Running Your China Business From Outside of China with Rico Ngoma

Michael MicheliniBusiness, Ecommerce, Podcast1 Comment

Welcome back to Global From Asia- our first interview in our re-launch – Global From Asia 2.0 – and I am ready more than ever to make MOVES and get everyone rocking and rolling.

Today we are talking about leaving China. I know, I left China last year. But Rico and I – we are not China haters. Man, I love China – my wife is Chinese and my kids are halfies.

But for many of us- we are not “China for Life” (Ok, Zack Franklin, you’re a China 4 Life guy) – for some who never go to China – who buy off Alibaba or use a sourcing agent like Rico or Insight Quality – or come for the trade shows or a factory visit. For others (heck, even me) we go for some time and then setup operations there and have it run remotely.

And that is what Rico has done / is in the process of doing. And today we talk about that, so let’s tune in. After the show I’ll share my story of coming to China and how long I planned to stay.

Now let’s talk about the Transition to Managing a China Sourcing Operation Remotely

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • Intro Rico

    You’ve been on a few times – and I’ve been on your show a few times – Made in China podcast, how are you?

  • Mike’s Time Out Of China

    Been over six months as of the recording, and Rico you’re now transitioning to spending less time in China. But it’s all love – no hate – I miss China in a lot of ways.

  • Unexpected Benefits when leaving China

    Rico found some nice perks while networking once out of China.

  • Grooming a COO, Office Manager

    Rico’s experience in building up a team and a manager.

  • Roles and KPI for this Chinese Manager

    What is her job? (KPI is key performance indicators)

  • Compensation for the China Partner (Is it partner?)

    How are you keeping her interested and invested for the long term?

  • Mike’s Concerns From Previous Guests

    Discussing Steve Marsh’s lawsuit in China with his previous staff. Warning Rico a bit and Rico’s response.

  • Managing Financials - Remotely

    A challenge is money flow – when you’re not in China – how do you deal with it?

  • What Rico is Up to Now - and In Manila, Philippines

    Let’s learn what Rico is up to now.

People / Companies / Resources Mentioned in this Episode

√ Rico’s Business- Source Find Asia (read GFA review here)
Four Hour Work Week book
√ Podcasts Mike was on in Source Find Asia – Made in China podcast
√ Andy Church’s Insight Quality (GFA Review here)
√ Neat HK (GFA Review here)
√ AureliaPay – Now GoRemitHK (GFA Review here)
√ Mike’s book – Destination China

Episode Length 57:51

That is a wrap. I mentioned I have interviews already done and wasn’t sure the order. We have some other fun and informative ones coming too – so make sure you subscribe (or re-subscribe) and bring things back better than ever.

And for those who listen to the audio, I’ll be sharing at the end of this mp3 the story of how long I planned to stay in China and what actually happened, enjoy.

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Show Transcription


Episode 246 of Global from Asia. Welcome to the global from Asia podcast where the daunting process of running an international business is broken down into straight-up actionable advice. And now your host Michael Michelini. Welcome back. Thanks for tuning in to GFA2.0 and this will be our first interview show.

[00:00:27] I got a few lined up and we are rocking and rolling and today is talking about leaving China. And I know many of you know, I left.. fall last year, maybe summer and I’m in Thailand. And so.. I love China. I don’t know where actually the future next the next show. I think I’m trying to decide which interviews to put which but next week’s will be about somebody that  can’t leave China and it’ll be an interesting one, but this one’s about leaving China.

[00:01:02] We have Rico our buddy at Made in China podcast and he’s been transitioning his time out of China. He chose Manila I chose Thailand and it’s it’s um. It’s not it’s not about you know, I know a lot of times people anywhere. I mean..patriotic Americans patriotic Chinese sometimes take offense to it.

[00:01:24] I don’t think either of us are saying we don’t like being there. I love the hustle. I mean, honestly, I’m getting a little bit lazier in Thailand. It’s just hard if you don’t get that. Intense construction and action 24/7. I mean maybe New York City’s got that City never sleeps feeling but China’s inconsistent like money feeling like everybody’s trying to make as much money as possible surrounding you and you just get that feeling but I do miss that I mean that was what attracted me to it.

[00:01:53] But today we’re we’re going to be talking about it and about the business side running a business that is revolving around China. He does sourcing and and procurement and how he found a partner Chinese partner, which I did warn a little bitter. I have some worries. We’ve had some other guests like Steve Marsh in previous episodes that has had those issues will link it up on the show notes if you want to listen to his two part

[00:02:22] Series of his his but his negative experience of having a staff member that decided to go off on his own and take a customer database but there’s a lot of these worries it can happen anywhere maybe or it can happen anywhere. So we are you know, I did kind of have the little bit of my friend advisor hat on talking to Rico and I hope that makes it interesting.

[00:02:48] But today we’re going to talk about it and I don’t think in most foreigners don’t live in China forever. I mean, I guess if I think Zach Franklin’s listening and appreciate that buddy, I think you’re trying to for life. I don’t know. Maybe maybe I used to think as some parts. I thought maybe I was trying to for life, but it’s hard to predict if we’re a lifer or not.

[00:03:12] So today hopefully you enjoy some people maybe they never think could even go to China a lot of you know, e-commerce sellers Amazon sellers friends, bit traders that have never stepped foot in China either for personal reasons or business reasons or whatever reason and they were able to operate business, you know buying from China some have done it longer than others and I did a little over 10.

[00:03:36] I’ll share I’ll share I don’t want to.. bit longer than usual at the end. I’ll do a five or ten minute talk about my time coming into China and leaving if you’re interested. You can wait till the end for that but let’s go into Rico interview. We get some juicy tips and insights about, you know, managing your company that might be a revolving around China while you’re not there.

[00:03:59] Also quick note. Rico is going to be partaking in our Global from Asia boot camp this July. He’ll be hanging out between the seventh to the 13th in Chiang Mai. So I’m really excited to have Rico support and be part of this to help you guys get to next level with your Amazon and your e-commerce business.

