When I started a café consultancy company with my partners, my vision was to make a name in the industry that I was interested in. I didn’t quite understand the essence of building a business or creating unique value for people.
Growing up, I wasn’t exposed to business world. I never thought it would be hard, neither did I know that failure rate was high — they said only 10% of start-up companies survived.
I started a company because of a bit of naivety and a lot of courage. My partners and I were young girls in twenties who dived into the ocean with big sharks.
Looking back, ‘not knowing’ was our biggest advantage because we didn’t know what not do. Without knowledge of what starting a business was all about, I went into business world with tremendous belief and courage.
If I had a second chance, would I make the same choice?
It scared me how hard things could get at times, it was unthinkable to go through the same process all over again.
The beauty of life is that there is only one take in everything, and we cease the opportunity when it comes.
I became more than who I was when I started the journey
The further I was in it, the more I didn’t know; the bigger the world I saw, the smaller I felt.
As a first-time entrepreneur, this business wasn’t about making big money or creating a legacy, it was me paying my due to learn about many different facets of life that wasn’t taught in school.
The challenges pushed me into corners and tried to break me. In those moments, under flight or fight situation, I learned about who I was, what I stood for, what I was capable of, what were my guiding values.
When you came face to face with your vulnerability, fear, and emotions, you hold the power to make decisions that defined who you are.
Eventually, you will get used to standing in the front line, holding shield and dodging bullets.
There were times I stood in a booth all day long and sold only 2 cans of green tea powder, I cut 200 pcs of cup sleeve overnight when supplier bailed on me, I felt so stressful that I broke down, I looked at the bank account wondering how we would get by.
In all these circumstances, I walked away knowing that, ‘I could do this’.
The end of journey
When my partner was headhunted by a developer to join a new F&B project, I decided to stay and run the business alone with her partial support.
It was hard, I had no emotional support at work.
As time passed, I was working in a company I founded instead of working on it. It was a founder trap that I struggled to pull myself out of.
When I realised that there was a limit in my growth without vision and guidance, I went through personal struggle, questioned my life purpose, shattered my identity, changed my narration, and sold my share eventually.
Even though this journey lasted less than 2 years, I was proud of what we did and how I evolved along the way.
It was an important process that set me up for more challenges in the future.
Between leaving college and now, it took me 4 years to articulate the things that drive me in everything I do. I learned to embrace life as a constant evolution, to realise that this is a journey with no destination.
You win or you learn. You never lose until you stop trying.
By: Isabelle Thye