If I have to describe Raymond, I would think of him as a bottle of good Whiskey.
You may not appreciate it from the onset but slowly and surely it will become an acquired taste.
I got to know about him via their facebook ad. The name of the company struck me – GetFunding.
Sounds a bit scammy but it is anything but.
Housed in a humble office over in North Bridge Centre, Raymond has been in the finance line for decades. Initially focusing on government grants, he has expanded to cover other funding spectrum as well.
Raymond is a reservoir of knowledge on getting funding (no pun intended) for your business needs. I’m humbled to have him accept my interview invitation and share his ups and downs in his journey as an entrepreneur.
As you would have seen from all my previous interviews, the path isn’t easy but it is possible. Let’s see how Raymond walked his journey.
1. Please share a bit about what you do.
I increase the valuation of companies via business model design. Basically I would restructure the way a business is done to achieve 3 primary objectives;
a) The revenue would be earned via more means. For example, instead of making income just purely from selling of your services, a licensing / franchising model would be constructed to generate more revenue for the company.
b) Restructure the financial model of the business to ensure the company utilizes the least amount of capital for the purpose of running the business. It is to make it capital efficient.
For example, by negotiating with suppliers to delay collecting money and requiring customers to pay upfront, we would improve the company’s cash flow that it can be run with the least capital.
c) The above 2 objectives when met, would create a company that attracts a lot of investment. A lot of investment funds would come in to grow the company.
Eventually, we may invest our funds or our investors’ funds if the conditions are right. We then assist the company to grow via leveraging on investments from investors.
2. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was young, actually I wanted to be a lawyer. A strange ambition since now that I feel nothing for that profession.
3. What were you doing before starting this business?
I was working in DBS Bank as a system analyst. A career which I found meaningless to me.
4. How did the idea for your business come about?
It came from a need. A need to solve my problem. All my prospective clients were telling me that they did not have the budget to pay me for my services.
Eventually, I told them I would be settling the funding for them, and they would have the money to pay me.
As a result of that, I got more proficient at getting money for businesses than anything else. In the end, the branding stuck and people only look for me when they have a need / want to raise funding.
5. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
In business, speed is crucial. It is so crucial that the decision has to be made, if not there would be serious threats to the firm.
Often, in the process of maintaining the speed of decision in business, I have offended some friends, colleagues and staff. They may not see what I see. I see all the threats to the business, and they do not.
It is a sacrifice I made, and will continue to make. The only difference is that I hope to improve my communication to communicate my ideas in the shortest time possible. Such that I get my objectives met and the relationships to be preserved.
6. How did you get funded?
The irony is I am in the business of raising funding for my clients or investment, but our consulting business has yet to raise any funding yet. I am resourceful enough to get enough revenue in that raising investment is not that crucial.
Unless there is a strategic reason for an investor to come in, we will not accept the investment just purely for financial reasons.
The investor must have other value add to the business other than the money he or she is going to bring to the table.
7. How do you go about marketing your business?
In the past, I rely heavily on the sales agent model to get business coming in. However, in the past 3 years, I have modified the market of my business to be mainly from social media. I heavily market on facebook and on my newsletter.
When the marketing is done well, the sales would have an easier job to confirm the sales and to collect money.
8. Could you describe your first sale and how it came about?
The interesting thing about the first sale was that I went into the sales meeting not knowing anything about sales at all. However, many people have advised me to just make promises first to get the sales.
As I went into the first sales meeting without knowing anything about sales tactics at all, I just told the facts of what we can do and what we cannot do. Eventually, the sales were closed within just an hour of meeting.
The amount of sales generated was about S$ 120,000. Ironically, it is still the largest single sale I have made so far.
Later as I observe other sales environment where other salesperson went on to promise everything in a sales. Ironically, their sales process is a bit slower, and the customers have lesser confidence.
From that first day onwards, I know intuitively honesty is the best policy.
9. Describe/outline your typical work day?
I would wake up about 8/9am every morning. I would then cycle into the office. I like cycling very much and am jubilant that every day I have the pleasure of cycling to work.
I would usually reach the office about 11am. I would start to reply some emails and during lunch hour I may meet some of my clients for a brief discussion on how they can raise funding for their business.
During the afternoon, clients or prospects may visit me in my office to talk to me about their business and fund raising.
