EFP 103: Is Building Your Business in Southeast Asia a Liability?

Justin Cooke Justin Cooke July 24, 2014

Building a business in Southeast Asia can be scary. There are some inherent trust issues when first-world countries hear about doing business with third-world countries. Even though there are tons of upsides, you’ve got to be aware of the potential downsides and how to overcome them.

Is Building a Business in Southeast Asia a Good Thing?

Today, Joe and I get into some of the liabilities that come with building your business and team abroad and some of the ways to mitigate them.

Don’t let the setbacks scare you completely from building a business out here but be sure you’re aware of the potential issues so they don’t surprise you once you’ve started.

Check Out This Week’s Episode Here:

 Direct Download – Right Click, Save As

Topics Discussed This Week Include:

  • How to OWN the fact that you’re overseas.
  • Accountability and trust issues overseas and back home.
  • Making connections despite poor proximity to your home country.
  • Overcoming communication issues and timezone differences.
  • Undervaluing your time and aiming too low.
  • The dangers of distractions (balancing the amazing with routines.)

Mentions:


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Spread The Love:

“Making yourself available adds a huge trust factor that will help you close deals.” – Justin – Tweet This!

“You can use your additional free time to work on the really hard problems in your niche/industry.” – Justin – Tweet This!

“So many people undervalue their time. They’re not realizing what they’re worth and charging correctly for it.” – Justin – Tweet This!

“Set a schedule for your routine. It helps you get a lot more work done and you value your free time more.” – Joe – Tweet This!

What are your thoughts on building a business in SEAsia? Do the upsides and workarounds far outweigh the downsides for you? Leave a message on SpeakPipe or join us in the comments below.

 

Justin:                   Welcome to the Empire podcast, episode 103. It’s not all sunshine and tropical drinks for guys like us building our business in Southeast Asia. This week, we’re going to get into some of the liabilities that come with building your business and team abroad and some of the ways to mitigate those liabilities. All right. Let’s do this.

Speaker 2:           Welcome to the Empire Flippers podcast. Are you sick and tired of gurus who have plenty of ideas but are short on substance? Worried that e-book you bought for $17.95 won’t bring you the personal and financial freedom you long for? Hey, you’re not alone. Join thousands of others in their pursuit of niche profits without the bullshit. Straight from your hosts, Justin and Joe from Empire Flippers.

Justin:                   All right, Joe, let me get this straight, man. You’re in Thailand. You want me to wire sixty thousand dollars to your account in the Cayman Islands and to pay your Hong Kong corporation. Is that really legit, man? What’s the deal with this?

Joe:                        Sounds a little strange, doesn’t it?

Justin:                   It does sound a little strange, but we have people that are building their businesses abroad that are asking their customers to do these types of transactions, right? I think that’s one of many difficulties that come with building your business in Southeast Asia or having teams or partners that are abroad. A lot of people, including us, promote the value of getting your business started in Southeast Asia. It’s a much easier place to bootstrap. Things are relatively cheap. You can build teams over here relatively cheap. We talked a lot about this in episode 63, but there are a lot of downsides of this too, man.

Joe:                        Definitely some downsides. I just got off the phone with a guy the other day that doesn’t want to use us, because he doesn’t want to send the money to the Philippines, even though I told him, “You don’t have to send the money to the Philippines.” It’s that trust factor.

Justin:                   Yeah. We’re gonna get into this. We’re gonna get into trust. We’re gonna get into some of the other issues. The other fact is, Joe, is that some people just hate it here. They don’t like it in Southeast …  They’re like, “Oh my God. It’s so hot, man. I don’t know what you guys are doing.”

Joe:                        A couple of people come to mind that I know that they just can’t wait to get back on the plane and go back to the U.S. as soon as they get out here.

Justin:                   Poverty.

Joe:                        Yeah.

Justin:                   Right? It’s really poor in certain places, and it can be disturbing, especially the first time you see it. Sometimes the service is bad. We joke about this, but if you go into a supermarket here you’ll see not fifty or a hundred different types of cereal, you’ll see four. You’ll see Cheerios. I’m not talking Honey Nut Cheerios, I’m talking plain old Cheerios. Right? You know what I mean. It’s like, oh, there’s Corn Flakes. Not sugar frosted, syrupy. No, it’s straight Corn Flakes.

Joe:                        Yeah, I think it’s especially true for anyone with a family. They really gotta think twice about moving to a place like this.

Justin:                   All right, man, but it’s not just the Corn Flakes and the Cheerios. There are some serious issues, and we’re gonna get into it. I think it’s really important for anyone that’s considering starting abroad. Maybe they’re already here trying to build their business, or they have a team or a partner overseas. It’s not just Southeast Asia either. I think it would be interesting to you if you’re an entrepreneur in that situation.

                                Before we get into this episode, man, it’s time to make the donuts. Let’s dig into our featured listing of the week. This week, man, we’re talking about our outdoor sports equipment site. I really like this site. I thought this was a done deal, man. It got really close to closing, and then it didn’t. So it’s still available.

