Business owners with lousy website security self-block businesses

Lackadaisical attitude by business owner irks customers

You can call it sabotage, rivalry action, or callousness (or lackadaisical).

Business owners who don’t put thoughts into maintaining its web presence can only display its lack of professionalism. The trait is a letdown to potential customers.

Get professional help or web development platforms

A business should hire only professionals to maintain its website. If not, at least get an IT-competent staff to subscribe to web development platforms such as WordPress, Wix or GoDaddy to maintain their website!

Unsecured website is a threat to customers

Alas, their inaptitude can cause harm to customers/visitors who visit their website (Fig. 1-2).

Those with anti-virus will pick up the threat and render their website useless (Fig. 3).

Site can’t be reached. Conversion funnel is nil.

If businesses such as UTOC (Singapore) Pte Ltd can’t be bothered with its web security, it can only expect zero customer from CONVERSION FUNNEL attributed to website presence.

Fig. 1 AVG detected and aborted threat from a website
Fig. 2 AVG history displayed the threat blocked from a website
Fig. 3 Website with threats will not be available in the user’s broswer

Phillip Capital Poems GTD, Cash, and fees

It is easy to open an account to invest in securities in Singapore. Register for an account in any stock broker, e.g., Phillip Capital. You will receive a CDP account (from SGX) and an online trading platform POEMS account.

Next, open a bank account for Electronic Payment System (EPS) and link it to POEMS. Install the apps on your phone and you can trade any time any where.

If you want to use your CPF to invest in securities, you can apply for CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS), where you can invest securities using your ordinary account (OA) and special account (SA). Please note the cost-and-benefit of using CPF to invest, e.g., CPF provides yearly interest of at least 2.5% p.a.

POEMS allow you to add securities to watch list, add price alerts, and trade by limit order, and good to day (GTD). The commission fee is $25 per transaction per day (excludes other fees).

For successful purchase of securities with Cash, you have to pay within T+2. Payment is by bank transfer to Phillips Securities via EPS. It takes T+1 to effect the bank transfer.

It is convenient to buy via GTD, but the risk is that if you have multiple ‘partial completions’ to complete an order, especially in ‘sluggish’ counters, you will have to pay for multiple commission fees at $25 for each transaction per day. E.g., I had to pay $25 + $25 for two partial orders of 1000 units and 2000 units of securities (for a GTD limit order of 3000 units). What happens if I have 3 partial transactions? I will have to pay commission fee of $75.

I am still learning how to trade and currently only looking at SGX securities. There are other exchanges that I haven’t ventured.

Start investing when you start to work. Know your assets, liabilities, and equity.

siekitchen@gmail.com
3 Jul 2021

As a working person, it is important to understand your assets, liabilities, and equity (i.e., A=LE). Let us look at the following examples.

Assets

Intangible assets

We start of with this asset.

Your qualification/skill is your intangible asset. It allows you to earn revenue via service contract with your boss, i.e., through job or freelancing. To be relevant, it is important to continue your education (aka lifelong learning). That way, you don’t make your intangible asset ‘obsolete’.

However, invest in education should be decided based on the cost-benefit analysis (CBA). Benefit should outweigh the cost. Select relevant and value-added courses that will help you to improve your intangible assets. It MUST NOT be a ‘trophy qualification’.

Real property

Real property is a good asset in Singapore. It is subjected to capital appreciation (i.e., value increase/decrease by market demand).

If the asset is bought by a home loan (i.e., mortgage or debt), then the asset is a mix of liabilities + equity (L+E). The bank co-owns the property. As you repay the loan, you reclaim more equity over your property.

The expenses that you pay for your property are the property tax, bank interest on loan, conservancy charges or monthly maintenance fees.

In comparison to rent, paying a housing loan is an ‘investment’ (plus expense/interest). You pay for the ‘equity’ over time. In contrast, if you pay rent, it is entirely your expenses (without return). In countries where the property market is constantly in over-supply, property is considered a risky investment.

The challenges to buy a property are the significant down-payment, one-time transaction costs, renovation/furnishing costs, and securing loan.

Car

Car is not an asset, unless it brings revenue, e.g., when you are ‘moonlighting’ as a Grab driver. There is no capital appreciation (increase in value), except depreciation. The depreciation value can be above $10k per year. Other expenses involved in owning a car are interest, petrol, maintenance, parts replacement, etc.

Liabilities

Loans

Loans are derived from Education, Property, and Car purchases.

Property loan can help to grow your asset (dependent on its capital appreciation). It can be a loss if there is a glut (i.e., over-supply) that caused depreciated value.

