Dare to be Different

13 Mar
Dare to be Different

Dare to be different because everybody wants you to be the same.

To start off this article, let me share with you two stories to illustrate this point.

A Crab in a Bucket1

Crabs in a Bucket Story

Once there was a young man on a beach, watching people catch crabs. A young man put a crab in a bucket, with a tiny bit of water on the bottom. The crab promptly scurried out of the bucket and jumped back into the ocean.

He caught another crab and put that crab in a bucket and the same thing happened. It escaped and happily returned to the ocean. A wise old fisherman came up to the boy and put his hand on the boy’s shoulder.

A wide smile crossed his weathered, bearded face and he said, “Son, you have to put two crabs in a bucket. That way, when one tries to get out, the other will pull him back in. Then, you won’t have to worry. They’ll keep each other in that bucket. They’ll be trapped, without you having to do anything else.”

The boy thought that was crazy but he did it. He caught one crab and then another. He put the first crab in a bucket, and then quickly put in the second crab. He was amazed. When the first crab tried to get out, the other one pulled it back in. And when the second crab tried to get out, the first one pulled it back in.

Five Monkeys and a Ladder2

5 Monkeys and a Ladder Story

A group of scientists placed five monkeys in a cage and in the middle, a ladder with bananas on top.

Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the rest of the monkeys with cold water. After a while, every time a monkey would start up the ladder, the others would pull it down and beat it up.

After a time, no monkey would dare try climbing the ladder, no matter how great the temptation.

The scientists then decided to replace one of the monkeys. The first thing this new monkey did was start to climb the ladder. Immediately, the others pulled him down and beat him up.

After several beatings, the new monkey learned never to go up the ladder, even though there was no evident reason not to, aside from the beatings.

The second monkey was substituted and the same occurred. The first monkey participated in the beating of the second monkey. A third monkey was changed and the same was repeated. The fourth monkey was changed, resulting in the same, before the fifth was finally replaced as well.

What was left was a group of five monkeys that, without ever having received a cold shower, continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder.

If it was possible to ask the monkeys why they beat up on all those who attempted to climb the ladder, their most likely answer would be “I don’t know. It’s just how things are done around here”.

Why?

Most of the time, people do this out of a good intention. It’s not that they want to “put you down” or consciously dissuade you from doing certain things. They’re just sharing based on their personal experience and don’t want you to get hurt because “It’s just how things are done around here.”

To share with you a personal example, when I first embarked on my book publishing journey, I was told many times over not to do it because I lacked both the experience and credentials. I did it anyway and it turned out to be the best experience and the most significant milestone of my life.

Were they wrong?  I don’t think so.

Where did the advice come from?  It came from a good place, based on their knowledge and experience.

From this, I started to understand how to take advice with a pinch of salt. They’re not me. They’ve not been through what I’ve been through and/or are going through. They don’t live my life.

Ultimately, I make my own decisions and answer to its consequences because only I know what’s best for me.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to seek out mentors and learn from people who are already at where you’re heading towards to learn from them. The message I’m trying to convey here’s that you don’t have to listen to everybody and doubt what you’re actually in the process of doing.

An important skill I’ve learned through this is on how to agree to disagree. As a people-pleaser and a yes man, I find this extremely hard to accomplish.

How I attempt to put this into practice is to keep an open mind and listen to one’s opinion before making a decision whether what they have to say is useful to me or not.

Besides this, I’ve listed another three ways to help you embrace your uniqueness:

1) Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite

Instead of expecting others to be or think like you, take the lead by practicing thinking differently for yourself first.

Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite is a book written by Paul Arden and he shared really interesting concepts on how thinking the other way can help you achieve greater goals.

Constantly challenge your thought process and start thinking in the opposite direction.

2) Find the Box

I attended an event last week and a Chief Marketing Officer taught our group that before being able to think out of the box, we must first find it.

In order to “think out of the box”, you must identify what “the box” actually is. Is it a problem that you’ve wanted to solve for the longest time? Or is it some answers you’ve been searching for but always hit a dead end?

“The concept of fresh eyes” is another interesting way to put this point into context.

Start so see each scenario from various angles and perspectives before making a conclusion. This enables you to have a multi-dimensional overview for every given situation. It also allows you to have a bird’s eye view of exactly what’s going on in order to piece together to conclude what your “box” really is.

3) Go Against the Grain

Take a closer look at nature and there are some lessons to be learned.

Salmon Swimming Upstream

In this article “Facing Fear – The Courage to Swim Upstream3, the author shares the journey of a salmon and how it relates back to your life. You were born with the ability to swim against the current. Resilience and perseverance is part of your nature.

Over the course of life, perceived obstacles and challenges threaten your survival and disorientates your direction. Before you know it, you’re unconsciously being swept away with the current of life.

Why try so hard all your life to fit in when you were born to stand out?

You know what you need best and by taking the road less travelled, it’ll give you the courage to dare to be different in spite of knowing that everyone else wants you to be the same.

Dare to be different. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

That’s when you can truly love the life you live and live the life you love.


Footnotes:

1How Being a Crab in a Bucket is Causing You to Fail
http://sherievenner.com/2013/crab-in-a-bucket-causing-fail/

2The Famous ‘Social Experiment’: 5 Monkeys and a Ladder
http://www.wisdompills.com/2014/05/28/the-famous-social-experiment-5-monkeys-a-ladder/

3Facing Fear – The Courage to Swim Upstream
http://www.revealingwisdom.com/conditioned-mind-and-suffering/the-courage-to-swim-upstream-back-home

Photo Credits:

Crabs in a Bucket
http://anythingispossiblefitness.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/crab1.jpg

5 Monkeys and a Ladder
http://www.throwcase.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/monkeys-e1419187612146.jpg

Salmon Swimming Upstream
http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/sites/sbs.com.au.topics/files/styles/body_image/public/salmon_river-original.jpg?itok=g2NHJ91h&mtime=1471364192

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

What Publishing a Book Entails

3 Mar
What Publishing a Book Entails

Up till today, people still ask me about my book publishing journey. In the midst of building up my new business, I went through all my archives and found a lot of information.

Decided to do up this article, plucking some resources from my press release, radio interview with 98.7FM, TEDx presentation and other speeches and interviews I’ve done since the launch of the book.

I structured this article in an interview format, covering most of the questions I’ve been asked over the years. It feels kinda weird because while doing up this piece, I’m like asking myself these questions and answering them at the same time, re-enacting the scene when I was on national radio or being interviewed by a journalist.

In Chinese, we call it 自导自演;playing the interviewee and interviewer role. But I thought structuring it in this format can help you get the most value from my personal experience.

It’s really comical, come to think of it. Nonetheless, hope you enjoy the read and don’t let this image of my mini role-play distract you from the valuable content 😛

1) What’s your book about?

My book is entitled The Instant Entrepreneur; 10 Surefire Strategies to Guarantee Your Startup’s Success”. In this book, besides sharing the story of my personal entrepreneurial journey, I’ve also included strategies acquired through my experience and three key factors on how individuals can succeed in any new venture they launch.

2) How long did it take to publish your book?

It took me a total of eighteen months from the point of conceiving the idea of book publishing to the actual physical print of it. I must say, the feeling is surreal to be holding the very book that you wrote in your own hands. Definitely an experience I’ll remember for life.

Ranford with The Instant Entrepreneur

3) How old were you when started your book publishing journey?

I was only twenty-one years old when I started my book publishing journey.

4) Where did you get your inspiration to write?