Joe:                        Yeah, very close. We should say sports in quotations, because it is kind of an adventure sport kind of thing. The deal did get very, very close, and the buyer backed out at the last minute, so we still have it listed. It’s a great site for those looking to just get into e-commerce, because it is completely set up via Dropship. Anybody that has a little bit of experience will find it fairly easy to run. I think it’s definitely something that someone could do without holding any inventory, and it’s something that has an interest in this kind of niche would be perfect.

Justin:                   We’re gonna put a link to this website, or this listing, in the show notes. You can check it out: empireflippers.com/liability, which is this episode. Just some details really quick. It’s making 1.7 thousand dollars a month. That’s averaged over the last 8 months. It’s a dropshipping site, so there is no actual physical inventory you have to hold. It’s a really good looking site. I mean, it looks like a quality site when you check it out. I think it’s really good for someone looking to get into e-commerce at a lower price point. A lot of times, you see e-commerce, and they’re 60,000-plus. This one, with a price point of 35,000, is a great kind of entryway.

Joe:                        Yeah, the seller who set this up really put his heart and soul into it. He was a guy that was passionate about this niche, thought, “I’m gonna set up a site. I’m gonna sell the equipment.” That’s what he did.

Justin:                   He likes it.

Joe:                        He likes it, yeah.

Justin:                   Yeah, so I think that’s sort of interesting. It’s not someone made by a … You know, they’re just looking to build it and flip it, build it and flip it. No, this is someone that put a little bit of love into it, and that’s one of the reasons I like the site. I think it’s pretty interesting, and we’ll link to that in the show notes.

                                Alright buddy, let’s dig into the heart of this week’s episode.

Speaker 2:           This is the Empire Flippers podcast.

Justin:                   Is building your business in Southeast Asia a liability, Joe? We’ve really got five main points we wanna talk about, and we’re gonna mention each one of them and kind of get into them a little bit and then talk about some potential or possible solutions for each. The first one, man: trust troubles. You alluded to this a bit at the beginning of the show.

Joe:                        Yeah, this is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. I mean, this is really the big one, right?

Justin:                   The first thing I’ll say here is that some people just have a distrust of anyone outside of their home country. If it’s not America, I’m not sure I want to do business. It’s true. There are some people that think that way. They probably wouldn’t be our clients period. There are just some people that won’t do business if it’s outside of their home country whether it’s the UK, Australia, U.S.

Joe:                        Yeah I think they read the news a little too much probably too. They’ve heard about all the Nigerian scams. All those foreign scammers and stuff like that. Once they hear anyone coming from outside their home country or money going outside their home country they’re immediately taken aback.

Justin:                   Another potential issue here is that we may have, and we do, we have some, not non-native speakers. That’s what I was gonna say, but that’s not exactly right. Not American English. Their prepositions might be ours. It becomes pretty clear sometimes in chat. Some people have a problem with that. They’re just not as open doing business with someone that’s in that position. You have a bit of that. I think you have probably a more legitimate less racially motivated concern would be worry about offshore bank accounts.

                                You want me to wire money into this crazy account, which I don’t really understand that whole banking thing. I think I’m going to get screwed on this deal. Especially if you’re in an industry, I’d say like ours, where it’s generally higher dollar transactions. If you’re in the financial investment industry and we’re asking you to wire money to our offshore corp that sounds odd.

Joe:                        Yeah I definitely think that this is a big thing for the high value transactions. People know the low value transactions, they’re protected. Their credit card, their Paypal [inaudible 00:06:55]

Justin:                   If I got screwed on a hundred dollar deal it’s like ehh. You know what I mean?

Joe:                        I think it’s also most people know nowadays that they have ways to get that money back. If they send a wire out for a hundred thousand dollars it’s gone kind of thing.

Justin:                   That’s the question, right? How do you hold someone like that accountable? If they are in Thailand or Bali or the UK and you’re in the U.S. or whatever, how do you hold them liable? How do you hold them accountable if something goes wrong or if they screw you? That’s one of the questions that people ask. I think it’s a concern. In some cases a valid concern. It just goes to show you need to be pretty careful with anyone that you’re doing business with on the internet.

                                We do have some potential solutions for this that I think may help. If you’re running a business and you’re in this situation where you have this offshore corp and you have an odd scenario, just don’t make an issue of it. Don’t not lie about it. Don’t hide it. Don’t make it front and center soon as you get on the phone with a potential customer. Oh hey, by the way, I’m on the beach in Bali. That would be a little odd.

Joe:                        Yeah I definitely think that this is one way to deal with it. It’s my least favorite of our ways. I think that this would work, especially if you’re working with corporations in the U.S. Some corporations are just gonna have a line that says, “We only deal with U.S. corporations and they have to be located in the U.S.” That kind of thing. With them, don’t lie, but don’t be so forthright as to tell them where you are on any given Tuesday afternoon.

