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Kickstarting Your Business: Going From Idea To Reality

Kickstarting Your Business: Going From Idea To Reality

  • 10 July 2020
  • By OCBC Business Banking
  • 2 mins read

Welcome to the first of our three-part series on ‘Starting Your First Business’. In this post, we guide you on how to go from promising idea to start-up company, with first hand insights from successful business owners.


Have you always wanted to be your own boss? Got a business idea you think can take the world by storm? Well congratulations, you may just have the makings of an entrepreneur.

To help you get going, we spoke to successful business owners who shared how they had kickstarted their business—from researching the market to making business plans and financial projections, right up to taking the leap to go full time in their business.

Let’s hear what they have to say.


Identifying Opportunities

Strong businesses are built on a foundation of knowledge. In fact, a recurring theme we see in successful entrepreneurs is that they tend to start in an area where they have current knowledge or insight.

Mr. Jonathan Yang—co-founder of Muchachos and The Daily Cut restaurants—was from the public relations industry. “At that time, the only thing I wanted to do was to make a legitimate burrito, which I felt this country did not have. So, the only thing I could do was to start a small restaurant. My partner is a professional chef, so we decided to give this a try.”

In the case of Mr. Vincent Teoh, founder of Zoo-Phonics Asia enrichment centres and the Safari House chain of pre-schools, his spouse is an educator by profession and identified a lack of high-quality enrichment classes. Together, they set out to fulfil this market gap with him complementing her skill sets with his expertise in finance.


Doing Your Research

To further validate and refine your business idea, try to get feedback from a wide variety of sources. This includes potential customers, partners, suppliers, and even competitors.

Dr. Terence Tan, founder of The Pain Relief Clinic, shared, “In the year before starting my clinic, I discussed the concept with many doctors I met. Invariably the response I got at that time was almost always, ‘Oh, it's a good idea, very interesting. This is a gap that we as doctors are not addressing as well as we can.’ But then everyone else would want to continue with whatever they were doing. So I thought, well, if everyone agrees it’s a good idea but no one else is doing it, then I shall do it.“

Dr. Tan not only tapped into his network of medical professionals, but also found it useful to talk to people outside the industry.

“As a doctor, there are certain ways that we do things and have been doing things for the longest time. But if, sometimes, when I talk to someone, for instance in F&B, which you would think is very different from the medical industry, they have the same challenges of managing staff.”

But what if you don’t have an extensive network of your own yet? One place to meet and network with fellow entrepreneurs and business experts are the regular SME networking events organised by OCBC.

Ultimately though, you need to be thoughtful with regards to information and feedback you receive. Every business is unique and what works for you might be different from what works for others.


Planning Things Out

Once you have your business idea shaped up, it’s time to map out your business plan. Not all plans need to be super detailed, but a good one should outline how you will achieve your business goals and what kind of resources you need.

Vincent of Zoo-phonics Asia advised, “You have got to be very clear what your business is all about. We did our homework, we did our business plan. Put on paper what you want to do. This will help you think through all the angles and give you a complete solution.”

You should focus a good part of your business plan on financial projections. Ultimately, the numbers need to make sense on paper. Jonathan of The Daily Cut recalled his initial business plan: “After I did my numbers, financial modelling, and everything, I felt there was a reasonable chance of making this work.”



"You have got to be very clear what your business is all about. We did our homework, we did our business plan. Put on paper what you want to do. This will help you think through all the angles and give you a complete solution.

— Mr. Vincent Teoh / Founder of Zoo-phonics Asia enrichment centres and the Safari House chain of pre-schools




Partnering Up

For many, finding a business partner makes the entrepreneurship journey easier. Having partners in the venture can help increase your chances of success by pooling more skills, knowledge and resources.

However, business partners should consider having in place a formal partnership or shareholders’ agreement.

This is a key document that clearly sets out the rights and obligations of partners in relation to each other, as well as how business is to be conducted and decisions made.

Francis Chan, Deputy Head (Disputes) of Rajah & Tann Legal Basix Practice Group, observed that “the most common mistake made by business partners at the start of a relationship is thinking they won’t ever have disagreements, and thus failing to have a partnership agreement in place.”

There should be consensus in terms of which partners are setting the direction and making key decisions in the business.

