Talking about failure is almost a taboo in our society, especially the not-so-forgiving Singapore. Social media became wall of fame for other’s success, but not ours. Everyone talks about success. It seemed that every day some ‘lucky’ companies get acquired. Or someone got promoted. Or someone got married. Everyone around you appear a lot more successful than you are. What about failure? Does no one fail? Let me share with you some of my failures from the last one year. Some are funnier, crazier, or dumber than others. Some are probably waiting for me to work on it further before it succeed. You judge for yourself.
During my last semester break, I launched Queue Ninja (see above). In the progress of boosting sales, I’ve decided to work with a couple of downstream partners. So I was introduced to one company who decided to sell web services. I was hyped. In a short span of time, large amount of sales are coming in. A large amount from the company itself (it has a couple of subsidiary trades). My intuition was telling me that the company is scaling too fast and will burn out soon. Between seeing money roll in and trusting my intuition, I chose the former.
Wrong choice. Turns out, the company ran into some serious financial crisis and is unable to pay up. 5 digits in my account receivables, no cash flow, and lots of incomplete projects was what followed. On top of that, the company’s clients were not properly handled. The sales person failed to handle the expectation of their clients. Deadlines were always very tight (I mean days!). Eventually, there was one project that was called off.
- Project managers is important for good reasons.
- Assess all clients. Show the doors to anyone short of amazing.
- Trust sparingly. Collect payment upfront from partner.
- Provide professional advice, even to business owners who are ‘more experienced’.
- Downstream partners are still important, but have a red velvet rope policy.
So by sheer luck I’ve met a super talented girl from NUS, Xin Ru, while on a cultural exchange trip in Thailand. She is one of those girls who can pick up a pen to draw on napkins and it will look amazing (while I’m struggling with stick figurines). So I found out that she did up a design to commemorate SG50 and have tried submitting it to shirt design competition but did not win. Because I love the design so much, I proposed to work with her to make her dream come true. To print the shirt and sell them! So I did.
Long story short, the website was created right after I’ve landed in Singapore and got the vectorised designs. Sent the shirt out to print and received it right before National Day. Turned out I’ve rushed into the project and failed to build up any hype before that. It became more of “You want to buy my shirt” the moment it launched. And as you have expected, sales were poor and there are stocks piling up in my room.
So what do I do with the stocks? I gave a bulk of them away to my dear Thailand friends! See how beautiful it looks on them!
- Do not rush into a new project if the deadlines are near.
- Build up hype before selling a product.
- Work with people who are as excited as you to succeed.
- Hedge my options when going into a joint venture.
After a successful attempt at selling Jewellery at NTU Fest, I thought selling jewellery will be lucrative. The only problem is that I have to tend the booth the entire day. What if someone can sell it for me? Well, I thought of Toy Outpost. It seemed like a great choice at that points. Visit any branch and you can see how fast product flows out from the shop.
Great mistake. Most of the vendors there doesn’t even make enough to cover the rental of the box. Turns out, out of the entire shop, there are probably less than 5 boxes that are really making money. They are the ones selling handphone accessories and Kendama. How do I know about the figures? I’m a security analyst.
Now the products are piling up at home, next to the SG50 shirts.
- Figure out the trend and shoppers profile before investing in any retail business.
Have A Ninja Queue For You
Exams are coming. What do you do with the ton of time where there is no lessons? Create a product of course! So one of my partner brought up the concept similar to TickTok and was asking if I could do an app similar to it. And then he left Singapore for a holiday trip.
So I thought it will be a great surprise for him if he comes back and “TADA! It’s done!”. So I built Queue Ninja. Turns out, I succeeded at that, but failed in another way. Till now, there is one of the product being sold. Cost are covered and there was profit but it is not growing.
Right now it is just sitting around waiting for people to sell it. Although it wasn’t the hottest selling product around, but the process to build it was epic fun. Took me 3 days to build it, but it was all worth it.
Currently the product is waiting for it’s major update to allow for one-tablet option.
- Hedge my options.
- No more “Similar Apps”. Break-through or go home.
- Work with more sales partners.
Although there were lots of failure, some of them are more expensive than others, I’m still doing okay (I’m not starving. Yet.). We don’t have to succeed at every attempt. In fact, as some investor say, you don’t have to succeed at every attempt, you only need one successful attempt to be successful.
Failure is inevitable. If you don’t fail now, it will come back for you later anyway. Learn to deal with it. Learn to fail forward. Fail better. The worst type of failure, however, is the failure to take the risk.
Take a leap of faith. Start working on what is on your mind today.
Have you failed before? Tell me about it!