Why Business in Myanmar Is About to Change

Myanmar, also known as Burma, is a country in transition. Business in Myanmar is on the brink of sweeping changes that should usher in long overdue economic prosperity for the citizens of Myanmar.

For decades, Myanmar was tightly controlled by a military regime. During this time, western governments including the United States, the United Kingdom, and other European nations sanctioned Myanmar. With the exception of humanitarian aid for the starving population, western businesses were not allowed to do business in Myanmar.

However, after the 2010 elections in Myanmar, the new Myanmar president and other political leaders ushered in rapid radical reforms and the western world began to take notice. Political prisoners have been freed, the press is now allowed access, and earnest efforts in peace talks have been praised by many. It seems the new Myanmar government is really trying to help its own people and also cultivate business and political relationships with other countries.

In July 2012, President Obama declared that U.S. companies are now free to invest in Myanmar for the first time in 15 years. The UK followed suite soon after. The Myanmar parliament is in the process of passing new legislation that will supplant Myanmar’s existing 1988 investment law. The new law will reform greatly how Myanmar does business with international investors.

The first version of this bill was criticized as being too strict and it was thought by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Myanmar’s top business lobby group, that changes needed to be made. The Myanmar parliament has gone back to the drawing board and it is predicted the changes they are making will attract foreign investors in a big way.

One of the main changes is the original financial cap that was to be placed on foreign investment. Originally it was capped so high that small to medium sized foreign businesses would have been shut out. However, the cap has now been lowered to a level that they can participate.

The tax incentives to foreign businesses have also been increased and extended which will now make doing business in Myanmar much more attractive. In most cases, the tax incentives have been extended from three to five years.

Another primary source of contention in the original version of the new foreign investment law was the inclusion of 13 areas where foreign investment would be restricted. This was designed to protect the primary domestic businesses including agriculture, fishing, and textile manufacturing. However, these restrictions have now been made more lax and now allow for foreign businesses to enter into 50/50 partnerships with domestic Myanmar businesses in these restricted business categories.

The Myanmar Investment Commission will be in charge of regulating the new international business inside the country. They have been putting on a far friendlier face than they have had in the past to woo in the international investors. At the same time, the Myanmar parliament has given them more power in how they handle things. This includes the ability to revoke the tax incentives.

The new changes should have business in Myanmar booming over the next few decades.

Why Every Business Needs Digital Personas

One of the most important things in social media is a persona. A persona helps a business establish its voice. In fact, a business does not have to have one voice (even though most of them do). A business can have several voices with which to pick up clients and customers. To be brutally honest, this is the best thing a business can do for itself. It takes a lot of people to make a conversation. If no one is talking, then the business might have to facilitate the talking itself.

One of the worst things in business is to wait for someone else to do something. Many business owners are fire, ready, aim people. This is a good thing because they have to push the business along by themselves most of the time. It takes a lot of forward motion to get a business moving the in the right direction. Therefore, the person who has the most at stake should lead the charge into the social systems.

The business owner needs to drive the business. The business owner must take owner ship of the social media ship and make sure that the conversations that occur on the social media system are relevant for that business. Best way to do this is by using digital personas that speak to each niche specifically in the way that they want to be spoken to and they already speak themselves.

Many of the social media systems do not allow their clients and customers to do this because they want most of the client’s customers to have a single profile that will do everything for them. Obviously, this is not the best way to get clients and customers because unfocused messages amongst a large group of people usually do not gain a loyal following. The old adage of, “if you try to be everything to everyone then you will end up being nothing to anyone” is absolutely true in this respect. The best way to be effective on the social media systems is to be the person or business that you already are and use that message to drive people into your sales funnels.

However, you must keep in mind that every niche is different and therefore you must be carefully manage each persona differently. That means that your business should have multiple profiles and personas to help attract the traffic and sales that the business needs to keep its lights on every month. It is very intelligent for a business to have multiple profiles on the social media systems to help it generate that traffic and the sales it needs to keep going.

Therefore, the trick is to find a social media system that understands this fact and is willing to allow a client or customer to use multiple profiles to get traffic from niches that it does business inside of on a daily basis. However, this is not as easy as it sounds as most social media systems love to tie all the information they have to one particular business or entity. It is in their best interest to do this because they want to show relevant ads to that user so that they can generate revenue from advertising. However, a business needs different profiles on the social media systems in order to be successful at marketing their particular solution. A business that wants to be successful on the social media systems must find a business friendly social media company to do business with in the future.

How to Move From Being the IT Guy to a Trusted Business Advisor

For years, a typical IT company has made a living from installing software, selling hardware and fixing computers.

With the advent of the Cloud and the decrease in the complexity of deploying and managing IT, the world is changing for IT providers and making a living from technical knowledge alone is becoming more and more difficult.

Change is hard, and if you’re making a good living from the status quo of installing and maintaining servers then it’s tough to consider a world where you don’t do this.

But many progressive IT companies and Managed Service Providers are already looking to expand their scope beyond support and maintenance to offering expertise in areas such as Sharepoint and CRM customisation – specialities where business owners will understand and value the help you can offer them.