Mr. Lawrence Chai, founder of 3E Accounting, also noted that “companies with many stakeholders, and still find success, are usually tightly controlled by one or two partners. When control is split equally amongst several partners, conflicts often arise and no one is steering the company.”

This further highlights the importance of a partnership agreement. And contrary to what many believe, having a lawyer prepare such a document does not have to be expensive, especially if the partners are already clear on what they want.



"Companies with many stakeholders, and still find success, are usually tightly controlled by one or two partners. When control is split equally amongst several partners, conflicts often arise and no one is steering the company.

— Mr. Lawrence Chai / Founder of 3E Accounting




Rounding It Up

From our interviews with successful business owners and leading business experts, it’s clear that there’s a lot that goes into transforming your idea into a successful venture.

We hope their unique insights are useful in helping you in your business and we hope to bring you more of such practical advice and information. Here at OCBC, we endeavour to be your partner for every step of your entrepreneurship journey.

Read on to learn more about registering your business.

Disclaimer

Any opinions or views of third parties expressed in this article are those of the third parties identified, and not those of OCBC Bank. The information provided herein is intended for general circulation and/or discussion purposes only. Before making any decision, please seek independent advice from professional advisors.

No representation or warranty whatsoever in respect of any information provided herein is given by OCBC Bank and it should not be relied upon as such. OCBC Bank does not undertake an obligation to update the information or to correct any inaccuracy that may become apparent at a later time. All information presented is subject to change without notice. OCBC Bank shall not be responsible or liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising directly or indirectly howsoever in connection with or as a result of any person acting on any information provided herein. Any reference to any specific company, financial product or asset class in whatever way is used for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation on the same.


OUR PANEL OF EXPERTS

Jonathan Yang — Co-Founder
The Daily Cut and Muchachos

Jonathan Yang — Co-Founder
The Daily Cut and Muchachos

Jonathan wanted nothing but to make a perfect burrito. This passion project led him to leave his job as a PR professional to start Muchachos. With the success of his first restaurant, he went on to start The Daily Cut, one of the first protein-focused salad bars in the days of its establishment. Today, The Daily Cut name is synonymous with healthy eating and serves the health-conscious office crowd in three locations.

Vincent Teoh — Executive Director & Co-Founder
Safari House Preschools and Zoo-phonics Asia

Vincent Teoh — Executive Director & Co-Founder
Safari House Preschools and Zoo-phonics Asia

Vincent has more than 15 years of financial management experience gained from working in top global financial institutions across Asia, Australia and New Zealand. He is also a member of ISCA and CAANZ. His commitment to nurturing a passion for learning in children has driven him to grow his business to 20 centres under the Zoo-phonics School, Zoo-phonics Kindergarten and Safari House Preschool branding in Singapore and Malaysia.

Dr Terence Tan — Founder
The Pain Relief Clinic Pte. Ltd.

Dr Terence Tan — Founder
The Pain Relief Clinic Pte. Ltd.

Since starting The Pain Relief Clinic over a decade ago, Dr Tan has been introducing non-invasive treatments for joint, muscle and sports conditions. The business has grown to include clinics in both Surabaya and Jakarta as well as distribution activities in Myanmar. He is also actively working with strategic partners to spread these modern treatments internationally in Maldives, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Francis Chan — Deputy Head (Disputes)
Rajah & Tann Legal Basix Practice Group

Francis Chan — Deputy Head (Disputes)
Rajah & Tann Legal Basix Practice Group

Francis is a leader of Rajah & Tann’s Legal Basix practice which provides growth-stage legal advice, representation and documentation to emerging enterprises, start-ups, SMEs and high growth companies. Francis advises clients in respect of commercial disputes involving shareholders / directors, tenancy, contract and debt recovery. Francis specialises in employment law and has advised institutional employers and C-suite/management level employees including conducting investigations and disciplinary proceedings, litigating employment disputes, and engaging with and resolving disputes with the MOM / CPF Board / TADM / TAFEP and union representatives.

Lawrence Chai — Founder
3E Accounting

Lawrence Chai — Founder
3E Accounting

A Chartered Accountant by training, Lawrence heads 3E Accounting International, the largest homegrown accounting network with a global presence in more than 80 countries worldwide. A firm believer in employees-come-first culture, Lawrence has led 3E Accounting Pte. Ltd. to become the first SME accounting firm to be unionised in Singapore.