Education loan helps improve your intangible asset and allow you to generate revenue (i.e., salary/service fees).

Car loan can be used to generate revenue (or ‘cost recovery’) if you use it in gig economy of ‘shared rides’. Else, it depreciates rapidly.

Equity

Property

As you repay your mortgage, you start to increase your equity over that property. The final asset value depends on market demand. If there is uptrend, you earn profit from its capital appreciation.

Summary

The above is an example of your assets, liabilities and equity. Everyone starts off with intangible assets and sometimes liabilities such as education loan. But over time, you should be able to reduce your liabilities and improve your equity. The more asset you accumulate, the higher their values appreciate, the more you keep your equity.

Other assets that I did not mention are in share-holding (i.e., equity market), starting your own business, other investments, and insurance that protects your asset/health. Insurance is a liability if it is short-term, but some are structured to have lower expenses/premium over longer-term commitment. It is important to start your insurance policy early, especially if you want to start a family and have several liabilities under your belt.

Advice from other gurus

  • Grow your asset
    • intangible asset (i.e., your qualification/skill)
    • invest part of your salary
      • knowledge acquisition, e.g., books, courses
      • share-holding or investments that has at least 1% p.a. return (e.g., saving bonds, insurance savings plan)
      • once you have sum for down-payment, invest in property
    • assets to consider
      • shares
      • property
      • intangible assets (yourself)
  • Reduce your liabilities
    • get into loans that have better benefits/returns, e.g., property or continuous education
    • avoid loans that don’t add value. If you must own a car, wait until your asset grow and you can afford to draw out from your growing equity.
  • Manage your expenses
    • it is good to spend money to improve your well-being. This is considered as maintaining your ‘intangible asset’ (or mental health), but don’t overspend and accrue credit card debts.
    • understand your recurring expenses. If there are ways/alternatives to reduce these expenses, do it.
    • consider implementing ‘cost-recovery’ if your expenses are too high, e.g., car debt repayment can be offset by moonlighting as grab driver to earn revenue. If this is property repayment, consider renting out a room to a colleague to offset the monthly home loan repayment.

Food delivery revenue splitting formula among rider-owner-agent

Fig. 1 Grab food is answerable to its investors. It is not a social enterprise with capital procured from the public.

First, the owner gets 70% of its sales (FULL STOP). For example, if owner sold $27, it gets $18.90. Grab ensures order and delivery.

The rest is about Grab’s charges to CUSTOMERS (FULL SOP).

Grab charges extra on customers. E.g., $27 + $3 = $30 (listed price). Then service fee at $11.50 (depending on distance), which is 38% of listed price.

Rider gets $8.50 (assumed, ref 1). Grab gets $41.50 – $18.90 – $8.50 = 14.10. In terms of revenue distribution, it is a 20-45-35 formula of the last pricing of $41.50.

In this arrangement, owner still gets 70% of earning, e.g., $18.90. Grab coordinated with other stakeholders, namely customers, riders, and stall owners to earn $14.10. Rider received $8.50 per trip (assumed, ref. 1). This arrangement is still good because without Grab, stall owner gets zero.

Grab is not a social enterprise and it needs to pay investors. Investors had pumped capital into Grab.

Lastly, disgruntled stall owners can opt out if they think Grab is a bane than a solution.

Else, stall owners can coordinate among themselves to incorporate their own food delivery services for themselves. This would be similar to the extra service charges they pay to stall associations to get their plates washed…

Reference

  1. Grab allegedly pocketed 50% off the cost of a food order made over Grabfood. What happened here? (https://mothership.sg/2020/04/grabfood-commission-rate-explained/)

Finished food Safety Course (FSC) Level 1 via NTUC Learninghub

The class started at 9.00. There were 10 participants. Some had problem accessing Zoom and accepted later. The instructions given were the following:

  1. Switch video on all time. If you are using Tab or phone, prepare another device to access the online assessment (Canvas, https://ntuc.instructure.com/).
  2. Scan QR code to update learner’s particular
  3. Save zoom link somewhere accessible in case participant get booted out due to poor connection.
  4. Assessment will be the following
    • 25 multiple choice questions (MCQ)
    • 5 short answer questions
    • Practical session, e.g., oral questions and demonstration (hand washing and food handling)

The agenda of the lecture is about personal hygiene, safe ingredients, handling, storage, and overall cleanliness.

Practical food handling

Prepare the following: glove (or chopstick, tongs), container (with ready to eat food), and serving plate.