[00:04:20] And you can check us out at for his info to schedule and lots more info. Let’s dive in 246 of Global from Asia. Are you looking to grow your international business from Asia? Amazon FBA import export in cross border e-commerce are trends in today’s world, especially here at Global from Asia and we put together an e-course ebook both actually all together for you for free with some fast track getting you going global from Asia.

[00:04:56] Check it out at, you’ll get the book as well as an interactive e-course that will be catered based on how you answered the email series so I look forward to seeing you on the inside. Check it out Thank you everybody for tuning into GlobalfromAsia podcast.

[00:05:18] We have with this how did.. we’ve been on so many different shows together. I can’t remember but you know Rico reached on our YouTube channel your podcasts like my podcast here multiple multiple multiple podcast, but it’s it’s great, you know getting this getting GFA started up again and you’ll be one of our first.

[00:05:37] group of guests. So course gotta get Rico on thanks for joining us today. Yeah, I’m and always always happy to talk to you and talk to your audience, you know just happy like I was talking about in the previous episode as yet again I mean the reason part of the reason why I’m in China and part of the reason why I started a podcast is because of GlobalfromAsia’s podcasts.

[00:05:57] So, you know. Awesome. Always happy to..he’s funny. Thanks, buddy. And and yeah, so a little bit about you your you’re running a obviously sourcing of course, you got your Made in China podcast highly recommend people head on over and subscribe. You also have a YouTube channel, but besides the contents there’s always got to be the business.

[00:06:16] That’s almost been my mistake. Sometimes it’s just too much content not enough business, but you’re running like a pretty well established now sourcing agency is that what I would say? Yes sourcing consulting company. Yeah based in Guangzhou we have how big is our team now? So we scaled back last year, but then because I wanted to focus more on having part-time people because you know how you know projects fluctuate up and down.

[00:06:41] So having full time people something that people don’t know about China’s I guess not very easy to once you have somebody on a one-year contract. It’s not very easy to to let them go. So kind of change the strategy so we have three full-time people and then another three part-time people. So we have four people in the Guangzhou office and then we have two people up in northern China.

[00:07:05] Literally working in a factory on a daily basis and then I have a couple editors in the Philippines video and podcast that…. Yeah, that’s great. It’s great to see. Yeah. I mean we could link up to all these different shows to that compares podcasts blow to CCU develop and I’m happy to hear GFA.

[00:07:25] was part of the beginnings and view to get where you are at today. So there’s so much to talk about and I’m sure we’ll drop some other nuggets, but I think we want to kind of focus on both kind of fully migrate out of China, I think as a first recording you’re in the process of spending more time out of China, is that correct?

[00:07:47] Yeah. I mean last year I spent the most amount of time traveling just being out of the office like whether it was flying around China or flying outside of China, but mostly around China so that kind of got me thinking. I’m at a stage right now where I don’t necessarily have to be in an office in the daily basis and we have all these we have slack and Zoho projects and Google Drive and WeChat as well.

[00:08:11] So it’s like. You know, a lot of the communication is done through those channels and file sharing through those channels like so I was saying okay, you know things have been smooth and I didn’t have any issues with me being outside of the office as frequently as I was and then a lot of my friends have left, you know Harrison and Carl. Harrison’s now I think right now he’s in he’s in Hong Kong, but he’s going to be in Thailand for a few months. Carl’s back in the US.

[00:08:37] So it just kind of got me thinking. My plan has always been to get to get the business to Stage part of why I want to start a company is to have freedom to travel and live my life the way I want to live and I was like, I think I’m at a stage where that could be a reality in the next six months to a year.

[00:08:54] So my goal this year one of my goals is to promote my project manager. She’s probably going to become the CEO of the company if she had certain key performance indicators and then I need to set up some banking stuff where I can make sure they can get money into China without without too many issues.

[00:09:16] And I want to spend at least two to three months outside of China specifically in Manila and the next year I’ll probably spend half of the year because I still obviously still want to be here still want to be developing the business and all that stuff and I think I need to be back and forth. So yeah, it’s kind of its kind of where im at. Awesome.

[00:09:36] Great. There’s the.. I think we can almost kind of give a good outline for the show. If I think I think we both want to make sure for of course there’s always going to be people can interpret things as they want. But I think I think you would agree. I’m the I actually miss China been out now as far as recording this.. over half a year not year.. the end of the summer, but I left and moved out.

[00:10:00] Permanently end of August 2018 and you are you know, you’re starting at now in 2019, but I, I don’t didn’t sound like I’m a hater. I don’t want I don’t want to say like I couldn’t wait to leave but there’s a lot of things I really miss and I really enjoyed in China the hustle and energy right like that.

[00:10:22] Just at drive like you just feel like it’s the beating heart of people trying to make money, you know, I got kind of a kind of but you know, I think we both have that special part of China and I think today’s show maybe we can just almost talked about using using that to maybe find what you’re enjoying in life in business because there’s obviously so much opportunity still I was seeing in China, but what do you think of that?

[00:10:48] I mean, I’m going to be yeah for sure. I mean, I’m going to be coming back to China for the rest of my life as long as you know, things are okay but yeah, I think China’s.. Does nothing because it’s such a unique place. There’s no other country like it the the level of expansion and the business that’s going on here.

[00:11:08] You know, it’s just no one else can really replicate what’s going on and the energy like you said. Every time I go to another place another city, even some of the larger ones maybe like Hong Kong is probably you know, one of the few places that also has an energy but the household the seven days a week the working 12 hours 14 hours a day, you know people just trying to make money on a really high level or even on a smaller scale like in the markets and stuff like that.

[00:11:35] It’s just there’s nothing else like it and the entrepreneurship everybody’s an entrepreneur basically, like everybody has an entrepreneurship mentality. Which is infectious true that true true true. So I also think it’s important for for listeners. I know we’re not totally location-independent, you know podcasts or you know industry really but you know, I think both your your audience in mind are of course entrepreneurs business owners.

