Business Success in Korea – Unexpected Sales and Opportunities

I would say that roughly 15% of my sales from my flower business come from people sending gifts to people in Korea that they most likely have never met. Why would anyone give something to someone they had never met? Well, I can think of some instances like people donating money to causes or people paying it forward to do something nice. Would you ever send a gift to someone you personally never met? Maybe, maybe not. But these customers get so excited at the thought of buying something for someone’s birthday or to show their appreciation to someone they probably will never meet. Who are these people? Well, the people sending gifts are fans and the people receiving the gifts are Korean celebrities. And these fans can be found all over the world. These fans all have one thing in common, they are a true fan of a Korean celebrity or Korean pop culture.

So whether people believe it or not, Kpop and Korean Pop culture is pretty popular all around the world, and from the looks of it, will continue to grow in popularity. Sounds like there is a good business opportunity in the kpop industry for maybe you or someone you know to get into, no?

To be honest, when I first started my flower business, I imagined that foreigners and English speaking people in Korea and people with loved ones in Korea living in other countries would buy from Flower Gift Korea. I originally thought that the majority of my sales would come from foreigners living in Korea, and maybe 10%-20% of sales would come from people living in other countries, but it turns out that approximately 90% of my sales are made from  people who live outside of Korea or pay with a credit card that has been issued outside of Korea. However, I never even imagined that fans would send gifts to their loved ones, or at least the ones they love in Korea. At first, I felt a little bad accepting payments for these types of orders because the first celebrity we delivered to (indirectly) declined the gifts the second time we tried to send it to him. It was because his agency did not allow gifts to be accepted by the front desk and the front desk at his apartment no longer accepted gift packages from unknown senders. All packages sent to employees/artists of that company had to receive the gift in person or have their manager accept the gift. However, I wasn’t and still am not best friends with G-Dragon, member of Big Bang, who is arguably the most famous and most successful Kpop artist at the moment. However, I realized that G-Dragon and YG Entertainment were one of the few agencies that were difficult to deliver to. And after getting a bunch of other requests to deliver to other Korean celebrities, I gave it a go, and found out that it was actually easier than I thought.

So even though the celebrities most of the time did not come to the agency door in person to receive the gift, an employee would simply take the package and say they would give it to the Kpop artist. So at first, I wasn’t even sure if the celebrity received the gift. But then I received some follow up emails where an ecstatic fans told me that so and so received the gift and liked it! And I was really surprised. Now, it’s not uncommon for me to actually give the gift directly to a Kpop star, since they are sometimes at the agency. No real big names though, but some of the ones that are still relatively unknown or really young. One thing I like most about Kpop stars in general is that they are all quite down to Earth, except for maybe a select few who pretty much have God-like status. One member of a Korean pop group, Teen Top, actually Instagram posted the exact plants that I delivered to his agency, so that got the fan really happy, and it was also great marketing for my flower business.

I had no idea that I would even get sales from fans sending gifts to celebrities. It was truly unexpected.

So this is the full image of the feature image of this post:

The above photo was taken at MYM Entertainment, which is the agency that represents Lee Minho. He pretty much has superstar status. One of his most known roles is as the arrogant cool guy in the drama, “Boys over Flowers”.

Also, when I was running my English Hagwon, IGL English in Seocho-dong, Seoul, which is near Gangnam station, I received an offer to teach business English for a company on the weekends. At the time my Hagwon was about a year old and it was starting to do alright. I honestly did not want to teach the business English job, but I also thought that it would be some nice side money and I also didn’t want to be rude, since it was a family friend who offered me the job. The job would require me to teach a group of high ranking managers of a company how to pass the OPIC test. OPIC stands for Oral Proficiency in Communication, so you can figure out that it is some sort of English speaking test that the workers at the company had to pass. Actually, the group I was teaching had to get a certain score in order to receive a raise and keep their jobs. So I had an important task to do. Also, another amazing thing is that this class was probably my hardest working class to date. It’s amazing how much motivation you have when your job is at stake. The good news is that every single person in that class got the score they needed to get promoted. It was one of the most encouraging, yet saddest things I had experienced in the English industry. Here you have men who are in their late 50’s studying to pass an English test on the weekend when they could be spending that time with their family or friends. And if they were unable to get a certain score within a certain timeline, they could have lost their jobs.

Anyhow, before I accepted the job, I had no idea what they would pay me, but decided to go with it. In the end, I got paid 150,000won an hour and they also gave me travel money. This was a great side job and an unexpected opportunity.

So why did I share these two stories with you?

Well, the main thing in common with these two stories is the fact that I would have never been able to make sales delivering gift items to celebrities and teach business English on the side for a high hourly rate without actually starting a business. If I had not started my flower business, I would have never made any sales, let a lone actually deliver to celebrities and have the opportunity to capture great photos that could be used for marketing purposes. Also, if I had not started an English Hagwon, then the family friend may have not considered me for that business English teaching position.

Whatever business or hustle you are working on, know that it can lead to bigger and better things. It may not happen right away, but the more seeds you plant, the better chance you have of cultivating something great. And the bigger network you have and the more things you have going for you, the better chance you have of having more opportunities come your way. However, if you decide that you are not ready or are afraid to go for it, then you’ll be stuck where you are at right now. Maybe you have been thinking of joining a gym, but you are afraid of what people think of your looks. Maybe you are thinking of doing some tutoring on the side, but you are just so scared of what might happen. Maybe you have this great business idea, but you are afraid that your friends will think it’s stupid. I was a little shy to join a gym when I first came to Korea, but I just went in with my broken Korean and asked about the gym. The person working at the first gym I tried to attend laughed at me, but I ended up finding a gym and it was good for my health. I was afraid to start my Hagwon and made a lot of mistakes in my first year of business, but I’m glad I went for it because I gained valuable experience from it. I was also afraid to start my flower business, but I went for it and I am now the happiest I have ever been in my life because I have been able to craft my lifestyle in a way that gives my life purpose and fulfillment. So it is normal to be afraid to start something, but nothing will come your way if you don’t start. Take some baby steps and get out of your comfort zone and do something. You need to start something or start a new relationship or start a new anything to have more opportunities to come your way. What do you need to start right now? Go start it then.


Tony Teacher

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