Justin:                   Yeah you don’t have to be screaming it from the rooftops. That doesn’t have to be the first thing you come out with. The second thing is that you can have an onshore corporation. You can have onshore bank accounts to make the transaction relatively easy. That’s exactly what we have. We have a US corp. The US corp can be held liable kind of. We have US bank accounts. We bank with CitiBank. We give them our routing and account number and everything. It’s not a problem. It’s US based.

Joe:                        This was key for us when we were dealing outsourcing deals. We definitely would’ve lost some deals with dealing with corporations that had those policies of we will not send money offshore. I think if you are doing a business to business type transactions, having US corporation is critical. If you’re in high value sort of things where you’re dealing with customers, individuals, you should consider having a US presence as well.

Justin:                   As a brief aside, some of the people that are just getting started wherever we call the five figure a month problem. Don’t worry about where you set up your corporation and how you get your offshore bank account and how you push money over here or over there until you’re at least five figures a month. I’d say mid to high five figures a month. Then you can start looking at that, and it becomes a bit more of a concern.

Joe:                        You talk about foreign corporations and foreign bank account worries. I called Citibank because we were having trouble wiring money through Romania the other day. The first thing out of the representative’s mouth was, “Are you sure you’re not getting scammed, sir, sending this money to Romania?” Ma’am, I send money all over the world every couple of weeks. Why are you bringing it up about Romania? Then she checked my account and she was like oh okay, you seem to know what you’re doing. It’s amazing the kind of, I don’t want to say racism, but-

Justin:                   Fear of a certain country, right?

Joe:                        Yeah.

Justin:                   I tell you, “Hey we gotta wire this money to Nigeria.” It sounds a little sketch. How difficult must it be? Let’s say that you’re a Nigerian in Nigeria. You’re doing real business. How hard would it be to try and sell people on sending you money?

Joe:                        Remember we had that guy. We had customer that wanted to business with us. He didn’t have a PayPal account, didn’t have credit card, had no way to pay us. I said basically you could Western Union us the money I guess. That’s really the only way I have for you to do it.

Justin:                   It’s crazy. Someone trying to do legitimate business from a country that’s known for online scams. It must be a really awkward and weird situation. The other solution we have for this is just own it. Look, we’re in the Philippines. This is our business. This is exactly how we operate. The other thing you do with this is show how accountability is difficult even if you were local. You have that accountability problem across the board. It doesn’t go away. Basically if you’re doing any kind of business online, there’s going to be a bit of that. I think if you can take that away or take that off the table it’s gonna help. You see where I’m going here?

Joe:                        Yeah, I do. I think this is my favorite one. I think this is the way to do it really. Once you’ve got business going, coming in, maybe not the first time around when you got people on a little bit of new legs and they’re afraid of doing business with you. Later on down the line when you’ve got a consist sales funnel coming in, own that. Make sure people know what your situation is. Have an onshore presence so they can make payment details through there. Make sure they understand the offshore presence as well. Make sure that they understand that you’re gonna be there. You’re a reliable person. It’s trust with you and not just where you are.

Justin:                   We have our buddy Anton [inaudible 00:11:44] talk about the dropshipping. When you’re looking for dropshipping suppliers, I think you can do a combination of these. If you’ve got an onshore corp and bank accounts and you’re not really making an issue that you’re calling them from Bali might be in a better shape. You might be in better shape to get that supplier to go on board with you and start supplying you as a dropshipper. You could just own it early on, but if you’re just starting out maybe that’s not the best time to do that. Maybe you can take a little time and get in there.

                                The second point I wanted to point out or another potential liability is the poor proximity to prospective clients or partners or the industry overall. The truth is, Joe, and you know this, but some deals are just better done face to face.

Joe:                        This was one the big things that our mentor said when we first came out here was, “You guys are gonna have a hard time getting new customers cause you’re not here in the US.”

Justin:                   I think that’s partially true. I think we found it to be somewhat true. Another problem is right now if we were in the US, Joe, let’s say we’re back in San Diego or whatever. I could hop on a flight really quickly and easily and take Spencer over at Niche Pursuits out to dinner and talk to him about something we wanted to do. I could fly over to [inaudible 00:12:51] and take him out for a weekend or something and kind of chat about what we wanna do in business. If I was in the UK I could hook up with Justin [inaudible 00:12:58] take him to the pub over a couple of pints and lay into our plans. [inaudible 00:13:03] work with him really easily. It’s much harder when you’re halfway around the world.

Joe:                        Yeah. I think also attending industry events. That goes right along with this. These things are just difficult when you’re here in Southeast Asia. The funny thing is flying around Southeast Asia is so easy. I was just doing some tickets the other day. It’s like two hundred dollars to go round-trip from here to Thailand, back. It’s very, very cheap. Once you do that transatlantic flight, man, things get very pricey.

