2017年6月11日 星期日

What's Going on with the Taitung County Government 台東縣政府最近動向 2

What follows below are what I thought were the most important and/or most interesting bits of news from various county government websites.  下列的內容都是我在縣府的各個單位網站上找到的.  是我認為最有趣或是最重要的.

Almost all of the sites below have an "English" link at the top of the page, but this link just directs you to the County's tourism portal.  This tourism portal is listed below as "The Taitung County Tourism Department."  Only the Cultural Affairs Department has its own English website.  幾乎下列的網站在網頁的最上方都有英文版的連結, 只是這些連結都會將你帶去觀光旅遊處的網站.  只有文化處有它自己的英文網站.

I also scanned through the news for any interesting news items relevant to the departments listed below.  There isn't a lot of Taitung-related news in the best of times, but I did my best to find relevant articles. 我也看了最近的新聞, 希望找到與縣政府相關的有趣的報導.  我盡力了, 只是關於台東的新聞不多.

Seattle 西雅圖

Oh, and one more thing!  I'll be going back to Seattle for two months on June 18, so this will be the last entry until September.*  還有一件事要跟你們說.  我六月十八日要回西雅圖兩個多月, 所以這篇文章是這學期的最後一篇.  九月再見!

1. The Taitung County Government International Development and Planning Department 台東縣政府國際發展及計畫處

Not entirely sure what this has to do with the International Development and Planning Department (seems like it would have more to do with the Agriculture Department), but organic roselle flowers from Taitung are now being exported to Japan.  我不是很清楚這件事跟國際發展處有甚麼關係 (好像跟農業處比較有關), 可是台東的有機洛神花開始外銷到日本.

The County Government continues to develop its "Smart City Project."  As part of this effort, they gave a presentation on their "TTPush" APP.  縣政府繼續發展 "智慧城市."  他們最近推出政府的APP平台"TTPush."**

2. The Taitung County Indigenous Peoples Website 台東縣原住民族行政處

As in other parts of Taiwan with a higher number of aboriginal people, this department has a plan for getting younger people to return to their villages.  This is of course easier said than done.  跟其他原住民人口較多的地方一樣, 台東縣原住民族行政處有青年人返鄉的計畫.  這種計畫當然是說的簡單但很難做到的事情.

The County Government is working with farmers in southern Taitung County to develop the market for millet.  縣政府在幫南迴地區的小鄉村發展小米廣場.

3. The Taitung County Personnel Department 台東縣政府人事處

Their website hasn't been updated in so long it's ridiculous.  哇!  他們那一處的網頁很久沒有新的消息!

4. The Taitung County Cultural Affairs Department 台東縣政府文化處

There's an exhibition featuring the works of ten Hong Kong artists on the second floor of Taitung's Arts Center.  This exhibition ends June 20.  台東藝文中心二樓舉辦香港十人展.  這個展覽是六月二十日結束.

There will be a concert at the Taitung Arts Center this Sunday, June 11.  這個六月十一日禮拜天台東藝文中心大廳舉辦音樂會.

5. The Taitung County Land Administration Department 台東縣政府地政處

They held a meeting about the rezoning of land for recreational purposes.  I'm sure this meeting was fascinating.  他們最近成立 "台東縣台東市康樂自辦市地重劃區重劃畫會."  這個會議一定很有趣!  (開玩笑的)

6. The Taitung County Civil Affairs Department 台東縣政府民政處

Another census was taken.  220,191 people presently reside in Taitung County.  113,818 of these people have penises, and 106,373 don't.  78,849 of these people are members of aboriginal tribes.  有新的人口普查結果: 現在人口數按性別及原住民身分區別.  台東縣居民人數現在是220, 191人.  113, 818人是男性, 106, 373是女性.  原住民的人口則是78849人.

Augustin, a Taitung resident originally from Switzerland, wants to become a Taiwanese citizen.  He originally came here as a missionary, and has been living in the county for 54 years.  有一位從瑞士來的人士Augustin, 他54年前來台的原因是傳教, 他在台54年並想更改國籍成為中華民國國民.

