“If I knew everything from the beginning, I wouldn’t have dared to start.”
Nikki Assavathorn, Infinity Levels
“Set achievable targets, learn from your mistakes, and don’t expect success from the very beginning.”
Chatkeo Srisiwan, Mosstories
“Figure out how to make money and how much money you want to make. It’s really important to think about that from the beginning.”
Allison Morris, ProjectHub Yangon
On June 22nd, 2016 we kicked-off our second series of Women in Business Southeast Asia, a training and mentoring program for women-led startups and aspiring entrepreneurs. This first session discussed How to Turn Your Idea into a Business – validating your idea, marketing research, and business planning through the experienced of three seasoned women entrepreneurs:
Nikki Assavathorn, CEO of Infinity Levels, an awards winning games studio recognized for its unique games and beautiful artwork. She previously founded and sold MeetNLunch a dating company for Thai professionals, to Lunch Actually Group, the largest dating company in SEA.
Chatkeo (Moss) Srisuwan, Founder of Mosstories, a fashion brand well-known for her handmade custom jewellery, women’s wear, footwear and accessories. Operating out of Bangkok since 2006, she exports regionally and internationally.
Allison Morris, Co-founder of Project Hub Yangon, Myanmar’s first incubator for entrepreneurs. Project Hub Yangon provides entrepreneurs with workshops, coaching, and the resources they need to build successful, sustainable businesses and has supported the launch of over 13 start-ups since its founding in 2012. Allison also launched a consulting business in 2012, M&S Consulting
Do something that you are good at and that’s different from what’s already out there. If you are not good at something, don’t force it and try doing it anyways. Look for someone else in your team that can do it. You can’t do everything yourself.
If you want to have your own business, it has to sell. You need regular customers and sales volume. You need to spend time developing a good product and focus on what’s special about your business. It’s ok to start small and grow bit by bit.
‘Set achievable targets, learn from your mistakes, and don’t expect success from the very beginning.” Moss Srisiwan, Mosstories
“Figure out how to make money and how much money you want to make. It’s really important to think about that from the beginning.” Allison Morris, ProjectHub Yangon.
This is something that many entrepreneurs neglect at the beginning because they get carried away with their idea and their passion. But ultimately a business needs to generate cash to survive.
You need to know your customers really well – who they are, what they want, and their preferences. Market research is not only being behind your desk and collecting data. It’s about going out there and talking to your potential customers. Try to find out as much as possible from the beginning but accept that there will always be things you won’t know until you get there.
“If I knew everything from the beginning, I wouldn’t have dared to start.” Nikki Assavathorn, Infinity Levels
In some industries or for certain specific products, there is very little data available so sometimes you have to build your own data. This is the case, for example, in the mobile games industry. Or when ProjectHub Yangon wanted to set up a co-working space in Yangon, there was no data available on potential demand from local entrepreneurs because it was something never done before. So they rented a small space and piloted it the idea for a year to build data.
Keep analyzing your data as you build your business and use it to understand customer behavior and preferences: why they might like certain products and dislike certain others; and when it’s time to discontinue certain features, full products, or pivot your business model. Use the data to support your decisions – why your customers are not happy and how you can improve.
You need to know when to call it quits. You need to that number in your mind. If you pass that, it’s time to refocus and pivot. If you fall, get up again. You don’t need to stick to one single idea all the time.
Marketing is important but the most important thing is the quality of your product or service. Word of mouth is still the most important form of marketing whether it’s done the traditional way or through social media.Word of mouth is still the most important form of marketing whether it’s done the traditional way or through social media so you need to make sure that you are always offering the highest possible quality. If people don’t like your products or services they are not going to come back and you are not going to be able to sustain your business.
“I would worry much less about competitors. It was useless and a waste of energy” Allison Morris, Project Hub Yangon
“I would hire better people” Nikki Assavathorn, Infinity Levels
“I wouldn’t worry so much about unnecessary things, about décor and packaging, and just focus 100% on product development”
- Do what you love, what you are good at, and what inspires you. But remember that your idea and your business also need to be sustainable and make money.
- Do your market research before you launch and also throughout the journey – keep a constant eye on your performance.
- You need to know when to call it quits. You need to have that number in mind. If you pass that, it’s time to refocus and pivot.
- The important thing is the quality of your product and services, not the packaging.