[Followup] Running a Chinese Import/Export Company Outside China with Rico Ngoma

Michael MicheliniBusiness, Ecommerce, Podcast0 Comments

In today’s show, we have Rico Ngoma back with us if anyone remembers, he was here with us in way back episode 246 and he talked about running his sourcing business outside of China. So today he shares his insights, how he did it, his strategy – sort of a follow up how he did the transition. Let’s tune in.

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • Intro Rico

    Rico was on the GFA podcast a few times, he’s the host of the Made in China podcast, and also CEO of Source Find Asia. He talks with us on how he has progressed to running his sourcing company that is headquartered in Guangzhou, remotely, from Manila, Philippines

  • Since our last Podcast about Your Plan

    He was talking about 1 year ago about the plan to move out of China. He spent 1 month in Manila before recording, and then a few after.

  • Spending time out of China - made him realize he couldn’t go back

    After spending a few months in Manila last year, he explains how he just can’t make the permanent move back to China.

  • Incentivizing his General Manager

    He shares how he has his manager, who was his first hire – and now she is running things in Guangzhou.

  • Financial Tools Used

    What he is using now for making payments and operating

  • Management tools Used For the Team

    What systems and flows he is using to automate and streamline his company

  • Future Plans - Philippines, then where?

    Congrats on making it work remotely! What are the plans going forward, for Philippines and other places

  • How people can reach out

    How can people find you and your business Rico?

People / Companies / Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Rico Ngoma’s VIP Page
√ Goremit (one of GFA’s long term sponsors – read the GFA review here)
√ Neat HK (a GFA long term sponsor – read the GFA review here)
√ Rico’s Website + Podcast – Source Find Asia
Rico’s youtube channel
Rico’s video interview w/ Mike
√ The last podcast w/ Rico about his plans to run the sourcing remote GFA Podcast episode 246
√ The 2 podcasts w/ Steve Marsh – GFA Podcast episode 24 and GFA Podcast episode 117

Episode Length 44:13

Download Options

Listen in Youtube

Show Transcript


[00:00:00] Episode 307. Maggie, say 307. Three zero seven. No? Say, I like school. Daddy’s a good teacher. Great. Episode 307. 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.

[00:00:37] Okay, Maggie, so daddy is being your teacher now. Is that okay? Okay. What did we learn today? Can you come over here? Okay. Don’t be shy. All right. I’m being a homeschool dad. For years, I thought we could get her to English, English to Chinese school, but uh, in the end, I guess I just become an English teacher in China.

[00:01:06] It’s, seriously, I, it was inevitable. I had to get all the way to become married and have kids, and I become an English teacher. There’s a little bit of a taboo there, but I’ve made it this far. But I guess it’s just, there’s just no way to be a foreigner in China and not be an English teacher. So, but studying how to teach English, not just English, but math and a couple hours a day, you know, I think anybody listening knows I like my morning work, my morning grind, where I make usually all this intro, outro, I do an afternoon, but my like writing and content creation I do in the morning.

[00:01:41] So. But I do the afternoons for the kids’ school. I like, end of the day, 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM I printed out tons of paper. Man, we’re killing trees, but, uh, don’t want to do too much screen time with the kids. So, so we got the homeschool and going, getting an apartment here in North China. Shenyang right near the North Korea border.

[00:02:04] And, uh. Life has been adjusting. You know, some of our previous shows were, uh, about that. And now let’s get into this week show. We have Rico, the, he’s been on quite a few times with us. I, he had just moved to Manila and I was in Manila when we did this interview. And I had new idea, I would be. Where I am now.

[00:02:24] When we did this interview, it was mid March, so a couple of months ago actually, and we did in person. He did a, he did a video interview. I, I, I’m still shy or lazier to do these kind of complicated videos, so we mostly do audio. We did some audio video clips too, but if you remember the last time he was on the show.

[00:02:46] He was talking about, running his business, China sourcing business remotely from China. That was episode 246 if you want to listen to it in the archives. And so he, he’s done it. He’s been able to operate outside of China, his source, find Asia business, and he’s a must be busy as heck. Now with this whole PPE stuff.

[00:03:09] But a couple of months ago were, we were just talking about that. So we just want to kind of follow through how it’s transitioned to be running. The business remotely has gone. He has always given some really good valuable insights and shares his strategy. So let’s, uh, let’s tune into the show. This is episode 3-0-7.

[00:03:28] Do you want to buy from factories direct? Maybe your MOQ or are you want to get some support buying with others? Load pipe.com is our new startup here in the community. It is a group buy from factories, websites. We work with QC companies like Rico and others, and we want to be a community effort. We have webinars and more.

[00:03:48] Check it out at www.loadpipe.com. I also put a little cool cartoon video on there. Okay. We’re here in Manila. Content, Saturday afternoon, man. It’s been a long day of making contents. We got some short videos. I think I’ll add some of the clips and then Rico here, CEO of Source Find Asia and the host of Made in China podcasts.