[00:12:09] World Travelers, I think is also a little bit sometimes better to diversify diversifying your geography diversify in your your lifestyle as well. So I think it’s also something to keep in mind for everybody to to also keep that in mind. So was that always the..was it always your plan? Like is this like when you was this the plan like come in spend some time get out or at least less time.

[00:12:40] Yeah. Yeah. I mean I consider myself a 4-Hour Work week baby. So I mean I read the 4-Hour workweek when I was 19, second year second year of college and it just it just resonated with me that idea that you know, you could be location independent and travel to multiple..and and the idea of just like picking the place that.

[00:13:04] picking the place that treats you the best, you know, so like I don’t know what it’s like to live in in Italy. I don’t know what it’s like to live in Brazil. I don’t know what it’s like to live in Cambodia or you know any of these countries so it’s like I need to see what that’s like if I go spend three to six months in these places and I get a feel for what it would be like for me to live there.

[00:13:24] Maybe I fall in love with the country. Maybe that’s the best place for me personally. So that’s always been the goal was like I want to go to China that will allow me to be in Southeast Asia southeast Asia and travel to all these different places for vacation and stuff like that. But at the same time build my business and then eventually get to a stage where I can then start spending six months in this place six months here.

[00:13:45] Six months there and then figure out, you know, it’s just maybe I fall in love with one of those places and maybe that’s the place that suits me the most so the goal was always to you know, move to China start a business and part of part of the reason why I chose Guangzhou is because I’d be in Southeast Asia and I’d be in proximity to all these cool places like Thailand and the Philippines and that would allow me to take small trips while I’m building up the business then eventually get to a stage where I can run the business remotely.

[00:14:15] And you know, I think Andy Church has like the perfect situation where he has his Shenzhen office. He has an EU office and he flies in every quarter to have meetings with his team and do quarterly reviews and then check up on the factories. That’s kind of where I want to end up in a, you know, two to three years.

[00:14:35] So, you know, the first step is and I’m from the beginning of the business. I’ve always tried to be systematic I’ve always tried to create create SOPs and systems where somebody else who comes in who has no experience can kind of pick up where pick up and do the things that I do on a regular basis, so.

[00:14:54] Yeah, I think I’m beginning to see the fruits of that labor at the stage. Great. Yeah, it’s great to hear man. So actually one thing that you mentioned that I wanted to touch on was you talked about sometimes it’s good to diversify, you know, your surroundings and things like that. And that was actually I just I just came off of a month in Manila and one of my goals was to see if I could meet entrepreneurs that were entrepreneurs that would basically inspire me or give me different ideas.

[00:15:22] And I ended up meeting a community in BGC. One of the guys is Mark as as we can your partner and what was cool because because I was.. I met entrepreneurs that were in adjacent spaces to me. So digital marketers, guys were selling on Amazon. Mark specifically who invests in Amazon businesses. And it’s like it’s related but it’s not exactly what I’m doing.

[00:15:47] So I was picking their brain and I’m learning from them and they’re introducing me to potential clients. And then on the flip side, they were like, I don’t know anybody in China who does what you do. I need you or I my friend might need you. So then it is like a mutual thing and and then it gives me more ideas was like well if I.

[00:16:06] If spending two to three weeks in BGC means meeting these people what happens if I’m here for six months who are the kind of people that I’m gonna meet, how is that going to build my business? And how is that going to benefit my company? True. So yeah, I mean, obviously I’m going there for lifestyle reasons, but I’m also expanding my business I’m also expanding my network.

[00:16:25] Nice. Yeah, I agree with that. I mean I think a lot of times people would be doing doing sourcing and business with China to get a lot more clients and and leads when they’re out of China, I know that a lot of people told me the same so that’s that’s great to hear. Yeah, people always want to meet someone in person.

[00:16:43] Right? Like especially when they’re dealing when you’re dealing with some of the numbers that some of these guys were talking about six-figure mid six-figure orders, you know seven-figure businesses. I’ve never had a client who was a six to seven figure client who I didn’t well.. seven-figure client that I didn’t have to meet in person before we started working together.

[00:17:06] So they would fly into China or I met them in Hong Kong stuff like that. So it’s just I guess when you’re doing business on that level, it’s like yeah, you do want to meet them in person. They don’t want to just like go on a website and pay for a service. You know, awesome. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, I agree.

[00:17:23] I means it’s B2B right because it’s about relationships and trust specially these larger transactions and long-term relationships and and they’re real. Of course, they’re especially yeah product-based business is the obviously the product is as the business so they got to get good product and and feel comfortable about getting it on a long consistent long-term basis.

[00:17:45] So that’s great. To hear one point, I definitely am interested to hear about his management. So you mentioned you’re developing somebody in your team to be like COO and you have these KPIs in place. I’d love to hear more about the process of did you it was that always again like it was that always the plan?

[00:18:03] Did you have something? Is that what she was expecting? I’m getting… No, I mean she just kind of she’s grown into the role. Right? I think one of the biggest issues in Southeast Asia well specifically China. If you’re running a service-based business is that a lot of our work is based on customer service and client facing stuff.

[00:18:25] So my concern was always that. Do I hire do I bring in a foreigner to to take on the COO role or do I promote internally and the worry was like yeah, you know what happens if there’s an issue and you know, my project manager has to speak to the client or she has to update the client on certain issues and I think over time as I’ve seen her interact with with customers online and stuff like that and I’ve had situations where we traveled with customers me and her and clients and

[00:18:56] I realize she can handle most of those things. She does need additional training in sort of a little bit understanding I guess customer psychology and how to communicate issues. Like that’s the biggest thing is how to communicate a problem in a way that doesn’t raise more raise doesn’t get the customer more worried than they should be because there are certain things that happen like in Mass Productions that are normal, but we always tell people.

[00:19:21] Hey, this is what’s going on. But I always remind them that yeah, this is a normal thing and we’ll be able to fix it by doing X Y & Z but I find that sometimes with with my Chinese staff. They’ll just say hey, this is the problem and then the customers would like oh my god. Well, you know, they would start freaking out right?