7. The Taitung County Government Education Department 台東縣政府教育處

The final round of the County English competition was held last Wednesday.  I'm sure the English teachers of Taitung are all glad it's over.  上禮拜三是台東縣的英語文競賽決賽.  我想台東所有的英語教師應該很高興.

8. The Taitung County Agriculture Department 台東縣政府農業處

Representatives from the Taiwan International Agricultural Development Company Ltd. arrived in Taitung to discuss the planting of pineapples and sugar apples.  There was some disagreement between the representatives of this company and officials from the Taitung County Government.  台灣國際農業開發股份有限公司來台東介紹種植鳳梨及釋迦的計畫.  縣議會人員跟台農發有些意見不同的地方.

A Chinese Pangolin was found in an alley near Kai Feng Street in Taitung City.  The Animal Protection branch of the Agriculture Department was notified, and the animal was captured and taken to a Wildlife Receiving Center in Pingtung.  有人發現一隻穿山甲在台東市開封街的一條巷弄.  畜產保育科得到消息之後, 就將穿山甲捕獲並送到屏東縣的野生動物收容中心.

Farmers around Da Ren Township experienced crop losses after the recent heavy rains.  下大雨之後達仁鄉的農民可能減產逾五成.

9. The Taitung County Tourism Department 台東縣政府觀光旅遊處

Worried about competition from other hot air balloon festivals, in other parts of Taiwan, the Tourism Department is encouraging people to "avoid the traffic," and visit Taitung's hot air balloon festival instead.  因為中北部的熱氣球活動越來越受歡迎, 觀光旅遊處呼籲旅客: "避開塞車的好方法就是來台東參加台東的熱氣球季."

10. The Public Health Bureau, Taitung County 臺東縣衛生局

The Public Health Bureau cautions residents about the danger of Japanese encephalitis, which is spread by mosquitoes.  Children older than 15 months should be vaccinated against this type of encephalitis.  衛生局提醒居民注意經由蚊蟲傳染的日本腦炎.  滿15個月的幼兒應按時接種疫苗.

Foot and mouth disease is very popular in Taitung this year.  10 classes have been suspended for this reason.  因為腸病毒進入流行期, 台東已經有十個班停課.

A man working on a fishing boat died of heat stroke on Orchid Island.  He was from Indonesia.  蘭嶼有從印尼來的漁工因為氣溫高而熱死了.

11. The Taitung County Fire Department 臺東縣消防局

Two people were reported to be "in trouble" near the Lu Ye River during recent flooding, but the fire department couldn't find anyone.  消防局在這一次的豪雨中獲報有二個人受困鹿野溪,  只是消防局後來找不到受困人.

Local firemen used picture books to teach kids in rural areas about safety.  消防局用繪本教徧鄉學童怎麼防火防災.

12. The Taitung County Environmental Protection Bureau 台東縣環境保護局

Taitung's EPA encourages you to remove weeds from around your house to diminish the numbers of mosquitoes, snakes, and rodents in the area.  台東環保局提醒你要除家附近的雜草.  這樣蚊蟲蛇鼠的數量會變少.

After residents voiced concerns, the local EPA will conduct a survey on the use of fill pellets in local construction sites.  These pellets are recycled from local garbage.  台東民眾擔心 "再生粒料" 的使用, 所以台東環保局會著手研究 "再生粒料"安全性的問題.  "再生粒料" 是從地區垃圾加工後的產物.

Someone did a (very detailed) survey of fill-related pollutants found in the land near the Tai Ping River.  You can see the results here.  台東市汙水廠用地去化太平溪土石整地工程(再生粒料)檢測報告.

Related Entries 相關的文章:

Paradise on Vacation 天堂在放假
Driving from Taitung City and Back Again 從山區開回來台東市
What's Going On in Taitung 4 台東最近發生的事 4
Driving Around Taitung (Last Summer) 在台東開車 (去年的暑假)

*The last Chinese-English entry, that is.  I'll probably write a few more English-only ones. 

**If it helps any, the "TT" in "TTPush" stands for "TaiTung."  The "Smart City Project" has been going on for a while now.  The County Government, in association with National Taitung University and several private companies, is trying to develop the local economy through online platforms, new tourist services, and vocational training.

