Saturday, January 31, 2009

Part 2 - The Early Years

I started my company as a small outfit in the year of the Rat, almost 13 years ago. So, last year 2008 was an interesting year as it was the year also I picked up Bazi (atleast I picked a significant time, to start something, although it was done not on purpose). The company was small, there were 5 very naive people who wanted to be the next Bill Gates. Eventually 2 dropped out the next year or so from not been able to contribute to pissing the hell out of me.

First learning point here. Make sure you have compatible partners, or it's just a matter of time before you get in each other's face. But I also realise that in some years, people who you tend to associate closely with, become distant, and the opposite is true also. I'm a weak REN water person, with very strong fire (too strong). Luckily I have some support in my water and this is at my hour pillar. This year, it is very strong wet cold earth year, and the CHOU or OX harms my horse (where my fire resides). Actually it started last year when the rat already clashed with the horse! I seem to be getting closer to my STRONG fire (especially Bing fire) friends or find more opportunities to get closer. Looking forward, next year is Tiger, and wood is prominent, chances are, the strong fire partners, are not going to have such a great year, so I'm keeping an eye out.

The affects of the year don't start right on Feb 4. You'll already start feeling it probably towards the end of the year.

When I say 'partners' I do not mean purely equity partners but people you would work with in the business associates sense. There seem to be more business opportunities or associations with fire people in 2009! Another interesting point to note is, fire is NOT my favorite element. I consider Metal, Water and now EARTH to me important to me. Why earth?

From an observation perspective, all the closest people around me are earth. My wife, my son, my parents, my closest of friends, my closest business partners, strange but true. I have an affinity to earth people! (I'm sure some wise guy out there is saying...then from Mars ah?!!) And it's mostly Ji earth, or Yin Earth. So, Ji earth is good for me, therefore, Ji Chou year should me good for me. So far, the signs are pointing in the positive direction, but nevertheless still challenging. My goal is to get through the summer season (mid year) then I would know if this will be a truly good year.

From a Bazi perspective, earth is a resource to Metal, as well as weakens my fire elements, thus creating balance, a very important concept in Chinese Metaphysics.

What about the last year of the Rat and Ox (1996-1997)? From the software business, I had ventured out into a bunch of cybercafes (we had almost 5 through partnerships with others). We were one of the earliest to start the cafes (fortunately or unfortunately, one of the earliest to exit that business, too) By the Dragon year, we had shut down, and sold that business. While the cafes were generating money, I now know that you better have good people with favorable direct officers in their charts behind the cash register, or poofs, money disappears, as quickly as it comes. Knowing when to cash out is also extremely important, when starting a business that is based on trends. If I had the right people in place then, who knows it would have become the next StarBucks (which you can see if not even holding out to the new up and coming wifi ready kopitiams!)

The year of the OX was the year of new opportunities for me, and the painful lesson learn was not been able to capitalize it while it lasted. So, if any of my staff is reading this article, I'm am NOT going to reject any jobs just because resource is tight! It was tight then, too. Resource can be interpreted as working capital, cash flow, human resource etc. anything that fuels the business. No one is going to stand in my way, especially when my 10 year luck pillar is also favorable!

Interestingly, one of the things that we are doing is trying to get a line of credit (after 12 years). I have a CFO that doesn't believe in borrowing. I can see why....he is strong REN water, so metal not is favorite element (metal signifies finance) hahahahah....I can see everyone rolling their eyes as I seem to have an answer for everything! So, as long as I am captain of the ship, and metal is my favorite element, we better get help from the metal institutions to recess the Ox-Horse (fire) harm in my chart. (i.e. cash flow).

The year I started my business was 1996. It was also a Bing Zi year. The fire of the SUN indicates indirect wealth. Fire can also indicate software or IT. The gui water in the rat indicates partnerships (robwealth).

