We chat to Bryan Flowers, the Founder and CEO of The Night Wish Group.
Their current business model is to purchase entertainment venues and bars, renovate and manage them. The Group currently has 24 bars in total and their three-year target is 65 bars. Bryan is also a trader and investor in the financial markets.
How did you start on your business path?
I acted upon many business ideas from when I was a teenager & I found many ways to make money. I was selling information products on eBay at the beginning, went to university whilst making money online, and decided I would move to Thailand on a whim. I quit university in 2008 and arrived in Thailand with only 600 GBP. I started building forums, websites and doing SEO for other people’s websites.
How did you get into buying and managing bars and why?
In 2013, I was working for myself doing internet marketing, SEO, website audits and had various websites of my own over the years. I started a Thailand-focused forum in 2006 and had already been working on it around the clock for two years before I arrived. This forum gave me access to a very large following in the geographic area I live, due to it being based on the city in Thailand that I moved to.
The income I had was wildly up and down and I needed some regular steady payments to plan my life! Everyone was suggesting that I brought bars, luckily for me I love business and psychology, furthermore, I do not like sitting in bars and I do not drink (anymore?).
There isn’t a great deal of professional or corporate competition due to most bar owners simply being hobbyists. Watching and learning about other people failing at bars and then having the ability to fill bars using the really successful forum, I was convinced I could do a better job. The market has certainly rewarded our efforts.
Who is behind Night Wish Group and how many staff are involved?
After the first bar purchase, I was approached by individual retail investors. I used that money to buy more bars and started asking for a higher investment each time. I have kept all ownership equal across the assets and bars to prevent arguments.
I have personally kept strict and direct control to prevent any individual partner from damaging the business or attempting to hinder growth. We’ve had partners trying to prevent growth, restrict profit increases and new developments; however, I have been able to stick to my visions, goals and the path that I am driving us along. There needs to be just one boss!
There are now 7 partners in total with equal shares. The Group now has around 13-18 managers, 31 cashiers, 50 cleaners, 24 bartenders, one general manager, 2 photographers, 2 social media professionals, 1 finance officer, 1 accounting officer, 6 security and over 350 hostesses/service staff.
We have many more staff and contractors whose roles aren’t too specific, such as my wife who studies law and has to deal with contracts, landlords, licenses, payments etc. This equates a total of nearly 500 staff and partners.
What other projects are you involved in?
I have the business structured in such a way, that allows me time to learn more about business, teach and train our staff, work on our branding, protecting the company and ourselves, growing the company, putting out fires, problem solving, improving procedures and overseeing everything that goes on.
This “overseeing” means I can work effectively from my phone most of the time, except when buying bars and cash flow providing assets.
This has enabled me to follow my dreams, so I have also become an investor and trader in the financial markets, I am passionate about this and I pride myself on keeping up to date with the markets and trading.
I have set up a Thai language local news outlet with my wife Punnipa, which has become the biggest in our town within 8 months. We have done this to also nurture and develop local connections and that can provide more market reach to launch any future businesses that we choose to start. We have an English language version also which has been set up with another partner.
I have also been doing business consultancy work, usually only when people approach me and the price has been right. We have many products/services in the pipeline, yet my current focus is being the best active investor and trader I can be.
I enjoy writing about business, success, making money and I am writing a book on Growth Mindset, I will create a video course and possibly a youtube channel, but my trading comes first, I am still completing a year-long course to take my trading to new levels. In total, I have completed 6 trading courses and I will lock in profits in growth, value and spec stocks.
How do you see future growth?
The recession is highly likely to be later this year or next year, however, I feel our business is recession-proof.
We are in the luxury market, we sell alcohol to people on their annual holidays, our customers are 95% tourists and there are many pretty hostesses around.
I project that at one stage later this year, we may be in a position to buy 1 bar a month to hit my 65 bar target. That means we are looking at around 3 years minimum to get to where I want us to be, but that growth of course isn’t easy,
I am constantly having to adapt, come up with ideas, build teams, problem solve and deal with growth problems. The broader team have to learn, grow and adapt as I create problems by growing too fast. I feel I excel in managing those areas, so I have no personal concerns about the journey. I am only concerned about finding the right locations and possibly taking on one last major investor, to achieve a huge growth spurt in our second location.