2017年6月9日 星期五

Different Angles


Urban.  Urban is Taipei, with all its department stores and trendy restaurants.  Urban is the bars near the Xinyi Shopping District, and paying far too much for a beer.  Urban is the hum of the MRT, and the buildings viewed through a freeway overpass. 


Rural.  Rural is Yunlin, where even the "local" 7-11 is a long walk away.  Rural is the day market up in Yu Li, where the locals sip noodles beneath scant shade and sweat.  Rural is the clack of the slow train as it passes through yet another town, whose name you won't remember. 


Modern.  Modern is that one place next to that one MRT station that has more Western things than the West has Western things.  You can have some of the things if you've brought your credit card, but if you haven't don't bother. 


Ancient.  Ancient is walking over bricks in Tainan.  Bricks that were placed there before the city where I was born existed.  Bricks that bore the weight of horses before they bore the weight of cars.  Bricks that have resonated with centuries of fireworks.  Bricks that remember times long forgotten. 


Crowded.  Crowded is the doors of the temple before the first day of the lunar new year.  Crowded is all of the bodies straining to get inside, to be the first to plant their incense before the idols.  Crowded is also the starting line near the "Big Egg," with all the bodies likewise straining. 


Empty.  Empty is the industrial parks around Chinese New Year, the places where everybody works but where nobody is from.  Empty is the fields east of Chao Jhou, where few bother to grow things, and fewer bother to travel.  Empty is the old factories that speak of industries moved elsewhere.


High.  High, of course, is up in the mountains.  High, if you can get far enough away from a road, is a good place to be.  People bring a lot of things to get high.  They travel in groups, and they are wary of reptiles.  High is not easy to get to, but it's much easier to get from.


Low.  Low is the land near Bu Dai, the land submerged during the typhoons.  Low is the place so low that many people have gone away, and the houses only emerge when it's dry enough, and high enough, for old bricks to remember better times.


Legal.  Legal is the policeman waiting in Da Ren to catch me.  He knows, I think, that I drive without a license.  Legal is the cameras that lie in wait along the highway, and the men in bright vests waiting to flag me down.  Legal is a real worry.


Illegal.  Illegal is perhaps too many beers in, and perhaps something I had best not talk about.  Illegal is neon lights, and the promise of something secret enough to be greater.  Between legal and illegal there is only the slightest step, the slightest shift away from center.


Theirs.  Theirs is everything I don't like about Taiwan.  It's the attitudes, the provincialisms, and the languages I don't understand.  Theirs is ignorance and superstition.  Theirs is xenophobia and a jumping off to strange conclusions.  Theirs is the herd, and the knowledge that I'll never be that type of animal.


Mine.  Mine is everything I like about Taiwan.  It's the attitudes, the provincialisms, and languages I do understand.  Mine is knowledge and rationality.  Mine is welcoming smiles and a shared comprehension.  Mine is a friend, and the knowledge that I don't need to be that type of animal.

Related Entries:

Letter to B and C from A
Paradise on Vacation 天堂在放假
How to Make (More) Money in Taiwan
Driving from Taitung City and Back Again 從山區開回來台東市

2017年6月6日 星期二

Letter to B and C from A

Even now, when one of our coworkers mentions you in passing, I feel a little angry.  You're in the States now, and you'll probably never read this, so I might as well take the opportunity to explain why.

You spent a lot of time talking about how much more "mature" you are compared to the other "teachers" in your program.  In my opinion, your maturity was just a false sense of superiority, and in the end you only proved that you're even less mature than they are.  They stuck around to the end of their contracts.  You didn't. 

You had an easy job here.  Our school was full of people willing to help you.  But somewhere along the line you decided that none of us (myself included) were worth talking to.  You decided - out of your vast experience of the human condition - that staring at a computer in a darkened room was preferable to having a conversation.

And speaking of your friendliness (or lack thereof), I was really unhappy with your dismissive attitude toward our students.  They just wanted to know you.  They were just curious.  But instead of giving them the chance to interact with you, you spent months hiding in your classroom.  Even when you were around them your defenses were up, and after a few weeks they were smart enough not to bother.

I know a lot of those kids - I can't claim to know them all.  But I think that whether I know them or not they deserved better from you.  They deserved your patience.  They deserved your warmth.   You could have taken the time to try to communicate with them.  They would have enjoyed that.

