If you asked me 5 years ago where I see myself in 5 years, I would never say that I would live in Bangkok teaching English and starting a cosmetic Ecommerce business. Nor would I have guessed that I would pack my bags to study and live in Israel for 1 year, trek through Europe on a caravan, or simplify my wardrobe to 4 shoes and a handful of shirts and dresses (I used to have such a beautiful wardrobe!)
Never would have imagined this life, but I knew that I would travel the world and making a difference in people's lives. But to live my dreams would come at a cost of delayed gratification, living humbly before "making it big," and to never stop learning. When I started on my entrepreneurial journey, I received good and bad advice. The worst advice that I've ever gotten was "Just do it" or I'm sure many have read "Do what you love! and the money will follow!" Complete bullshit! The best advice or wisdom I read was "Closed mouths don't get fed" so ask for help, and I do!
From my experience this is what I learn what I need to build an idea to a profitable business (not necessarily in order):
1. Money and capital: seed funding, venture capitalist, angel investor(s), or at sizeable savings or income
2. A talented and dedicated team, mentors, and advisors
3. A diverse professional and personal network
4. Time or flexible work schedule
5. Know how to sell and market your product (especially if you want to "disrupt" your market)
6. Know what customers want (not what you think they want) and give it to them
7. Attitude: be yourself, confident, humble, assertive, and don't be afraid to ask for help (you do not know everything, that is okay, don't be hubris or an asshole/jerk)
8. Location, location, location
9. Take care of yourself: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and maintain friendships and family relations
10. Know when to pivot, know when to be stubborn, and know when to admit an idea just doesn't work
The best ideas can go unnoticed or stolen because an entrepreneur does not have at least half of these core necessities to turn their idea or hobby into a profitable business. I've read many stories of startups that did have a lot of money, talented team, and a global network and connections, but still failed, i.e. Better Place, that had nearly $1 billion in funding, great idea to disrupt the automotive industry and create cheap electric cars, and had a global network and a great team. However, they failed because they were disconnected from their potential customers, hubris CEO, and many other things. Another example is Nasty Gal, amazing startup story of Sophia Amoruso who started selling vintage clothes on eBay back in 2006 and built it organically from the ground up with a loyal and niche customer base. I read her book #Girl Boss and was inspired, here is a female entrepreneur that "made it" and is sharing her humble story and advice! A few months ago I read that Nasty Gal is filing forbankruptcy and has to restructure the business (in fact she stepped down as CEO in 2015). To sum up what happened, she abandoned her niche customer base and gave into the interests of shareholders, accepted too much money and pressure to expand (yes there is such thing!), and attitude (yes sexist when women in business "act like men" they are seen as bitches, and nobody wants to work for a bitch) towards employees (best advice from Jack Ma, first employees, then customers, then shareholders). Oh, and attitude also applies to men, given the continuing bad press of Uber, no matter how successful a company is if employees are unhappy (or sexually harassed), they are not immune from criticism or consequences.
So here I am at 27 years old, great attitude, living in Bangkok, teaching English so I have the time and flexibility to build my business, a small and growing network of friends and entrepreneurs, and a good product and idea. After 4 years and 2 pivots I have now reached a point where I need a team and seed funding to really build this business. I'm proud to be an English teacher, it has given me housing, a work permit, and the ability to pay off my private student loan, but I can no longer be a "one woman team" with little funds to grow Healthy Hair Asia.
My vision for Healthy Hair Asia is to sell and delivery products all over Asia & Eurasia and Middle East: from Bangkok, Hong Kong, Asanta, Tokyo, Shanghai, Jakarta, Manila, Mumbai, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, Singapore, Dhaka, Ulaanbaatar, Hanoi, Tehran, Macau, Dubai, Doha, Tel Aviv, Muscat, and cities across the silk road. I cannot do this by myself, and over the next couple of weeks I am working to make major changes to build this vision into a reality!