What drives entrepreneurs...[Podcast ep.034]
What drives entrepreneurs... | Ep.034
This is personal to me...
Click above to listen, and scroll below to read a full transcript.
This episode is different from the others because it doesn't cover specifics on sourcing and developing products in China…
It does delve deeply into what makes entrepreneurs successful, and I share here some of my own personal background stories and journey. So I’m opening up and sharing in the hope you find some inspiration or motivation yourself.
Do they say the shortcut to success is great mentors? I couldn’t agree more. Also knowing who you are, and leveraging those traits in business is key.
Matt Brauning from the Driven Entrepreneur is an amazing podcast, and his interview went in a direction un-expected to me.
Simple. Free. Advice. No Obligations.
Listen to all our podcast episodes here.
Some Avoidable Costly Mistakes When Sourcing From China | Ep. 021
How To Work The Canton Fair Like A Pro | Ep. 007
See David featured in...
- CNBC Made it, alongside titans like Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran and Serial Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk
- Business Insiders David Hoffmann with Gary Vaynerchuk and other successful leaders on how to respond when employees royally mess up.
I have a guest for you that is calling in, in the middle of the night, from his offices in offices in Hong Kong and China. And I want to talk all about today the entrepreneur journey internationally, and what it looks like to work with other cultures. Some of you are probably listening. And in your business, there might be some element, whether it's trying to outsource a product, whether it's having services or an editor or cross seas or something like that. You may be thinking, you already work with different countries, or you're thinking about that. And I just want to jump in with my guest today, who is David Hoffman. He's a serial entrepreneur like myself, and like so many of you. He's made built many multi million dollar companies, and his company's called Global Regency, and he's shipping products, over 200 million to 40 different countries. He's been the CEO for 15 years, and he's an expert in specifically China sourcing, supply chain work, private labelling, brand life, Xena And he's worked in worked with licences and services for huge brands, like quizzing art, Kmart, Walmart, Bunnings, all the and has offices in six different countries. So this is the guy again that knows how to do this stuff. When I thought about getting my first outsourcer in the Philippines or in India or in China, I had no idea where to go, no idea how to start, and I just knew it would be a nightmare on my own. I'm glad to to bring on Mr. David Hoffman. David, how are you my friend?
Great, Matt. I'm good. Thanks for having me. How you doing?
Doing outstanding. Let's start by placing your accent. How is it a combination of places or did you grow up static in one country for a while?
That it can one country and I'll let you take a wild guess.
I mean, it sounds South African to me. You got it. Come on. All right.
Yeah. Well, that most people say New Zealand so you nailed it. Yeah, it's
there's somewhat close. So I used to do a lot of work in New Zealand and put on events over there. And yeah, you don't have the same they switch the eyes for ease and you got to get that down.
Exactly. If you hadn't lived in New Zealand most people make that mistake but you're right. There are some little nuances that give it away.
It's those little tiny things. It's a like all my head hurts, you know, my head hurt really hurts. And it's
just a wee little bit of pain, actually, that's starting to join. Anyway, that key?
Yeah. So, you know,
I fell in love with. Well, let me start by saying I've never been to China yet. I fell in love with some Asian cultures. We actually did our honeymoon in Japan drastically different. But I just fell in love with Asian cultures and even the South Pacific I used to work a tonne in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. So I love that side of the world. How did you go from South Africa to deciding I want to Did you just branch out and say I want to go somewhere anywhere besides here?
Or was an opportunity that pulled you in?
Yeah, yeah. So So it's interesting story. Because I was I think 25 years old when I left South Africa. And what actually happened was, I was I was with this public company, we had a public company at the time and do a lot of changes going on. There was a merger going on. And I've got this opportunity to move out to Hong Kong. Literally, the plan was to come out for one year, we had a sourcing office here, as under the umbrella of the company, and we're going to unbundle it. And I had this grand plan to come out here for one year. And then I was going to move on to Australia. My dream was to live in Australia, a lot of South Africans tried to do that. And I thought, Okay, this is how it's gonna work. And 16 years later, I never left. I just got sucked into as you say, the culture, the east. Just business opportunities here. And I just always say, you know,
I am where I'm meant to be. That's a really, really great way to see things too, because it's probably true.