Although there are still a lot of IT Solution Providers who think the Cloud and services like Microsoft Office 365 are the worst thing ever to affect their business, I’ve been encouraged by the number of conversations I’ve had with IT Solution Providers who are not only open to the idea of changing their business models away from pure monitoring and maintenance contracts, but now really believe that they can be more than the “IT Guy” to their clients – that that they can grow into true “Trusted Business Advisors”.

For MSP’s and other IT Solution Providers, I think there are a number of techniques you can begin to use to start the transition away from the “IT Guy” to “Trusted Business Advisor”.

Raise the bar of professionalism internally

Think about the type of company you’d like to do business with. Everything from how they answer the telephone, to how they dress and carry themselves, to how they keep the lines of communication open internally and externally. Set standards, create systems internally to support this vision, and start being that type of company. People (including your clients) will notice and you’ll be surprised to find your clients approach you for more than just Technical advice, but much more besides.

Quarterly Business Reviews

Meet with your clients to talk about their business. Not technology. Not licensing. Not projects. Simply a chat about their business and the challenges they face. You should be doing this a minimum of every quarter, but the best companies realise the value of regularly dropping by for a cup of tea and a chat. Doing so will surprisingly uncover a lot of opportunities for you, but more importantly helps your client understand that you’re interested in the success of their business and are therefore someone who can support their progress.

Use a PSA Tool

If you’re not already using a Professional Services Automation (PSA) tool such as Autotask or ConnectWise, start thinking about doing so tomorrow. Using such a tool, which is designed specifically for IT Solution Providers, forces you to clearly understand the necessary business processes required to support your own businesses growth. You’ll then begin to look at your clients businesses in a different light and understand how you can help them to become more efficient too. Which leads me on to…

Sell CRM

A PSA tool such as Autotask is designed specifically for IT Solution Providers. For most other industries, including those of your clients, such a dedicated tool doesn’t exist – but your clients have a need for such a tool anyway. This is where you come in. Simply selling your clients a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software package is one thing, but offering them your expertise to configure that CRM package to support their specific business requirements is a real value add that enables you to deeply understand your clients business inside and out.

Conclusion

This stuff works. I know because I’ve helped some of my clients focus on making these changes this year and I’ve seen the subtle difference in the way they now carry themselves with more confidence, the improved relationships they subsequently have with their clients, and the increase in the amount of money they earn as a result.

Start using any one of these techniques, and whilst you’ll notice changes, you’ll quickly begin to realise the other techniques go hand in hand. They all support one another in your goal to grow your business to cope with the changing market.

Start using all of the techniques, even at their most basic level, and your clients and prospective clients will begin to perceive you less as the “IT Guy” and more as their “Trusted Business Advisor”

Information System in Small Businesses

According to “18 Amazing Facts About Small Businesses In America” by Aimee Groth and Kim Bhasin (Business Insider, August 24th 2011), there are 28 million small businesses in the US, which outnumber corporations 1162 to 1. Some say that it is very easy to record business transactions in small businesses. However, since small businesses always run on low budget while tremendous marketing and the planning and implementation are required also, information system in small businesses are not usually given enough attention. Today, even small businesses that need only the owners to run have a lot of information that cannot be relied on manual processes. In order to help small businesses’ owners in making right and quick decisions, they need to adapt proper information system for their businesses.

My cousin has a hair salon with five stylists. She doesn’t work there but she has a manager to take care of the shop. She got a very good soft-ware to record all the transactions at first, but then it got so complicated when her employees quit and she had to hire new people. They just have a high rate of employee turnover in hair salons in general. Plus at her salon, she doesn’t have a receptionist to record transactions but every stylist needs to do it by her/himself when checking out a client. Low budget keeps her from having someone who can do it and save time for the stylists. Now the manager finds that training new employees to use the software is frustrated, my cousin decides to go back to manual recording. With all the data they put on paper, my cousin has to record it to the system by the end of day. It is not only time consuming but also a risk of making mistake since the data got transferred twice.

There is no need to discuss about how helpful the information system is to businesses. However, when consider adapting one for a small business, the owner needs to figure all the costs included. It may seem to be one-time cost, but it actually is not. Small business computer system design begins with a need of assessment of the technology expenditures that will be required to create an effective, reliable and expandable system. This needs of assessment will include hardware, software, upgrades and office staff training. Apparently, upgrades and training don’t sound like one-time cost. Upgrades will be fix-cost since the supplier will notice you when you need one, usually in 3 months or 6 months to keep up with changes in technology. Training may be one-time cost to the supplier when you buy the system, but then you still have to train new employees. Even if you train them yourself or have other staffs to train them, it is still a cost to your business as an opportunity cost since the time for training can be used to make revenue/ profit for the business. Finally, there one other cost that has not been counting yet: using cost. When you have somebody to use the software, there is the cost of hiring them to record information. Back to my cousin’s hair salon. She doesn’t have enough money to hire one more person to record transactions, so she takes the risk of recording data wrongly. Mistakes may be made from her employees by putting the wrong data manually or from herself by recording it again by the end of day. It should not be that way if the cost of training and using the system were considered when she set up the salon’s information system.

In conclusion, in today’s increasingly complex and competitive market place, small businesses often face many of the same information technology challenges as much as larger business enterprises, and getting a proper information system in small businesses should be considered seriously in order to help owners with right and quick decision making.