[00:04:14] What is the third time? Fourth time. Fourth time. Fourth time in a long time. What time is, I think it’s the fourth time. Yeah. Wow, man. Fourth time on this show. Um, yeah, we all, we often have each other on each other’s show, so definitely if you guys haven’t checked out, Made in China podcast, I started off as a listener back in 2012, 2013 when did you launch a podcast?

[00:04:35] This is 2013. The first year of the podcast I started. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. 2013 that’s when I started listening to the podcast. History man. So, so we’re here in Manila. It’s, it’s, uh, March early March, 2020. Fantastic weather is good weather. It’s hot. I’m sweating then even though we’re out. It can get much hotter than this.

[00:04:59] But it’s not humid. That’s what I like. Yeah, absolutely. It’s better here than, I don’t want to rub it in for our friends in China, but it’s a, I guess my, my wife and kids, but, you know, I guess it’s not a bad place to be stuck right. Like I said, if, if, if you were to choose, you know, a couple of different countries to be stuck in, I think the Philippines would be high up on my list and fantastic weather, amazing people, cost of living is lower than most countries, at least most countries with this level of development.

[00:05:34] You know, if you’re single, the women are nice as well. Yeah, definitely. And also, I mean, the biggest thing for me in terms of picking a place to live besides the lifestyle aspect of things, was that entrepreneurship, the entrepreneurship elements, and meeting the guys from the refined Alpha Rock and some other entrepreneurs that I met.

[00:05:58] There’s just a lot of entrepreneurs here that are doing big things, big things in the e-commerce space, which is tangentially related to what I do, right? So I learned from them cause they’re my clients. And at the same time I learned from them and just from a business. Definitely. Definitely. So let’s, uh, let’s circle back.

[00:06:19] So last time you were on the show, you were talking about, you were talking about moving here and operating out of China, and this show is all about how do you run the sourcing business out of China? And I remember we had some talks, so do you remember when that was? It would have been, we did a double podcast time kind of.

[00:06:43] I remember where I was sitting. It would have been just after I came back from the Philippines last year. So I would have say, I would say it was like February, March. It might’ve been exactly a year ago. It might’ve been like March, 2019 okay. Yeah. That sounds like it does feel right. Yeah, it does feel right.

[00:07:00] Cause it wasn’t during the summer. It was like, yeah, no, it was March, March. I would bet money that was March or April, 2019 okay, so one year later. Yeah. I guess the big question is, this is sooner than you expected. Right. I think we have said it would be longer. I know. So I was, I was planning on being here in April.

[00:07:18] But last year I was kind of flirting between March and April. Okay. Um, but yeah, I kind of had April in my mind for the last four or five months, and then I ended up beginning of February, coming here and at the time I was literally thinking like, you know, the coronavirus will blow over in a couple of weeks and I’ll, I’ll go back to China at the end of February.

[00:07:38] So I had a return ticket. I was in Indonesia for three weeks. Half vacation, half work sort of thing. Jakarta and Bali, and my original ticket was to fly back to China on February 5th, all canceled. No news as to, you know, when or when I could reschedule my flight, so I was all right going to the Philippines in April.

[00:08:03] I do have to look for apartments. Might as well go to the Philippines and I’ll look for apartments for two weeks, then go back to China. That was my thinking. So I arrived on February 11th I had a return ticket from February 25th and I just figured I’d reassess after about a week and a half and I bought, like I, I’ve learned my lesson from the past.

[00:08:22] I usually buy the cheap tickets, which are non-refundable or whatever. I always buy it flexible. I spend the extra hundred dollars for the refundable tickets or the flexible tickets. So I bought that one, and then after a week, it just didn’t, there was no changes in China, so I just said, you know what, I’ll just cancel my ticket and I’ll, I’ll stick around here until the foreseeable future.

[00:08:43] And then I just signed a one year lease. They move in February, March 15th awesome. We met up when he got here February. Yeah. So, so it’s great. And uh, it’s cool. I mean, I’m not, I’m not, it’s weird because I have, you know, there’s stuff in my apartment that I wanted to get and things like that. So that’s the weird side of things.

[00:09:04] But I mean, it’s not like, it’s not so far away from what I was going to do in the first place. It’s just a month and a half, two months earlier than expected. Yeah. Oh yeah. So I have my PlayStation4 with me, so I’m good. Oh, you’re all set. . And your Saki or enjoying anywhere? No. What’s this place Nikkei?

[00:09:24] Nikkei. Nikkei. One, One Bonifacio high street mall, right across from Shangri LA, uh, in BGC. So you know this, we’re in the second floor and the second floor, have a couple of nice restaurants. There’s also some in the mall, but there’s a nice little patio here so we have good weather, good sunshine.

