The Gig Economy is here to stay. More people are opting to start their own businesses (14% of Singapore population as of 2016) rather than to take the traditional route of joining an established company. Starting a company can be daunting, especially when it takes a lot of willpower, determination, and risk-appetite to make it a success. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or you have started your own company and you’re not sure where to go from here, learning from one who has done it can go a long way. Augustine Chua, Co-founder of 42Race, shares with us his experience in starting a business, blindspots to look out for and how he copes with failure. Here are Augustine’s unconventional tips to starting your own business:
Hi, Augustine! Tell us a little bit about your company.
Augustine: 42Race provides the best experience for all runners. The company started as the very first virtual run in Singapore and we strive to become the biggest and best online race in this region. The perks about Virtual Race is the flexibility in Day of the run, Time of the run, as well as the Location of the run. We believe that, together, we will inspire millions to run!
These days, everyone is concerned with a company’s Unique Selling Point. How did you find 42Race’s?
A: I spoke with people using my service and asked them what they liked about it and what keeps them coming back for more. Your early adopters are the best advocates of your brand. Get acquainted with them. Understand their needs and how your product meets it.
The difficult part about starting a business is the beginning. How did you realize the vision for your company?
A: For me, it is about internal motivation. Getting excited about the idea goes a long way in keeping your motivation up. Talk about your business idea with family, friends, people you meet who could benefit from your service. More importantly, it is about having faith that things will come through for you.
What was the advice that helped you in starting your entrepreneurial journey?
A: Know your brand, your product or service inside out. The value you are providing is solving a real world problem. That is what will get your idea off the ground.
The value you are providing is solving a real world problem.
Have you had one of those days when everything seems stacked against you? How do you get out of this slump?
A: This quote by Elon Musk, “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough’. It is a reminder that this down period is just an indication I am one step closer to making my business a success. Failure is never the end. Even if the business is dying, learn to cut your losses quickly and integrate the lesson for the next venture you attempt.
There are a lot of courses online to help startups and business owners run their company. What is an unlikely resource that benefited you?
A: Google. Google conducted a leadership workshop to help startup founders grow their skills. It was very insightful as it covered topics relevant to new business owners such as the scale of growing the company.
What are some key lessons you learned in your entrepreneurial journey?
A: On hiring the right people – this can be tough. When starting out, you want someone who believes in the same mission as you to get the company going. Look out for individuals who are excited about what your company stands for and its growth.
On securing funding – be relentless. Know the value your company is providing as well as its potential. If you want to secure funding, build a relationship instead of a mere monetary transaction. Reach out to potential investors and get to know them and learn from them first, before broaching the subject of funding.
On mentorship – don’t be afraid to ask. Making connections and asking for help or advice does not make you inferior. I don’t have all the answers, so I reach out to a senior who has the experience and adequate skills to help me with my business problem. Be humble. Listen to what they have to say. Approach mentorship as an enriching experience achieved through conversations.
Before you go, share with us the best way to turn customers into loyal brand advocates.
A: Having a good customer service program. Reward them with items and services they value in the form of discounts, gifts, awards, and so on.
If you want to know more about 42Race, connect with them! Are you a founder of a startup, just like Augustine? Or do you have a great business idea but you just don’t know how to get it off the ground? Hope you found these tips useful and it inspires you on your entrepreneurial journey.