Featured Company: Mike's Business Tours [Interview] [Transcript]

Guest: Mike O’Hagan

Presenter: Wayne Bucklar

Guest Bio: Mike was born a Kiwi moving to Australia at the age of 17. For the next 10 years Mike moved around Australia, doing a wide range of jobs. At the age of 34 he started and grew an Australia-wide short distance removal business – MiniMovers. This business topped $30M turnover with 500 staff.

In 2007 Mike exited the day to day of this business (still retaining full family ownership) and started educating himself. He completed a 3 year Masters in Entrepreneurship programme at MIT in Boston USA; he became a Commissioner on the Fair Pay Commission charged with setting the Minimum Wages in Australia; and he took up several Board positions.

In 2010 his Australian business was affected by the GFC. It plunged into a +$1Million a year loss. Using Offshoring strategies – his own people, in his own space – trained and managed to his processes with his work culture – Mike turned the loss into a substantial profit – within a few months. He followed this up by using his Philippines team to build a new way to market to new customers and added new services to the business, which were possible due only to the lower costs.

Mike returned to Australia and shared this with other business owners. They didn’t “get it.” Until an informal group of 10 business friends asked Mike to show them the opportunities in Manila. During a rather disorganised week Mike showed his business friends the Offshoring Opportunities he was seeing and using. At the end of the week everyone raved about what they had learned – Mike’s Business Tours was born.

Segment overview: Mike O’Hagan has structured a 3 and a half day business tour that goes through all sorts of different businesses where in they visit about 20 different businesses. They have 3 to 4 long structured lectures around different structures that business owners could use, why they would use each structure, why they wouldn’t use each structure. They also talk about locations that tour participants can operate in, some work better for certain things, some for other things, and they talk about managing them and setting out the management processes and then how to extract a lot of productivity out of it.

The tour gets the full range from everything coming here and participants are curious about the Philippines and that is why they have decided that they need to learn what to do before they do it which is highly advisable.

Mike has seen a lot of train wrecks here from people that are trained to outsource here. Tour participants have no idea what they’re doing and they want to learn before they do it, and they find Mike’s Tours an all-around source that teaches everything they need to be able to go about it in the right  way. It’s across the board, all sorts of businesses, entrepreneurial, sometimes the participants have growth pains, sometimes they’ve got margin squeeze, sometimes they’re just simply looking for new ways, for new opportunities to sidestep the massive growth changes that are coming their way.  

To know more about Mike’s Manila Tours, listen to the podcasts below.

The interview will start at the 12:00 of the podcast episode.

The interview will start at the 20:10 of the podcast episode.

Transcript

Wayne Bucklar:  Today, I’d like to welcome one of our sponsors. My guest today is Mike O’Hagan. Mike is the Director and the Owner of Mike’s Business Tours, formally known as Mike’s Manila Tours and Mike joins us today from Manila. Mike welcome to the show.

 

Mike O’Hagan:  Thank you, great to be here.

 

Wayne Bucklar:  Now Mike, I know a lot of people are already know you and know your history. But, can you fill us in on what it is that Mike’s Business Tours do?

 

Mike O’Hagan:  Yes. I had a company in Australia that got into financial difficulty during the   

so called GFC and we had a bit of hardship there and to get out of that problem, I moved a slab of the business to the Philippines, where we do a lot of back office and marketing from here now. And that worked for me absolutely wonderful and although it was great, along the way I stepped on a few landmines and learned a few lessons. I watched other people stepping on the same landmines and having the same issues so I started to simply showing to some friends what was happening in the Philippines, what was working and not working, and from that it’s developed into what it is today now. I structured a 3 ½ day business tour that goes through all sorts of different businesses. We visit about 20 different businesses. We have 3 to 4 long structured lectures around different structures that you could use, why you would use each structure, why you wouldn’t use each structure. We talk about locations that you can operate in, some work better for certain things, some for other things, and we talk about managing them and setting out the management processes and then how to extract a lot of productivity out of it. And this has been very, very successful that a lot of businesses have come through, 350 businesses or 360 businesses to date, creating a lot of jobs here.

 

Wayne Bucklar:  And Mike, these are businesses that I’ll looking to get into outsourcing and offshoring in the Philippines.

 

Mike O’Hagan:  Yes. These are Western businesses, mainly Australian although we’ve got the odd Kiwi and just lately we’ve had a surge of American businesses coming through as well. But they range from pre start ups towards looking for business ideas through to a few micros but mainly SME’s and we’ve had a few public listed companies come up as well and a lot of consultants along the way. We get the full range from everything coming here and they are curious about the Philippines and that decided that they need to learn what to do before they do it which is highly advisable. We see a lot of train wrecks here from people that are trained to outsource here, have no idea what they’re doing and they want to learn before they do it, and they find Mike’s Tours an all-around that teaches everything they need to just go about it in the right  way. It’s across the board, all sorts of businesses, entrepreneurial, sometimes they’ve got growth pains, sometimes they’ve got margin squeeze, sometimes they’re just simply looking for new ways, for new opportunities to sidestep the massive growth changes that are coming their way.

 

Wayne Bucklar:  Now Mike, is there any particular category that you do whether is it actually brought across the board as you say?