[00:09:44] It’s also not that busy. So we’ve been able to get some good content. Yeah, man, we spent a whole afternoon here, sushi and uh, and uh, and recording content, video, audio, and fisherman just wants to, so, so let’s say, I remember when I was, uh, well he just said, I want to hear. So you used a lot of listeners to Steve Marsh episodes.

[00:10:08] Cause I, when I, when you asked me the questions. Okay. So there’s two things that I remember about that episode specifically. So I remember in the moment you were like, you sounded very worried or skeptical about how I could make it work with, uh, with, you know, not being in China frequently with, I guess, the type of business that it is, a manufactured consulting.

[00:10:29] And then you said you should’ve listened to Steve Marsh’s thing. And, I did, I did listen to the two episodes that he did. The first one, which is like one of your top 30 episodes. Episode 34 or something very, very rarely recorded here on the rooftop of one of his, his apartment. Yeah. It was a very early episode.

[00:10:50] And then the second one was like an update. But one thing I, I, I realized when I was listening to that episode, the difference between the difference between his business and my business, it was that I think a lot of the stuff that he was doing was revolved around buying and selling. So he was buying the product and selling it to us as consumers.

[00:11:10] For me, I, I operate more in the consulting role. So the aspect, the people that people are paying us for, my expertise and the way I’ve set up my business. So one of my employees could start up their own company tomorrow, but they can’t offer a better prices than what I can offer because. My, uh, my customers are paying factory direct right there.

[00:11:30] There’s no buying and selling aspects with me. So I was like, when I was listening to it, I was like, that’s the main thing, the differences that people are buying into my philosophy, my culture of me as a person and my employees buy into my philosophy and my culture as a business. Um, if one of my employees decided to start a company, a sourcing company tomorrow, and contacted my clients, my clients would say, well, what’s the point of me working with you when I can still work with you?

[00:11:57] Rico, like, I mean, what, what benefit is there when I save like what you’re in charge of a smaller consulting fee, it’s not going to be that much product in the long term. Right. So that’s, that’s the benefit of being transparent. Right? Yeah. So you’re transparent or in his model was, he was a, he was the seller.

[00:12:14] He was a seller, yet they were buying from him, which is fine. I mean, that’s, we have clients like that, like, um, um, some of the larger clients that we work with, like the circle Solei and shit like that, they don’t pay consulting fees. That’s not something that they do when it comes to sourcing. They just come and they, they send out a request to a bunch of feeding companies and they say, we want this at this price.

[00:12:35] You guys figure it out. Well, however you’re going to build your margins into that. So, but, but generally our business model is that consulting as it consulting, as a separate fee from the buying and selling of the product. Okay. So maybe walk us through the transition. So last year you were working towards the school where you’re at now.

[00:12:55] Um, it seemed like you had. They’re really good manager that you had grown organically. She’s my oldest employee. She’s been with us for, so the company we’re getting on five years in June. So she’s been with me for four years. She was working with me, working for me part time, which was in college. And then when she graduated, she became a full time employee.

[00:13:16] And, she just really bought into the culture and the philosophy that I have. And one thing that I find interesting is like a lot of times you interview somebody, right? Like if they say they want to start their own business, I think a lot of times entrepreneurs think that’s a negative thing. I actually think it’s a positive thing.

[00:13:33] She said from the first time we met, I asked her, what’s your long term goal? What do you see yourself in three to five years? And I want to start my own business. I said, that’s fine. Like work for me. Learn from me. I’ll teach you everything that I know. You’ll see a company grow from literally in my, in my apartment, which when that interview was happening in my apartment, so you’ll see a company go from in my apartment to us getting in off.

[00:13:56] This too, you know, where, where we’ll take it in the next few years. And she bought into it, you know, and, she was around even when, I think we talked about this in one of the, on your, channel, we had some financial issues with one of our, one of our biggest clients left. She was just stuck around there and she, she bought into everything that I was talking about.

[00:14:17] So the first, the first thing I think is you have to have somebody in the company that you trust, whether it’s an employee or, or a partner. If it’s an employee, you can make that employee into a partner. So what we did was when we renewed our contract last year, we basically gave her a two year roadmap and said, you know, you’ll become CEO of a company and we’ll give you points in the business and we’ll give you a small percentage if you like, if you hit these, these key performance indicators.

[00:14:49] And do you, and the result of that will then she gets to be involved in some of the decision making that she wasn’t really involved in before. She gets dividends when we gained profits and stuff at the end of the year. Awesome. And she also gets, you know, she gets just a little bit more control.

[00:15:05] And the other aspect is she’s essentially running the office. Right. So when I talked to her about that, she said, and I asked her, do you still see yourself like leaving us in a year to start your own business? And what she said, well, if I get it. Points in the company and I get to basically run the operations.

[00:15:23] I’m basically running my own business, so I don’t really feel the need to go start my own thing now. Maybe I want to see where this takes me in five, 10 years, then maybe start my own firm. So that was the first thing is getting somebody on board who’s going to be, was been with you for a while, understands what you’re trying to accomplish and is bought into the culture, and then incentivizing them to stay on long term.

