I’ve Got Some Fish I Want To Sell You

I’ve been up since 5am this morning, up and about Sapporo for business and a little leisure. After picking up some warmer clothes in preparation to what was predicted to be rainy and gloomy day, due to typhoon, I stopped by a business acquaintance and good friend’s office to chat. When I had last met him a year ago, he was just setting up his trading business in Sapporo. Today, he has a flourishing business in both Thailand and Hokkaido, 6 full time employees, and eager to move into bigger office space.

Having intentions of moving back to Bangkok in November, I had intentions of discussing possibilities of working together prior to meeting him, which to my surprise, was quite optimistically received. After a few hours exploring different ideas, we came to a conclusion that would be beneficial to us both, an opportunity I am rather excited about. Beginning early November, I will be taking over sales and admin work of his Bangkok company, a company that is a joint venture between a Thai company and his Japan-registered one. In return, I will receive some ownership of that company, as well as performance-based remuneration – just the way I like it. Tomorrow I will be returning to his office to formalize things, as well as familiarize myself with some of his staff, who I anticipate  working closely with in the future.

The industry that the aforementioned company operates in is one of immense interest to me, and as a matter of fact, falls somewhat in line with my work. In a nutshell, this company takes products, generally food products, from Hokkaido and distributes it to restaurants and other buyers in Bangkok, Thailand. At the moment, they move a couple containers of product by sea from Hokkaido to Bangkok per week, mainly consisting of seafood products – namely premium sushi-grade fish, which Hokkaido is famous for. Their current clientele consists of high end sushi restaurants and supermarkets to which they supply a wide variety of fish. My task is simple, which is to grow the network of what is the current business.

The heavy lifting is partially done, as they already have an established base with a reliable partner in Bangkok. However the problem I see now is that my friend has a particular difficulty communicating with the partners in Bangkok, and as a result things progress slower than expected. I think I can add value to this situation.

The plan.

The long term potential is very clear to me, but in the interim there is a steep hill to climb. The first few months I will be grinding it out, cold-calling, knocking on doors – getting dirty and adding new clients to our Rolodex. From what I hear, the prices we are able to procure seafood at are one of the lowest in the world due to new technology, a topic for another post I will discuss later. In South East Asia, pricing is everything and I believe this advantage could make sales a lot easier – I will of course have to vet it first. Sales is particularly interesting because it involves a lot of rejection, which does not bother me as I am intrigued with the study of human behavior, and is also a skill I want to improve personally.

When our list of stable clientele begins to grow, we will be in a prime position to add a whole sundry of Hokkaido products (Hokkaido has a strong image in organic, dairy, seafood, desserts, and meat products in South East Asia) from other Hokkaido companies through that network, and that in itself is a catalyst for more growth. Furthermore, we are not limited to just Bangkok, and if I can make it work there I can make it work elsewhere.

The reason I am particularly excited about this opportunity is because I have attempted to do something similar before, about 3 years ago when I was living in Hokkaido. Local companies here are eager to expand overseas, but have zero knowledge on how to do so. Back then, I tried to help them establish overseas and in the process ended up all over the world, bringing them as far as Dubai with Hokkaido government-sponsored funds, which ultimately did not come into fruition. This time round, the infrastructure is already in place for me, I just need to bring the hustle.