Super Store Singapore, a company I founded, is reaching it’s 3rd anniversary, I think it’s time I share some of my insights and experiences.
It started some time in 2012, a very good friend and I pooled together a few hundred dollars and started a website selling solely Button Badges, it was really weird, a website that’s named “Super Store”, yet there was only 2 products.
To see how bad the first website roughly looked, click here to see it on Archive.org.
We then invested in a few machines, a second-hand table and worked our asses off in the comfort of my room, it wasn’t easy, lots of time and effort was pumped in.
The birth of Super Store Singapore
Our R&D was pretty fun too. From bad drawings to bad product demos, most ideas we had were simply thrown out, either being too expensive or too difficult to produce.
Drafting of new products
With the help of friendly & awesome friends,referrals and my web presence, more business came in and deals were closed. It allowed us to have more money to re-invest and expand, over and over again. Now, 3 years later, we are now a “halfway full-fledge” manufacturing company, with numerous products such as notebooks, stickers and shirts even.
I feel very encouraged comparing between how I started and how I am now. I am not successful yet but just lucky to have a great partner that shares the same vision. That one day, anyone and everyone can have high quality customised goodies easily, without minimal order quantity and fast turnaround.
The reason why many are frustrated with in this industry is that customisation requires bulk order in the hundreds or thousands, with terrible lead time, and sometimes questionable quality. We want to change that by giving good quality and quick turnaround time as expected of our fast paced society.
This is where I now work everyday. It’s not a fantastic set up but there’s lots of room for growth. It can get messy at times but at least it’s never empty.
Now for some questions that I can think of and I’ll pretend to interview myself!
Do you ever feel down?
Sometimes I do compare myself with my peers, at age 23 they’re graduating with degrees and so on, me? I have nothing much, just a Higher-Nitec cert from ITE. I took a very daring path to stop studies temporarily and do full-time entrepreneurship.
Am I making a lot of money? Nope, but at least I can live on a decent basic salary of S$500/month. I’ve survived with that in my army days and I know I can survive with it for a long time, though not permanently. I come from a fair-background family and I want to change that. I simply want to be better off in the future than stuck with a job that only sustains me month by month.
I have spent time alone at night in the office, tearing, feeling lost, down and emotionally empty, wondering if I will ever fail. But screw it, I know the people I work and network with are awesome and I will overcome hurdles because failure is never an option.
I am very lucky to have great friends that support me in this business. Many times when I feel down, especially when business is bad, I get reminders like:
“You are 23 and able to rent a huge space to operate your business, how many others are like that?”
What have you learned from the past 3 years?
Attitude and networking:
Whatever you do, do it with attitude and never stop learning, even if you think you have learned enough.
I may know how to design and work with WordPress, talk with clients, or creative works like videography or generating ideas. However, there will always be someone better, more knowledgable, more experienced and more capable than me. Therefore, always network with people and learn from each other.
Priorities & focus:
You only have 16 active hours a day, what are you going to do that will feed your rice bowl? You can get a career in any jobs or start a business in any industry, but is it your interest? Will it make you happy? So I came up with a very simple rule to let myself follow, 50% Dream, 50% Business/Career.
For example, I love doing music, I love writing lyrics, singing and composing, but is there a market for it? Yes, but is it oversupplied? Of course! Now we have Youtube, Spotify, iTunes and traditional channels such as radio stations to listen to music and videos.
That makes it roughly 99% Dream of becoming a celebrity singer, and a 1% Career chance. It’s too big a risk and I can’t possibly starve or be broke for 10 years to chase a dream with a small probability of becoming a star, right?
So, do things that sparks interest in you and that is able to be monetised with a decent demand in the market, hence the reason why I started Super Store Singapore.
Anyone is capable of doing anything but most importantly, we need focus. Learn to say ‘no’ occasionally to things that might distract and stray you from your main goal. Likewise, you do not tell a salesman to do a marketing job and vice versa.
Given back to the community?
Yup! Occasionally we do support some people in need and certain communities. However, as much as we want to help and contribute, we are running a business and we have overheads, workers to pay and a company to grow.
A special mention will be, Project Lokun, a very interesting bi-annual humanitarian project, where they send a team of doctors, medical students and volunteers to Cambodia to give free health checkups and some medicine. Personally, I feel it’s a very honourable project and they were very sincere and legit. It’s truly one of the projects that made me happy to help out with.
They’re very active and are constantly looking for volunteers as well. If you want to help out the unprivileged as well you can find out more at www.projectlokun.com.
What will the future be?
I am not a fortune teller (selling assurance to people is a good business idea too). What I know is, the future will be awesome as long as I work hard and smart. If follow where the passion is, eventually I’ll be successful and have more capabilities to help others. I believe that if you can’t help yourself, it will be difficult to help others.
Anything to say to people wanting to start a business?
Better not, you might want to work for others if you don’t have grit. It’s so much easier than starting a business.
I am not a business guru, but if you want to start a business and not screw up, I’ll be happy to share my little experience over the few years and help you to minimise screw ups, so email me?
To end off, Happy 3rd Birthday to Super Store Singapore, and to a better year and future we go!