Yeah, very much so and it's the last place of thought. I mean, I was adamant it's a year and I'm out of here, there's no way I'm staying. And I just couldn't have called it more on.
It's so like that with with so many things in life, isn't it? You know, we're like, I'm gonna do this job for the period of time or, you know, when I was 17 I got my first real career job in the mortgage business, working with these brothers, and I thought, you know, I started off telemarketing and I thought, I'm just gonna do this for like, a month or two to get some money. I'm gonna figure this out. And then it became a, you know, a whole career season for a decade. When you when you first landed there, what were some of the what were the biggest culture shocks? And what did you find actually was easier and float easier than you expected?
met auditing anything flowed easier than I expected, I think. A lot of think. Yeah, yeah. I think maybe the nod laugh scene was a lot better than I expected but you know, on a business level I just, it was hard, you know, culturally, you know, the, you know, Western management are quite different. We're, you know, we're very outgoing, you know, we speak what we feel we say what's on our mind, we can be really aggressive and hard and kind all at the same time. And, and, you know, what I found, at least with Asian or Chinese culture, specifically say is, you know, there's a hierarchy structure. And there's a and there's a culture of saving face, you know, and just being polite and saying yes, when you really mean No, just because you don't really want to offend or insult anybody. And I really found that difficult because I'm used to people being straight up with me and being straight up with people and and and it's couldn't be more different. Yeah. And I think took me a really long time to adjust to that and kind of cut through that and, and and find ways to manage within that framework.
When you first landed again, just get a little bit of the backstory for Hong Kong and for leaving South Africa did you grow up in, in a family in South Africa that understood entrepreneurship? Was that something that was like in your heart early on? You know, were you like selling candy at school? And or as I always say, my every listener gives me grief on social media all the time at Matt browning, if you want to follow me, yes, but they always give me grief about the one question I always ask is, did you have a lemonade stand? Were you that kid who like figured out how to make money? Or were you just in a career trajectory? And you were going to work for this company forever? And
well, not what were your parents like? And
yeah, so lemonade stand and then what was the family dynamic? Like?
Matt Ma, my story was a little bit different to that. My family were very close, warm, loving family. But we had a very financially unsuccessful family from from the age of about nine or 10. My father's business went into liquidation. And at a very early age, you know, I witnessed our family losing everything that We'd grown up loving and caring about, you know, from homes and cars and things like that. And it left quite a big dent in me. And it became very disruptive to the family life. And so from about the age of 13, I just started becoming so focused on business and how to do things for myself and how to not kind of get over defensive and how to not want to be in that situation ever again. So, you know, I was very lucky that you know, from the age of about 16, when I started working part time jobs, I very early age, you know, got a job where I found a really good business mentor, and he just kind of sucked me in and, and, and it actually sat me out of university stopped studying. Just because I, you know, I found this mentor that, you know, managed to grow me inside a company that I was working for, and I was lucky that I managed to then learn about how to be an entrepreneur through That experience I think about it was very much the financial struggles as a youngster that really made me, you know, determined to not be in that situation. And I still feel that way.
What was your first money making venture that you remember? How old were you?
Well, no, I was 16 when I started working at the grocery store, the grocery
Yeah, so the wicked the grocery store packing bags. And then I started working behind the tools. But I must say in about six months, I was running that grocery store, the supervisors were leaving the keys with me. I was running between the bakery the deli that kills. You know, I realised I quickly had an attitude for things like that. And a lot of people depended on me and I made myself I always feel that one of the best things you can do is wherever I work, I made myself more valuable to them that there are a lot on me and depended on me so much. And they got used to me being there. And that always kind of gave me a strength because, you know, people didn't want Leave if you want me to go and and I just feel that's a great list and you know, make yourself valuable to whatever you're doing.