Not that your unfriendliness was the only problem.  I could never figure out why it was so hard for you to get organized.  I could never understand why you didn't know what to do.  Maybe you did come here from older students, but you had your degree, and you ought to have known better.  What happened?

Maybe what happened, in your mind, is that the culture here was a barrier you couldn't cross.  Maybe you looked at me and thought: "He knows the language.  He knows the culture.  So of course it's no problem for him."  But from my perspective such a rationalization will always ring false, because once upon a time I was just like you.  I was new to Taiwan.  I didn't speak the language.  I didn't understand the culture.  And yet... I still did my job.  I still found ways to improve, and I still fulfilled my commitments.  I still taught English, as well as I knew how.

You're probably in the States now, thinking "Thank God that's over!"  But is it?  Really?  Are you going to be friendlier in the future?  Are you going to be more professional?  Are you going to be more patient and attentive toward your students?

I kind of doubt it.  Wherever you go, you'll still be stuck with yourself.  You just don't seem capable of that kind of change.  You seem to lack the ability to self-analyze, and to reflect on that level.  Hopefully one day you'll have that ability, but based on your conduct, it's not likely to happen anytime soon.

But then again, maybe your work over there is just another exercise in hand-holding, wherein you'll be little more than another body filling space.  If so, I'm sure you'll do fine.  In such an environment it doesn't matter how friendly or hard-working you are.  All you'll need to do is show up, and follow the rules.

You might be thinking that it was just a year in Taiwan.  Just a year, no big deal.  But how many years do we have in our lives?  How many chances to do the right thing, and at the right time?  You might think you have another chance, and in that you'd be right, but you have to be the right kind of person to seize that chance, and the right kind of person to make the most of it.

For your sake, I hope you're having a better time in the States than you had here.  Just don't blame Taiwan for your bad experience.  That's all on you.

Related Entries:

Super Wow 7-8
Follow Me 5-6
Dino on the Go! 1-2
Culture Shock 文化衝擊

2017年6月4日 星期日

Paradise on Vacation 天堂在放假

Billy lives in Kaohsiung.  Kaohsiung is a big city.  Kaohsiung is always busy!  Billy住在高雄.  高雄是一個大都市也是一個熱鬧的地方!

When Billy drives to work, he drives through traffic.  When Billy drives home, he drives through traffic.  So many cars everywhere.  So much traffic, everywhere he goes!  Billy開車上班的時候都塞車.  Billy下班回家的時候也塞車.  到處都是車.  他無論去哪裡都塞車!

"I know," he says.  "I'll go to Taitung, and enjoy some peace and quiet.  Taitung is not a big city like Kaohsiung.  Taitung is never busy.  I can drive there tomorrow, and leave all the traffic behind."  "我想到了," 他說.  "我要去享受台東寧靜的生活.  台東與高雄比起來很鄉下, 也不那麼熱鬧.  我明天要開車到那裡, 把大都市的塞車問題留在這裡."

...but what Billy doesn't know is that everyone in Kaohsiung has the same idea.  They are ALL driving to Taitung.  They are ALL looking for peace and quiet!  可是Billy不知道高雄所有的人都這麼想.  他們都要開車到台東,  他們所有的人都在尋找寧靜祥和的環境!

Billy visits the Forest Park, and finds it full of people.  Billy drives up the coast, and finds it full of people.  Billy visits downtown Taitung, and finds it full of people, too.  There are so many people everywhere.  Just like in Kaohsiung!  Billy去森林公園才發現那裡人山人海.  Billy開車上東海岸才發現那裡也充滿了人群.  Billy又去台東市區, 竟發現也是處處都是人,  跟高雄一樣!

Lily lives in Taipei.  Taipei is an even bigger city.  In Taipei it's always raining.  Lily住在台北.  台北是一個更大的都市.  台北常常下雨.

When Lily walks to school, she walks through the rain.  When Lily walks home, she walks through the rain.  So much rain everywhere.  So much rain, everywhere she goes!  Lily走路上學的時候常常下雨.  Lily走路回家的時候也是在下雨.  到處都在下雨.  Lily去哪裡都是雨!