[00:15:45] That was the first thing that we did. And the second thing was, at the time I had it figured this out, but figuring out how we’re going to handle finances in mainland China when I’m not there, because yeah, we were doing it in a very manual way. Literally taking money out of ATM and deposit it into the business bank account.

[00:16:03] And I was like, this can’t go on to it. And I discovered Goremit, thanks to you, thanks for your blog. Great. And they’ve been fantastic for us. Awesome. You know what I mean? Of course, there’s 1.2%. Yeah. They charge, they take a cut and then the exchange rates. It can be a bit much, but the, the price of that is that I get to be in whatever country in the world, and I can still access my funds from our Hong Kong bank account and get it into mainland within 24 hours.

[00:16:32] Right. So that was the next big thing was that, and then I still have control over the finances because what I do is like, I’ll transfer money from our, or HSBC or a Neat, and then, Imojen our project managers. She will, she has access to. So the Goremit, she can submit a request to transfer and then I have to approve it.

[00:16:53] So I still see all the money that’s going back and forth. I know I’m the person that transfers from, from the main bank account.So at the beginning of every month we’ll set a budget for expenses and everything and I’ll transfer that. And then, you know, throughout the course of the lunch room, she’ll submit these requests.

[00:17:11] And then we also have another expense we use. Zoho Expense to track expenses and salary bill, the clients and stuff. What was it? Zo? Zoho expense. Zoho. I was always using Zoho. We use old books or expense. Zoho CRM. So the whole project meant how you use or, yeah, we’re, we’re, we’re fully integrated with Zoho.

[00:17:32] I know others at all are all in on that too. Yeah. And then, I mean, this is a little bit of a tangent, but like, one of my favorite things is that now that we have a, that’s another thing that changed last year is we hired a sales person. So I don’t do the sales anymore. The business, like, wow.

[00:17:48] That’s completely outsourced. So what that forced me, it was kind of, I hired him earlier than I expected. He came on as an intern, but he reached out to me because he was watching the YouTube channel. So I basically built it out. So the way it works right now is like we have an automation. When somebody goes to the website and submits the contact us form, it goes to Zapier.

[00:18:08] Zapier then creates a contact and has Zoho CRM is an autoresponder. Then allows them to book a call with a sales guy. Yeah. Once the sales guy has the call, he updates the information in Zoho CRM. The contact is already made there. The lead is already made there. After the initial call, typically we’re sending them a document to fill out, which makes, if they’re okay with the prices that were discussed on the call, gets transitioned into a deal.

[00:18:36] There’s a Kanban view that shows, you know, the initial contact of different phases. Um, so he, he will, every time he has an email, whatever, he moves up through the face. This is once it gets to closed one, it automatically creates a draft in Zoho books for that service that they’ve purchased or already to purchase, which I will then go and review and send out.

[00:19:00] Nice. So it’s like a, the sales process is completely automated from that sense. Not completely, but yeah, that sounds great. Very, very close to automating it. Yeah. Thanks for sharing. And no, I mean, I was actually, uh, I, I’ve been doing sales since I was 17 so you know, it’s a very natural thing that came to me and like I used CRMs and stuff.

[00:19:24] Worked in a call center as well. Yeah. Yeah. When we, when we built it out, it was pretty cool to be able to see him, me be completely hands off, where I created a YouTube video that somebody found. Then they went to their website. And they, they, they submitted a form. There’s an automation. They talked to somebody else in my team.

[00:19:44] That person handles everything. He communicates with the project management team, creates a proposal, sends a proposal, it’s accepted, deal closed. Then I get an email saying, Hey, there’s a new, a deal that’s been closed and checks Zoho books for the invoice. I’m like, awesome. That’s a really nice feeling to see.

[00:20:03] Something that you envision comes to life, you know? Yeah, man, you work hard here. Here. You’re always working hard. So it’s, it’s, that’s why I’m in the Philippines and I was trying to figure out a little bit more about work life balance. Why? What do you mean? What does that mean? I feel like I felt like I’m very good at compartmentalizing my, my emotions and stuff like that.

[00:20:25] So like the past four or five years at China, I really just buckled down and I kind of put the things that make me happy not necessarily like everything, but a lot of things that made me happy, would say the social aspect, hanging out with your guy friends, you know, I put that to the side and I was like, I’m just grinding.

[00:20:48] I just go to work and I go to the gym and I go to work and I go to the gym and I podcast. It was just that kind of thing. And I realized coming to the Philippines when I was here last year for three, four months in total, you know, doing Muay Thai, meeting cool people going to the islands once in a while. Getting a massage on the weekend, like little things like that.

[00:21:11] I was like, I miss this. And then also just the camaraderie of hanging out with other guys and joking about life and talking about business and yeah, I was, I became very isolated in China and part of that is because of what’s been going on in the last couple of years. Like a lot of my friends left. Yeah.