And you also mentioned when you started going kind of crossed apartment, I think this is a really important aspect because even if you know someone, you're listening to this conversation, and you don't have your own business and you're thinking about it or you know, whatever, let's say you're in that job market, there's always that entrepreneur heart that you can bring to an organisation. And when you're saying that man, I relate, because in my first, you know, work with my two real estate mentors, Joe and Ed, right away, I just started going, Oh, I see there's like this telemarketing department and there's a processors and there's this and there's the relationships, and I just started kind of helping in different areas. For you. Is that the kind of thing when you said aptitude? I love that word? Is that the sort of thing that you feel like you just really have a natural propensity for? And if so, do you believe other people can learn that? Is it a mindset you can take on or is it more of like a DNA sort of thing? What's your take on that? I don't
know the right answer, I feel like it's a mindset thing and you can learn it. You know, for me, like, learning all those other departments, I was happy to do it partly because, you know, the, the more you knew, and the more you learn, the more you got paid. So, it was a financial motivation, but, I mean, I definitely can say, you know, to this day, working those cross departments, everything you did just became easier and easier, because the more you understand about how the other areas work, you know, the easier your job becomes and the easier things become. And I think once you kind of reach that, that you know that that kind of tipping point where you get it and you understand it all things become a lot easier for you and you can do the same things with less effort and energy. I, I I tell my son, he's my second job, which was working into the accounts department, and opening new accounts for a big retail group. Say that experience in that department is one of the best experiences of my life because I saw inside how big companies work and the paperwork, the administration and the archiving, and it just blew my mind. And I still apply so many of those principles to things I do today, because I know what's possible.
But such an innovation you'll get there.
How old's your son? 1111
man, so my son's eight, eight and a half, you would say it's very important right now
is a big age. But so
at that age, does your What's your dream for your son? If you have one? Or is it Hey, do whatever you want to do? Would you want him to work in the business with you? What do you take it over? Would you want him to go his own way or be a doctor like what do you see your son at this point?
So so I I always say to him, I want him to find what he's passionate about as quickly as possible. Because if you find that I think we're lucky we live in an age now, where it doesn't matter what you want to do or what you lie. You can make a lot of money and be very Very successful doing it. So I just say, like, find what you really love and what you're really passionate about. And this is like, double down on that, to me, like, the worst thing is that to find your passion too late, I think the sooner you find it, the better. And that's what I kind of tried to tell him. But like, wow. And I do say to him, like, all the time, I gotta, you gotta learn, you know, coding and software, because, and design because that's just the language of the future. And if you can't do that, you don't know what's possible, and you can't even manage people around you. And I actually have come to the conclusion that I don't want him working in our business. I think it'd be better for him to first work in another business, another company without that kind of personal connection, and let him feel what it's like to be a regular person making it on his own. And when the time's right, and he's got the right skill set, but he's got the right passion. If it makes sense to be involved in my business, you know, then absolutely, I'd love But I don't even want it to be his first experience.
I love that. So you don't want him to come in at 16 and be the boss's son and then not work. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I appreciate that. I know I speak on stage for a living and I you know, people ask her out is your son going to take over and be the next few and I'm like, I really don't think he's gonna be the next me. I think he's gonna be the first him and exactly
to cry that I am, you know, exactly. And I think it's important for them not to not to be under pressure. Firstly, you know, maybe they're going to do bigger and greater things. Who will let's let's not assume that what they're what we're doing is the right thing for them.
Yeah, very much in. I know, we're gonna talk about your book in a second too. But I thought the last book I wrote the firebox principle was about entrepreneur drives and entrepreneur origin stories, ties in with the podcast and the radio show, of course, but I really I didn't realise how many people had a driving force to overshadow like their fathers or their parents. Like Murdoch, for instance. You know, his father was very successful. But then he comes out and goes, Yeah, I'm gonna take this over at 22 and really make it something and he, you know, blew it up way past Adelaide, South Australia.
know how to ask this but like when you said your father went through a meltdown in business? And yes, young at that point, do you? Yes. It might be an unfair question, but go wherever you want with it. Do you feel like he's bounced back from that? Or did he move into another season? Or is that something that kind of still like sticks and stays if you know what I mean, like in light?