"I know," she says.  "I'll go to Taitung, and enjoy some sunshine.  Taitung is not a rainy city like Taipei.  Taitung is almost never rainy.  I can take the plane there tomorrow, and leave all this rain behind."  "我想到了," 她說.  "我要去台東享受那邊的陽光.  台東的天氣比台北的好很多.  台東不會這樣下雨.  我明天就坐飛機到那裡, 遠離台北的天氣."

...but what Lily doesn't know is that all the clouds in Taipei have the same idea.  They are ALL floating down the coast, toward Taitung.  They are covering up the sun, and the sky is growing darker!  可是Lily不知道的是台北的雲霧也這麼想.  它們都飄往台東.  它們擋住了陽光, 讓天空越來越黑了!

Lily visits the Forest Park, but it's raining.  Lily drives a scooter into the mountains, but it's raining.  Lily goes to the Seashore Park, but it's raining.  There is so much rain everywhere.  Just like in Taipei!  Lily去森林公園, 那裡在下雨.  Lily騎摩托車進山區, 那裡也在下雨.  Lily又去海濱公園, 竟發現在下雨.  到處都在下雨.  跟台北一樣!

Joe lives in Taichung.  Taichung is a big city, but not as big as Kaohsiung or Taipei.  Taichung is not good for surfing!  Joe住在台中.  台中是一個大都市, 可是它比台北跟高雄小.  在台中沒辦法衝浪!

When Joe rides his scooter to work, he feels sad that he can't go surfing.  When Joes goes to the local park, he feels sad that he can't go surfing.  No ocean anywhere.  Only the city, everywhere he goes!  Joe騎摩托車上班的時候, 都覺得失望, 他沒辦法衝浪.  Joe去自家附近的公園的時候, 都覺得失望沒辦法衝浪.  到處看不到海.  Billy去哪裡都是城市的一角!

"I know," he says.  "I'll go to Taitung, and do some surfing.  Taitung is not far from the ocean like Taichung.  In Taitung the coast is always near.  I can take the train there tomorrow, and leave this city far behind."  "我想到了," 他說.  "我去台東衝浪.  台東不是跟台中一樣離海很遠.  在台東到處都離海邊很近.  我明天坐火車去那裡, 把城市拋到腦後."

...but what Joe doesn't know is that other people, in other parts of Taiwan, have the same idea.  They are ALL driving, taking a plane, or taking a train to Taitung.  They are ALL looking for a place to surf!  可是Joe不知道台灣其他地方的人也這麼想.  他們都開車, 坐飛機, 或是坐火車往台東.  他們所有的人都在找地方衝浪!

Joe visits "The Reef," and finds it full of other surfers.  Joe visits the "River Mouth," and finds it full of other surfers.  Joe even takes the bus up to Du Li, and finds it full of other surfers.  There are so many surfers everywhere.  Unlike Taichung!  Joe去"The Reef," 後發現很多人已經在衝浪.  Joe去"The River Mouth," 也發現很多人已經在那裏衝浪.  Joe又坐公車去都歷, 又發現已經很多人在衝浪.  到處都是來衝浪的人.  跟台中不一樣!

Later, Billy drives back to Kaohsiung.  He hits traffic, but he doesn't feel so bad.  He's just glad to be home.  His friends are waiting for him at the movie theater, and he knows he'll have a good time.  之後Billy開車回去高雄.  他雖然碰到塞車, 可是不覺得那麼傷心了.  他很高興回到家.  他的朋友們在電影院等他, 他知道跟朋友一起看影片會很好玩.

Later, Lily takes the plane back to Taipei.  She sees the rain, but she doesn't feel so bad.  She's just happy to be home.  Her mother is waiting for her at the airport, and they'll have hot pot for dinner.  之後Lily坐飛機回去台北.  她看到下雨, 可是她不覺得那麼傷心.  她很高興回到家.  她媽媽在機場等她, 他們要一起去吃火鍋.

Later, Joe takes the train back to Taichung.  He sees the city, but he doesn't feel so bad.  He's just excited to be home.  His favorite band is playing that evening, and there's still time to make the concert.  之後Joe坐火車回去台中.  他看到大都市, 可是他不覺得那麼傷心了.  他到家的時候很興奮.  那個晚上他最喜歡的樂團要表演, 而且他還有時間趕上那場音樂會.