Mike O’Hagan:  With Tours, it’s probably biased towards building teams up here through staff leasing or hosted type services to start with. Although we also of course covered if you want to be incorporated here as well. But we also kind of, we outsource our old traditional outsourcing from 20 years ago, that’s the big guys… We do cover and talk about home-based or virtual workers on the likes of UpWork and all those types of things as well. We cover the whole spectrum, but we probably lean a bit more to building teams. You can start with one, with a very, very low risk factor and you can rent … I see a lot of people, I myself started with two workers here. In the other business I mentioned before, I started with two workers and very, very quickly, we ramped up with what we were doing. We liked it, it went well, and today we’re at 45 people which was nowhere where we thought we would be… Leaning towards that, we do also cover a little bit of manufacturing on the tour as well. And every now and then, I run a special manufacturing tour in particular, that manufacturing is covered on a tour. You’d know little bit about that as well.

 

Wayne Bucklar:  Now Mike, for people who have never been on your tour and are thinking about it, give me a sense of how big your group is. Is this the sort of you see going to the Rugby Sevens or how many people are we talking about?

 

Mike O’Hagan:  Yes. Our perfect number or our ideal number is 6, that’s what fits in the van very comfortably.  But I’ve been know to have run 12 and 15 on special tours and sometimes, we get foreign tour if we have so many changes the last minute. So, 6 is our perfect number. The tour is about work shopping together as well so in between each visited place we talk about what we saw, what didn’t see as a group. Each of us have different businesses of course and everyone put their two cents worth in. It’s coming at you from seeing and touching, it’s coming at you from lecture, and it’s coming at you from workshopping with your peers as well. Typically, our tour groups are pretty bonded and know each other a long time afterwards and are sharing things ongoing. It’s quite a common thing that happens.

 

Wayne Bucklar: Mike, what about tour groups of businesses that are associated through being members of the Chamber of Commerce or through an EO forum or something? Can you do a specific tour for a group?

 

Mike O’Hagan:  Yes, certainly, I’ve done lots of them. We’ve done it for accountancy firms, bringing their client’s up. We’ve done them for 4 Chambers of Commerce. In fact, one of my most successful businesses was a whole chamber of commerce, I took that in Australia and a group of them decided … they’re going to come up. They all knew each other, I had little bit hard on that tour, but that was okay but still it’s a good time and of all them did very, very successful businesses here and set up, all sharing with each other. So it’s sort of worked in that side of things. Industries, I’ve done real estate industry. I did a large one for a group of real estate agents. It’s always anything else, manufacturing, I’ve done them a specialized for that. Engineering is number one, anything in the building industry, in costing, in drafting, design, all those series are all quite popular too and I’m getting little groups for that as well.

 

Wayne Bucklar:  Now, I know Mike that entrepreneurship is one of your passions. You describe yourself as having a mission about that.

 

Mike O’Hagan:  Yes. The tour isn’t just about learning how to do business in the Philippines. The tour has a very large dose of me, the entrepreneur pushing most of the people on tour on what I call ‘business managers’, they’re simply managing their business. From where I’m sitting if you have to, you only own a job. If you don’t have to, you’re in a business. A business should work for you, you shouldn’t work for the business and I very much believe that I’m quite successful … today, I seat on 10 boards there. I’m a back up to 10 boards which I own a share in most of them. I’m Chair to half of those boards as well. The entrepreneurship will push you and push your business model to think outside the box. I will try and push you to go into a growth mode, to develop a process that gives you constant continual growth, and also low cost. I’m into bootstrapping, I don’t believe in taking risks in borrowing money, I think you should be funded from within and make it pay for itself as a gross. My absolute passion is to create more entrepreneurs. I totally believe the future of our country for our grandchildren can only come from creating entrepreneurs today. If you look at Australia for a point in case, I would say to you that, without the mining industry of the last few years, Australia would not being anywhere nearly economic success it has been, and that mining being didn’t come from the government, that mining bin came clearly from entrepreneurs that opened up and handcuffs and to court of this world who opened up mining many years ago as a product … I think the future Australian can only come from entrepreneurs. I think globalization is a reality. You’re not going to stop it, with a little bit of noise occasionally that the genie’s out of the bottle you’re not going to stop this. I don’t think it’s a threat. I think I just see it as an opportunity and I push that on the tours as well by pushing the people on tour the business model. On the last day, we’ve extended the tour this year, it’s now 3 and ½ days. The last day is a whole planning session around planning, not only what you want to do up here but also start to look at what’s inside your own business and re-structuring it and re-targeting it to get it back to that continuous growth …

 

Wayne Bucklar:  For people who want to get in touch with you, either about an offshoring and outsourcing business tour of Manila about entrepreneurship. What’s the best way to get hold of you?

 

Mike O’Hagan:  My website is mikesbusinesstours.com and my direct email is my name [email protected], and you’ll find me on LinkedIn. You can just stick my name into Google,  apparently I pop up everywhere and any of those things will get through me, anything messaging, on email, on my website will get me as well. Happy to chat to anybody, I don’t charge for advice, I sit here, I’m semi-retired today. As I said I own 10 businesses and I’m doing quite well at all those sort of things. I love serving long chat Skypes about anything at all and helping get anybody I can so that’s just my mantra. Thank you.

 

Wayne Bucklar:  Mike O’Hagan from Mike’s Business Tours, an expert in Outsourcing and Offshoring in the Philippines and a very successful entrepreneur, and a man passionate on entrepreneurship. Thank you for your time today.
Mike O’Hagan:   Thank you Wayne.

 

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