Taking place on Kelas Daring IELTS NTT’s Facebook Page, our first webinar series was started by having Thomas Barker (Tom) and Albert Codorniu (Albert) as guest speakers to talk about business-related courses. The session itself lasted for approximately an hour and was divided into two main parts: presentation talk by guest speakers, and Q&A session using comment tool on Facebook. The article only acts as a brief summary to what was covered on the session. The link to the recorded video can be accessed through our Facebook page on: https://facebook.com/IELTSDaringNTT.
Tom and Albert began their talk with a short introduction about themselves. Tom is currently working as a strategy consultant, advising business leaders for making crucial decisions for their companies, in London and also a manager in upReach (www.upreach.org.uk ), a charity supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds across the UK. While Albert works in strategy consulting for start-up in London. They both are involved in Global Economic Awareness (GEA) London chapter, a non-profit organization that teaches economics workshops to students around the world. One of the GEA projects was in Kupang, where Tom, Albert, and the other GEA leaders went to 5 high schools in Kupang, teaching and collaborating on activities with students about Economic-related topic. You can learn more about GEA and what they have been doing on this link: https://geaproject.org.
Jumping into the main presentation, Tom and Albert outlined three core items you need to determine in order to thrive your business or company, which are: Market, Competition, and Customer. All three combined result in what you call as a “Business Plan”. Let’s briefly revisit the first core item-Market. Tom began his speak by clearly defining what market means in business, not like markets you might be thinking such as street markets, but market in business means the scope of a product the company is selling, for example: smartphones and chairs. If you were on the session or watch the recording, you would see that Tom emphasized this part by showing the market scope for some products, such as smartphones and desktop computers, and with some data to accompany them, of course!
The next core item about Competition was handed over to Albert for explaining it. Albert also followed Tom’s outline, that is by giving a clear definition of competition in businesses firstly, then followed by determining whether having a competition is good or bad. According to Albert and if you have course in macro-economy, competition drives innovation and from the company’ point of view, it is not good for their profits, which is why being the strongest competitor in the market is crucial to secure the maximum profits.
So far, we have covered their presentation about Market and Competition, but it not all yet. Yes, you still have to determine your business customers. For this one, Tom was looking on both sides. According to Tom, having a lot of customers might be not good because the company will need to manage more customers and since each one of them might have their own preference for a product, then the company might not be able to satisfy all their customers’ needs. Having a large market of customers is good, if you have bargain power, meaning customers can not make demands. Tom illustrated this by giving an example of Smartphone.
To sum all the three core items defining a business, Albert went through to explain about Business Plan. Albert stretched that a good business must take into account: 1) your plans make sense in context, that is by answering questions that arise from those three core items above 2) always plan for the future. It had been an engaged talk presented by both speakers up until this stage, but it’s not complete without a summary! Tom took the privilege to conclude the talk by presenting what did we learn from today. This includes some factors needed for you company to more likely be successful, they are: 1) having a large and growing markets 2) selling a better product than competitors 3) having a large number of loyal customers and 4) it considers all those three core items above. Tom also noted two other factors to consider, culture (the place where you market your product) and timing (when to sell your product).
We hope you are still feeling engaged reading this until this stage, because we still have the Q&A session that run for about 30 minutes and we had quite some number of questions asked by our viewers. Some of the questions and answers are highlighted below:
How do you see an importance of creating organization structure?
Tom agreed to this question that it is extremely important of having proper organization structure, as see on the large companies. The issue though might arise from small companies, for example start-ups. For this, Albert shares his experience working with a start-up, saying that you can have other type of company structures, one that is more like a circle than a pyramid, where everyone collaborates in a team. But, according to Albert, it is you to determine what structure works best for your company by considering questions like: how fast your business growing, how big you are, and what your goals are.
Based on your experience, what strategies do the companies commonly use to keep their loyal customers happy?
Tom answered this question by giving an example for some of the larger supermarket retails in the UK, one strategy they use is by applying discount but in order to get discounted products, you need to earn enough bonus point by shopping more, this is called: customer loyalty.
Talking about business markets, as a business consultant, how do you see a new company determine their business market? are they doing surveys?
Albert thinks that doing surveys is one good way for determining your market, especially you just started your own company or business. But the better thing is by having a test, that is by launching a sample of your product to the market, to test whether it is successful or not. Tom emphasized more by saying it can be quite challenging to determine market especially it is a completely new product you sell. To illustrate this, Tom gave example of Facebook when they were first launched.
As a starter company, should they follow by selling the current popular product or is it worth risking selling a product that might sell better in the future?
Albert answered this question by again using Facebook as an example and yes it has high risk as at the time Facebook was launched, there were other similar product, but they were not successful. So, according to Albert, you need to be aware of both the risk and the potential of your own product.
During the start-up of a new company, will you focus more on the products or the business legality?
According to Tom, both things are crucially important and connect with each other, and to help you with those, background research is important when starting a new company. Albert added more by saying that it can be difficult right from the start just by considering the business legality itself, because every new company needs it, and it means a competition.
How does the company keep their loyal customers? I think I can relate this to this initiative (Kelas Daring IELTS), how to get people engaged for a long time?
Tom said no matter whether your customers spend their money or not in your business or initiative, you should not ignore customer loyalty. So, according to Tom, to make your initiative lasts long, you always need to keep in touch with your followers, that is by doing surveys to ask what they enjoy, what can we do better. Basically, getting as much feedback and information as possible. Doing this will make them feel they are important to this initiative or business and their views are valued.
Do you have any work in Malaysia?
Currently, GEA does not have any work in Malaysia yet, but they are open to have a future collaboration for project there. To do so, Tom and Albert will share their contacts where you can communicate with them. We will keep updating this and will post this to our social media once we hear back from Tom and Albert.
Other than language barrier, what were the biggest challenges you faced when you did the workshop about global economic awareness in Kendari?
According to Tom and other GEA leaders, the biggest challenge was not knowing what the participants (Students)’ levels are at. But the most important things are the students enjoyed the workshop and enhanced their skills. The discussion went through in a very comfy setting as Albert even made a joke about how spicy food in Indonesia was when he visited the country.
How to face any possible bad things which disturb our business?
For Albert, what you need to do in order to face them are by be flexible and be aware of how your business operates. Another thing is to be very organized, so you can adapt quickly to any coming challenges.
What do you think if a successful company generates high profit but in the same time generate negative externalities?
It is extremely important, according to Tom. In the UK, there have been some protests when a company makes huge income, but also brings negative consequences. This sometime can become quite problematic, because on one side they help people, but also the product waste can also do damage, for example petrol company. So, for Tom, the customers themselves also need to be wise when buying a product, by thinking the consequences that can happen from buying it. Albert stretched that there is a need for balance, the company still needs to generate income for its survival but at the same time must consider the consequences, one example is: bio-degradable products.
As successful company, it will be a lot of challenge to deal with unexpected events. What’s your strategy to make the business be resilient and sustainable? And how you implement that strategy?
Tom answered this by re-stating what have been discussed before, that is planning for the future. You should devote most of the time thinking about this.
So, that is all everyone for the summary of today’s webinar session with Tom and Albert. We all hope that you learned something new from here, and still engaged on what we have been planning for the future as Tom also said that it is important to plan. See you guys in our next webinar session, we hope there will be more interactions from you. A little spoiler: We will be having someone next week to share her experience, and her experience also includes something related to NASA, yes NASA!.