“Where is Cambodia?” “Do you have TV in your country?” have been asked to a young man, Kong Kimsophat, working as an Intern in United State; where he was curious and learnt why not many people know about Cambodia. This story led Sophat to run a translation company which 6 years later turned into the first local company, Making It Easy (MiE), providing one-stop professional services for expats working and doing businesses in Cambodia, specializing in three key areas: Business start-up & registrations, Relocation support, and Language & culture. Let’s get to know Sophat in 6 questions!
Q. What are the challenges/problems you are trying to solve?
Sophat: You’ve probably heard the term “globalization”. You may have heard of the ASEAN Economic Development Community. You might know that Cambodia is in the heart of ASEAN community when it comes to trading business. You might know that the Cambodian government has designed an attractive policy for foreign investment in the country. You might know that Cambodia is one of the fastest emerging destinations for foreigners with its friendly people and new opportunities. Yet, it is complicated for foreigners to settle in the Kingdom when it comes to laws, regulations and compliance. Many of them express that it is a challenge for them to ensure they are compliant when it comes to working or running a business here. Making It Easy exists with the aim of addressing these needs through both online and offline support in a language they understand.
Q. What inspired you to start Making It Easy? Or how did you find the business idea?
Sophat: I was an intern in the US in 2010 and 2011. I found that American kids and even a few adults would ask me strange questions like “Do you have TV in your country?” Often, they asked me “Where are you from?” When I said Cambodia they would say “Where is it?”
Most people I met knew very little about Cambodia. Most would say they had heard about the Khmer Rouge, and some knew about the Angkor Wat Temples. At least the temples meant there was one good thing they knew about the country.
I started using Google for the first time when I was there since they continued asking me lots of simple and strange questions. But there wasn’t much information about Cambodia, especially in Khmer. I started to think that I wanted to do something about this.
I returned home in late 2011 and started teaching foreigners Khmer language and cultures in Phnom Penh. I felt like this was a great way to spread the word about Cambodia around the world and many foreign students supported me with this. Soon I formed a team and extended the services to Khmer/English translation and interpretation as well. By early 2016, I started Making It Easy with the aim of providing a one-stop service, primarily for expats working and doing business in Cambodia. Two years after starting, we segmented and honed our skills, and we now offer sixty services to suit our customers’ needs.
Making It Easy is operated with clear vision, mission, goals and core values. Besides making a profit to sustain our operation and team, I believe that what we do has a positive impact on our target customers and stakeholders.
Q. It is said, “Starting a business is never easy”. What do you think? What is your strategy for dealing with any challenges that may come up? How do you find inspiration?
Sophat: Within the last three years, I have been starting work at 8am and finishing at 8pm. It’s not easy, but I know why I do what I do and for whom. I’ve fallen in love with it. I’ve learnt so much from the experience, ten times what I knew previously.
Beside working really hard and long hours, I tried not to bring my computer laptop home so that I could stop working at night. I also committed to not working on Saturday and Sunday so that I could make time for myself, for God, sport and close friends. I am also connected to mentors and advisors who challenge me and help keep me going. They have supported me in balancing my personal and startup life.
Q. To what do you attribute your success?
Sophat: Enjoying what I do is how I define my success. My mission is to make sure that my team and stakeholders can also feel that joy and thrive.
Q. What do you look for in an employee?
Sophat: I set four criteria when hiring employees:
- Loving the company and possessing a long-term commitment to employment
- The ability to learn new things and learn fast
- Integrity and caring for others
- Fundamental skills set for his/her accepted role
Q. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Sophat: Do your homework before starting your business. Put your ideas onto paper where you can read them, re-read them and share them with others. Dare to start, work hard on it, and stay focus. Along the way; you will find out what you need to change, what to limit, and what to expand. Where needed, change yourself and your strategies in time to avoid disappointments.
Kong Kimsophat (middle) and his team