[00:19:37] So this is like learning the little subtle nuances in communication? That’s something that I’m really trying to focus on training her for the next year. Customer psychology and then all her understanding the different areas of the business because she understands project management very well. She’s been managing people now for like a year and a half.

[00:19:58] So she’s improving in her HR skills and she’s beginning to learn a little bit more of the client facing things. She’s also doing Toastmasters. So she’s you know developing her like she’s becoming more and more outgoing. She’s you know becoming more comfortable meeting new people. The one area of the business that she probably doesn’t know much about is the sales and marketing and I’m not saying she has to learn and become a you know, effective sales person.

[00:20:26] No, I’m just mean that if she’s going to be managing let’s say a higher… a higher sales person. Or higher like we have a marketing intern coming into China in the summer already. She needs to understand what that person is doing if she’s going to manage them. So those are those are the areas that I’m trying to really focus on teaching her. Great. For the next year or so.

[00:20:47] I’m trying to identify some courses here in Guangzhou that she can take and then there’s books that I’ve given her to read. And then there’s and I’m incorporating these things into the into the KPIs that we’re setting. Yeah, I’d love to hear some if you’re willing to share some KPIs that be awesome to hear something.

[00:21:07] Let me see if I can pull up. The list. While you’re looking maybe I could also mention listeners should listen to Steve M arshes. I think he’s been on the show twice and I think if you haven’t heard his both of them, he would probably be warning you right now and I feel like I should at least bring it up, but there’s a lot of cases where the Chinese.. she .. actually I’m curious also about equity or incentives if she’s actually a partner.

[00:21:36] Going to be a not but there’s also these risks where they set up their own shop and they kind of like pull clients in.. I obviously you have this.. we’re just talking about trust and relationships with the clients. But sure there is that risk and I’d love to know I guess obviously no one ever when you’re deep into you know, just like when you get married or have a girlfriend or boyfriend you never think they’re going to do something like that.

[00:22:03] Have you thought about that you have planned for that? I mean, I guess you just said she’s not good at sales and marketing and I’m assuming to see if she I think but you know, I course I at least need to bring that up. You know, there’s all these books and stories about the bad Chinese. It’s not always Chinese partner, but bad Partnerships and.

[00:22:22] You know, they walk out with a USB drive of the database and stuff like that. You know, I don’t know. I’m just curious to hear. I’m not worried about that at all because at the end of the day the business with this being a consulting company my face and Mike’s face are the reason why we get clients, right?

[00:22:42] Like people don’t want to work with people don’t work with us because of our obviously they work with us because we have a team but they don’t work with us because of our team they work with us because they trust me as a person and a brand and they trust that I’m going to manage their projects effectively.

[00:22:57] So, you know, I mean if she was to start I mean she already told me she wants to start her own business in the future, which is kind of… And I my whole thing from the beginning when you start working with me was that hey, you work with me learn as much as possible and get to see a start of from the beginning to whatever stage we get to and then you exit and you you go start your own shop whether it’s her starting a sourcing company or her starting a different business like I’m going to support her in her goals.

[00:23:25] So I’m really not worried about that at all. I mean worst case scenario if she was to try to poach my clients. I’m pretty sure my clients would tell me and then you know, she gets fired and we hire another person. So yeah, so I mean Steve’s Steve’s case, which was on the show is his I guess is also a sales I think as a salesperson too so they were also the ones that got the clients in he kind of.

[00:23:53] Yeah, that one kind of was Chinese and got clients in and he was a little bit different than you or was it was it was specifically on like audio equipment in China. So it was like it was a vertical so I think the buyers were like, you know in the US and maybe they got tempted with a cheaper price.

[00:24:10] So he just kind of like emailed them all saying I can get you a better price. Work with my new company and he found out and some of the clients went and he sued them and I don’t know. I mean maybe I won’t kill the whole story if people can listen, but he’s he wasn’t very happy about all that obviously, so it’s something to yeah, I think I think the the biggest risk when it comes to this kind of stuff is like who controls the money and then who brings in the clients.

[00:24:39] So if you’re controlling the money and you’re the one bringing in the clients. There really is not much that a person can do in terms of stealing your business, you know. True. So that’s that’s with us. Like that is one thing that I am going back and forth with his how much control do I give her over finances. Do I give her access to you know, the HSBC Bank account like those are the kind of questions.

[00:25:05] I’m going back and forth. But one thing I really do like is right now I’ve been using NEAT more and more know, you have that central bank account and then you can get a card for each person. Right? So she has a NEAT card and the way I’m looking at it as I’ll still be controlling the central the master account and then I’ll just transfer money to a NEAT card if we have business expenses that..great… that she has to handle. Great.

[00:25:29] But obviously there’s. You know it’s limiting because there’s only so much money that you can you can take out of an ATM with you and then there’s all these fees from the.. yeah..So that’s an issue.. still trying to pull up this list. Well, it might be.., well, it’s not require we can maybe put some in the notes if you want or I didn’t want to surprise you but.. okay.

[00:25:57] So there’s a there’s the main KPI like as some of the management courses that I mentioned.  So there’s a course that is put on by the British Chamber of Commerce. It’s about Operations management and sales. It’s like a three to six month..well, they have different tiers. They can do like a day course like once a week which you can just pay for each time.

[00:26:23] And then they also have like long-term three to six-month courses and that’s pretty much what I need her to do. So, that’s the main one that I’ve identified and then some of the other stuff some of the other KPIs are kind of more specific to the business. I don’t know if they’re necessarily relevant for you know, the people here is like, you know, I want her to start taking charge of quarterly and yearly strategic planning and KPIs for the staff that she’s managing.

[00:26:51] So at the moment what I usually do is like I will come up with general when we do the quarterly review, I’ll review the KPIs from the previous quarter, but I will come up with quarterly KPIs for the employee and then they’ll also plug in their own. So it’s kind of like a I guess it’s kind of like a negotiation.