Well, the hard thing that
I think it's different for everybody, I think in in our case, it's stuck in stage. And it was just my kind of driving force not to be in that position and to kind of get our family out of that position. But, you know, I've seen other people bounce back and learn from the mistakes. You know, what one of the things I always feel like if I look at my personal situation, my family's personal situation, I'd greatly believe that like what my father lacked in his business career was a great mentor and you know, the right people the right advice to mentor him and guide him because you don't know what you don't know. And you learn all the time. And I think I was lucky to find that person in my life and, and managed to develop but and like I look at a lot of the mistakes he made if anybody would have made those mistakes, right. It's just there's no one around him supporting him advising him, motivating him to carry on or to do something different and and that's sad in a way
Yeah, I get that. Well, it's good to hear and you know, the success story to have the children and the next generation so I'm excited for you if you're your son, like to switch gears and really get into the working in China. I'm getting excited as I'm looking at your website here. Guys. You can check it out. If you're not driving, it's global tiki.com Global t qm calm and you can see everything about David and what The businesses. So my first the big China question I always think of is when I think of China, I always think of made in China and I think of if I don't have a big products or big promo products I need. I feel like I don't need to do any business there. That's probably not accurate. What else do what else does that brings to the table the relationship with China and working with someone like you outside of products, and we can come back to products too, but I know there's more to it than that. Yeah.
Yeah. So I think when you start doing business in China, or purchasing from China, finding manufacturers in China, you know, there's a big cultural difference between the East and the West, and how business is done, how relationships are managed. And just kind of getting to the nitty gritty of the details. You know, there's language barriers, cultural barriers, and I think people underestimate that. And you know, I've certainly found you know, through the years like that, just having people in the know on the ground to accelerate That, you know, saves a lot of time. You know, it saved us a lot of time in the past. And, you know, the whole reason global t QM actually started was because we, you know, we handle huge supply chain projects in China for retailers for large brands, but couldn't really help a small entrepreneur do it, but I had loads of friends coming to me people are no just saying, hey, speak today. He's the guy in China, he'll help you with your problem. And they'll call me up and I'd say, Well, look, let me get one of my people to call your factory see what's going on. And we'd solve it in an hour. And they were struggling for two weeks. And it was really simple things like they just weren't communicating right with suppliers. They didn't understand something or there's just misunderstandings and my staff would call to speak to them in Chinese come to me Tommy's story and wrap it up in an hour. So I really like I struggled for years to try to find a way to how can I bring what we do to kind of small businesses Entrepreneurs Gaza can't afford a whole infrastructure in China and pay a fortune. And you know, over the years, it took me two, three years to figure out how to model global qm, you know, and that's the goal. They are trying to bridge that gap. I
love that. So let's talk about some of the reasons why I might want to do something in China. Yeah, so I'm startup entrepreneur. And again, like maybe I don't, and we can, we can talk about products. But let's say I don't have a product business. I don't need to get you know, my new widget outsourced or anything. But you know, I need I need technology. I have websites, I have no customer service people. I've lots of things. What are some of the best reasons to to get through and start either hiring, whether it's Chinese companies or people? Why would someone outsource for that and what's the best place to go for it?
So I mean, I think China is still predominantly from a business perspective for the world. A sourcing ground to find manufacturers or products? Yes. I know a lot of people are starting to outsource some software here. But I do still think that, you know, there's still language and communication barriers. So I'm not sure. I think, you know, we do software development in India, for example, and some in the Philippines because the language is just quicker and easier. So I still feel like there's two choices. Really, it's one purchasing products from China and finding manufacturers. Yeah. Or it's trying to find a way to sell your product in China. And that's something people don't think about a lot, but it's a huge market here. And the Chinese talk about that,
yeah, yeah. But what kinds of products are like what what kinds of products would go really well, to maybe blow up and have a huge market to sell in China?
Yeah, cuz I always think of reverse That's incredible.
Yeah, so the chocolate
Consumer here actually love quality products. And if you look at Japanese products are huge in China. In fact, a very good friend of mine just launched a website in China with all products made and sourced in Japan and their whole focus is selling products into China from Japan because the Japanese law sorry the Chinese love Japanese products because the quality, the craftsmanship, they actually know and appreciate that. They love German products, for example, they love Korean products because they, you see the Chinese consumer understands manufacturing, actually, and understand what low quality or good quality is and they actually appreciate these foreign products coming in. So if you if you got a good product or access to good products from your countries, I think China's a wonderful opportunity. It's a lot easier now online to do that.