[00:21:29] China’s been on a, I don’t know, Exodus of foreigners, even the serpents out. Yeah, all of us, man, all of you left. I mean, when you left, I was like, Oh, okay. Yeah, exactly. If Mike left, like Zach Franklin, I mean, I think a bunch of listeners, you know, like, I don’t want to speak for them, but even some others I don’t think would leave either and especially the virus, but the trade war or the immigration is getting more difficult.

[00:21:57] I think the first thing was immigration, like two, three years ago, it started to become a little bit more, they really started using renewals and stuff like that. And then of course the training. Or ramp that up even more, especially if you’re from America. I don’t have that problem in particular. And then of course now with the coronaviruses just like it seems like every year it becomes more difficult to be an a foreigner in China.

[00:22:25] And I mean, I never planned on being in China forever, so I had already started thinking about moving out of China and all of these things that just sort of accelerated that process. Yeah. You’re a little bit ahead of schedule. So how does it, how does the, well, I guess the virus, I don’t know, we just talked a lot about it on your podcast, but, uh, well, just, let’s try not to go too much into it a little bit, but I mean, as far as the operations and you being here, even if you were also in Bali. Well, that was all vacation.

[00:22:57] What else? When I was in Indonesia, I explored the sourcing aspect, actually made a few contacts. I learned a lot about that, but let me just finish the work life balance point. So, so I, it’s very difficult when you’re so focused on work and you’re isolated to get that work life balance. And I said, I’m very good at compartmentalizing that.

[00:23:23] One thing was when I was here for two months, I created this lifestyle where I was like, had healthy meals delivered to me for $50 a week. You know, so I’m not thinking about cooking and I’m eating healthy. Then I’m doing Muay Thai four times a week, and then I’m working out of a nice coworking space in the Google, the same building that Google is in.

[00:23:43] And then I’m going to the Refined in the afternoon, working in the Refined. Uh, if you don’t know what their find is, it’s like a gentlemen spa. There’s a bar, coworking space, a barbershop in the actual spot. So I’ll be at the Refined, you know, hang out and network a little bit. And then once in a while will get a massage.

[00:24:02] And it was just like, I was actually more productive that way because I was happier. And when I went back to China, I was like, man, like I, I, if I stay here, I think I’m going to become depressed. You know? Like if I stay here, if I’m permanently here, I don’t mind being in China for like one or two months at a time.

[00:24:21] But if I’m living here and this is my home base, I don’t think it’s going to be good for me, my mental, physical health, and it’s not going to be good. Yeah. So you mean you got this taste of this lifestyle? I know a lot of your clients and not a lot of listeners for years, digital nomads are down in Southeast Asia and they always were telling me like, come down here.

[00:24:42] Why are you in China? Why are you in China? Yeah. And, uh, yeah. Now we’re all, we’re all down here, and I spent less money here. So, I mean, I would say my average living expenses in China are on 3, 3K, 3 and a half. Okay. Spending the same. If you’re spending 3, 3 and a half K in the Philippines in Manila, like you’re living a pretty lavish life, you’re going to made, you’ve got an amazing condo.

[00:25:10] You’re probably going to one of the nicest gyms in the city. You can eat out when you want to eat out. Like it’s just like it is a. Much more lavish lifestyle. So all of those things like having that work life balance. Okay. So then he got that taste last year. That was after the recording. Yeah. Yeah. Sweet.

[00:25:28] So then I had to go to San Francisco in January. I was there for a month, and then after the recording, I came to the Philippines for two and a half months. Okay. That’s when I had, the more I got into the routine of what it would be like to live here. Now you got that taste, you can’t go back. Can’t go back now.

[00:25:46] I tried. I tried when I went back to China and I joined the class, I started looking for a meal plan. Deliveries, couldn’t find the meal plan deliveries. I was 300, $400 a month, $400 a month in group classes in China. I pay a hundred dollars a month for a personal trainer in the Philippines. So it’s just, yeah.

[00:26:12] Once you, once you experience that, they’re like, it’s very difficult to, you know, I took the red pills.. All right. I guess you wanted to talk about the operations. Yeah. Let’s here. Let’s just this here. I noticed the coronavirus, well, maybe you can talk about how that’s affecting your sourcing company too, maybe, but I also want to just hear how the operations is going without you now, without you not being there, not being there.

[00:26:37] And get another one more Sake or and more. Yeah. Yeah. One more Sake. Um, we’ll keep that in the show. Yeah, for sure.

[00:26:49] Operations persons is fine. So another aspect of, so you’re asking me about, how I did the transition. So last year the reason why I came to the Philippines for that time period was to test, test this idea of being outside of China. So when I came and I was here for two months, concurrently, I saw problems.

[00:27:07] I saw things that happen within the business, the day to day operations, when I was like, okay, we need to figure out solutions around this. One of the first things that I noticed was that my employees didn’t want to go to the office. Like, yeah, they just weren’t going to the office. I was like, but they’re still getting their work done.