The instructions: transfer the food from the container to the plate. Response: wear glove, open container, take the food and place on plate.

The instruction: receive the money. Response: take of glove to receive money.

Oral questions (with photos)

  1. Items to wear at workplace? Covered shoe, cook hat, apron, and/or head net cap. Inappropriate ones are slippers, torn and tattered aprons, and jewelry.
  2. Proper PPE? Anti-slip covered shoe, apron, and cook hat
  3. Placement of ready to eat and raw food in chiller? Ready to eat at top and raw food at the bottom.
  4. Store canned food. Ensure item is not expired or physically damaged (e.g. dented).

The course takes 7.5 hours, with intermittent breaks at 10 min. Lunch from 12.00 to 13.30. I think the course can be shortened, especially when the course material is given to participants earlier for reference. By then, participants would be ready for the test.

The course material is 135 pages long but the content is easy and fast to follow. The 8-step hand wash requires more practice.

Note that the trainer will help participants to understand and pass the course. This course’s main purpose is to help improve participants’ understanding about proper and safe food handling. It is not out to fail (if participants really understand the topic).

Reference

  1. Food Safety Course (FSC) requirement to work in food and beverage (F&B). How to register (https://siekitchen.com/2020/12/24/food-safety-course-fsc-requirement-to-work-in-food-and-beverage-fb-how-to-register/).

Food Safety Course (FSC) requirement to work in food and beverage (F&B). How to register.

It is mandatory to have food safety course before one is allowed to work in F&B. The purpose of the course is to educate food and beverage handlers the good practices to ensure that F&B is safe for consumption. It minimizes the risk of contamination and poisoning.

NTUC Learninghub has online course about the above subject (i.e., Food Safety Course). It is a 7.5 hours course with assessment methods e.g., mcq, practical assessment, oral, and others. There are  parts, i.e., good  personal hygiene, safe ingredients, handling, store, housekeeping. Upon completion, participant will receive statement of attainment (SOA) from Skillfuture Singapore (SSg, refer to ref. 1-2).

Food Safety Course level 1 (since 30 Nov 2020) is administered by Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and Skillfuture Singapore (SSg). It was formerly known as “Follow Food & Beverage Safety and Hygiene Policies and Procedures” course (aka Basic Food Hygiene course or Food Safety and Hygiene level 1, refer to ref. 2).

Fee and payment (refer ref. 1). Supports are available, e.g., Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP) and skillfuture credit (for Citizen). For Skillfuture credit claim, go to link (ref. 4) for FSC level 1 online learning. Click ‘claim skillfuture credit’. Login via Singpass. Follow the instruction to get the ‘claim id number’. An NTUC Learninghub representative will email you a link for claiming via skillfuture credit, complete the online form and paste the ‘claim id number’. Done.

Course schedule (ref. 3). Currrently, there is online course from NTUC Learninghub via Zoom. Book your slot and a representative will contact you asap to assist you. If you are new to NTUC Learninghub, you may need to provide personal information. Note that I don’t like to provide personal information over email.

UTAP: supports 50% course fees up to $250 per year.

Update: I have completed and passed this course (ref. 5)

Reference

  1. NTUC Learninghub mandatory Food Safety Course level 1 (https://www.ntuclearninghub.com/course/follow-food-and-beverage-safety-and-hygiene-policies-procedures/?gclid=CjwKCAiA8ov_BRAoEiwAOZogwfPB6_-p54rjNaAnCytjPC7_sOU_-tz0KIhFgBR23KE2MaECYNVJGRoC-J0QAvD_BwE)
  2. WSQ Food Safety Course Level 1 (https://www.eduquest.sg/courses/course/wsq-food-hygiene-course?gclid=CjwKCAiA8ov_BRAoEiwAOZogwQnuucZS519ItWQdb-XL8c4KuYN6sjiGMMruyi7kws3AhMZjjDe2mxoC9fQQAvD_BwE)
  3. NTUC Learninghub course schedule (https://www.ntuclearninghub.com/course/food-safety-course-level-1-synchronous-elearning/?action=schedules)
  4. FSC level 1 (synchronous e-learning), code tsg-2017501339 (https://www.myskillsfuture.sg/content/portal/en/training-exchange/course-directory/course-detail.html?courseReferenceNumber=SCN-200409359E-01-CRS-Q-0031336-FSS)
  5. Finished food Safety Course (FSC) Level 1 via NTUC Learninghub (https://siekitchen.com/2020/12/30/finished-food-safety-course-fsc-level-1-via-ntuc-learninghub/)

How to waive UOB credit card membership fee

My membership fee was charged on Oct. The fee is around $200. I spent quote regularly using the card.