Justin:                   It’s pricey but also, man, just the time. It’s a long time to get there. That flight’s long. You’re tired when you get there. You’d be a bit of a mess. Some of our potential solutions to this poor proximity problem would be to make new connections. We’ve made connections locally to us, I guess, in Asia with guys like Dan and Ian from the tropcial [inaudible 00:13:57] with Ace Chapman who comes out here to Southeast Asia and hangs out a bit. It’s easier to connect with people that are either local to you or spend some time in your region.

Joe:                        Yeah, super important. You just can’t be the entrepreneur on an island kind of thing. This is just the way to do it.

Justin:                   Another thing you can do is you can actually bake travel costs into your expenses if you know that you’re gonna need to go back to the US two times a year, three times a year. Actually just include that as an expense into what you expect to make in terms of your profit margin.

Joe:                        I think this is something we’re starting to do now. We have to start doing this. If there’s something I could tell people from the beginning to start doing it would be to say, “Hey try to do trips a little more often than once every five years. Do one every eighteen months or so and do maybe a circuit. See your customers. See some prospects. Do some conferences. That sort of thing. Bake those costs into your product and your service.”

Justin:                   Another thing you can do is just make yourself really accessible. If that’s just not possible. Let’s say you’re just getting started, you can’t be flying back to the UK or the US every three or four months. Make yourself really accessible. That means having your phone number readily available, your Skype readily available, your email, Twitter. Just make it really easy for your customers, your prospects, and partners to get ahold of you. Let them know that you’re open to that. You love to be reached out to and that kind of thing. I think that helps as well.

Joe:                        Yeah, especially in big business or high ticket items. A phone call. Just answer the phone. John Myers did an article over a medium about just answering the phone. It’s so important if you’re doing these sort of high value, high ticket items. Especially with an individual customer or a business that it’s a critical function of theirs. Like outsourcing, if they’re outsourcing their customer service, they gotta be able to call and talk to you. They got to. Otherwise they’re not gonna have the trust factor.

Justin:                   I think I mentioned this in other podcast episodes, it bears repeating, Joe, that some e-commerce guys report that when they put their phone number on the website they make it very clear, very obvious how to get in contact with them. It’s not that they get so many more calls. They do get a few more calls. It’s not the business they get from the calls, it’s the trust that’s built in it being so ready and so accessible that more people that don’t contact them just end up buying because the trust is there.

                                They feel like, okay this is a real company so to speak. They have a phone number and they’re a legitimate business. Making yourself available adds or bakes in some trust factor that will help you close deals. Third point we wanna talk about is the communication calamities and the trouble with time zones. Some serious problems here. Some people always say, “What are you complaining about, man, you’re on the beach. You’re chilling. Just stay up a little later and get on a phone call.” Here’s the truth of the matter is what we’ve had back and forth communications that have wasted hours, or in some times even days, on getting shit done.

Joe:                        Yeah. It happens, especially with people on the West coast on California time. If I don’t communicate with them late at night our time, by the time I wake up in the morning they’re already gone for work. Oh my god. It can definitely delay things. The time zone thing. Then scheduling a meeting. Before we’re using schedule once or something like that. A lot of times they’d get the meeting invite and it’d be in the wrong time zone. It was just a disaster.

Justin:                   We have a buyer that is a bit of a bell ringer. He actually rings our bell when things aren’t working out as well as they should. We really appreciate it because sometimes he points out sometimes really poor communication with our team and with our customers. He beat us up recently for some things that could’ve been handled a lot sooner, a lot quicker. It just wasn’t because of this long back and forth. It also can be difficult to get people on chat at the same time. If you wanna get on a phone call. Recently I know that we had a buyer in Israel, a seller in California, and we’re in the Philippines. Trying to schedule an appropriate time for all three parties was a little difficult.

Joe:                        It was more than a little difficult. We got it down eventually. It was a little hairy there for a bit.

Justin:                   I find interviews can be a bit more painful or difficult because sometimes they wanna interview at a specific time. They have set time frames that they do their interviews. It is a horrible time for me. It’s like four in the morning or five in the morning or something, which is like middle of my sleep time. It makes it really difficult. It may be harder to promote your business or brand if that’s the case without having some really awkward hours that may be not good for you personally or just not good for you building up your business.

                                Some of the solutions we’ve found to deal with some of these communication calamities and these time zone issues. The first would be just having a good chat solution for internal communication. If you’re working with VA’s or you have a partner or something. We use Slack, which has been really good for us, Joe. I’ve been so happy. I get a lot less email.

Joe:                        A lot less. It’s cut down on my email, I would say, seventy percent.

Justin:                   It’s ridiculous and really nice. Other people use HipChat. I know that’s a good alternative as well. Having this kind of chat solution that can kind of keep everyone up to date without these really long drawn out emails is much, much better. Another thing you can do with your team is to have consistent internal calls or meetings. You’re meeting the same time every day or every week or every month. It’s the same date. It’s the same time and just build that consistency. Yes, okay, it may be at a particularly bad time for me, but I know it’s coming every single time and I can kind of prepare and get ready for it.

