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EXECUTION Turning the tide in a company where no one knows the difference between Excel and JPEG

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Milos

New Contributor
Jul 11, 2017
22
19
19
Serbia
I'm in a situation where I could greatly influence the future of my uncle's company. The question is, should I even try?

I am not going to be in a position of power mind you, they just wanted me to do the graphic design, because the previous guy left without even notifying them in advance. Because this is a family company, my cousin who is legally the owner, asked me if I would like to achieve more by also doing marketing, expanding the business and so on. The thing is, after they had some ups and downs, they are now settled with short working hours, no big debt, and enough income to be comfy. All of this made them lose ambition, and now every time I propose something out of ordinary, it feels awkward because I am destroying the status quo that everyone is used to.

BTW, the reason this company even survived for 30 years, is because my uncle has this incredible entrepreneurial spark. He is a born entrepreneur, he spent the last 30 years working at least 10-16 hours a day. With the energy invested, he could have built an empire. But he is bad at all other things, like delegating, avoiding employees who are also family and he is not good with tech at all.

So, let's go into detail about what's wrong with the company at the moment. The first thing I am considering is if this is even a right business to run. The company is making t-shirts, jerseys and other textile products. Hardly a fastlane business. They differentiate themselves from competitors with low price, and that of course leads to dealing with people who want something for nothing, and of course it leads to not so good quality. They are very disorganized, use antiquated techniques and run computers with cracked software. For example, where they could use something like google sheets, they use paper and the only legal software the have is Windows XP, other computers use cracked W7.

It is a complete chaos over there, and I actually like it. I have a feeling that is exactly what I need before I start a business on my own. If I could sway them to change the company for the better, I might learn something in the process, and I could gain motivation to venture on my own later.

What do you think? Is it even worth trying, just for experience?
 

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Kevin88660

Silver Contributor
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Feb 8, 2019
858
805
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Singapore
I'm in a situation where I could greatly influence the future of my uncle's company. The question is, should I even try?

I am not going to be in a position of power mind you, they just wanted me to do the graphic design, because the previous guy left without even notifying them in advance. Because this is a family company, my cousin who is legally the owner, asked me if I would like to achieve more by also doing marketing, expanding the business and so on. The thing is, after they had some ups and downs, they are now settled with short working hours, no big debt, and enough income to be comfy. All of this made them lose ambition, and now every time I propose something out of ordinary, it feels awkward because I am destroying the status quo that everyone is used to.

BTW, the reason this company even survived for 30 years, is because my uncle has this incredible entrepreneurial spark. He is a born entrepreneur, he spent the last 30 years working at least 10-16 hours a day. With the energy invested, he could have built an empire. But he is bad at all other things, like delegating, avoiding employees who are also family and he is not good with tech at all.

So, let's go into detail about what's wrong with the company at the moment. The first thing I am considering is if this is even a right business to run. The company is making t-shirts, jerseys and other textile products. Hardly a fastlane business. They differentiate themselves from competitors with low price, and that of course leads to dealing with people who want something for nothing, and of course it leads to not so good quality. They are very disorganized, use antiquated techniques and run computers with cracked software. For example, where they could use something like google sheets, they use paper and the only legal software the have is Windows XP, other computers use cracked W7.

It is a complete chaos over there, and I actually like it. I have a feeling that is exactly what I need before I start a business on my own. If I could sway them to change the company for the better, I might learn something in the process, and I could gain motivation to venture on my own later.

What do you think? Is it even worth trying, just for experience?
Sounds like a good business, as you mentioned they generate enough cash to be comfortable with no big debt.

I disagree about dismissing it has “hardly fastlane”. Not as fast as a perfect software as a service company, which is the perfect representative of a fastlane..but definitely not a slow lane either, for a company that has staff, machines and employee.

