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I had to write answers for an email interview about how FashionValet (FV) started and how difficult it was. Sigh. Then I saw an interview on Project Listen Prudential about this musician Chee Ming and his struggles before he made it. Watch it here.
He had limited funding in the beginning and just pooled his savings. People around him told him his work sucks and having no food to eat etc. Super bad luck in the beginning, and still he perservered and now he wins awards! A Chinese guy specializing in Indian songs! Very inspiring.
Made me think about my own journey starting FV. Really brought me back down memory lane and I dug up old blogposts that I wrote when we first started, like the first day.
Reading back, I sounded so hopeful.
I remembered the struggles I went through setting up FV and let me tell you the struggles don’t end.
From as small as figuring out how to set up that damn Ikea chair, to as big as learning everything under the sun from operations to marketing to HR to customer service. The special part about being an entrepreneur is that you’ve got to know how to do everything about your company; finance, marketing, operations, customer service, admin, production, every single thing! So you can never ever be lazy. My learning curve for 2011 and 2012 is a very steep vertical line. Like whoooshhh.
It’s tiring and your life will change.
But it’s so worth it to see your dream realize.
So many issues will surface, and this will differ depending on the industry you’re in. READ AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. It really helps learning about others’ journeys.
It gets tougher, but you tend to also get stronger to combat challenges. I’m quite lucky to have Dean as my partner because he’s very strong-willed.
In terms of business, he loves challenges and solving issues. He gets really bored if everything’s easy and peachy. So my advise to all out there: get the right business partner. Not just the “I have no one else, so can la…” approach.
Like my dad always says to me, “To be successful, comfort is never the currency.”
Never ever be comfortable. Never ever be complacent. Always be uncomfortable and restless. It’s true. Once you’re in the comfort zone, you won’t even want to get out and grow.
For those who don’t know, FV is a multi-brand online shopping website that carries collections from various Asian fashion designers, largely Malaysian designers. We started with 10 designers on board, and now we have built that list to have almost 150 designers.
Unlike our big competitors, we had very limited funding only pooled from the savings of Dean and myself. So with that money, we strived hard to figure out the best strategy to maximize the little we have. We had 4-digit sales a month, and now we collect 6-digit sales a month with very little marketing budget. And we now get invited to be out there giving business tips, even when we don’t feel like we are in the position to.
We had customers from Malaysia only, and now we have from the UK, Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore too.
We enjoy a lot of good times with the team….
Shooting Dress Me Up with the CelebrateTV team
But some bad ones too!
When our office flooded
We have definitely grown, but we are still a long crazy way to success.
To get there, I never forget my dad’s “S” theory. To be successful in anything in life, you need a few S’s. Not asses. S’s.
Gotta keep your soul clean. As a Muslim, he always reminds that everything begins with an intention. God will always bless clean intentions. In business, you’ll meet all sorts of people even those close to you and big competitors who will want to play dirty. You better make sure you don’t stoop that low.
Gotta be sure and confident about your venture/project/business. You are your business. If you don’t believe in it, no one else will.
To be sure, you’ll need these things:
a) Knowledge – if you want to sell currypuffs, you gotta seek more knowledge on them (how to make them etc)
b) Information – you gotta know how many types of currypuffs there are, how much the market price is.
c) Experience – you had better gone to the kitchen and make a currypuff! Or better yet, worked in a currypuff-selling business for a few years or so.
d) Research – you gotta do your homework and do a bit of market study. Who buys currypuffs, which is the best location, what is your costing for production, who’s the biggest player in currypuff selling, how fast you can recover back your capital etc.
Business planning is very important so your team will know exactly where its destination is. Things might change along the way, so be flexible but it’s always good to have an aim/goal. In your business plan, you should also map out tactics and ways to get there.
To all budding entrepreneurs with an original idea and burning passion, you can make a difference with your ideas. Don’t let them go to waste. Get a step closer today by doing something.
I always remember Dean’s quote.
“It’s better to struggle now to have an easy life later, than have an easy life now only to struggle later.”