is to travel the world, it would make sense that my business would allow me to do that at least once every year. It could be a business trip or just a simple getaway, but if my business cannot allow me to even take a few days off, perhaps I am building a business that my life will hate.

I am going to put off my business goals for now while I work on the check list for my life.

2016-01-21T00:37:35+00:00 January 21st, 2016|Entrepreneurship|0 Comments

Malaysia Online Marketplaces

It seems everyone wants to play the markeplace game. Who doesn’t?

A marketplace is extremely scalable. You don’t own inventories, you don’t need to spend money on warehouses and security. You don’t need to hire people to pick and pack. A wonderful business model. But like any businesses, if what you offer is pretty much the same thing your competitors offer, it won’t be long you start playing the price war game to get market shar. That’s when you start racing your way to the bottom of the food chain.

If you have been selling on Etsy, you would realize these people are not just out to make money on your transactions or to use your sales data against you (marketplaces are known to source products that are hot-selling and compete against their own sellers). Etsy is serious about helping sellers make a living.

Etsy made a compelling product for the supply side of the marketplace, the supply then unlocked the demand through white hat social media. Etsy’s incredible organic channel is the entrepreneurial drive of its sellers.

The underlying strength of this organic channel is evidenced by Etsy’s repeat purchase rate. That is, the majority of Etsy’s GMS is generated from repeat purchases. Incredibly, in 2014, 78% of purchases were from repeat customers.

Higher revenues for sellers => Higher seller retention => Higher seller personal promotion through social media => Higher visibility for Etsy’s products => Higher GMS => IPO

Nicolò Ungari, What Etsy’s S1 Filing Taught Me About Marketplaces

I totally agree with >Nicolò. And from my experience, eBay is exactly the opposite of Etsy and that’s why eBay is becoming irrelevant in today’s e-commerce marketplace.

On another note, Etsy has seldom, if ever asked their sellers to offer their products at deep discount to attract customers. They understood the economics of things. You cannot keep giving discounts and expect to run a healthy long term business. Let’s face it, all business needs profit to survive and thrive. But marketplaces in Malaysia doesn’t seem to think so- they are always offering vouchers, deep discounts and pricing gimmicks just to get the transaction, often at the expenses of their merchants.

If you are doing your business so you can win the title for ‘The Most Popular Merchant on ABC Marketplace’, by all means keep offering discounts and reduce your margins. If you are like most of the other normal business, then I strongly suggest that you be very careful with the marketing campaigns these marketplaces are requesting you to participate.

You should continue to sell on online marketplaces as long as it justifies the resources you invest in them.

I have been selling on major marketplaces, and the good ones will make sure sellers can thrive using their platform. Because in the grand scheme of things, as an online marketpalce, your merchants are also your customers.

2015-10-11T18:18:52+00:00 October 11th, 2015|E-Commerce, Entrepreneurship|2 Comments

Training vs Education

It’s easy and actually quite common to interpret that both training and education means the same thing. But as we shall read it from Thomas E. Ricks, the author of The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today, training and education is 2 very different things:

Training tends to prepare one for known problems, while education better prepares one for the unknown, the unpredictable, and the unexpected.

Training is very much like a step-by-step exercise repeated continuously to achieve an expected result. Think of it like a simulation with predefined objectives, with the set of challenges known and familiar to the participant. Usually, it’s also expected for the participant to engage training exercises within confined rules and regulations. The desired outcome is when the participant becomes very competent tactically in the given challenges.

Consider another scenario where a Susan, a six year old child, is enrolled in a coloring exercise. In an effort to train her to become very good at coloring, she was told not to color outside the lines. Next, she was told that she must color based on the example given (the objective). The grass must be light green in color. The sky must be blue. The trunk of the tree must be brown. Any variations from the example, the exercise is considered a failure.