Again I also disagree with your criticism that price competition being a bad business model. It works..It has been the theme for the pst decade and likely to continue to be so for the next 15years. The era of premium products are over..in developed countries. Everyone in the developed economies is about penny pinching since the good Good days with stable jobs, ballooning debts And consumption binge is over...Just look at the companies that are winning, Amazon, Uber and Airbnb especially..massive quantities at affordable price. Most premium products business owners are delusional..they are the one who want “a lot of things” while their babies are only special to them and the market doesn’t care.

I will choose this business over drop-shipping, online influncer, selling ebook, digital marketing...at split second.
 

Kevin88660

Silver Contributor
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Feb 8, 2019
858
805
307
Singapore
If I were you I would jump at the opportunity to be part of the business.

Don’t worry too much about making changes now..Earn your place there through making contribution. Once they see your value it is easier to convince and also negotiate your own stakes in the business.

If you miss this chance it could take 5-7 years later for the next.
 

kylebryant04

New Contributor
Apr 15, 2020
8
17
13
Houston, Texas
Sounds like a great opportunity to enter a business with a lot of "pain points" and get first-hand experience on what not to do. And then be able to fix it over time. If you're in a mental position to withstand the inefficiencies and be content knowing you may not be able to change everything at once, this might be a great place to start.

And don't discount textiles as not "fastlane" enough. You can scale the product, and with easy shipping and online ordering, your market is limited only by those people who never wear textile products.
 
OP
OP
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Milos

New Contributor
Jul 11, 2017
22
19
19
Serbia
Thanks for your input, interesting thoughts. What concerns me the most, is that business might not be viable after we start investing into these neglected things. Cash flow is positive with the current setup, but will it be after we start using legal software, better equipment and more educated workers?

What could we do to make up for increased costs? It's either higher prices or more work. But can the current number of employees keep up with more work? That's why I see higher prices as the only possible option. I also want to set up a website, expand into retail and make a web shop for that. Something has to pay for all that marketing, and while small loan can easily cover all that, some new source of income will be needed to cover the loan.

With all that being said, I am actually going all in with this one. First step is to get more wholesale jobs. That I intend to do by going door to door and shamelessly offer the best sportswear that may very well change their life. At the same time I will push for acquisition of a direct to garment printer, so we can jump-start the retail sale of t-shirts for now. I am already building a web shop, but I don't have many products to upload right now.

I hope my theoretic knowledge about marketing and business will get me trough. I read many books that should be helpful in these situations. Some I read more than 10 times.
 
OP
OP
M

Milos

New Contributor
Jul 11, 2017
22
19
19
Serbia
Sounds like a great opportunity to enter a business with a lot of "pain points" and get first-hand experience on what not to do. And then be able to fix it over time. If you're in a mental position to withstand the inefficiencies and be content knowing you may not be able to change everything at once, this might be a great place to start.

And don't discount textiles as not "fastlane" enough. You can scale the product, and with easy shipping and online ordering, your market is limited only by those people who never wear textile products.
Thanks for your reply sir. I'm in my mental prime I think, and I feel like I can conquer any obstacle now. Things that were impossible for me when I was 25, are a joke to me now that I am 29.

I remember Felix Dennis saying that you must become a predator to play this game, and be ready to rip the throat of every gazelle you encounter. That's how I feel right now. People around me live without a purpose, they wander around aimlessly, while I have clear goals and I am ready to hurt people(verbally) in order to push this trough. When someone starts showering me with irrelevant information, I interrupt them and I say I don't give a damn about what they are saying. Never in my life was I this focused.

What worries me about scaling is that this is a mature industry. We will have to go against some established brands if we want to steal some of their pie. Then again, they are established, and probably not that hungry, while I am starving for success. Read my previous reply to Kevin's posts, to learn about some other concerns I have.
 

JohnForte

Software Engineer Ninja
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Dec 12, 2019
59
80
122
New York
Digital transformations are hard and long, but they are awesome! Usually, the companies around those types of companies are also in need of help in the digital world, this is how a lot of consultants get started.
 

