Founder & CEO @PassionPeers
This year was one roller coaster. Not only did I hit quarter life, I also became a founder and CEO. As I reflect on all that has happened this year, I thought I’ll share my experience with my peers and fellow entrepreneurs who have just stepped into this journey – the bittersweet life you lead behind that sugar coated tag of being an entrepreneur and running your own company. It is about those real hard lessons you learn in life and at work when you follow your dream, your passion and your ambition relentlessly.
It’s been a beautiful year, growing Passion Peers to a twenty member (happy and motivated) team. We’ve also had some unconventional projects implementing digital business concepts with our portfolio of encouraging clients.
Over the course of this year, I’ve learnt 25 valuable lessons:
- Passion is misunderstood. A fulfilling experience is when you fail and struggle at doing things you love to do. You’re not alone in your struggles – everyone fails but the true mark of your passion is when you pick yourself on failing and bounce back again.
- Growing to a team of twenty peers, taught me the most important thing my corporate job would never have. Be empathetic. Its especially important in a startup environment because each individual who is joining you is ready to sacrifice some sort of comfort or incentive that they could have got by working in a bigger company. They are with you because they believe in your cause and share your passion too.
- Being a CEO of a startup means getting your hands dirty. From dabbling in HR, business development, finance, to even thinking about what colour your client’s social post visual should be. Don’t be hesitant to wear different hats. No job is too small.
- Don’t run away from hard work. The list of things to do will never end. Hard work is not your nemesis – it may give you the most pain but it also brings the best out of you and makes the journey worth it.
- When you follow your passion, there is nothing like choosing between work and life because everything becomes a part of life. So stop, if you are still trying to find that balance.
- I thought success would be defined by the money I brought in. That is only one measure of success. The intangible reward that I have sowed, however, is from earning my team and client’s respect.That respect goes a long way to motivate you and encourage you to do the right things.
- A lot of people walked away from my life. A few stayed- those who really believed in what I am doing. The journey is lonely, but this is part and parcel of thinking differently and doing things differently. So spend time with like-minded people who are in the same boat. I recently joined the Founder’s Squad in Singapore – a community where you get to meet company founders every month to discuss your challenges and share your experience.
- Hire smartly and don’t be reluctant to fire. Finding the right talent is tough enough – coupled with a small budget and tight timelines, makes it one of the most challenging aspects.Whilst you may go wrong a number of times, the only way to make it right would be to let those people go. It is better to spend time to find the right fit and build a team who shares your goals.
- Make your hard work count by challenging the status quo. My company started as a professional services company in the digital sphere and within two months we expanded to become a platform company. It was important for us to innovate and rally behind unconventional ideas to be seen as a disruptor.
- When I started Passion Peers, I had lot of insecurities. One was fear of losing out. As a result, I hardly said no to things that were not worth it. I was wrong.
- Break your dreams and ambitions down into milestones. There is never going to be an end goal and what will push you forward is achieving these milestones, one at a time.
- Give things time. Be patient. Nothing will happen overnight (other than maybe gaining weight, social media crisis and a project blunder). Everything else takes time – whether it is growing a team, getting more customers, earning your first million or making an impact. Patience is key.
- Stop living with regrets. A senior professional asked me what is the one thing you are happiest about in life. Without a second thought, my answer was not having a single regret. I am doing things I want to do everyday. I am constantly trying out new stuff that I am curious about and learning new things.
- Find an activity to let yourself out everyday. Make an hour in your day which is all about you. I finally started my Muay Thai classes this year and there is nothing like fighting in a ring and being surrounded by walls with Muhammad Ali’s inspiring quotes.
- Many say that being competitive is unhealthy. As long as it doesn’t jeopardise your morals or character – competition can be a good thing. Competition is what keeps me going. It pushes me to become better than myself.
- Don’t be disheartened if you lose to someone else. Get disappointed if you are losing to yourself. Strive to become better than yourself everyday. As my Muay Thai coach would say:- “Don’t fight as if you want to conquer a battle, fight to conquer yourself and the battle will take care of itself.”
- Invest in yourself. Read, travel, attend conferences and do tonnes of things that will make you feel uncomfortable.
- Surround yourself with people who bring a different set of expertise to the table.
- Listen. That’s a skill I have always undervalued. Listening to what your clients want, what your team wants, what the next big thing industry is looking for.
- Read and read some more. Then apply what you’ve read.One of my clients is a young multimillionaire entrepreneur. He finishes 3 books every week. We discuss his business reads every week and use his learnings to execute our projects.
- It is important to define yourself and your entrepreneurial project well. Keep it in writing.
- It is alright to not have a co-founder or a partner in your business. A lot of people advised me not to start alone, but if you have a clear vision and are self aware of your capabilities, it is alright to be a single founder.
- Don’t be hard on yourself. Let your mind wander occasionally. Get rid of the fear of missing out (or as my peers would say, FOMO) or being late to the game. Taking time off during the weekends has allowed me to be more productive and creative during weekdays.
- Think long term. Once you have stabilised your company operations, spend the following year investing in long term disruption. Building a sustainable model is crucial.
- When multiple changes happen simultaneously, which is absolutely normal in the start-up world, don’t let that feeling of self despair cause you to destruct. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Call your family and friends. My parents were and will always remain the best people to put things into perspective for me.