Joe:                        Yeah, I would also say an extension of this is external office hours kind of thing. Know that if you’re in this kind of time zone, pick a couple of day s a week where you’re gonna have extended office hours or you’re gonna stay up late and you’re gonna do some phone calls back to the US. You’re gonna be able to do this kind of stuff a few times a week and be able to communicate with your customers effectively.

Justin:                   I generally do this for interviews. Most of my interviews would be later at night on a Monday, Tuesday, sometimes a Wednesday. Those are the nights that I’ll stay up much later, and I can kind of do interviews. I can interview other people. That tends to work. I always let people know beforehand that the hours can be a little weird or that internet may drop or something like that so they’re aware. I just had one drop on me. The power went out and dropped in an interview, a really good one I really wanted to do last week. We had to delay because the internet just was not sticking man, not sticking with it.

                                Fourth point I wanna talk about is basically being native and naiive. This comes down to undervaluing your time. The truth of the matter is is in Southeast Asia living is cheap, man. It’s pretty inexpensive to live. You’ll hear other people talk about you can live out here on six hundred dollars a month.

Joe:                        Six hundred dollars.

Justin:                   I don’t know. This is a tough topic. We’ve mentioned this before. I was saying you could live like a boss for like three grand a month and someone beat me up. They’re like, “Yeah, I live in Chicago on three grand a month.” It’s quality of life. That’s pretty subjective. I don’t know how you, whatever.

Joe:                        I get what you’re saying here. Yeah, it’s living cheap and only charging what you need to get by. We see a lot of entrepreneurs, especially when they start out, and they start getting that little bit of success, they just start topping out cause they’re like oh, that’s all I really need. I only need fifteen hundred bucks a month and that’s all they need.

Justin:                   I can charge ten bucks an hour for my work and that covers my nut. That keeps me good. I’m making my fifteen hundred bucks a month, and that’s it. I’m happy with my life there. The problem is that they’re leaving real money on the table by doing that. Maybe they’re charging ten bucks an hour but they should be charging fifty. That’s what the going rate is for their skill level and expertise. They’re missing the forest for the trees. The other problem is that they go to solve small problems instead of the big profitable ones.

                                Yes, you can tinker and solve smaller problems. People will pay you for that. The big ones, the real challenge is, that people are willing to either pay a lot more money for or there’s a lot of people who will only pay a little bit of money for. I think if you just are living on a basic sustenance level or whatever, and it’s good you’re happy with your life, you might be missing out on some of the opportunities that are in front of you. One of our solutions to this is just to live like a boss, man. Live like a boss. Don’t go down market. Don’t go from your three dollar beers to I’d never pay more than a dollar for a beer, that kind of thing. Just live well. Have everything taken care of for you.

Joe:                        I would say travel. We’re going to Vietnam next month. I’m gonna be going to [inaudible 00:22:39] after that. I just set up the travel plans myself. Going around a little bit, I think that helps. Get the expenses flowing a little bit for sure even though it’s cheap to travel in Southeast Asia. You definitely can-

Justin:                   Live it up, yeah. Live it up and spend some money, and that will keep you hungry for more I think. That’ll keep your business growing and becoming more profitable. The other thing you can do is you can use your additional free time to work on the really hard problems in your niche industry. Joe, we’ve beat this issue up, man. Your personal life, in terms of having someone to cook your food, take care of your clothes, do all those things for you, that you might not have in the UK or the US, are just so easy here that you have all this additional free time. You can devote a lot of that time to really solving some of the bigger challenges in your industry.

Joe:                        Yeah, one of my personal favorites. You really get a lot of thinking time. That’s what it kind of frees you up for. If you don’t need to do the laundry or do your own cooking, once you have all your tasks and your project work out of the way, now you’re kind of getting into that forward thinking category, that cloud thinking sort of thing where you’re just writing down ideas and brainstorming and getting things done.

Justin:                   I like thinking time. You could also call it skill acquisition time. I can go out there and learn new skills that I’m not so comfortable with and get out of my shell a little bit, get into some of the things that I’m not as comfortable or familiar with and get good at them and become an expert in those areas that I’m not today. With that extra skills you’re gaining, you can charge a lot more for your time. Now you’re ten dollars an hour, you can bump yourself up to fifty, eighty dollars an hour.

                                That’s what I hear a lot of people on our space say, “You should double your rates.” You should double your rates and that’s not sustainable. No one can double their rates forever. It’s ridiculous. They’re just saying that because so many people under value their time. They’re not really realizing what they’re worth and charging correctly for it.

                                Our fifth point we wanna talk about a little bit is the dangers of distraction. There’s this thing, man, I don’t know some people come over here and they just go crazy.

Joe:                        Manila madness baby.

Justin:                   Manila madness. What they do is they end up spending a hell of a lot of their free time partying. They’re chasing girls. They’re not focused on their business.

Joe:                        Or chasing guys. [crosstalk 00:24:56]

Justin:                   Anything. They’re chasing something. They’re just not focused on their business. They’re not getting the work done. The truth is, for most places there something going on almost every day, every night. There’s always something to do.