Kevin88660

Silver Contributor
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Feb 8, 2019
858
805
307
Singapore
Thanks for your input, interesting thoughts. What concerns me the most, is that business might not be viable after we start investing into these neglected things. Cash flow is positive with the current setup, but will it be after we start using legal software, better equipment and more educated workers?

What could we do to make up for increased costs? It's either higher prices or more work. But can the current number of employees keep up with more work? That's why I see higher prices as the only possible option. I also want to set up a website, expand into retail and make a web shop for that. Something has to pay for all that marketing, and while small loan can easily cover all that, some new source of income will be needed to cover the loan.

With all that being said, I am actually going all in with this one. First step is to get more wholesale jobs. That I intend to do by going door to door and shamelessly offer the best sportswear that may very well change their life. At the same time I will push for acquisition of a direct to garment printer, so we can jump-start the retail sale of t-shirts for now. I am already building a web shop, but I don't have many products to upload right now.

I hope my theoretic knowledge about marketing and business will get me trough. I read many books that should be helpful in these situations. Some I read more than 10 times.
I would say go learn the rope of the business and study if there is a big enough market demand for more expensive version of the T shirt before you do the investment. You can experiment bit by bit without risking what is already working right now.

If the market is has no appetite for more pricy T shirts, you will bleed in your investment in more educated workforce and marketing.

A few years back I was doing wholesaling of made in Malaysia Souvenirs to be sold in Singapore. Not really successful before the Market preferred cheaper version of made in China souvenirs. One retail shop owner told me their best selling product (Across product types) is a two dollar T-Shirt for tourists.

Market purchasing power and consumer preference are things that take at least a decade or generation to change. We business people are there to fight the macro-forces. We are really micro-managers who try to provide the same quality at cheaper prices or better quality at same price (unless you are a bigger player with branding ability or proprietary Technology in a market willing to pay for that premium.)
 

Kevin88660

Silver Contributor
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Feb 8, 2019
858
805
307
Singapore
One idea, I am not sure if it is useful, is that you are not limited by the industry you are in (what products in sell) but by the experience and resources you have in your business.

There was a documentary ten years ago about an ordinary Chinese who become multi millionaire using E-commerce. He was selling some edible fruit melons for consumption. One day he read online that the specific fruit melon(I forgot the type) could be used as a facial mask liquid for ladies as skin care products. He switched to Manufacturing and packaging his own facial mask product/skin care products and sell them online. His business exploded (for months, before his competitors come in and crash his margin down). That was a classical example of switching to another high margin industry easily using his existing expertise.


Again I am not in your industry and I could be wrong, but unless they are athletes or sports fanatics they could be unwilling to pay for premium sports wear. It could be a much smaller market than you think. Could you eventually learn and upgrade the company to produce for uniform personal (police, security or military) or health care workers who demand really good quality and willing to pay for that? My gut intuition is that the less difficult will be selling the business with hard requirement on quality for industry reason, if you want to raise your margin in the long term.
 

Odysseus M Jones

I have a new fan, I want Aircon
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What do you think? Is it even worth trying, just for experience
Go for it!
There's so much potential for you & the company.
It's not like they're in dire straits.

Where they're at now is just like Japanese auto-makers when they entered the western markets, cheap, nasty (they were rot boxes) but fully loaded. Who remembers Honda Civic?
They bought market share & slowly upped their game, now they're premium cars.

Play the long game, Rome wasn't built in a day.

You have such an opportunity.
 
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Milos

New Contributor
Jul 11, 2017
22
19
19
Serbia
Yes, I am totally interested in experimenting with different products. So much so, that I am even thinking about investing into Ethereum mining :), and creating a design studio that would serve the company and also build websites for clients.
 

