Business lessons from Vietnam 🇻🇳

New learnings for the new year!

Photo of me (one GOAT) doing the peace sign next to a goat. (GOAT stands for Greatest of All Time)

Happy New Year and I hope you’ve had a good start to 2024 so far!

I was in Vietnam with my family at the end of December. And while it wasn’t a business trip, I still took away some lessons on doing business that I thought might be interesting to share.

Photo of me (one GOAT) doing the peace sign next to a goat. (GOAT stands for Greatest of All Time)
But first, here’s a pic of two GOATs in Vietnam. 😂

Being present where potential customers are

While researching places of interest before the trip, I came across attractions I had trouble finding on Google Maps because the businesses hadn’t added themselves to it.

As a result, I often decided to give those places a miss.

Maybe these businesses already earn a healthy income from locals who don’t rely on Google Maps to find them. But if they are targeting foreign tourists, it might be a good idea to establish a presence on the platforms these tourists use.

Not just Google Maps, but also platforms like Tripadvisor or Klook.

How you can apply this to your freelance business: Find out the platforms your potential clients are active on and use to look for freelancers, and establish a presence there. For example:

  • Networking on LinkedIn
  • Optimising your website to rank well for search queries relevant to your business
  • Attending conferences for your industry

Accommodating your customers’ needs

The most spoken language in Vietnam is Vietnamese (duh).

And the most popular chat app there is Zalo, not WhatsApp—which made it tricky if we needed to keep in touch with our Grab driver so he could pick us up later.

So, although I of course didn’t expect the locals to speak English perfectly, I always appreciated it when the places we went to had signs or menus in English. Some businesses also use WhatsApp.

I think it’s smart of the business owners to try and cater to their foreign customers’ needs. (One staff member even downloaded WhatsApp in front of us!) It made our experience a lot smoother.

Translation: DO NOT PICK MUSHROOMS. DO NOT BE CONFUSED. DO NOT PICK FLOWERS TOO MUCH. If you violate, please pay the fine: 500,000d1 unicorn
Google Translate didn’t always work well in Vietnam. This translation is one of the better ones

How you can apply this to your freelance business: Learn your clients’ needs and try to accommodate them if you can.

For example, if you know your client wants certain services or quicker turnaround times, see if you can offer these too (and adjust your fees accordingly!)

Asking for testimonials

After coming back from Vietnam, I wrote a long, glowing Google review for one of our hotels because we had such a good experience there. (If you’ll be going to Da Lat, let me know and I’ll share deets!)

I also wrote a review for a spa we went to. The massage and the overall service were great, but not to the extent that I thought “I must leave them a review!!”

I did so mostly because the staff member who served us politely asked me to, twice. Lol.

How you can apply this to your freelance business: Be proactive in asking for testimonials so you get more of them.

People usually don’t get the urge to write a testimonial unless you have absolutely knocked their socks off. Even then, they may not offer to write you one because they’d be adding to their workload.

But if you ask nicely, they are often happy to oblige! My practice is to ask a client for a testimonial once we’ve worked together for at least 6 months.

Try these tips out and see how they work for you this new year. Wishing you lots of success for 2024!

P.S. I don’t intend to turn this into a series, but I’ve also written a newsletter about my business learnings while in Japan last year. If you’re interested, you can read it here.

More freelancer news

Peak Freelance is now free to join

Peak Freelance is a community offering resources like templates, courses and client interviews for people who want to grow their freelance writing business.

It used to cost USD 49/month to be a Peak Freelance member, but you can now join for free! (Learn why from Peak Freelance’s co-founder here)

You’ll have to pay only if you want to access Peak Freelance’s advanced templates and courses.

If this sounds interesting, check out Peak Freelance here.

Note: I’m not a Peak Freelance member but I’m spreading the word as I’ve heard lots of good things about it 🙂

EU platform workers may be considered employees in the future

The European Parliament and European Union (EU) member states have come to a tentative agreement to consider ride-hailing and food delivery platform workers employees.

As a result, these workers will be entitled to employee benefits they currently don’t receive, like a minimum wage and paid leave.

The EU Council and European Parliament still need to endorse and adopt the agreement. But if this happens, EU member states will then have 2 years to put in place measures that give effect to it.

Learn more about this news here.

This post was first published in my email newsletter on 4 Jan 2024. If you liked it, you can sign up for my newsletter here:

Tan Siew Ann
I’m a freelance writer for some of the most amazing software businesses in the world. On this blog, I share tips on how you, too, can run a sustainable and meaningful freelance business. Let’s forge your freedom. 💪

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