Joe:                        Maybe not in [inaudible 00:25:09].

Justin:                   You and I both know I’ve known a couple of people here that came to [inaudible 00:25:13] and just were tearing up the town, man. They were out all the time.

Joe:                        Yeah, but if you want a sleepy town come to [inaudible 00:25:18]. It’s definitely out of the way. It’s close enough that you can hop on a plane and just get there.

Justin:                   The problem I think overall is there’s just too many people to see. There are too many things to do. Sometimes we’ve hiked some of that stuff. We’re going island hop, we’re doing these really cool things, and it’s true that they are pretty awesome, but I think you have to balance that. We’re gonna talk about that in a second. One of the other things about being an [inaudible 00:25:45] when you’re from another country and you’re living in a different or foreign country there’s something about that crowd that tends to go out more. They’re more willing to explore. They’re more willing to hand out. They kind of connect with new people. People living in a foreign land, let’s all get together and connect.

Joe:                        It’s a little bit of a four hour work week. It’s a little bit of that prostisize your business so that you can live your life to the fullest and learn how to dance the tutu or something like that and go into kick boxing or whatever it is. You find that a lot of those distractions needs to be placated and balanced with business.

Justin:                   You also have wannabe’s I think. You’ll have posers that they have cash or whatever but they don’t really do any work. They’re just out playing all the time. It’s easy to get distracted by those people and not focus on your business. Maybe you don’t have the trust fund they have. Maybe you don’t have the guaranteed income from a settlement that they have. 

Joe:                        That’s very true. In the major metropolitan areas of south east Asia. Bangkok. Manila.

Justin:                   [inaudible 00:26:50]

Joe:                        Yeah, it’s very easy to be distracted by those kind of people.

Justin:                   One of the solutions I think it’s to get yourself in a routine and you definitely harp on this, Joe. I think you’re right that if you do have a routine that you follow-

Joe:                        Yeah, it’s okay to get away from it. It’s okay to have off days or even go on vacation and not follow a routine, but day to day, eighty percent of the year, you want to have a set schedule for work, a set schedule for eating, a set schedule for working out. Yeah, it’s kind of boring, but it helps you get a lot more work done in the time that you’ve allocated for yourself. It allows you to have free time that’s well-structured. You value it more.

Justin:                   I think you can also balance the amazing with the mundane. You’ve got your routine. You’ve got your regular process of the things that you do. Once in awhile, you can go crazy. You can go to [inaudible 00:27:48] and live it up like a boss for a few days. You can go a little crazy and take a bit of time off to do that. I think it’s kind of like a diet, for example. Your regular eating schedule is good. You eat regularly healthy food and stuff. Every once in awhile you’re gonna go eat half a pie. That’s just how it works. You can treat yourself but just don’t go crazy all the time. We see people do this, man. It can be a real issue.

Joe:                        Especially for the younger crowd. I’d see the under twenty five kids are gonna struggle with that if they come out here and for the first time they have that access.

Justin:                   Another thing you can do is build yourself a work cocoon. Basically you just close yourself off. You go to coffee shop where you don’t know anybody, put your headset in, and just knock it out. You can have people defend you from other stuff that’s [inaudible 00:28:40], “Nope, nope, he’s in lockdown mode. He’s working or whatever.” That’s something that I do. Or you can just actually put yourself in a room where you don’t have the distractions and knock out the work.

Joe:                        Yeah, I would say the room thing works best for me. I need to have a comfortable desk and set up where I can just work. I get a lot more done if I have a comfortable chair, a desk, and traditional working apparatus than I do in any sort of other environment like a coffee shop or around other people. I think having that cluded environment [inaudible 00:29:14] environment work only space where you do not play from at all, it’s a big advantage and that’s what you should do.

Justin:                   Another benefit, and some people are gonna argue with me on this I’m sure, but don’t live in the party zone. Don’t live where everyone’s at, where all the action is. If you’re in Chiang Mai, for example, don’t live in Nimman. Live a little bit outside of that area. If you’re in Ho Chi Minh, don’t live in district one. Live a little bit outside of there. You can go there. You can party and meet with other people. You can network. You can socialize. Then you can kind of go back to your routine. You can go back a little ways away and go back to regular life, normal life. Your work life. Do you wanna live in a party town, Joe?

Joe:                        I don’t know. I understand having it at arms reach thing. I think that that’s probably the right recommendation for eighty five percent of the people out there. Really you should have some will power. You know what I mean? If you live in a city where it’s a party city, and everything’s accessible to you and you’re one of the people that has no will power, I’m not sure you’re gonna be able to run away from it either.

Justin:                   I’m thinking about Chiang Mai where everyone’s at [inaudible 00:30:25] you’re gonna run into the regulars or your coffee monster or something, you’re running into the same people all the time and they’re chatting, connecting. Go some place different. Go some place where you don’t know people so that you can put your head down and get the work done. The dangers distractions is a big one. It sounds…what are these guys complaining about? They got so many cool things to do. It’s awesome, but it can really take a big bite out of your business success and your ability to get the work done you need to do.