That is incredible. Yeah. So in reversing the roles,
if I Want to outsource and pick up products? What's the difference between going to like an Alibaba or something like that? Right where I go, you know, I need to get 500 widgets. When should I go just to whatever website and just buy the things versus have a relationship with a manufacturer? Is it a volume size? Is it a quality thing? Is that a price thing? What would make me want to go get a relationship versus just Buy Wholesale from some website?
So I think if you're going to be doing something regularly and consistently, you definitely want to have relationship because the relationship economy ensures you get what is the first step I should say, towards getting consistent quality and reliable deliveries. I think ordering off a website like Alibaba, you know, it's got its share of risks. And it depends, you know, you don't know if you're dealing with a manufacturer or a trading company. You're not sure it's a sample. That's the is going to be the same as production. So you would want to check the goods at the factory and do an inspection before they leave. But I think it's about like consistency. And I think building relationship with suppliers always good. Because you get new ideas through that. Like you might start off with product A, you find a good supplier for it and you find out Oh, they're manufacturing a lot of other products. And you go, Oh, I can do two, three products now. So if you're really serious about selling products, you do want to build relationships and supplies and visit them and visit the trade shows. I'm actually at the Canton Fair now in China, which is one of the world's if not the world's biggest trade show. And it runs over three, four days. And we've must have 10 people running around the show looking for product ideas,
looking for product ideas from the tradeshow vendors and what would you do with those?
Well, we'll take them we'll order samples, we'll show them to customers. We'll test some of them online, and we'll hopefully bring them to market. Maybe we'll modify some of them and customise A little bit but I mean there's some great ideas and a lot of you know the manufacturer kind of with their own ideas all the time and you know it just leads you in different directions
so you could be like if you're good at you know online marketing or you want to do Facebook ads or a Spotify store or what not Spotify store what a Shopify store yeah and how Spotify store but you know, if you're looking for things like that and you are good at you know, SEO in websites or doing advertising you could eat what you're saying is you could easily head to the trade show in China find a great product that you didn't have to invent, know the sourcing, build the relationship and then you do the marketing selling, bringing it in. Absolutely. And I see product all the time that he says and I go Why is nobody selling that? It's like awesome. Can you think of an example for me of like a product you saw that? You know that it's okay to share about because you have you know, you're already doing it maybe that maybe I haven't seen before?
No, I mean, I don't know if you seen before, but you know, you know, the little Micro small projectors are becoming quite big and popular now. Yeah, I was seeing those in China five years ago thinking they're amazing Why don't people do this? And like Now, a lot of people are doing them. And even those balance scooters, you know, those two wheel scooters that you hover around and zoom around on evermore gateways. Those were in China for like two years before they became popular. And I just realised like there's almost a one to two year lag between people starting to show things at the trade shows, and then somebody tweaking on to them and the and making them popular by doing the marketing. So I think there's a massive opportunity if you have a good digital marketer, a CEO guy, you can do a one product landing page and market market the heck out of it. You know, no joke. You've got that talent.
We don't I love about that, too, is it's not too late. And it's never too late. Because when you're talking about that, I'm sure someone's thinking, Oh, yeah. hoverboards are already done or you know, whatever. Yeah. Or fidget spinners. Right when when our kids were getting into that
Exactly, but every year yeah,
every year, there's more stuff isn't there because every year it takes time for enough marketers get ahold of a new idea. And it's just because it came out and one guy puts a landing page doesn't mean it's gonna be going viral. It's gonna take time to do that.
Exactly. And not one guy can have 100% market share. So, you know, if you're doing your own marketing, finding your own traffic source, building your own customer base, you'll get business on it. Right that that's it. And there's a lot of cars doing that. I must say.
You get me excited here. Why? Why have I not been trying to source products from China and market them here? I'm going crazy right now. This is exciting. Well,
Bob challenges the opposite. I've got all these products and I'm looking for great digital marketers that can help me launch them and do amazing stuff online with them.