[00:27:09] I’ll say like this is what I think you should accomplish in the next four months.. three to four months and then they’ll say okay. I think I can do that. But I think I can also do this or I can’t do that. So I want her to take completely take over that. And then. Yeah, and then the other side of things is her just fully understanding all the sales and marketing like the the way we set up the email funnel the how their YouTube channel connects to the website.

[00:27:38] And you know, the pricing tiers and all that stuff. Honestly. Why do you I mean I’m feeling like I’m I don’t know. I’m I don’t want to make you paranoid but I would train somebody else for that stuff. It’s not because I want her to do the sale stuff. It’s just because I when I do hire a because I’m still the salesperson right now, right but when I do hire somebody to do sales and marketing, I want her to understand have an understanding of what that person is doing.

[00:28:07] Yeah, Do you see what I mean? Yeah. It’s not it’s not it’s not that I want her to do sales at all. That’s not her core competency. I just wanted her to understand the operations of you think your top for me and my girl is Mindy Mindy. I don’t think she listens to the podcast anymore. But she might be..given was some QC spot checks on the shows, but she’s kind of like my maybe like

[00:28:32] Yeah, she’s kind of like my right-hand person five or six years totally remote. Yeah, it’s true. I mean she doesn’t do the sales and doesn’t know what’s happening with the sales, but she knows like how to at least check if it’s going or not. We have some other people on the sales team, yes, sponsorships and stuff.

[00:28:55] So it means but it’s just like like there’s been situations where I’ll give you an example. They’ve been situations where so one of the one of the services that we have is we received samples in our office and do a review of samples and on behalf of clients. It’s really like not an inexpensive service.

[00:29:14] It’s a hundred bucks. But we have a limit on the amount of samples a person can can send in right and this information is available for my team like the there’s stuff out there that they could read and they will know that hey this person pays a hundred bucks. They’re only allowed to have ten samples, but then they’ll be situations where I’ll come in and I’ll check something and it’s like a client sent in.

[00:29:37] You know 10 samples and then they’re asking my team to order more samples, but because of my team isn’t familiar with the sales package. They don’t know that we need to charge the client again for that. You know what I mean? And it’s like unless I’m paying attention to that on a daily basis then.

[00:29:54] There’s no one else is going to tell me that hey Rico, you know, the clients is requesting more samples. So therefore we need to charge them again for that service was like I need her to understand those things because she’s the one who’s managing the projects on a daily basis and she understands what’s going on with it.

[00:30:09] I get updated on that daily, but I also most of the time I do a deep dive on our weekly calls..our week team meetings. So it’s just like small things like that. Like if she understands that hey this package is 10 samples for a hundred bucks than when the customer when one of the customer’s request for more samples and she’ll be like no.

[00:30:27] Hey, we need to charge you again, like little things like that. Okay. Yeah, so that’s that’s sort of important because if I’m not in office in a daily basis, I’m not even going to see the samples. Yeah, and now you know, so this is like, yeah, so that’s it. And then I guess it’s some of the other KPIs are very specific to the business.

[00:30:45] So I don’t want to necessarily going to yeah, that’s fine. And then, you know, you asked about equity and things like that. So if she does become CEO, we are discussing her getting a small percentage, but it’s going to be Sweat Equity that you earn over a couple of years and then we what we are implementing currently is a profit share.

[00:31:06] So, okay. So do it… end of your profit share for certain employees that have been in the company for x amount of time in management positions. So she’s excited about all of that and she never she didn’t expect to to get to this stage. You know, she’s just really grew. I think it’s I mean, I think there was just these fancy terms.

[00:31:29] I’m forgetting but you can have people kind of grow through the company or you can try to hire executive but I think the price seemed to agree with me. But I usually like somebody kind of going through from the beginning and work in your way. Yeah, exactly. And I mean for her she wasn’t she used to work in my part, you know, so how do you know she’s seeing.

[00:31:52] from like, you know working in my apartment with my cat like meowing. Yeah to have you know to two different office places and me speaking at events and her flying all over China and like her bonuses have gone up over the past couple years for managing a team. She’s going on vacation to Thailand and things like that.

[00:32:12] I’m like, it’s pretty cool actually to see her enjoying her life and making money and growing as a person and as an entrepreneur in some sense and you know, I’m pretty sure when she does start her own business. She’s going to she’s going to be a rock star, you know, she’s also for her I mean the benefit is she’s learning

[00:32:28] Not only the business side of things which is also learning Western culture from me. She’s learning, you know how to deal with Western clients, which I think a lot of a lot of Chinese people don’t have that opportunity right at that age. Agreed agreed.  agreed. I mean I’m interested to hear how this progresses.

[00:32:48] I think another bullet point I have which is kind of covered but I think we can dig in a little bit more is the banking and the financial managements the kind of like checks and balances. So yeah, we all know NEAT I think anybody now doing business with banking is no NEAT and it’s like online banking solution in Hong Kong is how

[00:33:09] They sponsor some of our events and contents so it’s awesome to hear you mention down. But do you want to kind of give an idea of the kind of did but maybe kind of just more of a complete flow or how you’re running your your monies with with her your COO or and and just in general? Well financial management kinda of. The financial side of things that the tough thing for us is that we get all of our payments are going into our Hong Kong bank account.

[00:33:37] So our HSBC I’ve started to transition stripe payments into NEAT because they’re sort of micro payments and I I’m using NEAT more and more for certain business expenses. Great. So right now we were using a combination of HSBC and NEAT coz NEAT I have a little MasterCard thing. It’s good for some of the smaller expenses with the business, but it’s not really good for a larger expenses because as I mentioned all those fees..the hardest thing for me is getting the money into China, man.

[00:34:10] So I physically have to go to an ATM. Take out cash and then deposit it into my Chinese business account, which is just like it’s so ridiculous man so like so that’s I that’s part of the reason why I’m trying to figure those if I’m not here for two months in a row. You know, how does that work? So that’s why I’m looking I’m looking at NEAT I’ve been using it more and more but I’m also looking at services Aureliapay which is recommended too.. yes..I was on the website the other day and I saw Global From Asia.