[00:27:23] They just weren’t going to office. So initially my reaction was frustration and I was angry. And then I thought about it and I spoke to my business partner and I was like, well, like if they’re still getting their work done and if my philosophy is I want, like, I want to be location independent and then why don’t we just make the whole company location independent?

[00:27:43] I mean, why, why, why do they have to be in an office every day? We can still have a physical space to receive samples for our clients. And, be able to process those kinds of shipments and stuff. And we still need somebody to go to the office two, two times a week, but they don’t have to actually work in office from 10:00 AM to six every day.

[00:28:02] So I just changed the philosophy of the company. I just said, we’re remote-based company and we, I sat down with a project manager and we wrote down new bylaws or for the business in terms of how does that work? You know, like, okay, so you can travel, but if you’re going to travel for more than a week at a time, there needs to be certain amount of notice.

[00:28:23] We, if you’re in the project management team, you can travel outside of China for more than I think it was like two weeks was a rule that we set because generally we’re going to need people to go to factories and things like that. And then just because you travel, you still need to maintain the same work schedule and hours and you can’t miss team meetings and things like that.

[00:28:48] Yeah, we just, we just changed the culture of the company cause I saw that I was fighting against something that I couldn’t, I couldn’t really fight against. Like it makes sense to you. Like you said, you, you want to be, lifestyle, location independent, but it’s kind of hypocritical a little bit. Cause you, you want the teams, the team to not, so no, I’m the same like.

[00:29:10] People editing the show. Alvin’s also my editor. You got Lord, I got and Lord the Lord and these podcasts or this video, I actually, I used to be separate, but Alvin’s still both now, but I’m awesome man. So yeah, it’s something also, values. Right? So if it’s your values, probably as a company values at the end of the day.

[00:29:35] Yeah. I think that if you’re the CEO of the company, however you’re the company, behave is the way of being. Right? Especially if it’s a small business or a startup like ours is like we only have, like we have less than 10 employees, so whatever I do, whatever, however I behave, really does reflect on the rest of the company.

[00:29:55] So yeah, it would be hypocritical for me to be like, well, I’m going to be in Colombia for three months and go to the Philippines for six months. And I’m expecting you guys to be in the office all day every day and then say, yeah, I’m the boss. But at the same time, it’s like, you know, they see that, they feel that, right?

[00:30:10] Like they feel that they know. So that’s why some of my friends don’t go on social media. They like traveling and they don’t want that. For me, I don’t even post anything on social media, but the issue is that I have a YouTube channel for the business. So I’m recording stuff and I’m honest with my team.

[00:30:27] Like if they asked me, where are you? I’m like, come here. This is what it is. Yeah. I just, I just figured why not just allow everybody to do that and just put, implement rules around it. They can’t be as free as I am, but you know, they can still enjoy a freedom that they, most Chinese companies wouldn’t allow them to have.

[00:30:47] Definitely. Then, I mean, maybe that’s changing with the current hundred because they have to work online now. A lot of people, actually, that’s an interesting thing. It’s like most of the offices, like people who are working from home. Yeah. Factories where people working from home, you know what I mean? So, of course we, we talked a lot about it on your podcast, but let’s add that elements, you know, you’re here in the Philippines, there’s a Coronavirus.

[00:31:11] What’s happening in China for you and your business? And yeah, so from an operation standpoint, I mean, I don’t think it’s different because like I said, last year, I kind of stretched us to this. We just had to change cause we have like one employee in the UK and another one’s in Canada. So we just had to change sort of when we have our meetings at the time.

[00:31:34] So before we do the Monday meeting in the morning, no, we do it in the evening. And then we also started writing more reports, like actual, which personally is not something that I stress to them out cause I, I believe more in using the project management software and stuff like that. But we actually know write.

[00:31:52] We always did a beginning of the week report, which was like, what are we trying to accomplish this week? What is the sprint for this week? And then we would review that on Mondays. But now we have two separate things, which is the sprint for the week. But we also have an end of the week report that just sort of summarizes what’s happened during the week.

[00:32:11] It’s not as formal, it’s more like. This is what I did with these projects. This is the main issue that I’m having right now. Right. And then the, the sprint is more like, I’m setting these goals and this is, we check off each one of those goals. So it’s a little bit different. Okay. But it’s necessary because that just allows everybody in the company to see what’s going on.

[00:32:32] Yeah. Cause those are the kinds of conversations we’d have face to face in office. Right. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, so now that we don’t have that, it’s like we have to formalize however we report a little bit more than that. I would agree with that, man. I’m always writing updates to the team. Yeah. Yeah. I do like a week plan every Sunday. But I don’t really do end the week, but we have daily work diaries.