Entrepreneurship was a topic that I was really interested and passionate about so getting inspired to write was the easiest part for me. All I had to do was meet up with entrepreneurs and I’m all charged up and ready to write! Most of the time, I get so much input and content from them that I don’t even know how to put them down into words!

5) Why did you choose to tackle such a huge topic like entrepreneurship?

I’ve always found the word “entrepreneurship” fascinating because even though it’s just one word, it means many things to different people.

To some, it means taking risks and doing something that hasn’t been done before. For others, entrepreneurship is a “last resort” thing; when all else fails, then I’ll look into entrepreneurship as my last option for survival.

On the other hand, “entrepreneurship” can be one of the most feared words in the dictionary. This word can mean leaving a comfort zone to risk everything and stepping up to take the lead. The idea of entrepreneurship shakes the sense of safety, security and stability, three words that most people lead their lives by.

I personally know a lot of people that fall into the last category. They’ve never even considered becoming an entrepreneur and the thought of pursuing entrepreneurship is insane. Every day, I hear statements like,

“I’m not a ‘business’ type of person”

“I’m not good in sales”

“I can’t talk very well”

“I want to get a good job to have a stable income”

“working for people in my ‘dream job’ is my passion”

It’s the fear that people had towards entrepreneurship that drove me to shed some light on this topic once and for all. This was the main motivation for me to write this book.

6) What’s some of the challenges faced on the course of writing this book?

I think the greatest challenge I’ve faced was the lack of credentials and experience. Many ask me, “Ranford, what are some of the successful businesses or ventures you’ve done?” and I do not have an answer for that.

We live in a very practical society, especially in Singapore. Throughout the course of working on this book, I’ve come across many people who dissuaded me to continue embarking on this project, citing things like, “you don’t have enough experience on the topic of entrepreneurship, what makes you think you can write about it” and “who’s going to read your book if you don’t have experience and credentials to back up what you’re writing?”

Many gave me their two cents’ worth to finish my national service first, proceed to get my degree, secure a job and work to learn the ropes from my employer on entrepreneurship. Observe how they do it for a few years before leaving and striking it out on my own.

If my business is successful, write about my success. If I didn’t make it, I can write about my failure.

I nearly agreed with their train of thought because it seems like the logical thing to do. To be honest, I was extremely discouraged by these responses and I almost bought into their logic but I’m glad I didn’t. If I did, I wouldn’t be here sharing with you my story today.

That’s why the advice was only worth “two cents”!

a) How then, did you manage to overcome them?

As an avid reader myself, there’s one book which helped me reframed my thoughts to overcome this obstacle. The book was “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.

At that time, Napoleon Hill was nobody but he decided to learn from successful people and document everything. Today, he’s better known than some people that he initially learned from. On top of that, his knowledge has been passed down through the generations of over eighty years, leaving a lasting legacy to his name and publication.

In the same way, I saw myself doing what he did.It’s not so much to achieve personal success but to learn from the experiences of the successful.

This journey was definitely not an easy one, maybe because of the fact that I was young and this topic was way out of my league. However, I held on to the belief that “when one is committed, providence moves to”.

7) Eventually what’s your reply when people asked about your successes?

I usually share that I’m just a messenger, not the message. The purpose of writing this book is to learn more about entrepreneurship and from successful entrepreneurs. I’ll also add that I’m really passionate and interested on this topic as well. The objective was to consolidate what I’ve learned into a book and to share this knowledge with others.

8) How did you manage to contact the entrepreneurs you wanted to interview?

I just called them up and shared with them what I was doing. Surprisingly, many agreed to meet me despite their busy schedule. They were more than willing to take time to sit down, talk with me and share their story.

I think one of the main factors on the ease of securing interviews was the fact that started from the people I personally know first. At the end of each meeting, these entrepreneurs will usually share with me another two or three people that I should meet and learn from. Subsequently, I just kept meeting and learning from the people who have been referred to me.

9) Who influenced you to think about entrepreneurship at your age?

From a young age, I knew I didn’t want to work for somebody. Because of this, I constantly looked out for various opportunities to strike out on my own.

I attended many courses and seminars along the way and to distil it down to a few key people who have influenced me to think about entrepreneurship, I’ll say it’ll most probably be Robert Kiyosaki, Timothy Ferriss and John C. Maxwell. They were the ones who made me feel that despite my age, it’s possible to be an entrepreneur too.

My parents also played an important role in developing the entrepreneurial spirit in me. Knowing how I was like from young, they didn’t restrict me what I could or couldn’t do. They gave me the space I needed to explore what suited me best. Not only that, they are very supportive of what I do even though it doesn’t fit the mould of a typical “Singaporean son”. My family have been the strongest pillar encouraging this area of my life and I’m truly grateful. If not for them, I will not be who I am today.

10) What are your reasons for going into entrepreneurship?

As cliché as it sounds, entrepreneurship is about pursuing your passion and doing what you love. However, one must be able to make a living out of it as well. If not, it wouldn’t be called entrepreneurship, it’ll just be considered as a hobby.

On top of that, entrepreneurship is an excellent platform to create flexibility and control of my own life, which allows me to spend more time with my family, loved ones and the people I care for the most. Through this course, I’ll also get to widen my network and meet different people.

In the pursuit of entrepreneurship, I learn so much more about myself; what makes me happy and what makes me tick. Most of all, know who I am as a person.

I’ve to admit, it’s not an easy journey. Many entrepreneurs describe this as a “roller coaster ride” but I’m sure they’ll also tell you that once you hop on it, you’ll never want to get off as it feels almost like an adventure!

11) Who is your publisher?

I’m a self-published author.

a) Oh, what are the differences between self-publishing and going through a publisher?

That’s a very good question. Initially, I didn’t know the answer too but as I did my research, there are clear distinctions between both.

I always like to use the example of renovating a new house that you’ve just moved to. You have two options; one’s to hire an interior designer who’ll do all the work for you or two, sub-contract all your renovation works out to individual contractors to do it for you.

There are definitely pros and cons to each option. By hiring an interior designer, they’ll be your one-stop solution to all your renovation needs. You can have a peace of mind that everything will be handled by only one source and it’s easy to communicate and manage if any issues were to arise. However, the downside of this option is higher cost and you lose control on specific areas which you want to change as the interior designer is the main person in charge.

On the other hand, if you were to sub-contract all the renovation works to individual contractors, it’ll definitely be more cost efficient and you have complete control over individual areas of your house. But this comes with a huge price because you have to put in extra time and effort to co-ordinate and executive various tasks, not forgetting the assumption that each sub-contractor you hire has to be reliable! If not, you’ll be in for trouble…

Going through a publisher is like engaging an interior designer while self-publishing is like sub-contracting all your work; writing, editing, proofreading, book cover design, marketing and so on to individual vendors.

b) So which method is better?

I won’t be able to comment which method is better as it really boils down to individual preferences.

12) What’s the most fulfilling part about your journey writing this book?

It’s the sense of accomplishment once the book is complete and printed. I’ve to tell you, writing a book was not as easy as I expected it to be. Before I plunged into this book project, I thought to myself, “How hard can writing a book be?” I’ve written so many twenty page reports in school so writing a book should be as easy as doing that for five to six times, slapping it all together and sending it for print.

I was soooo wrong.

There are 101 things to do besides that! As I chose the self-publishing route, that makes it 1001 thing instead! It was through this entire book project where I got to learn first-hand the experience of publishing my very own book and I’ve also learned three words from this process, “IT IS DIFICULT”.

So think twice if you really want to publish a book of your own.

