By: Amanda LEONG Shu Yi
I was feeling a mixture of nervousness and excitement on the day of meeting our business owner as I have no prior consulting experience but I am very much looking forward to know who I am working with, to understand the local economies better and breaking the language and cultural barrier in this mutual learning business consulting course.
My business partner and I are assigned to work with mama Jasmine, a strong and independent woman who runs a bakery business to provide for her children and support their education. When I first met mama Jasmine, I was overwhelmed by her extremely friendly and chatty nature. The conversations we had mainly revolved around the personal stories of the three of us in order to establish a comfortable relationship, build trust and for us to gain a better understanding of mama Jasmine’s expectation and background. We had four business meetings so far (and one birthday party gathering invited by mama Jasmine’s worker) and as the number of meetings increase, I felt that I get a better hang of our business consulting work and I also gained a clearer direction every time after “digging” in for more information about the local bakery business.
We started off by asking mama Jasmine the five most important questions, including the question branches that deem suitable, and came to a realization that mama Jasmine’s main struggle was to answer her bakery business’s mission as she has never given a serious thought about it. We assisted her in searching for what she wants her bakery to be known for so we could all be on track and on the same page. We also uncovered that mama Jasmine’s idea of profit is merely based on simple calculations of the money she collects at the end of the day minus her expenses on ingredients and workers’ daily wages. There is no proper record keeping on daily expenses, sales, revenues and profits. Moreover, her personal expenses and business expenses are not separated as she spends much of the profits on her children’s tuition fees and pocket money, electrical and water bills, and other miscellaneous expenses.
After discovering the problems that mama Jasmine faces, we did an expectation setting and formed an agreement on what areas of problems we will be focusing on. I believe that it is better to deliver quality than quantity and always be flexible towards the business owner’s thoughts and decisions. Hence, we agreed to work on introducing a simple record keeping system, marketing of the bakery and human resource management. The processes of planning and the beginning stages of plan implementation have been relatively smooth with some bottlenecks due to the differences of technological advancement in this area and in Hong Kong. However, it is still very exciting to grab this opportunity to learn to be more entrepreneurial and come out with plans that are useful and powerful to help drive the business.
My business partner and I are currently working on devising a marketing strategy and designing leaflets to be distributed to some nearby schools this Thursday. Till then, see you again next week on the blog!