I always thought that the “entrepreneur” genes in me came in only during my army period, when I started to read related books, and realize that, ‘Hey! I can make a difference in my life too!’ instead of the usual ‘study, get a degree, get a stable job’ routine.
However, due to certain incidents that happened recently, I realized that it was way way much earlier… in fact, during my poly days… or even, my secondary days.
During secondary days, my school tend to have some carnival during the Youth Day. I was always the first one to volunteer to work on the stall. And started to think of what kind of stalls should our class have. (Business Plan/Proposal)
After which, I began to rope in my classmates and work on the idea and improvised it. Then it would be ‘budget planning’ and getting the necessary stuff. (Setting Up)
We would sometimes try to ‘find out’ what other classes did and try to see how we can improve and differentiate from their idea. (Market Survey)
And a few days before the carnival, we would try to design some flyers and get it xerox and design some posters for the day itself. (Advertising & Promotion)
And the BIG DAY arrived! Setting up the stall, promo it, getting other classmates to mend our stalls (HR), getting schoolmates, teachers and parents to patronize our stall etc etc.
In the end, our stall are usually one of the stalls with the greatest profit!
*Hey… I never knew that all these activities can translate to a mini Apprentice challenge! Ha ha!*
Anyway, that wasn’t the *actual* first.
It was during my polytechnic days, I suppose.
I was giving tuition and I came to realize, instead of giving tuition, why not, I provide tuition matching services? And with some simple planning, I made some calls to Classifieds Ads and got 2 advertisements, 1 for tutors and 1 for students, which cost me about 60 bucks. And waited for the BIG DAY to come when the advertisements are being published.
I wasn’t really prepared. The first call came at 7.30am on my mobile and I was still asleep! I immediately sprang up and try to clear my ‘sleepy voice’ and registered the first tutor. That day alone, I registered about 200 tutors, and 3 students.
Matching began, and I have to admit, it wasn’t easy, especially for a polytechnic student. Calls began to swamp my mobile (it wasn’t the free incoming call era, mind you), calls to the student and tutor to coordinate the first lesson and prices, having to keep my files with me at ALL times (you never know when the next potential student calls) etc etc.
I managed to match 2 successful student by the end of a month. And it was collection of the 50% commission. Being a young kid, at 17, with a baby face (well, there are strangers and people who thinks I am 20, although I am going 25), I could see the surprised look on the parents when I visited their household. I would just say that, ‘Oh, I am helping my uncle to collect the sum as he is busy at the moment’. And it works, at least I thought so.
However, after 2 months, I threw in the towel. Maybe I was too young. Maybe I was overwhelmed. Maybe I wasn’t ready yet. Too much maybe.
But this is a good experience for me, now thinking back about it. And a good stepping stone for the rest of my years.
Fast forward to 2005. My second foray into entrepreneurship. Shall elaborate more soon. And this is the encounter which I realized I learnt most about friends and life.