Sharing with: Melvin Ho, Director Of Bizsquare Group
Eileen: Hello Melvin, can you please tell us more about yourself and why do you start Bizsquare?
Melvin: Since young I always have a passion of running my own business. After spending 5-6 years as a corporate banker, I realised that there are a lot of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) that actually need help in growing their businesses. I see a huge gap in that and I have decided to set up my own company to help more SMEs, to value-add, and to groom them to become better.
Which leads me to start Bizsquare in 2013. The role of Bizsquare is to empower more SMEs by helping them to raise funds through financing from banks and Financial Institutions (FIs). We have partnered with over 25 banks, FIs, private investors and alternative lenders to help them with their business financing. By doing that, we also help to advise them on how to improve their business cashflow.
That is our whole business model when we just started the business.
Through these years, we have helped more than 1000 SMEs raised the desired funds they need. We are their advisor, friend and their long-term working partner as we have seen them grow from a young SME to a season entrepreneur.
Eileen: Wow that’s interesting! Can you share more about Bizsquare and how is Bizsquare different from the others?
Melvin: Good question, currently Bizsquare has evolved from a loan brokerage firm into a Business Consultancy firm. We don’t only get loans for you but also help you validate your business. We do that by advising you on how to grow your business. We will provide you with a customised financing solution for your business after analysing your business. In order to help you pay the loans comfortably, we can advise you by helping you to design cashflow table. We also advise customers to raise SMART money and teach them how to make more money from here.
In Bizsquare, we don’t compare and choose the cheapest loan for you because that is what a loan broker does. We increase the chances of you getting the loan, improve the loan amount that you can get and create a good story for you. We feel that an admin person would be good enough to compare the loans and apply for the cheapest one, it is not necessary to engage a broker. However, if you are looking for a professional to raise funds and also help increase your business revenue, Bizsquare is here for you.
Eileen: I see! What about your long-term aspirations for Bizsquare? Like what do you see Bizsquare in maybe 5-10 years down the road?
Melvin: Some of you might know that, in Bizsquare, we don’t just serve every customer, we are rather selective because we want to build a long-term growth with our customers. We are looking to strengthen relationship with every single one of our clients so that we can watch their business grow together. To Bizsquare, long term collaboration is the new way to run your business in the next 5-10 years. This covid19 is a good example on why we should collaborate. Companies can exchange resources instead of money. It is important to build a strong network and form a SME ecosystem where everyone can collaborate and help one another.
Today, Bizsquare has 5 different units – Business loan consulting, Accounting and Corporate Secretarial, Branding & Marketing, Strategy Management Consulting where I am the PMC that helps SMEs to get grants like EDG grants and lastly a Start-Up Mentorship where we help mentor SMEs and start-ups.
All in all, we have built a strong eco-system of more than 750 SMEs in the last 7 years, and we hope to continue building in the next 10 years.
Eileen: What do you suggest to SMEs who wish to take a business loan?
Melvin: Firstly, I would suggest that all business owners to keep track of their cashflow on a monthly basis. They can either have an admin person in your company to help track of your accounts or use a digital accounting software to tabulate your inflow and outflow of your cash. This is to make sure of that the business has a proper monitoring of their cashflow and not having return cheque or negative shown in the bank account.
Secondly, business owner should always prepare for the rainy days; by getting a loan when you don’t really have the urgent need now. This will give you a higher chance to negotiate and also during this period, the cashflow is typically in a better position, which give banks a higher chance of approval. Compared to obtaining a loan only when you are in an urgent need, it is pretty obvious that your cashflow will be weaker and the chances of approval will definitely be lower than the first.
Lastly, maintaining a good credit bureau record is also very important in your application. Do remember to pay all your credit card bills, personal loans and all other personal liabilities on time. This is help improve your credit bureau and help on your business loan application.
Eileen: Last question, what do you suggest SMEs should do after this covid-19?
Melvin: I would think that this raised a wake-up call for all businesses to start realising the importance of digitalization and how to make money online.
First of all, I think businesses should re-calibrate their business model and focus on streamlining their operations using online software in the market. It is easier to keep track of their operational progress using project management software.
Next, understand the importance of online marketing strategy and online sales.
Alternatively, they can hire a professional who is good in online marketing to help them gain online visibility and traction, so as to improve their business.