At 6pm, most customers’ meetings should conclude and I usually break for dinner. Some of the days, I would be doing preview seminars for my prospective clients. If not, evenings are relaxing time which we may watch some video or netflix in the office with my colleagues.
10. What has been your proudest moment in the history of your business and why?
It was years ago when I was able to recruit a sales affiliate team of about 120 members. Together with that team, we generated a relatively high 6 figure consulting revenue per year.
The proudest part was that I did so without much monetary outlay, to begin with. It was a verification that I was able to generate a viable business without much money.
11. What was the lowest point for you in this business?
Many years back, there were a few things that happened all at the same time. They were;
1) My marriage. A lot of downtime, affecting my revenue and at the same time, increased expenses.
2) My office & also my residence has 2 of our direct neighbours renovating their houses. It reduced our revenue to zero for those months.
3) On top of that, the rental of our office & residence double their rental.
4) There were a lot of lawyer letters for our outstanding loans and there was one creditor even went to the extent of a bankruptcy proceedings against me. I averted that fate when I was able to receive help from relatives.
What I learned from that harrowing experience was proper financial planning, and also the maniacal focus on revenue generation. Only revenue generation can make me solve that problem.
12. What’s your revenue numbers over the past year?
We have various investments which had their respective revenue. For our consulting practice, our revenue is roughly half a million.
13. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?
Being a fervent reader of history books, I would say that the person who influences me the most is a person who was long dead before I was born.
He is King Wen of the Zhou Dynasty. He is the author of the Book of Change. An influential book that was used by rulers to rule China. The book touches on principles of life and business.
It was from reading the Book of Change and applying it that I got out of financial troubles during the running of my business.
14. If you could go back in time to speak to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell him?
Focus on generating the biggest amount of revenue in the shortest amount of time and build up my base of contacts.
At 20, I was thinking of exploring an academic career. Thinking back, I should have just concentrated on building up a business before the age of 30.
15. What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got?
The absolute worst piece of advice that I have ever gotten (and continue to get) is to make everyone happy and to like me.
It is counter productive to make everyone like me. In fact, it is not even profitable for me to make people who do not like me to like me.
Individuals who dislike me would not like me or pay me for my services even if I make an effort. So why should I make an effort for them to like me? They do not pay my bills.
In fact, I should only focus your attention on people who like me or accept me, for these people would be the market segment who would be paying for my services and would take me for who I am.
For those who dislike me, I would not spend any time on them – it is a meaningless and unprofitable exercise.
Only one kind of persons would be well liked by all; they are all failures in life.
16. What’s your business focus for this year?
My business focus this year would be as follows;
To complete writing my book, “Rise of the Small – How to fund your way to millions”. It combines my knowledge and experience over 16 years of dealing with 16,000 entrepreneurs.
I assist companies in fund raising from the investors and the government as well.
We have also started to raise money from investors to invest in projects that we think have the highest chance of success.
After 16 years of observing our entrepreneur clients and also doing business ourselves, we have a good feel for what would make a business succeed.
In line with our book, we are also launching our new talk series with the same name, “Rise of the Small”, to feature speakers whose business has grown from small to big.
The story of their success would be distilled to be principles for people to learn and follow.
17. What’s a productivity tip you swear by?
I notice a lot of entrepreneurs often think that productivity comes from doing things efficiently. I think that it is not the greatest contributor to productivity.
I realise that the most significant contributor to productivity is clarity.
Research and personal experience tell me that in the lack of clarity, a job done wrongly in a day actually requires 2 extra days of repair work. 3 days of work can be for nothing if there is no clarity in the work.
Once you have clarity of your job scope, you can perform your job correctly without conflict with other colleagues.
[Tweet “I realise that the greatest contributor to productivity is clarity. – Raymond Ng”]
18. Is there an app or tool you can’t live without?
I depend on whatsapp to coordinate work with my team. I can put all my team members on the whatsapp so that communication between members can be simplified.
Very often when messages are passed, a lot of misunderstandings can occur.
Having a communication app that every team member is using minimises the misunderstanding and make the work more productive.
19. Where can people find you online?
People can find me online at http://facebook.com/raymond2. I usually post my views on business and funding on my facebook.
Often, I will post up the challenges I face in business. I will post up the triumphs when I have them.
Most importantly, I will also post up what I learn from other entrepreneurs, especially when my business deals with precisely other entrepreneurs.