As I’m writing this, it’s 6am here Thailand (a place which I adore very much), which also marks the last day of July 2014. It has been an excruciating 31 days I have to say, which was driven from uncertainty, fear, hope and avoidance.

We had a great 2 year anniversary for the lab, I won’t discount that, but underlying all of those was what was going within the company.

A glimmer of hope to bring the company forward with a funding interest was indeed an intense experience, which had going on for more than 1 month of back and forth internally and externally. Whatever the final decision turned out to be, I’m glad that it happened anyway because it actually opened up our eyes to look within closer, tighter and it made me realised that sometimes we are not alone as we think we are. The world of business, as much as there’s a lot of helpful people out there, there ought to be the forgiving ones as well.

The question is whether do we owned up and forgive ourselves for the mistakes that we made. 

Along the way, I had great insights and advice which made me draw up these few insights for myself and to share.

  1. You are not alone in business. 
    As much as you think the business is yours, there will be a time where everyone in business are being affected or would have at least been affected. Sharing your problems or findings with each other and ask for help could probably be the best act to make you gasp for air and feel a little relief.
    Sometimes hearing experiences or objective neutral advice from others does put you to take the back seat and reanalysis situations. This also comes with careful selection who you decide to ask for advice, someone who could be as objective as possible. A big thanks to a good friend of mine from another FnB restaurant.
  2. Perfection/Inflated good news should be taken objectively
    Billion dollar company, big ass fund raising round, multi-million exit strategies are all just on the surface. Yes websites have been very much been flooded with these awesome fluffy lovey dovey news about startups, but we very much forgotten about many of those who failed, like how Groupon plummeted 80% of the stock price after Andrew Mason was fired.  (Read here about his comeback, which I believe gives me the drive even more)
    At the end of the day, it’s a good drive of motivation from the media, but it shouldn’t be used as a reference to make a decision cause at the end of the day you know your business best, in a different market for a different cause.
  3. You don’t have to know everything
    I wish exams can be based on this basis, where we can learn on how to utilize each other strengths. You don’t have to know everything, you just have to know more people who know a lot of things. That way, your search cost for information and chances of making a costly mistakes can be reduced. At the end of the day, sometimes all we need to do is to ask!
  4. Reach out to an unlikely source
    It’s funny how sometimes when you hit a brick wall, one will try any methods to get a solution. I recently reached out to 2 people for advice – a CEO of an airline company which I haven’t met in person for years and a co-founder of a app development company from NYC who I met recently in Malaysia. And one shared a pretty darn good book and the other shared with me with advice, ideas and mindset. Both coming from an unlikely source, but heck if we never try we never know.
  5. Be honest to myself
    Results are always a feedback to us, well at least that is what I want to believe. And in the end, results do that lie. It is what it is and unless we can be honest to ourselves, we will not be able to see it and take action. Drilling into the finances of the company during the investors’ interest discussion opened up many doors for us to look at, one by one, weighing ourselves with other competitors as well as other brands in the same industry. But it starts from being honest with ourselves that then we can decide what rigorous action steps to take.
  6. Taking control
    Being able to take control and be in control of things is very important, that’s what I learnt recently. Seeing how big the players of China, USA, Russia is in the world, it’s all about control at the end of the day. Heck World War 1 and 2 are examples of it already. So having able to have control of your business and your life is essential to move forward.
  7. Feeling down is normal
    Recently there have been many articles written revolving life of various entrepreneurs’ downs which includes the challenges, depression and isolation. And reading them makes me feel that at the end of the day it’s actually more common than I think, which leads back to the point no.1 where understand that we are not alone in business.
    It can only be a normal process to have a down moment, even if it hits to a depress state. The key is how one deals with it and bounce back which is key. Reading on Mason’s article on his next startup just fuels me to know that it’s not end of the world if one fails (and of course not failing due to complacency). And in point no. 6, we have to realise that we have the control at the end of the day to decide how we want to live our lives and feel about the happenings in our lives.
    A good read on founders’ depression can be seen here.
  8. Take the time
    Sometimes, decisions are not easy and asking for more time or taking your time would be the wise things to do. My friend quoted recently “Take your time to decide, because you wouldn’t want to make something that would cost you dearly in the future.” Despite the pressure sometimes, it’s good to ask for more time to make a decision.
  9. Talk to someone not in business
    Sometimes we forgot we have social circle of friends and families who are not doing their own business, and it’s so relief sometimes to talk to them cause it gives us a different perspective about life – on what life is all about. It’s not just the business, but also great friends like these whom we could spend great moments with (at least not thinking about work). Embrace the diversity of friends that we have, cause we don’t know how they can add value to us till we are open to it.
  10. Allow others to love us
    Yup, there’s nothing greater besides loving ourselves and others is to allow others to love us. A friend once told me that “Receiving is a form of giving” and it’s so true ever since I heard it from him. I have never seen it that way before he shared that to me and it has allowed me to be vulnerable to situations around me and to be supported in any way I can. It may sound deep, but it starts from saying yes to an offer. 🙂 Try it.

At the end of the day, it’s all about opening up your challenges and problems to others and take whatever bounces off the world as a new insight to your mind, cause sometimes being bogged down by the same thing day in day out can place us in a tunnel vision. Whatever decisions we make at the end of the day, there’s always a risk, and we will never know what the other road which is less traveled by will lead to.