[00:32:54] And we, we have tried and tried with the daily work diaries. We still kind of do it, but I just noticed like sometimes people forget. So it was always like I was chasing people to the right. The daily, yeah. It slides in our company, but yeah. Sometimes I’ll, uh, I’ll notice a slipping and I’ll just say, we might not pay for the days.

[00:33:16] You don’t do a work diary. I haven’t done that yet, but if I see I’m missing too many times, I’m like, you know, like that’s your like almost part of your, pay, yeah. So then they’re like, okay. Do you think it’s not? Some of them think is repetitive, but I try to get them put a little bit different feedback and time, so, all right.

[00:33:38] So yeah. Okay. In terms of how it affected the operations is fine. It’s just been slower. The factories are back, I would say, like. Like I said in my, my update video that I recorded two days ago, uh, I would say the factories are probably 90% open, but the capacity’s hard to judge. That’s the tough part is because they’re open.

[00:34:03] We don’t know if they have. 10% of their workers there. Yeah. So it’s just hard to judge the actual capacity cause just cause they’re open. They could be at 20% capacity, they could be at 60 days. You know, there’s some of the factors. They’re like, yeah, no, no, we’ve, we’re, we’re back to normal. Never again.

[00:34:21] And they never get an admit. And the thing is, we can go there right now. We can physically go there. I can just, even your team in China can’t go there. It’s too risky. I don’t want them to take that risk. I don’t want them to, yeah. I just don’t want them to go to a factory and you know, a small space with 200 people.

[00:34:44] Yeah. So it’s true. I mean, Chinese are never really, that’s one issue. They’re never really fully transparent. Yeah. So, I mean, yeah, Chinese, of course, I’m never going to say they’re weak or they’re not, you know, they’re not doing, they’re afraid to lose the client, so they’ll probably never admit it. But I agree.

[00:34:59] I mean, after every Chinese new year, it’s hard. There’s turnover. But this year especially, there’s going to be a significant turnover. Yeah. It’s already difficult for them to retain their employees, not alone when there’s a virus and the virus. Unbelievable. And trade war. Well, I think, uh, I think we had a good updates.

[00:35:20] Um, so this, what’s your next, what’s your longterm, what’s your five year plan. It’s still beans, five year plan. I think we’ll definitely be in the Philippines for at least two years. Okay. I think after the Philippines, I want to go to South America. So my, my longterm vision, whatever, is always to, I want to live in different countries for six months at a time.

[00:35:42] I don’t know. I want to figure out which one of these countries is best suited to, to me. Like, you know, that old idea of like, go where you’re treated best. Um. So that’s sort of like my personal life. But then I’ll always, when I do have a family, eventually I want to spend half of mytime in, in Toronto and half of my time somewhere else.

[00:36:03] So when it, when it gets cold in Canada, I’ll leave like a snowbird and exactly. When it gets cold in Canada. Tired. You’re like a retired old, I just don’t want to be in the winter. It is rough. I don’t mind going into winter during Christmas for like a week or week and a half, you know? Christmas and then leave.

[00:36:23] But if you’re there for eight, winter is literally like eight months or seven months. It’s tough. It’s tough. So yeah, I have no interest in that. But, in terms of the business, yeah. So I plan on this year diversifying where we use source from, but beyond that, I want to launch a course. Okay. So the issue with the consulting businesses, you’re limited, you’re, you’re.

[00:36:51] The growth is limited by sort of their resources. You know, the people. Right. Um, so the more we grow, the more clients we go, we get, the more people we have to hire, which is not, I don’t want to have a company with a hundred people. I just don’t, I do. It’s too many people to manage. It’s very stressful. I don’t want that kind of overhead.

[00:37:10] So how do we expand our revenue beyond, uh, keeping a niche clientele and charging a premium for our services is to try to create courses and coach. Awesome. So that’s sort of what I want to do. So this year I’m going to start a server the course, and then I’ll, I’ll sort of go the on that. Okay. I’m spending the YouTube channel.

[00:37:33] I’m planning on hiring a full time videographer. So we’re going, I just bought a DSLR in January. So the content is, the quality of the content is going to go up, and then we’re going to be doing more stylized filming, you know, blog type stuff, or documentaries around business in China and in Asia as a whole.

[00:37:54] And then, um, I’m launching, I plan on launching a product this year as well, and a lot of stuff. Yeah. And yeah, I mean, just expanding that, those, those aspects. For the next two to five years and you know, I mean, eventually I want to get into investing in businesses and real estate, but that’s, that’s further down the line.

[00:38:16] Big goals, man. That’s great. Well, you’ve gotten pretty far already. Congrats. And you, you’re doing it, dude. Last year you said you were doing your, you did it. So, yeah, I mean, the thing is like when I set goals, like it might. I was, I was actually doing a podcast a couple of weeks ago with my business partner, Mike, China Mike and we were talking about our 2019 goals versus 2020 it’s a podcast that we do every year.