I considered venturing into other areas such as nightclubs, however, I don’t see any reason to take risks when we have a great business model. We still have bars to buy in our current locations, however, if we ran out of bars to buy and had surplus cash flows, I would then consider buying nightclubs. Right now it doesn’t make any sense, we have enough risk growing so fast, yet I have been doing it for 6 years. We know what we are doing and I have complete confidence in our team.
What are the big mistakes people make (or you have made) by investing in Thailand or Pattaya based businesses?
I see so many people getting into rushed and poorly researched partnerships. It almost always ends in tears and loss of money unless it is structured properly from the beginning. Every person’s roles and responsibilities need to be clear, managing cash and the profit share, being diligent on the costs, understanding everyone’s expectations, creating managed boundaries and so forth, must be clearly defined and agreed upon.
Managing people’s expectations is particularly important, especially it’s a challenge if the partner puts his ego before business. I have also faced similar problems with partners, where ego has come before the business, before the basics of making money.
I have kept full control of NWG yet I recognise that people are better at me in many areas, so we have the best people doing the roles in the company, rather than trying to do everything myself. Being aware of one’s weaknesses and appointing someone else and delegating requires a lot of self-awareness, which many people do not have.
Have you seen a change in the businesses due to the new moneyed travellers coming from say India and China?
We have seen more Koreans than Chinese recently. The Russians are back in town as well after a quiet period, but they do not usually come to our bars. The Asians spend more freely than westerners but it’s harder for us to attract them due to our managers being Western. The girls adapt their clothes and makeup to suit different styles. Our luxury villa and boat parties are used mostly by wealthy Indians, whereas we don’t get many in our bars.
How are you planning to address these changes and what opportunities do you see from this new group of tourists?
We were targeting Wechat and Line App’s, however, at some point, we really needed to employ a Chinese speaking marketer. Just as we were about to employ a Chinese marketing person, we noticed more Koreans and less Chinese! The reality is all nationalities are coming down our sois already. The girls just need to learn more languages and we may look for some Asian managers later. Asian customers tend to be much less hassle and certainly better behaved, so our future is pretty safe, even if the Westerners drop off slightly.
Where would you think is a safe haven for any spare cash that people may have generated through business dealings or perhaps have inherited?
The first step I recommend to a complete newbie is to invest in index funds through Vanguard primarily due to the low costs. There are so many low cap index funds though, tech, legal index funds. I recommend people split their money across 2-5 index funds and pay or top up monthly in equal amounts. This strategy reduces risk because you are dollar cost averaging your way into the market and getting a better price when it goes down.
An index fund is a basket of companies in an industry or location, there is no fund manager to pay and fewer trades. One of the safest index funds is the S&P 500; it is the top 500 companies of USA, so you are betting on the USA’s market. There are much better funds to accumulate wealth though.
I recommend choosing the funds that reinvest the dividends back into buying more stock. You can almost leave everything on autopilot.
The next level after that, I recommend individual stocks to beat the market but this has far more risk. There are plenty of YouTubers, books and courses to learn about this specific method. Once you have chosen 7-9 stocks that you are bullish on long term, you can keep investing monthly and check the fundamentals regularly. I have a mixture of growth stocks, speculative stocks and dividend stocks. As I get older, I will likely buy more dividend stocks and then move into a bigger allocation of bonds. I could talk about this subject for days, but this is my personal investment strategy (by not trading on a daily basis). My portfolio right now is around 80% crypto, too much I know, 15% stocks and 5% index funds right now. After the next crypto bull run, that ratio will be mostly stocks.
If you had not ended up here in Pattaya where would you likely be? And if you had a chance to go back 10 years to start over would you follow this same path?
A friend of mine offered me a good job in Canada, that was my backup plan, but I have no doubt I would have started a business somewhere and become successful. I have always worked hard, had many ideas and always wanted and dreamed about more. I wouldn’t change the path I took because I am happy with where I am now.
I’ve had a few nasty losses but they were lessons and stepping stones, I could have had those lessons later on with more money at stake. I will travel more later on. I often feel I am missing out on big things not being in England or USA, but I am happy in Thailand.
I often think I want to go and prove that I can do big things or start again for a TV show, but I’m full of ideas that I end up regretting because I have a nice family, house, city, friends and cars.
The grass isn’t always greener, I have my investment and trading strategies and I continue to grow NWG, everything is laid out in front, I just need to put the effort in and execute. I would also tell myself never to rely on one business and always keep creating more, because as I have learnt, many online businesses do not last forever.
What wealth building advice would you give (to yourself) if you could talk to the 10 years younger Bryan?