Having said that, being able to finish what I’ve started despite its difficulty was the best part of writing a book of my own. This book is now something I look to whenever the going gets tough. I know that if I completed something like this, I can complete anything in life. Also, it’s nice to share my experiences with aspiring authors to inspire them that if I can do it, they can too.

13) What advice will you give other young aspiring writers who want to get published?

“Start now, don’t wait any longer.” If you have plans to publish a book, just take the necessary action to get your content out as soon as you can.

A good tip that I can give based on my experience is to do a mock up of your book cover, the table of contents and a preview chapter. Next, go out there and start taking pre-orders. Once you’ve made your first sale, you’re now forced to finish your book in order to deliver.This was exactly what happened to me when I first started.

With the pure intention of testing out my idea to see if anyone will be interested to read my book, I went out boldly and asked for pre-orders. To my surprise, people actually paid me money because they were interested to read my story. That was when I started to get serious with my book project.

I didn’t want to disappoint the people who supported and believed in me so I took this as a commitment to them to finish what I’ve promised.

14) Do you have plans to write another book? If yes, what will the new book be about?

Yes, I intend to publish two books this year.

The first one is for my new business, Storyaire. I’ll be sharing why storytelling is the business of the future and how individuals or organisations can ride on this wave to communicate more effectively to their clients.

The second book will be a community publication on motivation and inspiration. Your smile is the greatest gift of all so what better way to end 2017 with some nuggets of encouragement and kick start a brand new year? For this project, we’ll be gathering photographers, designers and writers to contribute to this publication and all profits from the sale of this book will be donated to charity.

— End of Interview —

There you have it, a summary of my eighteen month book publishing journey condensed into less than 3,000 words for your reading pleasure 🙂

Hope you find what I’ve shared useful and if you have any questions that I didn’t cover in this article, feel free to ask me in the comments section below or drop me a message here or through any of my social media platforms.

I’ll include a short synopsis of the book and how you can get it below. Let me promote it one last time, okkk? HAHA

Cheers and hope to hear from you soon 😉


The Instant Entrepreneur
10 Surefire Strategies to Guarantee Your Startup’s Success

The Instant Entrepreneur

What you will get out of this book:

The Instant Entrepreneur will debunk all the myths of entrepreneurship for you once and for all. Not only that, this book will also teach you:

  • The True Definition of Entrepreneurship
  • Major Differences Between an Entrepreneur and a Business Owner
  • Ten Strategies That Will Turn You Into an Instant Entrepreneur
  • Three Key Factors That Will Determine Your Success in Any New Venture Launched

and be blown away by how simple these concepts and strategies can be applied.

Let the author take you on a journey to learn about entrepreneurship in a way that you have never seen it before… Enjoy the ride!

Website: http://instantentrepreneurs.com/
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/TheInstantEntrepreneur/

 

 

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Meet the Dog Whisperer of Singapore

24 Feb
Meet the Dog Whisperer of Singapore

Hi everyone, I’ll like to introduce to you the dog whisperer of Singapore, Bernard Lau! He’s no stranger to me as I have known him for more than half of my life.

Bernard and I are primary school friends and I noticed his social media feeds were mostly travelling pictures and videos. I’ve always wondered what he was doing and it’s only when I saw this video of a mannequin challenge he did that I found out he’s the founder of Berdhouse.

As a dog lover myself, this video immediately caught my attention. We managed to catch up recently and that’s when I got to know in detail about the work that he does.

I’m super happy that he readily agreed to do this interview so let’s hear from the man himself on how he founded his company and created the lifestyle most people can only dream about.

1) Hey Bernard! I know the both of us need no introduction but for the benefit of our readers, share with us who you are and what is it that you do for a living?

Hi. My name is Bernard and I am the founder of Berdhouse.

Berdhouse provides a range of pet services that includes training, boarding, and grooming. Our company also carries a range of products carefully selected and tested to ensure that the products are ideal for your dog.

The focus is on our training/boarding programme and we specialise in puppies. This programme consists of your dog undergoing basic obedience command training and the rehabilitation of any undesirable dog behaviour.

Here’s a short video of our puppy introductory course:

2) How did Berdhouse come about and what inspired you to go into the dog training business?

Berdhouse was a project of mine that I did back in university for an entrepreneurship module during my schooling days.Upon graduation and after a short stint in the financial industry, I decided to put that business plan into action.

My first dog, Hiro, was what inspired me to start dog training. I wanted her to be able to go off the leash and run freely like how every dog should. However, I still had to keep her and others around safe. Therefore, I began giving her obedience training.

Here’s a video of Hiro and I going through some routine training:

3) Is it difficult training dogs?

It really isn’t hard to train dogs. All you need is clear communication. That’s why patience and consistency will play a huge role.

I’d like to emphasize on the importance of starting training young. Apart from being able to bond with your dog through training, many potential behavioural problems like over excitement, aggression, fearfulness and so on can be prevented. It’s also the ideal time as they have a higher learning capability at a younger age.

It’s my goal to help educate new dog owners to avoid potential mistakes from being made. After all, prevention is better than cure!

4) What’s your advice when it comes to pet ownership and obedience training?

The most important rule I will always share is to reinforce discipline before showering them with love and affection. This will ensure a healthy relationship between owner and dog.

For example, when coming home to your dog after a long day, it’ll be common to see your dog jumping on you, seeking your attention. Instead of rewarding such unwanted behaviour, command your dog to sit and wait patiently, calm them down before giving them the affection they seek.

5) Any quick tips and tricks for new pet owners who’s having a hard time trying to train their dog?

When having a tough time training your dog, the best way is to use enticing treats to capture your pooch’s attention and communicate clearly. Personally, I use the clicker training method for that purpose.

Another tip is to keep taking small, progressive steps when training your dog. Don’t be afraid to push the limits but also do take a few steps back when you’re not making any progress.

My final tip is to train in a calm mindset. If you ever feel frustrated that the training is not making any progress, stop and try again later.

6) I’ve been following your Instagram for a while now and see that you’ve been travelling quite frequently, how do you do it?

I’m fortunate enough to have the opportunity to run my own business, which means that I’m able to plan my own schedule. The travelling you see is only one part of my life. What you don’t see is that at times, I work really hard, working daily consecutively for weeks and at times, even months. During work, there are no weekends or public holidays.

By working hard, it allows me to save up and go for extended trips to unwind and do what I love to reward myself.

7) Wow, that’s interesting… Maybe share with us what were some of the challenges faced when you first started out, for both business and travelling and how did you overcome them?

When I first started out, I was fortunate enough to get an overwhelming demand for my services. Being new and inexperienced, I took on many jobs and overworking myself. I worked to exhaustion to meet deadlines in order to get results delivered.

Learning from this, I hired someone to assist me in my job.It helped and subsequently, I planned my schedule very carefully to ensure that I don’t take on more than what I can handle.

One challenge I face when travelling are my dogs. As I’m unable to bring them along, I’ve to find someone to care of them for me. Duration of my trips also have to be considered as I am unable to leave them for too long.

8) Where are you planning to travel this year and what’s your main goal for Berdhouse to achieve in 2017?

This year, I have already travelled to Myanmar and Cambodia. Bali and Lombok has been planned and I also aim to visit either New Zealand or Nepal too. As for what I would like Berdhouse to achieve this year, it’s to expand my premises and get someone to assist me in my work so I can increase my capacity.

9) In your own words, what does it mean to “Love the Life You Live and Live the Life You Love”?

In my own words, it means to be thankful and appreciative of what you are blessed with and do what makes you happy.

