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Professional Sourcing International | | President | 09/04/2002 | Small Business Owner
Jim McCombs is founder and President of Professional Sourcing International##comma## an Asian sourcing company based in Manila##comma## Phillipines

What kind of training or education did you acquire before your venture?
I am a chemical engineer##comma## born in Northern Ireland but now married to a Philippina and resident in Manila. I spent most of my career related to the agricultural chemical industry working for large multinationals such as ICI and FMC Corp. In this field I have lived in more than 5 Asian countires and travelled extensively in Asia##comma## Africa##comma## Europe##comma## Midddle East Russia and the CIS countries. I also spent a short period working in USA. I have developed and managed Joint Venture companies in several countries including China. In addition to my experience with the chemical companies I have also been Managing Director of two FMCG companies in Bangladesh and Nigeria. I returned to live in The Philippines in 2001 and started up my own company there.

What services or products does your organization offer?
My company is called Professional Sourcing International. We source products manufactured in Asia for clients in Europe##comma## Middle East & USA. The products handled include chemicals##comma## machinery##comma## packaging materials##comma## furniture##comma## handicrafts and jewelry. We also provide consulting service and company representation to western companies strting their own operations in Asia. We also have affiliate offices in China##comma## Hong Kong##comma## Thailand##comma## England & Italy.

What type of business or organization do you operate?
We began life as a Sole Proprietorship in my wife##aps##s name to save time and to allow us to get started quickly and with the minimum of red tape. We are now in the process of changing this to a corporation to limit personal liability as the business exposure grows and also to make it easier to register offices in other countries.

How many employees do you currently have?
13 total

How did you originally discover the idea for your organization?
The company was modeled by myself and my partner to fill a need that we had seen through many years of living in developing countries and watching western companies re-invent the wheel by using thie own staff in countries and cultures where they had no experience.

How did you originally fund your organization?
Totally from personal savings.

Are you the founder of your organization?
Yes together with my wife

Do you believe there is any distinct culture within your organization? If so, please describe it.
In our business I find that we cannot have an individual corporate culture. We basically adjust to merge with the culture of the company we are working with on a project by project basis.

What obstacles or challenges have you faced in your organization?
The main obstacles I have encountered are from government red tape. The only way to handle this is with a smile and persistence. Lack of funds is always a problem. I handled this by making some major sacrifices in my lifestyle. This was very hard to do at the time and effected not only myself but the family but now it was worthwhile.

Did you accept any advice along the way? Do you believe new organizations should be open to such advice?
It is always important to have advisors but you must not always allow the advice to influence you as other people##aps##s experiences are often not entirely appilicable to your own current situation

Did you receive any help along the way from other businesses or organizations? If so, how and from whom?
The local rotary clubs and the chamber of commerce

What have been the keys to success in your business? What do you believe are the keys to success?
Unquestioning support from a family that needs to make sacrifices to keep me going.

What kind of relationship do you establish with your customers or clients?
By being extremely flexible##comma## giving the customer what he wants not what you think he needs. You can pass on your ideas to him over time but don##aps##t try to force the change. Also##comma## I review successful deals and unsuccessful deals in detail and adjust your operating style accordingly.

What types of marketing do you employ?
Personal contacts##comma## Internet##comma## Trade Exhibitions.

Do you employ any web or online marketing?
Note: Question not yet added at time of interview.

What role does trust play in business or in your organization?
My only major error was not staring my own company when I was much younger. Another regret is that when employed by major companies I did not spend enough time networking and keeping in touch later with people I met around the world both in business and socially.

Did you struggle with starting your own organization or venture? Why did you decide to begin on your own?
Note: Question not yet added at time of interview.

What books or resources would you recommend for individuals starting off now?
Most countries now have government traing schemes for almost every field of business and advice and assistance for small business start ups. Also##comma## publications of the UN and WTO##comma## Internet sites with facilities for advertising your business and to chat with other entrepreneurs##comma## and local university libraries.

Do you notice any trends in the marketplace? If so, what are they?
Note: Question not yet added at time of interview.

Do you believe networking and contacts are important? If so, how?
Networking is the single most important thing for any entrepreneur or even a corporate career. When you have not yet developed a track record for your fledgling company you will need your network to even get considered for most business deals.

What do you think about contracts and other legal obligations? Are they important in your business?
Note: Question not yet added at time of interview.

If there is one thing that would sum up your advice to new entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Nothing goes to plan. You need to revisit your business plan very frequently and continually adjust it to reflect what you have learned. Do not be afraid to dramatically change direction if necessary.

What, if any, final advice do you have for new entrepreneurs?
After you have worked out your cash needs and developed your cashflow based on your business plan##comma## double the amount you think you will need and if you don##aps##t have this amount available start looking for loans or venture capital immediately. You will need it sooner than you ever dreamed.

This addedinterviews article was written by Jim McCombs on 3/9/2005

Jim McCombs Professional Sourcing International Small Business Owner