Cee Jay – a famous Youtuber and TV personality in Vietnam had been chosen as Bizspective entrepreneur of the month for January 2022.
In the exclusive interview with Barney Boken – Bizspective Business Start-up expert, Cee Jay had shared his journey to success and some tips for doing business in Vietnam.
Cee Jay is not only a famous Youtuber but also a Tik Toker and TV personality. His Youtube channel called CEE JAY OFFICIAL CHANNEL has nearly a million subscribers from around the world. After 8 years living in Vietnam, he decided to start his own company CEE JAY MEDIA in 2020. His company focuses on producing and distributing digital content and advertising campaigns for individuals, small businesses, and large corporations.
Entrepreneur of the month – Exclusive interview
Barney: My first question for an entrepreneur of the month is did you do any kind of market research about what you could do as a business or how could you become successful? Did you do any research or did you just follow instinct?
Cee Jay: I had been doing my Youtube channel for about 4 years before starting my company. I did not have a lot of experience in doing business in Vietnam because being an artist is a lot different from being a businessman. I had to do a lot of research. I spent a week building my business plan.
So, the first piece of advice I want to give you is that making your business plan is really important. When you make your business plan, you will see what you know or what you don’t know. And if you have a template on what a business plan is supposed to look like, it will help you a lot when you start a business in Vietnam.
You could see your business in the next 4 or 10 years, what you want to gain, and how much money you put into account to make sure that you make a profit. Based on my experience, when starting a business, it is very tough as you need to handle multiple tasks such as staff management, finance management, accounting, or paying taxes.
Barney: I totally agree that a business plan and market research is a really helpful tip for doing business in Vietnam. Can you explain more about why you think market research is so important?
Cee Jay: When you have a really good business idea, you need to understand the target audience in Vietnam, how they react to market changes or how they react to new products. Vietnam is a unique market, so make sure you have a deep understanding of Vietnamese clients such as what things work in Vietnam if you do not want to make any mistakes.
An example of a business failing to conduct necessary market research is McDonald’s, this business is not really successful in the Vietnam market because of the difference in eating habits and unique cuisine.
In addition, there’s a lot of competition that you need to have an up to date and deep understanding of what your competitors are doing, and what they’re not doing right.
Barney: So what skills did you already have before and what skills did you need to obtain by yourself?
Cee Jay: I have good skills in being creative, creating suitable content for clients. However, my marketing skill was pretty limited, so I needed to sign up for some marketing courses to learn what the key components are when I am trying to be a marketing consultant.
Plus, I am bad at staff management, so I found someone who could help me with that. One of my favorite quotes is that “A successful CEO is not the smartest CEO, it is someone who knows how to employ a smart one”.
Before I had enough funds to employ people, I used to edit my own videos or meet clients by myself. By employing some staff, my company actually does a lot of products or services, which brings many profits.
Barney: So as an entrepreneur of the month, can you share how did you fund your start-up? Did you bootstrap your business or did you have to raise some capital?
Cee Jay: This was very tough at first, actually, we officially registered my company on the 20th of July 2020. But we didn’t start to run until December 2020. I tried for the first three months, but I just couldn’t pay my staff salary. I didn’t have enough funds for that.
I made a lot of mistakes because I over-employed. My company didn’t have clients, so I was using my own funds to pay. I decided to take some time off to learn about human resources and all things related to doing business in Vietnam.
Barney: In regards to following your business plan, how many times did you pivot or did you persevere?
Cee Jay: I would say I have had my seventh version of my business plan already. However, I have not experienced too many pivots because I always have the key products or services to provide for my customers.
I quickly realized that due to COVID, our clients did not have a big budget for marketing. Therefore we had to re-think our price points for our services.
I also had to adjust to the market and fast, we had to create a lot of new services and products to keep our business profitable, however I still our original business plan on track, we just made some adjustments to fit the market due to Covid.
Barney: How about the actual formation of your company?
Cee Jay: When I was trying to set up my company I looked at some different options, I wanted it to be fully foreign-owned, however, the investment capital was quite high and at that time I didn’t have much capital to invest. But I’m lucky that I’m married to a Vietnamese citizen so I just let my wife set up the company in her name. I am the representative of the company and the managing director. Therefore I have the authority to sign all the documents, but the company is in my wife’s name. That makes things a lot easier.
Barney: I think the biggest challenge is the investment capital because the costs of setting up a company for foreigners or Vietnamese are not much different. However, there are lots of options depending on the business owner’s goals and requirements. It’s better to speak to a business consultant located in Vietnam before making a decision as every single business is unique and sometimes it’s good to have a Vietnamese partner and sometimes it isn’t. Ultimately there are many variables.
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Whether you’re looking to enter Vietnam, or have been operating there for years, it’s important to work with a partner on the ground who knows the culture, law, policy, or potentials and can help you avoid any unwanted mistakes and navigate the minefields.
Get in touch with Bizspective to discuss how we can help to take your Vietnam business to the next stage.