In recent years, we have seen many homegrown Southeast Asian brands break out of their borders and expand their services across the region and beyond. Grab, a ride-hailing app from Malaysia, famously booted out its biggest competitor Uber out of Southeast Asia. Sea, a company born in Singapore, has launched its e-commerce app Shopee in 10 territories worldwide and will soon expand to India, Poland, and Argentina. Then, there is Jollibee, the fast-food chain from the Philippines that has been opening stores in almost every place on Earth, most recently in Spain.
These success stories have, no doubt, fueled the desire for many young entrepreneurs to pursue their ventures and, hopefully, establish a global brand, too. Southeast Asia has been seeing more homegrown brands make a name on the international stage, alongside giants like McDonald’s, Amazon, Craigslist, or PayPal. The region has been rife with opportunities as more consumers go online and access different products and services.
However, breaking into the international stage will not be easy. While consumers in Southeast Asia have been hungry for local brands and now have more disposable income to spend, the competition is stiff. There are challenges that young entrepreneurs will have to face and overcome to see success and build a promising brand.
Financing Your Venture
Unfortunately, the first and the biggest hurdle you might face as a newcomer in business involves money. As they say, you have to spend money to earn money. Without funding, you would not be able to build a product, market it to the right consumers, and expand your reach to a wider audience. All of these require cash.
Moreover, young people often do not have an extensive financial history of submitting to banks and other institutions to seek funding for a business. Most want several documents as proof that the borrower can pay off the loan. There are moneylenders in Singapore who make application and approval easier for the borrower.
In addition, finding funding requires networking. A young entrepreneur who has only started navigating the business landscape does not have the connections to find potential investors and partners.
These limitations create more obstacles. Businesses that have limited funding have no room for error. They may take fewer risks because they cannot lose money.
Your Lack of Experience
As a business leader, they will have to make significant decisions, most of which can directly impact the future success or failure of the enterprise. It will not be easy. The solutions will not always be obvious, either. Some of these problems will be handled better by someone who has prior experience dealing with the same issues.
But, it should not be a deterrent for young entrepreneurs to pursue running a business. There are other ways to seek knowledge aside from experiencing every hardship. Newcomers can, for example, learn from industry veterans. They can read biographies and memoirs, as well as articles and blog posts written by prominent figures who have faced challenges in the past and succeeded. They can also seek mentorship under someone whose skills they admire.
Plus, often, naivete is not a weakness. It is a strength. Newcomers have a fresh perspective that they can wield to bring novel ideas and solutions into the market. This is something that old-timers lack: a different perspective. It can lead them to make decisions that are out of touch or go against market trends.
Facing Criticism and Self-doubt
The entrepreneur is undoubtedly the most important person in the business. They make major decisions that will have an impact on the business’s current operations and future growth. They also choose and hire members of their staff.
However, entrepreneurs are also prone to facing criticism. Not all their decisions and solutions will be accepted positively and without resistance from employees, partners, investors, and consumers. When they do make mistakes, they will be the ones who will be criticized. Some of these criticisms get too personal, but the entrepreneur cannot react negatively because they risk destroying the business’s image to the public.
Criticism can lead to self-doubt. The stakes are high, and when one is receiving disapproval, they start to question their capabilities to run the business. However, an entrepreneur must learn how to separate their feelings from the business. They must be capable of listening to constructive critique without getting their ego hurt, and they must also learn to ignore criticism that may not be fair or helpful.
Moreover, they must learn to trust their knowledge and skills. They should not be easily discouraged nor pressured. These are all normal in running a business. They must be accustomed to facing criticism and fighting self-doubt.
There are so many opportunities for budding entrepreneurs in the bustling markets of Southeast Asia. However, there will also be challenges ahead. Entrepreneurs who want to succeed and build a global brand must be prepared to survive all these obstacles.