succeed in life and in business, one has to know what
to do and to work hard. There is no short cut to
success. I will illustrate this interesting case from
one of my encounters of Myanmar business man I met.
Mr Oh - A prospective Buyer's Agent - The 30-year-old
man. A Myanmar man who claimed that he had a great
demand for the multivitamins in Yangon.
Mr Lee - A prospective Seller's Agent - The
72-year-old man is a Singaporean with 5 decades in
Goods in demand in Myanmar - a brand-name
multi-vitamins sometimes seen in shops in Peninsula
What Mr Oh wanted from Mr Lee was a large number of
multi-vitamins without the box, an analysis
certificate and quotation. He said: "I could get the
vitamins from a Singapore importer but his prices are
What Mr Lee
wanted from Mr Oh was his quoted buying price and
method of payment. He did now want to waste time
providing quotes so that Mr Oh can use to underprice
or force another Seller to bid lower. He would not
provide an analysis certificate at his own expense. He
would not provide the vitamins without a box as there
would be damages and then claim from Mr Oh. He wanted
full payment but Mr Oh offered to pay 50% deposit and
50% on delivery.
I could see
that there was no point in doing business. "It is not
easy to do this business," Mr Lee reiterated to me
several times. I was not doing this business as I knew
that a lot of time would be wasted wheeling and
dealing. So I dropped the contacts. Then Mr Oh phoned
me to follow up. I arranged for a meeting with Mr Lee
at the last minute and asked Mr Lee to meet at
Peninsula Plaza at 4 pm.
1. Last-minute meetings are irritating to my friend
Khin Khin when she has better things to do. She
blasted me once when I arranged for her to meet the
72-year-old man (who has extensive trading contacts in
China and Indonesia). She gave me a piece of her mind.
For me, this is OK if I have the time.
2. The 72-year-old man asked me to drive him to the
meeting. I obliged. There is no point saying to him
that "you want the business, you go yourself." This is
3. The old
man said he had to eat something as he was diabetic.
The meeting was 4 p.m and we were late by 15 minutes.
So I phoned Khin Khin and her contacts to explain the
situation of delay and suggested a meeting at Funan
Shopping Centre Food Court which is just a 5-minute
walk from Peninsula Plaza. "No," Khin Khin said. "We
meet at Peninsula Plaza. How long will you and the old
man take to come?"
"It will be 2 hours later," I slammed down the phone.
I had driven Mr Lee all the way from Clementi and
here, Khin Khin and her contacts were not keen to meet
nearby and have some drinks. Making a business contact
is 90% entertainment rather than just straight talking
I really dislike Khin Khin saying "old man" when she
could say Mr Lee. It is disrespectful in stating the
obvious. Even "young man" may be condescending to
somebody who is insecure and just starting out in
business. Just address the business contact by his
name. It is so simple and yet Khin Khin and her friend
would not do it since they are younger. But not as
young as spring chickens.
BE CLEVER WHEN ENCOUNTERING OLD DOGS IN BUSINESS
1. When Mr Lee had his roti prata, he told me that
since he had come all the way, he should contact Mr
Oh. I said: "Phone yourself, as I don't see any future
in this business with the behaviour of the Sellers'
agents." He phoned Khin Khin's friend, May Thet whom I
had first introduced earlier. She was the one who knew
Khin Khin and Mr Oh. May Thet said OK to meet at
Peninsula Plaza. When Mr Lee and I arrived, May Thet
pulled up a chair and said: "Welcome boss..."
This is where I said one has to be clever when
encountering old dogs in business. The 72-year-old man
replied: "If I am the boss, why do I have to come all
the way with my goods to see you? You even refused to
meet me at Funan Centre..."
LEAVE THE MEETING WHICH WILL NOT BE SUCCESSFUL
I left Mr Lee at Peninsula Plaza with the Seller's
Agent and contacts. It would be an acrimonious meeting
with no results. The old man would be brutally frank
to teach these young people how to do business. I went
to a shop that sells paintings. The proprietor cannot
converse well with me in English but she has new
paintings on sale. It would be such a pleasant time to
spend looking at the work of the craftsmen selling
Later, Mr Lee told me that he told Mr Oh to put $100
cash down while he would write a cheque for $1,000
since Mr Oh said he had a Singapore importer and would
not really need Mr Lee's services. Mr Lee said that
the "importer" was just a distributor or post man. Mr
Oh declined the bet and left in an unhappy manner.
That was what I predicted. No need brains to do it. As
for Mr Lee, he told me he felt invigorated sparring
with the Seller's agents as they knew nothing about
the vitamin business.
I learnt some business tips such as "dumping" from the
72-year-old man by being hands on and though this
business meeting was acrimonious, I was not involved
in the unpleasant encounters. No business university
can beat being hands on and meeting a brutally frank
72-year-old general trader with considerable
experience. You just need to spend time with him and
if he respects you, he will share his experiences and
extensive network. You just have to read the situation
and act wisely.
APPLICATION TO VETERINARY MEDICINE.
"Dumping" applies to veterinary medicine too. For
example, pet shops in veterinary surgeries sell a
brand of food at just cost-price by ordering in large
The importer has given the seller a 40% discount and
recommends a 20% discount to consumers. If the pet
shop operator sells at 35% discount, he gets many
sales and in theory he will ask for more supplies.
However, this is dumping and the importer will never
supply him more as dumping is not sustainable in
business in the long term for the manufacturer and