Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Run an Ironman to succeed in Business

Ironman Langkawi 2010 - Swimstart

Ironman Langkawi 2010 – Swimstart

On the first glance, the connection between running an ironman and running a successful business may not be that obvious. After all, what does spending up to 17 hours swimming, cycling and running have to do with managing employees, increasing sales and identifying new market opportunities?

The short answer to this question is: Commitment, Discipline, Perseverance, Flexibility, and Passion. Those are the critical attributes to success in business as well as in completing an ironman event. But first let’s have a look at what exactly an ironman competition entails.

The ironman event was started during the awards ceremony for the 1977 Oahu Perimeter Relay, as the members of the Mid-Pacific Road Runners and the Waikiki Swim Club wanted to decide who was fitter: runners or swimmers.  So U.S. Navy Commander John Collins suggested to combine the already existing three long-distance competitions on the island: the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (2.4 mi./3.86 km), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 mi./185.07 km; originally a two-day event) and the Honolulu Marathon (26.219 mi./42.195 km) into one event (source: Wikipedia).

Harald Weinbrecht - Business Coach, Entrepreneur, Triathlete

Ironman Hawaii Swimstart. Source: Wiki Commons

Collins supposedly said: “Whoever finishes first, we’ll call him the Iron Man.” Of the fifteen men to start off in the early morning on February 18, 1978, twelve completed the race. Today thousands of people compete in ironman events worldwide, and the record currently stands at below 8 hours for the complete distance.

Participating and finishing an ironman race within the allocated time is far from impossible, no matter your current fitness level, as long as you embrace the 5 critical attributes, which also apply to running a successful business.

  1. Commitment
  2. Discipline
  3. Perseverance
  4. Flexibility
  5. Passion

Points to consider before registering a company

You have thought long and hard over whether you want to leave the safety of a corporate environment and start your own business. You have counted your savings and decided that you have enough cash in the bank to give it a fair shot. You have spoken to your peers and potential customers about your idea, and the feedback has been encouraging. Now it’s time to take the next step.

Before you start putting your idea into reality, you first need to make a few decisions, and you need to understand the implications of those decisions. So what are two of the critical decisions you have to make before starting off?

  1. Get the right legal framework

As an entrepreneur in Malaysia, you have in principle two options:

–       Sole proprietorship

–       A company limited by shares (Sdn Bhd)

If you are a foreigner, the choice has been made for you already: only Malaysians and permanent residence are eligible to register for a sole proprietorship.

Advantages of a sole proprietorship:

  • All profits generated by the business are your own personal property. You will only have to pay personal income tax, not business tax
  • No reports of accounts are required

Disadvantage:

  • you are liable for all business debts, and you will be personally responsible for all risks and failures in the business

Another difference is that, unlike a sole proprietorship, a Sdn Bhd can have more than one owner. In addition a Sdn Bhd creates a significant bigger impression when you meet potential clients – and that could mean the difference between getting that sale and coming in second.

For those reasons (growth possibilities in issuing new shares, limitation of person liability, and image) a Sdn Bhd is most probably the preferred option if you start a business with the idea of growing it big.

      2. Choose your name wisely

Before you can register your company, you need a name for your business venture. This name needs to fulfill the following criteria:

  • you must really like the name (personal preference), and it should be a name that you will still like 5 years from now
  • the name should ideally reflect what the business is all about
  • the name is original and ideally sticks in the mind of our target audience
  • the name is available and acceptable to SSM for registration.

Example: we have decided to call our business INCUBE8. It does fulfill all the above criteria:

  • we really like the name – it’s kind of funky with the pay of letters and the number 8. (well, that’s a personal preference)
  • the company helps to grow companies. We are like an incubator with a host of added services, hence incube8 (spoken: “incubate”) reflects exactly what we do
  • Incube8 sticks. People like “8”, as this a lucky number. And it takes people a bit to figure out exactly what “Incube8” means. During that time they thnk about our name. People remember us.
  • Due to the use of the number 8 in our company name our name is unique (at least in Malaysia), and not part of the list of words requiring approval by the ministry.

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Taking the plunge – from employee to entrepreneur

Starting your own company – for many people this is the ultimate dream, and the sure-fire way to get rich. Being your own boss conjures ideas of flexible working hours (i.e. sleeping in until late), the possibility to make your own decisions, and the freedom of not having to report to anyone.

Unfortunately, the sad reality is somewhat different. If your idea of flexible working hours is something like 24/7 working hours, if making your own decisions for you means making decision which are guided by your empty wallet, and if freedom of reporting does not include the need to report to your customers, then you may want to contemplate starting your own company.

Before you do however, this are the top 5 things that you have to have in place before you hand in that resignation letter to start your own business. This is what we think you need:

1. A great product / Service

You might want to field test your idea a bit. Do other companies have similar products? Are they successful? If not, why? What will you do differently? What will be your unique selling proposition (UPS) that no one else can offer? Why is your UPS so important to potential clients?

2. Enough money in the bank to last

You need to be able to last without income for at least 6 – 12 months. If you don’t have enough money put aside to be able to do this, consider to delay your start into entrepreneurship, as you may not have the staying power to see your company through the initial hard times.

3. A potential client to start with

It is very helpful if you already have had discussions with a potential client – and we don’t mean stealing a client from your current employer. If you already have someone who will be your first client upon you commencing your business, you’re off to a good start

4. A trustworthy and capable team to work with

While you can do it alone, it is a lonely path. You should start your business with 1-3 other like-minded people, who ideally have complimentary skill sets. If all of you are technical engineers, this may not work. A great company is like a soccer team. You need strikers, defenders, goal keepers. A soccer team comprised out of 11 best strikers in the world will still loose against an average team with a better balanced composition.

5. A proper legal setup

As an entrepreneur you won’t be able to rely on others for the boring legal and accounting work. You need to set up a legal entity, and identify how you will manage accounts before you get into business. I recommend you set up a company, instead of a sole proprietorship, as allows for easier growth.