Joe:                        It’s something to consider whether you were just trying to make it or whether you’ve already made it and you have a business to run. If you’re considering a move out here, you should think about these points.

Justin:                   All right man, that’s the heart of this week’s episode. Let’s get into news and updates.

Speaker 2:           You’re listening to the Empire Flippers podcast with Justin and Joe.

Justin:                   Our first bit of news, Joe. We’ve got a new layout over at [inaudible 00:31:18] dot com. They’ve got a new layout for all their listings. I actually like it, man. I think it’s a step in the right direction. I think it’s pretty clear. It’s much clearer in terms of giving you the little bits of information that you need at a glance. I like their at a glance section. I think that showing page views uniques and then a table for their revenue in terms of revenue costs and profit I think is a step in the right direction.

Joe:                        Yeah, I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Some of the things that we’re looking to do in our redesign. Graphical representations of traffic and financials just to make it easier to comprehend. I have to say that it’s not very consistent. You look at some listings it has it. Some listings it doesn’t.

Justin:                   I think they’re trying to switch over. I’m getting an option to switch back to the old view.

Joe:                        Oh yeah, but all listings say that. Then some listings just don’t have the data. It’s like it wasn’t bug checked or something.

Justin:                   They’re probably working that out right now.

Joe:                        Yeah, it’s just really weird, or maybe the seller didn’t provide that data. Either way, it makes some listings look A star number one and some listings look incomplete. When actually they do have their revenue data, it’s just not presented in the format that you’re used to.

Justin:                   On the new, it’s not as laid out as well. It’s interesting, I think where they still suffer a bit is that they’re presenting the data in a much nicer way, but I think the fact that you still don’t have any verification of that data, so it looks great, but it’s seller stated still. I think that still stands to hurt them. I don’t know. Anyway, I’d love to hear what you think about the new flip auctions and the listings. It looks pretty cool, I think, overall they’re definitely heading the right direction.

                                Second part I want to mention is our friends over at tropicalmba.com are selling their business, man. They’ve been talking about this for years now. They’ve got a business called moderncatdesigns.com. They’re actually selling that business off. It’s really unfortunate because we can’t make fun of them for selling cat furniture anymore. They can’t be self depreciating with their humor talking about their crazy cat furniture.

Joe:                        Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how this works out. I’ve always thought the site was interesting and an interesting business. I don’t remember the last time I had a cat. I think I was eight years old.

Justin:                   I heard Ian talk about he’s like, “Man this one has so much opportunity.” He’s like really fired up about it, man. He’s really fired about the business. I totally see what they’re going though. Their idea is that this doesn’t leverage some of their other skill sets, some of the other things they have going on in their business as well. It’s kind of like a stand alone. Since it’s not going to grow with the rest of the direction of their business, it’s just sitting there. Someone else might as well take it over and grow it for, I don’t know. Joe’s looking at me going, “Dude, we’re doing the same thing.” I know.

Joe:                        Maybe Dan got the premise from us when he was here.

Justin:                   Oh, maybe sold him on the idea. He’s like, “Yep, I’m dumping stuff too, man. I’m out.” The other thing we’re actually thinking about doing, we’ve been talking about this for a little while, is we’re thinking about taking bitcoin for payment on Empire Flippers. Taking bitcoin for buying sites, deposits, that kind of thing.

Joe:                        The biggest issue with this was gonna be accepting bitcoin, especially for large payments, and then converting those into US dollars. The fluctuation might kill our margin.

Justin:                   We drop ten percent a day or something, we lose ten percent, [inaudible 00:34:34] fifteen percent of the deal. That’s two thirds of our take.

Joe:                        Right, right, but Coinbase now has a solution for that where they’ll automatically transfer the payment directly into USD after it’s made in bitcoin. They’re really not susceptible to big fluctuations.

Justin:                   I like this. Honestly, I think it’d be a pretty small percentage of the business we do, but I’m happy to get involved [inaudible 00:34:58] you’ve been playing around with bitcoin personally. Plus, it’s kind of cool. I’d like to be able to do that. I think that we do have some customers would like to pay an bitcoin.

Joe:                        It definitely makes it a lot easier to accept large payments and then pay those large payments out. If we can except bitcoin and then pay in bitcoin, heck, it would cost us very little money, if anything at all.

Justin:                   Joe’s thought about accepting bitcoin was this, is that you’ve got people that bought bitcoin at five dollars a coin or something and it’s just gone through the roof. They’re sitting on this bitcoin. All this bitcoin they just kind of bought on a whim, and they can now trade that bitcoin in. It costs them very little for a cash producing asset. That’s kind of interesting. They can get out of the bitcoin business, at least partially, and start buying up assets that produce income.

Joe:                        Yeah. Expedia takes bitcoin. Del Computer now takes bitcoin. You can spend your bitcoin on real things. I haven’t heard of any stock brokers or investment opportunities taking bitcoin. I’m not sure what the legalities behind that would be anyway. It would be interesting to see if people are looking to turn their bitcoin into real investments.