I have applied for waiver previously and it was approved.

To apply for a waiver, call the UOB personal banking number at 18002222121. This is an automated call management system. From the selections, you will be directed to credit card waiver. It will ask for your credit card number followed by hash key. It will ask for your phone number followed by hash key. The automated voice will inform you that your application will be reviewed.

Costs incurred to hawkers

Study on the above topic will help most hawkers. For example, cost components for average hawker stall and other information conducted by Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) is important (ref. 1).

It suggested that raw material played the most cost for average hawkers, whereas rental contributed about 12% and utility at 9.3% (both at 21.3%).

Fig. 1 Cost component of average hawker centre (dated 2015; ref. 1)

As mentioned previously, the average cost of rental is $1500 with a range of $5 to $5000 (as offered bids; ref. 2). If a business operates daily without rest, then this translates to $1500/30=$50 per day from rental. Assume 12% rental cost is true, then total cost is $50/0.12 = $416. If daily total cost is true, then the cost of utility and rental would be $416 * 0.21 = $87.36. If raw material is approximately 60%, the cost is $416 * 0.6 = $250. Daily, a hawker would be spending $337.36. The rest is manpower and other service fees at approximately 20% (which is variable, because manpower could be business owner’s fixed salary and other service fees are variable).

To break-even, a business needs to achieve $337.36. If a bowl of product is $3, then the business owner needs 113 bowls per day. Subsequent bowls would be operating profit.

If I am to start a business in a location selling a dish, I will first determine the following:

  • Average footfall in the location per day (and especially compared during weekends)
  • Average peak time per day in hour.
  • Number of competitors
  • Average price of similar product around the location
  • Seats available
  • Parking area
  • Type of customers, e.g. workers, students, or other market segment.
  • Other marketing strategies.
  • Operations consideration, e.g. storage, freezers, footprint (sqm), process area (or kitchen), payment method (cash or cashless), and stall service provider (their efficiency), stall hygiene level (study the NEA awarded hygiene level, should be above Silver level; ref. 3)

Reference

  1. Examining the cost drivers of hawker food prices by MTI (https://www.mti.gov.sg/-/media/MTI/Legislation/Public-Consultations/2015/Examining-The-Cost-Drivers-of-Hawker-Food-Prices/fa_1q15.pdf)
  2. Hawker stall rental using bidding system is flawed (https://siekitchen.com/2020/05/16/hawker-stall-rental-using-bidding-system-is-flawed/)
  3. New food hygiene recognition scheme to replace existing grading system (https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/new-food-hygiene-recognition-scheme-to-replace-existing-grading-10446030, 19 Jun 2018)

Hawker stall rental using bidding system is flawed

Bidding is a competitive process where contenders (i.e., bidders) express the price they are willing to pay for the item presented (with ask price). Anyone who expressed the highest bid price wins the item.

Singapore National Environmental Agency (NEA) is entity that offer the tender for bidders to express their highest price for monthly stall rental (ref. 1).

Bidding is susceptible to spikes and outliers, e.g. a lady who bidded $10,028 per month for a hawker stall to sell drink. According to NEA, the average price is $1,500 within a range of $5 to $5,000 (ref. 3). This would mean that the rental is $1,500 +/- 20% or from $1,200 to $1,800. So, the $10k monthly rental is considered very high for a drink stall.

The bidding process is also susceptible to those bidders who are out to win the bid and then sublet or assign the winning at higher price to others (in order to profit). NEA said they ensured that sublet and reassignment are not allowed, but did not elaborate how they will monitor and control this practice. I guess it would require stall operators to report this to the authorities.

For more information refer to ref. 4.

Reference

  1. NEA tender notice (https://www.nea.gov.sg/corporate-functions/resources/tender-notices)
  2. Bidder ends deal on record $10,028 monthly rental bid for Chomp Chomp hawker stall (https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/10028-monthly-rental-bid-for-chomp-chomp-hawker-stall-highest-in-3-years-bidder-walked, 30 Aug 2018)
  3. NEA adopts transparent tender system for hawker stalls (https://www.nea.gov.sg/media/readers-letters/index/nea-adopts-transparent-tender-system-for-hawker-stallshttps://www.nea.gov.sg/media/readers-letters/index/nea-adopts-transparent-tender-system-for-hawker-stalls)
  4. Information for stallholder (https://www.nea.gov.sg/our-services/hawker-management/information-for-stallholders)