[00:34:40] Yeah. I mean like yeah, of course, I mean they sponsor but I mean I’m a user I always try to promote and support things that I also have user experience myself. They’re actually rebranding their name. So I finally I don’t have to listen just to me but the name is hard to spell but let me find it. But yeah, they’re good one too, but they’re not really a bank exactly either.

[00:35:10] It will not technically NEAT can’t be called a bank either but it’s GoRemit.HK starting in March. They just sent me a message. So but I think of course their domain will still work and we’ll link it up on the notes. But yeah, that’s another one for cross-border payments and that’s also one good for you into China as well as the rest..

[00:35:32] And I mean paying paying suppliers is relatively okay with HSBC because obviously we can transfer to you know, most suppliers that we work with have accounts in China that they can receive USD into so that’s not really a problem. But it’s more it’s more of the operation side of things like the micro payments when we order samples, salaries, rent.

[00:35:54] Things like that, like that’s that’s where I usually need RMB and get.. it’s a little bit rudimentary at the moment, but it works because I’m here. Yeah.. So when I’m not here then we have to figure it out. Yeah, I know. It’s all about making it work. I mean I haven’t been saying and the new GFAs with the old GFA but it’s getting harder.

[00:36:19] I thought I’d be getting easier. I actually thought like man people are going to need these podcasts and services because it’s gonna get easier as the world grows, but I feel like it’s these Banks and governments are making it harder for us towards just trying to regulate more I guess but yeah, I mean, there’s no perfect solution and you got to do what you got to do and hopefully everything keeps working as promised or as planned.

[00:36:44] But yeah, the…did I answer the question? What did you want me to talk more about think it’s right. I mean. I think that’s fine. I mean I don’t I think people probably most listeners know that or can figure that out online. But yeah, I think I guess I’m just meaning on a holiday of like, you know, you’re leaving or spending less time in China and you know the financials is an important part of that, you know process.

[00:37:10] So I just wanted to cover on that part. Um, yeah, it’s just, you know, figuring out how to get USD into into RMB in China without physically being in China. That’s that’s the top part. So you have the services like you said. Yeah. Yeah. Go ahead. I do think it’s a little bit easier your way than the other way.. out of China’s

[00:37:34] A little bit hard I think into China’s little bit easier. But yeah, I mean, yeah, I would say you’re right but looking at our Aurelia pay, I think the even it depends from I think the trick is from which bank to which bank so I think transferwise a lot of people do use this they actually ..also sponsored a show as send a wire or so.

[00:37:55] Then transfer think I think based only due to personal banks in China now or something or and and it used to be remitc that became sendwire that always sent a lot of people too and they stop totally China services or why they might be some weird way that you can still do it, but I think it’s just China is not allowing these people to do it, you know, like they wanted to go into company bank accounts which at fault at taxed like off the top, you know, so it’s, it’s not technology and it’s not like…

[00:38:24] It’s just that’s regulations and taxes. Yeah, but the thing is the funny thing about that is even if I wanted to receive payments into my Chinese accounts. Like I have to get a I have to get a license to receive USD payment. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s like it doesn’t even it doesn’t even make sense. Like I have a I have a Chinese business account and then I have to pay to get a license to receive USD payments and then on top of that somebody needs to physically go to the bank when you receive these payments.

[00:38:53] To transfer it into R&B. So that’s just another. Exactly.. to do that long time ago. I was like, okay. What am I gonna do? I’m gonna now like have my employee listed on file and then have them go to the bank like, I guess that’s what factories do. We just well at a lot of factories still use personal banks, which is you know, Shady.

[00:39:12] You probably say it in your show and I say I say sometimes not to paid personal accounts, but I understand why they do it could be they could be tricking you too but they also could just be trying to save tax or just also trying to save time going to the bank. But yeah, I mean we did two shows we for our people listening I it was talked about on your show.

[00:39:32] I was on your show at this but we were talking about I’m in Chiang Mai and a lot of the Chinese husbands can’t be here with their wives because they have to be in the office in China. And this is probably one of the reasons, you know what I’m saying like yeah the banking stuff. Yeah, it’s like not well, I mean just making but also just working online.

[00:39:52] Like a lot of Chinese still don’t get that still don’t get that or want that whole online work. I mean, I know there is some of it but. Going back to your point that you brought up with the the guy which podcast was it? I want to actually want to listen to it..Steve Marsh. He too actually there’s a follow-up after the lawsuit.

[00:40:13] He sued the guy and I went over and I interviewed him after. Yeah. Wow. I mean, the guy just took like rows of database and I think he got it. I don’t know how much percent but he got a decent amount of client from it. So. So I mean he like so going back to that whole thing. It’s like you have it’s like with China as if I want to just be completely remote and then, you know be outside of China and then figure out the banking stuff.

[00:40:37] I basically just have to give all control to one of my…yeah. I mean I have one of my my job.. still have a Chinese company. My jobs are with my accountants. And so the technical means she could go to banks or sign contracts or other things. So that’s the battle right? Because I want to maintain control over the finances?

[00:41:00] And then at the same time I want to be remote but the way the way they set it up is like, you know what that you’re going to get exactly. So that’s that’s the biggest issues. I know you then you have to know to figure out all these random things and deal with fees and old stuff. So it’s like either I give my project my COO, here’s the the HSBC card, here’s the banking information, here’s like everything

[00:41:22] Or I have to like figure out these wonky ways of getting money into the country. So yeah, it’s an interesting interesting cycle. I mean, I hope eventually it’s going to change because I there’s more and more Chinese people that are becoming Freelancers. I noticed that and I mean they’re working with foreign clients and it’s like they’re missing out an entire industry right now, you know. Yeah, I know.

[00:41:48] Well I know we’ve had a with we’ve had a lot to talk about today and I think this is great so far. I mean, is there other some of course we’ll talk about some things you’re working on but as far as the whole.. how’ you feel comfortable I guess you’ve been testing it last year was spending some time out.