Greatest Takeaway
Although we’ve been friends for so long, we still learn a great deal from each other. From this interview, I’ve learned that there’s a price to pay for the lifestyle that we desire to live.

There’s always two sides to a coin.

Before reconnecting with Bernard, I envied that he was able to travel so frequently and visit so many nice places on long, extended trips. After this interview with him, I finally understood that there are sacrifices to be made that people don’t see or hear about often.

Thanks Bernard for giving us a sneak peek into the life of a dog trainer and avid traveller. All the best to you and your furry friends 🙂

If you want to stay up to date with Bernard’s upcoming adventures and see nice pictures of his canines, you can follow him on Instagram @asfreeasaberd

Lastly, Bernard did mention that he’s currently looking for dog trainers so if this is something of interest to you, feel free to contact him! I’m sure it’ll be loads of fun 😉


Bernard Lau
Founder of Berdhouse

Bernard Lau Profile PictureBernard is a dog lover that shares a wonderful relationship with his dogs. He wishes that all pet owners are able to have that with their canine friends. Certain pet behavioural issues can sometimes cause a strain in this relationship so he hopes to help educate dog owners on how to prevent or resolve such problems.

As a dog trainer, Bernard sees himself like an educator. He feels a sense of accomplishment whenever there’s progress from his students at the end of the day. He also feels rewarded when owners express their gratitude and sees the relationship between dog and owner improve. Bernard’s hobbies also include fitness and photography.

Berdhouse

Berdhouse LogoFounded in February 2016, Berdhouse is the one stop solution centre for all pet needs.They provide a range of relevant services to enhance the lives of both pets and owners which includes dog training, dog care, and dog grooming. Berdhouse’s mission is to deliver top quality service to clients, giving them a peace of mind while enjoying the convenience and efficiency.

Website: http://www.theberdhouse.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/berdhouse

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Starting a Business During an Economic Recession

17 Feb
Starting a Business During an Economic Recession

KC is one of the first few business associates I’ve met when I started my entrepreneurial journey. We got to know each other through a networking event and it was around that time when he launched his business.

He supported me in many ways when I first started out and I’ve learned a lot from him. Aside from just being a business associate, he’s also a good friend of mine and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. He’s also one of the featured entrepreneurs in my book.

It’s with great honour that I get to introduce him to you today through an interview we did on starting a business during an economic recession. He started his business in the 2008 financial crisis and I’m sure all of us can learn a thing or two from his insights and experiences.

1) So KC, share with our readers who you are and what is it that you do for a living?

Sure! My name is KC and I started my training business in 2008 teaching people how to create and market their websites online. I’ve been an adjunct lecturer in Singapore Polytechnic in the web development area. In addition, I also conducted workshops in NUSS (National University of Singapore Society), CSC (Civil Service Club) and other organisations. Since 2014, I’ve shifted most of my focus to online training. Now, I have twelve online courses with more than 30,000 students enrolled.

2) What were some of the challenges faced when you started your business and how did you overcome them?

During the 2008 economic crisis, most businesses don’t want to spend as much and prefer doing barter trading instead. I started my business doing barter trades to gain exposure and connections.

Looking back, I think the most difficult part is breaking through my own mindset to adopt a business mindset. As I was an engineer before starting my business, I tend to think from an employee’s mindset, not from the employer mindset. In order to be successful and profitable, I have learned the hard way that we have to unlearn the old and relearn the new.

To overcome this challenge, I decided to upgrade my skill, specifically in terms of selling. I realised that if I can’t sell, I will not have any income at the end of each month. I attended a lot of workshops and trainings to practice and learn sales techniques. I also attended networking events and joined BNI (Business Network International) that eventually referred me deals to keep my business profitable.

Regarding mindset, it was hard to shift from an employee to an employer in a matter of months. It took me a long time to realise this. I’ll say that by getting to know business owners and spending more time with them has helped me shift the way I think over the years.

3) All of us know that we’re heading towards an economic recession this year. Will you recommend someone to start a business during this period? Why or why not?

Yes, I will recommend someone to start a business, regardless of good or bad times. I recalled that my mentor Wendy Kwek once told me that if I can make money during bad times, I can definitely make money during good times! However, you might not be able to make money in bad times if you only know how to make money in good times.

I believe starting a business in bad times is a better timing than starting a business in the good times because it will give you maximum opportunity to learn from the beginning. If you can survive the hard times, you’ll definitely do great in your business!

4) What advice do you have for someone who’s planning to start their own business but don’t know where to begin?

For this question, I have two suggestions to make;

First, why do you want to start this business? If your answer is money, then you’ll probably want to hold on to your idea first. Based on my experience over the years, people who focused on money when they started eventually found themselves chasing after all kinds of opportunities when they are in this vast marketplace. Instead, the main reason when you first start a business should be on serving a need or a current gap in the market.

Second, get to know a lot of people who are running their own business. One of the good ways you can do so is to attend networking events. Having a wide network is essential in running a profitable business. You can start by searching up websites such as meetup.com or eventbrite.com for events near your area.

5) Any tips or tricks for those of us who are already in business? 

One tip I have for people who are already in business is to always remember why you are in business. Many people often forget the reason why they started in the first place.

I’ve heard of many people saying that they want freedom so they started their own business but when I see them running from place to place for appointments and getting sick and tired with all the projects, I am puzzled and wonder if they still remembered what they said in the past.

I believe most business owners started out not just for money but for but for the people around them. I recommend existing business owners to spend some time on a regular basis asking themselves if their current business has allowed them to achieve what they wanted in the beginning. If not, they should work toward getting closer to what they want and not further away.

6) What are some of the plans you intend to achieve for yourself and your company in 2017?

For my main training business, I am content that it’s performing well in the online market. I have students signing up my courses every day through Udemy.

This year, I’ll be working on a new business called WebBuddy that I’ve started with my wife Rachael. We help small businesses maintain their websites and our plan is to actively reach out to them. From our knowledge, we realised that some are really frustrated over their websites and we hope to eliminate their frustrations so they can focus on other important parts of their business.

For myself, I’ve been taking a part-time course on Chinese Dietician Traditional Medicine in Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It’s been my interest to learn how to use Chinese herbs and natural food to improve our body’s immune system. This year, I’m not only going to learn but also to put into practice by cooking some meals for my family.

7) In your own words, what does it mean to “Love the Life You Live and Live the Life You Love”?

I believe most of us have full control over our own lives. We must design our lives to suit ourselves. By first planning and designing our lives, we can live the life we love.

For example, before I started my business in 2008, I visualised myself doing what I want to do every day. It’s the lifestyle that I wanted to pursue, not the money. Today, I’m content that I’m living the lifestyle I envisioned back then.

For some people, if you really have no choice or options in life, what you can do is to love your current life. Since you can’t have the life you want, might as well change your mindset and love your life regardless of how it is now. I can assure you that once you start to love every moment of your life, it will start to change for the better.

Greatest Takeaway
From this interview, I’ve learned that anyone can still start a business regardless of the current economic situation. What’s more important is to have the correct mindset and the discipline to constantly remind ourselves why we started doing business in the first place.

Thanks KC for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview! I’m sure all of us have gained valuable knowledge from what you’ve shared. I wish you and Rachael success in all that you do, especially with the new venture both of you are working on. Have an amazing year ahead! 😀


KC Tan
Founder, WebSprout Academy Pte Ltd

KC Tan Profile Picture

During his university days at NTU, KC challenged himself to build an online game from scratch through self-learning – an important milestone that he himself did not imagine would eventually lead him to his business today – WebSprout Academy. KC successfully created his own game called Absolute III in 2005, which attracted hundreds of regular players from the United States. Much to his surprise one day, KC received an email from a company that offered to pay him for advertising space in his game! This got KC excited about the tremendous potential of internet business and inspired him to explore the unlimited possibilities of generating income through the Internet.