Justin:                   All right buddy, let’s get into our listener’s shouts, comments, also known as our social proof segment. First off, we got Will on Twitter. It said, “I liked the new podcast.” This is episode 102. “New format makes more sense. I’d love to check out that software website you guys are brokering.” That’s the one that is my favorite. I love this site. It’s currently up, still available for two hundred and thirty five thousand. It’s a really cool site. I encourage you to check that out. We’ll put that on the show notes.

                                We’ve got Taylor Peerson who said, regarding episode one hundred, “Awesome episode, guys. One of my favorites ever. Loved hearing you guys riff on your stories. Respect.” Noah Ring says, “Great site Justin and Joe. Enjoying the podcast.” Thanks for being a listener, Noah.

Joe:                        Noah’s an old friend of mine so hello Noah.

Justin:                   We’ve got Fantasy FB [inaudible 00:36:58] it says, “Out of curiosity, does your twenty x multiple ever increase [inaudible 00:37:02] very steady earner. Say twelve months instead of three months?” That’s a really good point. That’s something we’re gonna be addressing with our evaluation tool. I think it’s unfair or not realistic for a business that’s been around for three years, on a great trajectory. It’s been slowly climbing. To sell at the same net profit multiple of a site that’s four months old or six months old, the minimum or whatever. It’s not exactly fair.

                                I think we need to take that into account, especially as we grow [inaudible 00:37:32]. For sites under fifteen, twenty thousand or so, just using a multiple of net profit is fair. I think it’s pretty reasonable at any sites under that level. We started to sell sites that are much larger. I think we have to take that into account.

Joe:                        I absolutely agree. It’s just funny that what people evaluate as being the most important thing when purchasing a site. I think I’ll be good to have an objective tool that says we’ve gone through the calculations. We’re the experts. These are what the objective points should be. This is what you should evaluate a site on and this is what you should use as a multiple.

Justin:                   Good thing we’re working on that tool, buddy. We should have something in beta within the next couple of weeks. We’re hoping to do it with our redesign launch. We’ve also got [inaudible 00:38:20] says, “What do Empire Flippers have on their phones these days? Can you guys share a screenshot of your apps?” Whatcha got, Joe?

Joe:                        Just going through my home screen right now I got Stitcher. I’ve got Audible. I’ve got Spotify. Twitter. Facebook.

Justin:                   Here’s the giants man. These are the big ones. Don’t you have something niche man, something small you can share?

Joe:                        I use my phone for business and pleasure. There’s really not a lot of stuff out there that’s just interesting.

Justin:                   I got Plants and Zombies, man. Plants and Zombies two. I don’t know. Real time waster there.

Joe:                        Actually, I’ve been playing bitcoin poker on my phone.

Justin:                   Bitcoin poker, like a boss, man. That’s awesome. We also got a comment from [inaudible 00:39:02]. He’s actually a first time buyer, website buyer from us. It says, “Thank you so much. You’ve all been very patient with me.” He was the guy had an interesting problem with the payment from Israel. I think he’s an Australian-

Joe:                        Yes.

Justin:                   -in Israel at the time, and he went to go wire us the money and went to the bank. They told him they were gonna take thirty percent.

Joe:                        That’s right.

Justin:                   Thirty percent to wire the money.

Joe:                        They wanted thirty percent extra.

Justin:                   Yeah, thirty percent extra to get us the money. What? What’s going on over there, man?

Joe:                        He had to bounce the money off of Australia and [inaudible 00:39:31] sent it to us.

Justin:                   [inaudible 00:39:31] family member over in Australia and then have them wire the money. It was kind of a crazy situation. If you’re looking to buy sites on your next [inaudible 00:39:40] don’t do [inaudible 00:39:41] Israel. Make sure you go somewhere else first cause they’re..thirty percent, man, that’s a heavy tax there buddy.

Joe:                        Or buy bitcoin.

Justin:                   We’ll be taking bitcoin. You could go that route too I guess. Alright, that’s it for episode 103 The Empire podcast. Thanks for sticking with us. We’ll be back next week with another show. You can find the show notes for this episode and more at empireflippers.com/liability. Make sure to follow us on Twitter at Empire Flippers, and we’ll see you next week.

Joe:                        Bye bye everybody.

Speaker 2:           You’ve been listening to the Empire Flippers podcast with Justin and Joe. Be sure to hit up empireflippers.com for more. That’s empireflippers.com. Thanks for listening.

 

Discussion
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  1. This is interesting. With our call center, we essentially have two brands. One for getting new business in the US where we do not promote that we are in Asia and another for hiring new agents and for our operations here in the Philippines.

    • I see why you do it, but maintaining two brands long terms is a pain. I think it’s best to have one marketing strategy and let products naturally feed off the promotion from each other within the brand.

  2. GREAT one guys, digging the “Empire Podcast” :) with the Featured listing, the new intro, keep it up boys

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