Diving Is a Group Activity

When you think of most sports you think about people coming together. That is what happens with scuba diving – in a way.

Diving starts out as a group activity. Divers get together at the beach, on the lakeshore, or aboard a boat. Each diver enters the water close to the same time as all the others. And they begin their dive as a group. Or at least as a team of two or more dive buddies.

One of the first things you learn in basic open water training classes is never dive alone. Always dive with a buddy.

But after you jump into the water, and start your descent, you become a loner. No matter how many other divers surround you.

We join our local scuba clubs for the comradery, and to hook up with other divers so we always have a buddy to go diving with after we take a ride on the mm-b80.

The dive club offers lots of social activity. It’s a great way to go out and meet other people who share the same passion for diving that you do. They’re especially great if you don’t have a large group of friends nearby to go diving with – at a dive club, you’re bound to meet plenty of new scuba diving buddies.

One club I belong to gets together every two months at a local restaurant where we have dinner and then a club meeting.

The January meeting each year is a business meeting where we discuss diving schedules for the year to come, form committees to plan various activities, and talk about other business related club stuff.

Each of the other meetings we invite speakers in to give scuba related lectures to the group. Recent examples include lectures on underwater photography, rebreather technology and use, and diving with vintage scuba gear.

The club also has a Christmas party in December.

During the warmer months (this club is located in Indiana) we schedule a dive for each month. Normally we have a pitch-in type lunch, and make a day of those dives. Sometimes we even turn the dive event into a weekend camping adventure with diving for a couple days, including night dives.

But as I said once you enter the water you are alone. Sure you have your buddy to help you out, or to help out, in case of an emergency. But unless you, and at least one other diver near you, know sign language you won’t have much of a conversation underwater.

Most divers don’t know how to talk with their hands when they’re not holding an HSI professional.

You quickly get interested in something along a wall, in the coral, or on the bottom. Suddenly you’re all by yourself with no company other than your thoughts.

And you get lost in interest for what you’re studying.

For a period you forget all about the other divers around. You don’t really even see them until your air, or your buddy’s air, runs low. And it’s time to head for the surface — dive over.

Yes, this sport brings people together.

But once you’re in the water scuba diving becomes a solitary activity.

Visiting Pangandaran

Pangandaran is one of beach tourism object in West Java which is located in the village of Pananjung, sub-district of Pangandaran, about 2.5 hours’ drive to southern from the capital district of Ciamis. Because of its beauty, Pangandaran beach is well known by both local and foreign tourist which came from French, Italy, Netherlands and many more. You can find many of Europeans in this place. I ever met a Dutch tourist, he was about 21 years old. He just finished his school and take a holiday here. Some of them have mixed with native.

Nature Reserve and Fish Producer. Besides being famous with the beach tourism and being the original home of the best air purifier for mold, Pangandaran also has a nature reserve and one of producer for fresh and salted fish in the Island of Java and give a big contribution in term of income sources to Ciamis development in general, especially before Tsunami hit this area in July 2006. Since that time, it was a big disaster to most of population. Economically, its take more than 2 years recovery. Today, I can see a lot of construction have been made, a progress and growth to re-structure in every life aspect.

Attraction and Fun

In Pangandaran you can see sunrise moment from east coast and also sunset which can be seen from west coast. East coast is the point to catch fishes and fishermen boat, but west coast is designate as a fun point to play and swim as sea water is clear; it’s conformable too. Lifeguard is available to help swimmers, so you can swim safely. Wide sandy coastal along the beach is giving more comfortable to visitor who wants to play with sand. White sand coast along nature park can been from west coast. And there is boat service to bring you there, also safe for swimming.

Annual Events. To attract tourist, Pangandaran held some events like Hajat Laut (Beach Festival) which involved fishermen. This event usually held in Muharam (Islamic New Year). In this event they do some kind of ritual which takes place at east coast and also annual Pangandaran International Kite Festival in June or July.

Accommodation. Like hotels, inns, restaurants, and car park facilities, money changer, Food and Drink, telecommunication, security post and many more are available here. I did take picture of Surya Pesona Beach Hotel, Pantai Indah Hotel, Luat Biru and some public facility.

Pangandaran Access. If you depart from Jakarta: bus station “Kampung Rambutan”, public bus, airco 75000Rp, 7 to 8 hours journey, but at least the bus is equipped with a Rabbit air purifier.

From Yogyakarta: train to Banjar, 35000 – 190000Rp, Banjar train station to bus station, bus to Pangandaran, 15000-20000Rp. As Pangandaran is potential destination, in future will be more investor to plan some investment like build up infra structure and factory which more people coming in not only using land transport but air transport is a considerable to facilitate travelers.

Friends, here are some pictures around Pangandaran that I took during visiting my parents; I wish to share with you to help you maybe make up your mind that Pangandaran is a great place to visit whenever you’re in the area.