[00:38:39] So we’ve done it four or five years in a row. One thing, one thing I was saying is interesting listening to myself three, four years ago, because. I’ve become so much better at setting goals. Part of it is because I’ve been doing masterminds for the past six years, and when you’re doing masterminds, you’re setting goals for the week.

[00:38:57] One thing I’ve learned is how to set goals longterm and then break them down into things that I do every week that feed into the longterm strategy. Right. So when I said some of these, some of the goals that I just mentioned, that might sound big, but a lot of this stuff I’ve already been working on for the past six months, I just didn’t formalize it, if that makes sense.

[00:39:17] Yeah. So like the product idea, I already have a product. I already have partners in place. We have samples that we’ve already done. We just haven’t taken that lead. So it’s like, then I’m saying, okay, this year we have to take it. Right. So it’s more, so I said goals that are around things that I’m already doing.

[00:39:34] I just haven’t formalized that and put it out into the universe. In a way. It’s affirmation, visualization is get closer, closer to it. I think you also meditate, right? Yeah. It’s as well just the accountability of writing it down and, yeah, so I mean, it’s just like, yeah. And the other aspect is that accountability of telling people that you’re going to do something right.

[00:39:57] So, yeah. I’m like, I really, I’m really happy to be in the Philippines. Like, I think from a lifestyle and health perspective, it’s going to be awesome. But also from a business perspective, it’s going to be awesome. Awesome, man. Congrats. This setting. It’s crazy times and exciting times, but keep on some positive.

[00:40:19] Yeah. And uh, yeah, I think we’ll get ready to wrap up. What’s some ways, I guess, you know, you’ve been on a show a few times, we’ll put in the show notes, but what are some ways people can find you and your business? So if you want to, you want to hear me proselytize on life and business a little bit more.

[00:40:33] You can check out the Made in China podcast Source Find Asia has a YouTube channel. So the Made in China podcasts, there’s more interviews with all the entrepreneurs in the business space. And then, the YouTube channel was more manufacturing focused. So it’s more talking head videos. And then of course, if you’re going to reach out to me.

[00:40:51] It’s just my name ricongoma.com/contact us. Awesome. Thanks Rico. Thank you. We had an amazing last GFAVIP members call for those VIPs where it’s a, it’s a small group, but we are focusing on quality over quantity. It was about 10 people on this live call. Xing Zhou, she was on the show a couple of weeks ago doing this meditation.

[00:41:14] I don’t know. We’re going a little bit too woohoo here. We’re not driving everybody crazy, but we do. We are under a lot of stress and changes in that call. But we have these different kind of calls and of course the private forum, private groups too, came those that want to give us a little bit of their time and to, of course some of their money.

[00:41:32] We would love to have you join our GFA VIP membership. It’s a yearly membership where you can get an insight of meeting with me and others talking about the outsourcing stuff or doing our joint ventures with e-commerce projects. Of course here behind the scenes things in Loadpipe, do some masterminds and we have these other kind of meditation ones we’re even adding now, so it’s some cool stuff.

[00:41:51] If you want to get any inside GFAVIP.com. Okay. Thank you so much, Rico, for sharing. I hope everybody enjoyed that. Also, we also had his video interview. I mentioned, Oh, he did a video interview with me. We’ll link that up in the show notes as well, so you can enjoy that. I think he’s putting out a couple of days after this show goes online, but we tried to sync it up.

[00:42:16] School is going on outside. My wife does the Chinese side. Going back to grassroots here, man, grassroots, the old way, the villages, the communities. Homeschooling. I mean this is probably what, anyway, I’m getting distracted here, but uh, it’s a, it’s all good here. Rico is still in Manila, I believe, and we’re just, we’re just all busy.

[00:42:41] As busy as heck. This whole crossborder industry, sourcing, trading, we’ve got to all of us searches nonstop working into, of course, people know loadpipe.com is our new group by website for buying from factories direct. So you can check that out as well. Getting a Rico and his courses, supporting interest to get involved as well there.

[00:43:02] So I hope everybody enjoys today’s show and uh, also maybe starts homeschooling their kids. I know there’s a lot of dads and moms listening. Maybe that’s the future. I’m really thinking maybe my kids don’t go back to normal school after this pandemic is over. Whenever this pandemic is over. We have to live in a now.

[00:43:21] So when I heard school was going to be shut down longer, I just had to bite my tongue and say, no more iPad, more paper lessons, and I printed all this stuff from the internet. Maybe we’ll have a show about that in a future. And But I’ve, I’ve talked to others, I’ve been homeschooled and, uh, we got the social stuff.

[00:43:42] There’s still kids running around outside all day. Maybe. Maybe this will change, change the whole world of education in life. So I’m going to stop rambling here. it is. The end of the show, episode 307 over and out. To get more info in running an international business. Please visit our website at www.globalfromasia.com that’s www.globalfromasia.com also, be sure to subscribe to our iTunes feed.

[00:44:10] Thanks for tuning in.

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