Within a year of research and learning, KC mastered the techniques of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and successfully helped several small businesses to rank their websites on the first page of Google and Yahoo without them having to pay for advertising. This sparked an idea in KC that he could use his knowledge and skills to provide a valuable service in the marketplace! With this in mind, KC started his first business – WebSprout Consulting – in 2008, specialising in providing web development and SEO services for his clients.

In the course of running his business, KC discovered his growing passion in training and endeavoured to bring his knowledge to more people, helping them take their first step in internet entrepreneurship. He went on to incorporate his company, marrying his interest in training with the years of invaluable experience that he had accumulated in internet business.

Today, WebSprout Academy Pte Ltd is a company that provides WordPress (website creation) and SEO training to business owners, sales professionals and individuals who want to generate an income online. KC personally trained more than a thousand individuals and professionals in internet business and SEO at institutions and organisations including Singapore Polytechnic, National University of Singapore Society (NUSS), ITE, Civil Service Club, Social Enterprise Association, Compact Singapore and Singapore Manufacturers’ Federation. He conducts specialised training for property agent teams from Knight Frank and PropNex as well.

KC is also one of the few trainers in Singapore who is certified by Google in the area of Google Analytics. He is proficient in helping companies to enhance and improve their websites so that they can achieve greater sales conversion online.

On a personal note, KC enjoys reading self-development books and watching inspirational movies. He is a nature-lover and finds joy in taking nature walks and spending quality time with his lovely wife, Rachael. In his own free time, he also likes to go jogging and enjoys a good game of badminton with his friends – one of his favourite sports since his secondary school days.

Together with his team of trainers and associates, KC’s life mission is to bring happiness to people by teaching them a way to make a living through the Internet!Websprout Academy Logo

WebSprout Academy Pte Ltd specialises in providing Internet Marketing training to the public and corporate sector. Their aim is to educate and help people achieve an alternative source of income in this changing economy.

Core Training Modules:

  • Website Creation
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Google Analytics
  • Email Relationship Marketing
  • Mobile Apps Development
  • Internet Business Entrepreneurship

Some of the Organisations Trained:

  • Singapore Polytechnic
  • National University of Singapore Society (NUSS)
  • Social Enterprise Association
  • Compact Singapore
  • Singapore Manufacturers’ Federation
  • Knight Frank Property
  • PropNex

Website: http://www.websproutconsulting.com
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/websproutacademy/

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

A 938LIVE Radio Interview: The Beginning of an Entrepreneur’s Journey

7 Feb
The Beginning of an Entrepreneur's Journey

Had the privilege of being on 938LIVE for a radio interview with Keith de Souza, sharing on his show about the beginning of an entrepreneur’s journey.

Joining me is Lujian and Aurora, two of my business associates I brought along to share their journey as well.

Lujian is a first year student at a local Polytechnic and the President of Alp while Aurora just left the corporate world to pursue starting her very own Social Enterprise.

From this radio interview, I hope you can gain some insights to what it’s like starting out 🙂

 

Keith de Souza: Home base coming up in just a little while, we delve into the realm of non-profits and find out why social entrepreneurs are taking the road less travelled.

It’s coming up in about two minutes and these are all Singapore created, originated and hopefully, like we say, non-profits not to make profits but they can, and they do! So we’re going to find out from three social entrepreneurs this morning how they got into the world of non-profits. Stay with us, up in two minutes.

(Traffic Update and Commercials)

Keith de Souza: This is home base on 938 LIVE and we are speaking with three social entrepreneurs this morning about their foray into the world of non-profits; why did they choose the road less travelled in this day and age?

Joining us this morning is Ranford Neo, Founder of Storyaire. We are also joined by Lujian, he is the founder of Alp and we’ve got a very lovely lady, Aurora Kuang. She is in the process of starting her own Social Enterprise. We’re going to find out what that is… We’ve got a snippet, environmental! But let’s speak with Ranford. Ranford, Lujian and Aurora, a very good morning….

All: Good morning Keith!

Keith de Souza: Let’s talk about Storyaire first.

Ranford Neo: Sure. First of all, I want to thank you so much for having me back on your show again, it’s really great.

Keith de Souza: It’s my pleasure.

Ranford Neo: Storyaire came about through this idea that I actually published my book about three to four years ago…

Keith de Souza: At the age of 21?

Ranford Neo: Yeah, that’s right! Up till today people still ask me, “Ranford, why did you publish your book? What inspired you to do that?” And I share with them it’s because at that time, I was really passionate about entrepreneurship.

So I said, “Hey, why not kill two birds with one stone?” Write a book about it and I get to learn about entrepreneurship. At the same time, boost my credibility as a published author. That’s where it all came about.

Storytelling – What makes us unique as humans is our ability to tell stories and what better way to communicate and connect with each other than telling a story? I mean, all of us enjoy listening to a good story now and then, right?

Keith de Souza: Indeed. So, I have to ask you… You have been in this business for a while right now, are you making money or not?

Ranford Neo: I’m still starting out. Making money… Usually my strategy is, and I don’t mind sharing with your listeners an insider tip and it’s this thing called, making money with no money.

So how do you actually do that? How do you actually make money with no money? It’s usually though this thing called sponsorships; get people to come in to support you first. Maybe through preorders and then from there, develop your idea.

Keith de Souza: So isn’t it difficult? Making money with no money? When you are starting out with no track record, how do you do something like that?

Ranford Neo: That’s a very good question and I get that question all the time. I think it’s about this thing called testing your idea. People always say, “Ready, Aim, Fire” but I always believe you have to, “Ready, Fire, Aim”. Put yourself out there, throw your ideas out there and don’t be afraid of people rejecting you, giving you the “No’s” because it refines your ideas.

I believe that people always put their money where their mouth is. I don’t mean to be crude but when they actually listen to your idea and believe in what you are doing, they will definitely pay you first. This is the concept of “Sell First, Buy Later” that has worked perfect for me.

Keith de Souza: You know what’s very inspiring this morning is that all of you are extremely young, taking the road less travelled and willing to take the risk. Let’s speak with Lujian. Lujian is the President of Alp, it’s an investment portal I believe, correct me if I’m wrong Lujian.

Lujian: It’s not really a portal it’s a leaning platform for us to share information with the public and our readers. Information ranging from basic investment knowledge to a more in depth analysis in terms of the stock market; companies that we feel are worth buying and investing in.

We wanted to change the conventional way of how education is being carried out and how people learn about investment. Usually, you go for a one-time seminar or courses…

Keith de Souza: and someone hooks you in…

Lujian: Yup… and the learning stops there. So what we feel is that learning is a journey, not a destination. We want to grow together with our readers. We really look to teach readers, people who have no idea about investment at all. Start from the basics and really bring our readers along as we progress and grow with them.

Keith de Souza: I’ve seen your website, lots of sponsorship on it as well but when we talk about information, why did you decide to go on the investment information route, given the fact that we are bombarded on a daily basis by information? Do you sieve out the wheat from the chaff, more or less?

Lujian: Yes. How we actually started was because a group of us came together and we really felt that we should start investing at a young age but realised that a common problem was that we don’t have a reliable source of information.

That’s when we decided to try it out ourselves. We actually went on to invest on our own, to really test out our theories. We look into the stock market, analyse on companies that we felt are worth buying. All the report and analysis that are created and published by us are all made by us.