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OP
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M

Milos

New Contributor
Jul 11, 2017
22
19
19
Serbia
Digital transformations are hard and long, but they are awesome! Usually, the companies around those types of companies are also in need of help in the digital world, this is how a lot of consultants get started.
It's fascinating how inefficiently technology is used here. Just yesterday the tablet that is used for storing images about all garment that leaves the production died. Although those images are deemed important, no backup was in place.

Luckily I was able to turn it on somehow, and install google photos so it can upload old but also future images. The problem is that the part of production where the tablet is doesn't have access to internet, so that's something I will try to temporarily solve now by using some wifi USB adapters.

Also, the woman who takes these pictures wastes time by transferring photos from the phone that she takes pictures with, to the tablet by using bluetooth. The reason tablet is used is because it has more storage space. All of that can be made easier by just using the smartphone for taking pics, and with google photos the tablet is not even needed.
 
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M

Milos

New Contributor
Jul 11, 2017
22
19
19
Serbia
Go for it!
There's so much potential for you & the company.
It's not like they're in dire straits.

Play the long game, Rome wasn't built in a day.

You have such an opportunity.
The biggest worry of mine, as I mentioned already is that the current setup works temporarily because money is saved on some pretty essential stuff. 10 years ago they already got fined for using cracked software, and although XP was bought after that, we now have 3 Windows 7 installations that are cracked, together with Corel and some other programs. The main printer has been modified, so it can use cheaper paint. The workers although not underpaid, get some part of their salary in cash, so the least amount of tax is paid.

I just hope those bad practices can be fixed, without raising costs so much that the business stops being viable.
 
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Milos

New Contributor
Jul 11, 2017
22
19
19
Serbia
There has been some new development, which I am not sure I like. Inspired by my desire to shake things up a bit, my cousin who is the owner decided to get involved in all of this more. The thing is, he has possibly lost focus already. Let me explain.

I wanted us to use better pictures for social media, and of course maintain social media pages more. Pics used so far were taken on the go, with no consideration for lighting or background. I proposed we just take pictures outside, when the lighting is good, and afterwards I would just remove the background and make it white. After showing him some sample pictures, my cousin was impressed, but he believes we should make them even better.

So he gets someone else involved, a graphic designer who makes the pictures even more awesome by replacing the white background with some custom cool looking stuff. Do the pictures look cool with custom backgrounds? Sure, it's impressive, but is it necessary? I don't think so. We are selling products, not those pictures. I think product should be the only thing that impresses you, not the background. The background should only serve to make the product stand out. Also, he wants to include a professional photographer as well, so the pictures are even better.

What do you think? Pictures taken with my smartphone, that are great and have their background removed in seconds. Or pictures that are also great, but with a cool background, professional photographer and of course more people involved.

I think by doing all this, the best he can achieve is those pics will be 10-20% better. But involving more people and making the process more lengthy, will also make them more expensive.
 

Shazelle

New Contributor
Apr 13, 2020
7
6
11
Staffordshire
Sounds like a great opportunity to enter a business with a lot of "pain points" and get first-hand experience on what not to do. And then be able to fix it over time. If you're in a mental position to withstand the inefficiencies and be content knowing you may not be able to change everything at once, this might be a great place to start.

And don't discount textiles as not "fastlane" enough. You can scale the product, and with easy shipping and online ordering, your market is limited only by those people who never wear textile products.
The only thing I would add to this, beware of falling down the it's family rabbit hole. They could come to rely on you and you'll need to move on with your plan. Be really clear that you are on loan, but you are not going to waste your time if they don't want to move things
 
OP
OP
M

Milos

New Contributor
Jul 11, 2017
22
19
19
Serbia
The only thing I would add to this, beware of falling down the it's family rabbit hole. They could come to rely on you and you'll need to move on with your plan. Be really clear that you are on loan, but you are not going to waste your time if they don't want to move things
Truth is, I don't like family businesses at all. But I hope this could work for a while. Long term I have my own plans, which are more focused on technology and emerging markets.
 

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