Many other people also return to many other places, all of them disappointed by their weekends.  It's not only those who went to Taitung.  It's the same for those who went to Taipei, Kaohsiung, or Taichung.  It's also the same for those who went to Miaoli, Taoyuan, or Kenting.  These people all had high hopes for the places they were going, but found themselves defeated by the traffic, or the rain, or the crowds.  很多人各自回去其他的地方, 他們都對周末有些失望.  不只是往台東方向的人有這種感覺, 往台北, 高雄, 或台中的旅客也有.  甚至是到苗栗, 桃園, 或墾丁的旅客也是.  這些人都對自己的目的地有很高的期望, 可是最後因為塞車, 下雨, 或是人多的狀況掃興了.

Maybe, in some cases, it was simply bad luck.  Maybe, in other cases, something was genuinely wrong.  But whatever the case, it's always easy to think that the grass is greener on the other side, and that the place you're going to is better than the place you're coming from.  It's easy to think that the place you don't live is better, for any number of reasons.  有的人可能只是單純的運氣不好.  也有人是真的發生意外.  不管運氣不好還是意外, 人都很容易覺得 "另一邊的草比較綠," 也很容易覺得旅行的目的地比自己原來居住的地方好很多. 因為許多不同的理由而覺得自己居住的地方沒有其他地方好是很簡單的事.

What's more difficult is to remember the good things about the place where you live, and why you chose to live there in the first place!  比較難做到的事情就是記得你自己居住地的優點, 也記得自己原來選擇那個地方的理由.

Related Entries 相關的文章:

Driving from Taitung City and Back Again 從山區開回來台東市
What's Going On in Taitung 4 台東最近發生的事 4
Driving Around Taitung (Last Summer) 在台東開車 (去年的暑假)
What's Going on in Taitung County's Police Bureaus 台東縣警察分局最近發生的事

2017年6月2日 星期五

How to Make (More) Money in Taiwan

So you're a foreigner, you're in Taiwan, you've got a job at a cram school somewhere, and you want to make more money.  What can you do?

1. Know your visa.

A lot of foreigners seem very confused about their visa, and what kind of things it allows them to do in Taiwan.  You want to be familiar with the duration of your visa, who is sponsoring your visa, and whether your employment is compatible with the kind of visa you've been issued. (Link: List of Visa Types)

And once you've learned all you need to know about your visa, it's good to ask yourself whether or not your visa is hampering your ability to make money.  If so, you want to look at getting a different type of visa (if possible).

2. Know your contract.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people never bother to read their contracts.  For instance, is your contract valid given the type of visa you have?  Is your contract legal in all other respects?  Is your employer abiding by the rules set down in the contract?  

Most contracts aren't all that complicated, and most of them are written in Chinese AND English.  Reading them through should be the first thing you do before you sign them, and also the first thing you do after you sign them.  After reading them (twice), it pays to think about "hypotheticals" that may occur during the duration of your employment.  What happens if you're sick for more than 10 days?  What happens if you don't get along with a co-teacher?  What happens if the number of students in your class falls below a certain number?

3. Know more (kinds of) people.

Do you hang out with other foreigners all the time?  This might be a great strategy if all you're after is sub work in various English schools, but there are other ways of making money in Taiwan, and escaping the "foreigner bubble" can make these ways of earning money more feasible.

Cultivating relationships with Taiwanese people will make you money.  I know this sounds crass and manipulative, but it's true.  The more Taiwanese people you talk to (and really engage with), the more opportunities you will have to make money.  And even if you aren't just after money, many Taiwanese people can also be good friends who will bring joy to your life.

Knowing more kinds of (Taiwanese) people can also make you more money.  If all the people you know are teachers, that's fine if all you want to do is teach.  But what if you want to do something else?  In such a situation knowing people like bankers, lawyers, fishermen, or even construction workers can be very helpful.  You never know what might come your way through such contacts. (Link: National Statistics for the Republic of China)

4. Know yourself.

Who are you?  What do you want to do?  Where do you want to do it?  How often do you want to do it?  Answering such questions to your own satisfaction won't just make you more money, it will make you a happier person.  I realize that answering these kind of questions is often easier said than done, but it's often the most difficult tasks that are the most essential.

