Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Food for thought

It's interesting to hear the war stories of other SME business owners. Here's what friend of mine told me over a sinful plate of char kway teow today:

(Background: He runs one of Singapore's biggest nurseries. Fellow ex-journo friends from CMP and who are reading this would know who it is. :) )

When the nursery first started its online business, he said orders were pathetic. It could be just one order a day. The online arm was in the red for about seven years, and he remembered staring at what's in the bank account--a mere S$1,000.

S$1,000. That would make me want to jump off a building.

But he went ahead and invested some more money in technology that would relieve the manual work that existed in the backend of his e-commerce store front. He felt he had to do it; if not, execution would be a problem if a big order comes in.

# # #

That got me thinking. So how do you know when to call it quits. Throw in the towel. Say, "I give up."

Granted, he/the business has reserves in which they can fall back on to fund a venture in which they believe strongly in. But being in the red for seven long years without pulling the plug? Many would say, "I made a mistake. My vision was wrong," after a year, two years?

Instead, he pumped in more money after SEVEN years. And it is not to say his brick-and-mortar business is infallible. They were affected during the big flood that hit all the nurseries in Thomson Road back in 2006. My friend doesn't say it, but I'm sure the rise in fuel prices has an impact on his operations too.

I never did ask him, and I think I will the next time I meet him: What made him press on?

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