The misconceptions of starting a business

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Many people think of setting up a business as their path to financial freedom and obtain more free time for other means. Thinking that they may become the next billionaire like Mark Zuckerberg, Brian Chesky, Jack Ma (馬雲), Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk.

Yes, it’s possible to obtain wealth running a successful business. But take note that being wealthy may not result in financial freedom or lots of free time. It requires a lot of effort to become rich, and even more effort to maintain the wealth.

If you already have a substantial amount of funds, perhaps you can consider investing your money on assets instead. Earning recurring dividends or rental fees may be a better option especially if you don’t have a passion to serve.

Myths about running your own business:

1. I will have more flexible time
It’s true that you will manage your time, but flexible time doesn’t = more free time. Running a business is a 24/7 full-time work in the initial state. It will usually take 3~5 years to hire people to run your business.

2. I will earn more money
Chances to earn more money is certainly higher than working for others. The stake of losing every single cent is extremely high too. Only 3% of the new startups made it to the fifth year.

Point to note: do not take Multi-level Marketing (MLM) as a business, most of the MLM schemes I know are more like a commissioned based employment WITH NO BASIC SALARY to me.

I recommend watching the documentary: “Betting on Zero”, ”零成本“ by Ted Braun if you wish to find out more and determine if this path is good for you.

Screen shot from Netflix

3. I have a unique business idea
In the modern world with 7.7 billion population, it’s hard to believe that your idea is unique. Have you encountered a new business that you’ve thought of in the past and think “Hey, I had this idea too!”. The key difference is that someone executed it while you’re thinking in your mind without action.

4. I can make my own decision
Some people tend to think that his/her superior should have listened to their proposal and not losing the opportunity. Or he will have done better if he’s in this position. It’s debatable as there are 2 sides of the stories to hear. Sometimes an idea is rejected not because it’s not good. It can be due to lack of fund, manpower or even power struggle among the management to execute the proposal.

We’re kinda like a frog in the well when we do not have access to internal news and data of the company. You will learn to see the big picture when you’re a business owner. There will be times where you must make sacrifices for the best in your company.

“Businesses, like babies and books, need nurturing, time, energy, love, planning and, yes, money to develop, grow and prosper”

Rachael Bermingham

What does it takes to start a business?

Starting a business requires time, effort, knowledge and financial risks, sustaining it is the hardest part.

Roles you are expected to take on.

The cold hard truth about running a business, especially if you are doing alone. You have to be a:

1. Salesperson
2. Marketing
3. Accountant
4. Administrator
5. Graphic Designer
6. Customer Service Officer

7. Personal Relation
8. Purchaser
9. Analyst
10. Human Resource
11. Trainer
and many more!

I’m saying this not to scare you off, the main purpose is to help you be aware of the roles involved. Running a business is more like a team sport, you will eventually burn out yourself even if you are capable of doing everything alone.

Hire a professional to get things done will speed things up. I will cover more on you should focus on and which part of work can be passed on to others at the minimal cost in the future.

Experience, Knowledge & People

Other than self-discipline. You need at least 1 of this to begin and obtain the other 2 to grow.

1. Experience
Work experience, market insights, connections. Proactively taking new challenges and work on new projects, clients to polish your skills. If you spent 5 years doing the same thing without becoming more efficient at work, it’s equivalent to no experience. The conclusion is: What can you do? Who do you know? What value can you create for your business and client?

2. Knowledge & Skills
Technical-know-how, it’s recommended that you know how to run a business + good management skills. Without these, the likelihood of hiring incompetence worker is very high.

3. Team: Employee, Mentor, Business Partner
You need a team to run a business. This usually requires money to hire great talents. Or find a suitable business partner or mentor who has 1~3 key factors. Beware of partnership though, it should be contracted to avoid dispute in future.


You do not need a super detailed plan to start. Simply define what drives you to start a company. Keep in mind not to lose your way. Know the product you are selling, set a short term goal and long term goal for your business. STAY FOCUS.

1. What are you offering?
e.g. Retail Trade, Customer Service, Consultancy, Research etc.

2. Which industry is it?
e.g. Food & Beverages, Finance, Technology, Fashion etc.

3. Who is your target audience, what is the demand?
e.g. Public consumer, Government, SME, MMC

4. Competitors
Understand how do they operate, their sales etc.

5. Rules & regulation in the country where your business operates
e.g. Tax, law, licensing etc.

It’s easy to be inspired thru reading success stories of others, bear in mind stories are crafted to inspire others and/or boost their profile. Many details on how much they had struggled during the initial stage are often mentioned in merely a few sentences.

Execute your plans diligently, review your setbacks and continue to improve your skills and knowledge. I do wish you good luck and all the best in your future endeavors. Donate and give back to the one in need if possible too. Cheers!

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