An overwhelming week

Last week I went back home for the upcoming (now already held) election. It was quite overwhelming when all things just added up together: seeing friends everyday and being anxious about the election, while having my day job and freelancing stuff on the side, plus taking care of the new PayPal account I set up for my company in Japan. Oh and I even helped a bit about organizing a special dinner party for a big event.

It surely felt I should have turned down a few things or push back them. However I’m determined to maximize my energy and use all my bandwidth to make my life and career more abundant. I’m quite happy with this strategy and believe it will eventually pay off.

2024 Election

I casted my ballouts on DPP for the president, regional and non-regional legislator seats. In my view, their candidates are the qualified ones and I’ve shared with their views in my country’s development and political agenda. Although they won the presidency, they lost the majority in Legislative Yuan. I’m pretty concerned about it, for now, I can only hope for the best in the next 4 years.

For Taiwanese people, elections, especially the major ones like this is always a big thing. Even the vote rate is declining in general, this year we still have around 71% eligible voters casted their votes. It reflects at least one thing – that Taiwanese believe they can change the politics and the direction of the country towards. This is somewhat very unique compared to our neighbor countries like Japan, where I usually hear people saying that they can’t do anything to change so it’s useless to vote. I’ve always found it not a good argument because to change, voting is really the least one should do.

PayPal Japan business account

I applied for a PayPal Japan business account in the last few days of 2023. They have this procedure that sending the final verification code to your registered address (the official one listed on government’s document), so I have been waiting the postcard coming at my office for a while. I’ve also had a PayPal Taiwan business account but there’s no similar physical verification that I could recall.

Eventually I received the code and right after you enter those code, your PayPal account can be used right away. I then started to invoice my clients but soon encountered an issue that some of the money is put to “On Hold” for 21 days, and despite I tried the measures suggested right in their app, it looked like that I can only get the money as they stated in the beginning, most likely because my account is brand new.

This makes sense except it should really warn new accounts beforehand, like what’s the upper limit of the money I can receive and use right away. It is not fair that you keep customer’s money for 21 days without paying any interests and just claim that it’s a fraud protection or something.

PayPal has been notorious for its handling fees (around 4%), conversion rates (the rates are so brutal that I wonder if that’s legal) and withdraw fees (I’ve heard it’s like 3% if you withdraw USD in a USD bank account in Japan’s case but haven’t tried it). Now there’s even this one to add up.

I chose to use it because I need some transactions as a proof when applying for business bank account. No wonder that I will stay away from PayPal once I can get my real bank account to function. But it’s also not very optimistic when it comes to receive payments from overseas in Japan. These are really the not-fun parts to run a business. And made me realized how lucky I was when doing similar things in my home country.

How to start a business

When I was in Taipei, I met some family friends and unexpectedly had some great conversations about careers and starting a business.

For the past months I happened to think through it because I literally is starting a business in Japan, although it’s pretty much the same one I have built in Taiwan.

In my mind, to start one’s own business, there are three principles:

  • You must be really good at what you do.
  • You believe there is someone looking for the service you provide, and they can afford you.
  • Your product or service must be a no-brainer and hassle-free.

One thing troubled me when I started out in my career was, I was coming from a Political Science background so I thought no one would entrust me as a web developer. To overcome this mentality, I found the only way was really just be as good as I can. You don’t have to be the best, but you must know you ARE the expert when comparing to your clients. You must be more knowledgeable than them on the things you do. You must deliver the things you promise you will, and if you can deliver even more, just do that to surprise them. And you will get good recommendations from them, which gives you opportunities to find your next leads.

The second principle is tricky, as it is about to “believe” something. Have you heard of complaints like: the market is bad; or, clients are always looking for cheap services, etc. To overcome that, it is really as simple as, “don’t work for those clients”. And you must really mean it, that, if you’re so good, as the first principle indicates, don’t sell yourself short, only bid the projects with the price you happily agree with. Don’t cynically think: “oh yeah if they pay me a million to build a website I will be very very happy”. Use those energy to figure out your happy price, and those who really need your service will eventually come to you.

Lastly, your service or product should be something your target clients would say yes without even thinking. They will happily give you the money you ask for, because it feels almost like nothing to them. This doesn’t mean your price must be cheap to them, it’s more like what you will deliver to their business, the value added is 10 times more than what they pay you. Design your packages carefully, pick a price that you will say yes to everything the client requests. No one wants to work in a condition that, there will always be an extra X to pay when making requests. Of course, things can go wrong when you under estimate the project scope, but you either learn how not to make the same mistake, or you learn how to sincerely communicate with your clients and ask for more budget, to which they may reject, but you had the chance to have the difficult conversations.

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