Everyday as part of her training regime, Susan is given new coloring exercises and taught many different coloring techniques to achieve the desired outcome. And these exercises are often repeated until she masters the technique, which is evaluated by how close her results are to the examples given. Eventually, she becomes very skillful in most of the coloring techniques and she can reliably reproduce the outcomes that is expected of her. Susan is now a very well-trained colorist.

Next, we look into the realms of education, which may sound very similar to training but is essentially a very different form of cognitive exercise. In education, you are given a lot of contextual information. In our coloring example, the child is taught about primary, secondary and tertiary colors. She also learn about warm and cool colors complementary colors. She is also taught that black and white are not really colors (this is a highly debatable topic, depending on which color theory you are coming from). She also learns how colors affect our moods and give meanings to our every lives.

In short, education seems like learning a whole bunch of theories, so much so that the student sometimes would start to doubt if it’s really necessary to be so educated in the practical world we live in. However, it is only with a good understanding of theories, an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter and a habit of constantly questioning the status quo that we can hope to confront the unpredictable and randomness of real-world challenges.

Training puts you in a box and asks you to give your very best within the boundaries. Education informs you that though the problem is about the box, the solution is likely outside the box.

If your sixteen year-old daughter told you that she was going to take a sex education course at high school, you might be pleased. What if she announced she was going to take part in some sex training at school?

Jay Cross, credited with inventing the term e-learning

So, are you well-trained or well-educated? Maybe you have the best of both worlds :-)

2015-10-08T02:09:05+00:00 October 8th, 2015|Daily Observations, Productivity|0 Comments

OpenCart Extension: Total Import Pro & Special Characters

OpenCart

If you are using OpenCart and you have like 1000+ inventories, you will do yourself a great favor by using this tool called “Total Import Pro” written by these great people @ HostJars.com. You can thank me later.

As with all great piece of software, you also get your share of annoying little bugs that somehow got shipped along with the good stuff. And today, I just wrote to them about the possibility that their importer could be causing special HTML characters not parsed correctly in OpenCart.

Hi Guys/Gals,

I’ve been using Total Import Pro for the past 3 years, and I must say you guys have saved hours of my life. For that, I would like to thank you for such a great piece of software.

However, I recently noticed a Total Import bug that would eat up at least 50 hours of my life if I am to fix them manually. So, I really want to reach out to you and hope you can once again save my life (50 hours of it).

Here’s what happened:

1) I have a product with the title “K&N Performance Air Filter 33-2922”. Notice the special character & in there.

2) When I import using Total Import Pro, what happen next is, I am not able to find the product after I type the character “K”. So, imagine the number of products I have with the starting letter K…

3) However, I could fix the problem if I manually save the product again using OpenCart. Somehow when I save using OpenCart, the ampersand is properly parsed in the database as a valid character. In other words, when I import using Total Import Pro, the symbol ampersand is not treated as such.

4) This also leads to the problem of generating a valid sitemap for Google, because each time I tried to load my sitemap, Chrome will tell me the “Sitemap is not well-formed”. Well-formed or not, I am not looking for a kick-ass, bootylicious XML, but at least one that will not return any errors when parsing special characters in the product title.

As such, I would really appreciate it if you could tell me how I can import my products with the special characters registered normally in OpenCart.

Name a price for 50 hours of my life.

I will post it up here once I get a response from them.

*****

And on Sep 22, I got a reply from Matt of Hostjars.com

Thanks for getting in touch! It looks like you have discovered a bug, as we offer bug fixes for free this will not cost you anything to have fixed! In fact, our developers have just released a patch for this issue this morning. It is still undergoing our internal review process, but to save you any further delay while this happens I am going to send you a copy of the latest version of Total Import PRO which contains this fix.

Follow the installation instructions and overwrite your existing files to update your installation.

Once you have updated please try your import again and let me know if you have any further problems.

Warm regards,

Matt
HostJars

Can’t wait to install the new patch on my OpenCart.

2015-09-23T19:20:16+00:00 September 17th, 2015|E-Commerce, OpenCart|0 Comments