Shared by: Nicholas Lim, National University of Singapore, Year 3
I must say that I have been a very privileged individual, as I saw abundant opportunities everywhere. If not for these opportunities, I probably would not even be writing this post for you today. But instead of going on and on about how lucky I was, I would like to point out key factors which made me stand out a little differently from my peers – I was able to identify, conceptualise, and execute these opportunities. I am far from perfect, but I made the best of what I had by conceptualising and executing the opportunities that came my way.
When I was younger, I often heard a quote that my teachers used, something along the lines of: “There are abundant opportunities out there. They are just waiting to be caught by the man that sees it first”. I couldn’t agree more. However in my experience, opportunities are far from being simply fairy tales – I relate that to a thief finding a bag of gold lying across his path. I found my opportunities by learning, actively seeking, and most importantly believing in myself. But I have to admit that the underlying process was a really long and tedious one.
One of the latest ventures that I am proud to share with you today is the establishment of my very own business, The Shady Business in 2012, which was made possible with the help of an individual that is my friend, mentor and investor, that believed in what I did (thank you!). As the Authorised Distributor of Julbo Eyewear in Singapore, I distribute an entire range of casual and technical sports sunglasses for babies, kids and adult to retail shops and end consumers in Singapore. But before the brand could be pushed out successfully to the market in volumes, I had to establish and position the Julbo brand in Singapore – something that I found to be extremely challenging as the brand was relatively unheard of in this part of the world. But 2 years on, I am proud to say that I have done my part reasonably well, and I am even able to share my experiences with you here.
How did I get started?
My first interaction with developing businesses came right after serving my National Service, where I was given an opportunity to spearhead the business development of a German sports medical brand in Singapore. Although well established in the American and European markets, this brand was making its first venture into Singapore and challenges were aplenty. During the period that I served as the Business Development Manager, I managed to streamline my target market and catered to a niche group of athletes through strategic product positioning. During my short stint (short time frame between NS and start of University) here, I managed to establish a partnership with a high-end cycling and triathlon retailer, as well as with Singapore’s largest cycling group, Joyriders.
Looking back, I feel that I could have potentially done much more if I had more experience in a related field. But we have to start somewhere too right? That was my starting point, and things just got better from there.
Word got around, one connection led to another, and one opportunity led to many others. Moving forward, it came a time where I felt ready to start something on my own, which resulted in the establishment of The Shady Business.
But really, how did I get my first opportunity, especially when I was just 20 and had little experience in a related field?
The Cold, Hard truth
Some of you might call me lucky. Yes I was, but I was only lucky in a manner that I was blessed with the ability to identify opportunities that came my way, and having the courage to seize and execute these opportunities to make them “worthy opportunities” for me to invest my time in.
I don’t see MONEY (note in caps!) out of these “worthy opportunities” – I enjoyed little monetary benefit during periods when I had the best opportunities, but the learning potential was always exceptional. To me, “worthy opportunities” are ones which give me access to a wealth of knowledge and experience. These can only be accumulated by stepping out of your comfort zone, learning and overcoming the challenges that you face.
It was never smooth sailing for me after I took the plunge time and again. It was always a steep learning curve, and there was little guidance on the job. I had to learn pretty much everything on my own, with little room for error as it involved real time and money (now with my own business, I’m even risking my own and investor’s money!). I have to admit that it will be a tough and rough path to take, but I assure you that it will always be rewarding one.
My Final Words
Looking back, I learnt the most by venturing into the unknown and at the same time taking calculated risks. Ultimately, it is not the opportunities, or what some people refer to as luck, that makes people successful. In fact, having the courage to venture into the unknown is really what sets you apart from the rest. I was able to identify an offer/idea and then conceptualise it, instead of simply brushing it off as a passing remark. I was able to do this confidently and feel strongly for my concept of matters, as a result of accumulated hard work and experience over the years being exposed to various scopes of work. Identifying and conceptualising an opportunity is just one half of the equation. Having the courage to execute it is another important aspect which requires applying your prior experiences and then taking measured risks.
I always feel the excitement of bringing something to life, a sense of satisfaction which doesn’t come close to anything else. This can be an idea, a product, or a brand. All you need to remember are 3 points – Identify. Conceptualise. Execute.
I would like to end the post by thanking you for reading about my humble personal experience and opinions. It is certainly not an out-of-the-world achievement but I do hope my sharing has allowed you to take away something valuable. Should you wish to contact me, please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or look me up on LinkedIn: sg.linkedin.com/in/limnicholas/. I will be more than willing to answer any questions that you have, and offer any advice within my capabilities!
Everyone is unique and special. Share your story too and help others find out their own unique individuality. We welcome all undergraduates to share their story with us here.