[00:42:08] Now, you’re gonna spend more time out. You seem like you got a good person and in in training going through.. is there something else you think as far as this process you’d want to share with the listeners. Yeah, I think obviously the first thing is you need to you need to hire somebody that you really trust and somebody that’s grown in the company.

[00:42:28] I think with us the thing was when she when I first started working with her she was part time. She was in school. I had no idea that she would become what she is now and (internet connection unstable) All right. Yeah, I’ve no idea that she was going to become what she is now and then you know, she’s she’s on board with everything that the company does.

[00:42:47] She seen the growth. She believes in the vision. She’s actively involved in creating SOPs herself now, you know. And she embraces the direction of the company and the company culture. She’s she police’s the company culture a lot of times. We had to fire employees because she would she would tell me like, I don’t think this person is a good fit and she’d give me clear reasons and then I would monitor it and choose right?

[00:43:12] So, you know that I think that’s what that’s the first part and then the second part of course is, you know, creating systems and being active about that from the beginning of the from the beginning of the inception of the company and then just build..constatnly building out SOPs. Whenever something goes wrong..

[00:43:28] We do a review and then we figure out how to fix it and then we update or create an SOP around that issue. And then yeah, I mean if your you have a registered Chinese business or Hong Kong business, then you then you have to figure out how you can handle the payments into China remotely. Which is just you know, whatever service you end up using whether it’s a Aureliapay or Sendwire or Transferwise or you know, you have to figure out what works best for you and try to maintain a little bit of control.

[00:43:58] Of course, I think Andy is in a position where he has a good person as well in China, and she I think she handles his banking and stuff like that. We talked about it and you know, he’s got a good system there as well and he’s been running that he’s been doing it remotely for how long..when did Andy leave China? Feel like 2015 or so, maybe 14- 15 something like that?

[00:44:26] Yeah, and then, you know test it out. So I’m going to test it out for two to three months and see how that goes. I’m sure there’s going to be some issues that pop up while I’m you know outside of China and then I’ll figure out how to systemize that and fix that and then again next year when we do when I do six months.

[00:44:42] I’m sure there’s going to be some issues that pop up from there and then I’m also not going to be that far away. I’m going to be 2 hours 2 hours by plane. True. $150 $200. Yeah, exactly. That’s a good point. I think. Yeah, I think opposite side of world like Andy and others it’s harder. But when you’re on a same similar time line, I think is exact same time zone in Manila exact same time zone.

[00:45:03] I’m gonna meet you know, we’re going to be maintaining the same routines. We usually have our morning meetings at 10 o’clock. So Monday, we have a 45-minute meeting where we set the we set the task for the week. So we do like these weekly sprints and then daily we have a 15 minute meeting at 10:00 o’clock.

[00:45:20] And you know, we’re going to maintain that routine and and then I’ll see I’ll see what happens after that like so probably you need to do a follow-up at the end of the year. I’ll come back on the podcast and tell you how.. Yeah, that would be great man always great and so I think think we had a great show and how can people find you and of course you got me on China podcasts on iTunes also YouTube channel and your websites and everything.

[00:45:50] So yeah Made in China podcast in iTunes, of course if you want to reach out to us, my email address is my personal my business email address is The YouTube channel is the same name Source Find Asia. Great. So I actually have, you know, the video.. one of the videos that I have up there is the panel that I did at the last Global from Asia Summit.

[00:46:14] Awesome. Yeah man and we can we’ll get you.. we’re also working a Cross Border Summit. Cross Border Summit in Guangzhou in October..the dates we’re going to confirm very very soon and I always appreciate your support. So get that all its Rockin. Yeah. Hopefully we’ll will see some of the some of the people that listen to this podcast..

[00:46:38] Yeah. Yeah, come by come on. Come on out. All right good. Thanks again for your time. Alright, thanks. Mike. Talk to you soon. Are you looking at Brand registry and other benefits of being an actual brand? This is the future of e-commerce and business in general. So make sure you get your trademark set up correctly.

[00:46:58] Our partners at or 24/ can help you get set up online fast easy and the right way. Get the info you need as well as the services at  Thank you Rico for sharing. I was also recently on his show definitely check out Made in China podcast, and it’s a great one and he has various styles of shows too and he’s also a content creator like I am or I’m becoming again, So.

[00:47:36] I said at the beginning if you’re interested to hear my time in China or you know my thought process when I came…You know, I’ve got this in my book Destination China, which I wrote way 2015 people still buy it again still alerts that people buy it on Amazon Kindle if you want to read it Destination China, but I’ll give a little preview of my experiences.

[00:48:02] So I think some of you know, I worked on Wall Street Deutsche Bank 60 Wall Street to JP Morgan building. And I was doing distressed debt junk bond trading and even before I started I was hustling selling some things online or want to do my own business. I thought I had to get MBA to start my own business for some crazy reason.

[00:48:20] I thought it was like a requirement to get an MBA to learn how to do business. I went to Engineering School Stevens Tech and I was kind of highly encouraged by my parents into the nuns. I went to a Catholic school with nuns to be an engineer that business wasn’t a good degree and you know get that get the MBA first do the technical undergraduate or bachelor’s and then get the business MBA later to learn how to do business.

[00:48:49] That’s a long conversation, but I kind of went along with that, but I went to Stevens Tech mostly because it was right next to New York City and Hoboken, New Jersey. Which happened to allow me to see the September 11th attacks in 2001 with my own eyes, which is another story.  But you know, I always want to do my own businesses since I was 10 years old.

[00:49:14] I remember drawing out my life map and starting a company was part of that for sure and I just thought I had to go through the traditional route of college working in a company MBA and then business which is totally not true and I guess I encourage my kids if they want to go to college, but we know 15 years from now when they are old enough.

[00:49:36] I think the world would be a lot different about college, but let’s go back to China. So I was buying from factories, you know, the traditional Ali Baba and Global Sources or you know online directories and the Skype calls in the middle of night from the US and, you know I’d quit the job already and I was living in San Diego.