Well, if you heard it here first,
your dear first, David Hoffman is looking for great digital marketers. If you are the your your dream is to have a business where you have again, like a Shopify If I store or a Click Funnels page or something like that, when you want to sell a product, and I'm assuming you can also organise whether it's through a middle person or from them to do
direct drop shipping or, yeah, that sort of thing, you don't have to be keeping inventory of 10,000 hoverboards. You don't have to, I mean, you can do smaller orders. I mean, I give a lot of advice to a lot of new Amazon sellers who are consult with and tell them often I'd rather buy smaller quantities of a product and pay more instead with dead inventory. And, you know, you can do a test run a trial run. And we've, we've actually bet a lot of ventures like that, where we believe in a product and we find guys that can, they can create the sales, you know, we can even find inventory in some cases. So, you know, we happy to partner up with people, you know, it's all about talent and the right people met we entrepreneurs.
That's very exciting. So how long until you are the next shark on Shark Tank? Yeah.
That's what it sounds like, man. I love it.
Let's even get you introduced man, this is great, guys, you can follow David Hoffman again on the main website global t qm. You can of course, follow them on Facebook global t qm on Facebook and all social media. But if you head over to the website, this is exciting because I've been checking this out right now. And a couple things they do is you know, number one, you have right on your page, which I think is so cool. You can schedule a call and just have a conversation and learn what you want to learn, ask what you want to ask and find out whether it's about products, whether it's about services, whether it's about selling in China buying in China, if there's if the Chinese landscaping business is anywhere in your up your alley, or you should be knowing about it, you can schedule a call David and his team and they'll chat with you. And you also have a free book on here. This is really cool. It's called China sourcing for startups. So I'm just getting into it now. Your your company sent me a copy I didn't realise there was a link right to the before so I started getting into the book. It's quite cool. There's, you know all about packaging and artwork, there's about you know how to get what you expect and like you talked about with the sample versus the actual product run, how to do payments, protecting your intellectual property. I mean, it goes on and on. Literally like everything you need to know about working or importing your source of China's there. He tells what your favourite part of the book or why someone wants to grab that it's free by the way, on global t qm calm, just grab it again, if you're driving, make sure you pull over, but you can grab that right now. Yeah, what's your favourite part of the book? Or what's the real reason why someone wants to get into that because it's exciting to me, but I know you wrote us I want to know your perspective too.
All right, guys, I don't remember all the details. But Matt, I just think it's a good all round book for people. You know, it covers everything from like A to Zed On what it takes to get involved and things to be aware of. So I think if nothing else, that's great if people are just thinking about it, or toying with the idea of sourcing products from China and want to know more about what it takes, you know, that's a great little easy guide to read, you know, and then from there, you know, they can talk to people, and we can handhold people through it. And as you say, those calls I book, I do a lot of them myself, but another guy saw him and he does a lot of them he's very knowledgeable and experienced. And I mean, those are completely free calls and even if he was gonna bounce ideas off facile will get, you know, we'll just, you know, see what, where to go what to do next. It's
all free advice. So like, if you want to
answer nine questions to weed out bad suppliers, you understand the Chinese cultural differences, different product areas to focus on. And there's so much in the book, I love it. Excited to get as China sourcing for startups, you can grab that book and it's free on David's website, global TQ m.com and you can follow them on Facebook global tkm calm David Thank you so much for making the time and I know it's getting late. I'm gonna let you get to bed soon. Final kind of question as we as we wind down here is, you know, looking back in your especially in your family history, if you could change anything about your story growing up, what would you change? Or would you leave it all the same?
Good question. I think I would leave most of it the same. There's a part of me that says, would I go back to South Africa and do things differently on the home ground, you know, and read, rewrite that story of how it ended. But, you know, I'm happy where I'm at now. And you know, you got to look forward.
Got to look forward Words To Live By David Hoffman. Thank you so much for your time, brother.
Man, thanks so much for having me. It was a great interview. I appreciate it.
That's the interview of David Hoffman this week. Again, I want you to remember to go out to global t qm.com. And you can get his free book. You get everything you need. for that. Follow him a global TPM on On Facebook as well. And remember, follow me if you haven't already because we're always gonna put up cool interviews and leadership you know memes and things that you know just is get you excited and we get for the morning. Plus you actually see what my eight year old son looks like. It's on my Instagram at Matt brawny. Make sure you follow me on all social media there.