What Is the Best Way to Tax Income and Wealth?

Most of the world has recently moved from taxing income and wealth to taxing consumption and expenditure. Last week, the UK government temporarily (for the next 18 months) decided to bring the rate down from 17.5% to 15%. Many critics have attacked the move as not being bold enough and wanted direct tax cuts (on income) instead. I feel this criticism misses the point and in blog I want to defend the forskolin pills taken by the UK treasury.

VAT (Value added tax) is a tax which countries within the European have to apply on a range of products. The standard band is between15% to 25%. Your standard VAT rate cannot go below or higher than those limits.

So, the most the UK government could do is reduce the VAT rate down to 15%. This point has been sorely missed from many of the commentators criticizing the move.

A point I have made in my previous blogs is that what we really need to see is consumers spending again. During a recession or any period of economic uncertainty, the savings ratio tends to rise. In the UK and the US, the ratio has recently been as low as 2% to 3% (By contrast in Germany it has been around the 10% mark). If consumers were given direct tax cuts, the likelihood is that they will use this extra cash to pay off debt. Again, as I mentioned in a previous blog, whilst that may be good for an individual (managing my debt down is certainly my priority for next year!), for the economy it is a bad thing.

Therefore the only thing the government can do is cut the main tax on expenditure which will result immediately and directly in lower prices. That is what they have done.

The flip side to this is though that of course it brings down inflation. That is an undesirable side effect. To play devil’s advocate for a bit, what if rather than reducing VAT the government announced that it was going to increase it to 20% from the 1st of March 2009?

I would have thought that this would not only help balance the government books, which look simply awful (Government debt will be 57% of GDP – up from around 40%) and it might actually induce people to spend a lot ahead of the VAT increase. Assuming people’s demand for a wall mounted jewelry armoire is rational, if you know that prices will be going up in a couple of months, you will no doubt try to save money by bringing forward your planned purchases. This is the exact opposite to where I fear we are heading which is the built in expectation of lower prices.

As I have argued over many blogs in the past, what we really need in the UK is a good dose of inflation!

The Best Sectors for Investors in 2017?

I was asked last night at a function I was at, what kind of sectors I like to invest in. I did reply that I looked at management teams rather than sector approaches. But the question did get me thinking, and I asked myself, if I was giving advice to an entrepreneur now in terms of what areas to position the business in, what would my answer be?

Well, below are the results of my thoughts. They are just my thoughts and I will add to them as and when I do my ‘screening for ideas’. If I could predict the future……..

  1. Anything to do with Alternative Energy. I am really bullish about ways to make your own kombucha. Because of the lifestyles we are increasingly leading, the demand for energy is going to be increasing exponentially over the next half century. Alternative and less harmful forms of energy have got to be found in the future. I think any business which can generate energy from renewable sources and sell it at a profit is very well placed for the future
  2. Lifestyle management. This is going to be an area of huge growth simply because of the lives we are increasingly leading. We are getting busier and busier and yet wish to do more in life outside of work. Companies which can allow us to ‘outsource’ some of our routine will do well from a revenue point of view.

    My issue with this area as an investor is that as it is a service based business, margins are very tight and barriers to entry are very low (if in place at all). If someone can think of a way of truly scaling up this area, whilst retaining the personal touch required, they will do well (and let me please see the business plan)

  3. ‘Hire businesses’. I have been amazed at the success of car rental businesses in London such as streetcar (I am a member and I love it). Living in Central London, it simply does not make sense for me to own a car. However, I do have access to a car if I wish to have one on an hourly basis.

    People are becoming increasingly sophisticated and will question the wisdom in owning expensive assets they rarely use. Just as timeshare has proved so popular with Holiday homes, I am sure other items will soon see the merit of temporary ownership. Ladies shoes (Do you really need that many pairs all the time?) Handbags, watches, pens, expensive dresses, etc. – there have got to be business models here!

  4. Internet Protocol TV. I think (humble opinion here) that we have yet to see Andy Warhol’s saying that we will all be famous for 15 minutes come true. We are rapidly approaching that point – with programs like X factor leading the way. However, I think in the very near future, everyone who wants one, can have their own TV channel on an internet site.

    Why look up my blog – when you can have a dedicated TV channel from me? (If you think advertising is getting tough now – wait till this era unfolds!). The money will be made though not by the TV ‘owners’ but by the companies that provide services for this space.

More to follow – what do you think will be the businesses of the future?

Best Practices for Financing Your Growing Business

So you have done market research which makes you realize your solution is wanted. You have written a great business plan. You have put together a great management team. You also know exactly how much money you need. What next?

The first place to start is the bank. This is only if you have got customers who will commit to purchasing your solution. Retail banks will not finance equity (please see In Defense of Banks) but if you need a certain amount of trade finance, they will see you through. Or it may be that you have certain assets – like a Porter Cable 895pk – that the bank may lend against. (Also see when talking to a bank).