Based on our last year’s record, we actually invested on our own, about six stocks and we have not made a lost so far. That’s why we felt that we want to share this information with everyone so everyone can have a better understanding in terms of which companies are worth buying.

Keith de Souza: We want to find out about your investment strategies in just a moment but let’s speak with Aurora Kuang. Aurora, you are the baby in all of this, you’re taking fledging steps into Social Entrepreneurship. What motivated that decision and what’s the progress?

Aurora Kuang: I’ve actually already worked for a few years, changing from manufacturing to healthcare and the education industry. Every switch, every time I will always ask a common question, “What is the meaning of the job? What impact can I bring, what kind of differences can I bring to others?” It comes to a point where I myself, am also a regular volunteer, both in Singapore and Malaysia.

It exposed me a lot to the outside world and I start to realise that there’s a lot that can be done, both in terms of environment and to the community, to the urban poor including the special needs and the handicapped.

As per last year, I think Stephen Hawkings has been repeatedly stating that as there is further progress in science and technology, it brings new ways that things can go wrong. Right now, we’re actually in a critical moment whereby we have technology that can destroy the planet that we live in without the ability and the capability to escape.

I felt that everyone has a part to play, no matter how small it is. Therefore, I decided that I want to start a Social Enterprise, involving in both environmental; bringing in products and services that will integrate into people’s lifestyle, becomes a good habit and at the same time, create opportunities for the urban poor.

Keith de Souza: So have you got a company up and running already or is it still in the progress?

Aurora Kuang: It’s still in the progress. My team and I thought of a name for the company known as Avoca, which is Evoke, Provoke and Advocate. It kind of combines together to create this name. It’s not finalised yet so we are open to ideas to make it even better. We are also open to ideas to what people wish to see and to be done.

Keith de Souza: So what would the business plan be and who would you be marketing to? If you’re going to make lifestyle, if I were to adopt it, why and how?

Aurora Kuang: Any environmental products like plates and cups actually…

Keith de Souza: So no paper plates, no plastics plates, no Styrofoam?!

Aurora Kuang: Yes, yes! We’re actually looking into that and something that’s biodegradable…

Keith de Souza: And of course this would be marketed not only to Singaporeans because Singaporeans we don’t bury our trash, we burn it!

Aurora Kuang: That is actually another issue because by burning, we are increasing carbon dioxide level. Worldwide right now, we are having the climate change issue, global warming issue… Carbon dioxide level is still constantly increasing. By actually burning, we are still “contributing” in that sense.

Keith de Souza: Our number is 66911938 if you want to get in on the conversation. We’re talking with three social entrepreneurs this morning. Ranford Neo, the man behind Storyaire, we are also speaking with Lujian, he is the President of Alp. They are providing investors with little or no knowledge the way and means in order to get started. Lujian, do you charge for your services?

Lujian: So as of now we don’t because we don’t want people to have the barrier with our readers thinking if we are reliable, whether our source of information is credible. We want to reach out to as many people as possible with this information on starting to invest early, how to invest and what are ways and means around it.

We really don’t want charge and put that barrier between ourselves and our readers. We want to release information that are accurate as well as free to the general public.

Keith de Souza: So are you still just tracking six companies?

Lujian: That was last year. We have some other plans for this year. We are also looking to diversify ourselves towards more of the business connections.

Keith de Souza: What would differentiate your portal from say, other proprietary “value-investor portals”? Because everyone is using this term now, “value investing” these days and you know, “Invest for the long-term, invest in the value of the company…” How different is your company?

Lujian: Okay. First of all, I would say that we are not aiming to earn from our readers so in that sense, we don’t gain anything in terms of giving you the wrong information. The second thing is that whatever we say on our Facebook and website, we actually really go on and do ourselves so we actually try it out.

Keith de Souza: So you do first and then report on it?

Lujian: Sometimes it like that, sometimes we do it simultaneously. That gives our readers a chance to know that the people who are giving the information are doing it as well. We’re taking the risk at the same time when we tell our readers to take the risk.

Ranford Neo: Keith, may I jump in? So just to add on, because I personally know the founder of Alp, I think the big picture… I was very drawn in by their vision, about connecting business, inspiring people. So aside from just an investment portal, where people get all the news and updates, which is very common place, especially for the Singapore market, theirs is about connecting. There’s an entrepreneurship arm, an investment arm. At the end of the day, it’s about connecting people in South East Asia.

For me, I see them as the next, you know, Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, all rolled into one company! So I was like “Wow, watch out for these guys man, the young guys… They are going to be the next Mark Zuckerbergs of Asia!”

Keith de Souza: Fingers crossed, they might even get bought out and they can live on a yacht somewhere. Speaking about social entrepreneurship this morning with Ranford Neo, Ranford is the man behind Storyaire. Lujian is the president of Alp and Aurora Kuang, in the process of starting an environmental related business.

We’ll come back, talk to Ranford, Lujian and Aurora in just a moment after an update of what’s happening in the world and on the roads of Singapore. Stay with us.

(News and Traffic Update)

Keith de Souza: Back into home base on 938LIVE speaking this morning with social entrepreneurs Ranford Neo, the man behind Storyaire, Lujian, he is the President of Alp and Aurora Kuang is in the process of starting all of this. Aurora, can I ask you why you decided to go the road less travelled… What do your parents have to say about all this?

Aurora Kuang: Because it’s a road less travelled and is pretty unconventional so I would say that emotional support is also very important from family and friends. They didn’t stop me from doing it, especially because I have been regularly volunteering, they already saw that I’m a person that looks into the meaning and making a difference.

Keith de Souza: What did mum and dad have to say, Lujian?

Lujian: As I’m only a poly student, I didn’t dare to tell them at first and it was only some time when they asked me where am I going and what are you so busy with that I realised I can’t keep this from them anymore.

I actually told them and surprisingly, they are very supportive because they think that pursuing what you want to do, making that small little difference, following our dream and creating that difference with just your own effort, it’s actually a good thing to do, especially people who are at my age. They really want to support me and get me going with what I’m doing.

Keith de Souza: I’ve been ignoring Ranford, I apologise…

Ranford Neo: No worries Keith, the limelight is on the both of them today!

Keith de Souza: Indeed. Well, Ranford was in last week, he was a volunteer with Craftpreneurs. And let’s talk, was it a success last week?

Ranford Neo: Oh yes, it was great! I mean, thanks so much for having us. We had Dr Maliki, a lion dance and lots of lots of nice pictures. It was really great, we even had The Straits Times, they picked up the story and the Malay papers, they also picked up the story and did a feature.

Keith de Souza: So let’s talk about Storyaire. If someone tells you “I want to make a business out of storytelling”, did anyone say, “Pardon my colloquialism, manner?”

Ranford Neo: I haven’t got that question yet but usually I’m the one who tell them this. I’d say “Okay, that’s the reason why I actually launch my personal website and Facebook page last month because I’m going to be the human guinea pig of what I’m going to teach.”

So whatever that I’m going teach in the future; how do you craft your story; to build your individual brand or cooperate brand, I’ll be the one who make all the mistakes and share with you what works and what doesn’t work.

Keith de Souza: So, would I be wrong to say, basically your business is also a public speaking platform?

 Ranford Neo: That’s right. It’s more about getting to share the message that means the most to you; the message that’s closest to your heart to your audience. At the same time, bring the people you want to work with together and repel the people you don’t want to work with. So that’s the power of a story!

