Asked by Anonymous

I'm 23 and am keen to start my first business as a newbie. What do I need to know and very keen to hear the community's experiences?

I am 23 y/o going to finish army soon. I have a fantastic business idea but I have no idea how to execute, or even start. I discourage myself, saying it won't work anyways, but I want to make it happen and learn. If I fail, at least I'm somewhere. How exactly do I start a business as a newbie? I'm ready to fail and embrace learning on whatever happens. Please advice.

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    • Alan Seng
      Alan Seng
      5 Answers, 18 Upvotes
      Answered on 13 Aug 2018

      Hi Anon!

      I was once like you, wide-eyed and excited to launch my business right after NS. I'm happy to know that you're realistic and you are not afraid of failing. The truth is that the chances of succeeding is extremely slim, and some factors of success might be beyond your control.

      First up, you must have a vision.

      • What is your product? What problem does your product address in the real world?

      • What's the size of the target market?

      • Is your product a software/service or a hardware? Do you know how much it takes to build your business?

      • Do you have the expertise to build this business? Do you need to hire for other expertise?

      Secondly, you need to work out a plan. A timeline. And you need to plan to fail.

      • To bootstrap and build the business, do you have any side income to sustain your expenses?

      • If you have support and small investments from your family and friends, how long do you think you can sustain yourself?

      • Is it possible for you to take freelance work/part-time work to sustain yourself while building your business?

      • Set a deadline for your business to fail. Be extremely realistic and know when to cut losses. For example, if your business cannot generate an annual revenue of $50K after 18 months, I will close it down.

      Thirdly, you must learn to communicate with your loved ones.

      • Let's be realistic. We all know the Singaporean way of life. NS > University > Work in a corporate job > Get a life partner > BTO > Have kids > Support your parents' retirements etc etc. Even if you do not want this lifestyle, you need to help your parents and family members understand what you're doing and why you're doing this for.

      • Be respectful and communicate your plan to your family and loved ones in a clear manner. Ask for their blessings.

      • Rely on your family for support - starting a business is not easy. You will need your family in times of need.

      There are a lot more lessons to entrepreneurship. I hope you embark on this journey (I really do!) and I hope you can meet more business owners to understand and learn how to run a business properly.

      All the best Anon!

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    • Luke Ho
      Luke Ho, Venture Capitalist at CFX
      160 Answers, 265 Upvotes
      Answered on 13 Aug 2018


      Having run a business as both a insurance agent and a private business both ongoing there are a couple of tips I might offer to help you out with.

      1) Be wary of public figures and don't draw comparisons to them. Most people who go into franchised businesses or even businesses modelled after their role models often fail because they have high expectations of what it means to go into business.

      2) Be wary of personal expectations: Business is not glamorous and you will not get rich quickly usually takes years of hard work, though yes - you should expect to be richer than a salaried worker at some point. Expect to spend very little on yourself and work 16 hours a day, including weekends.

      3) Perfect your business idea and protect it: Your business idea needs a degree of execution, so make sure its executable by considering all aspects I'll go over some of the financial aspect later, which is my strength. If it is protectable, make a point to protect it through patenting. If it's not, then figure out measures to slow down people knocking you off and realisitic scalability of the business.

      4) Consider the foundation: To run a successful business you need elements like marketing, sales and financial expertise. If you have a good idea but no idea how to boost yourself in these areas, if you cant address basic needs in there - you may not want to try to start the business straight away. For tips on these, there are a lot of online resources as well as scholastic resources you can rely on.

      5) Considers the financials: Aside from sales, your client acquisition costs, profit margins, scalability over time - you also need to consider your funding. Financials is a huge area you have to understand inside and out - for funding, there are many avaialble funds you can apply for from the government.

      There are many other things that you need to go about starting, but its best to just start after a decent plan. Decent is enough, because trying to perfect it will leave you not doing it at all and indecent will result in huge failure.

      I can give you advice over a meet up sometime if you'd like, but in the meantime, before executing - invest in yourself, especially in point 4. It's going to be very hard to make money without a good execution of an idea. Good luck.

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    Leong Wen Fong
    Leong Wen Fong
    125 Answers, 288 Upvotes
    13 Aug 2018

    Hi! Very interesting question, and I'm sure many others have similar questions at the back of their minds.

    The first thing you need is a vision. Because your question is vague, I it's hard to advise you on the path that you should take.

    First things first, what is the business you want to build? What is your purpose of wanting to create this business?

    in this brainstorm, there are a few things that you will need to address.

    For starters, is there a need for this product/service/what you are trying to bring to the market. This will determine the potential size of your market. As you do your research, you will then be able to stumble upon potential competitors, or perhaps businesses or individuals who are already developing this idea. It is also possible that what you have thought of has already entered the market. This will give you an idea of the barriers of entry (cost and difficulty of entering into the market).

    If you have not started on anything, I believe this would be a good starting research.

    If you just want to try your hand at it, maybe choose a product, go on carousell to give it a go! Minimal loss, but it could give you some idea.

    Any entrepreneurs here care to share your journey?(:

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