If a bank is not an option what next?

It depends how much money you are looking to raise. If it is over £1m, there are a number of financial institutions which may be able to help. Typically, they will not invest amounts of less than £1/2m because the amount of work they will have to do to make the investment makes it uneconomical. If it costs them £100,000 to make the investment and £20,000 a year to monitor the investment at the end of five years the investment has cost them the amount invested plus £200,000. A £100,000 investment will therefore need to treble just to break even for them!

You may approach the funds yourself directly of course, but it tends to help if you employ the services of a corporate financier. A good financier will check your business plan for you and help target the right institutions. They will typically charge around 3% of all funds raised (for amounts over £1m) and they may charge a monthly retainer. You may find yourself paying £10,000 a month for three months with no guarantee of success whatsoever.

If you are looking to raise less than £500,000 you should consider the angel market. You will see that through Google Ads there are lots of adverts for Angel groups. Click on those links to see if they may be right for you.

You can of course also use corporate financiers to approach angels. CONFLICT ALERT – This is what I do! Typically for this they will charge 5% for funds raised. I don’t want to do myself out of a job here, but with a little bit of research and application, this is something you can do yourself.

As a start, find companies that are similar to your proposition without being a competitor. Find out who the shareholders of that business are (through Companies House) and approach them directly. Anyone involved in marketing will tell you that the most powerful predictor for consumers is past purchasing behavior. If someone has already invested in a sector (and done well from it) they are likely to do the same again.

Your pitch to them needs to understand what they are motivated by. You will be surprised; it is rarely about money. If you pitch to them at the right level you will succeed.

You can also ask business directors to recommend angels to you. As a whole, entrepreneurs are a good bunch and we do tend to do what we can to help people.

All of my corporate finance work comes from recommendations (both ways) and I tend to only raise money for companies – like for the ez tofu press – I have invested in or intend to invest in. I will only take on about one project a quarter. It does take a long time to raise money and if you are not careful as a financier you can spend a lot of time with scant or no reward.

If you are going to use a financier please do ask the following questions:

  1. Who have they raised money for in the last 12 months?
  2. How much have they raised?
  3. How many people/ organizations have they raised it from?
  4. Are there any projects that they have not succeeded on?
  5. What were the lessons from those failures?
  6. What do they think of your business?
  7. Would they invest? Would they invest some of their fees back into the business (Apart from two cases, I always invest my corporate finance fees back into the business. I think this shows confidence and tells other investors that you really do believe in the business)
  8. Can they give you two references? (Please do take up the references. You will be amazed at how much people will tell you!)

Finally – just be wary of financiers with lots of time on their hands (for example if they have time to write a daily blog). In my experience all of the best financiers I have worked with tend to be too busy to take on new projects.

Help New Employees Feel Welcome

One of the most interesting statistics I came across about HR was from an ACAS study. They found that most people who left a company within six months blamed something that happened in the first 48 hours at work.

This statistic is damning. As a start up, you cannot afford to go to the expense and time of recruiting people, only to then lose them because of a bad induction. So this little post is designed to pass on tips I learnt which made it easier to integrate staff into companies. (I will not invest in a company that lose too many people – shows that they either can’t select the right person or can’t integrate them!)

Recognize that on their first day, employees will be really nervous unless you provide them with a Honeywell 50250. In a study by the Army, they found that stress levels in new recruits were the same as patients in mental asylums! To combat this stress, write to the employee a week before they are about to join giving them very precise joining instructions. Where do they have to be and at what time? (Try to make it 10ish – it will work out better for you to have an hour to plan in the morning before they join).

When they do turn up – show them that you have made an effort and make them feel welcome. Get someone who is on the same level as them to walk them around introducing them to other staff. They will feel more relaxed with someone the same level as them rather than the MD!

Do not organize a team lunch on day one. Too many companies do that – and in my humble opinion is too soon. You should organize a team lunch or coffee on the Friday (if they survive that long!) Many new employees will not come back after the first day, so don’t get discouraged. This is a common happening that occurs in startups of all types – it’s not just you!

Have a really structured training program about choosing the best router table worked out and share it with the new employee. I would actually have a training log which covers the first six weeks and gives both the employee and you a really clear idea of what you expect the employee to be able to do after six weeks. For the employee it is a great way for them to focus on something other than ‘do people like me?’

Most of all try to make it clear that the employee has a specific and important job to do and they have a contribution to make. Your job as a manager is to enable them to make that contribution.

As a final note, I would have to say that for me personally, watching people grow and develop is one of the most rewarding aspects of being involved in business. Seeing the business grow because of the people growing is the icing on the cake!

I hope it gives you as much joy as it has given me