I would tell him not to listen to 99% of most people.
Only listen to the right people that have already done big things, think big, remove limiting beliefs (thanks Tony Robbins) and don’t worry about those laughing about your grand plans.
Always lock in profits, have strategies and invest in compounding index funds.
Education and money compound, we just need to spend 2-3 years of our lives working very very hard and locking in profits as they snowball.
Once we are financially free and able to help those around us, help charities and work towards bigger goals. As we gain more wealth, we don’t need to take so many risks and the anxiety and stress levels associated with active investing is reduced. Trading plans is to reduce anxiety, it is a big problem for traders and investors.
I am sometimes frustrated that I didn’t read 500 books before, (I have 600 on my phone and I am around 100 into them) as there is so much valuable info in books and they are like gold.
Learn from others mistakes that they have paid dearly for. I read self-development, business, marketing, trading, investing and branding books.
I would also advise the younger me to be patient.
The sooner you have long term goals and thinking, the sooner you start to win. Most people are aiming for something near, but you can always aim higher and further away. You can build towards goals slowly with a solid foundation, once you have mastered patience, you have won.
You can become a slow heavy train that is unstoppable. I would also suggest that by hanging around with big thinkers, people that execute ideas, people that I want to be like, they influence, help and guide you to new places.
When people see me, they often walk away with fresh ideas, inspiration, motivation and I often give them some very good YouTubers to follow. All my mentors are on YouTube, I watch them every day and they influence everything that I do and remind me to sort myself out! (Grant Cardone, Gary Vee, Patrick Pet David, Dan Pena, Brian Beamish, Evan Carmichael and various less know traders, value investors and macroeconomics talking heads.)
They also confirm many of my decisions and behaviours, this is what winners do, whereas people often told me that I was strange. I still don’t agree with their observations!
To become the top 1-5% wealth wise, you need to think out of the box, act differently.
Why should everyone have the weekend off with their family? It’s up to us how we balance our life and it depends how badly you want it. I have conformed many times to protect people’s feelings.
What basic or key strategies would you offer to explain to people wanting to grow sustainable and long term wealth creation?
The only way I see to create financial freedom is to get a few businesses, hopefully, that you can get someone else to run, while you work on the next business.
Invest every last penny that you can. Make sure you have an investment strategy and stick to it.
I have many friends that do real estate, I am getting out of that game over the next few years.
I just want to be an expert in the companies I invest in and make sure my money is in the best places. You either need lots of money or lots of time to retire early, but if you start investing as soon as you work, the power of compounding will see that you can retire early. My 7-year-old son already has money being put into two index funds monthly, so he set for life by the time he’s 25 years old I shall teach him to protect his wealth and add to it. I strongly believe hard work is where happiness is found.
Having a blank page in your diary is a date with the devil.
I recommend diversification to those that are new to investing or don’t have time to research deeply into companies, but for someone willing to do the research, I would say buying individual stocks also has a bigger upside.
If you can get 20-30% per year, the growth on your investments is quite unbelievable many years on, compared to 8-9% on the S&P500 index.
I am trading as a business for another source of cash income, yet sound advice is you really need to learn the investing skills for at least a few years or you might blow your accounts up and lose everything!
How would you explain the term “risk profile” as an investor? Either for yourself or to others? How do you justify that decision making process?
The risk profile is an evaluation of someone’s willingness to take risks. If someone is older they may want less risk such as a higher portfolio of bonds. You don’t want to be coming into retirement and then dividends are affected by say a recession, you want the safety bonds can provide.
Some people may not want to risk putting their money on a few companies and the company goes bust, so they can buy index funds which is a basket of companies, the return is lower but it is less risky. Or they can diversify across 7-9 companies.
To get real serious wealth you need to invest in fewer companies but you need to get the right ones, but for some of us with higher incomes, we can afford to take bigger risks, because if I lost a large proportion of my portfolio I can still recover.
I do not recommend crypto-currency investing or trading to people unless they come to me and ask me how to invest in it. I’m not a financial advisor but if I was, I would say only put 5-10% maximum of your investment portfolio into crypto to reduce risk. Within that portfolio of crypto, make sure you don’t have more than 5% in any one token. You also need to plan your exit and stick to it, or you will give your gains back to the market.
This is starting to turn into a trading chat which is a totally different strategy.
I want the huge volatility and upside that crypto can offer, but I have learned to spread my risk with strategies and technical analysis.
Thank you for your time today Bryan and good luck in the future.