[00:49:54] And this little bit better time zone was California to China so I could do like a seven or eight pm calls Cali time, California time with morning in China, but I needed to get out there. So finally in 2007 fall. I went out for the trade shows. I remember now I was at the Global Source show in Hong Kong and I saw Mike Bellamy.

[00:50:16] He’s been on the show a few times and he was speaking at a seminar there and I had a one-on-one with them chat and he’s just like you’re doing all this stuff man. Why don’t you just move out here and like move out here. I really don’t think I could live in China.  Didn’t think it was possible well maybe not China thought I couldn’t live out of my home country.

[00:50:36] I don’t know. It sounds really ignorant, but it was really in my mind I was like. I thought I could visit another country you know I went to Italy and Europe. I backpacked Europe after college, but I just felt like you can’t live outside your home country. I and I made it I don’t mind making fun of myself on this show, but.

[00:50:57] I just kind of.. my mind’s.. I was just like wow. Yeah, I am visiting China or technically it is Hong Kong at the time first went to Hong Kong. Well, we’ll get political here, but SAR Hong Kong. So I went to Shenzhen and Shanghai and Beijing so, you know crazy experience like it’s one month trip and I remember a paying a penalty and staying another week in Beijing for five weeks total in 2007.

[00:51:22] And I was like, I got to get back here. There’s so much. You know, like I said it beginning of the show so much energy and action and just this feeling of money and feeling of hustle and got to get things done. And get ahead and and and then motivate and this is reactions happening. So came back for you know, Christmas was had nowhere to live crashed on my parents because I moved out of Cali place at Peter’s and was like, I’m moving to China and after right after Christmas like the 27th of December I flew back to China and the plan was.

[00:52:03] Well, originally it was of course just to feel like not a hypocrite buying from China and I actually had some sourcing Services back in the day and used myspace for social networking to get clients or business relationships and really crazy story there, but before Facebook at least was popular at least some me or even I can allow to be signed up until 2005 2006 Myspace but basically basically went out to China with a six-month return ticket I think that was  the longest I could book on the on the airlines as a return ticket.

[00:52:42] I think six months. I remember kind of go and seeing how far out I could go with my return ticket. Because the flights are almost the same price return or one way or I think one way even cost more if our I swear I was like that was just like crazy not to get a return trip because of the price difference of a one way versus a return ticket like the total cost of return was like 800 1 way was like a thousand dollars.

[00:53:04] So it’s like okay I can pay 8 hundred dollars US for a to China. I thin I always still fly to Hong Kong if I can fly in Hong Kong and fly out out of Hong Kong six months later for 800 or just fly one way for a thousand I swear it was something like this. But anyway, I remember it was like so start living at hotels directly to Shenzhen got lost Melissa, which is maybe I should even get her on the show.

[00:53:33] She’s my first higher and I met her in a trade show and she was working with me. She helped find me like in Lau Hu somewhere I remember. I was like exhausted and lost because I directly came in to Shenzhen from the Hong Kong airport with no idea what I was doing in 2007. But anyways, I was in my mind. I was like, okay, let me get this Melissa hired her, you know on cash on her table with the intent.

[00:53:59] So so nervous was again arrested for hiring somebody illegally in China and things like that, but I was.. the setup of the company’s I think we’ve talked about this. There’s so much obviously they’re saying.  Saying this but basically just to summarize about how long I was to stay in China. My idea was set up an office for sourcing for my e-commerce businesses in the bar products as well as a few clients within the industry mostly in the bar products industry and then maybe six months go that return ticket.

[00:54:28] Maybe I would not stay in China, even I was willing to lose my apartment. I had a one-year contract but the I did was like screw it. I’ll just lose my one or two months deposit if I need to even if I decide not to stay. So my idea always at the beginning was to learn and network and and manage and have a team maybe like what Rico’s doing you know idea was to find somebody to manage the operations the office.

[00:54:57] But for me, I just.  felt like I always needed to learn more and we’ve had different guests on the show. They know me like mad singer and he says because I it’s true like I want to know I’d like to know how something works before I have somebody else do it and maybe it’s the trouble letting go I want to know a lot and.

[00:55:18] Hey, we are getting close to 10 minutes of my blab in here at the end. But you know you could you already got the good interview with Rico. I’m just rambling.  But I ended up staying and never knew how long I was staying and finally I left mostly probably because of the kids got the kids school.

[00:55:33] Basically, I have a just that’s probably a big reason I left but I also wasn’t as relevant for me to be there. I mean I can come back if I need to. And things like that and run this podcast in my little home office here in Thailand. I can do this anywhere, which is pretty cool. So, you know, One month trip turn to five weeks turn to six months turn to a few years.

[00:56:01] If you dig in the archives of Mike’s, you’ll see I almost thought I was gonna move back to New York City in I think 2010 almost got an apartment almost got some deals almost had a warehouse well it was like a self-storage for the bar supplies. That was insanity in 2010. I think or 9 I think like 10, but decided to come back.

[00:56:22] And you know, I think that’s happens a lot of expats. Like if I leave China did I.. if I’m not like a multi-billionaire did I fail did I not do what I was supposed to do like when is the end? When do I end what is success or when is my mission accomplished of my China conquering conquering the dragon?

[00:56:43] It’s probably a title of a book or many, you know, but I think in life is not just about. conquering it’s about experiencing and learning and you know, I love learning. I hope you I think you love if you’re listening to this podcast and other podcast your learner your try and better your enrich your life.

[00:57:04] So you know for me, I got the best and I got some amazing experience and network and I have an amazing wife and kids from that ten years and of course I met amazing people so we can get some good guest from that network to more so much more content to share with you. I’m feeling back in my natural state of this show.

[00:57:29] So see you next week. Thanks. That’s a wrap bye-bye. To get more info about running an international business. Please visit our website at that’s Also be sure to subscribe to our iTunes feed. Thanks for tuning in.

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