5. Know the laws.

This goes beyond knowing the limitations placed upon your particular visa.  This extends to taxes, and things that can - if you're not careful - get you sent to jail.  For instance, if I start organizing parasailing tours off the coast of Green Island, what kind of insurance am I required to have?  What kind of equipment?  How can I be reported if I break law, and what will happen to me if I am reported?  I realize that many ventures in Taiwan operate in a gray area between legal and illegal, but it's useful to think about consequences, and plan for worst case scenarios.

6. Know how to advertise.

If I'm opening a restaurant, is it worth taking out an ad in the Apple Daily?  Or is Facebook a cheaper and more sensible solution?  How can I use Line to expand my market?  How can I get people talking about what I do/sell/make?  It continually amazes me how little most people think about advertising, and how content they are to let word of mouth (or the lack thereof) guide their destiny.  

However you're going to advertise, don't sell yourself short.  Make a lot of noise.  Get people's attention.  And remember that consistency is important.  Your message should be the same every time - or at least appear to be so.  This tells people that you know what you are doing. (Link: "The Six Best Advertising Strategies for Small Business" at Entepreneur.com)

7. Know your market.

It's probably not the best idea to open up a pizza restaurant way up in the mountains.  Why?  Because only tourists are likely to eat there, and adverse road conditions (and weather) will impact your business.  For similar reasons, don't open up a beef noodle restaurant next to everyone's favorite swimming beach.  Why?  Because people only swim when it's hot, and when it's hot they're not likely to want beef noodles.

A lot of people seem to have this "if you build it, they will come" attitude towards their business.  They seem to think that if they love doing something, and they do it better than anyone else, customers will show up automatically.

This is of course not the case.  You need to be somewhat unromantic about any business.  You need to look at your location (or possible locations) and first think about what people in that area need or want.  YOU are the one providing the service, not them.  They are only providing the (potential) profit.  This doesn't mean that you can't open the kind of business that appeals to you, but it does mean that you need to find a match between your product and your market.

Maintaining consistent quality, availability or products, and staying open at predictable times is part of this process.  People want to know what they'll get the next time they step through your door.  They want to know that you'll always have enough pepperoni to make pizza on Friday.  They want to know that you'll always be open at 11 a.m. (if that's what your sign says).  They want to know that you'll always stock shoes in their size.  (Link: "Steps to Identify Your Target Market" at Forbes.com)

8. Know the online market.

Nowadays you can do a lot of stuff online, from teaching English to wedding photography.  This online market can be particularly helpful if you live in a more rural area, or if you're operating in an area where others haven't yet embraced the technology.  A lot of people flirt with the Internet and then retreat to business as usual, but it's worth a more thorough investigation.  (Link: "8 Affordable and Effective Ways to Advertise Online" at OPENforum)

9. Know how to get new skills and/or credentials.

Finding out where to acquire new skills, degrees, or certificates is always helpful.  In the big cities this will be easier, but for those in rural areas there are also online resources.  Just don't forget that in the process of acquiring new skills and credentials you'll also be meeting people who in themselves provide business opportunities later on.  (Link: "Working in Taiwan" at Forumosa.com)

10. Know that whatever you're business you're in, it will probably take a long time to prosper.

Determination.  That's what will see you through, 9 times out of 10.  Why do most people fail to succeed?  Simply because they've given up too early.  If you have an idea, and you're certain it's the right one for you, the only thing standing between you and making that idea a reality is your ability to see it through to the end.  

So don't give up!  It might not come easy, but it'll come.  Make yourself believe it, and others will too!

Related Entries:

Celestial Economics 天上的經濟學
Culture Shock 文化衝擊
Friends to a Fault 正直的人
Nonsense That Fills My Head on a Saturday

P.S. It should be noted that I am NOT a businessman, though I have used many of the principles listed above to make money.  Many of my family members and friends are engaged in various businesses, and over the course of my time in Taiwan I've had the opportunity to see many businesses succeed and fail.