Keith de Souza: They say, opposite attract. Is that what you are doing, or are you trying to get rid of the opposites?

 Ranford Neo: Get rid? I would say people that you don’t want to work with. I don’t know, actually I’m not sure. It’s more like who you can work with, the chemistry, who can resonate with the message.

I think that is what storytelling is all about. I think in this information age, people are no longer fighting for information acquisition but are facing information overload. So how do you sort out all this information? By telling your story and capturing the hearts of your audience.

Keith de Souza: Where did you draw your inspiration from? Is it from daily life, on how people say, “I’ve got a bunch of employees who are unmotivated and how do I get to get rid of all of them? Or do I start a fire under their chairs?”

Ranford Neo: I think where do I get my inspiration from is daily life, that’s one. At the same time, I’m probably more creative by nature so I usually see things from a different perspective.

So how do I inspire, coming back to your question, to inspire people who are unmotivated? Two ways; at the end of the day, I believe in this philosophy called “live and let live”. So I do my best and of course, you have to do the rest. I do my best to be myself and the best version of myself, I’m also human, but at the end of the day, the ball is back in your courts man, it’s your life, you have to face your own consequences.

Keith de Souza: Indeed. I’m being a bit remiss talking about Alp and of course with Aurora Kuang as well. Lujian, their company vision is to Connect Businesses and Inspire People. They have a website, it is thealpnews.com. They also have a facebook page, head over to facebook and search “Alp Corporation”.

Aurora has Facebook as well, all you have to do is search “Aurora Kuang”. We want to find out from Aurora what challenges have you faced so far? What obstacles have been put in your way? Acceptance, perhaps?

Aurora Kuang: Yes, firstly it’s about acceptance and secondly, we are also looking into an economic downturn period. In terms of financial support, funding are kind of challenging at this moment. Thirdly, we are looking into a dual impact social enterprise right now. Other than making it sustainable, we also have to ensure that the social needs are met. Next we have to look into the expandability and scalability.

Keith de Souza: What about Aurora’s needs? To live, to eat, you know, to pay the rent… Pay the mobile phone bill?!

Aurora Kuang: I guess that will have to be worked out along the way…

Keith de Souza: I mean, I think you are a very brave lady to take the foray into something like this. How long do you think before you can be set and up and running and how long are you going to tap on your own savings?

Aurora Kuang: Maybe about a year?

Keith de Souza: Are you getting outside help for the business at the moment?

Aurora Kuang: Currently, I’m looking into writing in for grants because the government does have some schemes to help social enterprise to get the startup running, especially if they meet social needs.

Keith de Souza: Same question to you Lujian, putting food on the table, how difficult has that been thus far?

Lujian: We have been going on for about almost two years now. The initial phase was pretty difficult for us in terms of how do we sustain ourselves. There are costs everywhere. We started to diversify ourselves and find more sponsorships and other ways to get up and running.

Keith de Souza: A question for all of you, have you ever tried crowd funding?

 Ranford Neo: Crowd funding? I did that for my book. Actually not really crowd funding, this is what we call crowd sourcing. Preorders, sponsorships… It works. But I think in terms of crowd funding, your question is more towards something like a kick-starter. For me personally, no. I’m not too sure about the both of them.

Keith de Souza: We would like to talk with you a whole lot more but I don’t know where the time has gone… If you want more information on Alp, all you have to do is to hit Lujian up at “Alp Corp” at facebook.com, their website is thealpnews.com, lots of investor news and of course if you want to take part in their activities, you can do so.

You can search for Aurora on facebook as well and see if her vision and yours match, perhaps you can help her on her way. Ranford, the man behind Storyaire, wish you all the best, you seem to be doing great at the moment.

Ranford Neo: Your listeners can find me at my website, ranfordneo.com…

Keith de Souza: And of course if you can’t find Ranford then just go to Craftpreneurs at Tanjong Katong, OneKM and knock on the door and say, “I want to find Ranford!”

We are out of time this morning for home base I’m Keith de Souza. Ranford, Lujian and Aurora, thank you so much for making it in, hope you come back and talk to us again. Aurora, come back and talk to us when everything up and running!

All: Thank you Keith!

Keith de Souza: This is home base at 938LIVE, I’m Keith de Souza.

(End of Radio Interview)

There you have it, the beginning of an entrepreneur’s journey 😉

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Three Lessons Learned After Leaving the Financial Industry

26 Jan
Three Lessons Learned After Leaving the Financial Industry

It’s a bittersweet feeling to be writing my letter of resignation so early on in the year and a couple of days before Chinese New Year.

Some will know that I’ve been a financial adviser for the past three years. I embarked on this journey immediately after I finished national service and completed writing my book. The reason why I entered this industry was because I was looking for a platform to apply the knowledge I’ve written on entrepreneurship.

This decision raised many eyebrows, mainly because they didn’t understand why I did so. Many of them asked, “Ranford, I thought you are an entrepreneur? Didn’t you just write a book about entrepreneurship? Why did you choose to work for a company as a financial adviser?”

As a young adult just entering into the working world, I was idealistic, full of zest for life and had huge dreams and aspirations on what I could have done with my newfound knowledge. At one point, I even had the idea of “revolutionising” the industry! I was excited about what I intend to accomplish so what people said fell on deaf ears.

Fast forward to today, the critics and sceptics were right and I was wrong. When I took a close hard look at my job scope, I am just an insurance salesman for a huge multinational company.

I have to admit, the cold hard truth hurts.

Do I see this as a failure? Definitely yes.

But throughout this process, I’ve learned a lot and below are three of the greatest takeaways I’ve gained after leaving the financial industry:

#1: The Importance of Financial Planning

As the famous adage goes, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and this is the same for our finances.

Many of us put in the time and effort to plan for our career, family, relationships, goals and dreams in life but few actually sit down and look into personal financial planning.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing, like a taboo to talk about money over the dinner table. Or probably we weren’t brought up being taught about financial literacy.

Whatever the reason may be, financial planning is the cornerstone in which we build the rest of our lives upon. Being equipped with the skill set of helping others plan their finances over the years has taught me a thing or two about planning for mine as well.

#2: Death is the Greatest Equaliser

“Nothing is certain in life except for one thing, that all of us will die one day”. As blunt or crude as it sounds, this is one of the many facts in life.

Death is the greatest equaliser and helps put things into perspective. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your background is or where you come from, all of us will eventually reach the same destination.

This gives me confidence when I speak, knowing that I don’t have to feel inferior to someone else. It also keeps my ego in check and reminds me that all of us are equal in the eyes of nature.

#3: Focus on What’s Most Important to You

As a life insurance salesman, talking about death to prospects and clients on a daily basis got me thinking on the things that matter most to me in life.

“If today were my last day here on this earth, will I die a happy man?”

“If I only had three months to live, will I be doing what I am doing today?”

I’m not sure if you can relate but as I grow older, I become more self conscious about how people see me, what I’m expected to do and achieve at my age, what society expects of me etc.. and the list goes on. Self doubt slowly creeps in and I always think twice, if not even three times before doing anything.

However, the greatest fear that I have is not of failure but to come to the end of my life realising that I haven’t truly lived. This was the main epiphany that gave me the final push to put myself out there and give it my all again.

Moving forward, I intend to pick up from where I left off three years ago, keeping in mind what I’ve learned through this journey as important life lessons.

For those of you who are still in this profession, you have my upmost respect. I hope this article can give you some conversational pointers with your prospects and clients.

I’d like to end off with a quote from Mark Twain that says,

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

In the busyness of life, don’t get caught up with things that are urgent and overlook what is truly important to you.

