Wall Street Journal normally publishes a special section on Mondays. The topics vary from mutual fund performance to small business to e-business.
Two weeks ago, they published a World Business special section [subscription needed] that focused on success stories from around the world. I always enjoy reading how people find success in the marketplace. Here are a few of companies that were highlighted:
- QB Net – Kuniyoshi Konishi exploited the decades-old tradition of one-hour barber shop visits. These visits included shampoos, hot towels, and shoulders rubs. A marketing survey showed that 30% of Japanese would welcome a quicker less costly route. His goal was to make the visit 10 minutes and cost abour 1000 yen (vs. the current price 3000 to 6000 yen). To make the 10 minute goal, Konishi had to make a lot of changes. First, there are no reservations taken. As a matter of fact, there are no phones installed in the shops. A machine at the entrance collects money and issues tickets to customers. To eliminate loose hair after the cut, a “air wash” system is used to vacuum the clients clean.
- KH Vatec – This Korean company has constantly changed the products it sells. They have taken advantage of the fact that they are very good at making miniature molds. This has led him from bicycles to radio dials to antenna brackets. Their biggest success came with an EMI shield for cellphones. KH Vatec’s manufacturing technique lowered the cost of sale by 40%. CEO Nam Kwang Hee fosters innovation and creativity by using bonuses, profit-sharing and stock options, unusual for Korean companies.
- Sohu.com – This Chinese dot-com shifted their entire business model from web-based offerings to cellphone-based offerings. Using SMS text messaging, they offer dating services and chat rooms. The cost is around a penny for each message sent. The low cost appeals to the Chinese market. The fact that 75% of urban dwellers own cellphones provides better distribution than using the computer-based web.