1997 was a Ding Chou year. It was a year that I got some new shareholders (indicated by the direct officers) and Ox and clashed with the Goat, releasing more wealth and relationships (indicated by the direct wealth as well as the robwealth elements). These early years gave rise to many relationships that helped us grow through the years. Problem with my chart is 'relationships' are not really 'me.' So, everytime it appears somewhere else, (like the annual or luck pillars) it becomes a little more significant, such in the year of the OX. I tell people I rather think than network, but it's a preference.

The early years were also extremely creative years for us. We did just about anything under the SUN (literally) to survive. Multimedia, networking jobs, email servers, websites. We were drawing miserable salaries, officially it was about about RM2K, but in reality, we took home a few hundred RMs each month and when the customer paid, we split whatever we collected. Sometimes, you cannot be too smart (or calculative) to be an entrepreneur. You almost need to be a sucker for punishment. I had the job of the sales man (thank goodness for the fire in my chart) - another excellent advise when you hire people in sales - make sure they have adequate fire in their chart, or you'll be wondering why your next meal is taking so long to materialize!

The fire in my chart was also important as it helped sell the 'future' to the staff that had slowly joined us, including my primary partner who's now my wife. She lacked the fire, so I guess that's why she married me. :-) But she was the brains behind most of the work we had obtained, it was impossible for me to have afforded to hire anyone of similar capabilities. She is a Ji Earth person.

The tiger and rabbit years were creative years for me. (After all wood, is output). I had support from friends (in my 10 years luck pillar), and my self confidence was high. Even though technically, wood years aren't my favorite years, it was years of growth. Looking back, I could say we were aggressively trying to survive as by that time, the cafe's were not doing so well as competitors started appearing, and my other partner who was running the main operation of the cafe just could not innovate fast enough. He is also another very strong fire person that is VOID of metal and water - guess you can consider him someone with a special chart. Don't know how we lasted so long, but another advise, make sure you find people with Metal and Water in their charts also, if you want decisions (metal) to be made quickly and have some level of wisdom (water). We have had our tensed moments, but I think because he has 100% of my Jia-Zi (stem and branch combinition read in a pillar) in his chart and I have 50% of his in mine, we are still together after 13 years! So much for the fire-fire theory! So, remember, there's always exceptions in Bazi reading, so don't get too technical.

By 1999 (year of the earth rabbit), an angel investor (again, earth represents the direct officer) had emerged, pump in a little bit of money, gave us the opportunity to grow a little more. We were also beginning to get some recognition for the work we did as I cultivated some of the relationships in the past when we were in the US resulting in some US jobs as well as local jobs for large organization, including for the state government. We were probably about 20 people in size. The Yi wood in the rabbit represents the hurting officer. I guess, recognition, some acknowledgment for the work we did on the software side was beginning to pay off.

But it was beginning to get very tough for the cafe side of thing. Pilferage was high, the PCs were old, competitors with newer faster machines was popping up every other month on the same street. The wood years were tough years. Looking forward, there goes my S Class I was dreaming about this year. Guess my old one has to last at least 2 more years, even though cars are considered Metal and it's really good for me. hahahahah..... Another reason why I need to put more aside for a rainy day (or woody years). But I don't think it'll be that bad, given it is Metal Wood years in 2010 and 2011 as metal is my resource element and a very important element for me.

Year 2000 (metal dragon year) was a significant year for us. We had received 2 rounds of real injection of venture capital money (actually the first round was in January, so technically the direct officer element, or new shareholders was still very prominent) and another round in April of 2000- metal dragon month. Whoa...metal and earth again! Dragon does not clashed with anything in my chart so it was a relatively smooth sailing year. Ok, I'll continue later. Time to get ready for my Bah Kut Teh. Somehow, I seem to be at my best, creatively during the early hours of the morning...the Dragon hour!

Part 3 - Have Money will Travel.....


Josephine said...

Gong Xi Fatt Chai.

It is always interesting to know how an entrepreneur starts up his business. I always want to be one but guess still can’t find the confident to do it. Guess this are due to the Direct Officer and only Direct Wealth in my chart. I am waiting for Part 3.

Tim said...

owh, this is by no accident I'm coming across your blog...Thank you for sharing the depth of Bazi, Chris...I'm putting your link up on my site! :))