Oftentimes, you won’t regret the things you’ve done but will regret the things you didn’t do when you had the chance.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

The Entrepreneur Checklist for Beginners

25 Jan
The Entrepreneur Checklist for Beginners

Are you looking to start something of your own but don’t know where to begin? This article was specially written for you so you can now have a basic framework to get the ball rolling, take immediate action and generate instant results.

At the end of reading this article, you’ll be able to:

#1: Have a clear definition of what entrepreneurship means to you

#2: Uncover the most compelling reason behind your pursuit of entrepreneurship

#3: Learn how to identify your potential customers

#4: Understand their pain and position yourself as an ideal solution provider

#5: Make your potential customers choose you over your competition

Below are some testimonials on what others have to say after reading this article:Deborah Torres Patel, Director of Expressing You Pte LtdThe Entrepreneur Checklist for Beginners highlights essential questions every new entrepreneur must answer when starting a business.” – Deborah Torres Patel, Director of Expressing You Pte Ltd

Kenny Chia, Co-founder of The Little Snowball (TLS)“This article is simple, concise, and practical for the budding entrepreneur. Ranford has been an inspiration to me in my own journey as an entrepreneur and I am sure he will be one to you as well.” – Kenny Chia, Co-founder of The Little Snowball (TLS)

KC Tan, Founder of WebBuddy“Young and courageous, this was what came to my mind years ago when I met him during a BNI event. I find Ranford creative and open to explore various types of channels for marketing a business.  I have also invited Ranford to my company, WebSprout Academy to conduct training for my trainers and coaches. It was eye and mind-opening. I highly recommend Ranford’s services. Thank you, Ranford!”  – KC Tan, Founder of WebBuddy

I’m excited to share with you what I know so if this is something of interest to you, click here to subscribe and download this article today!

I’ll see you on the other side 😉

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

6 Steps to Daily Successful Living

25 Jan
6 Steps to Daily Successful Living Article

If you want to learn how to be happy, successful and live a meaningful life all at the same time, 6 Steps to Daily Successful Living will definitely be a good read for you.

The reason why I wrote this article is because I came to realise during my entrepreneurial pursuit that it’s not an easy task. There are ups and downs, breakdowns and breakthroughs and a flurry of emotions that come with it. It almost feels like a never-ending emotional roller coaster ride.

In order to help myself smoothen out this curve and keep a clear mind to focus on accomplishing the things that matter the most, I’ve figured out six simple steps that I personally use on a daily basis that works. It’s comes in handy, especially on my “rough days”.

After years of trial and error, reading countless self-help books and attending numerous personal development seminars, this formula has helped me overcome various challenges, not only in business and entrepreneurship but life in general as well. Through this process, I’ve learned how to be happier, live a purpose-filled life and have a new outlook to an authentic definition of what success truly means to me.

If you know me personally, you’ll know that I am someone who loves to share what I know and I’m more than happy to provide you with some insights to my inner thoughts and hopefully, it’ll help you in the course of your entrepreneurial journey or whatever you’re going through in life right now.

Although it’ll only take you about five to ten minutes to complete reading this article, I urge you to try out what you’ve just read to experience for yourself the magic it can create. It’s not rocket science – just a simple process practiced daily.

Success is never a destination but a journey all of us must take. I’m excited to share with you this information so if this is something of interest to you, click here to subscribe and download this article today!

I’ll see you on the other side 😉

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Welcome to the Drawing Board of My Life!

1 Dec
Love the Life You Live, Live the Life You Love

Hi there!

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Ranford and I’m author of the book, The Instant Entrepreneur, 10 Surefire Strategies to Guarantee Your Startup’s Success. I’m an aspiring lifestyle entrepreneur and during my free time, I love talking to my dog.

For those of you who DO know me, you know that I am doing A LOT of things. So many that I’m pretty sure you’ve lost track. You must be thinking, “What’s Ranford up to this time??”

Don’t worry, I feel you. Sometimes I ask myself that question too. HAHA

Anyway, welcome to the drawing board of my life, ranfordneo.com. This will be the place where I document the journey of my entrepreneurial pursuit; the good, the bad and the ugly.

At the same time, I’ll share with you what were some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned, mistakes I’ve made along the way and what potential pitfalls to avoid.

It’s been exactly two years since I’ve published my book and it took me quite a while to really think about what I wanted to do. I had to ask myself hard questions; about life, about meaning, about purpose and about contribution.

I’ve finally found a quote that resonates with me the most and it’s by Bob Marley that says,

Love the Life You Live, Live the Life You Love (Square)
I’m an Idealist, I enjoy the Entrepreneurship journey, Family is most important to me, I want to Travel more, Purpose means everything, Passion is what keeps me going and giving back through Philanthropy is my ultimate goal in life.

Watch this 30 second video to get a complete summary of what I stand for and intend to accomplish during my lifetime.

Anyway, enough about me. The main reason why I started this website is because of you.

All of us have unique gifts and talents that were meant to be shared with this world. I feel that I’ll be doing you and the people around me a disservice if I chose to withhold what I know, what I’ve learned and who I am as a person. It took me a long time to make this decision to put myself out there again and give it my all.

I’m an overly optimistic person by nature but if you’ve been around long enough, you know that the world can be quite a cruel place. Sometimes life just doesn’t go the way you want it to. Sometimes there are people who will pull you down and rip you up into pieces. Sometimes life just happens.

But courage is not the absence of fear, it’s acting in spite of it. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.

That’s why I’ve decided to take the plunge and share with you my journey in hopes of one day, inspiring you to do the same too 🙂

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, subscribe here so you can continue watching/reading the Chronicles of Narnia Ranford and not miss a single episode ever again. (Btw, I’ve also got some exclusive articles just for you if you’ve opted-in. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading it.. Take it as an early Christmas present from me to you 😉 )

If you’re not ready to take our relationship to THAT level just yet, no worries! We can go slow by staying in touch though social media first. I’m most active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn so let’s get connected there and feel free to say “Hello!”.

I’m thinking of writing my next book so if there’s any topic that interest you or something that you really, really, REALLY want to learn about, let me know in the comments section below or drop me a message via any of the social media platforms.

I’ll go out there, brave though the storms, smash through brick walls and sail the seven seas just to learn all that I can about it and share it back here with you (In other words, make a few phone calls and ask my good friend Google and let you know my thoughts on it 😛 )

That’s all for my first article and fingers crossed that it’ll not be my last! I always struggle with finishing what I start. Let’s just hope that the drawing board of my life doesn’t end abruptly, arrgh. *makes a short prayer*

P.S: To all the Grammar Nazis out there, I think faster than I speak and I speak faster than I write or type. I’m trying out this new conversational style of writing so I’m pretty sure I’ve violated like 1000 grammar and sentence structure rules. But I kinda like this style because I can hear my words speak to me with my voice (which is damn cool!!).

I’m always open to learn and improve but please be gentle with your critique, will you? You’re called a “Nazi” for a reason. I’m still a work in progress and I’ll be practicing hard to be better. Promise I’ll use Grammarly to do my spell checks, ok? HAHA

Cheers!

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Hello World!

1 Dec

Hi there!

My name is Ranford and I am passionate about life.

I believe that every one should live to the fullest potential, share their unique gifts and talents to help others and make this world a better place.

I enjoy learning and growing as a person and the best way to do so is through entrepreneurship and humanitarian work.

If you share the same values as I do, let’s get in touch and see how we can work together to create a better future for ourselves and the people around us.

I look forward to hear from you soon 😉

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone