Author Archives: Marcus Neo
Entrepreneurial land is a crazy world with a myriad of occurrences.
I remembered reading Steve Jobs biography and Tim Ferris’s 4 Hour Work Week and instantly decided I was going to drop out of accounting school (which I hated and wasn’t good at) to start a business.
I tinkled around with a website and wrote blog articles for a year straight before giving up and heading back to University to complete my Diploma. That’s at 22 years of age. I can’t imagine that I spent an entire year alone, writing articles like this one, not making any revenue.
That’s how I started.
Entrepreneurship and the Corporate World
It’s amazing to see new start up founders or new entrepreneurs make similar mistakes as I did. The ones I personally of presently have left a corporate job or are sick of the current one and took a nose dive into business.
Suddenly without a framework or a superior directing you to work, you’re left on your own and one can find yourself not allocating the right things to do in your day.
It’s arguable easier when you have a manager or friends alongside you guiding you and telling you what to do. It’s much harder when you’re alone and have no one really holding you accountable.
In the world of entrepreneurship, business degrees and previous work experience don’t mean anything.
Enter The Wantrapreneur Land
1 year of inaction was enough to convince me that I wasn’t going to be able to do it alone. The next rational thing to do was to get help right, learn from someone.
You then enter the seminar, course buying/ selling land by hungry gurus waiting to snatch cash out of your pocket.
I spent the next couple of years playing around with grey hat SEO strategies (Google my name + SEO review) and you’ll see an honest review on the SEO industry in Singapore. That review almost cost me a law suit but it’s well worth it.
I eventually got my first couple of paying clients from a dating consulting site I built using grey hat SEO strategies (that I disagree with up till today due to it’s lack of a long term scalability).
I took the money and reinvested into other business programs such as Zero To Launch that eventually landed me a marketing job at DrWealth.Com.
I was testing out Facebook Ads during my full time employment on the dating consulting company and its potential for scalability. Admittedly, I was overconfident in it and made a risky move of quitting my job before a steady proven model was in place. Even though I managed to scramble back up in arguable a short period of time, it was quite a painful process.
That’s another story for another day.
Talk is Cheap, Let Behavior Speak
I used to partake in a mastermind where I stressed that the most important thing in business is net margins and free cash flow. One should be allocating time and capital in right way in business to produce net margins and free cash flow.
I experienced a couple of negative feedbacks ranging from saying I was too profit driven.
Needless to say I stopped attending. Not merely because of the negative feedback but I also fundamentally disagreed with many of their ideas. I also felt most of them aren’t really entrepreneurs and not treating business seriously enough. You add in a couple of last minute cancellations and showing up late, I was finished.
Sometimes I hear a business owner with a 6–7 men team is super proud to have hit ‘5 figures a month’ in their business and are looking to ‘scale their team.’
Quick Math tells you that they are bull shitting themselves (or you).
10K in revenue to feed a team of 6 is barely enough. You do the Math, assuming you net 70% (which is giving you WAY TOO much leeway), that’s a net margin of $7000 to be split amongst a team of 6. That’s around $1.2k per person.
This is why I never believed in a big team and always preferring working alone, or only with the truly skilled and dedicated.
Revenue, Profits and Cash flow
These days I can’t stress enough that free cash flow is the most important to any business (or any Facebook Advertising campaign), followed by net profit and then revenue.
In the crazy world of business, whilst everyone else is posturing, the best thing to do is to keep a grounded profile and let revenue and profits do the talking.
I’ve met business owners who are funded and backed by investors that are almost always posturing or attempting to build an image that they are mega successful.
Thanks to the mini Charlie Munger on my shoulder (stealing a line from Kevin O Leary), I fundamentally know that paper valuations, financial projections and posturing mean nothing.
I kept my overheads super low by operating out of a furniture showroom owned by my Uncle for the first 5–6 years whilst getting my hands wet in business.
I hedged my risks by working for a couple of companies from SMEs to start ups whilst attending University and see where I fit in the business world.
From day one, I didn’t really buy the idea of a grand business idea and focused on skillsets such as SEO, copywriting, basic web design, sales and Facebook Ads (most recently) so I’m confident on how to acquire clients in almost any industry.
Grounded Strategies, Tactics and Growth
There are many mistakes I made as an entrepreneur through the years.
Firstly, it’s not honing my bullshit meter. Some of the programs I bought didn’t align with my core values and I kind of hate the fact that I wasn’t smart enough to detect the bullshit behind them.
I’m not against purchasing programs from coaches and have unfortunately paid more than $18000 of my own money in coaching and courses, of which some I didn’t apply (due to moral ethical issues and some effectiveness reasons).
I regretted taking advice and looking up to the wrong people. One of them being a CEO of a multi million dollar start up. The 2–3 months of time and effort into capital raising (as he proposed) could have been invested back into growing the business. That’s a tough lesson learned.
However, as all mistakes made, we all become a little less wrong in our process. I’m a lot sharper than I was when I started out, and we’ll see how growing a dating consulting company in Singapore plays out.