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Business Marketing Strategies on Podcast

Business Marketing Strategies

I am delighted to announce the arrival of the Business Marketing Strategies Podcast – available iTunes and PodOmatic.

The Podcasts cover all types of topics from Entrepreneurs to Business Marketing – even video marketing strategies. We discuss the ins and outs of good business with a great line up of Guests from all over the world.
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David Cummings

The Man That Wrote The Book On Being A Real Entrepreneur

This is an article about the interview that we did with a very special guest, who came from Dubai. His name is John Lincoln, the author of “Connect the Dots.” He is also the vice president of a large corporation that is currently based in the United Arab Emirates. He has been around the business world and has had his share of ups and downs with business as well.

David:   Welcome John.

John:     Thank you very much David for having me here today. It’s my pleasure.

David:   I really appreciate your joining us. I found your details quite intriguing and I certainly wanted to interview you for quite a while now, especially about your book, “Connect the Dots.” It certainly is something I believe our listeners can certainly benefit from. Firstly, can I ask you how you started out as an entrepreneur and a business leader?

John:     You know… I’ve been very fortunate. I was born in Malaysia, and I moved to the US where I started my career as a telecommunications professional. In the late 1990’s, I saw an opportunity to start a business in Japan, where I was based in one of my assignments. I started an e-learning business, and it failed, but I learned many things from it. Along the way, I also had the chance to advise smaller business entrepreneurs, both formally and informally. I always noticed that most small businesses are more opportunistic than strategic. I learned both from the corporate world and from observing small to medium businesses in developing and emerging economies in many markets.

David:   You mentioned about the entrepreneurialship in Japan, and you opened a company that didn’t do too well. Can you talk about that please?

John:     Sure. When I was based in Japan, I realized that many Japanese really want to learn how to speak English. It was the start of the internet boom in those days, and I thought that I could offer them English language lessons using the internet as key enabler. The reason being that, many Japanese, as you are all aware of, commute everyday from home to work and most of them will go to English language school right after work, in the evenings or late at night, and they pay about $60/hour. I thought that there is an opportunity to offer them English language lessons on the internet. That’s the reason why I started this business. You can offer language lessons through the internet. So I had a hybrid model where I had a call centre full of American teachers sitting there, coaching lessons, and students can call in and try the lessons and different sorts of coaching. And that was my business model at that time. The business didn’t take off because I had roughly underestimated one key factor. The internet at that time was dependent mainly on the phone line, and the phone lines in Japan at that time didn’t exactly have great service. It didn’t take off as much as I expected. I closed the business eventually and the second guy who followed after me, well, I guess it’s a billion-dollar business today. In this case the early bird didn’t get the worm and the second one got it.

David:   Was the primary reason why it fell was because the market research wasn’t done properly or the tools to be used was not researched?

John:     Not really. There were multiple reasons. One of the key reasons was that it was probably a bit too early in my time because internet service was dependent on the phone line, it was still a measured rate of service in Japan, and it was not a flat rate like in many developing economies today. The second reason is that I probably should not have tried to do a consumer model. Rather, I should have gone on to a b to b model, a business to business model whereby instead of developing all 150 lessons in one go, I probably should have done five or ten lessons, hired a couple of econ managers, tried and sell it to the corporations, and slowly build up on them. I had a very ambitious plan at that time which was just conceived a little bit early on.

David:   Okay, but I must admit though that you’ve been pretty courageous about jumping in and trying something brand new. That’s very open-thinking.

John:     Yes. It involved two countries, you know. The development is down in the states and the call centre with the teachers was launched in Osaka, Japan. Of course I had some Japanese partners. I never attempted to do it myself. On hindsight, it really probably was a stupid idea at the time.

David:   Well, everyone’s got 20/20 vision in hindsight, don’t they?

John:     Yes. Hindsight is 20/20.

David:   I suppose what I’m getting at is that you could’ve stepped out and tried something new. Does your book really explain or connect the dots for young entrepreneurs today to actually help them move forward and try something different like this if they’ve got great big ideas?

John:     Yes, I’m hopeful that it will do that. One of the reasons is that I specifically introduced the book in my first chapter. On the last chapter, it’s a very personal story, the dots that I did not connect, you know. But more on that, the book actually tries to attempt to address this topic that are not normally covered in business books or in smaller or medium sized business advice books. In my first chapter, I titled it as, “Before you take the bull by the horns, know your exit.” For example, Read more »

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